In my last entry I stated that in a W40K MMO, Space Marines have to be included as playable. I also stated that they would - for balancing reasons - be the only playable Empire 'race'. As expected, this provoked some comments ^^. Before opening new battlefronts, I will first deal with them.
@Kuji Kiri: No, I would vote for Inqusition and Mechanicum do be non-playable. As far as I know they offer no troops that can match space marines in a 1on1 situation. Well, except Death Watch (after all thay are mainly Space Marines) and Grey Knights (which are better equpped Space Marines) of course. And maybe in some regards the Adepta Sororitas. As for progression: I imagine a mix between skills like in EVE and a not-character-fixed system. Basically you will be able to learn skills as you like and will ultimately be able to use everything you want. This also includes playing as a Librarian. To prevent everyone from playing as heros I have a concept in mind that I will share with you later on. Don't want to give all the goodies away at once ;)
@Shadowdawnz: No, in Warhammer 40k there is almost no solo play. There are a few special characters, but the main part of the models on the battfield belong to some kind of unit. I have not yet conceived a system to model this completely for an MMO, but to get things started, guilds will receive certain benefits to encourage their formation. So they would take the place of major military units like Space Marine Chapters.
@korvass: I admit that Space Marines are the best standard unit you can have in W40K but what is true for the TT doesn't have to be that way in an MMO. Careful selection of other playable characters for the other races and a bit of tweaking concerning the stats will provide balance and stick relatively close to TT behavior. What to do for the other races I will point out after the rest of the comments as this will be the topic of this entry ^^. Please note that I have never played Planetside nor do I know about its game mechanics. But as you mention points that can be spent before entering a battle: yes, something like that I do have on my mind but I will clarify on it in later entries.
@NeeAnderTall: I am strictly against base building in an MMO. Also I don't think that a special emphasis on the weekends should be supported (this is mainly because I spend my weekends with my girlfriend ;)). Additionally I aim for a system without classes where everyone can do everything - at least if he invests enough time.
@dethgar: Something like a singleplayer (or PvE) campaign to complete was not on my mind. I was going for a more open, PvP based approach.
Now for the topic of this post: The other races and what you should get to play of them ^^
Let's start with the Eldar. Here I imagine to have the players fighting as Aspect Warriors. The basic type would be a modified version of the Dire Avengers. Aspect Warriors in general are quite equal to Space Marines in terms of melee and ranged weapon skills. Some Eldar armor is also as good as Space Marine Servo armor (not Terminator armor). Additionally, Eldar have a higher Initiative than Space Marines which means that they are faster. In a MMO this could also affect movement speed. The TT gives most infantry a standard movement rate of 6 inches. I think this is merely to make movement easy and you don't have to look up movement rates for most units. In a MMO this can easily be changed and so Eldar may move faster than Space Marines. This could also affect dodging of ranged attacks. But I haven't worked out a combat system yet. If a FPS style would be used the higher movement rate would automatically lower the chance to hit against an Eldar. Otherwise this would have to be specifically regarded in the combat system. The stats of the Dire Avengers wouldn't have to be changed if the importance of speed is properly set. The modification to the Dire Avengers would have to be made concerning their weapon choices. Here I would propose a mix between the Dire Avengers standard equipment and stats with the options of the Guardian Defenders. This would mean that Dire Avenegers are able to use heavy weapons platforms. The other Aspect Warriors and the Wraithguard would be playable with increasing skills.
On to the Orks. As I see them, they are dangerous in close combat. Taking a look at their main close combat weapon (the choppa) reveals that they reduce the main advantage of the Space Marines: their armor. Although the initiative of Orks is lower than that of the Space Marines, they should be a bit faster or be equipped with special abilities to charge an enemy to come into close combat range. An additional modification to the stats would raise the strength of the standard Ork boy to about the same than that of a Space Marine, while Nobs or better Orks would be stronger than indicated by the army list. I think this applies to the idea behind the Orks and takes into account that in a MMO there wouldn't be that much more Orks than Space Marines. The different specialised Ork types would be playable with proceeding skills.
Now let's take a look at the Tau. Their weapons technology is superior to that of the Space Marines. Yet the standard Fire Warrior has only the ballistic skill of an Imperial Guardsman. Raising the ballistic abilities of the Tau to that of the Space Marines would make a Fire Warrior a worthy opponent to a Space Marines (I think). Like the increased strength with the Orks, this would be in the spirit of the Tau as superior ranged combatants. An alternative to the Fire Warriors as standard troppers are the Kroot. Their lack of armor is the biggest drawback in comparison to the Space Marines. Raising the wounds of a Kroot from 1 to 2 would more than compensate for that. Additionally they feature a higher melee attack speed than Space Marines if using their Kroot rifles. Making Kroot that tough would also allow them to be just as fast as Marines if awarded with a charge skill to get into close combat range. Increase in skills would allow Tau players the use of battlesuits.
To the Dark Eldar I can't say anything as I don't have their codex. I imagine they have less armor than Eldar, are faster and have stronger weapons. Perhaps some of you can comment on that.
Unfortunately I think that Necrons and Tyranids should not be playable. Their motivations and organisation are quite distinct from the other races and would make it hard to integrate into the MMO as playable and simultaneously offer the players of these races the same range of involvement and freedom. Therefore I treat them as unplayable and so the balancing of their standard troops is not that important as numbers are freely adjustable as NPCs. I excpect a lot of negative comments on that part, but go just right ahead. Maybe there are ideas around I haven't thought of and would allowe them to be playable.
This concludes today entry. Have fun commenting and drop by for the next read which will most likely be available on monday.