FarOutFighter

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I love designing character classes, so naturally I have thought about it. And I have concluded there are two types of classes, or two ends on a spectrum, when designing classes - mechanic-based and theme-based. I will explain.

A mechanic-based class is a class based on one or more in-game mechanics. E.g. a white mage heals because healing is a mechanic.

A theme-based class, however, is based on an conceptual idea. E.g. a pirate class might have some physical slashing skills, some water skills, some stealing skills - because that's what a pirate is associated with.

Which method is better? Can they coexist? How? Well, tell me what you think. Personally I prefer making mechanic-based classes, but I think i like it more where there is some overlap between the two methods. I'm just not great at doing that, lol.
 

gstv87

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classes (in this context) are just the selection and combination of all skills, resistances, stat curves and weapon permits.
you can also define "classes" for enemies (any one enemy is essentially one class), if you copy all the relevant values that are common, from somewhere else.

it's only relevant if you have to set up two or more characters that share common traits.
outside of that, anything is game.
 

Milennin

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I'd say it doesn't really matter. If you want a pirate to be a mechanic-based class, you could just label them as a damage dealer with a pirate aesthetic. A knight could be a tank or a damage dealer or both, just with the knight's theme around it.
I never think about whether I'm designing a mechanic or theme-based class. All I do is look at the character (either their graphic or their personality, depending on the game I'm making), and base a skill set on that. I'll always give a character more than just 1 role to fulfil (at least some way to support/heal, manage MP and deal damage at the minimum) so they don't get stuck in situations where their usefulness drops off a cliff, which is a big risk to run into when making single-mechanic classes.
 

JohnDoeNews

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Sure, classic based and theme based can exist next to each other. A pirate can also have acrobatic skills, though. They climb robes and swing robes. And they seem to do a lot with robes. :p
 

FarOutFighter

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I'd say it doesn't really matter. If you want a pirate to be a mechanic-based class, you could just label them as a damage dealer with a pirate aesthetic. A knight could be a tank or a damage dealer or both, just with the knight's theme around it.
I never think about whether I'm designing a mechanic or theme-based class. All I do is look at the character (either their graphic or their personality, depending on the game I'm making), and base a skill set on that. I'll always give a character more than just 1 role to fulfil (at least some way to support/heal, manage MP and deal damage at the minimum) so they don't get stuck in situations where their usefulness drops off a cliff, which is a big risk to run into when making single-mechanic classes.
Well I think that approach can work using fixed classes. I guess I was thinking more in a job system, which is what I like. In a job system the methods I mentioned seem more common.
 

Silenity

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Well in terms of job based systems ala FFT and the likes. Of course they can co-exist.
There's no better than the other. I think they work hand-in-hand together.

Examples from FFTA:

There are classes that are both mechanic/theme based. Thieves steal. It's their mechanic and their theme.

There are classes that are just their mechanics. White mages heal because it's what they do.

There are classes that are just their theme. Dragoons are knights inspired by dragons. And their skills reflect so with being able to jump in the air, uses dragon breath, and are strong vs dragons.
 

FarOutFighter

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Well in terms of job based systems ala FFT and the likes. Of course they can co-exist.
There's no better than the other. I think they work hand-in-hand together.

Examples from FFTA:

There are classes that are both mechanic/theme based. Thieves steal. It's their mechanic and their theme.

There are classes that are just their mechanics. White mages heal because it's what they do.

There are classes that are just their theme. Dragoons are knights inspired by dragons. And their skills reflect so with being able to jump in the air, uses dragon breath, and are strong vs dragons.
For sure, they can co-exist... but *should* they? In the ideal game, what would you want in a job system?
 

coyotecraft

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Using a noun that invokes a description rather than a designation is problematic. Say you have an enemy named pirate and it's class is also named pirate. "Pirate. A pirate pokemon."
*pop pop pop pop* that's the sound of my braincells disappearing like soap bubbles.

Presumably, there are other subjects that fall under the pirate class - and they might not look like a pirate at all. Plus, "Pirate" carries a criminal, unlawful, and amoral connotation. You might have a saint or angel assigned as a "pirate" purely because they deal slash dmg, have water attributes, and have some kind of item acquisition or reward trait. Whatever it is that distinguishes a class in the first place.

It might sound weird. But it might be better to add a suffix. To put some "psychic distance" between the class and the character identities.
From Pirate to Pirater, Pirator, Piratist, Piratee, Piratant, Piratii, Piratican, Piratarian, Piratov, Piratooge,

Piraturquoi, Piratessla, Piratomer, Piratognisser,P̴͈͚̙̌̏͒̀̌ị̸̧̡͕̍ͅr̶̖̣̀̿͊a̴̜̗̣͍͉̒̓͂t̶̲̯̗̤̞̪̉a̷̧̫̹͙̥͊̿z̵͎͈͔̩̖̒͑̏̈́͋a̷̢̜̰̻̬͑̽̾̀̃͜l̴̮̅g̴̟͚͑̎̍̂͝ơ̶͈̮͔̲͐͗́̌͐
 

Popoto_milk

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More broadly, isn't that basically "top-down" vs "bottom-up" game design?

I don't see how one would be better than the other. Seems to be a matter of preference and one's own thought process. You can always fit a theme to the mechanics and vice-versa.

Honestly, there are probably a lot of games out there where players can't even tell which approach was used.
 

MarxMayhem

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Which method is better?
Neither. It's all in execution by the game devs.

Can they coexist? How?
Yes, they can. As long as you have a good explanation for it, players would eat it with no issues.

If you want a better explanation: Justify numbers and mechanics by lore. For example, the "Knight" class is famed for their physical prowess. To meet that demand, they hone their body and leave none into studying. That leaves them with better physical attributes (HP, ATK, DEF, AGI), but worse attributes in magic (MAT, MP, possibly LUK and rarely MDF). Contrast that to the "Wizard" class that leave behind physical strength in favor of utilizing the arcane. As such, they need attributes that reflect that (Good at MP, ATK, possibly LUK and rarely AGI. Bad at HP, ATK, DEF, but some settings let them have better MDF).

There are many ways to slice this pie, and you just need to be imaginative about it.
 

FarOutFighter

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Neither. It's all in execution by the game devs.


Yes, they can. As long as you have a good explanation for it, players would eat it with no issues.

If you want a better explanation: Justify numbers and mechanics by lore. For example, the "Knight" class is famed for their physical prowess. To meet that demand, they hone their body and leave none into studying. That leaves them with better physical attributes (HP, ATK, DEF, AGI), but worse attributes in magic (MAT, MP, possibly LUK and rarely MDF). Contrast that to the "Wizard" class that leave behind physical strength in favor of utilizing the arcane. As such, they need attributes that reflect that (Good at MP, ATK, possibly LUK and rarely AGI. Bad at HP, ATK, DEF, but some settings let them have better MDF).

There are many ways to slice this pie, and you just need to be imaginative about it.
I think connecting it to lore is a great idea. I need to work on that, lol.
 

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The end result matters more than the starting point. Each class should have a theme to them. "Damage dealer" is a terrible class name. "State remover" is a terrible class name. Even "White Mage" is little better than "Healer". There are generally two approaches to the theme; Either starting with it and figuring out mechanics from there, or starting with mechanics and figuring out the theme after.

Generally, I find that it's easier to build and balance classes that are mechanics-based, but they might come across stiff or artificial (FFTA2 Black Mage is three levels of damage in three elements), while thematics-based have a much easier time meaning something and being exciting but a harder time having a clear base for what this class does or why I'm picking it (Should I be a Starchaser or Paragon?). The latter is that you can basically flavor anything; Take a Knight class that has good DEF/HP and focuses on decreasing damage to the party and drawing attacks to themself. Change the animations and names around and suddenly you have a Psion class that uses psychokinesis to slow weapons and move allies out of the way of attacks and themself into attacks. Or take the White Mage and call it Chemist, using far less fantastical imagery to explain healing.

If anything, you should generally aim to do both; Figure out what mechanics and theme you want for a class because you could easily explain fifty different skills for either, but having both helps shrink down the possible list of skills to pick from. But that's also as a baseline, it's fine in a game with 20+ classes for a couple weird mechanics classes and a couple high concept classes to shake things up. Sometimes I want to pick Jester and just see what I get.
 

FarOutFighter

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The end result matters more than the starting point. Each class should have a theme to them. "Damage dealer" is a terrible class name. "State remover" is a terrible class name. Even "White Mage" is little better than "Healer". There are generally two approaches to the theme; Either starting with it and figuring out mechanics from there, or starting with mechanics and figuring out the theme after.

Generally, I find that it's easier to build and balance classes that are mechanics-based, but they might come across stiff or artificial (FFTA2 Black Mage is three levels of damage in three elements), while thematics-based have a much easier time meaning something and being exciting but a harder time having a clear base for what this class does or why I'm picking it (Should I be a Starchaser or Paragon?). The latter is that you can basically flavor anything; Take a Knight class that has good DEF/HP and focuses on decreasing damage to the party and drawing attacks to themself. Change the animations and names around and suddenly you have a Psion class that uses psychokinesis to slow weapons and move allies out of the way of attacks and themself into attacks. Or take the White Mage and call it Chemist, using far less fantastical imagery to explain healing.

If anything, you should generally aim to do both; Figure out what mechanics and theme you want for a class because you could easily explain fifty different skills for either, but having both helps shrink down the possible list of skills to pick from. But that's also as a baseline, it's fine in a game with 20+ classes for a couple weird mechanics classes and a couple high concept classes to shake things up. Sometimes I want to pick Jester and just see what I get.
I like this, thanks for your thoughts!
 

FarOutFighter

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The end result matters more than the starting point. Each class should have a theme to them. "Damage dealer" is a terrible class name. "State remover" is a terrible class name. Even "White Mage" is little better than "Healer". There are generally two approaches to the theme; Either starting with it and figuring out mechanics from there, or starting with mechanics and figuring out the theme after.

Generally, I find that it's easier to build and balance classes that are mechanics-based, but they might come across stiff or artificial (FFTA2 Black Mage is three levels of damage in three elements), while thematics-based have a much easier time meaning something and being exciting but a harder time having a clear base for what this class does or why I'm picking it (Should I be a Starchaser or Paragon?). The latter is that you can basically flavor anything; Take a Knight class that has good DEF/HP and focuses on decreasing damage to the party and drawing attacks to themself. Change the animations and names around and suddenly you have a Psion class that uses psychokinesis to slow weapons and move allies out of the way of attacks and themself into attacks. Or take the White Mage and call it Chemist, using far less fantastical imagery to explain healing.

If anything, you should generally aim to do both; Figure out what mechanics and theme you want for a class because you could easily explain fifty different skills for either, but having both helps shrink down the possible list of skills to pick from. But that's also as a baseline, it's fine in a game with 20+ classes for a couple weird mechanics classes and a couple high concept classes to shake things up. Sometimes I want to pick Jester and just see what I get.
And like I also want to say I agree. Though my experience is limited. Like, the Oracle from FFT had speach-related abilities, and I think all of them did status effects. But I think it'd be interesting if the main theme was status, and maybe 1 or two skills were healing, or something. Idk. I do think they are best when they involve both a general theme that and a mechanical theme that work together. Or like 1 general theme and 2 or even 3 mechanical themes. Ya know. Whatever.
 

Trihan

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I'm not sure the two concepts are as separate as you've presented them, to be honest.

What you've described as mechanic-based sounds like what I would consider *archetypes*; the broad stroke of what kind of role you can expect the character to play. Tank-healer-damage is one of the most common role triangles, obviously, with some games making it a square by adding support.

Theme is what I consider to be built on top of archetype, which can involve the addition of unique mechanics. Like a healer who's a sniper and heals with a rifle that fires rejuvenation canisters topped with a little needle. Or a tank who doesn't really *take* damage but mitigates it by taunting and having high evasion. Of course, you could also make a character that doesn't fit any common archetype, but that usually involves a great deal of design work to find a unique role that's as useful in combat without being overly derivative.
 

ATT_Turan

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A mechanic-based class is a class based on one or more in-game mechanics. E.g. a white mage heals because healing is a mechanic.

A theme-based class, however, is based on an conceptual idea. E.g. a pirate class might have some physical slashing skills, some water skills, some stealing skills - because that's what a pirate is associated with.
I feel like you're using nomenclature to create artificial divides. Doesn't it nullify your example if we simply change "white mage" to "medic?" :wink:

At that point, without changing a single number or mechanic, you now have a theme-based class, by your definition, because a medic is associated with healing people. (and really, that's what white mage is also, simply using the terminology of the Final Fantasy setting)

It seems to me that almost any combination of abilities can be "theme-based" if you come up with the right word for it. The only limitation to that could be if you forbid yourself from making up occupations in your game's setting.

As Popoto_Milk said, this isn't really a difference in types of class, it's a mental difference for you in your design process.

Like, the Oracle from FFT had speach-related abilities, and I think all of them did status effects. But I think it'd be interesting if the main theme was status, and maybe 1 or two skills were healing, or something.
The Oracle gets Life Drain (which heals themself) and MP Drain. And if someone wanted to give them regenerate, that's a status.

But I don't really see how this example ties into either thing you're talking about. It's not a mechanics-based flaw because other classes can give regenerate. It's not a thematic-based flaw because I can't think of a good reason that hearing someone would heal my body.

If anything, I feel that Oracle works against your points about theme-based classes, because it's not an existing thing in our world that people have an association with. If you accept an oracle that can affect your body by saying things the right way, why not accept a white mage that specializes in healing magic?

Ultimately, it's just whatever works for you in your head.
 

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Ultimately, it's just whatever works for you in your head.
As long as you know how to present it. Actually everything will work out all right, as long as you make it look like your way is the way.

it doesnt matter if it is done before or from different realities. (Like why cant a world with guns not also contain magic?) What matters is that you bring it with confidence and that it is all clear what each class can or cant do.
 

StrawberryFlower

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And like I also want to say I agree. Though my experience is limited. Like, the Oracle from FFT had speach-related abilities, and I think all of them did status effects. But I think it'd be interesting if the main theme was status, and maybe 1 or two skills were healing, or something. Idk. I do think they are best when they involve both a general theme that and a mechanical theme that work together. Or like 1 general theme and 2 or even 3 mechanical themes. Ya know. Whatever.
Psssttt, that was the Mediator/Orator that had speaking abilities. Oracle/Mystic inflicted status ailments.

*FFT fan dips out*
 

M.I.A.

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I dunno.. I really enjoy creating an interesting character w/their own set of skills, stats, and traits.. but also may have similarities to another character or NPC characters.. and then assigning them a "Job Class" that conveys the general utility of that character. Is this all too much? Here are some examples:
- Priest.. typically mage class. Typically healing/support/vs Undead.. basic.
- Bishop.. typically a mage class with better weapons.. stronger vs. Undead.. Strong Healing, less supportive
- Medic.. typically a tech class. uses Items.. can use more physical based weapons. Skills don't vary in effectiveness based off stats.
- Alchemist.. mixed mage/tech class.. uses Items more effectively.. can also use some low level spells..

and on the opposite side:
- Wizard.. typical mage class.. uses Elemental spells, plus some status.. magical weapons..
- Witch.. typically a mage class.. uses some elemental spells, but much stronger status spells.. magical weapons and knives.. can also use potions.
- Oracle.. mixed mage/tech class.. uses curses and some dark magic. magical books/staves as weapons or can use rods, can equip better armor
- Warlock.. mixed mage/physical class.. excellent physical armor/weapon selection.. powerful magic spells, but also powerful physical attacks. Can usually use magic to boost their physical traits.

The list can go on and on.
Why lock in specific "Job Classes" and narrowly limit what skills/attributes a character/enemy are capable of? Design/concept the character first. Give them the skills and attributes you want to give them.. and then assign a suitable "class" that someone conveys what they can do in your game. :)

Hope this helps!
-MIA
 

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