Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Do We Need Flashy Spell Effects?

I am a pretty simple elf, both in real life and in game.  It does not take a lot to make me happy be it the boink sound of the riding turtle when he pops out of his shell which always makes me giggle no matter how many times I hear it or watching a bear druid dance which makes me smile.  The simple things make me happy because I am really easy to please.

I've been reading a lot of people from all classes asking for the characters to have more visual effects and while I have been a vocal opponent of this and even ask blizzard to give us the opportunity to disable all of those flashy spell effects, not because of computer performance issues but because I don't really like it, it is just eye clutter, I wonder what others think of the subject.

While I will be the first to admit freely that I first took the glaive toss ability at first because I liked the visual of it that is not something I would consider as a flashy spell effect.  It is rather simple and the perfect example of what I believe is enough flash.

One of the reasons I like being a hunter is that we do not have flashy spell effects.  It is sort of why I also like rogues, even if I do not enjoy playing one or melee in general.  But our pure counter part, the rogue, is much like a hunter when it comes to ability visuals.  There are not many there because they are not needed.

It was reading something recently where some rogues were asking for more visuals that made me think about it.  They waned to be flashy, like paladins or death knights, they wanted their visuals to be more exciting.

I don't get it.  If there were ever two classes that should not ever be flashy those two would be hunters and rogues. 

I am a hunter.  Put a challenging mob in front of me and I will try to solo it.  I will not be flashy about it, I most likely will not be pretty about it either.  I will kite, bounce aggro between my pet and myself, slow, and pew pew until my target is worm food.  There is no need for flashy imagery. 

When in a group I stand in the background and wait for the tank to point and I kill whatever he points at.  No need for flash, just be effective.  I have a limited time to manage that, a time dictated by the tanks cooldowns and the healers mana.  If I can do my job well then the mob will die before he tries to shove my tanks shield down his throat and starts coming for me.  I do not need flashy spell effects to get this done, I just need effective ones.  If I fail, I need to get better, I do not need my spells to look prettier.  Would failure be easier to take if the fight was more visually exciting, like a forth of july fireworks show?

When I am in a five man my job, as always, is to kill stuff, but there is always a secondary job a hunter has in a five man, one you rarely hear mentioned much any longer, but any good hunter will remember what that job is even before I say so.  Protect your healer.  Since my first dungeon ever I have been doing that and still do it up to this day even if it is rarely needed.  If a mob starts coming for the healer I can misdirect it to the tank, I can distracting shot it to myself, or I can, as I normally do, just let it run into the trap I often times leave at the healers feet.

Does there really need to be anything more flashy that the little quick swirl over my head when I misdirect, something that is so bright and big and flashy as to announce, hey tank you screwed up so I am sending the mob to you that you missed.  Do I need some sort of flashy image to show that the mob which oddly had a hunger to eat tree was distracting shot to myself so I could take the damage while I lead it to the tanks AoE instead of the healer having to fight for their floral life while healing and running to the tank to get it off of them.  Is anything more than seeing a mob in an ice block really required to show that the mob has been frozen in a trap.  I would just be doing my job, there is no need for flash.  There is no need to announce to the world with unmissable visuals, flashy and bright, that I know my job is to protect the healer.

I am sure that 99% of the healers I run into when I do 5 mans don't even know what I do to protect them.  The times I've had a healer mention it are few and far between and if I say it has been at least two years since I even had a healer mention it to me I would not be exaggerating.  I do not do it for the recognition that I did it, I do it because it is my job.  I do not need flashy visuals to show the world I am doing it.  I do not mind if 99% don't even know I am doing it.  I am a hunter, it is my job, I do it, and kill the targets, and I move along.  Nothing to see here.  I do not need praise for doing my job and to me adding flashy visuals to show I did it would be just that, asking for praise for doing what you are supposed to be doing anyway.

The imagery of the game matters little to me.  Never has and never will.  Doesn't mean I do not want things looking nicer and looking smoother, I would, but I do not consider it needed.  As long as what I do gets the job done it doesn't need to look pretty and sure sure as hell does not need to be followed with flashy spell effects.

I am one of those people that never once has complained about the character models, because what they look like really does not matter.  Not to me at least.  It will be nice to get some new ones and the little bits we are seeing do look nice, but I believe it is a waste of developer resources and while I will like the updates I would not be bothered if they did not come.  What something looks like really does not matter to me.  If I were playing the game for looks I probably would not be playing this game to begin with.  I play the game for the game play.

With everyone asking for more visual effects it makes me wonder why would anyone really want them?  I might just be wired differently than most but I care about what my abilties do more than what they look like.  Frankly, I do not care what they look like.  Does the ability do what it needs to do?  If so then I am fine with it just getting the job done.  It does not need some massive visual of a bright light shining  hammer slowly falling from the sky on to the enemy.  I really do not need that, I do not care for that, and if it were gone forever I would not miss it.

So with people asking for more spell effects so their class can feel special I am left to think what it would do to my class of choice, the hunter.

While talking to a friend the other day I mentioned that if the hunter class ever drastically changed again I would really consider calling it.  It has come to the point that the only class I really enjoy playing is a hunter.  While I can and do play all classes, being a hunter is the only thing I like doing.  Well, I like tanking too, but there are rarely opportunities to play one as I refuse to do the LFR, but that is another story all together.

If blizzard gives in to the unwashed masses and gives them all the brightly colored, flashy, eye bleeding, annoying spell effects they are asking for would it change how you felt about your class?  I don't think I would ever quit playing because they wanted steady shot to look flashy, but I would question the reasoning for why it needs to be because quite honestly I see no reason any ability needs to be flashy, much more so any hunter ability.  We are not flashy, we are hunters, we just do the job and get it done.  No fuss, no muss and surely, no flash.

Am I really alone in the fact that I like basic and simple?  Am I really the only one that puts what something can do ahead of what it looks like doing it?  Am I really alone in the fact that the little things make me happy and I do not need flashy effects to make me happy?

Just give me a riding turtle going boink once in a while and I am a happy elf.  No flash, just boink.


  1. I played Rift. My cleric has like two spell effects. Most of her abilities are close to a paladin's, yet without the visual effects it's really really boring to play. I get a new ability, try it out, some yellow spark like before... meh...
    I love all the flashy effects on my paladin, the seals, the hammers, the guardian, the bubbles, the wings, my, the wings. It speaks to me as a holy warrior, wielding light. I LOVE it.

    On a more serious note, visual queues help a lot. When Ardent Defender activated back in Wrath, it would create a pillar of light, a very visible queue for myself and my healers. When I had wings up dps knew what to do. With guardian I can see when it ends without a tracker. Same with execution sentance. With hammer down, even a blind dps can see where to stand. Bright as sun bubble helps the other side in pvp.

    Sounds and visual effects makes me not like, but love my class.

    1. Hunters have no real visuals and I guess that is partly why I am used to playing without them. I understand the visual clues and it is important to see them often when in a group setting. I just fine some of them over bearing. More so the DPS ones when in melee. All I see is a clutter of lights and it messes me up all the time. Most likely do to not doing it often. Perhaps if I played as melee more often I would not mind it as much.

    2. sure hunters have visuals and they are crappy. what what happens when you fire a rifle or a bow? - something "clever" comes out - all sparkly and what not and does some kind of a dippsy doodle before hitting the target. Guess what. Arrows or bullets don't do doodles and will pretty much go straight and if missing the target follows the curve of the earth until it impacts something. That needs to go bye-bye.

      I play a rogue - 2 of them. Outside of blood drops when I hit with my swords, why would I need more? But you should see when my inscription or is enchant - Colossus, on my sword goes off - I get enclassed in a protection bubble. Now that I like.

      Icey is my frost mage - now there I would like sparklys and flashes and all other sorts of matters of visuals. But I would also want to be able to turn it off as certain things can cause a seizure at the most in opportune time.

      Also, give me a damned BROOM mount that is pernament. And give me a button to turn of dueling.

      other than that, I must say, a lot of your readers are pretty much good thinkers, folks like "R", James, Delirium, etc. Hi folks! I do like your ability to put your thoughts out there on a blog.

      Mucho always appreciate the help. GE will tell you, sometimes I am not all here.

      -roo "it's snowing outside and I get to go home early!"

    3. That is the cobra shot effect you are talking about. It is minimal, and that is how I like it. It does look cool, do not get me wrong, but it does not need to be bigger and flashier, in my opinion.

      We love you Roo, all there or not. ;)

  2. I do care about what things look like, but I agree that WoW's spell effects are increasingly becoming flashier than needed. Like James said above, there is something to be said for having visual cues for important abilities, so enemies and allies can immediately see what's going on. The problem is when everything becomes flashy, every combat just becomes a big mess of flashing lights and you get the opposite effect - it becomes such a visual mess that people can't tell what's going on anymore. Balance is the key in my opinion.

    1. That is where my issue is. Huge bunches of flashing lights for no real reason except to look pretty. When at range it does not bother me but when in melee I can't make out the difference between boss effects and other player effects. Might be, in part, because I am color blind and a lot of things blend together.

      While I agree visual clues are important and I use them often when playing to decide what to do and when to do it I do wish there were a way to turn off, or dim, the visual effects we do not need. As for the example I used. Steady shot does not need to add flash to it, adding it, in my opinion, would just add to screen clutter.

  3. I agree, I do like the way the game looks but I do not want it to turn into one big flashy mess. I tried guild wars recently and that's what I felt and stopped.

    1. I am not saying I dislike it all, but like you said, I do not think it should turn into a big flashy mess.

      I like my simple hunter. No flash, just results.

  4. I had no idea people were pushing for flashier spells. I've only really heard people complaining about too much of that recently... Though I do recall an interview with one of the devs talking about it at blizcon, but it was sort of both; wanting it to be more exciting, and wanting them to not get in the way of seeing.

    Anyhow, I couldn't really care less about whether or not they put more in. Though I tend to agree with you that it's a waste of developer's time. One addendum to that, however, would be if they became important to game play. Off the top of my head, that could affect game play in two major ways. First, the flashier the spell, the more aggro you gain from it. I don't see this happening, because blizz has emphasized that they find active mitigation more compelling gameplay than aggro management, but still, I could imagine some spells that you have to time with taunts, otherwise they'd rip agro. Which to me at least, would be fun (would make lfr even more hellish, though). The second, which is crazy, is that rogues no longer have energy, they have a stealth bar. Each ability takes away stealth, depending on how flashy it is. They would have to manage their stealth to keep max dps by being able to use all of their abilities. To keep them balanced, in pvp, fully unstealthed they would take some obscene amount of increased damage, which would make them slow down.

    Anyhow, those are not going to happen, and I'm not trying to say that they should happen, but to make having more spell effects be worthwhile, I'd want spell effects to affect gameplay.


    1. I would really like an option to turn off spell effects that to not effect me. Healing effects can stay, tank cooldowns can stay, hero/lust effect can stay, etc. But to see a locks big flame or melee animation that does not mean anything to me is just a bit to much as I see it. I do not want my abilities turning into them on my hunter. I deal with arrows or bullets, they are not flashy, just effective.

  5. There are two different discussions being merged here, spell effects is only one of them. Class engagement for the player is the other and while there's some overlap, it's a different issue.

    Imagine any ranged class standing by himself at a target dummy doing a rotation... you'd know within about 3 seconds what class the toon is and probably what spec. You'd probably be able to diagnose major rotational issues, just from watching, no logs required.

    Ranged toons, even in a pack, are still generally identifiable.

    Melee's a different story. If you see a monk working up a target dummy, you'll probably realize pretty quickly that it's a monk... things like Rising Sun Kick, Fists of Fury, Xuen, Spinning Crane Kick, they're all unique and noticeable. It's relatively easy to track your own location in a melee pack as a monk.

    It's not too difficult to identify a paladin, DK or warrior, either... they have some relatively unique animations. Kitties, obviously no issue there although their attacks are generally pretty plain. Enh shammies are in there casting spells, they aren't hard to pick out.

    Rogues? Aside from Mutilate's double stab (which you wouldn't notice in a pack but MIGHT on a target dummy), do you even know what their primary abilities look like visually? Does Slice 'n' Dice even have a visual? Rupture? I'm not sure they do and I was a rogue main for half an expansion. Tricks didn't used to but does now, thankfully, although it's not easy to see. I think Eviscerate has a visual but not sure what it is, nor whether the one for Envenom is the same or different. Sap, I think (?), does a bit of a swirly above the mob's head... contrast that to a mob encased in a block of ice, or with a bunch of pink spines coming out of it.

    Sure, you could argue that this models the rogue playstyle and I'm sure that's Blizzard's intent... stealthy, not flashy, they want to avoid attention, not get it. Problem is, a lot of players don't like hitting buttons and getting no visual feedback when it happens. I never thought I cared either, until I went from my rogue to my monk... I wouldn't have put "visuals" on the list of reasons I prefer my monk but you know what? That's a factor, probably a significant one. I feel engaged on my monk in a way that I don't feel on my rogue. I don't just put up big numbers when attacks land, it feels like I *should* be putting up big numbers. If my rogue inherited identical animations for his abilities that my monk has for hers, my rogue would absolutely be more fun to play, I have no doubt of it.

    So, that's what people are talking about in this case, not splashy spell effects, those do need to be toned down overall, but just attack animations in general and for rogues most of all.

    And I'll say it, I've been a fan of the look of mage Frostfire Bolt since the first moment I ever got it... while in general I'm indifferent to the look of spells, I'd hate to lose that one.

    1. They are different issues, but they do cross into each other. Like James said, he likes to see his abilities. That is engagement. But me seeing some of them is screen bloat. While as a healer I might have use to see some, or as a damage dealer I might like to know where his ground AoE is so I can run through it to get a mob off me, other things, standard things, mean nothing but cluttering my screen. Let him see them, so he can feel engaged, let me ignore them, so I do not get blinded by the light.

      They might be two different topics, but they sort of go together somewhat in some ways.

      Rogues I put in the same set as hunters for this example, because they are not flashy, and they shouldn't be.

      As I said, even more so as melee. It is the visuals of other DPS that bothers me, not really my own so much. That is why I can not play melee, there is just too much shit going on there. I do not need to see any of that.

      I understand where you are going however. For every hunter like me that likes me arrow being just an arrow there are 100s that would love it to be this massive projectile of death leaving a trail of flames because it makes them feel better about using it.

      Like I said, I am just not wired that way. I admit I am different.

    2. Well, sounds to me like there's a simple enough solution that should work for pretty much everyone then. There have been previous discussions about a way to minimize the clutter from other players' effects:

      Other Players' Action Visibility

      Add another:

      My Action Visibility

      Make each a sliding scale and you're done. You can put both on the low end, those like me can tone down others' but keeping our own high and those who like the current game can go all max, all the time.

      Ultimately, as long as I can pick myself out of a crowd most of the time and can see bad effects on the ground, I'll be fine.

    3. There would have to be more settings that just that. While I might not want to do the frost DKs D&D it might be pretty useful to see the blood DKs D&D.

      There would have to be various settings. Or just a dimmer switch if it is going to be blanker for everything.

    4. That's the thing, there's no way they'll make it that granular... I'm not sure if they'll even go as complex as offering TWO sliders like I mentioned. Until and unless add-ons can impact things like graphics (and that likely won't happen), that's a wish that'll go unfulfilled.

      And note that my sliders don't go down to zero, you'd still get basic graphics and animations for other players, they'd just be significantly muted. It's an MMO, part of the immersion factor is that other people have an impact on your gameplay experience, pro or con... you won't be able to toggle that off.

    5. That is sad, but I believe you are right. They will never go full out and do it the way it should be done.

      True, there would at least need to be some sort of showing. Your sliders are a lot more possible than mine doing it full on would be. I can see them adding something like you with a simple dimmer for others spell effects.