The Escapist: I read the document describing the talent changes and what each class was going to go through and it seemed like a lot of the notes were homogenization of the specs. For example, the Mage fire tree was always known as burst damage and that document says that "Well, we're going to try to reduce that burst damage." The frost mages were always good and strong in PvP and the document said, "Well we're going to make sure that they're strong everywhere." It seemed as if you were taking away the very things that had defined the specs.
Greg Street: The way I would describe it is we tried to put all of the utility at the class level because when utility is at the spec level players feel forced to choose that spec. Oh, it's a lot of crowd control in this encounter so I need the spec that has the best crowd control or I'm going into PvP so I need the spec that has the most escape mechanisms, that sort of thing. Instead we tried to focus each spec on the way they did damage. Fire mages still do damage different than frost mages, the fire mages have a lot of DOTs [damage over time spells] that's built around when to use Combustion and Inferno Blast and things like that where frost is still throwing a lot of Ice Lances and trying to get their Shatter combos. But then you don't have to worry about, "Oh you have to pick Frost because they also have Deep Freeze and they also have the Frost Nova and the best crowd control." We tried to make that something that all mages had so the players could choose how they wanted to deal damage instead.
The Escapist: It also seemed like, and correct me if I'm wrong, it was an extension of the "Bring the player and not the spec" philosophy you guys brought in Cataclysm.
Greg Street: Yeah, totally. I just don't think at the end of the day players enjoy so much saying in raids "Okay you have to be Beastmaster for this fight and the next fight you have be Marksmanship for the next fight a Beast again." They just kind of wanted to say, "You know what, I really like the Marksmanship style of hunter just let me be a Marksmanship hunter all the time."
The Escapist: As far as leveling, you guys have changed the curve so it doesn't take as long. That was a change for Cataclysm, right?
Greg Street: Every time we come out with a new expansion we go back and speed up the old stuff a little bit so I think that one of the dark secrets of WoW is it's always taken about the same amount of time to reach maximum level even thought the maximum levels keep increasing.
The Escapist: I'm experiencing a feeling that there's less rewards for leveling up like there used to be, like getting a new talent point every level and getting a new spell every two levels. Was that the intention or was that because that time necessary to level up had been compacted?
Greg Street: You should still get a new spell around the same, we didn't cut down that much the number of spells, they come about as often. Definitely there's fewer talent points and we just decided talents either need to be about progression or they need to be about customization. We thought the game already rewards leveling a lot with getting new loot all the time, talents really need to be about customization and saying, "My elemental Shaman has different abilities than the other elemental Shaman."