Moving right along, it's time for another edition of Ask Massively. This time, we're discussing issues of balance and overall character depth as brought on by recent developments within the world of Darkfall. If you'd like to have a question answered in a future edition of the column, send it along to firstname.lastname@example.org or leave it in the comments afterward. Or use the comments to discuss something else; that does seem equally likely.
Bramen asked: The rumor is that Darkfall is going to wipe all characters in order to provide limits on how a player can build his character. [...] Do you feel this will hurt how long players will stay with Darkfall; will it effectively shorten the game?
Actually, from the comfort of my armchair I'd say it's actually going to be a good thing for the game and the players. Putting limitations on what a given character can and can't do will give players more impetus to specialize, and that's always a good thing.Elikal asked: Eh? Did I miss something?
One of the problems that any sort of game with an "open" system has is that the impetus is for every player to pick the best and most efficient form of each given power (whatever happens to be the most effective set of defensive abilities, offensive abilities, and so forth). Characters are encouraged to be able to do everything in the best way possible, because there's no reason to suffer through sub-optimal performance other than a self-imposed challenge.
The result is that in a game with four hundred skills, characters will focus on the fifteen that have the most impact. You wind up with every character falling into a small number of predefined builds, because the best builds are already known. There's no reason to have several different kinds of damage dealers or tanks or healers or support characters or the like -- most often there's not even a reason to have specific roles when every character can be good at anything. If you're able to heal as well as anyone else by picking out the best healing powers, why take someone who's taken a bunch of other sub-par healing abilities?
Limitations on what players can do ultimately make more skills interesting. Limiting the number might not be the best way to pursue that goal, but it's an admirable goal. (If anything, I'd be more worried about the idea of wiping out character data, since that's the sort of thing that can really turn players off from a game.)
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