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 Post subject: Stick to the basics
PostPosted: Tue Feb 21, 2012 4:29 pm 
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I was reading about another Rift balance pass on their classes.

ENOUGH! If they took all of the time they spent fixing/balancing classes and spent it on PVP or PVE additions Rift might have actually turned out to be something special.


First, class based games are broken by default. NPC's don't complain about it so you can get away with it in a PVE enviroment but in PVP class based games are just plain wrong.

Second, the math behind the mechanics of combat games are so completelyl ill conceived it makes it impossible to to fix anything with out breaking something else.
The mechanics need to stay at their very basic form. Using complicated algorithms to achieve "neat" factors is just plain stupid. Keep it simple stupid is all you need.

You simply can't add mudflation to games with out simple combat mechanics.

Most importantly most of the people working on patchs very seldom are part of the original creation teams. The minute your algorithms get beyond the understanding of the original creators you end up with a never ending cycle of PC updates.

Apparently math is not coders strong point. Their just really isn't any excuse for the complex combat mechanics other then to try and be different. If you want to be different here is an idea. STOP MAKING ELF/DWARF/FANTASY GAMES!


You know a game is well designed when it is simple and works.


Vllad


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 Post subject: Re: Stick to the basics
PostPosted: Tue Feb 21, 2012 6:02 pm 
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I've always thought that the best way to make sure classes are fun and balanced, particularly with regards to PvP, is to simply make NPCs use the same mechanics.

Players get a 5 second stun? So do NPCs.
Players get a 30 second mez? So do NPCs.
Players can cure poison? So can NPCs.
Players can taunt/detaunt? So can NPCs. (Mechanics that force a physical reaction, like a taunt, would be changed to things that encourage a reaction, like "you now deal 30% less damage to everyone except me".)

I think it would create a much more interesting combat experience and a lot of class balance issues would be hashed out pretty damn quick because whatever imbalanced crap the players can do, the NPCs can potentially do as well.

I also think the game designers would learn a lot about how stupid some of their stuff is if they had to sit down and write a sensible AI that uses it. "Wait -- so every time Power Stab is up, I want to use it? No tactical decision making at all? Well that's not very interesting. Why don't we just get rid of it and build that damage into the basic attack?" or "So every time I get cursed, I just want to hit 'cure' right away without regard for any other factors? Maybe this whole curse/cure idea is flawed."



That said, I think you're wrong about the balancing issue. There's no end to it and it doesn't matter if you're class based or skill based. Mount & Blade, for example, is as simple as I think you can get, yet nevertheless there's always another round of balance changes being made -- "balanced" ends up being an arbitrary, eye-of-the-beholder setting. How do you balance archers, cavalry and infantry so that they are all fun, useful, and don't simply become the dominant playtype? There's no simple math that can tell you how to balance a weapon with a 100m range against a weapon with a 1m range. It's guesswork and there's really no firm "right answer".



I think the problem with (MMO)RPGs is some fascination developers have with overwhelming the user. "Our game is super awesome! You can tell because LOOK AT ALL THESE ABILITIES." Lots of flash and sparkle, but the abilities are all arbitrary, some of them don't make sense, some of them have inane mechanics (curse/cure being one of my least favorite mechanics) and in the end you're just taking a difficult balance issue and making it ten times harder because you've created all these stupid abilities.

Both in Rift and SWTOR I had macros with 6+ abilities in them, mapped to one button, because that's just how stupid the ability design was. I will ALWAYS want to do Flame Punch, unless I can't, then I will ALWAYS want to do Spear Poke, unless I can't, then I will ALWAYS want to do Fire Throw, unless I can't....etc. There's always a ton of abilities that simply are not tactically interesting. If they would simplify their ability list down to "things that are tactically interesting" then they'd make their balance job a lot easier.


For example (SWTOR) --
"Jet Charge" -- fly to your target, 30 second cooldown. This is tactically interesting because there will be times I want to use it right away and times I want to save it. I certainly don't ALWAYS want to fly to my target (sometimes I want to run there and have the option to flying to another target -- or I run there knowing he'll do something to escape, and then I can fly to catch back up).

"Rocket Punch" -- punch target for a high damage, energy efficient, short range attack. This is not tactically interesting because if it's up, I want to do it. There is no case where I'd rather do some other attack if Rocket Punch is up.

In SWTOR, maybe (maybe!) 50% of the abilities are tactically interesting. The other 50% are not, but can still contribute to balance problems. It can also be a big factor in "perceived balance problems" because not everyone realizes that they should do Rocket Punch every time it's up, or they forget about using it, or they just plain lose track of it in their giant mass of assorted abilities.


In summary, I think simpler is better, but I don't think you can ever get away from balance issues.

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 Post subject: Re: Stick to the basics
PostPosted: Tue Feb 21, 2012 7:16 pm 
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i think most of the MMO's since EQ suffer from stat inflation

if you look at D&D they stay in a more normal realm most of the time. The higher your stats get the more they cost, a curve, just like skills in EVE. If your group of 5 adventurers fights an equal level group of 5 mobs, things are going to be pretty close stat wise, because the total stats of the mob determine its level...DUH!. If there are 7 or 8 mobs, you are seriously out gunned and most likely going to fight a loosing battle.

18 str is the max for a normal human without the aid of magic. But say a frost giant that is 5 times taller than a human could have 25.


I also hate the arbitrary cooldowns on abilities. If your in a starwars game, every blaster would have a ammo limit & heat scale.
You can spam that automatic machine gun style cover fire all you want, but you'll be burning thru ammo and taking long down times to reload, your also melting your barrel.
If you exceed the heat, gun stops working or chance to blow up in your face. Expensive guns might have a governer that shuts the gun down or warns you...'HEAT LEVELS CRITICAL, CONTINUE FIRING, Y/N?

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 Post subject: Re: Stick to the basics
PostPosted: Tue Feb 21, 2012 7:20 pm 
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Slamz wrote:
In summary, I think simpler is better, but I don't think you can ever get away from balance issues.



Let me refrase. Tweaking maybe, a full blown re-work of a class is just out of line.

I totally disagree that balance is a long term issues. Balance should be fixed relatively quickly after release. You solve the balance piece by having basic combat mechanics and move away from a class base system. Eliminate the general fixed targeting system and give a fixed number of combat options.

For example: In Planetside they did some tweaking with the Jackhammer vs. the TR Chain gun but in general their was no balance issues. Their weren't balance issues between different infrantry, their were just differences. Play the TR and you can use a Chain gun, thumper, or sniper rifle. Play the NC and you get the Jackhammer etc etc.


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 Post subject: Re: Stick to the basics
PostPosted: Tue Feb 21, 2012 8:01 pm 
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I disagree with your assessment that class-based is inherently bad and skill-based is the only way to make a balanced game.

UO and Darkfall (and SWG, and ...) both proved that skill-based character development is just as stupid in the context of balance as anything else. The ONLY viable "class" in UO was a Plate-Wearing-Crossbow-Wielding-Ebolter. You could not play a "Warrior", because every Plate-Wearing-Crossbow-Wielding-Ebolter would hand you your ass 100% of the time. You could not play a "Mage", because every Plate-Wearing-Crossbow-Wielding-Ebolter would hand you your ass 100% of the time. Ebolt wasn't even a high level spell. It was like rank 4 out of an 8 rank spell system. But the implementation of the skills in the game made it completely retarded to ever specialize up to rank 8 spells. Everyone stopped at Ebolt (The big heal was also rank 4) and ran around in full platemail and a Heavy Crossbow.

Go watch youtube movies about Darkfall. Count how many people are 2-handed-Sword-Wielding-Bow-Shooting-Fireball-Casters. Hmm, 1, 2, 3, 4, 64879... I guess just all of them.

It's not that skill based is better than class based. They both can suck just as much as each other if the time isn't put into thinking them through properly.

I agree that too-many-useless-buttons is probably a contributor. The developer then has to spend effort to balance and tweak every single skill.


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 Post subject: Re: Stick to the basics
PostPosted: Wed Feb 22, 2012 12:50 pm 
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Veraphim wrote:
It's not that skill based is better than class based. They both can suck just as much as each other if the time isn't put into thinking them through properly.


Any system can be poorly designed like UO. Their are however many examples of skill based games that have worked in a PVP enviroment. I don't know of any example of a class based game that works well for PVP. Maybe POBS?

I am not saying one can't or won't be developed but why would you? Classes exist for PVE reasons not PVP. You can't have PVP games that rely on cooperation which is the primary reason classes exist.

Just skip the headaches and move on to more proven methods that work.

Again back to my original title. Stick to the basics. Spend your developement time making a better game not constantly fixing what you have already done.


Vllad


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 Post subject: Re: Stick to the basics
PostPosted: Wed Feb 22, 2012 1:47 pm 
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Vllad wrote:
Veraphim wrote:
It's not that skill based is better than class based. They both can suck just as much as each other if the time isn't put into thinking them through properly.


Any system can be poorly designed like UO. Their are however many examples of skill based games that have worked in a PVP enviroment. I don't know of any example of a class based game that works well for PVP. Maybe POBS?
Shadowbane. Had other issues(overall gameplay, zergs etc), but it did a lot of things right when it came to PvP.

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I am not saying one can't or won't be developed but why would you? Classes exist for PVE reasons not PVP.
I disagree with this. Name a skill based game where every character you fought wasn't basically the exact same thing? Like Veraphim said above, in skill based games, most everyone turns into the exact same class. If I wanted a PvP game like that, I'd play CS2. I went into Darkfall with the mindset that I was going to be an archer only. I tried it for months and months and months... I ended up a magic using, 2h axe wielding archer just like everyone else. I spent over 70% of my in game time macroing to get my skills up. I much prefer the class based game when it comes to PvP. I even enjoy the more complex class based games where they are complex to the point where it is hard to balance. I wish that Rift had more classes(or at least souls to choose from with the 4 current classes).

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You can't have PVP games that rely on cooperation which is the primary reason classes exist.

Just skip the headaches and move on to more proven methods that work.

Again back to my original title. Stick to the basics. Spend your developement time making a better game not constantly fixing what you have already done.


Vllad
Why cant you have both? Rift for example has developers just for their classes... they also have developers dealing with other things.. There's no reason that you can't have both a complex class based game with good fundamentals. It's not like because Rift has balance issues with the classes that they are spending all of their time fixing balance issues and not enough time working on making the game a better PvP game. There's more to it than that. Maybe the issue with Rift is that they spend too much time working on new PvE encounters and that kind of thing(which honestly is their issue IMO) and pushing out new PvE content to keep that playerbase happy that they haven't successfully been able to keep the PvP base.

The game wasn't initially created as a great PvP game which was a failure from the beginning... had nothing to do with a lack of balance between the classes.

The reason there isn't a great PvP, class based game is because of a lack of vision from those with enough money to actually produce a game. Shadowbane tried, small company. Darkfall tried, small company. UO was too ahead of it's time and is more of a revolutionary game than a good pvp game.

if you could get a company like blizzard(or hell even trion + some $$$) to make a game based on the vision of Shadowbane with the gameplay FPS style aspects of Darkfall with the refinement, PvE and class structure of Rift, you could have a hell of a game IMO.

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 Post subject: Re: Stick to the basics
PostPosted: Wed Feb 22, 2012 3:37 pm 
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I personally think that DAoC was an excellent example of a well executed class based game focused on PvP that kept the mechanics fairly simple. Or at least so it seemed to me.

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 Post subject: Re: Stick to the basics
PostPosted: Wed Feb 22, 2012 3:49 pm 
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about the only game that does class system well is TeamFortress. Each character has a specific task & role, and you are allowed to make custom equipment choices to your own play preferences

for instance
Sniper: support team and kill enemy heavy classes. Long range rifle or short range bow

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 Post subject: Re: Stick to the basics
PostPosted: Wed Feb 22, 2012 5:37 pm 
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Conceptually, skill based and class based shouldn't be any different. All skill based really means is that you can create your own custom class. "Two-handed axe wielding archer mage" is your class. Call it "Mage Assassin" and it's no different than a class from any other class based game.

If everyone is gravitating towards the same class (the same set of skills) then you have a balance problem -- for whatever reason, other choices aren't interesting or useful enough.

That is:

Mage Assassin: 50 magic skill, 50 archer skill
Archer: 0 magic skill, 100 archer skill

Whether these are classes or things you built yourself through a skill based system is immaterial. If everyone is going to be a Mage Assassin then there's probably a balance issue where 50 archery is good enough and it's better to get 50 magic than an additional 50 archery. (Or, similarly, you max out those two skills at the complete expense of some others because the others aren't worth even putting a point in.)


So basically as a designer I think you have to sit down and design skill based systems that support specializing equally as well as diversifying. Whether you then arrange those skills into set "classes" or not seems immaterial.

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 Post subject: Re: Stick to the basics
PostPosted: Wed Feb 22, 2012 5:42 pm 
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Vera failed to mention the most successful skill based games SWG & EVE. Experience curve = good thing. Most characters, adventurers, heroes etc should have enough skill to dabble in a few secondary fields, but never be as good at them as a specialist

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 Post subject: Re: Stick to the basics
PostPosted: Wed Feb 22, 2012 5:57 pm 
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Well, I did mention SWG - but as a poor example of a skill based game. There was a glaring problem with 80% of the population being a Commando Beastmaster. Rocket Launchers and Rancors is all you saw all day long.

Eve might be a good skill system, but I usually think of that game more as a unique Equipment-Based game. I think it was less to do with the skills you had and more to do with the ship/gear you had unlocked(and currently equiped).


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 Post subject: Re: Stick to the basics
PostPosted: Wed Feb 22, 2012 6:48 pm 
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Strife wrote:

Name a skill based game where every character you fought wasn't basically the exact same thing?


Eve, Planetside, Shattered Galaxy, WWII online.


All of the above games are purely skilled based, while flawed all were successful and all of them the best pvp MMO's I have played. Their are tons of options in the above games and many people played many different successful rolls.

I am with you on Shadowbane. Keep in mind that it wasn't just a class based game. It was a class and skill based.


Strife wrote:
The game wasn't initially created as a great PvP game which was a failure from the beginning... had nothing to do with a lack of balance between the classes.


Rift was advertised and tried selling itself as a PVP game that had PVE. It is the reason Purge played it to begin with. We were supposed to be contesting for each zone, generating rifts that allowed our teams NPC's to spawn. The more ground you lost the more Rifts you could open. Controlling the zones were supposed to create team benefits. Before starting Rift I read multiple 500 word adds and reviews from the designers that was selling Rift as a PVP game. To quote a review "It will do what Warhammer didn't".

I get now that Rift wasn't supposed to be a great PVP game. They did try to sell me a great PVP game though. Just about nothing that they promised was actually in the game.


Strife wrote:
The reason there isn't a great PvP, class based game is because of a lack of vision from those with enough money to actually produce a game. Shadowbane tried, small company. Darkfall tried, small company. UO was too ahead of it's time and is more of a revolutionary game than a good pvp game.


I agree with you. Great games in general are not produced because no one is willing to take the risk given the expense to put out such products. When any industry starts to be affraid of risk and starts repeating itself it eventually stagnates.

The next great game we play will come out of no where and will be a big surprise from some small company that is willing to take the risk to be great.


Vllad


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 Post subject: Re: Stick to the basics
PostPosted: Wed Feb 22, 2012 8:24 pm 
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D&D is what most of the fantasy games are built around and it is an unbalanced class game. The idea was a rock, paper, scissors class system with given various encounters each class had advantages and disadvantages. While a prepared cleric or wizard were kings in their own right, unprepared they were easy kills.

This concept of unbalanced classes is alive and well in MMOs, however, players who are an income source cry for balance which I think is a unrealistic goal in class based games. "Skill" based games suffer from sometimes too much skill and create demi-god builds. SWG suffered from this.

For a PvP game it has to balance and keep players interested. I like to play WW2 online because its a more engaging PvP system than the typical build vs build or class vs class MMO PvP which is usually lost/won before the fight begins. This is what I think Vllad is saying. Games need to go back to basic combat school and stop with adding $$$ getting bells and whistles of new huge skill trees, instances (warzones, arenas, 6v6, 24v24, worldvworld, etc), ultimate weapons which get made obsolete by a new patch for another ultimate weapon, raiding, 50+ skill buttons, combo attacks, story arcs, dynamic NPCs, questing systems, new crafting systems... it never ends with each new MMO. However, if the combat doesn't work, all that stuff doesn't mean squat.

PS. When I saw that huge freaking sword in the GW2 video on the back of the girl... I actually stopped the video and didn't look further. Am I that old?!?


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 Post subject: Re: Stick to the basics
PostPosted: Wed Feb 22, 2012 9:12 pm 
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Dharus Tyranus wrote:
PS. When I saw that huge freaking sword in the GW2 video on the back of the girl... I actually stopped the video and didn't look further. Am I that old?!?

Probably. :-p

What you're seeing there is basically the influence of Asian styles. D&D, LOTR, that sort of thing, was basically the Western style which used traditional, real-world arms and armor designs as the basis for how things look. Asian styles are far more "fantastic" -- giant swords and bizarre looking things in general (and they have a thing for tall, spikey hair).

Really, if you're willing to accept that a game is going to have a cat-lady who can send fireballs shooting from her hands, you might as well accept that someone might have a giant sword, too. Blame the Final Fantasy series for that.

It's just aesthetics, though. Even SWTOR is really just an aesthetic difference from the same old MMORPG forumla. Sure I *look* like a Star Wars Bounty Hunter but what I'm doing is functionally identical to the Warrior out of Rift (mix in a melee soul and a soul with some ranged attacks and there you have it).


So I will gladly accept giant swords if the game will just get the mechanics right.


Incidentally, I assume you haven't seen the "Asura" race. Oh you're going to really hate them. Think: cute Japanese gnome-kittens.

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 Post subject: Re: Stick to the basics
PostPosted: Thu Feb 23, 2012 10:34 am 
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Dharus Tyranus wrote:
D&D is what most of the fantasy games are built around and it is an unbalanced class game. The idea was a rock, paper, scissors class system with given various encounters each class had advantages and disadvantages. While a prepared cleric or wizard were kings in their own right, unprepared they were easy kills.



Exactly. D&D was originally designed for that reliance in an attempt to promote the requirement of the multiplayer aspect. With out multiple classes the game just can't be played. Many games of the 70's were mostly two player war games or childrens games. D&D really enforced the design of a game around generating more customers for its products/supplements.

GURPS/Champions came along and destroyed that model and D&D seemed really idiotic afterwards.

MMO's of the 90's went with the D&D model because like D&D they were dealing with a new type of product and because they were D&D fans.

There are many better models now out there but for an assortment of reasons they just can't get out of the mold.

I am still awaiting the GURPS of MMO's to come along.


Vllad


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 Post subject: Re: Stick to the basics
PostPosted: Thu Feb 23, 2012 12:48 pm 
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Slamz wrote:
Incidentally, I assume you haven't seen the "Asura" race. Oh you're going to really hate them. Think: cute Japanese gnome-kittens.


Haha! Well, I don't "hate" that fantasy aspect... Its just not my favorite. I lean toward the "realistic" fantasy aka Conan books. I can see why they would go that route though... Asian market is huge $$$. Either way, I'm betting it'll be another MMO with different bells and whistles.

If there was a MMO built on GURPS, then its potential could be huge. You'd probably still have player base balance complaining though.


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 Post subject: Re: Stick to the basics
PostPosted: Thu Feb 23, 2012 1:51 pm 
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What's interesting is that D&D 4th edition is balanced as far as classes, races, and powers go. What's really hilarious is that Pathfinder (based on 3.5 open source D&D) is more profitable than 4th ed. That's because all of the munchkins play Pathfinder since 4th edition is balanced. That actually is one of the top complaints about 4th edition D&D is that it is so balanced.

Also 4th edition class roles were based on MMOs. It actually will say Leader (Healer/Buffer), Striker, Controller, and/or Defender in the class descriptions.

So, MMOs were based off of D&D. D&D then bases itself off of MMOs.


Like GURPS, Ultima Online had/has a completely skill based system. You had no classes just skills. So you could be whatever you wanted to be within a certain skill max range. Power point based systems are nice, but in order to be balanced a GM has to be on the ball saying what is and is not allowed.

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