Is Tree Form Fun?

On Thursday Ghostcrawler put up a provocative new topic in the healing forms asking druids an open question–is tree form fun? Ever since I’ve been following the topic, and I must admit that I’m glued to my seat. I’ll post below my answer to GC’s query:

In all honesty, I love the druid healing style but hate tree form.

Tree form is a sacrifice I make so that I can play in the style I like.


1. The form is not aesthetically pleasing. The tree is unfeminine, un-treelike, and brown all over. In the blogosphere, we’re jokingly referred to as rotten broccoli. I love the grace and beauty of my elf. I originally healed on my character because resto druids could stay in elf form. I do have healers of other classes, but it is the playstyle, not the look, of my druid that makes her my main.

2. The limitations of tree form restrict certain types of behaviors in a seemingly arbitrary fashion. It makes me less likely to contribute dps in a raid when other healers would do so (XT’s heart).

3. The limitations are no longer verisimilar (realistic). I actually used to like the tree snare of 20%. I healed some fights in Tier 6 in form, some out. I shifted to move. I liked this mechanic, as it showed the “true” elf underneath the “false” tree skin. Now that the limitations are purely arbitrary, I don’t see their purpose.

I’d rather keep the elf form for healing–would it be possible just to glow green or something?

Otherwise, can the tree form be updated to something
1. customizable
2. anthropomorphic (dryad/nymph and centaur please)
3. gender-specific
4. horde-alliance specific
5. gear-progression revealing. This isn’t a big deal to me, but many players would like to display a weapon as moonkin do.

Thank you for including this topic. It raises my hopes–please don’t disappoint!

And now, for the blog, maybe I’ll explain a bit more what’s most important to me. In my opinion, which I recognize may differ from others, the art is the number 1 attraction of any game. I simply won’t play if the visuals don’t appeal to me. As far as druids are concerned, I like the concept of shape-shifting in its original form (cat and bear only when Syd was created), but I don’t like to be locked into shape-shifting. I also love being an elf.

Here are my suggestions to Blizzard for managing the overwhelming outcry for new, better-looking forms in this topic.

1. I would make the greatest number of people happy with the least work. Along with “display cloak” and “display helm,” let people click a box for “display form.” This is a solution that costs little, allows for customization, and doesn’t require an artist.
2. If Blizzard is determined that all druids must display a form, start actually working on them. I know that art is costly and time-consuming. I also know that artistic projects can actually be finished–if they are being worked on. Even though Blue posters say that druid forms are “in the works,” they have been at that state for years. Pardon me if I don’t believe them. I think it’s a shame, because any budget spent on player character art will be directly appreciated by the player-base. It is a better investment than designing a great T8 shoulder. When it’s the character itself, something that we look at all the time, the artwork really shows itself to best (or worst) advantage.

I’m not saying that I’ll reroll a priest right now just to get to see my elf form while I raid, but it’s definitely something I might work on for the next expansion, especially if we get some raiding down-time. I do love the druid playstyle though–it’s just that it requires me to be uglier than anyone else in raid.

Also, did I ever tell you guys about the time I failed the Thaddius ledge boss? Yep, I thought the tree druid in front of me was me. There can, in fact, be PvE advantages to customization.

What’s my ideal “tree” form? Well, I think I’d just use the priest’s shadowform and turn it green and sparkly. Either that, or let’s scrap the tree, I want to be one of the gorgeous new girl centaurs they introduced with Wrath–naturally, with a customizable hair style and color.

18 thoughts on “Is Tree Form Fun?”

  1. I actually love tree form, I think it’s one of the cutest druid forms (along with the night elf cat form). The dance is my favorite in the game, and I love the animations. So, I would be sad if it were to go away.

  2. I don’t know if this makes any sense from a PvP standpoint. I can’t remember if there’s a tactical difference between a Druid in Elf form and a Druid in tree form. Assuming Elves have such an ability to toggle their forms, there should be some kind of indicator that a Night Elf is in that tree form. Either a glow of some kind or something else.

    On the other hand, if there’s no tactical advantage between elf and tree form, then that point is probably moot.

  3. I would use a minor glyph to change my color, even if thats all they gave me.

    I’m right with you – I love the HoTs, but the the art of the game is SO important to me that I spend DKP on gear that will otherwise be shareded, just because it is sexy… and to watch the same tree, which is very un-sexy, 95% of the time.

    I don’t think we will ever get a new tree form. I think the “in the works” is a lie too. But maybe we will get to see our weapons or at least look different from horde.

    Aertimuss last blog post..Mimiron Healing Guide with Healing Assignments

  4. @Mallet: To tree, or not to tree, is a tactical difference in PvP. However, it’s not all that easy to see what stance a warrior is in or what presence a DK is in. I don’t think it’s enough of a problem to matter.

    A lot of trees complain because, unlike other healers, they are an insta-target in BGs. In arenas, the healer gets found pretty quickly no matter what.

  5. I think part of the appeal of forms when I played my Druid (back in ye olde Classic days) was the changing in and out of them. Ripping someone up in Cat, switching into Bear if I needed to hold out for help, tossing a quick heal out in humanoid… that stuff. Restoration and Balance are just stuck in their forms though for buffs, that’s just forcing someone into a crappy character model to do well.

    And, as someone who played a Fury in EQ2 (one of the two Druid classes), I can tell you that “Hide Shapeshift” kept me playing that character a lot longer than I otherwise would have.

    While I imagine a self-only option could come about, this isn’t a TF2-style game where you can tell exactly what someone is in silhouette so a global option doesn’t seem to matter much to me. If you take away forms visually, Druids still gain the form buffs, which is more than what you can say for Warrior stances.

    Caladeins last blog post..Playing with Wolfram|Alpha

  6. I used to love tree healing in TBC, I just loved that most of my heals were HoTs and the tree form made me laugh because it was so daft (something about walking trees is very silly). Wrath is a different kettle of fish though.

    I quite enjoyed the limitations, to an extent. It’s very druidic that your forms are powerful but limiting, and you can always change as needed. But now it’s not HoT only and it’s just hard to really see the point. Yes, there’s a nice aura but … it kind of lost it’s personality.

    Since I was playing tauren, my druid never looked particularly feminine or streamlined, even in tauren form. So the elf thing rather escaped me also (night elves have much prettier forms in general ;/)

  7. For what it’s worth, I think that Tauren (she-tauren anyway) are pretty cute. Even if your opinion differs, the cow form still shows gear, and is a million times better than a grumpy tree–at least in my book.

  8. I think your reply to GC is completely ignoring his statement, “Please do not over-interpret our asking for feedback. No huge changes to Tree of Life are on the way and we may in fact never change it.” Replacing Tree of Life with a centaur is a huge change so obviously it will never happen unless the stated position reverses. You’re just setting yourself up for disappointment.

    I’m not a druid. I’m very jealous of the capability of resto druids but I do believe one of the reasons why I’ve never leveled one is that I love my character and I love looking at her.

    But I do think tree form is poor looking and could use a redesign. I think it would be more appealing to look like the ancients of Darnassus. The current one looks like a silly cartoon, not a powerful nature spirit.

  9. “Even if your opinion differs, the cow form still shows gear, and is a million times better than a grumpy tree–at least in my book.”

    Each to their own 🙂 But really, he asked if tree form was fun, not if you liked the look of it.

  10. Well maybe a bit drastic but one thing I always liked from warcraft 3 was the elf structures ability to up or down roots. Although this probably isn’t the quick fix blizzard are looking for, I think this could add a lot of fun to the class.

    It would of course require a bit of re-design, but I think if improved tree of life was changed to ‘grow roots’ with a 2-3 sec cast or something similar, which gave somewhere around 200-300% armor, and 40-50% increased spell power from spirit, a lower cooldown on WG and possibly lower the cooldown on Tranquillity BUT also rooted the tree in place then it would make life as a tree much more interesting.

    It is of course a huge boost to healing whilst giving us a little protection to avoid some aoe damage or whatever, but the rooting in my opinion is what the tree form should be all about, sacrificing mobility for a huge boost to healing. The druid class after all is about utility at a cost, but I go into tree and as I’m specifically healing, I don’t think I lose anything really because I’m not in a rush to use FF or roots etc. with a moonkin in the raid.

    I think druids should start heading in the direction of true utility where we’re changing roles constantly throughout a raid, if my healing was only good while rooted I might use it on fights where there’s not much movement but then go dps for another, the benefits and sacrifices of each form need to be balanced so well that we’re almost forced to adapt to a particular fight in my opinion, then good druids who can play their class well and not just their form would start to be more beneficial to raids.

    As for the aesthetics well I would again like to see some big changes right through the game. I think there should be various starting points throughout the game, not just 1 for each race. Each of these starting zones would allow different features or skin tones and give some basic background to each character. Also for druids depending on where you start, your forms are different, for example if you start in a place like winterspring, you get a polar bear form, snow leopard cat form, and a fir tree form etc. If you start somewhere like stranglethorn then you get palm tree form, tiger cat form, and maybe even go with gorilla tanking form?

    Just some of the things I’d love to see implemented in future expansions really, I wouldn’t expect anything like this in a patch but I think they’d be fun changes to the overall game as I think characters lack a lot of depth for an mmoRPG.

    *And no i’m not into roleplaying and I’m not on a roleplaying server*

  11. @Emiri: The question asks if tree FORM is fun. At current, tree form is not a different playstyle–at all–from elf form. All it does is reskin my character, buff my spellpower by 30% of my spirit, give a (redundant with our prot pally) buff to the raid, and lock me out of damage spells. Thus, I responded to the form–the shape, if you will. The art is possibly the most important factor in a game for me. It is what makes fun or not fun happen. For example, I can’t play Lord of the Rings Online because I hate the characters’ faces. They’re that middle point between cartoon and realism that just looks like a high school drawing class. Looking good is fun! I don’t necessarily have to be beautiful, though it’s a plus, but I prefer interesting-looking, changing over time, highly colored models. That describes any of the player characters, and none of the druid forms. I also think gender differentiation is a big part of fun. You wouldn’t want NPCs to address you with the wrong pronoun, right? It’s the same with the druid forms–there’s a lack of verisimilitude if I turn into a male bear.

    When I mention Centaur and Dryad, I know it’s a pipe dream, but I’m pointing out to GC that there are better models available already in game. No art design needed! And I’m pretty sure there’s next to no budget for druid forms, or they would have been redone with the outset of Wrath, when all the other art was being worked on. If you let druids choose among many different models in game, we would be totally happy.

  12. Syd – thank you soooo much for this! I’m for the Horde, myself, and that’s part of what’s kept me from playing a Druid at all. I loathe our cat form – why can’t I be a panther? Is it not enough I’d have to be a cow instead of an elf? I shudder at the thought of Moonkin form – who knew it could get LESS attractive than ‘cow?’ And the tree – gah – yes, please, I’d LOVE a dryad/nymph/centaur. Like one of the Daughters of Cenarius in Stonetalon Mountains… you could sign me up today, if that was part of the deal.

    T-Sonns last blog post..Malarea tries out the new ‘Sacrifice’ spell; merriment ensues

  13. I reckon all the druid forms could use a bit of a facelift. A bit of variety would be good too. Even if it consumed a minor glyph slot.

    Even if they made the tree look a bit more alive and a bit less dead brocalli.

    BobTurkeys last blog post..I have the POWA!

  14. I’d have to agree, I never got further than level 29 on my horde druid alt simply cause I cant stand their cat form (but i have a 70 NE). I also havent been able to level a troll because I dont like how they walk. >.>

    Fun can come in different forms (augh didnt mean that!)… whether it’s the aesthetics or gameplay. I think it’s a valid concern for players if they dont enjoy looking at themselves, but they are kind of forced to by the game. whatever happened to those druid glyphs, for instance? They disappeared and we’re still left with “forms are being worked on”. Even the temporary fix was taken out of druid’s paws… errr.

    Anyhow, I’m quite curious to what they may have in store. <3

    Antimonis last blog post..A Light in the Darkness for DW?

  15. Dual specing my feral druid as resto and what’s been holding me back is shambling shrubbery form. The model just looks bad.

    I also find myself thinking there should be some inherent benefit to the cost paid for slow movement speed and loss of offensive ability. Perhaps a passive AOE heal? Given we can’t move very fast it would limit the risk of OP.


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