Occasionally, as part of our balance efforts, we run into problems with classes that cannot be resolved by simple tweaks to the class' existing skillset, and require a more expanded approach. For these cases, we offer Experimental Mode.
Experimental Mode for a class is used to isolate more major changes and reworks from the 1.4.8 Age of Reckoning version of the class, and allows players to choose whether or not to activate the changeset. Thus, two versions of a class exist in parallel on the server. This is done for three reasons:
- To prevent players from having potentially breaking changes to a class imposed upon them, with no means of returning to the original version.
- To examine players' preferences between the two versions.
- To allow private testing by staff and internal testers in the live environment, without biases against the changeset.
Reasons For Use
A class will generally receive an experimental mode for one of two reasons, both related to their original concepts:
- The class, or aspects of it, is underpowered and its original concept or mechanic was violated by the original developers, and we wish to expand the neglected areas of the concept to buff the class (AM/Shaman, SW, melee WP, formerly Engineer/Magus)
- A concept or mechanic violation committed by either the original developers, by us or by addons and external tools made the class too easy and too powerful, and we seek to restore the essence of that concept to increase the difficulty of the class and justify its power(WP/DoK, Knight/Chosen)
The intent behind any Experimental Mode is to develop a version worthy of replacing the original version. This process won't happen immediately, but if an Experimental Mode solves the problems it was designed to solve and either improves an underpowered class (even if the improvement is not to "fully viable") or makes an easy class more difficult while maintaining its power level and viability, it will not be blocked by players posting about playstyle preference as long as another class or spec exists which caters to that broad playstyle. A simple example is backline healspam WP/DoK (Zealot/RP).
Active Experimental Modes
There are two class pairings with active Experimental Modes - AM/Shaman and WP/DoK. Below will follow the changeset for each, their open or closed status and the rationale for the changesets.
Before reading the below, it is important to note that I will use the term "melee healer" NOT to refer to a healer that heals only in melee, but to one which builds resource and uses casted heals both inside and out of melee.
Salvation and Tenacity: Restoration of Concept and Reconciliation of Trees