Unique Mechanic

Is it just me, or do the unique class mechanics stand out more in Warhammer Online than in most other games? The more I reflect on it, the more I see it in other games, but it just seems more prominent in WAR.

By “unique class mechanic,” I mean the special feature that guides many of a class’s skills/abilities. (They are not truly unique in WAR, because one class on each side has it.) The orc and elf tanks tier up, the chaos and dwarf ranged DPS summon turrets, and the human and dark elf healers have an energy pool they can refill with melee combat. The mechanic mattered to different degrees based on your class and spec line; it never felt all that exciting on my chaos healer, while my dwarf ranged DPS had turret- or gun-improving talent options.

My unsubstantiated feeling is that the earlier in the design process that the mechanic was added, the more vital it feels. City of Heroes gives every class something special, but it does not feel terribly special. City of Villains mechanics do feel special, because the classes are built around them. Brutes, Stalkers, and Dominators are defined by their special mechanics. Blasters and Defenders? Eh, it’s a bit of a bonus.

You get a reset on that timer if you completely re-do the class. Then you can re-build around a new core. I expect a bit of that to happen in Cataclysm, so that there is less feel of “mana or something slightly different,” although you do get rather different effects from bars that build up during combat and those that empty out. Or I could be completely wrong, because what do I know about WoW, but you have certainly seen classes re-done so that they fulfill the same role with radically different mechanics.

Unique class mechanics create additional balance issues, but for the moment I am wondering which I would prefer: designing classes entirely around the mechanics or just using them as a bit of flavor on whatever else they would do. There is a delicate balance in the latter, sometimes done well with race: if you can be a dwarf cleric or an elf cleric, you want there to be some interesting difference in how they play without making it an effectively forced choice because one race synergizes so well. “Sometimes” because there is that narrow range between “doesn’t matter” and “forced choice.”

: Zubon

13 thoughts on “Unique Mechanic”

  1. Why does it have to be a choice of mechanics or flavor? I really like the magic:the gathering approach of going back and forth letting both of these change and influence the other. So its not a matter of focus but where to start. You can start with a flavor and try to figure out mechanics that fit it, then go back and make revisions to the flavor to fit the mechanics requirements. Or start with a really solid mechanics and let the details of the flavor you come up with it guide the implementation of siad mechanic.

  2. The one point of continuity between DAoC and WAR in my mind is that Mythic has really creative class mechanics. There are still a lot of really oddball class designs in DAoC that I haven’t seen anything at all similar to elsewhere.

    I found the class designs in WAR generally really solid and refreshing. Engineer remains one of my favorite classes across all of the MMOs I’ve tried. I just wish the game the classes of WAR are embedded in were a bit better.

  3. Just started dabbling in WAR again, and I have to say I agree that the special mechanics definitely add to each class’ feel. Mythic has definitely done something right with this.

    Personally, I think the approach Turbine took with LotRO is the best I’ve encountered – take each class, base them off of a well-known character in the lore for “flavor” (Hunters are Legolas, Burglars are Bilbo, etc.), and give each class a mix of specialties prioritized differently based on that “flavor” of the class. Burglars are primarily debuff, but also secondary crowd control (or secondary DoT, depending…maybe…). Captains are primarily best at buffs, secondary at healing. Etc. etc.

    Every class has a unique experience when playing, and it provides more flexibility for class mixes when grouping.

    1. I agree. But, like Yeebo said…too bad the mechanics of the classes in LOTRO are wrapped up in a mediocre game with a bad UI and ugly looking characters and animations.

      WAR looks gorgeous and some of the overall gameplay adds up to having fun with some killer class mechanics to boot.

      1. Too bad the mechanics of the classes in WAR are wrapped up in a mediocre game with a bad UI and ugly looking characters and animations.

        LOTRO looks gorgeous and some of the overall gameplay adds up to having fun with some killer class mechanics to boot.

        1. Too bad Ethic is wrapped up in a mediocre game with a bad UI and ugly looking characters and animations.

          RankNVile looks gorgeous and some of his overall gameplay adds up to having fun with some killer class mechanics to boot.

          (Couldn’t Resist! lol)

      2. I find LoTRO to be one of, if not the best, looking games I play. More impressive if you consider the age of the game. It is also one of the few games with Direct X 10 features and will now have DX 11 with the release in a few days.

        LoTRO UI is fairly average but this weeks release also brings some improvements with scripting. With addons WAR had better UI than LoTRO but without was similar or worse to me.

        Gameplay judgement seems even more subjective than anything else but given the perceived population numbers LoTRO has done better than WAR. If you use Massively One Shots series of screen shots the larger public also appears to agree that LoTRO is the better looking game or least more interesting compared to WAR.

        1. “but given the perceived population numbers LoTRO has done better than WAR. ”

          Which makes sense. Thanks to a killer book and movie license, LOTRO does have the numbers. Also, WAR being more niche with a PvP mechanic that brings that “fun” I keep talking about to the game, but is not a preferred playstyle for most…well, yes it will have lower numbers.
          But, remember…McDonalds sells millions of burgers a day…doesn’t mean they are worth a crap..

          As to the DX10 or 11 features…they still do not affect the characters…which just look plain silly. This picture example shows in detail why DX10 does nothing for LOTRO.
          Note the musculature features, the hand sizes, the way the outfit shapes and conforms to the body..proportions fit.
          Compared to
          Where the hips are displaced, the outfit looks “painted” on and overall dimensions are not proper.

          But, LOTRO has an awesome sky.

          1. I really can’t see what you see but I do appreciate the attempt to explain unlike the first post where Ethic showed it was easy to replace WAR with LOTRO and have just as informative of a post.

            You can call WAR niche PvP mechanics but were certainly interest for the first month or two. It could not hold the interest though because of overall gameplay.

  4. I still want to be able to gain XP for healing if I’m a Priest, or from stealing stuff if I’m a Rogue. I want different mechanics to go all the way down to changing how the game is played per class, not just how we kill stuff.

  5. Yeah, the movies and the book are the only reason why people play LOTRO, because no-one has ever heard of Warhammer, especially not gamers. Oh, wait…

    1. Threading is enabled, rejoice! You can reply to other comments by clicking the reply button underneath each. Then you can make snide comments to the appropriate person.

Comments are closed.