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trapdoor

Race / Class balancing. Is it needed?

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Is race and class balancing really needed if a good system is in place? Well yes, if the size of the server is small and only a few people can be on at a time. But what about as the server limit increases? For all examples, I'll use fantasy, but this can also be applied to futuristic or modern examples. I have 3 examples of how this can be debated:
  1. Personal Deathmatch style server. About 4-24 players per server. I think balancing is important here unless the rules of the game dictate otherwise. (such as being #1 on the server gets you the juggernaught of all classes). This is also not where I'm trying to focus so I'll pass on to one of the other examples.
  2. Large Battlefield style server. 60ish players per server. This is tricky as Free-4-all must be balanced where team play may not be. At least as far as player to player. But if one team can only have about 33% of the population but have super powerful classes, this could balance it out.
  3. MMO style server. 1000+ players per server. This is where I think balancing out classes and races may not be needed. I've played World of Warcraft and their focus shows balancing is needed. They want players to be able to duel each other, team Player vs Player events that require balanced teams to create a decent and effective game. But take a war for example. Having 3 or 4 players team up just to take out one power player could be part of the feel of the game.
Does anyone remember the scene from LOTR when the brotherhood fights the Cave Troll? It's just one troll but it took the whole group to take it down. This also allows for people to crap their pants any time a Cave troll runs by. The only balance issue I can see is where Everyone decides to be Cave Trolls. The only thing I can think of doing where I still preserve the "unbalanced classes / Races" is to have such power races as premium races. There is a limit based on how many players are on the server. Maybe a queue to sit in to use or create a cave troll. Or a queue for active cave trolls based on how many players are in the world at that time. This could ensure that the world doesn't get over run by cave trolls. I know this idea needs a lot of work to be a success but It also makes it easier on the developer. Less focusing on making sure that every race / class can beat every other race / class about 50% of the time in a 1-on-1 fight. It's My opinion that a gnome shouldn't beat a Cave Troll 50% of time. Suggestions?

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If one choice is percieved as superior, more players will want to select that choice. Those that are not allowed to will feel slighted and they will bombard your message board with requests for you to fix it.
It's bad enough when the superiority is debatable - if it were obviously present (and the developer said so), it'd be horrible.

I'd certainly be angry when I was killed by a cave troll only because "cave troll" is superior to the other choices. It doesn't matter whether that player had to be the first ever to sign up, pays more per month, win a contest, or anything else. In fact, if the price was real-world money, I'd never play your game because that kind of "pay to win" policy is just advertising a "screw my customers, I want their money" attitude. That kind of advertising is the reason I haven't bought a new game in a _long_ time.

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Quote:
Original post by trapdoor
  • MMO style server. 1000+ players per server.
    This is where I think balancing out classes and races may not be needed. I've played World of Warcraft and their focus shows balancing is needed. They want players to be able to duel each other, team Player vs Player events that require balanced teams to create a decent and effective game. But take a war for example. Having 3 or 4 players team up just to take out one power player could be part of the feel of the game.



  • Well, it depends. Do you want to make a war-simulator, or a *fun* game?
    No one likes knowing that "I can *never* compete with that player who, apart from some arbitrary choices at character creation, is just like me. He could wipe me out, and I have to gang up with 3 others to stand a chance against him".

    Yep, balancing is needed. Every class has to be uniquely useful. This is not the same as saying that *every* 1v1 fight should end up with a draw. It just means that everyone should be able to score wins in some situations.
    A good example is typical healer classes, I suppose. A healer on his own, is screwed. He'll lose a 1v1 duel, he gets beat up by monsters, he just can't do much. But he's invaluable in groups, and other really depend on him there. A group with three warriors and a healer is much more effective than one with four warriors. Simple example, but it shows my point. What is needed is not total equality, but just the potential for situations where any given class becomes a winner.
    No one wants to play a crafter if they're not *needed*, because people always just loot their weapons. No one wants to be an archer if they're *always* outperformed by mages who do basically the same thing, only with fancier shader effects. [lol]

    Quote:

    Does anyone remember the scene from LOTR when the brotherhood fights the Cave Troll? It's just one troll but it took the whole group to take it down. This also allows for people to crap their pants any time a Cave troll runs by. The only balance issue I can see is where Everyone decides to be Cave Trolls. The only thing I can think of doing where I still preserve the "unbalanced classes / Races" is to have such power races as premium races. There is a limit based on how many players are on the server. Maybe a queue to sit in to use or create a cave troll. Or a queue for active cave trolls based on how many players are in the world at that time. This could ensure that the world doesn't get over run by cave trolls.

    Or the much simpler solution, make cave trolls have weaknesses that can be exploited in certain situations. Maybe trolls simply have no support classes? So in small fights, they're almost invincible, because it's basically duels, my warrior against yours. In larger scale battles, they're screwed, because they're just a bunch of individual warriors, while others can use healers, tanks, ranged classes to supplement each other and work as a team.

    I think it's important to realize that balance is not (or should not be) making every class the same as every other class. It's perfectly ok that an archer can slaughter a warrior before he can even get close, as long as the warrior has other situations where he can win. Maybe a warrior is needed to protect fragile healers?

    Quote:

    It's My opinion that a gnome shouldn't beat a Cave Troll 50% of time.

    Definitely true. But that doesn't mean a cave troll should be *better* than a gnome in *all* situations.

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    It could be a lot of fun to have lots of weaker players gang up on a stronger player, but then everyone wants to be the strong player character.

    It's similar to the problem faced by Star Wars games. Everyone wants to be a powerful Jedi, but the very fiction of the universe states that jedi are rare. If you limit the number of jedi, then a lot of people will get annoyed that they can't become jedi.

    One way of balancing it could be to use the tag system found in certain deathmatch gametypes, where one player is much more powerful, but if he dies, reliquishes his power to his killer.

    In this way players could have their standard character that they can level up, and a special character that they level after killing their predecsessor and stealing his amulet/sword/midichlorions/mech/whatever.

    Discretely, of course, as everyone would be hunting them.

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    K what about this:
    Cave trolls can only occupy 1% of the total world population. (Being that their huge, they get no mount and cannot travel super fast. like other smaller characters with horses.) But anyway. Going on CIJolly's idea. The player can keep their Cave Troll active so long as they don't die with them. Other rules will be in effect if they log out and such, but that's not the focus right now.

    When they die as a cave troll, they are sent back to the character selection screen and their cave troll spot is removed (not the character but where they are in the queue). If nobody else wants to be a CT, then they can rejoin as one but otherwise they have to play another character and wait for the spot to open again.

    What Spoonbender said regarding having no support classes, I think this could work. Since Trolls specifically have high regeneration, they can basically mend themselves and be immune to all healing effects. Maybe I could have CT's as a dumb breed of Trolls and therefore are only allied to say Orcs but cannot group or party. They are strong enough to solo even the toughest of dungeons but still unable to group.

    Maybe for other factions, have rewards for killing cave trolls. Therefore they are hunted even more.

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    How about balancing the race with things like
    - trolls only get club and bigger club as weapons
    - trolls are weak to elements/magic
    - trolls have large bounties on their head and can be pk'd by anyone (but can also pk anyone else)
    - trolls have permadeath
    - trolls don't have access to many quests/areas (too big, too stupid, too hated)

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    I do have permadeath as a foundation of this game as well. While I don't want to go into the mechanics of it here, this is the basic idea. There are 2 modes that a player can play with.
  • Normal - No permadeath available. No ability to use Legendary weapons. They are weaker than Legendary players. They can't hold positions of power (generals, kings, leaders). And a few other things.
  • Legendary - They have a risk of permadeath, (not every time they die is it permadeath). They can use legendary weapons. Twice as strong as normal players. Can't be permakilled by normal players. They can hold positions of power...

    FYI: There are many other steps in place to weaken the sting of permadeath.

    So with that said, maybe choosing a troll race will force the player to play only as legendary. That and Trolls have 3x the chance to permadie. They can only occupy 1% of the server population. They do not get mounts and therefore are much slower when unmounted. They already cannot be advanced classes such as monks, rogues or any kind of caster. The only classes they can be are warriors and a hunter. But even as hunter, their ranged weapon choices are limited. There is also a queue for playing Trolls. So if you play as a troll and die, you have to go to the end of the line and for the time being, play another race.

    This keeps the trolls as an overpowered race at least in strength. But has severe penalties that no other race has. The limit on population also keeps them somewhat rare compared to other races. (1% can be changed to higher or lower depending on how abused they are)

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    I just had another thought. What if communicating to Trolls was also difficult. They can understand anyone from their faction, but when they talk, they talk in gibberish. The only way they can communicate back is by simple words or emotes.

    This will also give the feel that they really are dumb. Orc players will get frustrated with working with trolls. While having a troll in a party would be a good thing for an advantage, it will be difficult to communicate with.

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    Quote:
    Original post by trapdoor
    I just had another thought. What if communicating to Trolls was also difficult. They can understand anyone from their faction, but when they talk, they talk in gibberish. The only way they can communicate back is by simple words or emotes.[...]
    When in-game communication doesn't work, people don't use in-game communication. This would just mean that casual players get more screwed than normal while those serious enough to form clans etc would have a larger advantage than normal.

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