Thursday, July 26, 2007

Class descriptions and their aptness (or lack thereof)

So I'm over posting on one of my gaming forums (for some reason they've made me a Mod for the Warhammer Online forum... don't ask me...) and we're talking about getting into the WAR beta. So I reply to one question with this:
Also, I'd like to play WAR to get a real feel for it as it grows, and get a good look at it. Yes, I can read about it all I want, but there's a huge difference between reading about it and playing it. Esp. from just the class descriptions.
To this post I get an agreeing reply of:
Yep. Look back at the class diescriptions blizzard gave when the game was released. They describe mages as 'glass cannons.' When in reality, we ended up being something like a 'glass musket?'
My immediate thought was "Yeah, but 'glass musket' isn't nearly as appealing." And that's when something clicked. I'd always been of the opinion that you shouldn't take the class descriptions from gaming websites at face value but that was more of a "what is" than a "why".

The "why" is that the purpose of a class description is to give a general overview of the class while making it look appealing. That second part is where the problem crops up. Every class has it's undesirable aspects. Whether those are due to a player's interpretation ("I don't like this, so it's bad!") or a lack of vision on the dev's part (pally tanking pre-expansion), something will be considered bad. That is a fact.

The problem is that they can't put stuff like "while this class does not put out the most DPS, it makes up for it in utility". Players don't want to read that. They want words like "Master of (insert damage type here)" or "Glass cannon" or other good descriptive terms. Some of the fault lies in the players, as terms like "Glass cannon" are interpreted to mean "Does the most damage."

In the end, the fact is you should take the class descriptions you see on the main site of the game or in the manual with a grain of salt.


Joyd said...

One then caught my eye recently while looking at the WoW class descriptions. Of all of the myriad things paladins can do, they thought to include Divine Intervention, a rarely-used and occasionally unreliable wipe-prevention spell as one of their strengths, while Soulstone and Ankh are missing from the Warlock and Shaman descriptions despite their actual ease and frequency of use. It just seems like a weird facet of the class to present to new players.

GSH said...

In some ways, Divine Intervention sums up the essence of the paladin: The paladin sacrifices herself to save the life of a comrade.

I've always maintained that DI, in terms of game mechanics, is an incredibly clunky spell. However, its connection to the heart of what it means to be a paladin manages to transcend that, and somehow makes the spell work.