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  • Why WoW's Class Design is flawed and PVP will never be balanced

    Layer 3: Skill/Ability/Spell Balance & HP/Mana Balance

    This is the top layer of class balance and always the most tricky. There are tons of variables because each class has a unique set of abilities to perform.  Layer 3 is more than likely the layer most will spend time balancing their classes. A good design would keep in mind the following two layers and design abilities that won't go against those rule sets already established. 

    Also in Layer 3 you would determine when a class gets an ability when progressing. For an example, if a Warrior had Deadly Strike at level 1 that did 10 damage and a mob at level  one had an ability that did 10 damage where both of you had 100 HP. Whoever struck first would win. So then you would adjust damage/HP/Mana levels accordingly and add in more abilities to make it fun and balanced in gameplay. 

    As you can see Layer 3 has a lot of variables to consider. Usually, this is one of the places where class balance can become imbalance. 

    Penalty. This is another way to balance very over powering abilities a class may have. Try and have the player to strategically use more powerful abilities instead of using them at their leisure. 

    Also in Layer 3 you would compliment whatever combat mechanics you have to balance your classes with that. 

    Layer 3 should also consist of player testing and tweaking to everything mentioned above. 


    What does Class Balance Mean? Can it be achieved?

    Yes Class Balance can be achieved. Before I go on let me tell you what class balance is not. Class Balance does not constitute that all classes are the same with the same abilities or roles. 

    Class Balance is when your role are balanced and the classes that share the same role are balanced with each other. All classes within that role should have an equal opportunity to be as effective. That if more than 1 class within an archetype should have different functions to perform their desired role to have a good diversity of classes. 

    If a Hybrid class is more effective then a Pure class then that is not class balance but an imbalance.

    Layer 3 with different abilities may sway classes to be tweaked more than others, but if the design stays true to Layer 1 and Layer 2, it should make Layer 3 a bit easier to tweak. 

    /rant over I am tired

  • Why WoW's Class Design is flawed and PVP will never be balanced

    I don't think in my entire tenure of playing MMORPG's have I ever been irate at how blatant and/or incompetent the core design that WoW's classes have become. I am strictly speaking on PVP balance. And yes this a rant post... but doesn't take away from the content of it.

    I am looking at this from a DESIGNER's perspective.

    Before I can go into what class balance is, we must define what a Class is.

    Class = An avatar of a role.

    What does that mean? A class is the character output of a role that is being produced via the player.

    *Many players have a severe case of massive misunderstanding what class balance actually is. Let me express WHAT it is NOT.

    Class Balance is not...

    "Class balance means all of the classes are the same which would make gameplay boring." 


    "There is no such thing as class balance or if there is class balance it can never be achieved."

    Rarely, I'll see this comment...

    "Class balance means when each class has an opportunity to compete." 

    The above comment is very close to what Class Balance really is but it's not complete. However, it should read like this...

    "Class balance means when each class has an opportunity to compete within their archetype role."

    How to achieve Class Balance?

    Class Balance is more or less a bottom up approach that is balanced within layers. Each layer of balance should complement the previous layer for consistency. Essentially, there are three layers of when you balance classes. Below I'll explain them a little further.


    Layer 1: Define the Roles (The foundation of class balance)

    This layer is the foundation for all of your classes. You determine what are the primary roles of classes you want to fit into gameplay. I'll keep it easy and say that Tanking, DPS, and Healing are primary roles. I won't go into secondary roles because this thread will turn into a novel. I want to try and keep this as simple as possible. 

    Once the archetype (roles) are defined then you establish the rule set for those roles. On as basic level we'll do damage to mitigation ratio. 

    Tank: Moderate Damage output and Moderate Mitigation

    Caster DPS: High Damage output and Low Mitigation

    Melee DPS: High Damage output (sliver below Caster DPS) and Medium Low Mitigation (Sliver above Caster DPS)

    Healers: Low Damage output and High Mitigation via Heals. 

    There are other things that go into defining the role and other rule sets that would compliment whatever design is being used. So once Layer 1 is defined and balanced you move onto Layer 2.

    **This is where WoW's classes will always be in perpetual imbalance. Simply because Layer 1 is broken. Blizzard doesn't take in account the rule set of each role and their basic damage/mitigation output should be. Hybrid and Tank classes can out perform in damage over most pure DPS classes which were simply designed to produce massive damage with low mitigation input. When you choose a role that a class can provide you're in agreement that you're class excels in one role over another. This does not constitute a Rock/Papers/Scissors Class Balance approach. 


    Layer 2A: Balance All Classes that share the same Role.

    This layer is only used if you have more than 1 class within the defined roles from Layer 1. 

    If there are 3 classes that share the same role,(tank, Caster DPS, Melee DPS, Healers), you then balance those classes within their respective archetype. Meaning that each tank has an equal opportunity to tank efficiently. This does not constitute all tanks will be the same. There should be different  path ways to tank for each class in a unique and fun way. Whatever those paths are should be up the creative mind of the class designer.

    **For WoW, this is where the same utility abilities are simply distributed to nearly every class. I have never seen it this bad in a long time. Nearly, every class has a gap closer, able to spell lock/silence which completely locks down a player, and able to cc/stun without a heal. I feel sorry for Mages in PVP right now because they literally have zero advantage to most classes because of the former.


    Layer 2B: Pure Classes vs. Hybrid Classes

    Also in Layer 2 you would determine what classes would be Pure and what classes would be Hybrid. Let me define those.

    Pure Class: A class in which can only perform 1 role 

    Hybrid Class: A class in which can perform more than 1 role. (usually 2 roles). 

    Most of the time you'll see more hybrid classes than pure classes to give the player more of a creative choice to choose from. 

    In this layer you could already break the class design before you even get to Layer 3 because of Hybrid Classes. Hybrid Classes are very tricky because they can't be as powerful as a Pure Class and yet they must still be valuable to a group. 

    Usually Hybrid classes are the soloable classes if the gameplay is focused on group based content. 

    I think a good direction to balance hybrid classes with pure classes is to allow Hybrid classes to act as a support class in a way. What I mean is, if a Hybrid Class can perform 2 roles, DPS and Healing, then reduce those roles by 30%. Meaning that if a Pure DPS and a pure Healer class can DPS and Heal 100%, then a Hybrid class can DPS and Heal at 70%. This way a Hybrid class is still effective and valuable in a group. They act as support DPS and Healing. 

    A Hybrid class should NEVER EVER be on par with a Pure Class because of their multiple roles. If a Hybrid class is on par with a Pure class then more than likely those pure classes will become obsolete. They won't be as valuable. 

    Ask you self this question. If a Mage is a pure DPS class that can do on par damage as a Sorcerer that can also heal, which class do you think would have a better chance at being more effective? As you can see this is an imbalance. 


    *In this portion of the balance is what literally breaks WoW's Class Design. Within their spec system, Hybrids are more powerful and have more utility. Hybrids/Melees rule wow's PVP currently.

  • Gear Dependency Vs. Player Skill (Poll)

    Gear Dependency Vs. Player Skill is an argument that is thoroughly discussed, especially in development. Let's define each.

    Gear Dependency = Your Character does most of the work based off how you build your character through stats/gear. Player skill can take an affect but typically it's knowing a rotation and the fight. 

    Player Skill = The player output is doing most of the work and gear is merely a perk. Most games who use this method, are fighting/action based RPGs. Most people will consider this to twitch gameplay, however, player skill can be categorized into tab-targeting as well. - On the other side of the spectrum, player skill can also be constituted by knowing your class, rotation, mechanics, how to build your character ect. 

    Most traditional RPG's use more of a stat/gear progressional method to build your character to survive in combat. With the innovation of MMORPG's it has paved a way for players to increase player output that transitions into more player skill. 

    I have been warring with my self which holds true and may work best for MMORPG's as a whole. You see, I am typically a black or white thinker so I automatically consider one method may be better than the other. So in other words I always compare what is better and why. I have concluded that it really depends on the type of gameplay you're going for and designer's preferences for their audience. 

    Let's take WoW for an example. WoW, is intended for the super casual but also caters to hardcore players. WoW has always been mostly a gear dependent game, in PVP and PVE. In Wrath, Blizzard thought resilience was a great stat for PVP but it made gear dependency worse. If you didn't have high resilience you couldn't compete. In PVE, ilvl is something sought after and players won't choose you if you have a low ilvl because they know a higher ilvl will produce more damage, healing or mitigation. If I were to put percentages to WoW, I would say it's 75% gear dependent and 25% player skill. The player skill in WoW, comes from knowing your rotation, how to build your character with secondary stats and simply knowing the fights and not standing in stuff. But is Gear Dependency the right or wrong approach? 

    Personally, I think the best method is to have a 50/50 ratio. Or even a 60/40 ratio of player skill to gear dependency. One of the unique elements to RPG's is building your character. And most of that is through stats/gear. I do believe that gear should play a vital role in combat but I also believe that player skill should help overcome encounters. I felt Everquest was a decent example of balance of player skill and gear dependency. You can argue it fell into the 50/50 or 60/40 ratio. 

    I am curious to your thoughts on what you prefer as a gamer? Vote and let me what is your preference?

    Does it not allow the OP to vote in your own poll anymore? I would vote for the balance of both.

  • Why are so many MMO games filled with toxic players ?

    I would conclude that most MMORPG players are not passionate about the genre nor understand the community aspect of it. In other words, they're "not true mmorpg gamers". This was partly due to the influx of players that WoW brought into the genre and the accessible game that WoW is. 

    Sure, there were asshats and elitist in old school mmorpgs but as a WHOLE the communities of MMORPG's to my knowledge were not as toxic as communities we see today. Not saying all new school mmo players are toxic but a good portion of them are unfortunately.

    We have to remember that the genre was founded on D&D and single RPG players who were looking for an innovative approach to gameplay which involved a massive world with a massive community, hence the acronym, MMORPG. 

    I think players who have a passion for the RPG elements and gameplay respect the genre more and thus have a better understanding of community. I am not touting that old school mmo players are saints, far from it, but with my personal experience, the communities now and then are different.

    My conclusion is lack of respect for the community aspect of the genre. One can argue solo gameplay is another deterrent for a toxic community or at least promotes it. I personally feel that a 60/40 ratio of group to solo gameplay would help wean out the toxic players. Having a server reputation is a means of negation for that. It helped in Everquest.