Multiclassing & Class Evolutions = Mutually Exclusive?

Frostorm

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Apologies in advance for the high-ish thread count as of late. Anyway, last month I decided to redo/overhaul my game's class system. I got to a point where I became quite content with the classes themselves. However, Multiclassing (or at least some variation of it) has always been an intended & prominent feature in my game, but I've hit a minor roadblock along the way. Basically, my new class system includes a Class Evolution mechanic. It goes like this:
  • Scout
    • Marksman
      • Arbalist
      • Archer
    • Stalker
      • Assassin
      • Guerilla
  • Squire
    • Knight
      • Dragoon
      • Guardian
    • Zealot
      • Berserker
      • Bladesong
  • Student
    • Battlemage
      • Spellblade
      • Spellshield
    • Mage
      • Archmage
      • Summoner
Each indent represents upgrading into a more advanced class. So for example, to get an Archer, a unit would go Scout -> Marksman -> Archer. What I'm having trouble with is coming up with a coherent way of implementing multiclassing into this existing class system. For instance, let's say a player wanted to multiclass a Dragoon + Guardian. Would he/she have to go through the Squire and Knight stage twice? This is not a problem by itself, but let's say another player wanted to multiclass a Berserker + Spellblade. Such a combo would definitely require going through the less advanced classes twice. Again, I don't mind this, but what I do mind is inconsistency. It makes sense for the Berserker/Spellblade to have to go through the Squire, Zealot, Student, & Battlemage classes before reaching the aforementioned Berserker/Spellblade multiclass. However, it would only be fair if the Dragoon/Guardian goes through the Squire & Knight classes twice. Otherwise, the Dragoon/Guardian would have an unfair advantage of being able to go through its class progression quicker or more easily.

So umm...what do? I've been contemplating whether to even have the less advanced classes at all. As in, perhaps it would be better to forgo Class Evolutions altogether? It would suck if I did though because I've already put in so much work/effort into that system. If anyone has an elegant solution to this dilemma, I'd love to hear it!
 

Shikamon

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My understanding that class evolution is kinda doing something BETTER like standard knight class become dragon knight, a tanker with specialization the power of dragon. standard knight just capable for provoke enemy, but with power of dragon, they can breathing fire like dragon.
and multiclassing is like doing something MORE, think like knight can multi-class with wizard so they not only capable provoke enemy but also spam some spells. stat-wise evolve class should be better than basic class, and hybrid/multi-class just have more skill.
If the game is more emphasis with skills rather attributes, multi-class should be better choice because its gonna fit for any situation. if you decide using both system, then prepare for balancing many possibility combination to optimize all classes.
 

Frostorm

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if you decide using both system, then prepare for balancing many possibility combination to optimize all classes.
Balancing and theorycrafting is actually my forte, so those are aspects of game dev I actually look forward to, lol. Currently, I have no intention of dropping Multiclassing as a feature. But forgoing Class Evolutions is something I'm willing to consider. However, I'd prefer to avoid that if possible. Ideally, I'm looking for a way to neatly marry both class systems together. I'm just not sure how...
 

Enigman

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Maybe have the advanced classes mutually exclusive as your title suggested as by implication, the higher ranks within a class would have different goals. If for example, your Assassin is more a stealth based killer with skills/bonuses leveraging Stealth, the Guerilla (while having stealth needs) would perhaps be more about sabotage, messy damage and general mayhem. The rationale is that the really advanced skills in a particular class take more dedication and effort.

To become a Guardian/Spellblade the same amount of investment in character development across classes makes sense and justifies the investment in developing both.

If you didn't want to have mutually exclusive subclasses and having to 'start from scratch' to level up in the subclass then perhaps you could have a faster transition to say Arbalist and Archer but there is a penalty for having multiple subclasses of the same type (even if it's an initial penalty.) For example, your Archer might have bonuses or a special skill resulting from that training, to reflect the transition to Arbalist, the existing bonus or skills lose power or have a lower hit rate etc. during the 'transition' period.
 

Shikamon

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Yeah, one of most possible plan for both system is like using multi-class first to get a evolution class later. think like you need become priest and knight at level 10 both to evolve your class, give it some choice between templar ( for better tanker ) or inquisitor ( for better caster ) with their advantages or disadvantages.
 

alice_gristle

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Anyway, last month I decided to redo/overhaul my game's class system.
NOOOO.... @Frostorm honey, stop addin' and tweakin' and get yo game DONE! :biggrin: ...jus' kidding, jus' kidding, take as long as you gonna take. I know you doin' this for fun 'n all! :kaoluv:(But can I be a little serious, please? At least get us a demo, sweetheart?)

Okay, Imma focus more on the topic at hand by sayin', I'M CONFUSED? :kaoswt: Like, I knew you was gonna do this class evolution thing, but it didn't occur to me until now, how does this work with the thing you got previously? Y'know, the thing where you was gonna pick a fighting thing (like, umm, "Dual-wield") and two magic things? Like, does this class thing override that?

At a glance, I can't wrap my li'l head around to how you would combine these two tho. :kaoeh: Except maybe, if you was gonna do something like say, Final Fantasy Tactics: Advance? Like didn't it have this class-change & evolution thingy, where you started out as one thing, then class-changed to another thing, then you could evolve into a third when you got enough levels in the two prerequisites? Kinda like, you wanna be a Spellblade? Well get two levels in Squire and three in Student and we talkin'!

...if you was gonna do that tho, no idea how bad it would mess up these class evolution trees you crafted...:kaocry:

It would suck if I did though because I've already put in so much work/effort into that system.

I'm sorry honey, I hafta be a little harsh here, so don't hate me... but sometimes you gotta suck it up and throw two-thirds of yo hard work outta the window. :kaoswt2:Like... you hafta stop thinkin' like, "Ooh, I done so much work already, this has to function now!" Instead you be like, "Ok, what does my game need? Oh, this complicated fighting system I spent two years on don't fit thematically after all? Phooey, lemme ditch it."

It's a bit :kaocry: but sometimes you just gotta :kaohi:and move on!
 

Frostorm

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@alice_gristle You know what? You're right! After much consideration, I think it would be best if I just dropped the whole Class Evolution thing. It was a neat idea and actually a feature a friend of mine kept insisting I implement. I'm a total pushover too when it comes to people close to me, but it is what it is. I knew ahead of time a feature like this wasn't going to integrate easily with my existing systems, but for some reason, I decided to pursue it anyway, lol. Anyway, I've officially decided to ditch this whole Class Evolution stuff!

But really, the only reason I thought such a mechanic may have been a good idea is that by starting a unit from a "starter" class, the player would be able to sample/preview which playstyle they prefer before committing completely. But maybe I shouldn't baby/spoil them, haha. I really needed that slap in the face to think clearly again, lol.

Edit:
Anyway, I'll basically be keeping the advanced classes (i.e. the classes with 2 indents in my OP) but removing the rest. But now I'll have to decide how units will gain their class/multiclasses. I was thinking, instead of allowing all units being customizable (in terms of class), only the protag will be allowed access to the plethora of classes/elemental trees available. All other characters/units would have preset classes & elemental affinities, and thus skill trees as a result. But this approach also means that I'll probably have to introduce more (playable) characters/units so the player has access to the wider gamut of potential builds.
 
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alice_gristle

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I'm a total pushover too when it comes to people close to me, but it is what it is.
Honey, I know the pain. :kaocry:I'm like, I never want to disappoint anybody either. But, as artists, it's really, really, amazingly critically important that we develop, umm... an inner eye, sorta? Like... I don't have a real good way to put this into words... but, like, an inner understanding of what our work (i.e. game) needs? Like, getting feedback is real nice 'n all, but we hafta develop a real good sense of like, sifting the gold from the turd. And once you get good with that, it's almost like feedback becomes, umm... secondary, kinda?

Like I'm not sayin' get cocky with it, and be like "Yo, Mr. Master Dev, I know what's good for me game, so git!" But like, train yo gut. Yo gut's got gut feelings, and they usually right. That's your inner eye. It's gonna tell you what feedback to consider. Then you just hafta figure out how to politely ignore the rest. :kaoswt:

But really, the only reason I thought such a mechanic may have been a good idea is that by starting a unit from a "starter" class, the player would be able to sample/preview which playstyle they prefer before committing completely. But maybe I shouldn't baby/spoil them, haha.
You could get some kinda respeccing mechanic tho? Or even make a "build maker" inside yo game, where players can test out different combinations against dummy goblins?
 

Frostorm

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You could get some kinda respeccing mechanic tho? Or even make a "build maker" inside yo game, where players can test out different combinations against dummy goblins?
Oh yea, respeccing is definitely a must-have. I already know the script call and everything for it. I just haven't decided on what it should cost the player (if any). The target dummy is a great idea btw! I never thought of basically letting players play with are essentially test units. Like a bunch of HP or maybe infinite HP but doesn't attack or do anything at all.
 

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One option, assuming you have party members/potential recruits with different classes (or even 'temporary' members (ie hired mercenary) is to send that member off on a side-quest where they are the player character for a short period. It might be an alternative for the player to experience life as a different class before they commit their normal character to a specific class.

I did that as part of a joke in one of the games I was working on while experimenting with RM. An antagonist 'insulted' one of the party as being no more than a side character in someone elses story. NPC snuck off in the night to show that they are a 'main character in their own right with their own rich storyllne...' Sent them off on some quest that took advantage of their particular class/skills.

Sometimes we don't want to remove things from a game due to the sunk cost of effort we have put into design, coding etc. even though we might end up with a better product. It's often better to reduce the cool features we came up with and focus on polishing the few features we keep. 80% of users will only use 20% of the features of a product most of the time and improving the experience of those 80% will generally yield the best result.
 

Frostorm

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One option, assuming you have party members/potential recruits with different classes (or even 'temporary' members (ie hired mercenary) is to send that member off on a side-quest where they are the player character for a short period. It might be an alternative for the player to experience life as a different class before they commit their normal character to a specific class.
Omg, that is simply genius. I can't not do that now, lol. It's such a simple idea, but it's something I would never have thought of. I know myself well enough to know that much, at least. So thanks for the suggestion!
 

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Since you asked...here are just some thoughts on multiclassing, in no particular order.

  • I generally love the mechanic.
  • I like allowing multiclassing from the get go. I hate waiting (Said like Inigo Montoya from The Princess Bride).
  • Many multiclass systems divide any EXP gained by the character between/among the different classes, which makes advancement slower, but that is realistic. If you are trying to learn and increase skills/knowledge in 3 things at once, it is going to take longer than if you focus your concentration on just 1 or 2 things.
  • Some multiclass systems only allow a complete switch to a new class, which I don't prefer. Some allow you to continue to use prior skills/knowledge, but not to advance further unless you return to that class (which I do enjoy...class jumping). Again, not a mechanic I am generally fond of but understand.
  • Some multiclass systems freeze your advancement in a new class until you reach the same level as your other class(es) and then allow advancement in all. But you can continue to use your skills gained in the other class(es).
  • I don't know how difficult it would be in an RM engine, but you could divide EXP for a multiclass character according to what they do. For instance, if you are multiclassing as a fighter/mage/cleric type, the EXP you get is split according to what you actually do. If you don't use your cleric skills at all in an EXP event, you don't get any EXP for that event in your cleric class.
  • If you have a system of increasing skills by usage, that can also play into class advancement/development for a multiclass system.
  • I have always planned on incorporating a "jack of all trades" type class in any game I create. This class would allow a player to choose whatever they want as they advance. It would have its own unique skills as well, but you could dabble in anything you want. I can easily think of story/backgrounds for why this mechanic exists in a game. Such a character would never be as "strong" in any particular class as a character that solely focuses on a single class, but the trade off is I can make any type of character I want. Some systems call that "classless". I like the versatility of such a character. And if I am playing a single character, I prefer a "classless" or "custom class" option.
To your original question, I don't think it is unrealistic that multiclassing in a similar area would be faster than multiclassing in something completely different, as far as progression goes.

For instance, if you have a basic thief/rogue type class that eventually has a path choice of Assassin or Ninja (with enough distinction to make those paths substantively different), choosing Assassin and then later wanting to add Ninja shouldn't require you to go through the thief/rogue part again. There would be enough foundational similarities between the advance career paths that it would be like picking up a new specialization. Like how you can get a 2nd BA/BS with far less credits than it requires for your initial BA/BS.

However, if your player starts as a thief/rogue and then chooses the Ninja path, going back to start learning a magic-based class could arguably be a completely different set of learning. It makes sense to start at the beginning in that case.

Again, as an example, I am an accomplished martial artist. Now I want to delve into game development. My martial arts experience isn't going to give me any sort of advantage in learning the tools of the game development trade.

Again, big fan of multiclassing!
 

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If you do keep the class evolution idea, I would just make it so that you can't multiclass into any level of your primary class. So if your primary is Scout, Marksman, Arbalist or Archer, you can't multiclass into Scout, Stalker, Assassin or Guerilla.
 

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Not sure how helpful this is, but this type of class system reminds me of Dragon Quest 6 and Fire Emblem: Awakening.

Dragon Quest 6 started all of the characters out with a sort of 'default' class that had no special traits (but they each learned different abilities/spells before class changing, so it would still be useful for any unique abilities you are planning). Once the player has access to the class system, they can assign any class to any character. Characters have their own stat spread, so they are better suited to some classes, but there is nothing stopping you from making your big, tough guy a healer. Classes could be leveled up by winning a certain number of battles (but it only counted battles at or above your level, so you can't just stomp mobs outside the starting town). Each class level granted a new spell/ability, and at the last level the class was considered to be mastered. Mastering two or more base classes unlocked the advanced classes, and some even required mastering multiple advanced classes. There was some crossover between class requirements and classes stay mastered after you change, so you don't have to worry about mastering a class multiple times on one character to unlock certain combinations.

Fire Emblem: Awakening starts each character off with one of the base classes, and every character is able to change to 2 of the other base classes according to that character's proficiency (which could often be lore-based, like a guy with little presence that often goes unnoticed having the option to change his class to Thief). Each base class could promote into 1 of 2 options for advanced versions of that class. Skills are learned by gaining levels in a class, and characters revert to Level 1 in their new class when they change or promote. Stats do have a cap, and each character has their own unique growth rates and caps for each stat. Each class also grants a couple of skills as you level up and characters can equip up to 4 skills they have learned at a time, so there is some good incentive to master a variety of classes for different skill combinations. Class changes are done with items - 1 for changing base classes and 1 for promoting from your current class - but leveling as a promoted class unlocks the ability to change directly to another promoted class instead, so it is possible to bypass the other base classes if you aren't interested in their skills. There are also a couple of special items that let a character change to a unique class that can only be obtained from those items.

I don't think you need to make it too complicated. I would avoid making the player go back to classes that they have already mastered though. Ways to carry over progress (like stats and skills) so time spent on each class feels meaningful would be great too.
 

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The last post reminded me of something else. Let me caveat this by saying I don't mind grinding. In fact, I sort of like it. I just don't like being forced to grind, if that makes sense.

And the second caveat is that I know what I am about to say would be hated by a lot of gamers, but meh! I am old and getting to the age where I can say anything I want while poking people with my cane.

I think Wizardry 8 was an improvement over Wizardry 6 is pretty much every way...except one. I loved the class change system of W6.

In W6, any character could change back and forth to any class. It was all dependent on attribute scores, which reset when you changed to a new class and increased (RANDOMLY) with every level up. Your EXP was dropped to zero and you were back to a Level 1 character, but with skills, spells, and higher HP. When you switched to a new class, you were able to continue to use spells/skills from the other class, but you couldn't progress any more and you couldn't use the equipment. But if you switched back, you might start as Level 1 again, but you were building off what you had already accumulated (such as class spells, skills, etc.). And level ups were fast. Because if the party was say Level 10 and one character suddenly becomes a Level 1 character, the next combat could see that character gaining 4-8 or more levels at once. And you didn't gain HP like normal either. The game basically determined what the average HP would be for your new class and if you were above that, which you would be at lower levels, you would only gain 1 HP until you reached a point were you were within the average range of HP for that class at your level. Then you would gain the random HP per level like normal.

There were things about this system that I didn't necessarily like, but I spent dozens and dozens of hours grinding so I could get all my characters to have every spell and every skill that I wanted at max levels. Because I enjoyed it.

Now, I completely understand why this mechanic would be considered broken by many and not enjoyable. But the idea of being able to jump back and forth between classes is very appealing to me.

W8 broke this because when you change class, your EXP stayed the same. So you might switch to a Level 1 in a new class, but it was going to take much longer to level up. In W6, you class changes were limitless. In W8, they were restricted by how much EXP you could reasonably get in the game. And EXP went down the bigger difference there was between the party and the enemy they were fighting. So grinding for EXP became mostly worthless toward the later parts of the game.

Anyway, just wanted to through that out there. There is multiclassing and there is class switching, but they are not necessarily the same. I guess it depends on the game design.
 

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There is also the Final fantasy fourteen way of doing it:

Excepting the Arcanist ( Legacy decision they can't undo), all Classes just turn into an advanced Job, so Lancer to Dragoon, Rogue to Ninja, but one character can be every class.
Switching Classes (or Jobs) just gives you a totally different set of stats. So no matter how many other classes you've levelled, you can switch, but you'll always be at the power level of that class at that level.
So leveling White mage doesn't make me a better Black Mage in any way shape or form, but I've got the option to switch out of combat at the touch of a button. (Resources like MP and HP are basically on a per encounter timer, so MP /HP might as well be full.)

Because that's the eternal question isn't it? Should multiclassing add to the power of the base class or just offer more versatility?
 

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