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Class vs Class-less

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I am working on some of the fundamental mechanics of my web RPG/Business/Strategy game. I am moving from a class-based system to class-less because I think it allows players to find their own style of playing. This is what i've come up with, what do you think? In short, every Xth level your hero gains, he/she will also receive a talent slot. To explain what a talent is, I first need to explain how skills have changed. Skills are now totally open for any hero to learn. But every skill has requirements and usually these include having a certain talent or collection of talents. A talent define an area in which your hero can become more proficient. There are 3 initial talents that your hero can choose from. They are “Fighting”, “Magic” and “Subtlety”. To start excelling at any one of these areas you must bind the talent to a talent slot. When the talent has been bound your hero will start earning experience in that particular talent whenever a skill that is affiliated with that talent is used. Eventually, the talent will level up and yield more talents that can be bound and used. A talent that has been bound to a talent slot cannot be unbound, so you will have to choose wisely. It might be a bit similar to world of warcraft, I dunno. The word 'talent' is borrowed from wow because I couldn't think of a better one. But with this system you can essentially learn any skill in the game. Of course, the more diverse you make your character, the less of an expert he/she will become in any one particular talent-area. If you put all your efforts into one group of talents then your character will eventually become fully learned in that particular area.

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Well the concept at least sounds cool :). I definitely like the idea of having player's unbound by classes, as I think this is a relic we could do without...

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Wait... so when you start, you choose a class - I mean talent - between warrior mage or thief - I mean combat, magic or stealth of course - and then level up that talent?

This is essentially DDO, except there it was 5 ranks and then you make "level" which could be placed in any class. Specializing in one class made you far more effective at that classes role than a hybrid (in most cases, way back when my bard/sorc could outcast a sorc and out-support a bard, but this is beside the point). If DDO (ie Dungeons and Dragons Online) is class based, then this system you have proposed is just class based, or rather multi-classing, by another name.

In addition, if there are only 3 talents to choose from, a level cap of above thirty, it takes just one slot to complete a talent's potential, and you can rank up talents just by using any skill associated with them, essentially by level 30 you become a jack of all trades.

It's very hard to make a totally class free system that does not allow ubber builds. Basically what you should do, rather than have things open ended, is make a cap. Every level in magic sets the combat cap down a rank or something (or something like every level you get X talent points, which can be distributed into any field. The cost for each new level increases. This is the same thing, but it doesn't feel like an artificial cap [see Ragnarok Online's stat system]).

Edit: 30 came from "xth" level... for some reason I read that as 10'th level.

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I like the idea... it sounds to me very similar to Fable.

In Fable you have a few categories of skills, much the same as your concept, and can buy skills in any of those areas whenever you want using xp. When you use those skills in combat, it generates different types of xp, which can then be spent towards more skills in the same "type". The only real point of difference is that Fable included generic experience, which could be used to buy any skill, in addition to experience that was specific to a skill category, whereas your skills are directly tied to their levelling.

The only problem with Fable was that there was enough combat (and therefore experience) that you could essentially master all of the sections, which made the choices somewhat meaningless.


So yes... I absolutely think it can work. So long as you balance and playtest it to be sure that the system and choices are fun and user-friendly, Id say go for it.

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Thanks for the input! :)

Yeah, in essence the classes are still there. But at least, your not bound to a specific tree of skills depending on the class. If you want to be a sword wielding necromancer, you can be. You will never be as good a sword wielder or necromancer as someone whom has put everything into either "talent path". I don't know how you could make it more free than that.

A short example:
Character X has bound the talents 'Fighting' and 'Sword Mastery'.

He also have two skills that affiliate with those talents. 'Wild Swing' which affiliates with 'Fighting' and 'Circle Slash' that affiliates with 'Sword Mastery'.

When he uses either of the two skills successfully, experience is earned towards the talents that the skills are affiliated with.

Eventually 'Sword Mastery' levels up and yields a new talent 'Ice Sword'. X binds this to his third talent slot.

He learns a new skill called 'Frost Chock'. This skill is affiliated with the 'Ice Sword' talent.

And so on...

X could in the middle of everything choose to bind 'Magic' to a talent slot and start learning spells.

Anyway, these are my rough plans. There a probably a lot of details to work out still and balancing of course.

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It sounds like a good system, and is quite similar to something I'm considering implementing in a game.

Though I will say make sure you make caps on talents learnable, so you can avoid the mistakes of Fable and Runescape, where it is possible to level up every talent to the maximum, making you virtually invincible.

With fable if you use a couple of faults in the game it's easy to get all skills, with relatively little effort, resulting in the fight against the final boss taking about 2 minutes. This essentially made the game boring, as everything became incredibly easy, as you could nuke an enemy with the strongest spell known to mankind, and if that didn't do the trick you could berserker rage and practically cleave enemies in half, and if you in this period of about 10 seconds managed to sustain any damage you could heal yourself faster than any priest. This essentially makes the game boring if it's single player, and disastrous if it's multiplayer game, as it tends to be harder to do this, taking much longer, however the players that achieve max levels in every skill in games such as runescape are virtually unstoppable, providing no fair competition at all.

so you may want to develop an advancement tree, that not only has prerequisites for skills, but having certain skills mean you can't gain other skills, which would restrict players from being one man armies.

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Original post by firemonk3y
It sounds like a good system, and is quite similar to something I'm considering implementing in a game.

Though I will say make sure you make caps on talents learnable, so you can avoid the mistakes of Fable and Runescape, where it is possible to level up every talent to the maximum, making you virtually invincible.

With fable if you use a couple of faults in the game it's easy to get all skills, with relatively little effort, resulting in the fight against the final boss taking about 2 minutes. This essentially made the game boring, as everything became incredibly easy, as you could nuke an enemy with the strongest spell known to mankind, and if that didn't do the trick you could berserker rage and practically cleave enemies in half, and if you in this period of about 10 seconds managed to sustain any damage you could heal yourself faster than any priest. This essentially makes the game boring if it's single player, and disastrous if it's multiplayer game, as it tends to be harder to do this, taking much longer, however the players that achieve max levels in every skill in games such as runescape are virtually unstoppable, providing no fair competition at all.

so you may want to develop an advancement tree, that not only has prerequisites for skills, but having certain skills mean you can't gain other skills, which would restrict players from being one man armies.


Yes, I fully agree and that is already a part of my system. As all characters will have a level cap (not determined, but lets say 50 for now). And let's say they gain a talent slot every 2nd level. Then they will receive a total of 25 slots. So they will only be able to bind 25 talents to those slots.

All skills are affiliated with a talent (or even several talents) which mean the character can only learn skills that they have bound talents for. Skills might have other requirements too that must be met before they can be learned.

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I wouldn't go out and reward a talent point every 2nd level. If I were you I'd rather create more abilities to choose from, or have em take more talent points to learn, but I don't like that 2nd, or maybe even third lvl idea. You've spent quite some time leveling up, but, oh wait, your level is now 43. Which is uneven, and thus you don't get a talent point. Really screws the fun of leveling up (if it's even fun in the first place).
The idea is great though. If you spend quite some time playtesting this could really work out.

Just my...you know what I mean :p

-Stenny

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Quote:
Original post by DarkZoulz
Yeah, in essence the classes are still there. But at least, your not bound to a specific tree of skills depending on the class. If you want to be a sword wielding necromancer, you can be. You will never be as good a sword wielder or necromancer as someone whom has put everything into either "talent path". I don't know how you could make it more free than that.


But the question is: Are the swordsman, necromancer, and the sword wielding necromancer "equal"? That is, are they all equally useful in game? If they're not, do you intend to emphasize this as a form of difficulty setting? If they "are", do you realize the difficulty in balancing this?

Quote:

X could in the middle of everything choose to bind 'Magic' to a talent slot and start learning spells.


So, can you rebind a slot?

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Quote:
Original post by stenny
I wouldn't go out and reward a talent point every 2nd level. If I were you I'd rather create more abilities to choose from, or have em take more talent points to learn, but I don't like that 2nd, or maybe even third lvl idea. You've spent quite some time leveling up, but, oh wait, your level is now 43. Which is uneven, and thus you don't get a talent point. Really screws the fun of leveling up (if it's even fun in the first place).
The idea is great though. If you spend quite some time playtesting this could really work out.

Just my...you know what I mean :p

-Stenny


I see what you mean.

However, I think we might have our terms mixed up a bit. In my system I have talents, talent slots and skills. Skills are exactly what they sound like. Skills in this game are just like in most RPG games. They can be acquired by players at any time. There are NPC trainers that can teach skills and even item drops in the form of scrolls that can teach skills. However, every skill has a list of requirements. Among these are at least one talent.

Talents in this system are not like talents in World of warcraft. They represent a area or scope of expertise that the character can learn. Talents are sequentially unlocked by using skills that are affiliated with the base talent. Every time you use the 'Ice Bolt' skill successfully the 'Elemental Magic: Cold' talent gains experience, eventually unlocking one or more new talents.

Finally, the talent slots are just there to restrict the player from being able to learn every skill in the game. The player will only be able to bind a fixed number (in the case above 25) of talents. A talent that has been bound to a slot cannot be unbound.

Example of talent tree:

'Fighting'
'Slash Weapon Proficiency'
'Sword Mastery'
'Axe Mastery'
'Blunt Weapon Proficiency'
'Hammer Mastery'
'Mace Mastery'
'Pierce Weapon Proficiency'
'Spear Mastery'
'Dagger Mastery'
'Endurance'



etc etc

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Quote:
Original post by Way Walker
But the question is: Are the swordsman, necromancer, and the sword wielding necromancer "equal"? That is, are they all equally useful in game? If they're not, do you intend to emphasize this as a form of difficulty setting? If they "are", do you realize the difficulty in balancing this?

I believe that a swordman/necromancer should be about equal to a master swordman or necromancer. The main objective is to allow players to tailor their character after what they like to play. You can gain certain advantages towards other characters as some skills will be devised to counter the effects of others. Elemental skills will have counter measures against their opposites. There might be skills that work to increase your armor, and other skills that lower the armor of their opponent etc etc.

Quote:
Original post by Way Walker
So, can you rebind a slot?

Short answer: no. I have never been a fan of "re-speccing". I think it kinda takes away some of the fun in building a character. I know people don't like to start all over just to test out a new skill build, but in my game your characters won't live forever (they eventually die from old age) and you will be able to control several at once. So you won't get too attached to your characters.

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Original post by DarkZoulz
I believe that a swordman/necromancer should be about equal to a master swordman or necromancer. The main objective is to allow players to tailor their character after what they like to play. You can gain certain advantages towards other characters as some skills will be devised to counter the effects of others. Elemental skills will have counter measures against their opposites. There might be skills that work to increase your armor, and other skills that lower the armor of their opponent etc etc.

Trouble is that, especially with anything online, hybrids tend to be better overall because the implied weaknesses of one class can be made up for by using the strengths of another. It's really hard for a multiclass system to make things balanced. Not all hybrids are better than their class counterparts, but certainly a Sword/Priest, one who heavily focused on melee but also got healing talents, would be far more independent than a pure swordsman who cannot heal himself.
Quote:
Original post by DarkZoulz
Short answer: no. I have never been a fan of "re-speccing". I think it kinda takes away some of the fun in building a character. I know people don't like to start all over just to test out a new skill build, but in my game your characters won't live forever (they eventually die from old age) and you will be able to control several at once. So you won't get too attached to your characters.

You will have whiners up the yin-yang about this decision, but I personally agree with you. Unlimited decisions are good, but having complete freedom is bad. Essentially, choice needs consequence. This is one of my major objections with Guild Wars, being able to redistribute stats at the drop of a hat is not something entertaining. To appease the whiners, however, you can make respeccing some kind of terribly difficult task/quest that makes it impossible to have a spec of week, but still possible to rectify mistakes.

Also, if you cannot respec be SURE to allow someone to PREVIEW what stat changes are going to do to them. It's terrible in games where every point counts, that at level 98 you accidentally put one too many in strength and are now a gimped character FOREVER.

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Well, you are creating something pretty natural here.
Usually, you have a map (Joined Classes) -> (Learnable Skills), and you just create (Learned Skilles) -> (joined classes), which is much more into numberless games than the first version. At least for non-powerleveling things, numberlessness is better.

However, one should consider the classes a player has joined, because if a player learns to fight with a sword, he will be able to learn fighting with an axe easier.
Thus, you basically get a hierachy of classes and a number of skills associated to those classes. The more skills one has in such a class, the more he is a character of that class. And the more skills he learned from that class, the easier learning more skills from that class and from sibling classes is.

Imo, thats a highly intuitive system, at least from a players point of view.

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