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RPG Classes

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I'm starting to work through some ideas for my MUD's classes, and I'm finding it a surprisingly daunting task. It's fun, but difficult. Are there any resources for creating character classes at a generic level? Right now, I'm just looking at other games and seeing which elements can be translated to my own game (and then making them my own, of course). For example, I'm considering having talent trees, like in WoW/Diablo, so last night I sat down with a friend and talked about what one such tree might look at for a class we both thought sounded interesting. We cam up with some good ideas, but we found they were largely combat offense/defense based, so I've determined that I need to work on class abilities, first. This process is surprisingly complex. Classes are another discussion. I'm not looking to go far from the beaten path on this. I'm thinking I'm going to have the four basic class types (warrior, thief, wizard, priest), and allow a small amount of branching off of that (like D&D prestige classes), to allow for some character customization at a higher level than talents. This, too, makes things a little difficult, as if I allow two branch classes per main class, that's 12 total classes (which is a lot). Anyway, everything is still up in the air, so I'm not quite ready to sit down and talk specifics. I'd rather start looking at the process, and was hoping to find some resources, like a "So you're about to build character development" document, or maybe a good post-mortem for an RPG that discusses this very (or some similar) thing. Or even a good piece of advice (e.g. one that I would give is to keep it simple, as far too many games out there offer way too many race/class options to be balanced and/or look good).

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Hmm, if you're going for the usual fantasy game, you have two choices. The first one is just to stick to the generic class set up, you have your tank warrior class, your buffing/healing priest class, rogue class, etcetera. Or you can really try for something new. Sticking to the beaten path will keep your game design in the safe zone, you won't be striking out, doing anything risky that might unbalance the game, but on the other hand, there will be nothing special for all the other MMOs and MUDs there are.

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If you are finding your talent trees are too based on combat with offensive and defensive abilities, maybe you should ask why, or even if, you need non-combat abilities. Many games involve a lot of non-combat interaction, but lots do just great focusing on the fighting. If you are making a diablo style game, you dont really need to muck it up with lock picking and other non-combat stuff. Give it a think as to what the game play is about so you know what you need to support with your talent trees and class abilities.

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I know how your feeling with this process. It *is* very daunting.

One of the things that I tried that I thought worked reasonably well was coming up with a list of abilities. I may or may not have had an idea in mind for classes, but I just wrote down any interesting spells, abilities, etc that came to mind that sounded even mildly interesting.

After I had a rather large list I started organizing them in ways that related to the classes I had in mind. Sometimes they confirmed to already established ideas of classes that I had, and other times new ones evolved based on the abilities that I had come up with.

I found that if I came up with classes before hand and tried designing abilities specific to those, it limited me in a way, as my conception of that class was restricted by previous games I had played. By combining those preconceived notions with new organic processes of coming up with abilities and add to and creating classes, it allowed for a more diverse/interesting class list, a class list with interesting and fun/unique abilities.

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Quote:
Original post by themime
I know how your feeling with this process. It *is* very daunting.

One of the things that I tried that I thought worked reasonably well was coming up with a list of abilities. I may or may not have had an idea in mind for classes, but I just wrote down any interesting spells, abilities, etc that came to mind that sounded even mildly interesting.

After I had a rather large list I started organizing them in ways that related to the classes I had in mind. Sometimes they confirmed to already established ideas of classes that I had, and other times new ones evolved based on the abilities that I had come up with.

I found that if I came up with classes before hand and tried designing abilities specific to those, it limited me in a way, as my conception of that class was restricted by previous games I had played. By combining those preconceived notions with new organic processes of coming up with abilities and add to and creating classes, it allowed for a more diverse/interesting class list, a class list with interesting and fun/unique abilities.


That's a great suggestion. Thanks! I've pretty much resolved to do that very thing, create the abilities first, and before I do that, I think I'm going to get just about everything else done, first. I have NPCs and the basics of combat in place, but I'm thinking I'll get to the point where classes (and level advancement) are about the only thing left. It'll help me get some more perspective on what all should be possible. I feel I have a good grasp of that now that I have combat, but I'm sure I'll learn something along the way.

Incidentally, what project was this for? Your Rogue like game? I'd love to see what you came up with.

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I would start with listing everything that players (regardless of any class definitions) will be doing in the game.

Then group them into "themes" and try to get them evenly spread out between the different themes. It is also possible to have tasks in several themes, but this should only be given to the most commonly used tasks, and then have some classes better at them (eg: Healing. A Priest might have the better healing, but a paladin might also have healing although at a lower ability in case the main healer goes down, or themselves needs healing).

Also, try to make sure that the frequency of the uses of these tasks in these lists are roughly equal between them (eg: so that one theme does not have all the most used tasks).

This will give a spread of tasks that player will be doing in that game between these themes (which will becomes your classes) making sure that each class will have something to do and contribute, and that no class is non-essential.

Also, as you have this list, you can use it to design your missions by including tasks from each class into the level design. So if you have a task of lock picking, then this can be included in your quest for a rogue to do. However, avoid using too many tasks from one class, and don't use all tasks from all classes.

It makes it easy to design the classes needed (as you have a set of themed task lists), the quests (as you have a list of tasks to choose form) and to make the game fair to each class (as you can select tasks to do from each class list).

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Thanks, Edtharan. That, too, is quite helpful, especially the points about distribution. The reason why I want to limit the number of classes is balance, which involves not only power, but playability.

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I know this is a bit off what you are asking for, but have you ever considered not having any classes at all?

Let the player gain skills based on how they train and learn. If they spend all their time focusing on magic, that is their path. However, they may spend their time fighting and learning a handful of specific spells.

You would definately have balance with this type of situation as everyone starts the game as equals. Where they go is dependent entirely on what they learn and experience in the game. Kind of like real life.

Just a thought.

John

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In my opinion there're only 3 basic classes:
warrior(combat),thief(stealth),spellcaster(magic).

In gamedesign priests are really only a special spellcasting sub classes of spellcaster. The background of priests is, that they gain their magic power from gods, but eventually they are just casting spells. Well, is a druid or shaman a spell caster or a priest ?

I would remove the priest branch, because a priest branch doesn't support any specific gameplay (other than the restriction to certain spells). This will reduce your classes by 25%. Instead of priest classes use some healing oriented spellcaster classes like druids or shamans.

--
Ashaman

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I personally quite like the D&D 3th edition system. I don't really know why it has a bad reputation among computer rpg players. (a not-so-good adaptation in neverwinter nights maybe?)

You have a set of skills that is the same for everyone, and some skills are cheaper to increase depending on your class.

Class also start with different stats and may have additional bonus talents, some of which may be gained only at a specific level in that class.

Of course, you can multiclass.

As I understand, the main critic of that system is that there are some quite lethal builds so people who use better combinations are at an advantage. That's actually something I like.

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