Trion shared their proposed class/spec balance update today, and they are planning to:
- Re-work (balance) Pyro Mage’s Ground of Strength. It its current incarnation GoS provides total CC immunity indefinitely for the Mage plus the ability for their spells to stun, and this is rather imbalanced in PVP
- Increase Rogue melee and Marksman damage
The timing of the balance update makes sense – there has been sufficient time since 1.1 went live for the community to get its arms around the changes and to identify problem areas.
To date, players have often framed their feedback quite negatively. E.g. some players have been equating Trion to “Failcom” (aka Funcom, the maker of Age of Conan) and to Electronic Arts / Mythic Entertainment (the maker of Warhammer Online).
Both are unfair comparisons, but players have been badly burned since 2008 by games that were over-hyped but under-delivered, and Trion is experiencing the backlash from players who are now understandably wary of game developers.
While I am not going to predict what degree of commercial success Trion will have or whether Rift is the fabled “WoW Killer” (and as I wrote elsewhere that’s the wrong question to ask), Trion’s actions with and after launch show me that they get it. I have high confidence based on what I’ve seen and heard that Rift will continue to improve and that Trion is listening to the community.
Hopefully over time the majority of Rift’s players will perceive that as well.
As I have stated previously, Rift has been by far and away the best MMORPG launch I’ve seen in over 2.5 years, including Warhammer Online, Aion, and Allods Online. What has made Trion’s launch of Rift successful? Multiple, synergistic actions:
- Trion didn’t launch until the game was ready. As Exec Producer Scott Hartsman said to me at WonderCon 2011, they were not going to launch until the game was sufficiently stable and had sufficient content
- Trion has been unusually communicative about upcoming changes with the community. Examples: the Dev Tracker forum functionality to track all posts by Trion employees, Trion’s participation in 3rd-party fan podcasts, and their honesty in answering my questions in person
- Trion is willing to make the tough calls to bring classes and specs into balance, even if the decisions are unpopular in the short term. I’m not going to tell you the balance in 1.11 is perfect. It’s not. Balance is an iterative process, and considering that we are ~7 weeks from launch, balance is reasonably good, even better than what I experienced as a 2k Arena Protection Paladin in World of Warcraft’s Cataclysm expansion Patch 4.0.6
Class / spec changes for the sake of balance can be hard on the community, but they are absolutely essential for the long-term health of a game.
UPDATE (2011/04/22): OK, maybe I spoke too soon. On the Alpha 1.2, the CC immunity and 30% stun proc for Ground of Strength have not been touched. /sigh
UPDATE (2011/04/29): before I forget, the stun proc was removed from GoS in the first update to 1.2 notes published on 4/26. I think the indefinite full CC immunity is still an issue.