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The Classes

Guest Writer Posted:
Developer Journals 0

Stephanie looks at deadlines stress and some classes

Crazy season. Crazy, crazy season.

Between now and mid-May, the company is a crazy place to be. We're all working hard to hit deadlines. Sleep is a rare commodity. Sanity sometimes goes right out the window.

We have two big public deadlines this year. GDC (Game Developer's Conference) and E3 Expo. By the time you read this, GDC will have passed, and we'll be slipping into war plans for E3. I'll probably be witness to numerous meetings where we make a list of what we need to do and who needs to do it, milestones that must be met, milestones that should be met, and stuff we'll get back to when the crazy season passes.

I suspect that as the weeks go by, you may notice two things with these articles of mine: either they'll be a) less funny as I quote passages from Heart of Darkness or b) more funny as I quote passages from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

Mmm. Johnny Depp. Mmm. Flannel.

But you don't care about the torture we game developers put ourselves through. You want to hear about game design, doncha?

I'll cover some ground you probably already know a bit about, and get into some things you may not. Or maybe you do. I never know who has my office bugged from week to week.

An early design decision of Hero's Journey was to go dual-class. Why? Because the game's designers love to multiclass in other games. So we thunk -- why not just make that our game?

Voila. Hero's Journey class design.

Even if you don't like multiclassing, you’ll still be happy. If all you want to do is heal -- play a Healer-Cleric. If all you want to do is beat things up -- play a Warrior-Gearknight. If all you want to do is confuse people -- play a Bard-Necromancer. We don’t want to take away the roles people are familiar and happy with, but we also wanted to make sure you had new things to try.

Over the next three articles, we'll be looking at the nine classes the designers settled on for Hero's Journey release, why we love them, and what they'll do. The caveat as always is that the Hero's Journey design is a living, breathing thing, prone to lightning flashes of inspiration. Unlike other games, we’ve designed our engine to let us change stuff if it sucks. So if next week we swap out Wizards for Pastry Chefs, don't come crying to me on the forums. It’s for your own good. (You’ll love the exploding cake spell.)

Our design structure for all the classes assigns a primary and secondary role of Melee, Control-Ranged, or Control-Support to each one. All the classes in this set are Melee primary, which means that most of their abilities require them to be within striking range of an enemy.

Warrior (Melee/Melee)
The traveling bodyguard, the honorable military man, or the grim survivors of countless horrors -- thematically, these are the roles that the Warriors in Hero's Journey cover.

The Warrior tradition started with the Humans, who made pacts with the Ilvari early on to protect them. Human Warriors can trace their lineage back to the Great Houses when they were still great -- fighting schools survive to this day, and are primarily responsible for training fresh Triumvirate recruits. The Burian also have a strong war tradition, probably due to all that beer. Ilvari and Suwari are not as famous for their Warriors, but it’s unwise to underestimate a race’s prowess just because their ears are pointier than yours.

Warriors unquestionably dominate in melee combat and dealing out heightened physical damage. While Wizards and Necromancers may have the advantage of distance, going toe-to-toe with a Warrior is a monumental mistake they're sure to not want to make. Abilities like Charge close that distance quickly, and other abilities like Cyclone and Gut Punch simultaneously suck the endurance out of their opponents and rip them a new pie-hole.

Gearknight (Melee/Control-Ranged)
Is your favorite animal the turtle? Does the word “chassis” make you melt? Do you like to be the one who stands in the midst of a sea of enemies while they beat on you and scream, “Why won’t you diiiiiie?” I think we have a model you might like, Mr. Bond.

The chief defenders of the Gearsmiths, Gearknights are more in line with the Burian war tradition: protection being just as important as the almighty smackdown. The Burian know (and Humans have also clued in) that distractions are a great way to keep the weaker units from getting smeared across the battlefield. Gearknights are that distraction.

Gearknight abilities enable them to draw and suck down the damage. Though Warriors can defend their fellow party members, Gearknights have turned defense into an artform. Gearknights also get a few ranged abilities (useful for drawing out or drawing away enemies), and gadgets like caltrops, grappling hooks, and mortars.

Rogue (Melee/Control-Support)
We love rogues. We are rogueaphiles, veritable rogueaholics. (Not rougeaholics -- that's GM Sylveria.)

Rogues are more in line with the Ilvari and Suwari way of thinking: strike fast and hard. Do it once and get it over with. Their bag of tricks was developed out of generations of subterfuge, double-talk, and trickery. Humans caught on quick, but undoubtedly the Suwari are the best-known Rogues.

Rogues have a rich history of using shadow magic and refined poisons. They time their strikes and pick their battles. Ghosts on the field, you never quite know when one will pop up, but you’ll feel it when the knife punches into your side and makes you an emergency kidney donor.

Hero’s Journey Rogues are great at sapping the strength from enemies and not being where their opponent's weapon is. Also look forward to box-popping, skullduggery, device disabling, and optional solo-quests involving darkened houses and many shiny things.

And that's a wrap. Yeah, yeah. It's not a list of abilities or a bunch of numbers, but hopefully this gives you folks something to chew on while I'm plugging away at work on my twenty-six hour days.

Come back in two weeks for Wizards, Necromancers, and Bears Rangers. (Oh my!)

Until next time....

- Stephanie Shaver, Designer

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Guest Writer