Like Lots of Classes in Your MMO? I Do.

Camelot Unchained Class Reveals

Camelot Unchained offered up one of their more interesting reveals last week: There will be “a wee bit” (read: a lot) more classes than originally planned. The reasons cited ranged from symmetrical class design being too restrictive all the way to being easier to balance asymmetrical classes.

Classes in CU won’t all have the same number of skill trees, and if I’m reading this all correctly it sounds like we won’t necessarily see mirrors across the realms. Lots of classes that aren’t the same? Less homogenization? Those are all the things I like to hear.

Dark Age of Camelot took a very similar approach. All realms had archers, speed classes, tanks, etc., but they weren’t all identical. Granted, they did all have (if I remember correctly) the same number of paths. However, they all played entirely unique. The Hunter was very different from the Scout.

Being able to say that essentially make any changes to any classes does make balancing easier on a per-class basis, but introducing more classes can quickly become difficult to balance if all of the classes are given enough diversity. Having 3 realms and maybe 10 classes per realm could mean having almost 30 different classes with the ability to all be very different. This is a breeding ground for flavors of the month.

The risk is worth the reward here, though, and I look forward to a return of more classes in a MMO with differing playstyles and themes. I credit the number of classes and replayability as the biggest reason I stuck with DAoC for as long as I did. Lots of classes and lots of diversity are now a requirement for me to play an MMO, and I’m glad to see CSE stepping it up in CU.

Heads up, backers like myself can vote for which class reveals we want to see.

  • I really like a lot of classes with a unique feel too. It’s one of the things I loved about WAR, and disliked about other newer games where each side has the same class.

  • I agree. I think that is one of the things that made DAoC more interesting and increased its replayability. Starting a new character on a different server with a different realm not only gave a whole new set of class options, but also different zones to explore, unique lore and a different community to play with. I am not a backer, but I am more and more looking forward to getting into the driver’s seat with this game. Even if you do not take advantage of that I like the idea of many different classes. I also think it fostered a bit of realm pride in that you were not facing the same mirror classes on the other side, it made them feel more like real enemies somehow.

  • I don’t think it will work this time around. It was one of the things that killed Warhammer Online.

  • @solarbear

    Care to elaborate? Obviously, as with anything, implementation is key, but of all the problems WAR had the fact that there were a large number of classes and/no mirrored classes is not something I ever considered a con or a significant factor in my choice to stop playing. If my memory serves, I played regularly for about 6 months before I cancelled. Did it become a problem later on?

  • @Solarbear: I agree with Balthazar on this one. WAR’s classes were poorly designed. WAR in general was poorly designed. The number of classes in WAR isn’t on my list of reasons why WAR failed.

    @Jpic: Because GW2 relies on this type of art for everything. 😉

  • Ok well in WHO there was a sense of overwhelming helplessness because one class in particular was incredibly broken. It ruined the game. TBH I’d rather see a fluid class system where you can earn and equip a large number of skills.

  • I thoroughly enjoy a large amount of classes. But I also enjoy three realms with an unequal number of said classes as well… because it makes the game diverse enough for decisions to matter. And when those classes have different ways of specing to spice things up…. that’s just gravy.

    Oh crap that’s DAoC. Here’s hoping the $275 I just dropped on CU pushes it into reality and makes it a great game at the same time!

  • I think CU has a chance. It’s pure pvp or rvr or whatever the politically correct term for getting wiped out by other people is these days. I almost backed big at the Kickstarter, but then remembered how much getting stun locked by an invisible rogue bothered me. Unfortunately I was never the invisible rogue.

    CU is basically putting all its chips down on huge pvp battles, and doing that first because that’s where most games like this fail. It might be very smart. But I’m a little jaded and mark sometimes reminds me of the great marketing people I work with everday and could sell icecubes to lots of people. I’m still wishing this one well, but a little less talk and mor open beta.

  • I always feel the need to stand up for marketing. Marketing at its core is the act of creating and exchanging value. When done well, marketing guides the company to create the right product for the right people.

    What most of us are tired of are the sales people. When someone stands up in front of us in a video and pitches the hype, that’s sales. The game may actually be a good game for a certain audience, but the sales people try so hard to sell it that they try and make that sale to the wrong people. In end, both the company and the player lose.

    Obviously the worst situation is when both marketing and sales create a monster.

  • @evang: On the contrary. I remember it precisely. And I loved it.

    People seem to have this strange idea that a perfectly balanced MMO is the gold standard. It is far from it. Perfectly balanced is simply another way of saying homogenized and boring.

    DAoC was three realms, with different focuses between them, with different classes between them, and also without even the same number of classes to choose from between them. Albion had way more classes than the other two realms. This was a boon and a bane. The boon was that there was so much more interesting things to choose from. The bane was that a solid 8-man group lacked something because so many abilities were spread between so many classes. That’s just one example of how it was great. And while you could see similarity between some classes in the realms… they were still done in an extremely unique way. For example a Theurgist from Albion was a pet caster that could shoot out tons of little evil pets to interrupt and ruin people’s day. And they would then expire after 30s-1min or so. An Animist from Hibernia was also a pet caster, but his pets were stationary and much better at keep defense or PvE farming. They both spammed out pets though. Just in their own way.

    Was one better than the other? In certain situations, absolutely. But that goes for both classes.

    And then of course you have patch cycles where the devs are indeed doing their best to achieve “balance” and some classes become silly while others take a massive hit. Again… its a thriving, changing world. Why would you ever want it to be static and dull?

    Give me many options, and as far from homogenized as possible any day of the week… and I’ll suck down the unbalanced issues with a grin and ask for seconds. The only place you want balance are FPS and RTS. Keep MMOs Free!

  • Actually I completely agree with you yet again. Marketing tells “the story” and sales twists your arm to get you to buy. I spent a few years in marketing myself and even though I’m out now, the story, in all I do at work, is still central to my success. I applaud anybody who can do it. But it’s still a story.

  • @Evang: Oh I remember — even pointed it out in my post. While I won’t go as far as saying I liked the imbalance per se, I will identify it as something that kept the game feeling fresh. If everything is super balanced then things feel stale. I was watching an EQ2 dev thing yesterday where one of them mentioned that class balance is something that never ends. I actually like that. I think there’s a difference between balance and broken, though.

    @Rawblin: Well said! I agree.

    @Baa Baa Black Sheep: In my current position I’m the director of marketing for a company driven to the depths of hell by our sales team. I’ve spent the last two years pulling us out of it and shifting the emphasis off of saying whatever it takes to land a client, and instead having our story reflect reality and have the clients say, “I want to work with THAT company.” I have this very rigid approach when it comes to bull**** and making things seem radically different from what they will actually be. I’m one of those people who focuses less on creating a story to sell our products and instead makes a product that tells its own story — the story that relates to what people want to actually buy. The side of marketing I believe strongly in is making sure you know what your customers want — market research, customer relationship management, and simple communication. If we start by making or doing what people want, they’ll do most of the work for us.