Flexible MMORPG classes

I wouldn't tank under his heals
There's an article explaining reasons behind typical MMO class setup. As the article correctly states, when a game allows flexible playstyle inside a character class, it immidiately faces a problem with unpredictable pick-up-groups. How do I know if a cleric I just accepted to a group can heal? He could be a battle cleric with insane DPS, having no single healing spell at all. There's nothing wrong with DPS, be it a cleric or a rogue, but my group currently only needs a healer!

I perfectly understand this dilemma and reasons behind it. Still, I cannot decline flexible playstyle in any RPG. And at the same time I admit that playing with random people is the core of any MMO. So, this issue has to be addressed.

The problem: design RPG class system so that it allows both:

  • ease to form balanced pick-up-groups with strangers,
  • and a wide range of gameplay styles.

And I came out with the following suggestion.

Allow each player to rate his character against criteria important to gameplay, like:

  • Healing:
    • 1: No means to replenish health.
    • 2: Ineffective self-healing out of battle.
    • 3: Can manage own HP, but would benefit from external heals in emergency.
    • 4: Able to sustain self and throw occasional heals on others.
    • 5: Effective regular healing of self and others.
  • Damage dealing:
    • 1: Takes ages to kill a single foe.
    • ...
    • 5: Among the best DPS for my level.
  • Aggro management:
    • 1: If I get aggro I die in seconds.
    • 2: Can't fight effectively under aggro.
    • 3: Can fight effectively when attacked and live to tell the tale.
    • 4: Able to switch aggro from other allies to self, and survive.
    • 5: Can switch aggro to self, keep it, and efficiently mitigate the damage.
  • Crowd Control:
    • 1: No means to disturb foe's plans.
    • 2: Can impede one or several foes.
    • 3: Can disturb enemies sufficiently to protect allies in emergency.
    • 4: Can severely impede one foe for a long time.
    • 5: Can severely impede several foes, or totally disable one foe for long time.
  • Buffing:
    • 1: No means to increase allies' effectiveness.
    • 2: Take it or leave it, not much difference.
    • 3: Situationally useful and/or short buffs.
    • 4: Provide substantial lift to allies' abilities.
    • 5: Indispensable buffs to keep at all times.

Make this ratings conveniently visible to everyone in group, as well as people who wants to join. This makes possible to evaluate group's robustness at a glance, while each player having unique playstyle at the same time.

Allow group leader to select similar ratings when looking for new people, and make it visible to applicants, too.

This measures implemented right should solve the issue.

Tags: MMO, RPG