WP: How would you approach class design?

Battle for Azeroth Items and Classes
You just got hired and told you would handle class design completely. You are the only person that makes changes to PvE class design. The buck stops with you.

So with all the classes and the specs in each type of gameplay scenario, what do you do? How do you approach it and what is your philosophy? How do you go about adding new classes?

Also remember its evolutionary. You start at a basepoint philosophy, a road map for new classes and incoming data that may require tweaks. How often do you change classes? Once a week? Two weeks?

Also you have split personality disorder, and your other personality does PvP.
- Bring back the talent trees
because, who are they kidding whether it is artifacts or azerite traits, it is just like the old talent trees but not even as fun to play around with

- Stopping this specialization mess
you want to play half Affliction, Half Demonology? Do as you please.

- Find among all the expansions what was the favorite iteration of the class + spec (Hunters in Vanilla, TBC, Wrath, MOP ....?) and use it as a basis for the rotation, play style
It might sound crazy but I would just bring classes back. Pre-packaged specializations have gotten stale and I would like to see better customization options in terms of gameplay and class design.

And no Azerite or artifact-like designs. Passives on armor can be interesting but more like they have been in the past: on pieces of armor like PVP gloves and set bonuses.

Talent trees would be back but a little more modern than the old ones, and with tons of choices for passives and active abilities. Customization would be alive. I’d like to capitalize on playstyles and strengths/weaknesses like a true RPG.

Would it be easy balancing something like this? Hard to tell. But if I had some of the best minds in the industry at my disposal I bet I could make it work.
Find the three best players and/or theorycrafters of every class. Assign them those classes. Watch them discuss, scream, and yell at each other, then watch them argue with other class devs over who gets what. Find popcorn when the demo warlock class dev gets in the same room with the DH devs. Keep the shadow priest dev away from the affliction warlock dev to avoid overlap. Hope to God I can herd their egos long enough to come up with a presentable project.

I’ll be there to put the brakes on the really outrageous ideas.
I also think talent tree's would be an amazing return. Secondly, I also think combining specialization in some cases. Just make it a DPS spec (all combined), a Tank spec, or a healing spec. Give classes 2/3 types. For example, Mages will get a healing spec, rogues can get a tank spec and so on.

Talent tree's are where the balance will be achieved.
11/12/2018 08:43 AMPosted by Gnovia
I also think talent tree's would be an amazing return. Secondly, I also think combining specialization in some cases. Just make it a DPS spec (all combined), a Tank spec, or a healing spec. Give classes 2/3 types. For example, Mages will get a healing spec, rogues can get a tank spec and so on.

Talent tree's are where the balance will be achieved.
This sounds a whole lot like Rift. Rift talent trees were amazing until they increased the level cap and made it absolutely necessary to go to the end of a talent tree (the same mistake WoW made in WotLK only worse).

To elaborate on WotLK; if the final tier talent (51) was on par with some other tree's 21 talent, it would have been much better. Same with 31 vs 41. This would have allowed for tons of interesting choices. In general that was not the case. Only one of my WotLK classes had an interesting "hybrid" spec and that was warlock, with my SL/SL/SL build.

Really though, the current talent trees can perform the same function, and largely did in MoP/WoD. Cata was a step away from "classes" to "specs". I felt MoP was a really nice balance between the two (if it is best to go there at all). Its just that every expansion has been one more step away from it, and it has gone WAY too far.

"Bring the player not the class" has moved to "bring one of these 6 specs".
I think that’s the consequence of continuously raising the level cap, though: talent trees are awesome until they’re so long as to be unwieldy.

If that last talent is going to be the best, one of three things is going to happen: either those ultimate (as in “final,” not necessarily the best) abilities get stronger to the point of ridiculousness with ever expansion, the goal posts keep getting moved around so that an ability that was once available at level 80 is now only available at 90, then 100, then 110, then 120, or some theorycrafter finds a way to may a hybrid spec more efficient, rendering that ultimate ability absolutely useless.

Or you end up with something akin to artifact weapons: instead of new abilities, you just put an extra point in already-existing ones, then drop the excess into Concordance. So say a 5/5 talent in WOTLK becomes a 6/6 talent in Cata, then 7/7 in MOP, and so on.

Just a thought.
First I'd fire Ion and Lore.

Remove PvP from WoW. This alone would eliminate half the balance issue in the game.

Eliminate the spec aura's that increase/decrease damage by a given percentage. Then outline what goals are for that spec and tune their kit to meet those goals. Ensure every time that spec is touched that it stays within the confines of the stated goals.

Would publish those goals per spec, so that players actually have an idea wtf my developers intend the spec to be.

Most of the current design issues with specs are the direct result of that asinine spec aura. Instead of a targeted nerf/buff to a given ability, they now just nerf/buff the aura by a couple of percent and call it a day.

Drastically improve communication with player base on every spec.
I would focus on each spec fun aspect without forcing each into a heavy-handed niche. Let there be some overlap, it's fine.

I would also strife to make classes feel complete without relying on other game systems. And if it happens so that external systems improve a class, then I would bake it in the class itself. I would use external systems to test out stuff.
There is a major disconnect between the structure of encounters vs class design that I would see them correct.

Let's use mobility as the example: All classes should have strong mobility because of raid encounters being high movement fights and because of PvP. Mobility is not (or should not be) a class-defining mechanic.

If you want to keep the mobility as is, then reduce the number of high mobility mechanics in all aspects of the game. Trade off survivability if you must.
11/12/2018 12:12 PMPosted by Alockxander
There is a major disconnect between the structure of encounters vs class design that I would see them correct.

Let's use mobility as the example: All classes should have strong mobility because of raid encounters being high movement fights and because of PvP. Mobility is not (or should not be) a class-defining mechanic.

If you want to keep the mobility as is, then reduce the number of high mobility mechanics in all aspects of the game. Trade off survivability if you must.


Mobility is a tough one as there are tons of varied thoughts about it, but I'm of the opinion that mobility should be a function of uptime which relates to how much damage per second a given spec should do. But this has to be relatively similar throughout all content. If a specific melee has 75% uptime due to lack of mobility they should do the same dps as a range spec that has 75% uptime because of lack of mobile throughput due to forced movement. Any class/spec who has higher uptime should have less dps. Any class that has lower uptime should have more dps. End result is they should be in the same ballpark with specific encounters favoring the specs that have damage delivery, movement, etc. that suits the situation. But that means there has to be situations where burst is not better in every situation than sustained (which is absolutely not the way it is right now, talking about Bladestorm, Eyebeam, etc).

Utility balance is also severely lacking in this game. Control, defensives, self sustain, group utility, etc. Some specs have almost none. Others have so much utility it's laughable in comparison to everyone else (I'm looking at rogues here). That needs to be addressed also.
Talent trees.

More abilities for every class. Not all combat based, just some cool !@#$ like they used to have. Warlocks summoning an alter of doom that kills a rando player for a doomgaurd to enslave. Deathknights raising dead players as ghouls. Hunters pets needing interaction outside of combat. A system to make em feel more alive, along the lines of how they were in vanilla. (Loyalty, feeding, etc.) Rogues who can pick pockets and locks and some kind of progression throughout it to get better.

Stuff like that for every class.
Lots and lots of player polls, many more class design watercoolers and Q&A's to fully grasp what players really want. Changes come after.
11/12/2018 11:33 AMPosted by Silvermage
First I'd fire Ion and Lore.

Remove PvP from WoW. This alone would eliminate half the balance issue in the game.

[/quote]

So you wanna take the War out of Warcraft. Got it. I don’t need to read any further.
It's going to take some work to rectify spec issues that have snowballed over the past few expansions. Communicate issues with each spec with the player community. Find out what is working, and what is not, and to what degree.

I'll not go into specifics, but classes/specs need to work baseline without the need for talents and external sources (Artifacts, Tier and Azerite). On introducing talents (be it older trees, or tier), should absolutely augment the base kit instead of a reliance. Avoiding talents that feed into each other, certain build playstyles can be considered to a point where they are tuned competitively to other options.

Communicate with encounter design in an effort to narrow the gap between spec strengths and weaknesses. Investigate these aspects of each class/spec/build and communicate intentions to the playerbase. If a ST strength is what is holding a spec back from performing in another area, be it AoE, movement or utility, then it should absolutely perform as such with increased ST output. If in the case we want to balance all ST output to a % within each other (as I believe is the intention), that ST strength should be omitted, and weaknesses eased back.
11/12/2018 07:00 PMPosted by Glastian
11/12/2018 11:33 AMPosted by Silvermage
First I'd fire Ion and Lore.

Remove PvP from WoW. This alone would eliminate half the balance issue in the game.


So you wanna take the War out of Warcraft. Got it. I don’t need to read any further.


As long as there's some kind of combat, PvE or PvP, then there's always 'war' in these games. The other poster is hitting on a good issue though: when PvP started to take more of a foothold in the game, that's when classes started to become really watered down/more generic. "Everyone needs Hamstring" basically. It's obviously why they started having to make seperate talents as well, because one aspect of the game could completely ruin the other.

In any case, the thing the current dev team doesn't have a good handle on is basic gameplay rhythm. At its simplest, that just means how a rotation feels and what skills/buildups get the 'rush' going. That's really what most people miss from MoP - even if a spec wasn't great numbers-wise, it was still just enjoyable to use.

Now, though, they're only concerned with numbers. They've got the entire design process backwards. I remember reading a quote from Ion (or some dev) that even admitted as much: they try to hit numbers first, and then worry about whether something is enjoyable or feels good if they have time.

It's like building an amusement park ride but only focusing on the logistics of it and making sure its under budget. Then when you end up with a roller coaster that's just a straight track that goes from point A to B, you watch the makers (dev team) get baffled as to why no one likes it.

That's basically Ion's and the WoW dev team's main problem. They can't build an entertaining ride to save their lives, because they aren't real game designers. They don't care how something feels to someone or have any basic understanding of the psychology of fun. They're just talentless theorycrafters and nothing more (who then only take advice from other theory crafters...etc., etc.).

That may be harsh, but when you genuinely don't care whether people enjoy something or not, and never listen to them, then well, you get what you deserve. You'll never see a WoW dev ask whether something feels enjoyable to you.

But, what they can do really well is make that boring coaster ride take hours to complete though, and then claim "Hey, people spend tons of time in our park!"
buff auto attack damage by 200% and delete all abilities
My very first order of business would be to issue an apology statement to the entire playerbase. Notable points in the letter:
a) We screwed up class design in these last 2 expansions. Legion was an experiment with extremely powerful artifacts, and it blew in our face when we poured its power into the sword of Sargeras. We're sorry, and we promise you we will fix it - but it will need time, so we once again, request for a little more patience.
b) Diablo Immortals should have been announced with Diablo 4. We dun fked up big time. Sorry!

Next order of business would be to have the dev team + lore team hold 2-week long discussions at various times with the unofficial/official class discord rooms to learn what players like, hate, can afford losing, would love seeing back etc.

Based heavily on player feedback, we would shape up future class designs accordingly - which would tie into the lore, as well as that expansion. This would mean that some classes (ramp up types) will have to start overbuffed so they don't feel weak at the start of the expansion and scale poorly. Where as others would see their scaling reduced so that they don't grow out of proportions toward the end of the expansion.

Bring back a level 120 talent for each Class (yes, class, not spec - so that we only have to create 11 such rows for 33 talents, and not 108) - these would be class-defining talents, probably empowered with Azerite and interact accordingly.

PvP control spells now behave a lot differenly: Stuns incur higher cooldowns when used against players, ranged specs will get disarm as a counter to kick, melee spec CC would share DR with other melee spec CC, and likewise, ranged spec CC would share DR with ranged spec CCs. (e.g. A mage poly into a warlock fear would last a lot lower than a Mage Poly into a Warrior Fear). Promote a diverse group philosophy in pvp and not mongoloid teams.

Class balance, dungeon balance, spec balance, and especially M+ / Raids balance has to be done at least once a fortnight. Outlier specs will be brought back closer to the middle, and dungeons / encounters / M+ timers will be designed with most specs in mind and not certain abilities. Dev teams will also share their internal logs / data to show as evidence for our goals taken - This will happen after the hall of fame kills have been registered, so as to keep that race unbiased.

Lastly, it will be the duty of every class/dev team to post a monthly blog on where they are taking the class / spec to for the next big patch. It may be something unique, it might just be something bland - but the communication should not stop from the dev team's perspective.
Something inbetween the Wrath talent trees and the Legion Artifact trees. The old trees made leveling fun but were strict on the direction you filled them out. I liked that with the Artifact trees you didn't have to take a specific path and it provided a similar feel to the old trees.

I think they should ask the question, "What abilities define the class" first and which abilities define the spec second. Shared abilities are important. Gear shouldn't be used for class progression like with artifacts, build that into the classes/specs.

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