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Instead of choosing your class in an RPG...

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...You develop your class. Say, you're constantly fighting, over time you'll end up as a warrior. Or if you always steal things, you end up a thief. Maybe you decided to go to some Wizard school to become a Mage... something along those lines. I think this would be more immersive than just selecting a list of classes from the start of the game. (This is some random idea I had and it's not fully developed but hopefully you get what I'm trying to say.)

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I think it's an excellent way to go.

By not classifying someone, their possibilities become endless.

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Quote:
Original post by makeshiftwings
Might I suggest Daggerfall, Morrowind, Oblivion, Fable, Fallout, Ultima Online, EvE Online, and Dungeon Siege?


You forgot Gothic, among others :)

So, the idea isn't new, but it still is a good one. Pre-canned classes are just too limiting imho (in the case of AD&D, it was probably designed that way - to sell more Prestige Class source books [grin]).

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The very first D&D game could have done this. They chose classes because it gives the game more depth. Lack of classes also cuts down on replay value.

Another way you could do it is by using races or species. Which would be a more realistic way to limit growth. For example, humans might have a max speed of 5, where elves could grow to 7.

In real life, some people do have these so called D&D like classes too. For example, my class was not a hacker, I was an artist. So I had to spend a lot more time learning to program than most probably did.

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Original post by Kest
In real life, some people do have these so called D&D like classes too. For example, my class was not a hacker, I was an artist. So I had to spend a lot more time learning to program than most probably did.


By D&D convention you multi-classed into programmer. But the class abstraction is not the only way to look at it. A system less limiting than the class-based one (for example, a skill-based system) would have you train your programming skill, with standard "hackers" having the skill higher simply because they started to train it earlier than you did. I think this better reflects how reality is - we wear many hats in real life, but our skills carry over.

One game that really went the right way early on, imho, is DSA (Das Schwarze Auge, a German role-playing system). From what I remember of playing their PC conversions (Blade of Destiny, Star Trail, Shadows over Riva), on "expert mode" they had something like 200 skills in addition to classes and levels, allowing you to extensively customize your career.

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Quote:
Original post by makeshiftwings
Might I suggest Daggerfall, Morrowind, Oblivion, Fable, Fallout, Ultima Online, EvE Online, and Dungeon Siege?


AFAIK, one character in 7/8 of those titles has the skill definition of one "class" in Diablo II. Take all the skills in D2 and put them into one class and give the option of definition at that level and then you're got something. Add in actual depth in gameplay and skills more diverse that "shoot a frost arrow" or "shoots a fire arrow" and you're cooking with fire.

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I think for single player games, absolutely, the more open a skill system is the better it is. However, I think its important that in the game your specific skills and skill combinations are awarded, otherwise I think over-customization can happen where its all customization and no roleplaying. Though, if its over-over-customization that in itself can be very fun...

Some good points in this thread especially about how D&D class systems added depth. In the multiplayer scenario I think the biggest issues are balance and creating different unique identities. Its hard to do either I think when instead of one player you have several thousand. In this case I think the best solution is a multi-leveled system where you have an open-ended skill system, but other systems in character development as well perhaps including classes.

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I am currently designing a skill based system where the cost of the skills increase with the current level of the skill (it take more xp to reach a higher level of the skill). All fairly standard.

However I have broken up the skills into groups. Each groups also has a place where you can spend xp, just like normal skills. The difference with this group level is that as you raise this level it gives a discount on any skill purchaces within that group.

This means that a player can select skill groups to become more proficient in by gettin a discount on the costs of those skills or decide to be a generalist and spend their skill points in only the skills (not the groups to get discounts). his way it encourages the player to specialise, but still allows players to pick up skill where needed or become generalists.

At low levels this discount is not that great and won't make much difference, but as the cost of skills goes up specialization (that is buying levels in the groups) will be an important advantage. So begining players are not discouraged with exploring the abilities of the characters and as they play they discover how they wnat their character to develop and can then work their way towards it. ALso the real hard core Min/Maxers have a much greater set of potential character builds to explore and try out (not ony do you look at what skills to get, but when to get them as well), greatly increaseing replayability.

There is another layer I use (I call it Affinities) which allows the player to gain a discount of the skill groups associated with that affinity. Affinities are more like the traditional classes associated with this type of game.

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The problem that, time and time again, occurs with this design is that you end up with a character that can do nothing end-game. If you don't specialize yourself in some area of the game, then you end up not being able to use all the cool weaponry, or you can't cast the strongest spells, or you can't sneak up on the high level enemies.

Basically, you've managed to create your own customized, role-playing, character who's no fun to play at all.

The tough part of all this is making it so that there's some advantage to specialization (which is typically inherant anyway, if you need a spell power of 50 to cast a certain spell, someone who specializes will get it earlier than someone who doesn't) while ensuring that someone who decided to do a bit of everything can still play just fine.

Otherwise, it's more fair to the player to force them to pick an archetype.

Oblivion comes to mind as a case-in-point for this issue. While it's a great game, there's not enough stress on how you can weaken/disable your character by picking the wrong skills.

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