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Class Roles and Gear Variety

Maplestory 2 Rep: 5,535
Posts: 299
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I've been trying to write this thread up for a while. It's hard to simplify down concepts like this, not because they're difficult to understand but just because they have such a massive overarching effect on the game, that explaining them, even simply, can just turn into a huge wall of text due to the large number of topics. I've reduced this to a handful of relevant talking points and cut down on specifics to make it a bit easier to read, but it's still just something that might not come across properly. So if you have questions about anything or want me to clarify further on any points, feel free to leave a comment in the thread.

Class Roles and Mechanics

For Closed Beta 2, I made it a personal goal of mine to try out all of the classes in Maplestory 2 and get them to high or max level. This was mostly just for me to see what I wanted to main come official launch, but in doing so, I discovered that there is a pretty large, overarching problem with this game's class design. One that effects pretty much everything else you do in the game in a negative way and is the cause of a lot of gripes people have, probably with most people not even realising this is the actual cause of a lot of those issues. The dungeon run limits, fair fight, the upgrade system, the lack of difficult dungeons, etc.
Also, a very large number of class abilities are clones of each other. It's kind of concerning the amount of class abilities that are just reskins or recolors of abilities from other classes. The classes are already extremely simple, but then on top of that they also aren't even completely unique. Which just makes me feel like this is a topic that needs a lot more attention than it's getting. Which is why I'm making this thread.

Before I go over a potential solution, I'll provide some loose reasonings as for why having such oversimplified class dynamics negatively effects the games in these ways:
Because each class effectively cannot run out of SP, 90% of the time you spend playing any of the classes will be spent spamming one or two damaging abilities. For 7/8 of the classes you can pretty comfortably just hold down one button for the entire duration of a fight without running out of SP. The only exception being Thief, BUT, that also has lower DPS variants that are just one button. Also, because in all of the class kits there are no actual ways to interact with a boss: No taunts or aggro, no dispels or interrupts, nothing you can even do while you're mounted on a boss, a very large chunk of the content in the game is easily beaten by just holding down one button and occasionally moving when the boss randomly decides to target you.

So as a result of this, the only challenge that could realistically be derived from such a system, is making the enemies much stronger than the player. By creating enemies which can't even be touched without the right amount of stats. Although this is only an artificial form of difficulty as once you pass the bar to be able to deal decent damage to a boss without being one-shot by all of it's attacks, it immediately flips over to a one-button snoozefest again. The easiest way to make sure your content isn't cleared all at once on the day you put it out? Time-gate it all behind a limited reward system. Now, even if you do have the requisite gear to faceroll a boss, you still can't beat it to get rewards, in a vain attempt to stop you from progressing too fast and force you to make alts or spend tons of mesos on upgrade materials.

This is also ignoring the other reason using stat bloat to artificially inflate the difficulty of your content is a bad idea: Power creep. As you create more and more content, the power gap between a new player and an end-game player continually increases. You might say "well more content for people to play isn't a bad thing", and ordinarily it wouldn't be. But a new player's progress is still also time-gated, just like the end-game player's. Meaning it takes longer for a newer player to hit relevant content. You can't even have people carry you through content because of gearscore limits on top of the dungeon limits. It's an overall negative experience for new players and causes hemorrhaging playerbases, as new players bleed out before they spend the requisite amount of time pointlessly grinding through dead content just to play the new content.

The other issue with power creep: Fair fight. In a band-aid attempt to control the stat bloat, arbitrary limits on your character's power level are put in place, to prevent you from clearing previous content too quickly. This isn't something that I personally take issue with, but the implications are clear enough. Even inside of our small slice of content, it was practically a requirement to mask the massive power gap, even between people in Fire Dragon gear and Balrog Gear. Let alone the Chaos Raid gear.

The solution is obviously pretty clear, increase the complexity of class mechanics and you can increase the difficulty of the content in the game. This means you can ease up on the stat bloat and dungeon limits, as end-game content will need actually co-ordinated groups of skilled players to clear instead of just 10 people who grinded enough to reach the minimum damage number required to kill something inside the time limit.

The only downside to doing this, is that it becomes less friendly to casual players. But casual players also have a mountain of other content to do that isn't end-game raiding, so that's fine. Besides, if you remove enough of the power creep to create an actual horizontal skill-based instead of vertical gear treadmill progression, you can add difficulty levels to the content so that more casual players can beat it, while more skilled ones can reap the rewards and actually be challenged.

At it's core, giving Knights the ability to tank and Healers the ability to cleanse and dispel but take away their infinite healing will allow for slightly more enhanced encounter mechanics. Increasing the complexity of each classes innate abilities to make it hard to hold down one button for an entire fight without caring about SP or even moving, would also take pressure off of that stat bloat. I could provide a lot of examples about how I would change these things, but reworking every class to not be a braindead one button class could turn into it's own thread entirely. So I'll spare everyone more reading since this is already a long thread. I can post some examples if people want them as replies but I don't want to derail the OP too much.

Gear Variety and Alternative Progression

The other thing that contributes to power creep, is the gear. Largely because it is the vessel for said power creep. It isn't the gear's fault, it's just a casualty of the classes themselves not being able to pull their own weight. If the classes and content are modified to be more skill-based, the gear can also be changed, since the inflated stats it provides will no longer be a necessary part of the progression.

There's plenty of alternatives to just having a gear treadmill. Pretty much every ARPG on the market has great loot with very little power creep.
Set items, collections of gear with powerful bonuses when you wear multiple pieces together.
Unique items, a class of item where you can only have a single one of it's type equipped at a time.
Powerful attributes, like increasing the level of skills or completely changing how certain skills work.
Of course, this only works in those games because they have a top-end power level for the gear. You get to end-game then all the gear you find is generally of the same power level, but just giving you various different bonuses for you to build around. This also helps contribute to a more lateral progression. Sticking unique loot inside each dungeon which certain players might want to build around can provide incentives to do content that, in a more linear system, would just be left to rot.

This could also push the progression from upgrading items to crafting them. The kMMO RNG upgrade system just doesn't belong in a video game. It's unrewarding, extremely grindy and usually just exists to extract money from gambling addict whales. Replacing it with item crafting would be a more friendly form of progression. And with crafting components you can be a bit more generous with how you spread them around in rewards, so that they don't have to come purely from PvE activities or even given out outright. Having it so you can use the life skills to create components for crafting, or fish things up, or get stuff from mini-game rewards, etc. So that the game continues to reward you for anything you choose to do, even once your character hits max level, would help a lot in easing up on that dungeon limit and give people a reason to do things they otherwise wouldn't, to get gear they might want for it's effects.
It doesn't have to be the main way to get items, the items themselves won't be stronger than anything you can get anywhere else either because it will all be of a similar power level. But providing alternative ways to get gear, especially in activities that normally wouldn't have given anything of the sort before, broadens the amount of activities in the game people do.

Having gear essentially all be on the same power level also means that PvP will be more balanced. If attributes on gear were left turned on but stats were normalized I could see a lot of gear that might not be great for PvE being sought after by PvP players because it's good in PvP. A lot of games out there do have different build and gear metas between the two modes and it would definitely be better than the current PvP system in place, or the hacksaw system where you get welfare PvP gear that is better than all PvE gear just because it gives good PvP stats specifically. Because there would be actual variety and customisation.

Once again, I would like to provide examples of what I mean, but I don't want to derail my thread too much by going deep on specifics. I'm trying to keep this easy to understand.

That's all for this thread. I do actually want to go more in-depth on both of these topics, I kind of stopped myself since I didn't want to just make this whole thread a bunch of complete designs for alternative skill trees and gear systems, and just provided feedback and suggestions, like this forum section calls for. I'm happy to discuss either of these topics in more detail if you did read through this thread, so go ahead and reply away.
If you didn't read the thread, I have bad news, everything above the line was the summary. But why are you on a forum anyway if you hate reading?


  • SeasiderSeasider
    Maplestory 2 Rep: 3,375
    Posts: 62
    I read through the whole thing! I think it was extremely well written and thought out. I personally am unsure of reworking classes to such an extent, as I think while they are incredibly simple I believe they are definitely not one-button classes. However, I agree with everything else you've suggested. I would love to see kMMO RNG methods of upgrading done away with and replaced with a more engaging, rewarding and varied way of progressing.
  • DanDKDanDK
    Maplestory 2 Rep: 33,505
    Posts: 2,569
    I think I remember you being with us on the forums as well during the early CBTs.
    Nexon didn't listen to a word we said then and they definitely won't now.
    They've already stuck with their blind direction at non-progression and it's way too late for it to ever change now unless they remake the entire game (which they likely won't).
  • JetUppercutJetUppercut
    Maplestory 2 Rep: 5,535
    Posts: 299
    This post is actually a few months old now, so the mods will probably lock this thread for 'necroing'. If you want to continue the discussion I'd suggest doing it in the new thread, since it's just a continuation of this thread anyway:

    As for Nexon, it seems to me like they're listening. They're definitely trying to fix the game. They even said in the latest developer blog that they want to start making more permanent changes instead of doing quick fixes to try and placate people in the meantime. Games have gone through larger changes than the ones I've listed here and come out the other side better for it. Whether they're interested in making the changes is another thing entirely, but I feel like they already know what needs to be changed to make this game as big as it deserves to be, judging by changes they've made to our version of the game, specifically.
    Whatever they decide to do, I'm sure they'll get on track with it soon. Game development just takes time.
    Until then I'll have to be content with making these long ass threads.