An interesting discussion was launched on the forum and Bashiok, despite the risk of controversy, dared to respond. The starting premise of the player was as follows:
- Removed talent trees
- Removed 30% of abilities in Warlords
In the future, will we only have 2 spells in our hotbar?
Bashiok speaks to us first of all about the increasing complexity: more capacities, more systems, more choices that pile up as we go. If they left all the systems in place, we would come to a point where it would be impossible to develop the game. With each expansion, it is important to take a critical look at the choices made and to see if they agree with them. 2 company credo: "Concentrated Coolness" (don't try to do everything at once, start small, sort out any issues that appear, figure out what players like and build from there) and create challenging gameplay with interesting choices .
Compared to talent trees, they weren't focused or fun. It was a big bunch of buttons with things like "improve stat by 2%" with just a few optimized settings. Despite many iterations and years of thinking, they came to the conclusion that talent trees were no longer working.
Coming back to the original question, it's no one's fault that systems get more complex over time, but it's their job to make sure that systems don't get too complex with choices that are neither. interesting and not fun. At some point, it is normal and healthy to stop, take a moment and take a close look at what has been done and ask yourself if those were the right choices. Speeding forward would create an unmanageable and potentially dangerous or even harmful situation.
Deep, engaging gameplay doesn't necessarily need a lot of choices to be fun as long as the choices are interesting and seem rewarding when made.
Perfect Bashiok source
It's an interesting question!
If we stay on a steady course we would be a game with ever increasing complexity. More and more abilities, more systems, and more and more choices, all layered on top of each other--to a point where it would be impossible to realistically develop the game. We have to be constantly mindful not only of what we're implementing that's new, but of allowing systems to grow increasingly complex over time. Expansions are always a good time to take stock of the systems we have, the complexity that exists, and be really critical of ourselves and the choices we've made that got us to where we are. Two of our big design philosophies as a company are "concentrated coolness", and creating compelling gameplay through interesting choices (vs. lots of choices for the sake of having lots of them). These tend to overlap a lot, especially in the case of ability bloat, which we're trying to reign in specifically in Warlords.
To your point about talent trees, they weren't concentrated or cool. There were a bunch of buttons, and most of them were things like 2% increases to stats. They definitely felt more "gamey", like you were smart for figuring out interesting builds, but at the end of the day there was effectively one or two right answers, and figuring out interesting builds for the most part meant you were actually just sub-optimal and didn't know it. Many dozens of insanely smart designers played/worked on/gave feedback on the old talent trees for years and years, and we went through a lot of changes and iterations, and we came to the long-time-coming conclusion that talent trees just don't work for us and the types of systems we present in our games. We keep that learning experience with us.
Anyway, back to the real topic, it's no ones fault but our own that systems become increasingly complex over time, and so it's our job to be mindful of when systems are becoming overly complex and bloated with choices that aren't interesting or fun. It's normal and healthy to stop, take a moment, take a close look at what you're doing, and if those are the right choices. Constantly charging ahead with no self introspection leads to a situation that is less and less manageable, and potentially dangerous or damaging.
Deep and engaging gameplay doesn't need lots of choices to be fun as long as the choices are interesting, and feel rewarding when you make one.