Wednesday, January 14, 2009

An MMO Subject: What class are you?

There has been a large number of articles lately that are a bit TOO serious for my taste. I have no one to blame for this situation but myself as I wanted to give my personal opinion on a lot of hot subjects.(Such as RMT, how the financial situation will affect MMOs, the sudden migration of moose, and other fine subjects.) However today I wanted a more light, casual, and hopefully interesting topic. I have an urge to talk about classes. While for some reason I think it's hilarious to use the word urge in this context(I'm weird.), I really want to get into the subject of classes or archetypes if your game of choice doesn't use a class system.

For the most part, many MMOs follow a pretty standard set of classes. You have the Tank, the DPS melee, the DPS ranged, and the Healer. Of course sprinkled within these lonely archetypes there are abilities and/or spells that are other categories onto themselves such as support, crowd control, buffs, debuffs, and other unique features. Some games have entire classes focused on the "Support" niche in a group such as EverQuest, while others simply pass a few of these to the standard 4 archetypes such as World of Warcraft. So what does all this information make me?


I'm at constant odds with the class system mechanic used in MMOs. On one hand it's a salute to the games of yore such as Dungeons & Dragons. On the other hand it is a very structured and limiting system that has me switching classes constantly because I get so bored remaining in one fixed niche in the game. When you pick a class in most MMOs you spend your entire time from level one onward to what ever level cap exists doing practically the same thing, using the same abilities. While there are different uses for abilities depending on if you're soloing, grouping, or raiding generally speaking you're pressing the same buttons, using the same ol sequence of moves that you've "TheoryCrafted".

"But Danshir! Just make another character! Make an alt!" You say to me.


You're telling me to cure tedium I should go back and start at level 1 and repeat the entire process with an entirely different niche? Why? That's a snake eating it's own tail. The feeling of deju vu will come over me in a tidal wave and I'll realize I'm back at square one. Still confined in a overly structured class system that refuses to let me play EXACTLY what I want to play. As much as I love Dungeons & Dragons I really think the class system that we have used for so long has got to go. (While I love D&D, I have yet to learn the new 4.0 rules...Down with the new! Bring back ye ol 2.0 rules! Huzzah!)

So....what is an MMO player to do?

There are a vaccines for this disease, a treatment that have been used occasionally. The "point" system. To put it very basically, the point system lets you put skill points or what have you into different abilities. This can range from weapons to healing to fire spells or whatever. You make a custom class that is perfectly tailored to your playstyle. Want a Fire slinging priest? You got it. The freedom to powerfully control the "destiny" of how your "class" proceeds makes me giddy like a school girl. Sadly the only MMO I've played that used this system was Asheron's Call.

A great example of how versatile the system is and lackluster a class system is in comparison comes to mind when I think about Dark Messiah of Might and Magic. I personally enjoyed this game for my PC, however I detested the Xbox360 version. Even though it ran a lot smoother on my console, there was one fatal flaw between the two. The PC version let you get skill points and distribute them between three skill trees. The first was more of a Fighter type, the second a Mage, and last a Rogue or stealth character. In the console one you were stuck with picking one of these three and that was it.

That was your character.

You couldn't make a strange hybrid between the two that fit your style of play.(Mine was Stealth/Fighter, I felt very much like Artemis Entreri from R.A. Salvatore's novels.) You were instead a very boring cliche class that you've more than likely played so many times before. Yet almost every single MMO follows suit. A review of Silent Hill: Homecoming by Zero Punctuation mentions how Americans HAVE to have a love story somewhere in their media. I know that the book "Ender's Game" has been in the works so long to become a film because every director wants to force a love interest in the story and the author of the book refuses for the main character to have one.(If you haven't read the book, it would make NO sense for him to have me.) Why add useless cliches such as a love story when you don't need it or it doesn't need to be there in the first place?

So why continue cliches for the sake of "That's how it's done?" Why should we use a class system just because "That's how it's done?" It makes no sense. So WHY do it?

*dramatic pause*

Maybe I'm bitter. Maybe I'm spoiled. Maybe I'm just tired of playing the same exact game with abilities that are under different names and different graphics. Offer me something unique or just offer me the chance to MAKE something unique for myself. Please?

So what class am I? I'm Danshir the Holy demon summoner that throws rabid pigs filled with explosives and knives. What class are you?


  1. Hmm... using your taxonomy, I'd have to be an etherial planewalking Technomancer with a knack for creating variations of fusion powered micro black hole generators.

    Well, that and booby traps built with gum wrappers and kitchen cleaners.

  2. Steampunk MacGyver, to be specific.

  3. I would say I am 4 points in Magic, 3 in STR, 10 in INT, 8 in WIS..
    And the girls love my 11 button for Dexterity!

  4. I'm a nimble-fingered woman ranger with a penchant for animal friends, a bit of a knack with the healing arts, and a perpetual desire to follow the trail of shinies.

    Ah, the shinies. I do so love them...

  5. I do believe no matter what class we play we do love the shinies in some way, shape, or form.

  6. Though, to be more specific, I don't mean shinies as in loot. Just ... stuff in general. Crafting materials, jewels, what-have-you. I spent about 90% of my time in Oblivion sneaking around people's homes and shops, lockpicking every chest I could find and stealing anything I could carry (gold plates, gems, magic swords...).

    I love magic too, of course, but if I just know some healing then I'm happy -- I don't need fireballs of doom. :)

  7. Gah, I meant to say *I don't mean shinies as in gear/equipment.

  8. Don't worry, I did the EXACT same thing in Oblivion AND Morrowind. Because who knows what might be in that beggar's cabinet..


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