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It seems like most MMORPGs nowadays are going with the concept of the "limited skill bar" wherein you might have tons of skills you can choose from, but you can only have a select few (6-12ish) on your bar to use in combat at any given time. GW1/GW2, ESO, and Wildstar are designed like this; and even EQ Next will use this concept.
Yet, despite the apparenty popularity of this design with developers, I see so many people here complain about the limited skill bar. Saying things like it "dumbs down" the game, or makes combat worse/less-varied.
Well my friends, I think you're wrong. I think that limited skill bars are (usually) a very good thing for a game, and here are a few reasons why:
1. Build Variety: Imagine you have a game where each character has 20 skills, and can have all of them on their bar. How many different skill builds are there for this character? Answer is pretty easy here one. Now imagine a game where each character has 20 skills, but can only choose 10 to be on their bar. How many different skill builds now? The answer is 184,756. True, most of these probably are not optimal or are very similar to others...but even if only one percent of these builds are viable, that's still over a THOUSAND different ways you can choose to build your character.
I know I've spent hours just theorycrafting different builds, and agonizing over what skill goes in that last slot. You just don't get this kind of investment in your character's build from a game that lets you put all your skills on the bar at the same time.
2. More Interesting/Versatile Skills: I think that limiting the skill bar really forces both players and developers to be more creative with how they use/create skills, and this can create a really interesting combat dynamic in the game. For example, the spellslinger's blink ability in wildstar teleports them forward a fairly short distance and stuns anything they blink through. So in effect this one ability functions as: a chase, an escape, or an offensive/defensive stun.
And remember, all this utility is on the SAME cooldown. This really makes you consider how you want to use this ability because if you use it one way, you sacrifice the other uses of it. For example, if I use it to initiate combat on a player with a stun...then I'm not going to be able to use it to escape if things go poorly, and vice versa.
3. No "Macroable" Skills: In games with MASSIVE skill bars like Rift, macros that just basically shot skills off in a sequence with one button were very common. The reason they were common was because there was essentially one skill rotation that was optimal under just about any circumstance. So instead of pressing 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9; players would just press 1,1,1,1,1....and get the same effect. So in effect, that massive skill bar gets reduced to just a few buttons because so many of the skills are always fired in the same sequence and there is never any reason to deviate from that.
This is definitely not so in a limited skill bar game. Like I mentioned earlier, a lot of skills in these games are multi-purpose, and trying to force them into a rotation is going to really screw you over.
Are you team Azeroth, team Tyria, or team Jacob?