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Debate: Character Specialization vs. Balance

Discussion in 'MMO Debates' started by quinn, Sep 8, 2011.

Who put forth the better debate?

  1. Quinn

    14 vote(s)
    58.3%
  2. FunnyGamer

    11 vote(s)
    45.8%
  1. quinn

    quinn Starcatcher Ogre Veteran

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    This debate shall take place between funnygamer and myself.

    Each debater shall post an opening argument, and then the debate shall commence. A poll will be added near the end of the debate, in the form of 'Who put forth the better debate?'. Please read the debate before you vote, as voting without even reading messes things up and is quite unfair to both debaters. Thanks! :)

    I shall write mine up when I have time, likely within a couple of days.
     
  2. funnygamer

    funnygamer Clubbed

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    Ok then, I will start. :)

    Definition:
    Before I state my side, let me define first class balance, as how kashie (the one who suggested the debate) defined it. Balance refers to all character classes being fairly equal in all fields, whether it be in PVE or PVP. As such, all characters can equally hunt, craft, etc. In PVP, classes have almost equal chances of winning against other classes. Thus, there is no favorable and unfavorable class.

    My side:
    The good side of class balance is obviously the fairness that it gives. One does not need to worry about not getting partied because his class can do fairly well as all the other classes. Neither will he worry that he will just get owned by other people in PVP, whether in solo fight or in team battle, because the classes are balanced. Winning and losing will depend on your gear and your skill, not on your chosen class.

    This fairness also breeds diversity. Since all classes are fairly equal, people can choose any class that he or she wants. He will not be restricted in choosing a class. If classes are not balanced, it is highly likely to see a lot more of those more "powerful" classes, leaving the "not so powerful" classes to a very select few.
     
  3. Admin Post
    ogreman

    ogreman Ogre In Charge Staff Member GameOgre Admin

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    Ok, you can put up the poll when you are ready or ask me to do it.

    Good luck to both debaters:).
     
  4. Webber

    Webber Well-Known Member Ogre Veteran

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    Voting after the debate works for me:D.
     
  5. quinn

    quinn Starcatcher Ogre Veteran

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    There are plenty of ways to deviate characters from a main mold, yet still have them balanced in both PvP and PvE. The Kingdom of Loathing does an excellent job of this: each character is quite specialized and unique, but the skills they have are carefully set up so each one plays out about the same.

    However, many games seem to think 'balance' is taking a cookiecutter class and then reskinning it as something else, which leads to only one thing: boredom. Specialization is necessary in order to keep a game interesting...it allows players to have something that fits their own playstyles. Gaia Online's zOMG does this VERY nicely, by allowing players to define their own class through their 'rings', at which they can swap out whenever they feel like it.

    Specialization also does a nice job of creating teamwork. A great deal of MMOs I see these days are playable mostly solo....that's no fun! By having certain characters who are adept at things such as healing and buffing, the game difficulty can be boosted a great deal, allowing more of a challenge, and more important strategy. Games that consist only of button-mashing are just annoying, not fun. Giving each character separate tasks lets them all have different jobs, keeping the game interesting.

    Having separate character types that behave differently (not just a reskin of the same character skills!) is very important to keep a game interesting, and give the players more choices in how they play, making the game fun to a wider audience of players.

    --------
    Counters may now begin :)
    And I am fine with the poll at the end as well...but I shall begin the poll whenever funny wishes me to, as he is the challenger. Just PM me/post when you want it started :)
     
  6. funnygamer

    funnygamer Clubbed

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    I'm fine with posting the poll in the end too. It's more reasonable to finish the debate and hear both sides completely before starting the poll. :)


    Your very first statement admits that balance is important. Even if you're going for specialization, you can't deny the fact that balance is still necessary. The main reason for this is that many people will complain if classes aren't balanced. That's exactly the case in many games. When a class is overpowered, many people complain. They want the class to be nerfed so that classes will be balanced. And who can blame them? We want a fight that is based on skill, not based on a predetermined class.

    Take Dragon Nest, for example. Classes are specialized in that a tanker can really tank, a DPS really deals a lot more damage than the others, and the healer is the sole healer of the game. The problem is that in PVP, Bow Masters, for example, suck big time. They are mainly for PVE. It's my favorite class, yet I was forced to make an Acrobat just so that I can also enjoy PVP. A game shouldn't force anyone to make a character that they don't really like just to be able to enjoy a feature that they want to experience.

    Lastly, balance does not necessarily mean there's one mold and a few attributes are just revised. In many games like Atlantica Online, classes are very diverse with a variety of different attributes and skills. However, the skills and attributes are very well tested so that they still end up very balanced. As such, when you look at the PVP battles, you will see a lot of different builds and formations. There isn't "one strong build" which allows for variety, but still maintain balance.
     
  7. kashiegamer

    kashiegamer New Member

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    When i asked "class specialization vs class balance", i was also thinking of the "rock/paper/scissors model vs. balanced model", which was essentially a question whether it is better for MMO characters to be restrained by a character limit/weakness or allow them to be more balanced (but more streamlined / prone to being called same classes with different skins).
     
  8. quinn

    quinn Starcatcher Ogre Veteran

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    There's a vast difference between total balance (or even slight differences/weaknesses between classes) and quite varied balance, where each class is actually unique...for example, take the Seal Clubber and Disco Bandit characters in the Kingdom of Loathing...the Disco Bandits rely on raising their moxie stat through equipment in order to avoid hits, while the Clubbers mainly try and kill the enemy before they get hit too much. Overall though, they are designed so both have about an equal chance of getting on the leaderboard.

    On the other hand, there's games that take a main model, and then just add 'skills' to each character class that do basically the same thing but with different names, for each class.

    A game doesn't need to have characters that suck in PvP in order to have unique and interesting character classes. Just because this one game doesn't do it well does not mean that it applies to all games.

    That's my point. Specialization doesn't mean making certain characters much better at the game overall than others, it just means giving players something that fits their playstyle. It's important to keep that in mind when developing a game, as focusing only on 'I NEED SUPERUNIQUE CLASSES BLAH!' won't turn out as good a game as 'Hmmm, how can I make unique classes that perform equally'? But if you take it too far, you end up with a game where all characters form near equally, but only with a tiny variation on each class to make it look different. What's the point of choosing a class if all of them fit any playstyle? In any large MMO you're going to have certain people that like to be sneaky, people that like to play the sidelines and buff and heal their friends, people that like to sling spells/arrows or set traps. It's important to cater to all of these different groups of people when making a game. When your archers are just reskinned mages, there's no point in them even existing.
     
  9. funnygamer

    funnygamer Clubbed

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    With how Kashie defined the balance vs specialization debate, I believe both of us are doing something that's quite off with her definition. Looking at all our arguments, some of them are like "balance is more important but specialization and uniqueness may still be present" vs "specialization is more important but we can make a game that is still somewhat balanced." We are both arguing that our side is more important but the other side can still be present, although secondary to the first. I think kashie wants us just to present "very balanced but classes are relatively similar" vs "very specialized but no balance at all." Correct me if I'm wrong Kashie, but you want us to take the extremes?

    If this is the case, then I'd still go for balance even if classes might look like similar classes with different skins. Of course, those people who want very distinct classes will not be very happy with it, but I think a good chunk of players will still accept the game as it still gives them the feeling that each classes are still different, even if they are not entirely so. If my archer's freezing arrow, is somewhat similar in effect and damage with a mage's ice ball, at least I still know that I'm an archer because I use bow and arrows.

    Compare that to a game that is specialized but not balanced. Following the rock/paper/scissor model, it eliminates a lot of important things. Since a class is restricted by its weakness, it pretty much disregards skill and strategy when fighting in PVP. For example, if mage>warrior>archer>mage, then if I'm a mage, I can easily beat any warrior out there, because I'm your inherent weakness. Similarly, I can't beat an archer because I'm inherently weak against them. If this is the case, nobody will do PVP because victory depends on my class, not on skills and strategy.

    I believe that sacrificing balance for specialization will result to a lot of complaints and griefing since people want fair and equal grounds. On the other hand, look at how small the effect of sacrificing specialization for the sake of balance can be. Runescape is very popular, even if a mage pretty much does what an archer can do. When it comes to PVP or PVE, all classes are very equal and have equal chances of winning, if players have similar gears and skill level.
     
  10. kashiegamer

    kashiegamer New Member

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    yeah, something along those lines. Actually, i don't go with "extremes". For me it's either this or that, black or white, no in-betweens. Maybe start the debate with a presentation of what you're defending is and what it is not. When we can't get a feasible separation of the two topics, then weeeeeeeeeee have a problem. :(
     
  11. Webber

    Webber Well-Known Member Ogre Veteran

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    Is this debate stalled by definition?
     
  12. funnygamer

    funnygamer Clubbed

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    I don't know, but quinn can continue with the new definition. I already made new arguments based on the corrected and explained definition.
     
  13. Admin Post
    ogreman

    ogreman Ogre In Charge Staff Member GameOgre Admin

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    Ok, it is Quinn's turn then.
     
  14. quinn

    quinn Starcatcher Ogre Veteran

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    Addressing the other side is important in debates :-/ But, okay. Sorry for my slow responses, as well!

    So you're making the whole gameplay experience of the game based on roleplay, if each class is extremely balanced. You may know you're an archer, but how does that make you different from the thousands of other people on the game?
    Being a different class doesn't mean that you're completely weak to a different class. Also, having different skills doesn't make you inherently weaker, it just means you have to work together or in a different fashion. A healer/bard would have to have a teammate to sing their songs to, which is what they likely enjoy doing in battles since that is the class they chose. Nobody is saying that some classes are weaker, as I said earlier, having distinct classes encourages teamwork and socialization, something present in even the MUDs of the eldest days of MMOs.
    Also, look how many people completely hate Runescape for its boredom and grinding. Everything is the same in Runescape, The classes are equal, they all do the same exact thing. It offers little to no replay value beyond maybe checking it out once, or being a person who likes grinding to the point of insanity. It goes to prove how much balance can make a game boring.
     
  15. funnygamer

    funnygamer Clubbed

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    Saying that no class is weaker means tapping to the "balance" side of things. If we go completely for specialization and no balance, some classes should be stronger than others. Saying that no class is necessarily weaker admits the fact that you are still clinging for some sort of balance. Not balance means not equal.

    It is true that having distinct classes can encourage teamwork, but only if balance is present. The reason why teamwork is present in many MMOs is because there is still some balance present in the different classes. If there's no balance, majority of people will choose the OP class regardless of specialization. What's the point of having a healer if DPS classes can outdamage their healing? I'd prefer an all DPS team to do an all out offensive against a team with different specialization to get the win. And when this happens, people will realize that specialization will not make sense in an unbalanced class system.

    I once encountered someone in Aika saying that there's an abundance of Snipers (DPS) and very few Warriors and Crusaders (tanks). This is because in PVP, Snipers can literally just kite those tanks. The classes are specialized, but they are not that balanced when it comes to PVP (which is the main point of the game). As such, diversity is reduced as most people choose Snipers or Night Magicians.

    Lastly, I don't think the main reason why Runescape is boring is that the classes are balanced. Runescape is boring because of the grind. Many MMOs are grindy, but Runescape took it to the next level and made every single thing a grind. Not only the combat, but also things like crafting, mining, etc. Blaming the boredom to class balance is unfounded.
     
  16. Joker

    Joker Well-Known Member Ogre Veteran

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    When can we vote?
     
  17. Webber

    Webber Well-Known Member Ogre Veteran

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    Either Quinn will continue the debate or Ogre will post the poll.
     
  18. quinn

    quinn Starcatcher Ogre Veteran

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    Balance has..nothing to do with teamwork. People will choose what they want to play. Just because you have specialized classes doesn't mean that some classes will be insanely overpowered. Some may be better for certain purposes, but that's the whole point of specialization. Different people will want to do different things. Any half-decent game designer will not have a class that causes all the others to be purposeless. If you have highly specialized classes, it's important for the designers to make sure they all work together in the context of the game.

    Does this mean the game has to have all similar classes? No. It just means that designers have to work harder to make the game fun.
    Every character does the same thing, the same grind, ect. It just goes to show how similarity is boring.

    ------------
    Think it's about time to start the poll?
     
  19. funnygamer

    funnygamer Clubbed

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    Sure. We can start the poll now. But if we start the poll, does that mean the debate has ended and we can no longer post our points?
     
  20. Admin Post
    ogreman

    ogreman Ogre In Charge Staff Member GameOgre Admin

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    Ok, the poll has been started:).
     

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