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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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    Balancing is always needed, but that doesn't mean that all character classes should be equivalent. Some may require more skill to use effectively, but then offer more devastating damage - that's balance. (Think Zangief in the original Street Fighter II - strong but slow - or Vega/Balrog - fast but weak - as opposed to a "neutral" character like Ryu.)

    Balance character class abilities against user skill and reward.

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    Quote:
    Original post by trapdoor
    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)


    My point was to try to engineer a 1% population limit rather than enforce a 1% population limit. I think making trolls appeal to people 1% of the time is less annoying than the queue. Also, depending on how things work, the queue might be blocked by people playing other races.

    Finally, if trolls are only going to be 1% of the population, is it really worth putting this much effort into them? What about other races/classes that need balancing?

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    Well in total, i have 4 factions, 6 races per faction.

    They are as follows:
    the typical Human-elf-dwarf group. They are the "pretty" faction and must rely on more technology than the other factions. They also are very general. No super strengths or weaknesses.

    The Horde group. They are to have more strength than the other factions. They are fairly weak with almost all classes of magic, even though they can still use it. The troll is part of this group. The troll is also the only race (well there's another later) that is even stronger than any other class. They have the negatives I have mentioned earlier, such as no mount option, higher chance to permadie, limitted number.

    The Infernal Legion. They are the undead and demonic group. They are weaker than the human group in general but are better with magic. One race, the demons, are very troll like. Not as powerful as the troll but they can only be warriors and a limited 1 mage class. (there are at least 10 mage classes). Still, the Demon should be like an orc or an ogre.

    The Beasts are.... mutts. They almost equal the human-elf-dwarf group but are wider ranging. One race is really good at magic while another is a fighter not a mage. Then there are a few that are just jacks of all.

    The only one race that has an advantage over all races is the Troll.
    Lets do a test. If there are a 5000 people on a server, with the factions split evenly to all, that' 1250 per faction.

    about 210 of them will be trolls in this equation. which is about 4%. Reducing the number of allowable trolls to about 70 makes that about 1.5 % of the server population.

    210 was a bit much as my idea of a troll could easily take 2 players at once which is why is better. 3-4 is what I want a troll to have a 50/50 chance with. Class will definitely have difference here. 2 well skilled players should be able to take a troll of equal level. It's like the beginning of WoW when Paladins and Shamans were absolutely hated because everyone said they were over powered.

    I could be persuaded to make it so 1 troll = 2 players but it begins to go against what I'm trying to do.

    ----

    Basically with the 4 factions I mentioned above, the Horde, Legion and Beasts should all be able to be equal with each other. (Ignore the trolls for now). But the man-elf-dwarf faction is going to have it a little tougher. It is the only faction I want to have to fight in numbers, at least against a troll.

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    Quote:
    Original post by trapdoor
    Basically with the 4 factions I mentioned above, the Horde, Legion and Beasts should all be able to be equal with each other. (Ignore the trolls for now). But the man-elf-dwarf faction is going to have it a little tougher. It is the only faction I want to have to fight in numbers, at least against a troll.


    I still think that, with the right checks and balances, you can acheive the proportions you want. For example, why play man-elf-dwarf since they're obviously, by your estimates, weaker (they have to fight in numbers and you say trolls are better because they don't need numbers)?

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    Make something like a Troll a "griefer class", specifically designed for jerks to play. THey start out plenty tough, and have no limits on their PK rights, but are flagged as targets to everyone and have a bounty on their head at all times. They can run aroung pwning nubs and harassing mission runners, but they can't go into town without every guard and watchman coming at them with a spear and NPCs either run away or engage them on sight. Trolls don't level in any meaningful way, although they can get some bonuses (and a boost to their bounty) by busting up players.

    It would be like a playable mob.

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    Quote:
    Original post by Iron Chef Carnage
    Make something like a Troll a "griefer class", specifically designed for jerks to play. THey start out plenty tough, and have no limits on their PK rights,
    [...]
    Trolls don't level in any meaningful way, although they can get some bonuses (and a boost to their bounty) by busting up players.

    It would be like a playable mob.

    I'm afraid they would be the default "tank class" of organized gangs or guilds. Gang fights would be our trolls against their trolls instead of our warriors against their warriors; the need for specialists wouldn't be reduced, but nothing relegates trolls to a lone bandit role.
    With more than one character per player abuse could be even worse, with players not only switching between a troll and a respectable person but also killing each other's high-bounty, no-advancement trolls to make their more permanent characters very rich, before starting new troll characters, which would be moderately weaker but less hot.

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    Make trolls a unique faction, make them stronger and easier to play compared to normal classes then give players/clans an incentive to kill trolls and you will see troll hunting parties :D

    Guildmate 1: "Guys, theres a troll at North harbour slaughtering NPCs and newbies.

    Guildmate 2: "Lets gather up at the portal and go troll hunting."

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    Balance does not mean identical. As a balanced race trolls might be stronger than others and in a 1v1 fight might win, but they need to have some weaknesses and penalties. One thing the the LotR is that Trolls turn to stone in daylight. You could make a weakness that any time a troll is exposed to light the slower they get (the stronger the light the slower they get untill in day light they can't move). Alsother thing is as they are turning to stone they become tougher (more natural armour as their skin is turning to stone).

    This could give an interesting dynamic to a Troll as they might seek some light to toughen themselves up, but at a cost in speed and dexterity. Troll hunters might also exploit this by using lots of light spells to virtuall imobilise a group of Trolls (but then be unable to physically damage them because they are now made of rock) and use magic to do damage to them.

    Races don't have to be identical, but can be balanced by using various advantages and disadvantages. In fact by using unique advantages and disadvanatages you can make races seem less "Cookie Cutter" or "Chrome" choice and more as a game play choice.

    I fealt this way about the races in WoW. Each race, although having different stats, were fairly identical. They had 1 or 2 unique powers which amounted, mainly, to bonuses to stats or skills, but that was about it. They might call a skill or spell a differnet name, but its effects were not that different from each other. This made the choice of race purely an asthetic choice.

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    I like that light weakness a lot. I think it will go a long way while keeping their superior strength. I think on the PvE side, a troll's argo area should be 2-3 times that of any other race too. So while they are a powerhouse, they are going to attact a lot of unwanted attention. Otherwise it would be a walk in the park for going through dungeons.

    Maybe some of the class abilities as a warrior are not available to the Troll, and some new ones are.

    Back to the light issue. Maybe being a troll, if you fight at night, you can walk normally. Unless someone uses a light spell on them. During the day, They walk at 1/3 the speed they normally do, at least allowing any other race to easily get away from them. (The % of speed they could lose could be different, i just used an example).

    The reason i'm very reluctant to balance the trolls out to make everyone happy, is that in no game have I ever been afraid of another player my own level. Sure when a level 60 runs in while the other is only 30 is one thing, but when both characters are 30, they fight thinking each can take the other. There's no sense of fear. In LOTR, Boromir said, "They have a cave troll!" in such a way that it's as if there's nothing left to go wrong. I want the same kind of feeling in my game. That when another group shows up with a cave troll (so it's either Horde vs Beast, Horde vs Alliance or whatever), the other group groans and says "Oh hell. A cave troll!" or something to that matter.

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    Quote:
    Original post by trapdoor
    The reason i'm very reluctant to balance the trolls out to make everyone happy, is that in no game have I ever been afraid of another player my own level. Sure when a level 60 runs in while the other is only 30 is one thing, but when both characters are 30, they fight thinking each can take the other. There's no sense of fear. In LOTR, Boromir said, "They have a cave troll!" in such a way that it's as if there's nothing left to go wrong. I want the same kind of feeling in my game. That when another group shows up with a cave troll (so it's either Horde vs Beast, Horde vs Alliance or whatever), the other group groans and says "Oh hell. A cave troll!" or something to that matter.


    Yes, in hand-to-hand, make a troll worth 2-3 others. But they probably have limited ranged attacks, so archers and mages can do some damage at a distance. I think Iron Chef's idea is perfect, so long as there's something more to your game than just bashing heads. There is more to your game than bashing heads, right? Because, if there isn't, nobody is going to be happy unless they can bash heads like a troll.

    Boromir needed a clean pair of pants after realizing they have a cave troll, but, due to other factors, he had no desire to be a cave troll.

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    You could consider making it so that the cave troll can not level up. Effectivelly the cave troll starts with the strength of a level 80 character in a level 100 max game. Expanding from here it would be possible that only a player who has reached level 80 or 100 can be a cave troll. The benifit to the player would be that the troll is a RP tool but also could be level 80 equivalent but have level 120 offence but level 40 defence, allowing a well played cave troll to mow though opponents before they can touch him but a mistake will end in permadeath...

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    Aside from the name, it is different form WC3. Their goals are different, asside from having a few undead and demons, the other races for the Legion are different. Then the 4th class altogether is unique to WC3. The Legion from WC3 wanted nothing more than total destruction of everything. The Infernal Legion (Which is just a temporary name for now) are outcasts than the actual demon legion itself.

    I originally had Trolls as being able to be both Warriors and Rangers, but that was the DnD model. I'd probably have to restrict it to just warriors if i want then to be power houses. I think being very prone to ranged attacks is what will be the major weakness for Trolls. That and only being able to attack at night without speed penalties because of light plus many other penalties willl allow for trolls to be superior in strength yet still balanced.


    I guess I also had a scewed view of what balanced really meant. I figured balanced meant that 1-on-1 it should be 50/50 as to the outcome. Or at least have rock/paper/scisors. I think with what I have as far as troll weaknesses and strengths, they are at least accepted now. I know they still need more balancing but it's not like it's outright being opposed.

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    I remember playing America's Army a year or so ago. There was one map in particular that i'm refering to ... the bridge map. For those who haven't played it, it looks something like this. A bridge with two towers at either end. Teams start somewhere behind either tower. Defense is to prevent the other team (assault) from crossing.

    Anyway. for a long time, Defense was a walk in the park. It was unbelieveable how easy it was to be defense. Everyone wanted to be D. People stuck on Assault cried out for balance. The US Army did little to balance the map. They did minor tweaks here and there but essentially nothing was done.

    Then something happened. Assault started to win more often then not. People on Assault finally learned how to beat the defense. They learned how to lay down smoke, get snipers into position, lay covering fire while a few brave men ran down to win the map. Others learned to use their grenade launchers on the bottom of their 203 as mortars. It was quite something to see.

    Keeping Trolls as powerhouses and maybe enforcing the character cap % that can be trolls but giving them plenty of weaknesses can work in the long run. People will complain like crazy until a few true heros learn how to exploit the weaknesses of the trolls. Once the word gets out on how to defeat them, everything will change and the only people left complaining will be those who just can't figure out how to play anyway.

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