Rants tag

Rants, ruminations, and rambling remarks from my mad, muddled, meandering mind.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Wildstar: Class or Race?

This post comes to you, as Harbinger Zero is fond saying, "because I just can't contain myself."

My aversion to race/class restrictions goes all the way back to the late 70s, when I was little, and my big brother—who had all the AD&D books—said that my Dwarf, Yoda, couldn't be a magic-using thief, and I had to change him to a halfing.

Apparently, there will be Race/Class limitations in Wildstar. That is, not every playable race in the game will be able be every class. I questioned the wisdom of this developer choice on Syp's Wildstar race poll and Geldarion, of The Fanatical Swordsman, responded thus:
"Most games have race/class limitations. All good lore-based games do. It doesn’t make sense for robots to use magic, now does it?"
I'll go on full Devil's Advocate and say, "Why not?" It doesn't exactly make sense for humans to use magic either, or for gnomes and orcs to exist at all. The only reason robots don't use magic is because the author said so. Which is acceptable, but completely arbitrary. And if the robot is either sentient (which a player character would be) or powered by magic—or both—why shouldn't the robot be able to wield such arcane energies?

I'm as much about Lore as the next guy. Heck, I care about it more than most. But when I have to choose between the race I want to be and the class I want to be, then the spell is broken; I'm only playing half a game. This boils in many ways down to the same argument about whether to have two factions locked in a cold (or hot) war. It's an arbitrary separation of players. Do I choose the race I want to be, or do I compromise that choice so I can play with my friends? To tell you the truth, most of time, I've seen in-universe "politics" strain credulity in the name of a game mechanic that many or most players couldn't care less about.

Geldarian's response contains the "No True Scotsman" fallacy, setting himself up as the arbiter of what constitutes a "good lore-based game." I happen to think there are several games that do not have race/class restrictions (or factions, in some cases), but still have great Lore, which I arbitrarily define as having a sense of history or depth, even if the IP is new.

That's not say that I think Wildstar is going to automatically suck if I can't make a magic wielding robot (I'm leaning bunny-eared spellslinger, myself). But I think it will be diminished.

What do you think? Should games have limits on what race can be which class?


  1. Surprise...surprise I disagree. WoW had class restrictions when it came out...I think that did pretty good.

    1. Hence my comment on Syp's post about 2003 wanting their game design back. And what happened to those class restrictions? Oh yeah, they found plausible Lore reasons to loosen them and did so. Or maybe it was the other way around.

    2. Thank goodness. If you hadn't written this post, I would have had to.

      You see, I've been anti-Wildstar from the first leaked information. And for about three beats there, they had me, when I looked at the information and went: "Space-zombie psionic!? That's my ball of wax!" But you can't have space-zombie psionics.


      Because you just can't, that's why. If you can have space-zombie psionics, then you could have anything, and it will be anarchy!


  2. I strongly approve of race/class restrictions. The anyone can do anything approach tends much to much towards the bland for me. I also like racial advantages and disadvantages that really mean something and I like having to trade off things I desire against things that I'd rather avoid. None of which is making me any more enthusiastic about WildStar.

  3. I, on the other hand, am totally with you on this. WoW did have class/race restrictions and it did do well, but it also had the wall of text style quest acquisition, tabbed targeting, and static combat. These things are old hat in a rapidly evolving market place. These are things players, by and large, are done with because newer IPs have done away with them successfully. The race/class restriction won't necessarily mean failure for Wildstar, of course, but why do it when they're trying to innovate in so many they areas. It's silly.

  4. When everyone can be everything (with no repercussions) it also diminishes the game. For example in Guildwars 2 you can have a charr (large cat like creature) warrior and an asura (tiny big brained goblin) warrior. The only thing different between them if similarly geared and levelled is a few "racial" skills and their skins. Damage and armor scores would be identical.

    No bonuses for the mighty cat nor negatives for the tiny goblin. Indeed, in that game you're actually better off being the little goblin since jumping puzzles are harder as the large cats.

    Now if a magic wielding robot suffered negative conditions because it's something he's not really meant to supposedly do (or a shark building a dog house) then that's fine with me. I agree that the option of being what you want should be available - but you should be handicapped in some way because of it. Maybe you rust more often. I dunno. :P

    1. Removing race/class restrictions *diminishes* the game?


  5. My 1st MMO was SWG. No race, class, or faction restrictions (so long as you weren't pvp flagged for your faction, anyway).

    Next was EQ2. Again... no race, class, or faction restrictions. Sure you could be a different faction than your friends, but that didn't mean anything -- you could chat, group, guild up etc. Faction was irrelevant to all of that.

    Then I started playing other games that did have faction restrictions. And I hated them. And most games have loosened or removed such restrictions over time, since they're really just annoying fragmentations of the player base.

    I can see race/class restrictions in some rare cases, but faction? Nope. Can't see the point to that.

  6. Personally I think it is alright if a game wants to encourage certain race/class combinations through small benefits, but I am not as fond of locking them. If they are going to be introduced, I tend to expect some pretty strong lore-reasoning. WoW began moving away from them because players wanted more combinations, the explanations were wasting away, and for some mechanical/balance reasons.

    On the other hand, i can see the argument that it can diminish certain things. If Gnome Shaman are supposed to be rare, then letting players be them will often ensure that there will be many....so I see it as a balance.

    1. Well, player "adventurers" are supposedly rare superheroes of their races, somehow able to be part of all world-changing events and be more powerful than most living beings. A level-capped character is literally order*s* of magnitude more powerful than a new character. "Reality" is fundamentally broken in these MMO things, so I don't see any compelling reason to lean on that as justification for race/class locking.

      So I agree, race/class restrictions might lend flavor to the most basic of player choices, but I think that locking combinations out is Bad Design. Maybe introduce some minor mechanical tweaks to give the oddball combos flavor, but I think that locking some combos has a bigger downside than upside.

  7. Hey thanks for the reference! Wait a minute, "fallacy"?!? Yes, you are right, I did fall into that...never mind... :P

    But truly, if nothing else, it makes it so not everyone rolls Asura for PvP characters because they are tiny. Because the Chua can't be everything, there will be somewhat forced variety. And because (unlike GW2) there won't be racial skills, there isn't a danger of certain classes becoming even more OP because they have a good racial skill. I personally hate racial skills, but that is another problem entirely.

    I'd say that for lore reasons, it doesn't make sense to have every class available to every race. For example, the ferocious and savage Draken would probably never be the "engineer" class that most people suspect is coming. Why? Because Draken don't need gadgets and would probably despise the use of them.

    Sometimes, you have to look at something in context and the world that is built for Wildstar just doesn't include all combinations. And that's okay for me, though others might (and obviously do) disagree.

    Anyway, good discussion! Happy to continue if you have follow up arguments :)


    1. Thanks for being a good sport. We can disagree on this point and still think that Wildstar will be fun regardless.

    2. Agreed! It isn't like you are that guy that tried to get PvP removed from SWTOR. He and I had more than a little disagreement LOL! You and I, we just see the issue differently.

  8. It is a generally a mistake to lock down race/class combos as it only limits a player's imagination when it comes to character + story creation. Creating a personal backstory (even if you don't actually sit down and RP) to explain your obscure combination could be the most creative thing you do in that session of play.

    The paragons of every class will be defined by the story, this won't change. Player characters on the other hand will never be part of the canon in an MMORPG. As much as we want to be part of that story, we will always be generic heroes to the faction's cause as far as official lore is concerned.

    On the other hand if a player could be elected into power over a faction and that shift in the story is then broadcast to other players, there would be a problem. Example: A forsaken 'paladin' player becoming leader of the Argent Crusade would make the storyline a bit silly.

    In WoW's case they killed most racial class questing after Cataclysm launched. These were one of the only things making combo locking a legitimate requirement as other races had no class quests in place for their race.

    Devs should want the players to have unlimited creativity because it all ends in greater enjoyment of the game. If you like a class but don't like the models of the available races. Does forcing one of those combination make the gaming experience enjoyable? or do you end up abandoning the class or character altogether?

  9. Think of it this way: Ofttimes on Star Trek (and other speculative fiction),the crew visited a "planet of hats." Klingons are Warriors; Vulcans are Scientists; Ferengi are Swindlers. There are two problems with this. The first and most practical is that you can't build a functioning society if everyone is the same (non-agrarian) profession. There HAVE to be Klingon Scientists, and Ferengi Doctors, and Vulcan Traders.

    The second is spelled out by Opheron, above. Let face it, a huge part of your character is the class. Almost every way you interact with the game world will be affected by it. If you say Asura can't be Warriors because they're too small and they're all only interested in tinkering, you've diminished the ability of the player to make unique story for themselves. It's fine to say that Gnome shamans are rare in the Lore. That gives the player an opportunity to figure out *why* their character is a special snowflake.

    From what I've seen GW2 PvP is not full of Asura running around because they can't be hit. I don't see size as an issue in game with with Tab targeting.

    RE: Racial Abilities. I've played several games where some racials are objectively better than others. Others played better for certain classes, but gave no benefit to others. None were game breaking as far as I was concerned. What could be game-breaking is if the devs tuned an encounter so tightly that players would have to have a certain race/class combo to beat it. Oh wait, that's happened.

  10. I detest the concept of factions at all honestly... but more importantly I dislike faction walls. Nowhere in reality are ideological lines drawn entirely by race. There are always individuals that cross over that line freely. One game that did an amazing job of this was Everquest 2. The races were initially locked to Good or Evil... but through a series of quests.. you could betray your faction and join the opposite one.

    My mantra is that anything that gets in the way of you playing with your friends is a horrible thing. Not being able to play the race you want to play, because your friends chose to play a different faction... is also a horrible thing. I feel like the viability of playing a "sell sword" or a "traitor" to your default faction is a completely viable way of dealing with this and still maintaining that every so artificial red vs blue mentality.

    1. I have a new friend in TSW (@KatzuTSW on Twitter) that thinks the game should have no fixed player factions and instead players build reputations with the big three (and others). That would have been interesting for me, since I have one character unhappy with the fact that she got recruited by the "wrong faction."

    2. Yeah, I even defected with my Imperial Agent in SWTOR. I love the ability to change factions a la City of Heroes. I do think that factions as a game mechanic is useful because it auto-flags you to other players, thus opening up the opportunity for Open World PvP, but you said on Biobreak that you don't prefer that anyway so...

      I think factions that you can leave or join at will with some pseudo-permanence would be a good compromise.

    3. I should note that the defection in SWTOR was only in story, because you still have to do PvP with the Imps. Too bad, so much potential there.

    4. They could add some major optional character quests/storylines in future content where you assist the opposing factions from within your current one.

      In SWTOR if they were to add housing for your character (Starbases for example). I think that'd be the easiest way to be a traitor from within your faction.

      e.g. An imperial traitor's base would be filled with republic allies and quest lines furthering your anti-imperial ambitions. A loyalist would further the normal imperial line. This in my opinion is the best way they can keep factional lines but allow you to be loyal or traitorous.

    5. My problem with OW PvP is due to the spirit of bullying it seems to engender, even in people that should know better. Any design that creates equivalency (like GW2 bringing everyone to level 80) so that that it becomes a matter of "skill" rather than "iLevel" or even character level.

    6. That should say "I prefer any design . . ."