August 1, 2007 at 12:05 pm (Game Design, Warcraft, World of Warcraft)

I was messing in the BG the other day, and I realized I miss the days of rock-paper-scissors. Was it balanced? No (see below). But it was a heck of a lot of fun.

The modern age of “every class should have a counter to every other class” makes my brain hurt. They’ve done a really good job of it, but I think they’ve lost alot of the flavor in the different classes. It seems to be CC, break CC, blow cooldowns move on. Every class does it a bit differently and to slightly varied skill required, but that’s what it boils down to.

I miss the days where hunter vs. mage was a shoot out. When rogues freely ganked anyone, except a well played hunter. When priests swore up and down that they couldn’t do anything against, well, anything. Again, it wasn’t balanced, but it was interesting.

I once read an article on RPS in videogames versus the real life version. For some examples, lets make it interesting an play for money. Pay $5 each. Each round you win, you gain 20 points. First person to 100 points wins. What’s your strategy? None really. Provided you don’t get caught trying to read what your opponent will do next, it doesnt matter what you throw (any RPS pro will tell you the best way to lose is to think you know what your opponent will throw). There’s a 50/50 chance of winning the $10.

So let’s unbalance it, which is what interesting games do. Lets say if you win with rock, paper, scissors you gain 40, 10, and 25 points respectively. Now what happens. Well obviously you want to throw rock for the big easy points, but if you throw rock too much you’ll get papered to death. Since he doesn’t want to give up those points he’s going to throw paper. At worst he loses 25 points. Scissors. Ching, 25 points. Now, he knows you’re not stupid enough to throw rock which means he thinks you’re playing conservative. He doesn’t want to throw paper again so he’ll probably throw scissors. Time for you to throw rock for the big score.

OMG he threw paper again!

How does this work for classes? Well lets make a great PvP class, oh let’s just call them rogues. Any body that wants to gank with impunity rolls one to the point where 30% of the population is rogues. Now, let’s say the reason rogues do so well is that they can take a single target easily, so they have trouble with classes that have pets which we will call Warlocks and Hunters. Those classes not only have pets which can avoid rogues CC, but they also have steath detection, steath interrupts, and CC to get away from the rogue and let their pets do the work.

Suddenly, 2 classes now have easy kills on the entire rogue population, since that’s so large they can rack up even more kills. But wait, since hunter’s and warlock’s generally have lower HP, the hunters become vulnerable to plate classes because of the damage mitigation of armor, and warlocks lose to other casters because they can deal out damage faster or heal themselves.


I think this was pretty close to the original design concept, the problem was the classes were not designed effectively enough at the start and then the class reviews took the homogenized view of balance. What do you think? Personally, I wouldn’t mind losing to almost anything else, if I could always win against rogues.


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