I’ve been meaning to do this for awhile, but here’s a couple of posts that have come out recently (or that I’ve stumbled across recently) that got me thinking and that I enjoyed reading. I recommend them to you.
Zero Class Diversity These Days ~ Keen and Graev
I loved the post and the sentiment both. I hate the collapsing down of design to that LCD (lowest common denominator) point where ROLE = CLASS. Shouldn’t each ROLE promote multiple CLASSES, each bearing a slightly different take on the strategy involved therein? I understand that takes more development time. The solution, at least for some MMO’s, has been the concept of mirroring across factions. TOR has 16 classes (I know, Advanced Classes, but in reality, now that the shared tree is disappearing, they are distinct classes I think), but they only really had to design 8. But I’m not sure its a needed solution. I think the solution more lies along the lines of what Rift has done. If skill based is too hard to balance, and class based is too boring – how about “tree” based? This has been the formula for CoX and Champions, and for a few other minor MMO’s (one from Europe whose name I can’t remember at the moment) – and looks to be stunningly executed in the upcoming eye-popper ArcheAge Online.
Still to echo what K&G have said – I miss the days of extended and unique classes. Yes, I know balancing was a pain, but we know more now about balancing and power levels than we did back then. How about we give it another go?
Tipa readily acknowledges the difficulties in making this happen…but man oh man would I love to see it come true. Roll them out a la Final Fantasy 1 and the old CRPG’s, where I got to control a full party (or in this case, one character and some NPC characters) and I would open my wallet and allow you to have what you wanted. Make it a co-op or multiplayer option, and I would pay double.
Basically, if you think about it this is just laying out the possibility of a Diablo/Everquest hybrid crossbread. Give me a static world, but allow me to bring a few friends along for the ride.
If it helps, I’d even give in to allowing the zone to be chosen from a menu screen with loads for each one, if that helps with the online multiplayer portion from a logistics standpoint. But one thing I do want – I want to be able to play at any level. Don’t make me grind from the ground up. Or at the very least, give me some kind of gamemaster controls that put me in the driver’s seat when it comes to leveling rate and mob difficulty.
Oh the possibilities…
The Laws of Online World Design ~ Raph Koster
As I read down these remarkably brilliant ideas, I was struck by a few things. The first thing that hit me was how few companies seem to have read or even attempted to follow *some* of these, must less *most* or even *all* of them (the last is tricky given the admission that these boundaries need to be pushed or even ignored at times, which I agree with).
The second is that the really good companies, the really good designers, like those at Trion or XL Games, have clearly payed a lot of attention to these laws, and dedicated some time to conforming to them or creatively (and usually successfully) breaking/ignoring them.
The third was that in looking over these, I can’t help but think that TOR is in trouble, at least when it comes to the long run. Breaking a few laws creatively asserts your game and moves the genre forward, but ignoring most of these laws wholesale and at times even stating openly that you think they are bunk (maybe not referencing the law itself, but the thought underneath it) will mean that that stability and longevity of TOR will be in doubt once the glamour of the IP and the pent-up anxious desire that’s been building for the last 5 years finally slows down to a trickle.
Anyway, that’s what I’ve been chewing on in the few nights I don’t step up to the Rift plate. I’m almost to 46 and loving every minute of it. I have also been grinding out my last levels of tanks in WoT, with an eye towards checking out the Clan Wars scene in the future. Really though, I just want the historical matches to be put into the game ASAP – I really think this will breath new life into the game for me and for a lot of other people.