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Why do MMORPG players love unbalanced Factions?

Posted by vajuras Monday March 10 2008 at 11:40PM
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I have read so many posts where people wish to see different Factions with totally different Classes for replayability and the lore. This must sound so romantic and great for roleplay to players.

And yet- it all falls down when it hits the players hands. Recall, Static Class based games suffer from huge envy problems. Trust that players will analyze the math in the background and compute the mathematical differences between Factions.

For most any mmorpg with unbalanced factions you'll hear how unbalanced the PVP is. I kid you not- this is the ONLY genre that has unbalanced factions. Blizzard best decision ever was to share the Classes for PVP. Of course the pvpers still whine about the maps being asymetrical... Funny how pvpers complain about every little imbalance?

Think about fighting games like Street Fighter. At anytime I can switch between Ken and Ryu. I am not stuck playing Ryu cause all my friends choose his faction. No, I can switch anytime and optimize. Sure, maybe all the fighters are viable in their own way but if its not then trust me I can choose the best 'Class' (aka Fighter)

Take RTS games like Starcraft, Warcraft 3, Supreme Commander- take your pick. If I suck with a Race I can SWITCH anytime.

Every other genre PVPers can optimize their team compositions by picking from the best. There will always be a superior build, a superior power, a Flavor of the Month, etc. I dont care there is always balance issues unless everything is exact same (symmetrical pvp). Only way to self-balance this is to allow pvpers to choose the most optimal builds.

This is why many of us love Free-For-All PVP or at least games where I can ally/unally with any faction I choose or what Blizzard has done- make all Factions pretty much equal. Any 3 works for me....

Anyway it always warms my belly to see so many mmorpg pvpers being hell bent on having totally different factions and how much choices they have. Then after they get into the MMO they want to scream how unbalanced the factions are.

On one hand asyemetry can be good. If I win a fight against all odds then that will give my avatar major bragging rights. But ultimately, these imbalances can kill PVP because the 'other' faction has the most viable choices for PVP. Eventually we might see what I want to forever term as the 'City of Heroes Syndrome' whereas most pvper rolls on the 'blue' side so that they can have the most viable avatar for PVP. Now the 'red' side is totally outnumbered in the PVP zones. Ouch!

Gishgeron writes:

People cannot differentiate between "different" and "equal".  They are not two ideals which are joined at the hip...and there is no technical way to combine the two in a structured environment which does not mimic real motion and collision.


Everyone wants to be one wants to be the sissy though. be torn between conforming and rebelling against conformity.  Glad its not me.  I straight up couldn't care less either way.

Mon Mar 10 2008 11:45PM Report
ElRenmazuo writes:

I think mmo developer could learn something from the mmo of real life.  People cant choose which faction they are when they start the game but later they can fight for which faction they want to be in the most even if it means its realy hard to do.

Tue Mar 11 2008 12:11AM Report
t0nyd writes:

With a game like guild wars you can create anything you want at any given time. This is nice for those of us who wish to do nothing but PvP. Yet there is no balance to it.

After reading what you have written, it seems you want to option to switch to the toughest thing at the time, which is the lame way out. Why not simply ask for balance, instead of constantly switch to the new OP build?

Personally, I am looking for a game where I can play as I choose. I am looking for the option of picking my own path and not being a clone. Hopefully my choices will give me strengths and weaknesses. In my opinion, no character should be good at everything. Each character should be good at the role the player chooses to play.

Tue Mar 11 2008 1:26AM Report
vajuras writes:

tkreep and Gish right on, btw

"I think mmo developer could learn something from the mmo of real life.  People cant choose which faction they are when they start the game but later they can fight for which faction they want to be in the most even if it means its realy hard to do."

Yeah Heeroboya also been suggesting this in which I'm in total agreement with him on

Tue Mar 11 2008 3:48AM Report
vajuras writes:

"After reading what you have written, it seems you want to option to switch to the toughest thing at the time, which is the lame way out. Why not simply ask for balance, instead of constantly switch to the new OP build?"

Not every MMO developer will balance Classes at the drop of the dime. Sometimes you have no choice but to reroll. For example, city of heroes it was pretty hopeless to every expect a buff. Maybe after a year they would fix something. For instance in PVP Brutes couldnt build Fury. For about 1.5 years bro. It was broken forever :(

It's not so much gravitating to FOTM buyt I do want a fast ramp up for alts once I hit max level so I can experiment with more strategies. It gets boring being on one toon in which i know you agree with

"Personally, I am looking for a game where I can play as I choose. I am looking for the option of picking my own path and not being a clone. "

The goal of this blog was really to focus on unbalanced factions. So imagine on Choas side you have a Healer, Warrior, and Rogue classes. On Good side you have totally different Classes. You are unable right there to pursue the optimal Class type considering you have friends on Choas. You have to try to find something suitable on Choas side

This article is exposing that weakness. I am unable to optimize. What if the best Class that I could use on Light side? But because of my friends choose Choas I'm screwed.

If any Faction could choose any Class then I would be set. Thats what I'm discussing here not the FOTM phenomenon per se

Tue Mar 11 2008 4:04AM Report
BadSpock writes:

Some very interesting ideas... many of which I have often pondered over myself.

Thanks for the nod Vajuaras, I am indeed a big supporter of choosing your own factions, but of course you need systems in place to properly "balance" it.

Even classic UO with their factions system had "caps" at the number of players who could be in a certain faction. It's so simple, but it worked.

I'm also a big supporter of Guild vs. Guild PvP. You know how many ppl are in your guild, you can find out how many are in theirs, you can create a fairly epic war between guilds and keep it pretty balanced at the same time.

I think my "ideal" PvP system from my old blogs was as follows (short version) :

1. Seperate PvE and PvP world like UO Felucca/Trammel, but also "PvP" servers with only "Felucca" side.
2. Three waring factions - Any faction member can attack someone of another faction at any time. Can't attack own faction.
3. Two additional "factions" - PK and Anti-PK. Pk can attack and be attacked by anyone, even all 3 factions. Anti-PK can only attack PKs. Both cannot be members of three "primary" factions.
4. Guild control and Guild vs. Guild PvP in form of Sieges and Keeps etc. like AoC, WAR.. this would be on PvE side of server. Why? All Keeps and Guild capturable locations in prime location for access to PvE end-game areas. Players traveling through these guild controlled areas would pay repair costs, travel costs, etc. to Guild town. Battle scenariors for siege and capture agreed upon by Guild in control and challenger, with "open capture" period if no challenges accepted.
5. Instanced, "Battleground" style games, even teams, FPS archetypes like CTF, etc.
6. Arena competition - 1vs1, 2v2, 3v3, 5v5... and 10v10 Guild vs. Guild only.

Tue Mar 11 2008 10:44AM Report
t0nyd writes:

If you have two factions, each with different  classes, and this game is focused on PvP, this company better fucking take the time to balance it. Is it harder to balance, yes. Should that stop said company from following the theme of the IP, hell no.

City of Heroes is a horrible example due to the fact that it is a PvE game and they offer no real support for PvP. They added PvP late in its creation and obviously do not care about it. Guild wars is a better example, they constantly patch, tweak, and balance. If Mythic follows this example then all will be good.

Tue Mar 11 2008 12:41PM Report
vajuras writes:

Guild Wars is not a factional game thus its pretty flawless in its execution. It benefits from lessons learned in other genres. Guild Wars features GvG and I am free to pick any Class I want regardless of affilation, background, etc.

World of Warcraft had only one major difference between factions and they optimized it out over time.

Warhammer Online isnt here yet so we have yet to see what they will do..... you played DAoC did you think that the factions were superbly balanced?

Tue Mar 11 2008 1:16PM Report
t0nyd writes:

I didnt play DAoC long enough to find out. Its like WoW in the sense that gear is to important. I also hate games based on CC's. CC's lasting 40 seconds are pretty absurd. I dont want to pay to not play the game.

There are 2 factions in guild wars by the way. Its just that guild wars allows you to pick any class with in these factions. I imagine Conan will be like this. Pick any class, then join your guild(faction).

All guild wars does that WoW doesnt is constantly update and tweak powers. Thats all thats necessary. If something is too tough, nerf it. If something is to weak, buff it. Dont make everyone clones just because your to lazy to balance :)

Tue Mar 11 2008 1:45PM Report
vajuras writes:

Exactly no one can ever name any MMO whether Asian or Western that has balanced Factions (unless they are all Equal like WoW)

Guild Wars is just like Battlefield / Counterstrike. There is multiple factions but they are identical for the purposes of PVP

Guild Wars kept it simple and achieved a huge win.

Can Mythic do something awesome with WAR? I think so. But will pvpers be upset bout balance? hell yeah I think so... We will see though, we will see......

Tue Mar 11 2008 2:54PM Report
t0nyd writes:

WoW isnt even close to balanced. Also the racials make the factions no equal.

If you notice about War, the classes are very similar on each faction. The races on each faction are allowed to mix.

Bright wizards get hurt if they overdo spells, so does the dark elf magic class. They might not be in direct opposition, yet, you can take any faction race and go over and help any other faction race.


Tue Mar 11 2008 4:27PM Report
vajuras writes:

You forget WoW has the arenas now which is basically free for all

Tue Mar 11 2008 7:27PM Report
t0nyd writes:

the arena isnt real pvp nor is it a free for all. You will not see tauren and elf on the same side. Horde might fight horde and alliance might fight alliance, its still not a free for all...

Tue Mar 11 2008 9:03PM Report
vajuras writes:

Sure Its team vs team pvp. Horde vs horde. Thus there is no imbalance issue in regards to team vs team pvp. Thus imbalance from racial abilities doesnt fully apply.

So I was correcting you on the assumption that racial abilities make a big impact in the larger scheme of things. It really doesnt. From what my friend tells me, all the great gear comes from Arenas they're on season 3 now

Whether the pvp is good or not well thats another topic.....

Tue Mar 11 2008 11:16PM Report
t0nyd writes:

Man your really not making sense. Alliance vs horde isnt balanced, just because horde can fight horde, and alliance can fight alliance, this doesnt make alliance vs horde balanced? Thats like saying I have a tank, and its balanced cause 50% of the time I fight other tanks and the other 50% of the time I fight mentally challenged kids with bb guns.

 Just like you always talk about, if I pick a faction, and the other faction has an advantage, thats 50% of the people that I am going to fight that has an advantage. This is not balance...

Wed Mar 12 2008 7:55AM Report
vajuras writes:

So what is so unbalanced about Horde fighting Allaince? I hope you dont mean the minor racial abilities those never caused my Troll to lose a fight and trust me my Troll fought many battles back in the day. And sir, ask anyone that knows World of Warcraft Trolls had a GIMP racial

Wed Mar 12 2008 9:51AM Report
t0nyd writes:

Well my undead lock easily stomps alliance locks and priests. Also the only thing that keeps a rogue visible are bleeds and dwarves can remove that. There are a lot of little bonuses that can make or break a fight. Hell, ive seen a tauren get off a well placed stomp that turned the tide of a fight.

 The big thing is undead vs priest tho. A priest has that one fear. They aint like locks with fear, deathcoil, seduce, etc. The other big thing is warrior charge and aoe fear, a good undead group is immune to that tactic, where as it owned an alliance group when its done while they are trying to kill bosses in AV.

Wed Mar 12 2008 9:58AM Report
vajuras writes:

Fair enough tonyd, fair enough..... I just hate to say bad things about WoW considering I cant get my friends to leave it just yet.

Wed Mar 12 2008 10:13AM Report writes:
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