Monday, January 24, 2011

Class Balance

Inspired by Nils @

Where people who perform similar roles are concerned everyone wants to be the best. If someone else is more powerful the weaker classes will complain. This is because they view it as a competition between them and someone performing a similar role. In WoW a rogue does not want to do less damage than a Mage, or vice versa. The rogue, or any similar DPS class, views their overall DPS as their value to the group. If their DPS, aka value, is lower than someone else they feel less important… not the best. By nature people don’t like to blame themselves, so where two different classes are concerned they typically point to an imbalance.

Let’s say we had a game that only consisted of 3 classes. A tank who can do zero damage but had a large amount of hit points and mitigation, a healer who can do zero damage but can heal people, and a DPS who can do a lot of damage but has no health. In this game you can only have 3 people in a group. There would be no arguments over class balance because there are no overlapping roles. The tank, healer and DPS would all recognize the other’s importance. The only issue would come from people not willing to fulfill the role of tank/healer… look to Tobold’s post last week on more of that.

The point is that there would be no class balance issues, as no two classes are competing for the same job. The problem is people like variety. Thus game developers are required to create variations of each of those classes… which results in our Holy Trinity. So now you have people who are still essentially filling those same three original roles but in different manners. Now you have variables and the problem is many people are narrow minded. They only view the “now” and not the big picture. A great example of this was when Warhammer Online launched. Many classes complained that they were unbalanced, or more specifically that the other army was more powerful because their perceived class mirror had better abilities. What Mythic did, which was a good idea but failed, was they had a set amount of CC abilities for each army. They spread these abilities around to all the classes. This resulted in both Order and Destruction having the exact same amount of stuns, knockbacks, and interrupts. However because player A’s class didn’t have the same ability as his perceived mirror on the other realm he believed his class was inferior. In some ways they were, granted, but the overall army was equal in strength and if both armies worked together equally it would have been a perfectly fair fight.

I remember in my last job interview I was asked “Is the customer always right?” I sat there and took a few seconds to think about it, at this point in the interview I didn’t think I was getting the job so I wasn’t sugar coating my answers. I responded with “No, the customer is not always right. The reason is the customer is stupid. They don’t know what we offer or what we are capable of. They can ask for impossible requests that I simply can’t fill. They deserve respect, but no they are not always right.” Needless to say they were taken aback, but they agreed with me in a more politically correct office way of saying it.

The same applies for video gamers, they don’t know what a developer is capable of. They are ignorant and whinny. They view everything as a competition in the immediate situation they are in. They don’t look at the bigger picture. As long as there is a small difference from player A’s class to player B’s class there is going to be the age old complaint about class balance.


  1. As long as there are two players, there will be complaints about perceived imbalances.

  2. True to an extent. People don't like to take responsibilty for their own bad play.

    Take WAR as an example again. At times I felt my class was under powered but I knew that I had abilities important to my army. I also knew that our armies were equal in strenght once mustered. So I continued to play my Black Orc even when I felt under powered. I just found the role that best suited him. Alot of people just complained on the forums.