MMOs with Class – How do we get the hell away from the elf/dwarf/human//wizard/fighter/thief paradigm?

I just can’t tell you how bored I am with the above choices in games. Really? We can’t do better than this? Admittedly, a few games have tried to mix it up a bit, and there are probably plenty I don’t know about, but the big ones always seem to fall back on tried and true tropes. Adding Clerical classes does not count as branching out, by the way. I just can’t understand why ANY new game would use these ideas. They have been done absolutely to death.

So, what ARE classes and races in games? They are basically templates, narrowing down what your character can do from a wide spectrum to something manageable. Think of them like opaque cards with holes punched in them. Line up the cards with the light, and what shines through is what’s available to you.

That’s the mechanical function of races and classes, ideally they also have narrative functions, but those are generally only given lip service in MMOs, if they are addressed at all. This right here is an issue, as far as I’m concerned.

Do we even need races and classes? I think they are optional. But if you’re going to have them, how about making them interesting? Tailor them to the setting, for starters. Or come up with some cool ideas and build the setting around them.

Now, in the years I’ve been gaming, I’ve come up with a few handfuls of “classes”, usually by extrapolating around a single unique character with a shtick that I feel has more depth than can be explored in one character’s story. Some are similar to or drawn from existing ideas, both in gaming and in media generally; I’m not claiming my ideas are spun whole cloth out of the aether. And I’m not saying any of these in particular would work well in any given MMO, but I feel they are at least more interesting than the old standby Red Box D&D set. And if I can come up with stuff like this, certainly people who design MMOs can.

And let’s come up with some more interesting magic systems, please, while we’re at it.


~ by oberon the fool on September 10, 2011.

One Response to “MMOs with Class – How do we get the hell away from the elf/dwarf/human//wizard/fighter/thief paradigm?”

  1. Hm, interesting setting idea- “Nomads”, giant mobile cities that wander the landscape. Are they on the back of some huge animal? On magically supported hovering discs? Vast arrays of tank treads? At any rate, it would effectively force players to deal with new terrain and new neighbors periodically.

    Yes, I know this isn’t the Setting thread, sue me.

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