We knew changing Tree of Life to a cooldown was going to be controversial. There was just no way a change this big would be unanimously accepted. My apologies if being a tree was what really drew you to the class.
We didn't add new rotational spells to Restoration or Feral cat because, good lord, you have enough buttons already. We tried hard with Cataclysm to not add new spells just because. The specs that got new spells were ones we think had big holes in their rotation. You'll still get new talents and mechanics so I expect there will be a lot to learn when the big game-changing patch rolls around.
In short, are we trading the current Tree bonuses for a throughput cooldown, or are we gaining a throughput cooldown? Gaining one is fine--for all that the preview listed "no new spells," you guys are clearly on top of that (regrowth crit to an AoE heal and a throughput cooldown, at least). Trading bonuses for a throughput cooldown, however, is simply at odds with HoT healing, which is all about consistency.
This is what we're trying to do. On live today, druids are balanced around healing in tree form, meaning they give up a lot of utility just to be as good as other healers. When Tree of Life is a cooldown, then you'll be balanced healing in night elf, troll, worgen or tauren form, and then you'll be more powerful when in tree form. The nice thing about cooldowns is the difference can be pretty significant while active.
(Concerning popularity of the change to Tree of Life) There is a large difference between "controversial" and being close to unanimously hated.
You don't have any evidence of that though. Even within this thread, there are plenty of players who like the change. It's not like we design around public vote anyway, but if you look at the old "Is Tree form fun?" thread, there were a lot of players on both sides of the argument. It was a change we wanted to do anyway, but we tested the water to see if the change would be unanimously hated. We concluded there were plenty of players in favor of it. I don't know if the split was 50 / 50 or what, but it doesn't really matter because it wasn't a poll. It was just to take the community's temperature.
I'm not saying you don't have a right to feel passionately about any of this. It's fine, understandable even, if you do. I'm just asking you not to assume that everyone must naturally feel the same way you do.
We might (*might*) consider a minor glyph that kept the visual of the old tree form in some fashion even when not using the Tree of Life cooldown.
GC, please just shoot us straight here. Many of us are adults, and we can accept it if the change is PVP-related as is being speculated on the boards... but your stated rationale in making this change currently counters everything you've previously posted about making gameplay about more interesting choices.
It's not for PvP reasons. We just don't think healing forms are a good idea.
Now if you want to talk about PvP, I'd agree that going tree was an interesting decision back when it came with huge penalties (like movement). That wasn't very fun to actually play in though so we kept chipping away at the differences between being in tree form and not being in tree form until we were left to wonder what the point was. We asked players on these boards and elsewhere how attached they were to the form, and found some loved it, some hated it, and some were indifferent.
I don't fault you at all if you loved the form though and I'm sorry if this makes playing a druid less fun for you.
In response to a repost of Ghostcrawler's class Q & A on the druid:
I'm not sure why this keeps getting brought up as some kind of logical inconsistency that is supposed to mean we aren't allowed to change our minds.
Plus, if you really read the quote, I'm talking about two things:
1) Hey, maybe staying in a single form all the time isn't really that good for the class.
2) Druids use three different resources: mana, energy and rage depending on what form they're in.
Part of our logic here is that tree form doesn't actually do enough. It doesn't change your resource system. It doesn't give you new tree-only abilities. It can't let you be a better healer than the priests, paladins or shaman, and we keep adding things to the list of what druids can do as a tree because it's not fun to be so limited. We started asking ourselves what we were really gaining.
The same can be said about moonkins, yet this isn't happening, why? it appears a double standard.
I've said this before, but we don't think giving up everything (hyperbole, but you get the idea) to go into a dps form is that big a sacrifice, because you're being compared to and presumably want to fill the role of classes and specs that do nothing but dps. It's not a big deal for a druid to give up healing to dps like a mage, because the mage can't heal.
But giving up abilities to heal is tough when priests, paladins and shaman don't have to. If this was a single player game, we'd probably do something like say druids have to fully commit themselves to healing, but if they do, they'll be 10% better at healing than any other class. In an MMO, it doesn't feel fair to do that. So instead you make sacrifices just so you can heal as well as everyone else. But that ends up feeling unfair, so we give you most of the abilities you'd typically ever want to cast, and pretty soon the Tree of Life talent is just changing your visual. If it was super compelling gameplay, we'd probably be talking instead about ways to keep it.
So you're making ToL a CD but what are you going to do about the fact that ToL gives us buffs and gives us a SP bonus that brings our SP equal to other healing classes. Without that buff our spell power is below all other casters are you planning on either raising the amount of sp granted by gear or giving us a talent that gives us that buff
We can put those buffs anywhere in the tree or remove them and just balance around it. Virtually every number in Cataclysm has to change anyway to support new character levels, health pools, combat ratings, going to a single spell rank, etc. There's no reason to worry about how this would affect your relative power in today's live build. At this stage I would focus on mechanics or design intent, not actual numbers. The numbers will start to be more important as we get closer to ship.
As I've said not ten minutes ago, constant polymorph immunity, 200% armor bonus, 15% bonus SP from spirit and 10% extra healing is kind of a big deal. Putting that on a CD is going to make an impact on Druid healing.
None of those things need to be tied to the Tree of Life form though, and in fact they are all examples of the kind of passive bonuses we're trying to winnow out from talent trees.
Are the Tree (on CD) and Moonkin forms being updated? I don't need details, I just would like to know if I can expect to see the same Owl form I have now in the next expac or if we finally will get more polygons at least.
We would like to. Those are on the list, but they're expensive tasks because they require so much art time. You might be willing to have one fewer new boss models in order to get the forms updated, but if we did that and we added a new demon for warlocks and a couple of new models for other class needs here and there and pretty soon all of those bosses are going to end up looking pretty recycled. :(
It will stay on the list though. If we don't get to it for 4.0, there's always 4.1.
My post also addresses your counterpoint. Remove the poly immunity, shift the these-effects-are-only-to-bring-you-up-to-par-with-other-healers off the talent, and reduce the offensive restriction (to, for example, no offensive arcane spells). All of the mechanics reasons are thus addressed. A healing aura (which wouldn't stack, and therefore isn't 100% required) and additional armor (not always useful in PvE, and a tradeoff in PvP) remain, as well as the flavor of each druid role having its own form. The only remaining reason to remove it? Showing off gear.
But under your argument, the only reason to keep it is flavor. You have a talent that essentially says "gives the druid flavor" because all of the actual bonuses are baked in elsewhere. That's our actual concern about the talent: increasingly it doesn't do anything except change your art.
Well, the bartender's saying something about last call, so I'm going to have to duck out. My intent was not to ignore the Ferals or Balance druids out there, or all the other classes with previews who probably resent my spending so much time on the Tree of Life issue, but we knew it would be controversial and I wanted players to know we were listening to them. Perhaps we should have announced it earlier like we did with the DK tanking post, though to be fair, we've hinted at this change coming since Blizzcon.