For the last year, class design has been a big thing I have gone back and forth on. When I first started working on Unforgotten Quest, I was designing classes based on a single play style rather than a theme. What this meant was that I was focused so much more on gimmicky mechanics for classes rather then what the class should be all about. The issue with this is that if a class has a innate mechanic built into it, it’s very easy for a certain portion of the player base to dislike the class before even really playing it.
If you have played a lot of games, I’m sure you have come across this situation before. You’re trying all the classes and right from the get go, the gimmicky mechanic turns you off from the entire class. World of Warcraft is a great example of this you played it. Half the classes have a built in mechanic that you must enjoy to like the class. Warrior Rage, Rogue Combo points, Monk whatever it’s call because man did I not give the panda expansion a good solid chance. What I’m trying to get at here is that for UQ I really want to make the differences in classes be about themes and out of combat mechanics, rather then having a special bar for every class you have to play around.
This is a big design change from when I first put the game out there. Classes like Wizard were all about a temperature gauge that would go from Hot to Cold based on which element of spell you casted. When I started to really design all the class and math it out, it became very clear how restrictive that is, not to mention I am really starting to dislike gameplay elements that have you focus on the UI more then the game. Staring at your health is bad enough. With Nisovin starting the engine, I have taken to cleaning up my work documents and when it came to classes, I knew that we really needed a revamp.
So what do I mean by Out of Combat mechanics? Well here is what we know all classes have. A health bar and a mana bar. I want to make all the classes feel different and awesome, but do this without having to add another bar. Bards for example had a great trait for this, they had additional inventory slots and could equip many different weapons at once. This meant that you had more gear to play with a lot of their skills changed based on which weapon was equipped, giving you even more room to play around with builds. Sorcerers had a similar out of combat charistic I liked. Instead of choosing skills, you crafted them from. You would mix and match different elemental stones to create different spells and abilities and build your character up from there. I love both of these class designs because they felt so much less restrictive then a gimmicky UI element. I want to make the game easy, but also insanely deep. You can slap a fire stone with a wind stone and get a lightning spell. That’s cool. That’s fun. It promotes exploring your skills and is a munchkins dreamland for min/maxing.
Alright, now lets talk about Paladins.
Paladins were not a confirmed class for UQ, so consider Valkyrie and Savage dropped for now. Valkyries were female only and Savages were male only and they had very similar themes of being tanking and unlocking a special transformation via combat. Paladin’s mechanic comes in the form of special loot called Artifacts. Paladin’s are able to find special items other classes cannot find that can be leveled up. Upon leveling, paladins can pick and choose traits for the items to customize them as they go. There is still RNG involved, but it’s a much different way of acquiring gear which is the big thing. Paladins have more focus on leveling up equipment then grinding it and if the way you progress throughout the game is different from class to class, then the replay value is that much greater for UQ.
So how does combat in UQ work? How is it simple and deep? Well the big thing is that all classes have 3 main buttons to press and deal damage. Left click of your mouse that does a basic weapon attack (for the examples below assume your left click does 100 damage every 1 second) and two different attacking abilities. So let’s look at the Paladin and choices you would make when playing one.
This is what you can call the classes “skill” tree. You’ll notice that every skill type has 3 abilities you can pick from in a category. You get 1 Skill point every level and after 24 levels, you will have enough points to buy everything in your classes skill tree. The important thing to note though is you can only have 1 ability per category on your action bars at once. This means that you will only have 8 different buttons per class as you basic abilities you use. So if at level 1 you pick Thunderbolt, you most likely won’t grab another skill from that category. Now, your classes “feel” will completely depends on what combinations of these skills you pick. Essentially your Damage Ability I and Damage Ability II will create a different way to play your class. So let’s look at the Damage Ability I skills as they are today.
So King’s Strike is a quick instant attack you can spam which is slightly better then just attacking normally with your weapon. Thor’s hammer is a super slow giant hammer you swing for massive damage on a cooldown, and Thunderbolt is a ranged magical attack that shoots thunder. Cool, now let’s look at the second set of abilities.
Okay, so Divine Crash is a slow, but spamable skill. Holy Fire is a flamethrower and Divine Reach makes your basic attacks ranged flying laser hammers. Now let’s look at talents as this is when the playstyles start to really come alive.
Each of these skills has 3 talents that are unlockable using skill points you get from leveling up as well and toggle-able. Just because you unlock them doesn’t mean you might want them all active though. For example, King’s Strike is a Physical attack that originally that deals Slash or Crush damage based on which weapon you have equipped. The talent Lord’s Fury increases all Fire Damage you deal to monsters by 50%, it also makes Kings Strike a Magical Attack as well. This is important, because if you picked Divine Crash as your second ability, you would more likely rather have it stay physical damage to benefit from Angel’s Might which increases all Physical damage you deal by 35% every time you use Divine Crash for a few seconds. This allows you to open with Divine Crash and then spam Kings Strike until the buff wears off and you repeat.
Now, no matter which 2 skills you pick here, the average damage you deal will equal 200 based on the numbers I showed you. 9 different play styles, all of which are being balanced around the idea they should be viable builds for you to play. Some styles might be slightly better for front loading, some might be better radius for AE damage, but we all know at the end of the day what matters most is how much single target damage you can deal to a boss in a long fight, and all of these are balanced to be less than 1% different. Some Examples:
If you take Kings Strike and Holy Fire, you become focused on dealing Fire Damage. You will Kings Strike once on a big monster to apply the Fire Damage debuff from Lord’s Fury and then switch to Holy Fire spamming to build up stacks of Holy Flames. Once you reach 50 stacks, you Kings Strike to unleash a massive fireball and then go back to spamming the flamethrower. Average DPS for doing all this is 200.32.
If you take Thor’s Hammer and Divine crash, you swing very large, very slow, powerful attacks one after another. The bonus damage from Angel’s Might makes Thor’s hammer super powerful so by spamming Divine Crash and using Thor’s Hammer on cooldown you get to hit over and over for big numbers. The Average DPS for this combo is 201.5
You should be able to take any of the two above skills and mix and match talents to create a rotation that does 200~ dps. If not, I might have made a typo when making all these fancy images for the blog or overlooked something, don’t worry about it if sometimes off as this has a lot of iterations to go through before it’s play tested still.
So great, we got all these play styles up there for the paladin, awesome, but that’s not where the pre-planning for class design stopped. One of the most fun things you can have in a game like this is when you find an item that changes everything.
Whoa… wait a second here. That’s going to really mess up the balance isn’t it? This item is going to make a build focused around spamming Kings Strike do crazy damage? How are you balancing around that? The quick answer is, we are already planning all the items for all the builds that can enhance classes and just like before, if you have all the appropriate items for the skills you’re using, the numbers match up to about 400 dps. Each class and each skill will have tons of special effects that can be found on items that are like additional Talents from above for a sound round of number balancing for classes. These items don’t need to be comparable to each other, only the whole package of what they can do for the play style as a whole. Some will be minor buffs, some will be massive buffs.
Dat WIP Spreadsheet yo.
The reason why these items are important is because it will really let players explore classes throughout the game and to make real gear choices. When an item with a King’s Slash double hit drops the first time, it’s going to make players start trying new builds. For someone who already uses King’s Slash it’s an exciting item to see, but for someone who doesn’t it might just be the item that makes that player experiment a bit. Not to mention some of the items will create some alternate specs for players to find and discover along the way. I want players to not only explore the world, but also explore their classes. Look, it’s okay if you like to shoot fireballs and just fireballs and want to do nothing but shoot fireballs and find upgrades to make your fireballs bigger and shoot faster, but maybe just maybe if you get an item that makes those Arcane Missiles shoot in batches of 6 instead of 3, you might start to really play with your character and their builds.
Carefully created and designed builds and items for players to discover. You know that feeling when you solve a puzzle? I get that a lot whenever I play a game and figured out something kinda like this. The game isn’t going to tell you what you need, or how to use the abilities given to you, but I think players will find that there is lots of room discover in Unforgotten Quest. This is a game that is focused on exploration and humor after all.
And if you hate all this nerd stuff then you can just spam fireballs too.