Pondering Classes

Posted: November 6, 2007 by Xeavn in Everquest 2, Rise of Kunark
Tags: , , ,

 Anyone who has played Everquest 2 for any length of time, has probably realized that they have a lot of classes, twenty four in all. There are 6 fighter classes, (Berserker, Bruiser, Guardian, Monk, Paladin and Shadow Knight) 6 priest classes, (Defiler, Fury, Inquisitor, Mystic, Templar and Warden) 6 scout classes, (Assassin, Brigand, Dirge, Ranger, Swashbuckler, and Troubadour) and finally 6 mage classes (Coercer, Conjurer, Illusionist, Necromancer, Warlock and Wizard). That is quite the list, and I have to admit that I couldn’t list them all from memory. I was able to get most of them correct, but I switched a couple of classes with their related subclass.

I think the question, “Is this too many classes?” has to be asked. I also think this isn’t the easiest question to answer. How do I define too many? Well at the point that the development studio has a hard time supporting all the classes, and making them truly unique. At that point I think there are too many classes. In the case of my fury, if I am hardly different from the warden, is it worth it to have two different classes? Would both have benefited from being called druid and having the best from each class?

At this point it is unlikely that Sony will start combining classes, and I am not really advocating for them too. It does feel like some classes get forgotten at times, and to me it feels like Sony doesn’t really care to support all of them. I really don’t blame them though. It is a lot of work to try and support 24 unique classes. Lets take a brief look at the upcoming Rise of Kunark expansion. We know that 10 more levels are being added, making the max level 80. We also know that all 24 classes are getting their spells upgraded. I have about 25 spells or so that I would expect to get upgraded. These are some of my basic heals, and damage spells along with all my buffs. Now if you figure most classes have about the same amount of spells, thats is 600 spells for all 24 classes. This is without even looking at adding in new spells for each of the classes. Even if only 1 new spell was added for each class, you are talking about needing 24 new ideas. You would want each of those spells to be unique, and cool, and you want them to fit the class that they are being added too

So how do they keep classes from falling through the cracks? Well the short of it, is that they don’t. Classes end up with poorly designed spells from time to time. Others end up with AA trees that lack worthwhile choices. I was pretty hard pressed to come up with 50 points of worthwhile AA choices in my Echoes tree, what I am going to do with 20 more points? Why is this tree so bad? I don’t know, but if I had to guess it would be because they were trying to put together 24 unique useful trees. The end result is a lot of development time gets spent on designing for all these classes, and then because of the sheer number of classes there are always a few that seem like they were quickly done.

So why am I brining up this topic now? The main reason is that Epic Weapons were supposed to be released with Rise of Kunark. According to Massively’s Rise of Kunark Beta Tour article, the quests will now not be in right at launch. This worries me. Will some of the classes end up with poorly designed weapons? Will some of the quests be less than impressive? Are the developers going to end up being rushed to finish these, and will some classes suffer because of it? I don’t know the answer to any of these questions, but I hope all the weapons will be awesome, unique and fit their classes well. I must admit it is a giant sized task to complete. I hope the developers rise to the challenge, but at the same time I fear the end result may be like many of the other things that we have seen developed for our huge collection of classes.

  1. Kendricke says:

    I’m going to go on record as saying that the number of classes available for a game should never exceed 2/3 of the available maximum slots available for the game’s raid and/or guild systems.

    For example, in Everquest II there are 24 classes. Unfortunately, the raid system only allows a maximum of 24 raiders to participate. This means that there is no leeway for redundancy. If you bring two of class X, that immediately means that at least one class is left out.

    This leads to the idea that some classes are no longer desired on raids, which leads to all sorts of issues on message board forums regarding balance, “devs hate class X”, “Class X is worthless”, etc.

    If Everquest II had simply stopped with 16 classes, then the 24 raider maximum would have made more sense, with the ability to essentially bring every possible class, and then having 8 slots left over for redundancy. In fact, had they stuck to a strict good vs. evil set up, this would have created the 16 class maximum right there.

    In a different light, I think a big part of the problem I’ve always had with the Everquest II system was that they seem to have built the system of good/evil/neutral classes first, and everything else secondary. This leads to an artificial/non-organic feel to the class system, a sort of forced linearity that seems created to provide differentiation – even in instances where no differentiation needed to exist in the first place.

    Could Everquest II been successful with just 16 classes? I think so. In some ways, I think it could have been more successful. Forcing symmetry works well with architecture, but I don’t think it works as well in building a class system. All you’re doing is creating artificial expectations of balance that don’t quite work out – because the more you balance, the less you diversify.

  2. Illuminator says:

    It sounds to me like Aeralik might need an apprentice, I can’t imagine him maintaining all 24 classes on his own to satisfaction.

    There is a lot of support for merging both enchanter subclasses into one, but none of the proponents mention any specifics of the hypothetical merged class, and what tradeoffs will be made. If we play the game for hours and hours and can’t/won’t do it, how can we expect devs with less subclass playtime to do it?

  3. Prrasha says:

    OK, which classes are similar enough in mechanical playstyle and role-playing aspects that they could be consolidated, and leave a good/evil balance?

    Monk/Bruiser are mechanically similar but roleplay-different.
    Paladin/SK, way too much roleplay difference to consider it.
    Zerker/Guardian, maybe could be compressed.

    …how would you split up 2 fighters per alignment? Pally/Monk and SK/Guardzerker? Ew.

    Coercer/Illusionist, maybe, if you ditch the whole idea of Charm spells.
    Wizard/Warlock, somewhat different roles, AE vs single target.
    Conjuror/Necromancer, again with the roleplay differences.

    …how would you split up 2 mages per alignment? Illercer/Conjuror and Necro/Wizlock? Possibly…

    Assassin/Rogue/Brigand, all DPS vs DPS/offensive debuff vs DPS/defensive debuff. Consolodation would leave a fairly overpowered class behind.
    Ranger/?? this is the only bow class in the game.
    Dirge/Troubador, melee buffer vs caster buffer, already they can’t run all their buffs at once. Splitting them good/evil would require a lot of retooling for raiding.

    …how would you split up 2 scouts per alignment? Ranger/GoodBard and Rogue/Badbard? Still not sure how you’d get both bards enough melee/caster buffs. You’d probably have to leave the bards Neutral.

    Warden/Fury… well, Wardens are pretty gimp at the moment compared to the other 5 priests. Could roll some of their healing into Furies and tone down the DPS a smidge and call it good average of the two druids. (And my main healer alt is a 67 Warden.)
    Defiler/Mystic… boot the roleplay aspects to the curb and you could combine them into a neutral-ish spirit worshipper, since they’re both pretty much debuffing warders.
    Templar/Inquisitor… cleric with extra healing vs cleric with dps buffing. Hard to combine.

    …how would you split up 2 healers per alignment? Templar/Druid and Inquisitor/Shaman? Leaves alignment-specific guilds out in the cold to not have all 3 healing types available; you’d have to make both druids and shamans neutral, I suppose.

    I just don’t see how this could be done at this late a date without a fearsome class revamp and thousands of PO’ed players. Heck, if “leaving people out of the raid” is the issue, they’d be better off going to 5-group or 6-group raids… but that just imbalances against the tanks even further, since you know groups 5 and 6 will be more DPS…

  4. Kendricke says:

    I’m not actually suggesting that they consolidate classes at this late in the game. I’m using the game as an example to suggest that future games not include such design elements.

  5. Quylein says:

    Defiler/Mystic… boot the roleplay aspects to the curb and you could combine them into a neutral-ish spirit worshipper, since they’re both pretty much debuffing warders

    Defiler is more like a buffer and has alot of tools for raid fun that and the fact at this point they can buff MT more then Mystic they are prime choice for that grp on raids. They also solo alot less effectivly and dont buff stats overall like mystic’s can.

    Mystic is part heal/ward part Dps/debuff and group stat buffer. Out of all the classes Ive played the Mystic w/ the right gear/AA/Knowlege is the best soloer in the game. Easier then my Guard/Conj/Brig by a long shot.

    Now as for combing the class it could only be done by taking away the best part of a Mystic and it’s the soloabilty. There is also the Hotshot facotor of me proving time and time agian I can MT heal as well as any Defiler or stay in the top 10 on the Dps parse if I have a dirge in my group.(and dont have to help but to spot heal)

    Everytime I see the suggestion of consolidating classes it makes me cringe becuase that would mean I’m done. Yes it might be hard for the Devs to balance but that the sacrifice for choice. Which I indeed think it’s a strong part of EQ2, Diversity is the spice of my MMO’s and w/o it you might as well make it Oblivion online.

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