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Reader Comments (21)

Posted: Dec 29th 2009 11:07PM (Unverified) said

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I don't see how this applies to MMOs
I just want to play alone. The ability to solo is very important to me. I pay my money, and it's fine if other people want to play with others, but I'd like the option to not have to play with others if I don't want to. The gaigax guy was a loser. If i want to ignore the world around me, and act selfishly, I should be allowed to. I shouldn't be punished.






:p

Posted: Dec 29th 2009 11:34PM (Unverified) said

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A while back I posted on this subject at Terranova - why the heck do we have classes in games? It's really kind of frustrating. A person signs up to play, and the first decision they have to make is "hm - should I be a Fighter or a Healer?" They haven't even made their first in-game mouse click and they're being asked to decide their future role. Imagine if you'd walked into a room in High School and been told to decide if you're going to be happier as a Doctor or an Executioner?

Now, for those of us who are MMO vets, it's probably an easy and self-evident choice (I want to DPS those MOBs to dust - I'm rolling a Sith!). But for the first time player it's a hell of a question to pose, and virtually every game forces that choice up front. Heck, the first character I created in WoW was a Rogue, and it took me three months to understand that I really preferred playing a healer in that game.

You don't get any opportunity to explore different roles if you're forced to pick your class before you ever start playing, and you're far more likely to end up unhappy - particularly after investing a whole lot of time and then discovering you chose the wrong class.

Richard Bartle pointed out that, in early MUD games, players got more skilled by doing the things they enjoyed. If you liked hitting things, you got better at it. Darkfall follows this model, but its PvP centric play means that it's destined to remain a niche title. EvE addresses a "classless" system by decoupling skills from in-game actions (which I disagree with - players should see a tangible benefit from their in-game activity - though it's a clever maneuver by EvE's developers since it keeps a lot of folks paying for accounts while only logging on for a few minutes a day).

Why have games become so centered on the notion of class? Why can't we just use a decoupled paradigm to define the role our avatar is fulfilling? If you want to be a warrior, then equip warrior gear and go hit things. If you want to be a healer, then equip the appropriate gear and go to town. Have players improve skills that allow them to equip role-appropriate items by using those skills.

And if I decide that I'd rather be a healer than a fighter, allow me to keep playing my main character and learn those skills without having to roll an alt.

Classes are a bad idea that seem like a good idea to experienced players. A really great and clever game design would dispense with the crutch of classes.

Posted: Dec 30th 2009 12:04AM Scuffles said

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When is the last time you ever played an MMO where you stuck with your first character selection and build ?

You test the waters, see what works for you and toss a little research into why your first character or two were total gimps.

And we do have games where you can be and do everything under the sun .... we call them single player and thats exactly what you'd end up with if everyone was everything.
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Posted: Dec 31st 2009 2:10AM (Unverified) said

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"Imagine if you'd walked into a room in High School and been told to decide if you're going to be happier as a Doctor or an Executioner?"

If you do no research to your profession, that's pretty much how it goes in irl too.. Specially nowdays when schools advertise professions with missleading images.
You wont know if you truly like your profession until you really do it. Even school doesnt nessecarily prepare you for the daily routine of your profession.

So yes, your example is pretty accurate. ;)
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Posted: Dec 30th 2009 1:02AM Saker said

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I've been all for some kind of skill based system for years, the whole artificial level/class system that is so common is just garbage and needs to go.

Posted: Dec 30th 2009 1:11AM Tristik said

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Pre-Combat Upgrade Star Wars Galaxies has yet to be toppled with how they handled skills. We've heard people say that for a while now and I'm surprised no other developer has learned from it.

Posted: Dec 30th 2009 2:40AM Tizmah said

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Classes just simply organized different routes players can chose from in a group. In a skill based system, you can only maximize some skills before others get capped at a much lower point.

If you could maximize all skills, that would be a disaster in the making. That would just lead up to a who hit first game, not real tactics of trying to outsmart a class who was different from you, but just a bash bash bash game.

Also @snuffmuffin,

If you decide to quit being a warrior and want to be a healer, I think you should be able to. BUT if you have maximized all your warrior skills, you can't get healing as high as you'd like it to be.

Again, Everyone can't be everything. In a role-playing game, you have a ROLE to play..

Lets not forget this "bad" or "garbage" design for MMOs having classes came from Dungeons and Dragons, which started it all and is still highly successful.

So before you say "Classes are a bad idea that seem like a good idea to experienced players. A really great and clever game design would dispense with the crutch of classes.", you need to take a trip down memory lane to good ol' dungeons and dragons boardgame where RPGs started ;)

Heck..if everyone could do everything in TF2..you know how STUPID that would be? Heavies building sentries and Medic's Sniping? It doesn't work there and it doesn't work someplace else. Sorry. Cry some moar

Posted: Dec 30th 2009 2:48AM (Unverified) said

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I, for one, like developer-defined player classes; I think that it's fine for a developer to impose limitations on players for the sake of making game balance more manageable. Sure, ideally developers could just let us build exactly the character we want to play and then rebuild it another way on a whim, but in practice these classless systems are often full of players that min-max their way to overpowered character and team builds, as well as players that feel that they need to grind skills endlessly to ensure that their character isn't too weak. It is rare that in games with class-based systems that a player cannot find a class that they enjoy playing and that they feel is useful in the game. Class-based systems may not be very flexible when in comes to changing your mind about how you want to play, but there's nothing stopping a player from trying out all of the classes before they decide which one is to be their main.

Posted: Dec 30th 2009 4:03AM Jeromai said

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Classes are an easy archetype for players to get their heads around. Intuitively, it's clear that a plate-armored fighter with a big sword looks and plays differently from a cloth-wearing fire-ball throwing mage. This can make it easier to make a choice and get started.

However, a newbie wouldn't know exactly what the difference is until he plays the game, gets more experience and can figure out terms like melee/ranged, tank/heal/dps, aoe, cc, etc. It's probably part of the learning curve though, you have to play it to know how exactly it feels. Sometimes even vets make the mistake of assuming one game's class plays like another game's, where it's clearly not the case.

Where many games and MMOs slip up is locking classes so rigidly. Oh, to experience a different playstyle, I'm going to have to reroll an alt and play through how -many- levels again? Woe betide your game if the leveling experience isn't fun either.

In the case of Team Fortress, you get the benefits of unique strengths and weaknesses of a class archetype, while being able to flexibility switch between them on respawning. Opposing team is camped out, hugging half a dozen sentry guns? Time for a medic uber or a spy to sap them all.

Much rarer for an MMO to allow that sort of flexibility and utility.

Posted: Dec 30th 2009 6:20AM Prisemy said

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I really like the way Free Realm lets you switch your role on the fly. One character has access to all classes. The classes each level up individually but you can max every class. I get to choose my role in any given dungeon. It's like having 8 level 80 alts but without the hassle of having to log on and off.

Now what kind of MMO world that system would fit into other then Free Realms lore wise, I have no idea.

Posted: Dec 30th 2009 9:12AM (Unverified) said

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@ Maika
I disagree, with a caveat. While it's true that your $15 counts as much as everyone else's, what you're paying for is to play their game by their rules. In that sense, you're paying your $15, just like everyone else is. What makes you the special snowflake?

At the same time a game shouldn't be designed in such a way to force a perfect group just to leave a city. Sometimes all the Priests are busy or one or two classes important to grouping are capable of soloing, so they're in short supply because they'd rather just solo. Games designed like this shouldn't have subscribers, and either they change the rules or they close their doors.

I think, as we move away from class-based games, we should also drop leveling from the list of MMO must-haves. Levels restrict gameplay, a parallel I draw between borderlands and left 4 dead. Levels limit who you can play with of the entire population in the game proper. Yes, you can run your lowbie buddy through that dungeon 20 levels below your current, but he can't come with you to a dungeon you want to do. Even Blizzard recognizes this as a problem, implementing cross-server dungeon groups.

MMOs may have gotten their start from PnP games like D&D, but they're also video games. Books made into movies aren't hours of scrolling text, not literal translations of the source. Why do developers feel MMOs have to be?

Posted: Dec 30th 2009 9:54AM Serious Table said

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Kdolo, I agree that we need to move past a leveling system, but that also begs the question:

What do we have to keep the player going?

It's something I've noticed in MMOs. The reason they have a grind is that it gives the players something to work towards, a goal, motivation to log in and keep playing. If you remove that leveling system, you have to completely change your design focus to give the players something else that they'd look forward to accomplishing.

Single Player games can get away with this by incorporating interesting and engaging storylines. I'll use my favorite series, the Legend of Zelda, as an example. Ocarina of Time, just for the classic feel.

In OoT, you don't necessarily have a leveling system. You have an item per dungeon that allows you to complete dungeon-specific puzzles, and that item may come in handy in later dungeons. You have upgraded "equipment" in your Swords, Shields, and Tunics that are balanced. The Master Sword is a direct upgrade to the Kokiri Sword. The Biggoron Sword is an upgrade to the Master Sword in that it does double the damage, but you can't use your shield. The Hylian Shield is better than the Kokiri shield in that it doesn't burn, but as a youngin you can't move while blocking. The Mirror Shield is an upgrade to the Kokiri Shield in that it can block and reflect magic attacks, but it doesn't allow you to reflect rocks at Octoroks. Tunics offer no additional damage protection, just situational bonuses.

You advance by moving from dungeon to dungeon in a storyline, collecting Heart Containers to increase your life that you don't necessarily need if you get good at dodging. And it works. Very very well. It's the Zelda formula: Enter dungeon, collect item, solve puzzle, beat boss, move to next dungeon.

How do you translate that into an MMOG? Item collection? To me, that would be fun because I'm a huge Zelda fan. But you have to generate a lot of content, and a lot of storylines, which means a lot of items, to persuade players to keep going. Leveling is, admittedly, the "easy way out".
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Posted: Dec 30th 2009 10:58AM (Unverified) said

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Dude, people are still playing Left 4 Dead, TF2, even CounterStrike. What keeps those people going? Solid gameplay that is fun and involving, and bragging rights.

Without trying to sound TOO fanboy, I think APB is going to answer your question, at least the one you posed to me.

Posted: Dec 30th 2009 12:05PM Serious Table said

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You're right, L4D, TF2, and CS:S (acronyms for the win, there...) are still going super strong because of a strong following. Heck, I'm still playing all three (not very well, but that's beside the point)! But you have to admit that the people a First-Person shooter is catering to is a different audience than your general MMOG audience, especially for Team Fortress and Counter Strike. You do have a goal in those games, which is specifically "get better than the guy who killed you".

I guess what I'm trying to say is that we need alternative goals for players to achieve, rather than a level- or class-based grind. So on that field we agree.
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Posted: Dec 30th 2009 12:15PM (Unverified) said

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Classes are fun when they're actually created with some real originality.

Like... while LotRO's classes do have elements typical to most MMORPGs, they still feel way different to me at least. They all have their own unique style, instead of meshing styles together to where I feel like I'm just playing some class that's like another class in the game.

I don't really see what's so horrible about leveling though. For most MMOs that's like a majority of the content, and as long as it doesn't get too boring/grindy. I find leveling more enjoyable than just repeatedly running dungeons and such for gear and whatnot, especially when playing a game where classes hardly overlap each other in terms of play style and feel.

Posted: Dec 30th 2009 1:40PM (Unverified) said

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For me, the issue with leveling becomes an issue with picking up the game and starting fresh. Players return to WoW after trying new games because of a combination of grind and subscription fee. If youre level 1 and the cap is level 40, you know you have 39 levels to traverse, and more than likely in the middle there somewhere it's going to bog down. Pick a game, the situation is the same. Seeing that presented before you, and knowing youve already done that in WoW, you're probably not interested in doing it all over again, and paying your $15 a month, for that matter.

Games like EVE and, presumably, APB will allow you to play and more importantly contribute to groups that have long been established immediately after character creation. This does two things;
1. it removes the grind feel, as advancing is a goal in itself and not the path to a destination (i.e. - "the game doesn't REALLY get good until lvl 20")
2. it increases the perceived population density, as higher level characters have more opportunity to interact with a larger percentage of the population and in a meaningful way to themselves.

Leveling was build as a way for players to advance within the boundaries of their own game. It's just one of the things that will eventually be shed from these games as they evolve.
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Posted: Dec 30th 2009 6:03PM Graill440 said

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Is it so hard to figure out? Every class regardless of bells, whistles, pretty colors, etc, should be able to beat any other class ALL things being equal. Each class can also have a specialty, but then that depends on the game genre. Devs simply never listen, they must do it their way. And this would lead to devs needing to work, making content constantly, something they do not want to do.

The "NON" trick is to provide a pool of skills that are not seperate, are vanilla, are highly customizable and interesting. Would this lead to cookie cutter classes? No, but then i dont see any devs capable of this thoughtwise.

Say it with me devs.....customization when I want it, whenever i want it. OH and no raids. bahahaha.

Posted: Dec 30th 2009 6:17PM (Unverified) said

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So you guys want a MMORPG with no levels or classes? That isn't a RPG. If you don't like the features of RPGs don't play them. There are plenty of other games out there.

You guys sound like you want a single player online game where every character is equal at everything with everyone. That sounds awfully boring to me and with little to no reason to continue playing past the first month.

This is why you guys don't develop games, your ideas are bad.

Posted: Dec 30th 2009 6:52PM (Unverified) said

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Well, technically an RPG just has to be a Game where you Play a Role. :p
What the people in the thread who back classless systems have been getting at is that they want to be able to rebuild their character to play a different role (ei: change their heavily armored warrior into a robe wearing magician) with out having to start a new character, not that they want their character to be able to do everything.
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Posted: Dec 30th 2009 7:36PM (Unverified) said

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Im not getting at that at all, I'm also not saying that classless games should be the wave of the future. What I'm saying is that MMOs don't need to be classles, nor do they need to have levels.

Class and level games will always have their place. What has been extremely underrepresented is the classless levelless MMO of worth.

I put APB out there as an example of what I'd like to see more of. If the indicators are accurate, a person just starting out should be able to hop in with pros to the same degree, if not moreso, as in a game like Modern Warfare.

Keep in mind, I am not looking for a MMORPG necessarily. For me, levels don't lend themselves to MMOs for the reasons addressed above. Team Fortress 2 with a persistent world, while maybe strange to you, wouldnt be such a bad thing to me.
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