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A method for Class Balance

EronakisEronakis Member UncommonPosts: 2,227
edited September 2020 in The Pub at MMORPG.COM
I would like this to be open for discussion. Here is my take as Game Designer/Class Designer and my philosophy on class balance. My apologies for it being long winded.


Let’s define what is NOT Class Balance.

- Homogenization

- Mass utility distribution to every class of the same types of utility. *Utility = stuns, snares, roots, interrupts, silences, fear, self-heals, buffs, debuffs and nullifies (lose control of character, hard CC)

- Same damage/healing outputs and mitigation input.



Let’s define what IS Class Balance. (The scale of balance should represent the strength and weaknesses, not the distribution)

- Class abilities have specific strengths that are balanced with their specific weaknesses.

- The tool kit for every class/role are different, no mass utility distribution of the same utility. Includes, ability type, ability power, frequency of ability used,
resource cost of ability etc.

- Roles of classes have clear strengths and weaknesses opposed to classes that share the same role and have different roles. DPS should have clear strengths and weaknesses, Tanks and Healers or any other core role in the game should share that philosophy.  



Let’s define what a Class is. – A class is an avatar of a role with a unique thematic tool kit that best represents that classes identity and role.


Core Gameplay Caveat

I believe Class Balance can be best achieved when its focused on one core gameplay stream. (PVE or PVP). When both core gameplay streams are blended in the game, it creates a harder experience for classes to be balanced around them. I do believe, the method described below can help create a healthy balance between both streams of gameplay at its very essence. A lot of variables have to be taken into consideration. The below method is a general way to class balance.


A Good Class Balance Method

Class balance promotes a robust class identity, competition with classes who share their respective roles and creates more diversity, rather than limiting or homogenizing all those elements. To achieve this is through a Layered Approach coupled with a Weight of Power Method.


The Weight of Power Method

The Weight of Power method assigns a value to every type of ability a class has access to in the game. That value determines the power that ability has in many scenarios. Power is described at tackling the content/encounters easier than what it may be attended for.

What helps build class identity is the different types of abilities a class may have access to. There are parent abilities like damage, and its children, direct, damage over time, piercing, area of effect, channeled etc. (Same for healing).

Then there are different parents and children of utility abilities. For instance, Parents = Soft CC & Hard CC.

Soft CC Children = Snares, Roots and Hard CC Children = Stuns and Nullifies. Sure, these are some examples of ability types, but the way the ability functions creates the identity for that class in some cases. Each of these parents and children has a Weight of Power value assigned to them.

Weight of Power helps balance the distribution of types of abilities as well as the penalty associated with that ability assigned to a Class/Role.

Classes should have a threshold of how many Parent and Children of ability should be assigned to them. These numbers are all predetermined as well as the threshold cap. The threshold cap is dependent on the total number of abilities the classes have access too. Since every ability has a value assigned to them, to get the Weight of Power is to simply get the mean of all the values. *Not going to be doing this right now because this is solely dependent on additional variables. The intent here is to show on the surface of the system.

We are going to dive into two hard CC abilities in WoW. We are just going to look at these abilities’ functionality wise only.

For example sake, the Weight of Power range is between 1 and 5. With 5 Being the strongest.

Typically, in a general sense most Hard CC Weight of Power Value is 5 out of 5. Why? Stuns and Nullifies completely lose control of the player or NPC and they cannot attack nor move. But there are many forms of Hard CC.

Polymorph Vs. Cyclone PVP.

Similarities = Both abilities can be casted with no cooldown, both are castable and can be interrupted, both have diminishing returns, and both provide a Hard CC.

Differences = Polymorph is a 8 second initial duration, Cyclone is a 6 second initial duration, Polymorph heals target over time to full HP, Cyclone does not heal but provides a damage immune. Damage breaks poly and damage does not break Cyclone.

I would assign Polymorph a 3 out of 5 Weight of Power Value and Cyclone a 5 out 5 Weight of Power Value.

Cyclone is inherently more powerful than Polymorph because of Cyclone’s immune. Does Polymorphs two additional second duration impact the balance significantly? Some would argue yes and others no. I would argue that it would not justify the balance. Polymorph’s Weight of Power Value is lower because it simply heals the target. In PVP that is huge, and a clear disadvantage as opposed to Cyclone. How would you balance Polymorph to make it a 5 out of 5 Weight of Power in PVP?

There are multiple ways around this. Diminishing returns will stay as is. One way is to omit the healing function of Polymorph, however, that slightly diminishes identity. Another way is to keep the healing aspect of Polymorph but use it as an instant cast spell so it cannot be interrupted. Another is to increase CC duration with the healing aspect of the ability to an additional 3 seconds. I think these are all valid ways to improve Polymorph in PVP against Cyclone.


The Layered Class Balance Approach


Layer 1 of Class Balance = This is where you define what roles are needed in the game to create the identity of the entire class structure. You balance the roles at their very core, which is damage/healing output with damage mitigation, HP/Mana ratios, etc. Fundamental stuff. This is where you balance and Assign Weight of Power to all ability types, parents and children.

Layer 2 of Class Balance = This layer is where you determine if there are Pure and Hybrid classes and balance the damage/healing output, damage mitigation, HP/Mana ratios etc against Pure classes and Hybrid classes. Typically, this can be a hard layer to balance if there are a lot of Hybrid classes. Hybrids are a class that can perform two roles and in itself creates an imbalance. Hybrids can be either overly powerful or underwhelming under powered.

Layer 3 of Class Balance = This is where you would assign what classes have access to what Type of abilities in their tool kit. This is where the mean of the Weight of Power comes into play to help balance the classes.

Layer 4 of Class Balance = Layer 4 is where you balance the number values for each ability’s output and penalty. If Fireball is a Weight of Power of 5 for Direct Damage, what is its penalty to counterweight that 5? A long cast time? Increased fizzle chance? Triple amount of mana or resource used to cast? Long cooldown? All those variables and questions come into play in this layer.

Layer 5 of Class Balance = This is the layer that I believe most players and designers focus too much of their attention on and ignoring the previous Layers. The focus is on the output of power the ability can do and adjust that output number in accordance with Layer 4.

















Post edited by Eronakis on
AmarantharGdemamiAlBQuirkybcbullycameltosisAmathe

Comments

  • AmarantharAmaranthar Member EpicPosts: 4,387
    I really don't know what I can comment on, but that is some nice work! 

    GdemamiEronakis

    Once upon a time....

  • iixviiiixiixviiiix Member RarePosts: 2,223
    edited September 2020
    Don't try to balance , make them unique .
    And boobies sell .okay , joke is done .

    Honestly ,  i rather play a game with unique classes instead of balanced one .
    I would love to play a game with +100 classes and each class only have 5 or 7 ability

    the more ability you give for a class , the easier for it to broken a game
    Also make the damage formulas simple , i have to say that nowaday damage formula too fairvote for damage dealers .

    And you don't need to create skills for class theme.
    It's better to create bunch of skills then mix them up to create classes
    AlBQuirky
  • TheocritusTheocritus Member EpicPosts: 8,202
    PVE: I prefer unique classes that are unbalanced but it depends on if the game is solo or group based. A game like WoW uses balance because they want every class to be viable solo. A game like EQ1 doesn't balance because they want players to group using the specialties of each class.

    PVP: Almost always has balanced classes because the players whine if any class is over or underpowered. This is one reason why I absolutely do not like games that do both PVE and PVP because it screws up the class balance issue.
    AlBQuirkyAmatheUngood
  • botrytisbotrytis Member RarePosts: 3,353
    PVE: I prefer unique classes that are unbalanced but it depends on if the game is solo or group based. A game like WoW uses balance because they want every class to be viable solo. A game like EQ1 doesn't balance because they want players to group using the specialties of each class.

    PVP: Almost always has balanced classes because the players whine if any class is over or underpowered. This is one reason why I absolutely do not like games that do both PVE and PVP because it screws up the class balance issue.

    Not true at all. I will give one example of many that I know of. In Rift, when the game first came out, I played a Riftstalker. People whined, bitched and moaned about the class but it had some real drawbacks and if you knew the mechanics of your character and the Riftstalker, one could easily kill one. But instead, they listened to the whiney Karens and nerfed that profession into oblivion while making one other profession too OP to play against. 

    Balance means every class has a weakness and a strength but not over powered.

    In GW2, currently, there is too much AoE and CC skills which have quick recharges and kill to fast to do anything. A balance there would limit CC's (sometimes you can be rooted for a minute since the skills stack time) and also not allow AoE's to be placed on each other.
    EronakisAlBQuirky


  • EronakisEronakis Member UncommonPosts: 2,227
    PVE: I prefer unique classes that are unbalanced but it depends on if the game is solo or group based. A game like WoW uses balance because they want every class to be viable solo. A game like EQ1 doesn't balance because they want players to group using the specialties of each class.

    PVP: Almost always has balanced classes because the players whine if any class is over or underpowered. This is one reason why I absolutely do not like games that do both PVE and PVP because it screws up the class balance issue.

    Go re-read the OP. The method I propose provides classes to not lose identity but rather thrive in identity through Class Balance. 

    I have never seen one title that had balanced classes for PVP. Especially when PVP and PVE gameplay streams are blended in. I have seen more mmorpgs have close class balance for PVE though. 
    AlBQuirky
  • EronakisEronakis Member UncommonPosts: 2,227
    edited September 2020
    @Amaranthar - Thanks for your kind words sir and reading the entire post :) 

    @iixviiiix - I encourage you to go re-read the OP. Like I mentioned to Theocrits, the method I proposed actually creates unique thematic classes with Class Balance. Imbalanced classes actually do what you mentioned and not make classes unique and lack strong identity. 
  • AlBQuirkyAlBQuirky Member EpicPosts: 6,707
    A very interesting read, OP!

    I like how you defined what "Class Balance" is not, before going into what you mean.

    The "weight of power" you described is a little iffy to me. I realize you need something concrete in which to compare abilities and skills, but that number varies.

    Your WoW example was good. Me, being healer minded, immediately felt slighted at Polymorph's lesser weight. "Sure,", I thought, "Give damage more weight over healing..." It's been a bone of contention with me since too many MMORPGs award XP by damage done, rarely by healing. With that said, I certainly see why you awarded the points as you did :)

    Overall, I think you have a good basis for an MMORPG. Unfortunately, I'm not "THE" target audience these days. Freedom and no restrictions is what players want these days. "Classes are so last millennium" is the usual mantra I hear :)
    Catibrie

    - Al

    Personally the only modern MMORPG trend that annoys me is the idea that MMOs need to be designed in a way to attract people who don't actually like MMOs. Which to me makes about as much sense as someone trying to figure out a way to get vegetarians to eat at their steakhouse.
    - FARGIN_WAR


  • EronakisEronakis Member UncommonPosts: 2,227
    AlBQuirky said:
    A very interesting read, OP!

    I like how you defined what "Class Balance" is not, before going into what you mean.

    The "weight of power" you described is a little iffy to me. I realize you need something concrete in which to compare abilities and skills, but that number varies.

    Your WoW example was good. Me, being healer minded, immediately felt slighted at Polymorph's lesser weight. "Sure,", I thought, "Give damage more weight over healing..." It's been a bone of contention with me since too many MMORPGs award XP by damage done, rarely by healing. With that said, I certainly see why you awarded the points as you did :)

    Overall, I think you have a good basis for an MMORPG. Unfortunately, I'm not "THE" target audience these days. Freedom and no restrictions is what players want these days. "Classes are so last millennium" is the usual mantra I hear :)

    Alb! Always a pleasure! What makes the Weight of Power Method iffy for you?

    Class Design is always welcomed and will never die out :) It's just one spectrum of gameplay. You need a good sandbox mmo. I was always under the philosophy that creativity comes with more structure. 
    AmarantharAlBQuirky
  • AmatheAmathe Member LegendaryPosts: 7,630
    To me class balance is achieved when each class has a strength with an offsetting weakness. For example, a wizard does massive damage but has very little defense.

    But nowadays people (not the OP) tend to think that class balance means that every class is equal. A wizard does the same damage as a druid or a rogue. That I think makes for a dull game.
    EronakisSovrathiixviiiixSensaiTheocritusAlBQuirky

    EQ1, EQ2, SWG, SWTOR, GW, GW2 CoH, CoV, FFXI, WoW, CO, War,TSW and a slew of free trials and beta tests

  • EronakisEronakis Member UncommonPosts: 2,227
    Amathe said:
    To me class balance is achieved when each class has a strength with an offsetting weakness. For example, a wizard does massive damage but has very little defense.

    But nowadays people (not the OP) tend to think that class balance means that every class is equal. A wizard does the same damage as a druid or a rogue. That I think makes for a dull game.

    I agree. That is a GREAT example of strength and weakness. I actually use that example a lot lol. I find that the current state of WoW is extremely bad in class balance and the devs are either inept or do not care. Or both lol.
    Gdemami
  • cameltosiscameltosis Member EpicPosts: 2,913
    Eronakis said:
    <snip>

    Really great post @Eronakis, I like the method and definitions you are using. I've thought a lot about balance in mmorpgs and im pretty obsessed with the idea of horizontal progression, so balance (maintaining a power level) is often on my mind.


    There are two things I feel that you may have overlooked (or just not had the space to include it!)


    1. Group vs Solo
    Just another added layer of complexity when it comes to balance, but not to be overlooked. Are you balancing for solo players, or group players, or both? I'm sure you've seen all the complaints everywhere about certain classes being OP solo, or too useful in groups. I believe this decision is just as important as the pve vs pvp or both question.


    2. The role of content
    Balancing the classes is only half the equation, they have to be set against the content.

    For example, many types of CC are often completely useless in raids. So, it doesn't matter how well balanced things are on paper if the content either allows or blocks certain skillsets. Same sort of thing with tanks when solo: their taunts/aggro mechanics become meaningless.



    Overall though, I like your approach. I guess I'd sum it up as a giant game of rock-paper-scissors, where each option is distinctive (roles / classes) but still balanced against the other options.

    I would be curious to hear your thoughts about how you'll be approaching things like trait trees / class specs etc. In a lot of games, I feel like these mechanics are ways to get around the group vs solo question: everyone gets a DPS spec for solo, then other specs for group content.

    tzervoAmarantharGdemamiAlBQuirky
  • EronakisEronakis Member UncommonPosts: 2,227
    Eronakis said:
    <snip>

    <snip>

    Hey Cameltosis, thanks for taking the time to read it! 

    Group vs Solo Balance
    You're right about this adding another layer of complexity. I did want to include this but felt like this could be brought up in the discussion, so thank you! I think a lot of the decisions for balancing classes for solo play vs group play is dependent on the vision of the experience you want your players to have in the core gameplay, whatever that may be. Those decisions are also dependent on the weight of how much Class Roles come into play in the game. 

    Class Roles is what typically defines those strengths and weaknesses. Sometimes those lines of class roles can be blurred just a bit to provide that additional layer of class identity.

    This question of Solo vs Group balance also has to compliment the gameplay you have. Is the vision of the game more oriented towards group play or solo play? Maybe a balance of both? These are all big discussions and decisions that account for a library of variables. 

    Everquest comes to mind about this being an issue. Necromancer's were fantastic at soloing, while others may have failed. Sometimes, that is a trade off. 

    For me personally, I still believe the Layered Approach and the Weight of Power method is still valid and taken into consideration for the Group Vs Solo gameplay balance. I think it's up to the designer to determine what Utility abilities every class or role should have access too. This why the Weight of Power Method is important to balance. 

    I think certain Utility is okay to have some mass distribution in a PVE centric game. I do believe group gameplay should be the main arm of content but should also allow solo play. WIth that said, in my current designs, all classes have the opportunity to solo without diminishing their class identity nor role. When you mix PVP into the bowl, this has a high frequency of creating an imbalance on the Solo vs Group balance. 


    Role of Content
    The Class Design has to compliment the combat mechanics, encounters and NPC AI. The current structure of raiding today is mindless mowing down trash packs with AoE and for boss mechanics, its lava on the floor or stacking etc. I think this boils down to the approach to the Trinity Gameplay Model. 

    The current model is now, no CC but just have the tank mow everything down and tank the boss. The other spectrum of this model is you take on one NPC at a time and CC is your failsafe against roamers, patrols or adds. Which I prefer the ladder to the former. I also believe there is another way to approach the Trinity Gameplay Model that can excel in compelling content for group and raid play. I always envisioned raids to be a larger scale of group play. I never understood why content just ignores specific abilities. I would consider that 'bad design' but I also have a comprehension of meeting mile stones and deadlines can affect that. For companies like Blizzard, to me there is no excuse to ignore fundamental aspects of gameplay that occurs in group and can't transition that to raids. 


    Rock/Paper/Scissors Approach
    Just wanted to comment on this quickly. I think the Rock Paper Scissors approach can work, but it works better for PVP rather than PVE gameplay. I would also argue that the Layered Approach and Weight of Power Method to Class Balance doesn't correspond to the Rock/Paper/Scissors balance approach. You don't need it with the method I proposed. I always though the RPS approach was too linear and cookie cutter.


    Trait Trees, Class Trees/Soecs etc.
    For my own class design, I am against any trait tree, class tree or spec that blurs the lines of your role too much or switches your role and bottlenecks you into a linear play style. I have always been in favor of designs that allow you to have the full library or tool kit of your class on a limited Combat Bar space. I do like the idea of AA points or the Mastery system that Pantheon is implementing of improving your current tool kit. I am all for that, but not changing your role or blurring those lines between your role too much. 

    Take WoW for an example. Their class design structure is flawed and is easily imbalanced. When you have a class that has a role that is inherent, and you provide them abilities or elements of an another role, that can cause an imbalance if you don't have those abilities prior balanced. 
     


    AmarantharGdemamiAlBQuirkycameltosis
  • UngoodUngood Member LegendaryPosts: 5,563
    I hate to do this, because it looks like you put a lot of effort into this, but I am gonna toss a rock into the pool.

    First Point:

    Healing.

    One thing I have learned over all the years I have played MMO's, self healing is King! Being able to tend to your own wounds, be it out of combat recovery, or straight up self healing abilities, so that each player can tend their own ass when it comes to doing runs, just makes playing PvE a joy!

    There are very few things worse than some full DPS moron screaming at the healer type to Hjeals them. The idea that it would be someone else's job to enable other players to just wantonly play a DPS type without a care in the world and blame someone else for their death, has been the bane of MMO's since they have existed.

    While the ability to heal others is a necessity for teamwork style play in MMO's, unless it is really well implemented, healer style classes are not conductive to most teamwork style environments as it allows other players to be lazy.

    Allow me to use an Example: GW2. (MMO)

    At first this game set things out great, everyone had their own healing abilities, this made for stress free grouping. Also, every class had the ability to heal others to a greater or lesser extent. With the right traits set up, some classes could in fact be group healers, and butt saver, but they were also DPS as well, they were not JUST the healer.

    This was great, groups were mainly taking the first 5 that hit and going and doing, the way a multiplayer game should be played.

    This changed a bit after raids and GW2 desire to set up roles, and suddenly even 5 person Dungeon/Fractal runs had people now waiting on Druid Healers, like we were all back in EQ sitting around with our thumbs up our ass waiting for someone else to enable our playtime.

    AmarantharSensaiAlBQuirky
    Egotism is the anesthetic that dullens the pain of stupidity, this is why when I try to beat my head against the stupidity of other people, I only hurt myself.
  • AmarantharAmaranthar Member EpicPosts: 4,387
    edited September 2020
    Ungood said:
    I hate to do this, because it looks like you put a lot of effort into this, but I am gonna toss a rock into the pool.

    First Point:

    Healing.

    One thing I have learned over all the years I have played MMO's, self healing is King! Being able to tend to your own wounds, be it out of combat recovery, or straight up self healing abilities, so that each player can tend their own ass when it comes to doing runs, just makes playing PvE a joy!

    There are very few things worse than some full DPS moron screaming at the healer type to Hjeals them. The idea that it would be someone else's job to enable other players to just wantonly play a DPS type without a care in the world and blame someone else for their death, has been the bane of MMO's since they have existed.

    While the ability to heal others is a necessity for teamwork style play in MMO's, unless it is really well implemented, healer style classes are not conductive to most teamwork style environments as it allows other players to be lazy.

    Allow me to use an Example: GW2. (MMO)

    At first this game set things out great, everyone had their own healing abilities, this made for stress free grouping. Also, every class had the ability to heal others to a greater or lesser extent. With the right traits set up, some classes could in fact be group healers, and butt saver, but they were also DPS as well, they were not JUST the healer.

    This was great, groups were mainly taking the first 5 that hit and going and doing, the way a multiplayer game should be played.

    This changed a bit after raids and GW2 desire to set up roles, and suddenly even 5 person Dungeon/Fractal runs had people now waiting on Druid Healers, like we were all back in EQ sitting around with our thumbs up our ass waiting for someone else to enable our playtime.

    I'm all for healing for all through things like potions. 
    But they should be less effective then a Healer's spells, and further offset by the act of drinking, in combat, having some risks such as disruption and even a chance of destruction of the potion (or whatever, bandages, etc.). That makes healing through non-magical means more practical in downtimes or away from combat, but still offers some aid during combat. 

    But then, I'm also a Cleric kind of healing type, where they can also do damage in combat, just less than a true warrior (especially through special attacks and capabilities). 
    EronakisAlBQuirky

    Once upon a time....

  • learis1learis1 Member UncommonPosts: 169
    tl:dr: Homegenization is actually fine if used sparingly.

    For the sake of argument, I do believe homegenization is not always bad. By homogenization, I mean as described in the OP that two classes have relatively the same strengths and weaknesses with the same damage and utilities.

    If this is done for every single class, people will catch on. But you can do it a little bit and I think it's fine. What gives the classes distinction in this case is their playstyle and theme. Let's say you have two dps classes. The classes have the same average dps and utilities like crowd control and stun. However one of the classes is a fire wizard lobbing out super heavy damaging fireballs. Another class is a poison wizard doing his damage over time.

    The classes have completely different playstyles and possibly mechanics to how they build and manage resources and whatnot. But at the end of the day, when both are played optimally they function practically the same.

    This is just one hypothetical. In this case, I don't have a problem homogenization so long as the playstyles feel unique and fitting of the themes. However, the user tends to catch on if this is done too much. 


    AlBQuirkytzervo

    Mend and Defend

  • EronakisEronakis Member UncommonPosts: 2,227
    learis1 said:
    tl:dr: Homegenization is actually fine if used sparingly.

    For the sake of argument, I do believe homegenization is not always bad. By homogenization, I mean as described in the OP that two classes have relatively the same strengths and weaknesses with the same damage and utilities.

    If this is done for every single class, people will catch on. But you can do it a little bit and I think it's fine. What gives the classes distinction in this case is their playstyle and theme. Let's say you have two dps classes. The classes have the same average dps and utilities like crowd control and stun. However one of the classes is a fire wizard lobbing out super heavy damaging fireballs. Another class is a poison wizard doing his damage over time.

    The classes have completely different playstyles and possibly mechanics to how they build and manage resources and whatnot. But at the end of the day, when both are played optimally they function practically the same.

    This is just one hypothetical. In this case, I don't have a problem homogenization so long as the playstyles feel unique and fitting of the themes. However, the user tends to catch on if this is done too much. 


    In reality, there is some degree of homogenization of distribution of some type of abilities. Most damage abilities are homogenized in distribution to nearly every class. I think it's okay to have multiple classes to share some of the same ability distribution as others but at varying degrees of power and uniqueness. 

    In your example, if there is a fire wizard and a poison wizard and their only difference is their damage ability type output, why not use a spec system like wow? It would be a colossal waste to have a separate class when that is the only difference and I would constitute as bad design.

    The current state of retail WoW is notorious for mass homogenization of utility, with out weighing its power against damage and role abilities. Thus breaking the game.
    AlBQuirkytzervo
  • AlBQuirkyAlBQuirky Member EpicPosts: 6,707
    edited September 2020
    Eronakis said:
    AlBQuirky said:
    A very interesting read, OP!

    I like how you defined what "Class Balance" is not, before going into what you mean.

    The "weight of power" you described is a little iffy to me. I realize you need something concrete in which to compare abilities and skills, but that number varies.

    Your WoW example was good. Me, being healer minded, immediately felt slighted at Polymorph's lesser weight. "Sure,", I thought, "Give damage more weight over healing..." It's been a bone of contention with me since too many MMORPGs award XP by damage done, rarely by healing. With that said, I certainly see why you awarded the points as you did :)

    Overall, I think you have a good basis for an MMORPG. Unfortunately, I'm not "THE" target audience these days. Freedom and no restrictions is what players want these days. "Classes are so last millennium" is the usual mantra I hear :)

    Alb! Always a pleasure! What makes the Weight of Power Method iffy for you?

    Class Design is always welcomed and will never die out :) It's just one spectrum of gameplay. You need a good sandbox mmo. I was always under the philosophy that creativity comes with more structure. 

    Sorry. I had this post answered when my PC decided to reboot. Then I forgot all about this. So...

    The weight of power is "iffy" because it depends on what the developer finds "weighty", if that makes sense :) (I don't always agree...)

    As in your example, you weighted the damage over time more than the healing, which is common in games today. Granted, there is probably more to it than that, but it has always been a thorn in my craw that damage trumps all. Very few (if any) MMOs reward players for healing or more utilitarian skills. Most rewards and praise go to DPS.

    I also agree that "limits" make people more creative. "How can I accomplish this within the bounds set forth?" The same goes for players. Seeing what they can do within the bounds of a game can be amazing, as I witnessed time and time again in City of Heroes' character creation or many TTD&D games :)
    cameltosisCatibrie

    - Al

    Personally the only modern MMORPG trend that annoys me is the idea that MMOs need to be designed in a way to attract people who don't actually like MMOs. Which to me makes about as much sense as someone trying to figure out a way to get vegetarians to eat at their steakhouse.
    - FARGIN_WAR


  • learis1learis1 Member UncommonPosts: 169
    Eronakis said:
    In reality, there is some degree of homogenization of distribution of some type of abilities. Most damage abilities are homogenized in distribution to nearly every class. I think it's okay to have multiple classes to share some of the same ability distribution as others but at varying degrees of power and uniqueness. 

    In your example, if there is a fire wizard and a poison wizard and their only difference is their damage ability type output, why not use a spec system like wow? It would be a colossal waste to have a separate class when that is the only difference and I would constitute as bad design.

    The current state of retail WoW is notorious for mass homogenization of utility, with out weighing its power against damage and role abilities. Thus breaking the game.

    A spec system may as well be a synonym for class. The 'specs' in WoW are classes that share a few core abilities but often just function entirely different from one another (I'm talking about dps classes like rogues and mages). The 3 specs may as well be 3 classes you can choose from. 

    I'm not sure if WoW has mass homogenization of utility. To a degree, yes, but some classes have significantly more utility or at least do it more effectively than others from what I can tell. What do you mean by this? 

    But generally, mass homogenization might be important. Because the less homogenized, the more roles are created and this can make groups harder and harder to create as more roles are required to be filled.

    ex) A game has been adjusted to become significantly less homogenized and more specialized. Class A is now a dps that specializes in rooting the enemies in place. class B is a dps that specializes in interrupting enemies... So now there's a dungeon that requires powerful melee enemies to be rooted, and powerful caster enemies to be interrupted. Since homogenization has been taken away and there only exists dps that do one or the other, you have turned the 3-role system into a 4-role system. Maybe that will work... maybe it won't. It just becomes harder to fill out the party. Also, it becomes more rock-paper-scissor based for dungeons. Dungeon A may require much more of class A type of dps than the other type, while dungeon B is the opposite. 

    There needs to be a balance between homogenization and specialization. It's complicated... I feel like WoW does as good a job as any on the pve side given that balance is under a microscope in that game, but pvp is a mess, granted they design first and foremost for pve.
    AlBQuirky

    Mend and Defend

  • UngoodUngood Member LegendaryPosts: 5,563
    Ungood said:
    I hate to do this, because it looks like you put a lot of effort into this, but I am gonna toss a rock into the pool.

    First Point:

    Healing.

    One thing I have learned over all the years I have played MMO's, self healing is King! Being able to tend to your own wounds, be it out of combat recovery, or straight up self healing abilities, so that each player can tend their own ass when it comes to doing runs, just makes playing PvE a joy!

    There are very few things worse than some full DPS moron screaming at the healer type to Hjeals them. The idea that it would be someone else's job to enable other players to just wantonly play a DPS type without a care in the world and blame someone else for their death, has been the bane of MMO's since they have existed.

    While the ability to heal others is a necessity for teamwork style play in MMO's, unless it is really well implemented, healer style classes are not conductive to most teamwork style environments as it allows other players to be lazy.

    Allow me to use an Example: GW2. (MMO)

    At first this game set things out great, everyone had their own healing abilities, this made for stress free grouping. Also, every class had the ability to heal others to a greater or lesser extent. With the right traits set up, some classes could in fact be group healers, and butt saver, but they were also DPS as well, they were not JUST the healer.

    This was great, groups were mainly taking the first 5 that hit and going and doing, the way a multiplayer game should be played.

    This changed a bit after raids and GW2 desire to set up roles, and suddenly even 5 person Dungeon/Fractal runs had people now waiting on Druid Healers, like we were all back in EQ sitting around with our thumbs up our ass waiting for someone else to enable our playtime.

    I'm all for healing for all through things like potions. 
    But they should be less effective then a Healer's spells, and further offset by the act of drinking, in combat, having some risks such as disruption and even a chance of destruction of the potion (or whatever, bandages, etc.). That makes healing through non-magical means more practical in downtimes or away from combat, but still offers some aid during combat. 

    But then, I'm also a Cleric kind of healing type, where they can also do damage in combat, just less than a true warrior (especially through special attacks and capabilities). 
    I get where you are coming from, but, Self Healing is KING.

    There is nothing more empowering and alleviating than everyone being able to self heal as an intrinsic aspect of the game. 

    While in many MMO's people used pots, hirelings, gear and equipment, and a slew of other methods to self heal, when I played GW2, and everyone had a "Heal" button, that was truly the mark of a new and correct direction for MMO's.

    Now, I play DDO (Dungeons and Dragons Online) right now, which is based on the 3.5 Edition Rules (With what amounts to a lot of homebrew) and it allows players to mix upto 3 classes.

    So if I wanted to mix, say, Fighter, Thief, and Cleric, I could. And Yes, I would get access to all the advantages of being a fighter, all the advantages of being a thief, and all the Advantages of being a Cleric, up to the levels that I took them. 

    Again, being able to self heal, or tend your own health, is one of the most needed aspects of an MMO. 

    Waiting for a cleric to sit in the corner and heal, was about the worst design that anyone could have put together for a game, and the fact that we still have not fully broken away from that mold, is rather sad, given some games have done a great to move away from that kind of design.
    AlBQuirky
    Egotism is the anesthetic that dullens the pain of stupidity, this is why when I try to beat my head against the stupidity of other people, I only hurt myself.
  • BeansnBreadBeansnBread Member EpicPosts: 7,249
    You nailed the way I think about class balance. I am usually thinking about it from a PvP perspective, because I think some semblance of PvE balance is far easier to accomplish.

    For me at least, the main problem with everything that you said is that even with some guidelines like you described (a point system, a ground up approach), it is still an impossible task rife with opinion and unintended consequences. Is an instant cast poly worth invulnerability on cyclone? And not just in an ideal situation, but in all situations? Everyone is going to have a different opinion about these things. I don't think you can properly balance through point systems.

    And you didn't even mention how extreme certain synergies can be between classes with their intended roles, which complicates it further.

    If you want a good amount of classes to be distinct and interesting, it will require time and attention. You need to pay attention to what the players are doing. This is not easy and often times I think that LISTENING to the playerbase can be counterproductive to good balance because most of them have a myopic viewpoint. The loudest are usually not the smartest, they're just the most annoyed.

    I guess I have one last issue with the post. People have been seriously going over this for at least 2 decades (at least). So when you say something like this, "This is the layer that I believe most players and designers focus too much of their attention on and ignoring the previous Layers," it makes me think that is where YOU used to focus most of your attention.

    I think in a way people already do what you suggest with a point system and the layered approach. Specifically with the point system, they may not be saying that's a 5 vs a 4, but they are comparing them to each other.

    Even with all that said, I think you pretty much nailed how it's SUPPOSED to go. In an ideal situation, all of your stuff makes sense to me, there are just too many realities in balancing that require less rigidity.
    AlBQuirky
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