Camelot Unchained’s latest newsletter covers class design and differentiation in MMORPGs

    
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Camelot Unchained’s latest newsletter has arrived, and in it, apart from the recap of development progress, is a deep-dive into how City State approaches the creation of new classes, something Game Designer Ben Pielstick says is “never an easy task.” Devs must avoid creating overlap in roles with other classes, at least where they’ll be directly compared – like in the same faction. Instead, similar roles require differences like utility features that “set classes apart from one another” and create “situation usefulness.” Happily, that reduces the endless grumping over balance too.

“Due to the complexity of classes in MMORPGs, there are always some unforeseen results when introducing a new class. Even though a lot of testing and iteration goes into each class as it is initially built, players in aggregate will spend far more time than developers ever could, exploring every characteristic of each class and how it can be used to maximum benefit. This often leads to developers making changes soon after a new class is introduced, in order to account for the surprises as players first discover what a class is really capable of.”

You, like folks on Twitter, are probably wondering about bigger questions like “When will this game be released?” To which CSE replied, “Date not announced yet. Great question for one of our Friday Q&A sessions.” So there’s the latest. As readers will recall, CU is quite a bit behind its original schedule; in June of this year, the studio told us a 2019 launch was still possible but unlikely. “If/when we make the determination that we can’t make 2019, we’ll let our investors and our Backers know,” Mark Jacobs told us, reiterating that truly peeved backers can still get refunds.

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Arktouros

Class balance is one of the three main reasons I’m leery about Camelot Unchained as a PvP focused player.

In both Dark Age of Camelot and Warhammer the class balance was a complete and total disaster for a super long time. Asymmetrical game balance never works because some combinations just work out better in their functionality even if everything is balanced.

Warhammer especially showed this as they criss-crossed class roles with class mechanics and there were big winners and big losers in that game. Like if you looked at everything at a faction wide level everything was great. Each faction had a full compliment of similar roles and abilities. However where things fell apart is where you get down to the nitty-gritty where destruction’s -healing debuff is on a healer (who is going to spec healing not -heal debuffing) where as order’s -healing debuff is on a DPS class who can afford to spec into that -healing debuff as part of their damage output.

That perception of imbalance at the lower level ends up ultimately having a huge impact as well on faction balance as more players become attracted to what becomes (at the very least perceived as) the superior faction. That creates a snowball effect where now not only do they have better designed classes but also more players which just furthers the issue.

Now eventually they’ll get it right and things won’t be too bad, but how many people are going to quit before they get a handle on the situation? I remember in DAoC being abandoned by my Albion guild cause they were tired of just getting out AOE’d by Midgard. I remember my alliance of 900 people dwindling down to less than a 100 because of unchecked Bright Wizard balance in Warhammer.

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IronSalamander8 .

I remember all that in WAR, when we came back with a friend when the game was still live and ran into ‘Bright Wizard posses’ that just rolled over everything. When we first started destruction greatly outnumbered Order, at least on our server, but they never got the overall balance right so that happened. I was a Magus main too, so it was a frustrating game for me.

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Giggilybits

I remember the Bright Wizard Fiasco and there were a lot of other issues but damn was Warhammer good. I love classes that are less loved by most people for some reason.

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Raimo Kangasniemi

I played WAR and my Sorceress was not equal to the Order counterpart – of course, if other classes would have compensated it would have been ok, but Order vastly outnumbered Destruction on my server so it was hell or high water anyway.

There was not a single siege of Altdorf that I can remember – yet I have to admit that with all its faults and incomplete state I still liked that game a lot in the end, and its one of the reasons why I am cautiously looking forward to CU.

Three sides should help avoid the Zerg phenomenon, a bit at least, but classes not being mirrors… I’m hoping for the best. Personally I still like the idea of classes not being full mirrors, but having their own flavour, but it’s a hard thing to pull of.

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Arktouros

Three sides is my 2nd reason I’m really cautious about this title.

Three faction PvP has been going on for a super long time but it’s always romanticized. People love to spin a yarn about how the winning faction will be under siege by the the other two weaker factions creating balance but that’s extremely rarely how it works out. That’s what would happen if people are looking for good competition and a good fight.

However in my 22 years of PvP experience I have to say most PvP focused players are looking to win by any means necessary. That means you don’t want a good or challenging fight, you want the easy fight. In a three way environment that usually ends up with the first and second strongest teams ganging on on the weakest until there’s nothing left to divide. Strategically this is smart because 2nd place knows it can’t be first place but they can push 3rd place more firmly into their position.

This is actually something I’m interested in with Crowfall because of their Good, Balance, Evil system forcing Balance to join the losing side creating a 2v1 scenario you want to see through game mechanics. It’s a really inventive mechanical solution to what is mostly a player driven problem.

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Raimo Kangasniemi

Sobering view about beating down the third side – which I expect much of the time to be the Tuatha Dé Danann in CU, which (at least to me) seems to lack the ‘pull’ of the two other factions are likely to have on ‘average gamers’; which is also the reason I am likely to choose it as my side, being drawn to underdogs.

I hope that works for Crowfall.

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Robert Mann

3 faction is rarely very good. Simply put, not only does it tend to not work as 3 factions, but it tends to involve 2 teams pre-allying without that changing based on scenario.

I’m of the mindset that a larger number of factions would help, but nothing would help so much as reasons for who was allied (or better yet NPC faction politics coming into play and mixing things up every so often as to who is the enemy and where battles are being fought).

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Bruno Brito

It’s still better than 2-faction which is never really good.

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Arktouros

Two faction can be good if done correctly, but it almost never is.

The real problem is all the things that make two faction bad can be present on three faction as well and thus it doesn’t really solve anything.

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Robert Mann

Eh, they are the same. There’s nothing to prevent the same issues in place, and that one extra faction thus does not fix anything.

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Bruno Brito

Here’s what i know about AoR, this all comes from RoR forums:

Slayers and Choppas are useless. They’re not weak, but they’re fragile.

Marauders are the best MDPS in the game, because of toolset. White Lion is strong, but overrated.

Chosen are good tanks, but KoTBS are better. Blackguards are the best DPS tank. Black Orcs and Ironbreakers are the best “pure” tank, period.

The game is plagued by one of the WORST pirate ship metas in existence. It can compete with GW2, honestly. Bright Wizards, Sorcs, Rift Magus and Engis, it’s a mess.

Honestly, AoR is a game that would benefit greatly from complete copy classes, and three factions.

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I can’t speak for DAOC much, but from what i gathered from Phoenix server: Balance in that game is iffy, and i saw several timeframes where the three factions were the weakest. Apparently, Albion is the weakest most of the time. Uthgard was Midgard. Don’t remember if Hyboria was ever the weakest when i drafted through their forums, but in some obscure timeframe.

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Randy Savage

It’s an MMO. Of course it’s not going to be balanced