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Shifting Perspectives: Aesthetics of balance druids

Tyler Caraway

Every Friday, Shifting Perspectives explores issues affecting balance druids and those who group with them. This week we are getteing ourselves distracted by all of the pretty colors that balance druids have to offer.

I spend my days dealing with numbers; numbers, spells, talents, and gear. This is the aspect of the game that I enjoy the most, because it is constant; you can pinpoint the mathematical specifics of this game fairly accurately. That appeals to me. It allows for me to feel that I have control over the game to a certain degree; that I can make important choices for my character and succeed or fail because of those choices. WoW is not all numbers, however. The game is driven by numbers, it is constructed by numbers, but, ultimately, it is the player base that makes the game what it is.

Players like many different things about each and every game that they play. As I said, I personally enjoy the math behind games, particularly WoW, but other people prefer the visual side of the game. For some, how their player looks, the animations, and just the overall graphics of a game are a large drawing point for why they play. To this end, it can actually be rather disappointing to play a balance druid; you have to miss out on a lot of things such as weapons, armor, hairstyles and certain emote animations. Despite, or perhaps in spite, these issues, there are still players that enjoy the visual outlook of playing as balance druid -- not just Moonkin Form, though it is a big part of it, but everything else as well.

This week, I'd like to talk about the looks and styles of balance druids. It isn't particularly my cup of tea, but it is for many players out there and their viewpoints should be considered as well, so bear with me on this one if I'm a touch off my game on this one.

Moonkin Form

I think it is best that we start off with what is perhaps the most controversial part of the balance druid appearance. Moonkin Form is, for lack of a better phrase, a hot topic issue for many players, especially now with a new expansion coming up and several other forms changing; well, at least Tree of Life is changing. It seems that there is something of a split within the balance druid community when it comes to Moonkin Form, either you love it or you hate; there's very little room for a middle ground.

For the love of Moonkin Form

If you happen to be in the camp of players that adores Moonkin Form, there's probably a few good reasons as to why. To many people, the form itself is adorable. It's no surprise why many people think this way either, Moonkin make some of the best sounds when they are struck in combat, and their dance is beyond iconic. I can say, at least personally, that nothing cheers me up quite like watching a Moonkin dance; when I'm having a bad day, logging into WoW to just sit there watching my druid dance for several minutes is the best cure in the world.

Moonkin Form is also highly recognizable, for better or worse. It's a form that's entirely unique to us, when you see a druid shifted into Moonkin Form, then you know that they are a balance druid; it's our instant identification feature. When I'm wandering around Dalaran, I usually don't have to wonder which druids are balance; as soon as I see a Moonkin, I know.

Death of a Moonkin

Just as there are many people that love Moonkin Form, there are some that do not like the form and wish that it would simply be removed from the game, or be turned into a cooldown of sorts. While some find Moonkin Form to be adorable, others simply find it to be a joke. At first, it's funny to see the ridiculous dance, hear the silly sounds it makes while being struck, but all too soon the joke wears thin and becomes overplayed. There is also the small issue that Moonkin Form never changes, but more than that is that Moonkin Form itself is merely a low resolution, level 10 mob model.

It is sad in a way to notice the actual quality of Moonkin Form; it is perhaps the last remaining vestige of a time long ago where the development team didn't care at all for balance druids, a time when the spec itself was considered to be a joke. Bear Form and Cat Form got new model updates during Wrath of the Lich King, yet balance druids received no such thing with Moonkin Form; with only vague promises that the art team would eventually, sometime, one day get to updating our core shapeshift when the art team had the time to spare to do so. In a sense, it is understandable, yet, that doesn't make the pill any easier to swallow; just because population wise balance druids are so few and far between doesn't mean that we do not matter, nor that we shouldn't have some development time spent on us as well. Our art work is just as important as the art work for each new armor set, if not more so since this is a form that we have to stare at perpetually while armors will eventually be discarded to the wayside.

Updating Moonkin Form

Love or hate Moonkin Form, I do not think there's anyone out there that can deny that the model itself needs to be updated. With each new expansion, with each new raiding tier, every other player in the game gets better, neater, cooler looking armor that the art team has spent countless hours working on. We do not get that, we will never get that, we will always look the same, the same as when we finally reached level 40 and first picked up Moonkin Form. It is for the reason that Moonkin Form must be updated; we have lived with it for so long now, long enough that it is time for a change. MMOs are all about change; the moment that they start to stagnate is the moment that they fail. Moonkin Form hasn't changed in years, it is finally time that it did so.

Whether this will happen or not is still up for debate it seems. Worgen and Trolls are getting new feral form models in the coming expansion, yet commitment to getting a new Moonkin Form has be lacking. GC has said it will happen, but that it will happen eventually; possibly in the first content patch after release, possibly even later than that. I'm a bit miffed by this to be honest. Why are we any less deserving than feral druids when it comes to keeping our forms fresh and new? It's understandable that the art team is under a lot of pressure right now with all of the changing they are making, but adding in a new Moonkin Form should certainly be on their list.

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