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Imbalanced MMORPG Classes

Posted by lordaltay1 Monday August 11 2008 at 1:12PM
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With so many new free MMORPGs out on the market there are bound to be games where one class is either extremely over powered or absurdly gimp. The biggest problem with class imbalances are that developers rarely fix them. This isn’t a new problem either. Some MMORPGs have been plagued with class imbalances for years and they choose to ignore them.

The best example of an MMORPG with imbalanced classes is Zero Online. The game only has two classes; Artillery and Infantry. You’d imagine that a game with only two playable classes would at the very least be somewhat balanced, but nope. The artillery class is ridiculously over powered compared to the infantry class. To put these two classes into “fantasy MMORPG” terms the artillery class is a wizard while the infantry class is a warrior. The artillery class can basically annihilate the entire screen in a few seconds using huge laser cannons that can hit 20+ enemies at a time while the infantry class can only attack a single enemy at a time using a sword. Because enemies die incredibly fast, there is absolutely no reason to not play the game’s artillery class. TQ Digital, the developers of Zero Online, have a reputation for being lazy, as their two other games; Crazy Tao and Eudemons also have 2-3 classes and play almost identically to Zero Online. Both Crazy Tao and Eudemons also have the same problem as Zero Online. The Mage class is absurdly overpowered.

Another example of an MMORPG that suffers from imbalanced classes is Dark Age of Camelot (DAoC). DAoC is actually a pay to play game (P2P), so even P2P games have imbalances. The game has a lot of classes, but with a lot of classes comes imbalances. World of Warcraft’s developers were smart enough to only create a handful of playable classes as having too many different classes usually results in game imbalances. In DAoC the two imbalances are warrior and enchanter. Warriors are incredibly gimp while enchanters are absurdly over powered. In DAoC to gauge a monster’s strength, all you have to do is click them. Depending on what color their name is in they are that difficult to kill. The scale from hardest to easiest goes like this; Purple [Very Very Hard], Red [Very Hard], Orange [Hard], Yellow [Even Fight], Blue [Easy], Green [Very Easy] and Gray [Very Very Easy, No XP Gained]. A warrior will usually never be able to kill anything rated as “orange [hard]” to him at any given time by himself, and if he does manage to, he’ll come close to death. An Enchanter on the other hand, would have absolutely no problem killing 5-7 monsters at a time marked as “orange [hard] to him. Not only can an enchanter kill more monsters than the warrior at a time, the enchanter will also kill the larger group of monsters at a much faster speed. Other than these two imbalances, the other classes in DAoC are pretty fairly balanced.

There are plenty of other examples of imbalances classes in games, but they’re mostly in less popular games. Popular games like Maple Story and Fly For Fun usually fix imbalances often. Hopefully, developers will spend a bit more time balancing classes as there’s nothing more frustrating than seeing someone of equal level to you being incredibly over powered.

t0nyd writes:

I notice you use WoW as an example of balanced classes. Last I checked, there is nothing balanced about WoW classes...

Mon Aug 11 2008 2:44PM Report
WRyan writes:

My theory on balanced classes is this:

You can't balance classes, so you shouldn't try.

Now, some may think that is ignorant rhetoric, but in fact it isn't.  I would like to see classes in a game that puts more emphasis on other utilities in a campaign.

For instance, there would be only one combat class meant for killing stuff.  They have free reign over how to go about doing this.  In fact, every class would have free reign over how to go about killing something or someone, but this class specializes in it.  In a one on one fight, this class will kill any other class any day of the week, and I as a designer wouldn't apologise for it.

The other classes would have other functions... outside of combat.  You want to be some agent like dude who sneaks in the shadows and steals crap?  GREAT!  You can do that... but don't expect to be able to kill anything and everything you come across.  Your objective is to not get caught - not kill.

You want to be a field medic/technician who does some cool crap (not just healing)?  FANTASTIC!  You can be that too.  But you aren't there to kill everything in sight.... and chances are... you won't be a group necessity.

In fact, no one will be a group necessity.  You won't need that insane killing machine, but they sure wouldn't hurt.  Why would you need some dude to unlock doors when you could just blow it open?  Of course, having that guy around would make things a lot faster...

All I'm saying is when it comes to combat, you can't balance the classes.  So it makes little difference in trying to differentiate how each class kills the same mob.  Who cares how it is killed, so long as it's killed?

Mon Aug 11 2008 7:02PM Report
_Seeker writes:

This gets back to the whole problem with classes. You can't balance them. There is no point in trying to make to different classes equally good.

Mon Aug 11 2008 8:28PM Report
Azmaria writes:

Truly, the only way to completely balance the classes would be to take out all variation between them and let player skill be the only determining factor.  Which gets real boring, real fast.

Tue Aug 12 2008 7:24AM Report writes:
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