An Appeal to Class Exclusivity

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Nyxiology
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An Appeal to Class Exclusivity

Post by Nyxiology » November 9th, 2014, 10:50 pm

The current class model is something that I both admire and dread. Each will be explained in what I hope will be adequate detail to make the point clear on what it is that I am appealing to. In an opening gesture, I will introduce myself and give a brief history of my favorite games so as to provide a background for my assertions. To keep the post relatively tidy, each section will be kept to spoilers.

Introduction and Stuff
My name is James, I am 26, and MMO/multiplayer RPG gaming has been a major passion of mine for a decade or more. That is certainly not an individual claim to make, most players who still enjoy the genre(s) find that there is a specific type of loyalty that it commands. People don't tend to play the genre unless they are all about it, because the delta between it and single player games can be extremely frustrating if you aren't looking at the endgame from each perspective.

Around 2005 I began playing Ragnarok Online, and aside from the light dabblings into Everquest2 and Dark Age of Camelot, it was my first time investing real time into an MMO. Immediately I fell in love with it, mostly because my machine could actually handle it with some grace, unlike the previous two. From there, I went on to experience Fly for Fun, and eventually as my hardware got better, so did my range of games.

Shadowbane became the first game besides RO that I sank my teeth into fully. For those not familiar, SB was not a friendly game in the sense of learning curve, forgiveness, or community. Where RO was a classic grinder with interesting and unique classes, Shadowbane was an open sandbox, no-holds-barred PvP/GvG game. My experience gaming amounted to nothing in Shadowbane, and that was an intimidating thing to admit to. The stat and proficiency system were not entirely unlike RO, but the consequences were immediate, and their reverberations could be felt the moment you were thrown into a hostile world.

We all remember being new, investing the wrong stats or skills or choosing a class for a role it wasn't intended to play. Everyone who played early generation games with actual customization of characters has made at least one gimp. That is not what I'm looking to revisit, just to say as an advance note. While I love customization and openness, the lack of available information was what made early generation games difficult, not the flexibility itself. Often times you were blindly making permanent investments because ingame, necessary information was withheld except through trial and infinite error. Also parsing.

From there, I have tried many of the more contemporary western games such as Rift, The Old Republic, and even the infamous titan that is WoW. Eastern games have always held a draw on me, and thus I have spent plenty of time on Corum, Eden Eternal, and Dragon Nest. Winner of the decade's biggest blunder has to go to Dragon Nest, for taking one of the best potential MMOs of all time and letting the cash shop dictate its fate.

While this is not an exhaustive list, the games listed would accurately reflect my time invested and the influence on my feelings toward game design and direction, some positively, some much more negatively. But in regards to how a game plays, there is a relatively new contender to the scene in the form of Defense of the Ancients and the knockoffs it has inspired. ARTS, MOBAs, whatever strange acronym you prefer, have become one of the strongest parallels to draw to the interface of RO and TOS.

For this reason, I feel they are more than necessary to list for the sake of how I will be integrating them into this post. Interface in a game has an enormous part in the overall quality and enjoyment of it. Poorly thought out interface and interaction, especially during combat, has been the death of many games. How best does the methodology match your boss and level design, and more importantly class involvement? Overall, I believe that Tree of Savior chose the right direction to go in. The interface lends itself very well to fast pace, situational awareness demanding combat. It lends itself well to multi-target fights and high stress mechanics in boss encounters. It also leaves room for a more "arcade feel" distribution of skills, such as the amazing Diev statue carving.

But without going too far into the meat of the post, allow me to say that the popularity of DotA-like games is not an accident. Having an increased field of awareness, and more centrism on the group rather than on your character that comes from this playstyle leads to very powerful group elements. Boss encounters and GvG, which is the primary reason I have come to this game, is vastly improved with the interface focuses more on the field than the player.

Throughout this post will be multiple references and leanings toward this top-down point-and-click centric gaming, which mostly will come from DotA, the Diablo franchise, and of course; RO.
The Good
The massive amount of classes is an undergoing many developers shy away from, and in this sense Tree of Savior promises to be a bold attempt at a game full of choice. In addition to this, any game with such a huge list is naturally going to move away from a trinity model which forces an equivalency in DPS, damage mitigation, and healing throughput. These three factors must be constantly juggled in a trinity game, because the need for balance and equality is measured in how desirable each class is.

Rather, we are going to see a return to niche gaming, which to anyone not aware essentially means that each class is both as strong and as balanced as the overall situation. Such factors as party composition, boss mechanics, number and diversity of enemies, and previous rank skills will all determine the efficacy of each class, and what role it will play.

This system breeds massive need for a diverse and well structured guild. While some classes have obvious solo potential, the true strength of any MMO is the openness of the door for player creativity. And in this case, ToS' door is more like a broad, decorative archway. Boss difficulty and mechanics are going to be, from videos released currently, interesting and highly subject to effective group compositions. But that isn't what truly intrigues me, what I find the most exciting is the GvG potential.

Anyone who has played seriously in a GvG/RvR/NvN game (Guild/Realm/Nation) understands that one of the most crucial aspects of a successful video game war is class composition. In some game, specific rosters exist to cover as many factors as evenly as possible. Others fold into the groove of playing specialty groups, often times in a way that involves advanced planning and coordination by a guild to follow a specific battleplan around specific combinations.

Spec group GvG is one of the most exciting forms of MMO combat, because your guild often times will plan weeks in advance for a particular strategy, which brings in the element of guild spies and subterfuge. Interruption of guild leveling, disruption of supplies or boss denial, and even countering a specific spec group with another. These are aspects which keep players invested, using creative endeavor, and more importantly is a sandbox-style form of gaming that keeps players contributing the most valuable currency a MMO can generate; time.

Considering the above, I am absolutely thrilled to start playing ToS, because it promises something that many modern games are absolutely terrified of. It is my honest desire that the buzzwords "OP", "broken", and "imbalanced" are taken with a fistful of salt by the developers, because there will be some absolutely absurd interactions between classes. Some combinations are going to be seen as outright ridiculous until counter strategies are formed, and unless something sees weeks of uncontested dominance, it is my hope that balance patches are subtle and infrequent.

PS: Chokepoints in GvG maps are going to be bloodbaths.
The Bad
I meant all of what I said above about just how excited I am for the game, and I want to emphasize just how amazing I think the group play can and hopefully will be. Already a fairly large group of gaming buddies have joined together to jumpstart our guild in advance. We have played several games together, and we absolutely love GvG and boss fights. What ToS promises to be is darn near everything we've been hoping for in a game. When servers go up, we will be there, and we will be out for blood, you can count on that.

However, what I'm learning recently about the way class advancement will work is, to put it mildly, distressful. For the most part, this distress comes from the way each class will retain, or drop its skillset as it advances, and what that means for the overall potential for roster diversity and individual character specialization. With the current system, there are several options in how skill carryover can work, and more importantly in how the lore/flavor of your character will be affected.
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Re: An Appeal to Class Exclusivity

Post by Nyxiology » November 9th, 2014, 10:51 pm

System One: Complete Carryover
In the first system, we see a transition from R1 -> R2~9 -> R10, in which all skills carry over from the base class, eight advanced classes inbetween, with a maxed level character at R10 (assuming full advancements were taken), assimilating ten ranks worth of skills to choose from. Given information so far--that each class has five or more abilities--we can reasonably assume that each rank, you will have a finite number of "skill points" to invest in your abilities, choosing to either invest in unlocking the skill, furthering skills already unlocked, or pooling your points until you hit the advance ranks in which you actually wish to invest.

Theoretically, if your investments are limited, this will make a frustrating advancement through the levels and ranks until you hit your desired class, which you can stick to and specialize in without further advancement if you so choose. In addition, assuming that skill carryover is the model being used, you run into the clashing of the skill trees in a way that does not accurately represent the niche model of gameplay. While this makes solo gameplay more viable as a plus side, it hurts the idea of extremely powerful utility belonging to a specialized player.

This leads to the inevitable result that you can bring extremely powerful and class-defining utility from a class that otherwise is not worth bringing as a specialist. While skill carryover is a great way to customize and make a uniquely powerful character, with the current system of advancing through eight ranks of this or that style advancement (not counting the singular base or hidden classes), there will be clear and obvious "best combination" characters throughout the ranks.

In other words, as soon as you hit R2, there is an A and B choice to make. Every subsequent rank up, you get another A and B choice, but your previous choice does not influence it. Whether you chose A or B the previous rank, you still must choose from the same A or B in the next rank.

This leads to a false idea of choice, because you will essentially be corralled into "Damage route, support route, or hybrid route". Sometimes you may halt your progression early to specialize in a particular class, but unless there's deep tree progression involved with skill investment, there would be little to no need to do so. Carrying over the skills from each previous rank, assuming you only take two skills per rank, means a R10 character will have at least twenty keybinds.

However, at any given point only 10% of those keybinds fall together as being from the same rank. Given what we know of the ranks so far, they are classes individual unto themselves. You now have a highly diluted, almost blankly thematic character with an array of skills that have little to do with one another. Many of which will almost certainly be weapon or magical school specific, and therefore be unusable, not to mention falling on one extreme or the other in terms of synergy. From blatantly powerful when combining a setup utility with followup damage, or useless in the sense that both abilities have no interaction and simply deal damage.
System Two: Limited Carryover
Under the limited carryover system, investment of skill points is not handled as an overall total, but handled by each rank individually. Specialization locks a character into a class, and allocates more points for that class to invest in. With this system, each advancement carries over only the base class skills, and related ranks. For example, a Wizard advancing into Pyromancer and into Elementalist carries over the previous two ranks. However, in the fourth rank if they deviate from the theme, the Pyromancer and Elementalist trees now only carry over a limited number of skills which can still be used with their current weapon selection or spell school.

However, even in this system we have the issue that the class you start out playing drastically changes as you reach your ultimate goal. Even early into the cycle, again falling back to the Wizard as an example, the first time you advance into the next rank, you choose between Cryo and Pyromancer. Ice and Fire are your only choices, and then in the next rank you advance into Psychokino or Linker--neither of which involves your previous elemental affinity.

Thematically, the current advancement system completely breaks down under this system, as the advancement is non-linear and has no clearcut idea of what sort of character you are building. You transition from caster, to caster’s choice element, to caster’s choice utility, and on into more advanced specializations that continue to delineate from one another into vastly different roles.

The question becomes: why even bother using the constant A or B or remain as you are system? If there is limited carryover and limited synergy between weapons and related spell/skill schools, why even bother with the linear illusion of character choice?
Addressing the Issue
ToS has already the potential to exceed the class and skill interactions of any MMO to date, bordering on the synergistic and counterplay style of DotA-like games. The high impact of utility, the complex interactions, the massive influence that skills have upon the field and their targets in ToS simply cannot be compared to the average MMO. Instead, they must and should be likened to the design theme that they are already following.

What I’m getting at is that there is no need for the A/B/no change system to continue up through to R10 as it does now. All it accomplishes is bloating skill books, diluting each advancement’s true impact, and taking away play styles and actual diversity in the enormous array of classes. After all, what purpose is there in having 80 classes if you can experience ten at a time with each character you make? All that serves to do is fill up your key binds excessively and make each class that much less special.

We already know that a game does not require a Naga mouse to handle all of the excessive key binds to bring depth to the table. In fact, more buttons often leads to, or is a result of blatant homogenization. Abilities which become standard, such as cool downs for damage reduction, DPS increases, or escape/gap closing often just lead to a bloat in which every class is given “that tool in their own flavor.” When it comes down to it, 3-5 core abilities used frequently to supplement the basic attack functions can provide plenty of interaction for the player. Having 3-5 additional abilities meant to be used less frequently for higher impact gameplay adds not just more interaction, but also more visible effect on the game.

In a game that broadly focuses on the group and not the individual, there comes a dividing line between flashy, distracting spells and their antithesis; the high impact skillset that drives group-based combat in a strategic way. Some spells and abilities should be obvious when you see them, because they are meant to be combos and synergistic with other skills. Anything that is easily seen should have a distinct and clear purpose for being so visible, so as to promote team-based interaction with one another’s skillset. Again, I believe that this will lead to the inevitable “shrinking” of the diversity that the game could provide if every character is given access to so many classes.
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Re: An Appeal to Class Exclusivity

Post by Nyxiology » November 9th, 2014, 10:52 pm

The Proposal
Rather than the A/B/no change model which encourages a player to follow the easiest leveling route in order to obtain their end goal specialization, instead there is a much simpler solution. Currently, a player who wishes to play R9A--whatever class that will be--must first decide what path to take, choosing between A and B through ranks 2~8 before they can play R9A. This means that they have effectively played nine classes up until this point. Nine! Take a moment to realize that in a game with 80 classes, if you are playing nine of them in one character, you have shrunk the pool of things you haven’t played by a massive quantity.


This diminishes each class‘ uniqueness, but it also diminishes the replay value of the game for the player. Alts are a big thing in MMOs, even when developers might not want them to be. In advance, yes I acknowledge that the combinations leading up to playing a specialized R9A have the potential to be tremendous. However, as I’ve covered above, I believe that the interaction and meshing of the skillsets will again negatively impact the game in such a way as to form a trinity within ToS as being a pure damage, pure utility, or hybrid. In this same sense, I will say in advance that I believe this trinity to be inevitable, however there is the distinct and clear ability to shift it in such as a way so as not to devolve the game’s replay value or the intrinsic value of each class as its own entity.

Best solving this issue I believe would be to make a more dynamic ranking system, frontloading the majority of classes into the first rank or advancement. Many of the classes that ToS has already shown are fairly unique, most of which have never seen the light of a MMO before. They are an interesting, wonderful mashup of MMO, DotA-like, and tabletop gaming such as D&D/Pathfinder. With such a diverse system, it seems wasteful to lock some classes behind others that are completely unrelated, and placing more emphasis on the first advancement will allow for a better thematic approach to the classes. Already the framework is in place with the weapons and spell schools approach to keep the majority of the system intact.

By frontloading, say, 8-12 classes in the first advancement from your base class, you allow yourself room to not only expand into further advancing each class in a new and unique way, but also having the space for specializing to still be as good or better than the next rank up, depending on the niche you wish to fill. Deep investment skill trees allow, for example, a Cryomancer to further power up their skillset to rival or exceed that of their advancement of Elementalist, depending on the encounter and group composition.

What makes this system outright better than the current incarnation is that it maintains the capacity for certain advancements to have multiple root classes. Because Wizard is my favorite example class for the simplicity of explanation, an Elementalist can still be advanced into from both Cryo and Pyromancers. Thus you have choice, depth, and a different character based on your advancement choices. Overall, I feel this advancement tree has far more potential to create a diverse and meaningful decision when choosing your endgame goal of a character and what you want to do with it. Additionally it will be far, far less prone to class stacking characters to cycle high impact utility cool downs.
A (Rough) Illustrated Example
Please keep in mind that this is a very rough example, and is not a finalized or global chart meant to express an end goal, only the methodology. Any specific critiques to the image are highly discouraged, although broader ones about the approach to the method are very much welcomed. Also my MS Paint skills are mad legit.

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Re: An Appeal to Class Exclusivity

Post by Uterus » November 10th, 2014, 2:50 am

+1.
Eventho I did not quite get your second example picture, I did however understand your writing. I do think they have option 2 (Base class -> Base Class 2 / R1A / R1B / R1C... etc. ) in mind though, or atleast I hope, 'cause going trough an x amount of classes to get to my desired R9A-class would be a chore, even worse than cleaning my room.

Having an 'x' amount of skills from every class will force you to bind of a lot keys yes, but I myself will probably only bind the skills that are a; low CD/high damage and b; nice CC to flee/engage and c; best combo worthy. (ex. R1A skill X, R3B skill Y and R8A skill Z).
Then I'm hopefully left with only a handfull of skills. Otherwise I will have to grow a third hand, because I have to use my right hand for the arrowkeys to walk.

Only tiny thing that scares me though, is that in GvG(even at normal pvp) you will never be able to tell which skills the enemy got at their disposal. Unless ofcourse you know them, but you get my point.
A Wizard, who advanced to Psy for example, will just wear the Wizard outfit and you will not be able to see which path (s)he took. Making you unable to "read their mind". You will never see that "line-up skill" coming.
While in RO, you saw someone was a wizard and the instant you saw, you knew that Storm Gust was coming.
While that being a disadvantage, it ofcourse gives you the same advantage, but I personally like to know what I'm dealing with.
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Re: An Appeal to Class Exclusivity

Post by Losercore » November 10th, 2014, 3:13 am

+69

I definitely would rather have a wide range of classes with relatively small ranges of skills than 8 endgame classes with god knows how many skills at their disposal.
Last edited by Losercore on November 10th, 2014, 4:51 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: An Appeal to Class Exclusivity

Post by dory » November 10th, 2014, 4:45 am

:no1:
This is one of my fears for the game. What's the point of making unique 'classes' if we're just going to take bits of each other's skills? The 'further development of your class' would have to outdo the benefits of having many skills. I am also hoping it's like your purposed model; it gives 'upgrading barracks' a great purpose.
I also agree with uterus's last statement. I would like to let others know what class i am, especially if i'm playing an underrated/not popular class.
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Re: An Appeal to Class Exclusivity

Post by Losercore » November 10th, 2014, 5:16 am

Upon looking into it further I am starting to think it may not be as bad as I initially feared. It is going to depend heavily on just what significance moving up your rank of a previous job has. My guess is that a character that takes on more than 2 or maybe 3 classes will suffer from having its overall effectiveness gimped, much like trying to spread your stat points out evenly instead of specializing in the ones you need the most. This system does have the unfortunate side effect of making group play less specialization-based and I'm definitely not fond of that aspect of it. Also, like any multi-class system it will probably doom some otherwise cool classes to be only ever used as secondary abilities. There are, however, some interesting possibilities that could come of this. I'm pretty excited at the idea of having linker skills on chronomancer. This would allow me to party with weapon based classes, link a group of enemies, link my party, buff ASPD and let the party focus one mob to take a ton of enemies down very quickly. And that makes me moist.

One thing I'm wondering about is what this means for say R-10 classes. Are they naturally extra powerful to make up for not being able to increase their specialization? Or can you save your rank-ups like skill points and use them on higher classes after you level? I'm a bit hazy on exactly how this system works.
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Re: An Appeal to Class Exclusivity

Post by Uterus » November 10th, 2014, 6:27 am

Losercore wrote:One thing I'm wondering about is what this means for say R-10 classes. Are they naturally extra powerful to make up for not being able to increase their specialization? Or can you save your rank-ups like skill points and use them on higher classes after you level? I'm a bit hazy on exactly how this system works.
This is a good question.
But it probably answered the question on how classes work.
From base Wizard, you can probably pick any other class there is; Pyro, Cryo, Necro, Psy, unless it's a higher ranked class like Ele which comes from Pyro and Cryo.

I mean it's quite natural to go that way, because if you compare it to real life:
Study law -> defense laywer, prosecuter, attorney (any other law orientated job). You can go any path you want. Unless you want to become a Judge, you'll have to go trough a previous job to 'learn' for a while aka grind your ass off.

I don't know :( Wish they would just show us.
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Re: An Appeal to Class Exclusivity

Post by Gardosen » November 10th, 2014, 11:06 am

im personally think that none of the existing, and none of the upcoming games are really good in this case.

i personally really liked the system of The Last Remnant where you where able to train specific skillz on a teammember.
this system made it possible to create something like a rank/protector who was able to survive the whole time and if all where dead, he was still standing and was able to resurrect the others. but this was his only skill, tanky and beeing able to resurrect.

i like the logic where a player can learn everything, and its just a matter of training how strong he is in which area. but as also the human body is restricted, it is getting more harder and harder to learn something new when you already know much.

this way i think you can give the people a feeling of endless progress combined with the wish to be all they want. bee a dmg dealer/healer/tank/mage, but to get to this point you have to play as hard as you can, because its not important which part you are train first, there far you get in the progress, there more effort you have to put in to reach a new milestone.

but i think there will never be a game where this system will be implemented :sob:
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Re: An Appeal to Class Exclusivity

Post by Nyxiology » November 10th, 2014, 5:20 pm

Uterus wrote:Uterus
I believe that the costumed effect is going to have a compounding effect on the problems that the current model is going to have. Any PvP game is about reading an opponent and playing from several steps ahead, not just reacting to what they do. In essence by making multiple classes available rolled into one, every time you fight someone for the first time is going to be like fighting a slot machine. For tournament/event settings, as much as I love in-game politics, this is bad news. One-sided information trading about an enemy team/player is going to be enormous, because you've effectively halted their ability to surprise you.
Losercore wrote:Losercore
For me the issue is about the fact that the progression path is strictly linear. You will almost always make the same choices as you climb ranks, and therefore outside of specific exceptions, there will fall in place a system of generic filler classes. This heavily undercuts the diversity of the classes, as quite a few will be often seen as "the strictly worse R(x) stepping stone class." While I'm all for hybridizing classes, the idea behind doing so is that you are sacrificing your ability to achieve a maximum goal by drawing from several sources. With the current system, you make no such sacrifices, you're just following the best order pre-laid out by the linearity of the A/B next A/B next system.

After all, a R4 mage has already gone from Wizard(foundation skills) -> Pyro/Cryo (damage) -> Psycho/Linker(utility). Everything past that now has equal foundation for hybridization, and worse yet comes the time when guilds start deciding "is Soul Link Enemy the benchmark skill, or is Psychic Alignment?" Because both are powerful abilities, but which is more beneficial to bring multiples of at the end of the day?
Gardosen wrote:Gardosen
I think that model is super fun in single player games, but just doesn't translate well into MMOs. The idea of what you're trying to accomplish in a single player game (kill all the bad guys) vs a MMO (work together as a team with combinations of skills that synergize) just doesn't lend itself well to a bunch of people who are all very strong at everything.
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Re: An Appeal to Class Exclusivity

Post by Kunae » November 12th, 2014, 4:03 am

Holy man you guys like to write.. took me almost 1 hours to get through one page =P.

I am for one not very worried. Especially since we are entering closed Beta soon and then get a nag for it and possible change the system.

I have a example though.

So lets say your lvl cap is 150 / 50 ( iro lvls i know ) but for sake of arguing.

SO any mmorpg usually starts at lvl 10 or 12 to teach you skills and then gives you skill points depending on how you advance. Ohhhh wait base lvl 20 roles around you are now able to upgrade your class to lets say R2 and then so forth .. The higher you go in base lvls the harder it will get to upgrade the skills and change classes over and over again.

Now in my feeble mind i dont know how high the lvl cap will be or how many times you can change... but basiccly you im saying you will only have 150 ( job points ) to give out so be carefull where they go
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Re: An Appeal to Class Exclusivity

Post by Uterus » November 12th, 2014, 2:52 pm

Kunae wrote: Now in my feeble mind i dont know how high the lvl cap will be or how many times you can change... but basiccly you im saying you will only have 150 ( job points ) to give out so be carefull where they go
And a system like that is horrible IF they have the classes linear, because you have to change classes 9 times to get to the R10 classes, and you'll be around level 120(?), and by then you have almost saved all your skill points to level up that class. How does that make you feel? Like grinding a beginner class, because you have no skills, or terribly weak ones.

I think you won't get any skill points. You just get all the skills. And whenever you go to R4B-2 you just upgrade the skills because you stayed the same class. So now the skills are level 2, but you won't have any other skills untill you change class again which you can do later, or go to R4B-3 and get level 3 skills.
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Re: An Appeal to Class Exclusivity

Post by Nyxiology » November 12th, 2014, 8:00 pm

One of the most confusing issues is how to even explain the class advancement system in this game. While I am not one for forced tutorials, I believe that the old style of gaming in which you are thrown into a world and told nothing is an antiquated model that doesn't jive anymore.

People are not going to play with the same mentality as they did ten years ago when, after weeks or months of time invested, they get the pleasure of rerolling because they made a gimp. There will need to be some sort of in game resource for how stuff actually works before people start making their permanent choices.

There is no clearly definitive article I've found so far about the advancement system. There are dodgy Q&A answers, poor translations, and speculations. The only things we really know for sure are:

-Level cap will start at 100 in CBT
-There are ten potential ranks to achieve
-Hidden classes are planned for each base class
-Some classes must be advanced to through others
-You can specialize in your current class at rank up
-Elemental is the Wizard hidden class and comes from Pyromancer
-Each rank has points that must be spent on that "circle", which basically means skills unlocked by that rank of that class
-Higher ranks of each class unlock more skills/upgrads to previous ones

And the list of things we kind of sort of speculate on:

-Character rank goes up every ten levels?
-When you choose a new class it starts at rank 1, independent of character rank?
-You cannot "backtrack" when advancing?
-All skills in a "circle" can be advanced in right away, or have pre-req skills?
-Hidden classes count as a rank, or are they offshoots?
-Hidden classes cannot be advanced from?
-Are there multiple trees or just one with every class?

CBT can't come soon enough, because the devs have done a really poor job with communicating about the class system. Normally that can be written off as a tertiary priority because most games follow the same few models. But in ToS, the classes are literally their flagship selling point, and this matters a lot to many prospective players and guilds.
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Re: An Appeal to Class Exclusivity

Post by SickleStorm » November 12th, 2014, 10:12 pm

I've been lurking for sometime now, but your posts really caught my interest and I just had to make an account to add to the discussion.

As for the current topic, your main point seems to be that the current class progression is flawed because of the amount of skill points that would have to go into the skills of prerequisite classes, therefore taking away from points that could be used in your advancement class. Correct me if I have it wrong.

I come from a different background of MMOs, and I believe the problem lies in the skill points, and not the class progression. The "skill points, skill tree" system model is definitely common in games, and I do see why your speculation might be based around it. However, I'd like to bring up the class skill model for two games I've played because I believe they could solve the issue of a progression model that reduces the amount of points available in the advancement class.

Guild Wars 2
The skill system in GW2 allowed a character to hit the level cap as many times as they liked, effectively allowing players to earn as many skill points as they wished. This may sound ridiculous at first, so I will elaborate on how exactly class skills worked in GW2.

In GW2, a player can have 10 active skills on their hotbar, correspondent with the 1~0 keys on the keyboard. The first five are Weapon Skills, which changed corresponding to what weapon you equipped. These skills varied from class to class, so a Warrior with a greatsword would have a different set of 1~5 than a Guardian with a greatsword. These skills were different from the other skills in that you had to use the weapons in combat a specific amount of times to unlock them, and do not consume skill points.

On the other hand are the 6~0 skills, which require skill points. However, unlike most games, skills in GW2 scale with your level. If you unlock them once, that's it. You don't add more points to increase the effect of the skill, the skill becomes stronger as your level increases. This combined with the fact that you could gain an infinite amount of skill points means that every player is able to unlock every skill in its class, to their max potential.

This does not mean you can utilize all your class's active skills in combat, however. You are always limited to the skills you placed in your hotbar beforehand, and you can only swap skills once you are safely out of combat.

As for passive skills, they use the "skill points, skill tree" system.
Phantasy Star Online 2
In PSO2, you are able to change classes as you please, and therefore able to learn all attacks available in the game on one character. These attack skills are obtainable from mobs, which drop them as consumables that rank from levels 1~16 (the level of the drop scales with the difficulty of the field you encounter the mob in). The consumables have stat requirements and therefore a character cannot immediately learn a high-level skill at a very low class level.

Passive and utility skills have a traditional "skill points, skill tree" system.
I will elaborate if you have any questions on the two games, as I tried to summarize details in order to keep it topic-relevant and may have missed some critical details.

Although neither game is completely free of the "skill points, skill tree" system, I believe the ideas incorporated in these games could be used in a way that allows for ToS to make effective use of its current class system without severe option limitations in advancement classes.

I do agree, however, that ToS has been rather quiet about important details on classes. It occurred to me that much of their previews are based around visuals and gameplay, and not core mechanics. It's likely they're still contemplating many of the systems and didn't want to make any solid final statements yet.
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Re: An Appeal to Class Exclusivity

Post by Nyxiology » November 12th, 2014, 11:12 pm

The skill points, for me, represent a very minor quirk. The issue for me is that the slated classes in ToS are highly unique, both in the sense that other mmos lack almost all of them, and in the sense that they are very unlike each other. By the time a character has reached a high rank class, he is an amalgamation of many classes.

Not just does it devalue the stepping stone classes in between picked because "well, they are the best combination for my R9A choice", but also devalues the R9A because at that point, he can only unlock two ranks worth of skill circles. The class will have to be extremely front loaded with abilities to make up for that lack of class depth, or will be hugely reliant on skills from other classes.

Again though, the skill points and distribution and skill circles and ranks are all just secondary issues. The problem is that this game will have 80 classes, but you will be playing several of them in one build--not by choice, but because for some classed you must and for others you can't. Therefore, you don't have a real choice to make a hybrid mixup of classes, you either get to or you don't. You have equally little say in what classes you want to mesh together, because it's predefined linear progress.

This model is reminiscent of the sort of progression model of more standard Korean games, in which a base class chooses between 2 or more options, which then also split into two or more options. Difference comes in ToS through being able to lock in any class you want, implying that they are all intended to be viable classes.

In such a case: why bother with this model? It just doesn't make any sort of sense. 80 classes is a hollow and meaningless claim if half or more are locked behind a wall of other classes meant to be just as unique as the ones layer in the tree.
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Re: An Appeal to Class Exclusivity

Post by SickleStorm » November 13th, 2014, 12:04 am

Sorry for missing the larger point, hopefully I understood the main issue this time around.

I returned to your original posts after reading your reply, and I was confused for a while after rereading the Classes page on the wiki, because it sounded like it was based around a model much like your Proposal Model diagram. Then I saw the keyword "circle" and I feel I finally understood what the problem was.

From the first day I saw the list of classes on the site, I had been under the impression that the progression presented in your Proposed Model would be common sense. I now see this was apparently not the case and ToS may be trying new things.

Now I'm hoping this is some sort of misunderstanding. ToS has been rather vague, and I wouldn't be very surprised if "circles" mean a selection of classes that expand upon the first advancement, rather than an entire selection of classes under a starting class.

edit:
Upon attempting to see if there may have been any misinterpretations, I found this at the top of the Classes page, which could be rather misleading:
When you choose an advance class, you will get into the new circle of that class
Breaking it down, it says "new circle" which probably indicates the circle is not the one for the Swordsman. "That class" points to "an advance class", so I am fairly sure I am right in saying that the example that follows is fairly misleading.
Swordsman --> Peltast --> Swordsman (2 circle)
Perhaps it should be something along the lines of:
Swordsman --> Peltast --> Peltast circle

I really hope this is the case, as what's illustrated in your Current Model diagram is really quite... something else.
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Re: An Appeal to Class Exclusivity

Post by Mischelle » November 13th, 2014, 10:53 pm

Nyxiology wrote: Difference comes in ToS through being able to lock in any class you want, implying that they are all intended to be viable classes.

In such a case: why bother with this model? It just doesn't make any sort of sense. 80 classes is a hollow and meaningless claim if half or more are locked behind a wall of other classes meant to be just as unique as the ones layer in the tree.
In RO, players can, and have, gone permanovice.

Permanovice is not practical, but compare that to any other mmo that offers class advancement. How many max level characters in WoW have ever been the base intro class?

I don't think there is necessarily a problem with 80 classes. Also, it isn't necessary for every class to be "viable", especially the starter classes. No, they do not need to be viable, they only need to be possible.

The benefit of a massive roster of classes is that class balance isn't needed. Not every class has to have an answer for every situation. Arguably, some classes might not have an answer for any situation.

There is a very desirable quality to this. The essence of this quality is somewhere in realizing that the following situation is false: That the game is a problem to be solved and your character is the tool for solving that problem.

The truth is that the game is a thing to be experienced and your character is the sensory input by which you experience it. From this perspective, the class and strength progression becomes less relevant and the depth of any individual class becomes more important.
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Re: An Appeal to Class Exclusivity

Post by Nyxiology » November 14th, 2014, 5:33 am

Mischelle wrote:In RO, players can, and have, gone permanovice. Permanovice is not practical, but compare that to any other mmo that offers class advancement.
A permanovice is possible, but not supported. A permawizard is both possible and supported. Your comparison does not hold water.
Mischelle wrote:How many max level characters in WoW have ever been the base intro class?
WoW has no "base intro class", you select your class when you create the character. So the answer is: literally none. If you meant to say that someone never chose a spec, then you chose extremely poor wording.
Mischelle wrote:I don't think there is necessarily a problem with 80 classes.
Of course there isn't a problem with 80 classes, that is the game's selling point.
Mischelle wrote:Also, it isn't necessary for every class to be "viable", especially the starter classes. No, they do not need to be viable, they only need to be possible.
A Wizard, without advancing to a new class, has 10 total ranks worth of investment. You may be thinking of homogenized benchmarks within a set role when you say viable, but in niche class games, viability refers to your ability to perform your specific task, nothing more or less.

For instance an Oracle's role does not fit a typical mold and has no metric by which to be judged. It registers as utility, in generic terms, but it is not meant to be interchanged with a Chronomancer or Centurion, which are also recognized as primarily utility classes.
Mischelle wrote:The benefit of a massive roster of classes is that class balance isn't needed. Not every class has to have an answer for every situation. Arguably, some classes might not have an answer for any situation.
I specifically advocated in favor of niche balance over balancing around homogenized ideals of the trinity system.

Apologies in advance because there's no way to say it without being rude, but it's obvious you skimmed this topic. It is equally obvious you have not done much research so far. However:
Mischelle wrote:The benefit of a massive roster of classes is that class balance isn't needed. Not every class has to have an answer for every situation. Arguably, some classes might not have an answer for any situation.

There is a very desirable quality to this. The essence of this quality is somewhere in realizing that the following situation is false: That the game is a problem to be solved and your character is the tool for solving that problem.

The truth is that the game is a thing to be experienced and your character is the sensory input by which you experience it. From this perspective, the class and strength progression becomes less relevant and the depth of any individual class becomes more important.
This part leads me to believe that you and I do not entirely disagree on design philosophy, so I hope we can see eye to eye now that you've been brought up to speed.
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Re: An Appeal to Class Exclusivity

Post by Kunae » November 14th, 2014, 5:41 am

I'm gonna put this out there and lets see what happens.

So basically they are giving us 80 classes but really maybe just maybe you are gonna see about half of those actually in use.
Now let me explain how i got to this conclusion based on the class system outlined here.

1) Now looking at this circle business... You have to choose a base class there is no way around that i don't think. That base class is gonna lock you in into a specific amount of available Other Classes and skills. Now it doesn't matter if you got some bad ass Swordsman because that swordsman is only becoming x amount of other things. A swordsman cannot become a Mage all of the sudden because your stat points will not be build for that .

2) We were already told a few Announcements ago that the MVPing is not going to be easy and to get the most possible loot you will have to work together and use certain classes like Chrono. ( time ) and use there skills to bend the game "rules" to get yourself missed or better equipment so having 80 classes is great and fun but there is some key classes everybody is gonna need to know about or need to know how to use to make it big in this game.

3) this conversation is getting out of hand =P and hopefully they will tell us more during the expo
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Re: An Appeal to Class Exclusivity

Post by Nyxiology » December 14th, 2014, 4:44 am

Hooray they changed the class system! :D
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