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thelovegoose

Jack of all Trades

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Theres something attractive about being a jack of all trades - or god forbid a genuine renaissance man. Current Skills/abilities systems in rpgs, MM or otherwise reward players for concentrating on a small few skills. How could current systems be adapted to put the jack of all trades players on level ground with the others...?

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The key point of jack of all trades is that he is the master of none.

You cannot put him on 'level' ground with specialised classes, because that would be ultimate class to play.

Tanks like a warrior, nukes like a mage, heals like a priest. Who would play those three classes then? The appeal of jack is to be able to combine multiple playstyles into one and do a variety of things, but to be as effective as the specialized classes, you need to use all of your abilities to complete any task.

While a mage could easily kill the monster, you will have to whack it a bit longer, but then you can heal yourself, and withstand some damage. In the end the effect is the same, but you are more flexible both for yourself and the group.

Druid in World of Warcraft seems to be a good example of multifaceted hybrid that does quite well. However, wow still requires you to specialize in some branch, so eventually you end up with 75% of base class A and 25% of two other classes. And yes that's 125%. Due to your flexibility you can pull out tricks other classes cannot, but when it comes to straigh efficiency with a given task, you're not as good as others.

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I agree with most of that apart from the assertion that putting him on a level ground makes him the ultimate class to play.

What if by improving all or most of your abilities you gradually improve more quickly, meaning that while in the short term they are inferior to anyone who's specialized, at some point in their growth can match the specialists' skill levels (or very nearly).

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Original post by thelovegoose
I agree with most of that apart from the assertion that putting him on a level ground makes him the ultimate class to play.

What if by improving all or most of your abilities you gradually improve more quickly, meaning that while in the short term they are inferior to anyone who's specialized, at some point in their growth can match the specialists' skill levels (or very nearly).


In that case, there's no need for the specialist anymore. As the name hints - specialist is specialized in something, meaning that he's the only guy around who can do that. If you have a druid nuking targets and healing your party at the same time, why would you take two mages and two priests, while you can take 4 druids and just shift their role during the encounter? That's with assumption that they're doing it with at least 90% efficiency of the other class.

The strenght of jack of all trades, or a hybrid class, is that it can combine multiple playstyles and adapt to the situation, while rigid specialized classes do not have that freedom. Giving such class too much advantage in any of the fields will leave to a severe class balance issue where too many people play the class as it is almost as good as others.

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I think in am MMRPG a Jack of all Trades (JoaT) would be almost impossible to implement well. This is because each group has a large number of people in it. For a JoaT to exist in this, there would have to be more "roles" than there were players in the group, otherwise it would be better for the group to just use specialists (as all eventualities would then be covered).

In a single player RPG it becomes easier to implement as there will usually be fewer characters than "Roles". This then makes the JoaT a valuable choice. When the situation is unpredictable, then the flexibility of a JoaT becomes an advantage that can offset it's poorer levels.

The advantage of a Joat is flexibility, if you can choose specialists to full fill all the roles in a group, then there is no reason to take on a JoaT. However, you can design a game (or adventure) where flexibility in character abilities are more important that their level. When you do this, then you increase the value of a JoaT.

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If instead of having classes determined at the character creation phase you allowed any character to build any stat and skill, this would give players an equal choice whether to specialize or generalize.

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Original post by sunandshadow
If instead of having classes determined at the character creation phase you allowed any character to build any stat and skill, this would give players an equal choice whether to specialize or generalize.


Ultima Online originally was a allowed a player to choose and generalize over other MMO's such as EQ or WoW. What I noticed is that in EQ/WoW, every warrior is just a clone of every other warrior, every mage a clone of every other mage, etc. In UO, the vast majority of players ended up just being clones of every other player depending upon what was the stat/skill of the week.

I personally feel that until RPG's are reexamined, stats, skills, etc are pretty much pointless.

Most games pretty much just involve fighting, and can be boiled down to the sacred three. People who specialize in fighting don't want people who can cast spells to be just as good fighters, and vice versa. And even games which allow hybrid classes have problems. WoW which allows druids, shamans, paladins, etc, while they aren't as good fighters or mages or theives, etc, end up allowing the player to choose those classes because they have specialized skills all their own, which honestly makes them less than a true hybrid.

A jack of all trades character shouldn't be as good as a specialized character. It's just not right for a person to invest hundreds of hours when another person can invest 2 hours for certain tasks. At the same time, a better RPG shouldn't require specific classes to be required to complete a worldwide task. It's fine if a fighter gets to do fighter specific tasks, or a mage, mage specific tasks. But have alternative routes a player can go in a world specific quest that challenge a player based upon his or her chosen skillset. (IE: The Chrono Cross Sphinx. A fighter would choose to attack it whereas a mage might choose to try solving it's riddles. But unlike Chrono Cross, you get rewards based upon the way you completed it).

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Original post by sunandshadow
If instead of having classes determined at the character creation phase you allowed any character to build any stat and skill, this would give players an equal choice whether to specialize or generalize.

Uh. As would having classes, no? Obviously, letting the players choose between warrior, priest, mage and something that's a bit of both (edit: yes, both three) would give all players an as equal choice.

Not that classless doesn't relate to or isn't the answer to absolutely everything though.

I think Edtharan quite nailed it. If the situation is unpredictable, you can't always rely on every character staying in their spot and performing their skill. If orcs come ambusing in the middle of some fight, you migt well run out of healers that can't fend off ambushing orcs. Etc. In your typical MMORPG, you know that the orcs come along 2 minutes into the boss-fight because you've fought the same scripted fight a dozen times already, so you know when the priests should move to where and so on. I'd imagine it'd be possible to do things differently.

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Balancing hybrids and specialists is extremely difficult. The best way to illustrate this is to look at the situation of hybrids in World of Warcraft.

In short, the hybrids of World of Warcraft are far too good at everything they can do. Before the expansion, Druids and Paladins were considered just as good as Priests, if not better. Not sure how it is for healing now, but now what happen with healing to Priests seems to be happening with Warriors and tanking. And I won't mention damage dealing which every class can specialize into...

But that isn't because Blizzard is incompetent at balancing. Before, when the hybrid classes couldn't match the specialists, players of hybrids encountered a big problem: they weren't wanted for serious content. In the big raids, the difficulty was so high that guild leaders wanted to maximize their potential by having the best tanks possible, the best healers possible, and the best damage dealers. The jack-of-all-trades lacked effectiveness, by design. Blizzard couldn't lower the difficulty too much, otherwise they'd lose the hardcore player base. So, the only thing Blizzard could do was buff the hybrids so they are good enough to pull their weight in a raid... and good enough means comparable to a specialist.

What this means is that if the content is too easy, a true jack-of-all-trades is more advantageous. If the content requires you to squeeze every ounce of skill to defeat a boss, a jack-of-all-trades won't be of much help. It's extremely difficult to find a balance between the two.

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