Is Class Customization Going the Way of the Dinosaur?


In MMOs, on opposite ends of the spectrum there are two models for class design:

  1. Each class supports very high customization, where the player can invest in particular skill trees / talents / abilities to support their preferred playstyle and capabilities. E.g. WoW, RIFT, SWTOR, WildStar
  2. Each class allows zero functional customization, any customization is strictly cosmetic (skins, etc.). E.g. Overwatch

For years, the high customization model was the industry norm, starting with WoW and later reaching its zenith with RIFT in 2011. In RIFT each of the 4 classes – cleric, mage, rogue, warrior – had 9 (yes, nine!) talent trees, and you could mix-and-match any 3 trees and decide how to spend your talent points in your chosen 3 trees. I loved the RIFT’s class design – there were so many different combinations and I had a field day trying to create different viable specs and builds, including my M*A*S*H Melee Healer Cleric spec for PVP.

One obvious issue with the high customization model is balancing trees and classes, both within a class and across classes. This was very true in PVE for classes that could play the same role, e.g. tank or healer or DPS.

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Posted in Game Design, PVP, RIFT, SWTOR, WildStar, World of Warcraft

Where the Heck I’ve Been


It occurred to me when looking at my recent (well, not really recent) blog posts that I pretty much disappeared from the face of the earth for the 2nd half of 2016 and didn’t address it here.

We had some major issues come up IRL related to heath and housing and had to move several times during that time. It was super stressful and exhausting, and for many months we were too busy sorting through personal concerns while I kept up with my product management day job for me to play online games, let alone blog or YouTube about them in my free time. Those 6 months were by far the worst period in our lives.

Thankfully, things have been getting better. We moved into a new place in late December, and while there are a couple issues we’re still working through, we’re settling in and life is returning to a semblance of normalcy.

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Posted in Armored Warfare, Blog Musings, Camelot Unchained, Game Design, World of Tanks

RIP Armored Warfare, Road to Unicum is Back


As you may have heard, game publisher Mail.Ru is pulling the plug on Armored Warfare (AW) game developer Obsidian Entertainment (OEI) and taking the development effort in-house.

This is rather unfortunate, as I had a positive impression of OEI and thought they were heading in the right direction with Balance 2.0, which was a major rework of many mechanics, including normalizing damage based on gun caliber and normalizing HP based on size/weight to prevent power creep across tiers, plus positive changes to create better balance among classes.

Mail.Ru doesn’t seem to understand the Western market (EU/NA), so I have no confidence Mail.Ru will meaningfully improve AW.

Beyond that, switching development teams always creates massive churn, partly because the new team doesn’t know the existing code base and architecture intimately, and partly because people always want to change something to fit their particular vision.

I wanted to share two things with you:

  1. My AW clan leader Gatortribe posting an in-depth writeup on what happened with AW. It’s a fascinating read
  2. I went back to World of Tanks (WoT) several weeks ago

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Posted in Armored Warfare, Game Design, PVP, World of Tanks

Interview with My.com Senior Producer Josh Morris on Armored Warfare at GDC 2016


I sat down with Josh Morris at Game Developers Conference 2016 for an hour to discuss all things Armored Warfare (AW).

Josh is the Senior Producer at My.com and previously worked at Wargaming for three years as NA Producer for World of Tanks (WoT).

We covered a wide range of topics, including tank balance, PVP and PVE evolution, determining how modern tanks should work in-game, and matchmaking. Warning, very long wall-of-text incoming :)

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Posted in Armored Warfare, Business Analysis, Game Design, Interview, PVE, PVP

“The Art of Warfare” Guides & Tank Reviews for Armored Warfare


Last updated: 2016 November 8, Patch 0.18.

Following in the footsteps of my “Road to Unicum” series for World of Tanks (WoT), I’ve started a video series called “The Art of Warfare” for the tank shooter Armored Warfare (AW).

In “The Art of Warfare” videos, I discuss the mechanics of various tanks, how I’m reading each PVP battle as it unfolds, and key decisions and mistakes. My hope is that these videos meaningfully help players improve their gameplay.

Taugrim's PVP Stats in Armored Warfare

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Posted in Armored Warfare, Guide, PVP, Video, World of Tanks
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