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Skill v. Class based Combat

Discussion in 'Project Gorgon: Ask the Devs' started by tad100, Oct 24, 2012.

  1. tad100

    tad100 Guest

    Follow-up to an email I sent the devs - to see what the other pre-alpha testers think.

    First, this is only about the combat skills really - the gathering skills are addicting as-is and don't need to be changed.

    Second, this is not about solo combat - if PG were a solo game (such as Skyrim) then the purely skill based system would work just fine - and indeed perhaps better than a class-based system.

    Third, this is not about replacing the two skill system - it's about why I think the devs need to kludge on a class system onto the the skill system.

    Having spent some time in dungeons the last few days as Retest the Psychologist Cow or Surface the Fire Mage I've gotten frustrated by the number of deaths linked directly to the use of a skill system versus a class system.

    Now admittedly part of the problem is the lack of real targeting in the pre-alpha (Memo to Devs - when you put in targeting use Vanguards Offensive Target/Defensive Target system) but the bigger problem is that skill system are inherently more difficult for players to self-organize around. People have to have the right skills slotted and be willing to play the right role (tank/melee dps/magic dps/controller/healer). In PG terms that means having at least one role type skill slotted (e.g. Combat Psychology for the guy taking on the controller role) and having a skill that matches the alloted role (I haven't seen a taunt skill yet - but perhaps as you level sword?). Group combat as-is in PG is fun for a while then less fun as the group repeatadly dies due to the lack of an effective duo or trio: tank, controller/dps, healer

    Introduce a class-like system to PG solves this self-organization problem. Assuming a future LFG tool - it'll be easy to identify the tanks from the controllers from the dps from the healers and for groups to self-organize.

    I think there are a couple of ways to do this in PG without mucking up the system.

    1. Guilds. Introduce various guilds in the game: Warrior Guild, Mage Guild, Healers Guild, etc. Start is as normal, but joining a guild earns a title (Warrior) visible in the LFG as well as the minimal skills needed to operate in that role. For example - a taunt special skill is awarded to members of the Warrior Guild. Upper level (determined via reputation? seperate skill?) members will get an AoE Taunt. Similiarly, members joining the Healing Guild will get a Heal special skill, with upper level members eventually getting a group heal and a complete - long cast time heal. Players can only belong to one guild at a time, switching guilds should be involved and will result in the loss of standing (reputation) in the guild and the loss of any guild associated special abilities. Still allowed to access the wide variety of combat skills - so you could be - for example - a dps cleric - who joined the Healling Guild for the special healing skills, but has Sword Skill and Unarmed slotted.

    2. Kits/Classes. Bigger change, would introduce various trainers into the world (e.g. Warrior trainer, Cleric trainer). Signing up with a trainer would give the player access to specific skills (e.g. Taunt skills for Warrior, Healing Tree for Cleric) and would limit access to other skills. For example someone signing up for the Cleric trainer would be limited to level 10 in Sword skills and Level 0 in Necromancy, but would get early bonuses to healing skills. Signing up for the Mage guild might limit the type of armor you can wear, etc. This is much closer to a true class system without major changes to the design. Really about balancing bonuses with limitations.

    3. Class system. Biggest change, would require revamping the combat skills to be a class system while keeping the existing gathering/hunting/non-combat skills. Unlikely to happen so not going to belabor the point ;-)

    Anyway I like both 1 and 2 and think a more class-based approach to combat skills would improve group combat, improve player feelings of uniqueness and identity and (as a nice side) allow the devs to add more difficult combat encounters.
  2. The number one reason I am attracted to the game is precisely because there are NO classes. I'd personally be opposed to any of those suggestions, and if any were added then it would severely dampen my own interest in the game.
  3. blode

    blode Guest

    heya retest
    i have to say, your post is moo as moo and i dont even know where to moo mooo, absolutely moo or even moo unbelievable

    can you expand on this though?
    it's been my experience that when you sign up as a duck (certain class), you're expected to look and quack like a duck with very little room for.. say.. a moo

    i do agree that grouping is missing quite a bit of cohesion, though i'm certain most of that can be chalked up to the earliness of the not-even alpha. it seems like quite the balancing act to give players freedom to play as they like yet encourage them to fill a specific role. i do know that in asheron's call, each player was his/her own all-in-one combat unit, with a shared pool of skills with which to heal and debuff and damage. gorgon seems to be in a similar state, presently, and while i'm also slightly worried about being merely a "warm body" at this point, i don't think "warm mage body" will add much in the way of group utility in any way that isn't already tired in the MMORPG genre.

    edit: also, i think pre-fabricated classes could run the risk of keeping emergent gameplay possibilities from emerging
    #3 blode, Oct 24, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 24, 2012
  4. dakre

    dakre Guest

    I understand what you mean Tad, but you have to remember 1 thing though. There are a lot of class-based systems out there, because they are easy to make and people look forward to them. I still play Asheron's Call, because i love skill-based systems like Skyrim or Fallout. You screw up, they had a term for it...Gimp. And yes it can be easy to screw up, but a class is like "walk this straight line, if you don't you aren't playing our game" Just like Blode said, if you are a certain class you are expected to be that class and nothing more, if the class is a tank, then there isn't any way to make it a DPS type class instead, people won't accept you because someone else has a DPS class.

    In a skill based game, you have to look outside the box and actually think, which apparently more people would rather give up and let the game decide for them. The only choice they have to make is which play style they want and the class does the rest. Sure it's more convenient and helps people out, but Project: Gorgon isn't meant to be like every other game out there. He knows how it is to play games like Asheron's Call, Skyrim, or any other skill based game out there, if it's created right it can be a lot of fun.

    Also think of it this way, this game is suppose to actually include humor in the actual gameplay, how can you do that if you are stuck trying to be 1 thing that you chose at the beginning. I would rather play through and evolve my character to meet my needs, such as in Skyrim I can easily go from a mage to a bow wielder in no time, just equip the right weapon and start firing. If I went to WoW or any other large MMORPG out on the market, I have to log onto a completely new character before doing what I want to do.

    The problem is it's easier for a large company to play around with classes compared to skills, so in the long run no one has created more than a handfull (or less) of games that are skill-based and aren't single player. It's tough because you can't please everyone, and the other issue you run into is making sure every skill would be worth using. If you have a few skills no one uses, you just wasted that much time making them and giving them some kind of meaning that no one uses.

    So there's no reason to suggest a class-based system for a game that is meant to be skill-based. That's just taking the easy road in what should be a journey down a challenging path.
  5. tad100

    tad100 Guest

    dakre - putting class like restrictions on a skill based ame is not taking the easier path. It's about not putting obstacles in the the way of players playing the game. As is, group combat is chaotic - again, part of that is due to targeting issues - but a bigger part is due to the fact that players don't know their roles.

    As-is, the game will end up being unable to gain subs as the skill system is a barrier to entry. Players who are unusued to the system won't be able to be effective in groups and quit. Well long-term players will use FOTM builds to dungeon run. That's not fun for new players and it why the most succesful MMOS use class systems.

    Furthermore, classes actually allow for more difficult content. Look at the EQ and WoW (Vanilla) endgames with elaborate raiding dungeons and difficult raid bosses which required co-ordinated efforts by the various classes to defeat.

    Finally, I'm not asking for a straight up class system. See my comment #3 above - I think there is a happy medium with class-like abilities and roles added to the current pure-skill system.

    blode. Lol. Moo moo moo.

    Actually this was a comment I made directly to the developers - the game is much more appealing as-is to AC1 playes, much less so to EQ1 players. I have EQ1 friends who won't play the game because of the lack of class system or class-like system. As I note - I'm okay with not going whole-hog (or rather whole-cow) to a class system. I think there is a happy medium between the current combat skill selection freedom and class-like guilds or kits.

    I note that there are already restrictions in the game - for example to use Fire Magic you must use a staff so can not slot sword skills but you don't have to slot staff skills, you could instead slot unarmed or Combat Psych skills. Basically my suggestion is to take those restrictions to their logical conclusions.

    Allow a lot of freedom in combat skill selection but assign roles based on guild choice (which again - in my suggestion is changable via a quest of at least cow unpolymorph difficulty if not worse). This still allows many options but it makes group combat much better. You want to be a Tank that uses Battle Chemistry and Combat Psychology instead of the more usual Swords and Unarmed - you can do it but you still you get your special slotted Taunt skills. Going in to battle all the others in the group know that you're taking the tank role.

    Similiarly for the members of the healilng guild - they get the special healing slotted but have a lot of choices for their combt slots.

    Brash - as I note above there are people who feel exactly the opposite of you. I think there is a happy medium.

    #5 tad100, Oct 24, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 24, 2012
    Proto Foe likes this.
  6. NevirSaedi

    NevirSaedi Guest

    I somewhat agree with Tad. My divergence is this I want people to be able to BUILD their character towards specialized rolls. I wouldn't mind seeing a fighter/mage/cleric guild thing as he mentioned but don't really want it to be as punitive to swap from one to the other as he wants it to be. I wouldn't even mind not having that at all. If they, for example as equipment is added over time made it possible to just gear your toon and swap skills into the roll you want. In the 3rd skill bar (where charm rat and spore bomb go) If I just learned a heal/taunt/etc skill that I could put there while still using whatever pairing of combat skills I liked then gear my self such that I could suck up tons of hits, not OOM every other fight while using fire magic, output much better melee dmg, etc that would be great IMO. Who knows maybe there could be cool new play styles evolve that way. Like a super powerful but very squishy melee fighter that can use psychology to deflect aggression off themselves or stun enemies to stay alive. A fire magic wielding tank, a combat chemist/master fisherman that can use the line to setup tangle traps and then exploit the enemies weakness to seafood for kiting? :p

    I am EXPLICITLY opposed to any permanent "class" choice that takes place near the beginning of the game. (Read Eric's blog post on this if you haven't already. Permanent Character Choices in a Classless Game (or, “Werewolves!”) | Elder Game ) Maybe even a little wary of permanent class choices ever. I played EQ1 for years and loved it, still do to some extent. But after dumping hundreds or thousands of hours into a toon I really began to wish I could try other classes without having such an insane time commitment. So if I could say, gear and choose abilities that suited a fighter. Then play a few hundred hours and wish I could be a healer I can keep using all my gear, still know how to pick a mushroom and catch an eel but just start working on the relevant support skills.

    Also allowing skill based or swappable "kit" based actions/maybe stat modifiers will, I think allow more cohesive grouping instead of having 4 people "solo" a mob simultaneously. While still avoid the EQ1 problem of classes always griping that another class is too powerful. You think that skill X is overpowered or that stat Y of a given kit is too high? Try it out for a bit and see if you like it. If you do good for you, enjoy it until it gets nerfed if it is indeed a problem. If not maybe you realize it had to be that way so some people would choose to play it.
  7. Kreath

    Kreath Adventurer

    Oct 24, 2012
    Likes Received:
    I love the game mechanics already in place, I really really hope that the skill system is never diluted with a class system. As far as dying goes, it's not a curse like it can be in other games. If you go into this game with an open mind and give it a little time to learn, you should find it rewarding.
  8. srand

    srand Project: Gorgon Developer

    Oct 23, 2012
    Likes Received:

    Just letting you know we're reading; I was out of commission yesterday so we're a bit behind right now.
  9. tad100

    tad100 Guest

    Thanks. As noted - I'm happy with everything you guys have done so far except the group combat.

    First thing is targeting needs to be implemented so people stop killing pets and you can heal other players. I suggest Vanguard Offensive/Defensive targeting because it's more fun. But any kind of targeting is better than what you have now.

    Second thing, are the suggestions above - a way to setup group roles.
  10. Citan

    Citan Project: Gorgon Developer

    Oct 23, 2012
    Likes Received:
    We haven't had time to fiddle with group combat during the pre-alpha yet, but I agree it's not quite working as intended. There are a few different problems, though, and they really need to get cleared up before we can see how things are working. The first trip into the newbie dungeon is actually supposed to be a solo incursion, but it's a bit too difficult -- yet if you do it as a duo, it's too easy, and there aren't enough different monster roles to make a group encounter against the entrance spiders very interesting.

    I don't actually want us to have a single tank role -- it's true that having a pure tank (with perfect aggro control of any number of enemies) means you can tackle much more dangerous monsters, but that's actually hiding reality: they *aren't* more dangerous monsters, because you have a tank! Instead we're trying to get some new roles working, splitting dps into a few categories and crowd control into a few categories. Our tanky skillsets can let you tackle multiple enemies, but not the full number that you'll likely encounter at once.

    Hopefully things will fall into place during the alpha, and de facto roles will become more clear and easy to manage. (And I like the idea of some extra role-specific buff systems in that case.) Worst case, there ends up being five or six different roles, and certain dungeons only really need a few specific ones... in that case, it's not ideal, but hopefully players can switch up their skill bars a bit to make a group work. (Though cows -- and other animal forms, including werewolves during the full moon -- do lack some versatility.)

    Bottom line is, there's a lot still wrong with group combat. :) At this point I don't think having dedicated classes would make things work better, because combat is just too chaotic and hard to read. A lot of the chaos is also because everybody's a newbie... the role sets aren't even unlocked in most cases. For instance, most people who are using Psychology don't even have any heals unlocked.

    Can you describe Vanguard offensive/defensive targeting? I didn't play that one, but sounds interesting!
    #10 Citan, Oct 26, 2012
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2012
  11. tad100

    tad100 Guest

    I don't know about too easy - there were four of us at one point and we still never killed the final boss. But the small guys were too easy - that's easily solvable via EQ mechanics. In EQ Mobs run away to regen when they get below 10% health and will raise aggro/hate against the players against any mobs they run past. So if you don't kill that spider fast enough it runs back and aggros a bunch of spiders or other mobs that then come attacking. Does require adding snare/entangle mechanics. But doesn't require much change to the spiders. Individually they're weak but if you fail to kill them quickly they'll come back as a swarm.

    Vanguard had both an Offensive and Defensive target (with yourself or your group as the default defensive target). Generally offensive spells/attacks used the OT and defensive (i.e. healing/buffs) used the DT.

    There were two nice things about OT/DT
    One and the most important for Project Gorgon is that it didn't require switching targets mid-combat for healling. So it made players in a healing role much happier because they could heal effectively while still attacking the mob. This works fine with the existing PG skill system because players with First Aid or other healing abilities can use the DT to target whomever is taking the most aggro with their healing abilities, while still using the OT to target mobs. With respect to Pet classes, if there are Pet healing abilities the same thing applies. The Pet owner targets his Pet with his Defensive Target and mobs with OT so he can continue fighting while still able to monitor and heal his Pet.

    The other (specific to VG) was the introduction of rescues (snap aggro abilities) - where a player in the tank role could lock their defensive target on a healer or high-dps/low-hp character like a mage and then use a snap aggro ability to pull off mobs that were attacking their Defensive Target. I say tank role because VG monks and other light fighters also had snap aggro rescue abilities. As a monk I was a big fan of the snap aggro rescues - it allowed the group to better handle large battles with multiple mobs pounding on the tanks or characters. I'd target the tank or off-tank with my DT if we were going into a big fight, and pull off mobs as needed and act as an off-off-tank, until the Paladin or DK would snap aggro my mob and I could return to a dps role.

    The other interesting target option is 'Target of Target' - so you can track whom the Mob is aggroing on.

    Edit: With respect to cows and wolves - I don't know if it was intended but I got Combat Psychology from Harry the Wolf so even though my dps was terrible, I felt as a cow I had a role in the dungeons as a controller.

    Edit2: had a runthrough tonight with Blode and TestDummy. Went much better because we basically assumed roles - Blode as tank, TestD as DPS (FireMage) and I controlled + some minor healing. It was lot more fun and we 'killed' he final boss (he bugged so didn't actulaly die). We had the normal targeting issues with the pre-alpha but other than that it was great. So here's hoping you can put in some more class-like structure for the combat skills (non-combat skills still working great)
    #11 tad100, Oct 26, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 27, 2012