The Faction Trap

One of the givens in an MMORPG is that each player must choose a faction, usually right at character creation.  In Warcraft, you are either part of the Horde or the Alliance.  Alliance players are always human, dwarf or elves, and Horde players are always orcs, trolls, goblins, and so forth.  This, of course, all dates back to Tolkien and a perhaps a dualistic view of the world that was made for a very convincing good guys/bad guys story.  Gollum may have been the one character in those stories pulled in both directions, a study of the light and dark, Jekyll and Hyde.

If George R.R. Martin has done one thing for the fantasy genre in Game of Thrones, he has blown apart the trope­.  The “evil” Lannisters certainly have their more admirable members in Tyrion and Ser Mormont, and the “honorable” Starks certainly have their overly black and white view of the world in Ned, and of course many characters who are somewhere in-between.  It’s a much more complicated world, which in many ways is very realistic and satisfying, but perhaps a bit less comforting.  It’s good to know who the enemy is.

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Extreme Variety and Imbalance in an MMORPG

Well, I think I’m going to go completely off the rails this week and talk about ways to completely unbalance a game.  A big part of an MMOs development team’s time seems to be taken up with balancing each of the classes in an MMO.  The reasoning behind this is pretty obvious – if one class is “the most powerful,” most players will pick it, and nobody will play those weaker classes.  A good example of this might be the Jedi class in the now closed Star Wars Galaxies.  It was so head and shoulders above the rest of those classes, that Jedi populations skyrocketed.

Partially due to the effort to balance classes, there typically are limits on the number of races and classes made available in a game.  The more races and classes available, the harder it is to keep on those classes in sync and on par with one another.

But what if both those constraints were removed?

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