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HunterCyprus93

A question of class...

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So, I was on the forums a while back with some questions about RTS systems and features that people would like to see. Well... as it turns out, my team and I scrapped the RTS project to go the route of the cliche and over-used RPG. We are still keeping to the storyline we had before, and for now the predominant race will remain human. We will eventually branch out into the discovery of more races, but we are trying to stay away from the common elves and orcs setup. It is still set in a fantasy setting though, with a diverse magic system covering many aspects of life. Your standard fare of weaponry and armor will also be present. All of that aside... I come to you, the GameDev community today to discuss character classes. We have chosen to go with a more set class list with some variations to each class that players can choose (similar to WoW and the talent tree setup). What I would like you guys to do, is discuss the different classes that you want to see in an RPG. Rules for this... not really many. We have an extensive list that we need to cull (28 Physical Combat classes, 52 Magic Combat classes, 17 Stealth Combat classes, and 16 Hybrid & Utility). These classes cover both PC and NPC combat classes, and that's what I'm looking for from you guys too! Cyprus Edited for typos [Edited by - HunterCyprus93 on May 7, 2007 11:23:08 AM]

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I enjoy the pre-determined class roles myself, but I do also enjoy free-form classes. I do have to say though, that the pre-determined to me are better because they give me a definite class role. Not only this, but it allows for better and easier class balancing (I only mention this because we would in the future like to do a MMO with this storyline).

But again, the main factor here, is that my team and I like the pre-determined classes, so, this is what we will be working with.

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With a total list like that, you must have a lot of repetition. Sounds like a lot of similar gameplay styles with different tools (52 magic combat classes will not all play differently from eachother). I think you need to look more into how you want to provide playstyle avenues to the player, instead of which skin you want to put on him.

I'm sure that if you look at your list, and remove the repetitive elements, it will be much shorter. (For example, you might find that of your 52 casters, there's only really 4 general magic-use styles and a plethora of spells to choose from. Along that same line, I'm sure many of your physical combat classes are just the same overall playstyle with different damage/sec ratios)

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i like classes just because iv never seen a point buy system that actually worked good,
usually if theres enough options to justify using a point buy instead of classes with different predetermined buy combination most are unbalanced, made redundant by another option or just plain useless in the game.

the one thing i hate the most is when during a character build im given a ton of "options" but only one or two "correct" answers

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That is true BCullis, and the list will be culled down to a more manageable number. We are getting a lot of ideas from different cultures and while two classes will have only minor differences, yes, the major parts will be the same. We have yet to decide on which to integrate into eachother or remove completely. Right now we are in a brainstorming process for classes, thus this post :D

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I'm not sure how many classes you expect to end up with in the end, but I think well thought out talent trees could be essential to providing greater depth in the classes. However, the more complicated or intrinsic you might make these trees, the harder it will become to balance out the classes. Managing less classes would make this easier although you may feel it will degrade the variety of character choices.
I will say that I enjoy making decisions to improve my character throughout any RPG. This allows the player to personalise their class and hopefully keep them interested in progressing throughout the game. Of course, this is only my opinion but I feel advancing the player's character from within the game is the main aspect to focus on.

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Wow, thats a lot of classes. I remember hearing a study about the Paradox of Choice where having too many options causes choice paralysis. I'd suggest slimming down the number of classes to a lot less, but allow a lot of customization that gets you into subclasses. But, rather than starting the classes from primary stats, I'd suggest having the base classes be more introductory and being somewhat similar, with the difference being the subclasses.

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Again, we are going to cut down the number of classes that will be available to players.

We will be keeping the rest on hand though to be used for NPC's. Since our game will primarily consist of humans, this works very well for us. It gives us a wide range of "baddies" to work with.

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Surely the choice of classes should be down to some sort of sensible division of your gameplay elements, rather than an arbitrary external decision based on "what would be cool"?

ie. There's no point me saying "warrior, cleric, mage, thief" if you have no stealth skills for the thief, but plenty of diplomatic skills that need classifying.

If you're just having "the usual" features, just have "the usual" classes.

If not, specify what's different or what's taken out.

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@Kylotan

That is true, I suppose a question of this sort deserves a little more explanation of gameplay. I don't know if the "usual" is an apt way to describe this, but it works enough for my purpose here. We have broken down our list into 4 sections:

Physical Combat - It is what it says. You're sword and board wielders, your frothing axe swingers, your archers. These are all classified under this section. Weapon skills, armor skills, these are the main traits of these guys.

Magical Combat - Again, the name says it all. These are our healers, our nukers, and our utility casters (buffers). We have a variety of spell types based on different aspects of life (keeping this under wraps for now).

Stealth Combat - Your typical rogue, stealthy, backstabs, etc... Also, some less stealthy but still roguish classes such as Brigands, Raiders. (might need to rename this section) Stealth also includes traps and poisons.

Hybrids/Utility - These are the mixes, Paladins, Witch-Hunters, and any other class that shares major traits with two of the other combat types. Also in here are utility classes (may be changed to professions).

We do have a general idea of how most class types will work, and some will be the usual, whereas others will be a little out of the ordinary. Physical guys are the more up front fighting types, mages use spells to heal and hurt, while rogue types will be sneakier and be very knowledgeable with traps and poisons.

Is that what you were looking for Kylotan? If not, let me know, I would like to address your question, as it is very valid :D

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Classes are great for party play (both single and multiplayer) as they establish roles for each character in the party and add a tactical element that is generally more interesting than just clicking on an enemy repeatedly until it's dead.

For game based around solo play however, they are not so great. Not necessarily bad, but you have to be a lot more careful how you balance them against each other as well as how they fit into the context of the game itself. You do not really want to be adding shedloads of 'extra' content for each specific class in order to keep them all interesting - it's hard work for you as the developer, and much of that effort may be wasted as it will only be seen by a subset of the players.

My advice would be to put all the classes you've devised aside for the time being, and try and break down the roles you think are appropriate - bearing in mind that all of those roles should be fun. Then, once you've narrowed it down to a sensible number - say 10 or so, give them all names and call them classes. You'll probably find that most of the classes you've developed already can be treated as specialized builds of one of those core classes. Think fewer classes, bigger (and more interesting) trees.

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I agree with what Sandman said. If you want your game to be more party oriented, then classes are the way to go. If you want more solo play, a mix and match system might be better. Personally, I don't care for classes very much, although I do see the need for them in some MMOs. Besides adding an unchangeably clear and spelled out system of tactical group responsibilities in combat, I don't see much need for them. I think that a profession system like there used to be the old Star Wars Galaxies is a much better direction than classes. But, again, just my opinion based on my personal play style orientation.

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I'll third that. If you have 5 classes, but can only play one at a time, this means the player has to play the game five different times to enjoy it completely.
Basically, you'll be having a lot of work creating and balancing features the player will never acutally get to play with - that's a bad idea. On the other hand, the idea of 'be whatever you want to be' really appeals the players, but at the same time it will be very hard to balance things out, preventing one class from becaming more powerfull then the other.

This is especially important if you players focus on power-gaming (as most RPGs end up), because even a small imbalance will lead to a lot of people playing the game the "best way possible" (I'm telling you this from my past RPG experience with Neverwinter Nights - that's how I played the game).

Just my 2 cents,

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I giggle everytime I see someone use "EGOD" now.

Here's a tip: If you're working on your classes, don't look at just other classes, but look at other sources for inspiration.

I like classes, too. It's rare, I know.

Take a look at the military. In the US military, you have people trained to be infantry, snipers, weapons experts, trained to make special equipment, trained to use special equiptment, trained to sneak into a building and kill someone without anyone else knowing, people trained for close-quarters-combat, and so on.

Take a look at different warrior classes and martial arts forms over the past few centuries. There are people trained to be swordsman, gladiators who use whatever weapons they can get, samurai, ninjas, viking, archers, horseback archers, lancers, and so on. Maybe do a little research, too. Samurai were originally mounted archers; the swords came later.

If you're going to have priest- and mage-type classes, look into different forms of religion and different forms of magic. If there are different Gods in the game, priests can worship different gods and receive powers based on their patron. Different forms of magic revolve around different concepts, beliefs, in practices. Not all mages have to have the same elemental skills.

Classes for science fiction are different, because we don't know what we'll have in the future. Almost everything in fantasy fiction comes from history, so that's what we use to build upon.

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