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Monday, April 21, 2008
 

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MMO Class Design: Creating Effective Hybrid Classes
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

Gamasutra recently published a new article exploring the pitfalls of creating hybrid character classes in Massively Multiplayer Online game worlds. Using theories of economics the author explores the reasons specialized characters are often chosen over hybrids and considers ways to increase the effectiveness of hybrid classes.

In classic role playing game (RPG) design, there are commonly three primary character archetypes: tank, DPS ("Damage Per Second"), and healer. These archetypes have their roots in old-school pen and paper RPGs like Dungeons & Dragons, and were carried forward into early single player RPGs like Ultima and then into MMOs.

In the nomenclature of MMOs, a "hybrid" is a character that bridges two or even three of these areas. In MMOs set in fantasy worlds, a tank is commonly embodied as an armored medieval knight while a healer takes the form of a priest or cleric. If we create a hybrid between a tank (knight) and a healer (priest), we get a paladin who can wear heavy armor and cast healing spells.

Historically, MMOs have had a great deal of difficulty designing hybrids that are powerful and valuable without completely displacing their parent classes. The catchphrase for these overly successful hybrids is "tank-mage". This term comes from the early days of one of the first MMOs, Ultima Online, where some characters could both wear heavy armor and cast powerful damaging spells. A tank-mage could both take and deal a lot of damage, creating a character that was superior to any other type of character in most situations.

Check out the full article at the link below.

Gamasutra: MMO Class Design, Up With Hybrids!


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