Thursday, December 30, 2010

Spells, skills, and class design

One of the things that takes a lot of time is tweaking the spell and skill trees to make the classes more fun to play. The various factors I have to balance are a lot more restrictive than you might expect:

1) The spells and skills within each group, for example "mage fire spells", should have proper dependencies. Greater Fireball should probably be dependent at some level on 'basic fire magics'.

2) The spells and skills within each group, for example "mage fire spells", should be separated by similar level differences, to spread the group out across a level range. If there's too much clumping, there's dead zones where you don't get a new spell for a long time, then suddenly get a bunch followed by another dead zone.

3) Spells and skills for the entire class should be evenly distributed across the entire level range, again to limit dead zones and make sure players have something to learn at every level. Necromancer is a good example of how to do this; every three levels, you get 5-6 spells and skills, from level 1 up to about level 28. Mage is a good example of how not to do this; there's 6 spells between levels 2-4, 12 spells between levels 12-14, and 4 spells between level 26-28. Mage is currently very clumpy and needs more work.

4) Low level spells and skills should be useful and interesting. Having a spell like 'ventriloquate' below level 10 makes no sense at all; newbies will think it's actually useful (it's not) and waste practices on it. It's ok to put useless stuff at higher levels, because high level players are more likely to do research before wasting scarce practices on something.

5) Really high level spells have to actually be useful, even if it's a specialized use.

The above generally result in me spending a lot of time staring at various views of the spell lists for each class. You have to keep an eye on groupings across level ranges, while making sure you haven't done anything dumb to the dependency trees for each group, and making sure you don't move useless things into the low level ranges.

And even though it may not seem that way, the above are actually really important. It seems to give you more to do, and you know that you get important, useful stuff even at low levels. I've certainly noticed a difference with my characters.


Anonymous said...

1. Notice How nobody leaves comments on your blog anymore? It means that anyone who had a long term investment has given up and left. Ask yourself why this has happened.

2. It's nice that you're ostensibly making an effort to talk to people at not at them but if there's no one sitting there in front of you then what's the point?

Dennis Towne said...

1) Pretty much no-one ever left comments on this blog anyway. Your assertion isn't valid.

2) Who said I was writing this to get readers? If no-one ever reads it, it still has a purpose. It's convenient when people do read it, however.

counterpoint said...

I routinely check this blog. Its a good source of information about what Dentin is thinking.

However, if I actually want to talk to Dentin, I communicate with him in-game.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure a good many people do read this blog, they just don't post many comments, at least not on the blog itself.

I check it every few days myself for new postings.

It's much easier to get hold and discuss posts or ideas with Dentin on the game than it is here, which is what I do.

Anywho, I'm not going to sit here and write some longwinded response to a troll. :)

Have a good life!

Anonymous said...

I agree with 2.Anonymous, any time somebody has the gall to critically analyze what's going on with the game they're probably a troll.

On the other hand anyone who routinely posts a vapid "Keep up the good work!" contributes way more. Such banal feedback really goes a long way towards solving problems.

Have a good life!