Saturday, July 30, 2011

Adventures in Amateur Game Design, part 3: Specialty Design

Like this, but also completely not like this.
So how do the specializations in my RPG differ from the specializations that most people are accustomed to from World of Warcraft? Currently in World of Warcraft, your specialization provides you with a special ability as soon as you pick it at level 10 and provides you with many, minor customization choices as you level. What I don't like, and Blizzard also doesn't like, is that many of the choices feel like false choices where many of the things are 'mandatory' in order to play optimally. I also don't like how many choices there are and the fact that in making one choice, you often have to invest multiple points to make that choice. Furthermore, whichever tree you pick to put points in as your 'secondary' tree doesn't really change your playstyle, just your efficacy.

For my design, I wanted your spec choice to occur at level one, so that different players of the same class can feel different from the beginning. This is reinforced by your primary spec giving you a special ability at level one. As you level up, your spec automatically gives you new abilities at certain levels. To allow for customization and choice, there is a customization system for each class. As currently conceived, the warrior and the rogue have similar systems and the priest and mage share similar systems. This will be the topic of the next post in the series.

Furthermore, after picking a primary spec the player also picks one of the two remaining specs to be their secondary spec. Despite the level one ability, the only difference between your primary, secondary, and tertiary specializations is the rate at which you gain new abilities from them. Meaning that some abilities won't be gained by players who don't choose it as their primary spec. This, too, will be the topic of a later post.

Another aspect of WoW specializations is that certain abilities, despite being available to people who picked each spec, aren't used by players of each spec. For example, every WoW rogue learns Rupture, but now all of them will use Rupture. This seems like a counter-intuitive design and so any ability that the player gets, I want them to use. To that end, if an ability is attained by a player of one spec, I want it to be just as effective and useful to a player of another spec.

In short, for the specializations we have:
  • chosen at character creation,
  • provides an immediate ability that is unique,
  • meaningful secondary specialization,
  • ability strength equality,
  • and an engaging customization system.
Details about the customization systems is what will follow in the next post.