It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!
As many of you involved in the combat scene know, there is currently an agenda being pushed forward to de-homogenise the classes. The problem proposed is that since the overhaul, classes have become more homogeneous and they don’t really have class identities anymore. I posit that not only is this whole plan simply too ambitious to successfully implement, it isn’t even necessarily a problem that needs to be fixed in the first place. Before I go on, I will make it very clear that this piece will be critical. Do not read it if you are easily offended.
Let me start with the reasons why I don’t think there is even a problem in the first place. The main argument for these changes is that classes are too homogeneous. This works off the assumption that the degree of homogeneousness in Lusternia is a problem. Often people bring up how warriors are “supposed” to be tanks, or mages are “supposed” to be damage dealers. These are nothing more than assumptions brought over from gaming culture in general. In most genres with classes, including the more popular ones such as MOBAs, like League of Legends, or MMORPGs, like World of Warcraft. Classes, or characters, in these genres have distinctive roles and this works to their advantage. It is perhaps easy to believe that since these design patterns for other genres, it would make sense for MUDs, or even just Lusternia specifically, to also work with these design patterns. But let us examine some of the differences between these the competitive level of these types of games against that of Lusternia. I will be using the generic term ‘class’ to include the various terms games use such as heroes and champions to keep things simple.
Number of participants: In all games that have a competitive scene that is even somewhat balanced, teams consist of a fixed number of players on each side. 3v3, 5v5, 10v10, 20v20. It doesn’t matter how many, but the simple fact is that one side can’t just turn up with five extra players and expect them to be able to participate as well. Lusternia is not like this at all. If a domoth happens then both sides will bring whoever they can. It doesn’t matter if it’s already 10v5. If people wanted to come, they could make it 15v5. Competitive 3v3 wargames come twice a year. Lusternia’s biggest competitive event of the year, final ascension, still falls under the ‘bring whoever you want’ category.
Accessibility of classes: In most of these other games, every player of every team has the exact same choice of classes or characters going into each game. It’s ok to have certain classes in Dota being stronger than others because both team A and team B can either ban or pick them, which might leave other really strong classes open to the other team. In Lusternia, the classes that you even have available to you is pretty much determined by which organisation your character is in. Furthermore, there is a significant monetary cost to learning extra classes. Many people will just show up as their class simply because they have no other option.
Class strengths and weaknesses: In most competitive games with classes, each will have their strengths and their weaknesses. A tank will often be nothing more than a damage sponge, doing very little damage of their own. A dedicated damage dealer will often be very easy to kill if caught out and are often known as glass cannons. This is fine, because as a whole, the teams will probably still be balanced . A team might have a tank, a disabler, a healer, and two damage dealers. What weaknesses each class has will be made up for by the strengths of another. Because of the accessibility issue, often you won’t be able to fill the gaps in your team composition. This has already been a big problem in the past. The difference between having a melder and not having a melder when the other side has one is often too difficult to overcome. Think about all of the nerf that melds have received in the past two years - is the game better or worse because we are now less reliant on having one particular class?
1v1/Groups: All of the big competitive games are balanced for either 1v1 (e.g. Starcraft) or multiple v multiple (e.g. League of Legends). People who play 2v2 Starcraft, or 3v3 League of Legends, have to go in knowing that the experience was not tailored for them and that there are likely really overpowered strategies that probably won’t be addressed as it works perfectly in the main scene. One of the biggest problems with Lusternia’s balance is that it tries to cater to both. My views on 1v1 in this game are well known, but the truth is that every envoy report is argued from both angles.
And now we get to one of the biggest reasons why I am against this whole ‘de-homogenisation’ overhaul. Simply put, what people want isn’t de-homogenisation. What people are actually trying to push under the guise of de-homogenisation is for the game to be more imbalanced. They want the haves to be even better than the don’t-haves. After all, if classes became more and more distinct, then those who can afford to switch more often will be able to have an advantage over those who don’t. What if we specialise so much that we have a situation where warriors become too OP? Great for those who can afford to switch to warrior. Sucks to be those who can only afford to be a bard who find themselves really weak now.
Furthermore, it’s not that they want warriors to become tanks. It’s that they want warriors to become tankier, while still being able to kill people themselves. In Lusternia, there is a baseline expectation that most people have which is that their class should be able to viably kill people. In League of Legends, nobody expects a tank (who is actually building and playing to be a tank) to be able to viably kill people. They had to give up their killing power to get that tankiness. People don’t want that in Lusternia.
The vitals report that was concocted had a problem statement that said something about everyone having 11k vitals. You often can’t get 11k vitals in anything other than the one your class gives a bonus to unless you actually have the artifact rune, and even then it requires a lot more investment to reach and maintain the maximum levels. What the whole vitals report would have actually done is create an even larger gap between the haves and don’t-haves.
The other big reason why I am against all of this is that I don’t even think the game is too homogeneous to begin with. One of the biggest complaints I often have about the north’s pk scene is that we are always lacking in at least one vital class. Classes already fill different niches and there is no need to forcibly make it even more crucial to have at least one of every class in every fight.
By the way, was it really the overhaul that made the classes too same-y? I don’t think so. What made the classes too same-y is the giant elephant in the room that the admins will not address because it is above most of their paygrades. It is artifacts. Artifacts are the biggest contributing factor to why classes may feel same-y. People complain every time a class skill is turned into an artifact. The vitals ‘issue’ came about because runes were upgraded from 3/13 to 5/13 at the highest level, making it all too easy to reach 13/13 for vitals that your class doesn’t give a bonus to. Nothing will change because artifacts will continue to exist and come out.
Finally, let’s be honest. Despite what we may all like to think, none of the admins or players are good enough at game design to be able to see this game through yet another overhaul. The previous overhaul isn’t even complete, because many issues have just been swept under the rug. Some skillsets are plain useless (hello, Telepathy) and we haven’t even got all six monk classes out yet, with what is essentially a mandate for there to be yet another archetype being released in the not too distant future. How about we focus on actually finishing and making the most of what we have now instead of trying to go back to the drawing board once again.