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the Lonely Alter

I don't play "games", I play MMORPGs! This is where I talk about them!

Author: Tierless

#28 Questioning Class Balance, F' Class Balance!

Posted by Tierless Monday July 1 2013 at 9:40AM
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Balance is nearly impossible unless you have 1 single class, with identical locked stats, with identical locked weapons, with identical skills, and 0 variation. Basically an old school FPS with 1 weapon option is the only way to truly balance classes in an MMORPG. But that removes a lot of the “why” MMO fans PVP in MMOs rather than FPS style games, the depth and the ability to feel like you “made” your character uniquely lethal for yourself.

So how can we get MORE, not entire, but MORE balance in an MMORPG? Easy, you don’t. Forget balance. F’ balance. F’ it with a giant e-spoon! Balance is boring. If our lives were in perfect balance we would all be sitting around bored outta our minds wishing for a bit of chaos to pop up and remind us that we are still alive.

Personally I miss being on the battlefield and seeing the OP flavor of the month step out and either A. (if I have a group) targeting them to humble them or B. (if I’m alone) Throwing every snare and de-buff that I have at them then running away before they can get to me.

I’m not saying I like MASSIVELY OP classes, but I do enjoy the rotating door of class balance resulting in some classes that are obviously more lethal (which soon become FOTMs). Maybe it’s the alter in me? Maybe it’s the thrill seeker? Maybe it’s that I just love chaos? I’m not sure, BUT, if I was CSE I would seriously consider secretly giving some classes a bump every other month just to create more imbalance, then later bringing them back down to normal while bumping a different class.

If you haven’t noticed my strategy to counter things like corruption or imbalance is never to make it more illegal, it’s to embrace it, make it legal, then try working with it. Why? Because those things are part of human nature. No matter where you go people will be doing those sneaky things. Rather than pretend they don’t happen and let them go crazy with it, it’s better to acknowledge them and regulate them. Look at prohibition if you don’t agree with me. All it ever succeeded in doing was making criminals richer (some of them even turned their crime families into presidential families /wink).

So back on track. Balance, who needs it? Not me, WITHIN REASON. I don’t expect every single class to be perfectly in line with one another, and I don’t want them to be, but if we come out with a single class that can 1 shot all the other classes we have a problem (even my “longer you live stronger you become” idea would NEVER go that far). Being 1 shot is never fun, it’s anticlimactic and it makes you think “what was the point”. BUT if it takes a couple of other classes to beat you that might be kinda fun. If it takes a VERY skilled player to overcome you that is interesting (and makes them into a hero). If you jump on a FOTM only to have it secretly nerfed next month making some other class slightly uber that might create just a pinch of chaos.

“But Tierless, purposely making one class better isn’t fair! /ragequit”

I’m sure a lot of players think that concept is insane/game breaking/unfair. Well, I got news for ya, I’ve played MMOs for 10 years now, and I’ve never seen one that was perfectly balanced. Balance is a lie, there is only nerfing and buffing.

Through buffing, I gain strength.

Through strength, I gain power.

Through power, I gain victory.

Through victory, my chains are broken (unchained BAM! ;).

The nerf bat shall free me.

MMOs are all unbalanced. We can pretend they aren’t and try for the impossible (perfect balance) or we can embrace imbalance and make it an interesting part of the game (again, within reason).

Kyleran writes:

I'll have to agree with you completely.  DAOC is/was exactly like this.  Always was an unbalanced class or 3, and it would take the tactics you mentioned to bring them down. 

I remember when Bonedancers first launched, they were horrific to fight, unless you had a way to crowd control their pets there was no way you could beat them.  (which on the Alb side meant only Minstrels and Sorcerers really stood a chance)

The balancing was eternal, I'm sure it goes on even to this day and I still prefer this system.  Sometimes I've played the FOTM, other times I've been the extremely under powered class and had to figure out some way to survive, much less win.

So I agree, let's learn to embrace this system and not spend all of our time looking for "balance" which is an illusion no matter how hard dev's strive for it.



Mon Jul 01 2013 9:49AM Report
Halfmad writes:

I couldn't agree more and have already posted on a few threads within the CU founders forum about accepting any imbalance in the game rather than constantly banging ourselves over the head as we demand changes that will never-quite-get that balance right.

The only way you can balance classes is by carbon copying them, the only way you can balance players is by limiting numbers, but you'll never balance player skill, reaction and leadership - those were the elements which meant that one person in DAOC tended to win over another, it wasn't always a number crunching game and there's plenty of video evidence to prove it.

imbalance is probably why so many people loved Dark Age of Camelot, just many don't realise it or would hate to admit it. I loved playing a "nerfed class" purely as that one in four time I managed to win the fight was a proper haddock across the face to my opponent on his "FOTM OP class". Or likewise running about button mashing as a Bonedancer shortly after release and eating people alive, it was fun, at least for me, until they started the nerfs.

The reason DAOC more than any other game got away with imbalance for so long and probably benefited from it was due to the three realms, there was always an OP class in each one, or at least one which was perceived as being OP. Likewise there was always the runt of the three realms, a title which rotated regularly.

Love it or hate imbalance is here to stay, either make the most of it or you're going to hate MMOs in the years to come.

Mon Jul 01 2013 9:57AM Report
dreadlordnaf writes:

You are leaving out some important context - it matters if pvp is solo or small groups, versus large groups.  I always liked large group pvp and in this situation small imbalances, or even large imbalances, become less substantive since the sheer number of players involved and the outright chaos of group pvp can overwhelm all else. 

If there is a game though where much of the pvp occurs solo, then having a an uber unbalanced class can really screw up the game and frankly reeks of developer laziness.

Wed Jul 03 2013 1:45PM Report
dreadlordnaf writes: Also in games that focus on group pvp, solo pvp galance isnt achievable anyway since many classes are focused on support and will always be inferior solo, but can add more than their value in a group setting.  Healers, etc.. Wed Jul 03 2013 1:52PM Report writes:
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