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What is the point of classes?

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  • acidbloodacidblood Member RarePosts: 843
    edited September 2016
    Classes define roles (which are essential for any well co-ordinated team situation), and, done well, provide far more interesting gameplay and mechanics than a general skill based system is able to.

    Taking FFXIV (a very class based game) Monk for example: Core skills are only able to be used in a certain stance (there are about 3~4 skills usable per stance), with each skill advancing the Monk to the next stance, and completing a series of stances conferring a stacking buff that makes the Monk faster and able to do more damage. Core skills also have positional effects and most other skills are built around the stance / buff mechanic (e.g. freely change stance, use skill out of stance, consume buff for big hit), or support the stance / buff mechanic (e.g. dash to target, off cooldown stun, faster movement). Throw in a token support skill (AoE +20% healing!), and all of this adds up to a lot of DPS (but relatively little support) and makes for a very unique and interesting playstyle.

    While technically you could implement the FFXIV Monk in a skill based system the core skills are so tightly coupled there is no way of only taking a few of them and still having an effective / enjoyable character (essentially turning that set of skills into a 'class'). And forget about limited action set, it's 3 stances * 3~4 skills + support = 12~16 skills minimum, 20+ if you want to keep things interesting.

    Class interaction is also very important, and again, done well, means that classes can be varied both in terms of play style and DPS / Tank / Healing / Support ability, and still all be useful / welcomed in a group.

    This is not to say that tightly defined classes are 'the best', and certainly aren't the only way to go. And there is definitely something to be said for giving players customiaation even within a tightly defined class (something FFXIV sorely needs). But the idea that all RPGs should simply be 'classless' is a bit short sighted, especially for MMOs where classes, which define roles, help people interact in a positive way.
  • MoiraeMoirae Member RarePosts: 3,318
    I can think of alot of reasons. To give direction for one. Tradition for another. And that's just to start. But I've been arguing that the idea of classes is far too narrow. Everyone should start with the same basic stats and say as a basic normal human (just for examples sake). Then we should gain points and be able to do with them what we like. And focus where we like. 

    For example.... let's say you have strength, dexterity, wisdom, and intelligence. Well, why can't I choose what to focus on among those and have all of them start at a basic say 15? Then the same with skills, why do I have to be forced to be a warrior, or a mage? Why can't I choose to do both based on what I spend my points on? Why can't I have some points in those but choose to focus on a profession instead? Or many professions? The focus is too narrow and its one of the things killing these games. Even tabletop games aren't as limited in option as mmo's. 
  • waynejr2waynejr2 Member EpicPosts: 7,768
    4507 said:
    @waynejr2: I didn't say it was easy, I said that classes are a crutch for designers who can't do it. 

    @Konfess: I agree with not allowing one character to max out all skills, I'm just saying that a skill-based system inherently has more freedom because you can choose any combination of skills you like.

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  • ApexTKMApexTKM Member UncommonPosts: 334
    The point of classes is to cut off your arms and give you new ones that you can never take off.
    The acronym MMORPG use to mean Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game.

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  • FlyByKnightFlyByKnight Member EpicPosts: 3,879
    This thread is going to be a gem. 

    When I read "Classes are strictly for lazy developers..." I started getting my popcorn and beverage ready.

    Can't want to see what other Nietzsche level quotes follow.
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  • Po_ggPo_gg Member RarePosts: 4,674
    Nyctelios said:
    Also, talking about "classless systems" and not mentioning GURPS is sad.
    Or the Hero system :wink:

    Recore said:
    What do you all consider the best games that do not have classes?
    Not sure about the "you all" part, some already mentioned TSW, I'd add CO as well (based on the afforementioned Hero system :wink: ).
    Both of those are piling up the in-game skills in a heap, then allow the characters to cherry-pick the skills they want to use - with some minor rules / restrictions.
    The main difference between them I think is how they're handling the so-called "altitis"  :lol:  TSW is focusing on one character (to rule them all), while CO is like an altoholic's wet dream (some severe altoholics have over a hundred alts there... not kidding, they even have a thread with the count http://forum.arcgames.com/championsonline/discussion/1203263/altaholic-challenge-part-5 ).
  • AeliousAelious Member RarePosts: 3,521

    In a word: Identity


    That said, while I would not say classes are a sign of lazy developers I would say, depending on what the goal of the meta game is, it's a sign of pragmatic developers. If you want to have a role based system, open or level-less character progression is going to be tough when considering "outside the box" builds and have it relatively comparable to others.


    As an example: I want to essentially play a Paladin but more caster/support and the ability to dual wield swords. I'm looking at this from a group play aspect mind you. I understand that to have this build and to trade off I would need to be squishier. I can find this build in two titles that I can think of: Archage and SotA. The problem in AA is that you're mixing two class archetypes together so you're not as effective, especially the way gear stats work. In SotA it's a lot more doable but unfortunately I find the game a bit bland and boring so I have not gotten my build up enough to see if it's viable.


    I say this because in a lot of ways the design of a game would need to change dramatically to effectively pull off an open class system in a title with group play. One of the reasons I'm looking forward to DnL is that I hope they can do this so I can create a character I envision, not the closest stock likeness.

  • GladDogGladDog Member RarePosts: 967
    Ozmodan said:
    GladDog said:
    There is more to classes than just making it 'easier' for the developers.  A classless system ends up with everyone having the same exact build, or being gimped with any other build.  When the devs try to fix it, a few days later there is another 'ultimate' build, and everyone switches to it.  It is bad enough is a game with a class system, way worse in one without.

    Also, many, many players have preferences for how they like to play.  Personally I like playing tanks and healers.  Nothing wrong with damage dealers, they just are not my cup of tea.  I can go into a game with classes and know which classes are going to be the most fun for me.

    Yeah, I know, I try DPS classes for every game I play, and other than City of Heroes I have yet to find a game that I really enjoy playing a DPSer.  If the ultimate build is a DPS build, that means that my self designed tank and self designed healer have no chance for fun in PvP.  I like PvE better, but that does not mean I avoid PvP.  I have fun with that, and consider PvP a terrific way to breathe life into a game I am getting bored of.
    That is complete nonsense!  Take UO, skill based system had some of the best pvp I have experienced in a game.  There were many ways to make a successful build in UO, there were no cookie cutter ones.  In a rock paper scissors world you have to accept that any build has drawbacks too.  

    Classes are strictly for lazy developers who don't want to take the time to put together a good skill system.  
    OK, lets talk about UO.  I never played it, but I just spent the last 3 years playing Forsaken World and then ESO with a friend who played UO for about 12 years, from day one.  He told us on voice chat over and over how they would design builds that were unstoppable, and how six of them would take on 20 normal players and beat them into the ground.  When the devs would adjust the game, they would adjust their builds.  They would experiment for hours or even days on test until they were satisfied with their builds, and then go tear it up.

    I doubt my friend and his guild were the only ones doing this.  Since it was an open world PvP game, his guild, and him in particular, often had a price on their head.  He thought that was part of the fun!  But if you went in looking for a WoWish, or ESish type of experience, you would be sorely disappointed, although having an ultimate build would make it easier.


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  • DMKanoDMKano Member LegendaryPosts: 20,872
    edited September 2016
    Class system is there to keep the middle class showing up for work.

    Middle class does the work, the rich are there to sell "if you keep working hard enough you can be like me someday(lol)"

    The poor stay there to instill fear into the middle class "don't end up like me" so they keep showing up for work.

    That's why we have classes ;)

  • KyleranKyleran Member LegendaryPosts: 33,555
    edited September 2016
    Aelious said:

    In a word: Identity


    That said, while I would not say classes are a sign of lazy developers I would say, depending on what the goal of the meta game is, it's a sign of pragmatic developers. If you want to have a role based system, open or level-less character progression is going to be tough when considering "outside the box" builds and have it relatively comparable to others.


    As an example: I want to essentially play a Paladin but more caster/support and the ability to dual wield swords. I'm looking at this from a group play aspect mind you. I understand that to have this build and to trade off I would need to be squishier. I can find this build in two titles that I can think of: Archage and SotA. The problem in AA is that you're mixing two class archetypes together so you're not as effective, especially the way gear stats work. In SotA it's a lot more doable but unfortunately I find the game a bit bland and boring so I have not gotten my build up enough to see if it's viable.


    I say this because in a lot of ways the design of a game would need to change dramatically to effectively pull off an open class system in a title with group play. One of the reasons I'm looking forward to DnL is that I hope they can do this so I can create a character I envision, not the closest stock likeness.

    Agreed, classes can help to create and define a players identity in a MMORPG, especially if there is clear demarcation of roles and abilities between them.

    In EVE I'm a pretty fair "healer" (ship repper) with with no classes it's hard to build such an identity.

    Others are terrific tacklers, others EM or other disruption/debuffing experts, but again no identity behind their prowess.

    When I was a healer in DAOC I was recognized by many for my talent and never suffered for a group invite. (and not because they were in short supply as they weren't)

    Heck as a Skald I made a name as a solid killer as the class has a pair of instant DD spells along with being a speed class that make it perfect for delivering the final killing blows on an opponent.

    So while classes are not necessary, I find there are positives to having them in virtual worlds.

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  • SEANMCADSEANMCAD Member EpicPosts: 16,775
    4507 said:
    I have personally always seen classes as a crutch for designers who can't balance a skill-based system, but lately I've been seeing people saying things like 'X game needs more diverse and intersting classes', 'X game's classes are so generic', 'X game will fail because it has bad classes', etc. A properly designed and balanced skill system intrinsically gives the ultimate freedom and diversity of choices that no class system could ever rival, so I'd like to know what the point of classes is; why are people demanding better classes over no classes?
    Classes come from pen and paper D&D and basically when computer gaming started to try and copy the pen and paper rollplaying system they copied classes and because people bought games non-stop they never bothered to change it much and its been in so long that people assume its the best way to go and has been battle tested against other options when in fact it hasnt.

    skill based systems are by far much better

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  • TheocritusTheocritus Member EpicPosts: 6,991
    Iselin said:
    The more complex and original a game is, the more useful classes are for people learning the ropes.

    The best games out there have classless options but also class-like templates to get you started until you figure it out for yourself. In the MMO group, The Secret World did this very well and in single player RPGs Divinity Original Sin also did it this way.
    and what are these "best" games?...The secret world was garbage....there was like a small handful of decent builds, most were useless.....Like others have said, the classless systems started showing up when players started whining about not being able to do everything themselves and not being able to play solo.
  • RobsolfRobsolf Member RarePosts: 4,595
    Recore said:
    What do you all consider the best games that do not have classes?
    SWG pre-NGE.

    Yet its weaknesses were exactly as Cleffy described.  Every release would bring forth a new dominant skillset until the next release would nerf it and pretty much create a new one.  Meanwhile, those of us who longed to have a Han Solo character with Pistoleer/Smuggler builds, for example, would just get flattened.

    Secret World is pretty similar.

    So... if you want to build for numbers, classless games are for you.  But if you want to build for a character design you like, you're probably going to get rolled.  To me this is kinda ironic, since the point of having a classless system, for me anyway, is about being able to create the exact character you want.
  • IselinIselin Member LegendaryPosts: 12,762
    Iselin said:
    The more complex and original a game is, the more useful classes are for people learning the ropes.

    The best games out there have classless options but also class-like templates to get you started until you figure it out for yourself. In the MMO group, The Secret World did this very well and in single player RPGs Divinity Original Sin also did it this way.
    and what are these "best" games?...The secret world was garbage....there was like a small handful of decent builds, most were useless.....Like others have said, the classless systems started showing up when players started whining about not being able to do everything themselves and not being able to play solo.
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  • MellowTiggerMellowTigger Member UncommonPosts: 84
    I think "classes" serve some useful purposes, which could all be avoided by using "competencies" instead (where you test to specific levels of... healing, dps, damage absorption, etc).
    1. Identification by others.  When you a group is looking for someone to complement their skillbase, they can advertise for specific classes (could be better served by the "competencies I mentioned).
    2. Easier skill balancing by developers.  Games seem determined to have balanced classes where each is roughly equivalent to the others for damage output and survivability.  If you're committed to that path, then limiting what skills can be grouped together at once is almost a necessary crutch so developers can manage the min-max possibilities.
    3. Roleplay.  It can be satisfying to claim that you're a "ranger" or a "paladin" or a "mage".  This need perhaps can be served by competencies instead.  The single words that describe a class, though, is a very convenient shorthand for communicating your character behavior.
    If a game isn't committed to skill balancing, then it doesn't really matter what min-max "perfect build" can be cobbled together from various skills.  Players wouldn't expect every character/player to be the perfect dps unit or the perfect cog in their raid machine.  Instead, players would rely on ingenuity to achieve goals at each separate encounter.
  • SEANMCADSEANMCAD Member EpicPosts: 16,775
    Iselin said:
    The more complex and original a game is, the more useful classes are for people learning the ropes.

    The best games out there have classless options but also class-like templates to get you started until you figure it out for yourself. In the MMO group, The Secret World did this very well and in single player RPGs Divinity Original Sin also did it this way.
    and what are these "best" games?...The secret world was garbage....there was like a small handful of decent builds, most were useless.....Like others have said, the classless systems started showing up when players started whining about not being able to do everything themselves and not being able to play solo.
    Given the number of good games that are skillbased now I basically over the course of about 4 years now refuse to play games with classes. Classes now feels like an antiquated system which as I say for me is almost always an instant no.

    are the games I play good in my view? absolutely!
    are they successful? I dont know or give a fuck. 'American Idol' and McDonalds are both 'successful' so there is something I dont care about.

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  • NanfoodleNanfoodle Member EpicPosts: 7,723
    Sure we can make a game where everyone can do everything but then why would you need other people? Classes is part of making MMOs interdependent on other gamers. To bring people together. So when you get to end game, you have not soloed from start to finish and say. "Im not sure what to do now" 



  • SEANMCADSEANMCAD Member EpicPosts: 16,775
    edited September 2016
    Nanfoodle said:
    Sure we can make a game where everyone can do everything but then why would you need other people? Classes is part of making MMOs interdependent on other gamers. To bring people together. So when you get to end game, you have not soloed from start to finish and say. "Im not sure what to do now" 
    for the very same reason why people in real life need each other but in real life dont have 'classes'

    The trick is to make it nearly impossible to be skill strong in all aspects. Its really not that complicated or hard. interdependence (like life) is completely possible in a skill based system and is fairly common in my experience

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  • KanethKaneth Member RarePosts: 2,281
    Like other's have stated, classes give definite direction and can create a role for your character. Classes can also give a character a certain flair. Oh hey, the monk is the martial arts guy, where the knight is the heavy armored guy, where the wizard is the classic mage, but the druid uses nature based magic, etc.

    You can achieve similar goals in a skill based system, but at the same time, most people will just follow the approved template, since there will always be "the best spec".

    Asheron's Call is a good example of a skill based game. There were multiple specs that worked very well. "Best spec" opened up with new skills and tinkering added to the game too.

    Elder Scrolls is another good example of decent skill based.

    I would say DAoC is a great example of class based, but without feeling homogenized. The fact that each realm had different classes made this especially true. My biggest problem with the class system in DAoC was that unless you were with friends, it could be hard to get a group as a stealther both assassin and archer, since the perceived value of each was low.
  • cameltosiscameltosis Member EpicPosts: 2,149
    Classes are just an extension of "roles" and roles are a natural part of life. 

    Different roles are needed because life offers so many different challenges that no one single role could beat every challenge. From past research into the matter, the average human being is only capable of mastering 2-3 things in their life if they try hard, but most of us don't try hard and never master anything. 

    In the MMO context, there are many different roles we might want to fulfil:
    • Damage dealer
    • Healer
    • Tank
    • Buffer
    • Debuffer
    • Crowd Control
    • Crafter
    • Merchant
    • Gatherer / Farmer
    • Entertainer
    • Political Leader
    Sadly, MMO classes tend to only focus on combat roles when it comes to classes, but each class tends to be an expression of a role and so I'm happy with that. The problem, as others have said, is that many classes have been watered down, either through being capable of multiple roles or having to balance with other roles. 


    Now, skill-based systems can work too. There are a few problems with it. Primary problem is that designing content becomes a lot harder - if you balance the content for dedicated roles then the majority of your playerbase will fail because they have more generic, balanced roles, but if you balance it for generic templates then the specialised players find it trivial. But, if you're making content with roles in mind, you may as well have classes. 


    I genuinely believe SWG had the best approach. It basically had classes (professions) but with it's skill points system, you could master 2-3 of them at once which both mirrors real life and adds nice variation and uniqueness to each player. You could master complimentary professions, e.g. focusing everything on melee, resulting in a very strong melee character, or you could master more diverse professions like swordsman and armoursmith, allowing a wider variety of gameplay but diminished results / effectiveness compared to highly specialised builds. 
  • NanfoodleNanfoodle Member EpicPosts: 7,723
    SEANMCAD said:
    Nanfoodle said:
    Sure we can make a game where everyone can do everything but then why would you need other people? Classes is part of making MMOs interdependent on other gamers. To bring people together. So when you get to end game, you have not soloed from start to finish and say. "Im not sure what to do now" 
    for the very same reason why people in real life need each other but in real life dont have 'classes'

    The trick is to make it nearly impossible to be skill strong in all aspects. Its really not that complicated or hard. interdependence (like life) is completely possible in a skill based system and is fairly common in my experience
    Your wrong we do have classes. Sales people have a standard set of skills, nurses have a standard set of skills. How often does a doctor go to school to become a nurse so he can do both jobs? Classes are needed in MMOs (or skill set groups) to make it easier to balance a game. If it was to much like real life where you can pick from any skill. Then skills get nurfed to keep things from being OP. Every time players come up with a combo of skills that over shines, only option is to nurf them. Doing so makes other combos using the same skills useless and lowers options. I have played many a skill based MMO and they all do this process over and over till they suck. Classes is the better option. 



  • LynxJSALynxJSA Member RarePosts: 3,186
    Xodic said:
    The entire idea of classes were to offer a unique approach to how they're played. They have long since been marginalized by the years of crying for balance. Now they're all same same, but different, but still same.

    One of the best examples of that was DAoC's healer. It was originally that - a specialized healer. Grouping without the healer left you at a bit of a disadvantage, so they were in demand, However, if you were a healer and a group was not available, you wer kind of screwed because you leveled painfully slow solo. The healer gradually became more combat viable and less specialized to shoehorn it into the MMO grind progression system.  
  • immodiumimmodium Member RarePosts: 2,575
    edited September 2016
    Generally speaking classes are there so people don't build utterly useless characters and then complain no one want's them in a group. =)

    Also, like others have mentioned, it's a lot easier for developers to balance content when they know what classes are engaging in it.

    image
  • VrikaVrika Member EpicPosts: 5,733
    Classes are there because people will do anything to optimize and get more powerful, right up to the point where they quit the game in disgust of what they're doing.

    The devs need to limit people's ability to optimize so that they'll have more fun.
     
  • SEANMCADSEANMCAD Member EpicPosts: 16,775
    edited September 2016
    Nanfoodle said:
    SEANMCAD said:
    Nanfoodle said:
    Sure we can make a game where everyone can do everything but then why would you need other people? Classes is part of making MMOs interdependent on other gamers. To bring people together. So when you get to end game, you have not soloed from start to finish and say. "Im not sure what to do now" 
    for the very same reason why people in real life need each other but in real life dont have 'classes'

    The trick is to make it nearly impossible to be skill strong in all aspects. Its really not that complicated or hard. interdependence (like life) is completely possible in a skill based system and is fairly common in my experience
    Your wrong we do have classes. Sales people have a standard set of skills, nurses have a standard set of skills. How often does a doctor go to school to become a nurse so he can do both jobs? Classes are needed in MMOs (or skill set groups) to make it easier to balance a game. If it was to much like real life where you can pick from any skill. Then skills get nurfed to keep things from being OP. Every time players come up with a combo of skills that over shines, only option is to nurf them. Doing so makes other combos using the same skills useless and lowers options. I have played many a skill based MMO and they all do this process over and over till they suck. Classes is the better option. 
    that is a skill based system which is my entire point.

    You are not born with a 'class' that you can never change. you go to school get your skills spend a great deal of time learning and then you become X BUT you CAN change it.

    That is what I mean by 'being nearly impossible to be good at all things'

    just like life. life is a skill based system that 'looks like' classes only because it takes nearly a lifetime to be an expert in one thing. Skill based can be the same way.

    The faulty assumption here most likely based from playing poorly design skill systems is that its actually possible in a lifetime to have high skills in all items.

    I should add that a skill based system can be flexible in regards to how hard it is to specialize. it can take a real life lifetime or it can take 10 mins depending on developer design.

    Also like in real life regarding combat I might be a great sniper and a great gunner but its not realistic for me to be able to carry both, so in battle I do one or the other, not both

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