Design Notes

January 19, 2022

Class and Combat Dev Blog #2

Rebalancing, Readjustment, and Releases

When doing class rebalancing, releases, repositioning, and readjustment, we’re always aiming to put the game in a better state than it previously was. Sometimes, this is in the form of putting classes where they make sense, and for others, we may aim to adjust classes so they make sense alongside their contemporaries. In doing so, we’d like to more clearly communicate our intentions and guidelines to you so that you all may better understand the work we are aiming to do.

 Sometimes, the reasons for changes we make aren’t immediately apparent, though we strive to improve the game overall for new players, old players, and everyone in between. So, for our Dev Blog #2, I’d like to share some of our thought processes with you all.

Reworks and Rebalances

Classes can be knocked out of position by many different things, including addition of mechanics that empower them, bug fixes that change their power, and addition of game segments that increase or decrease the meta relevance of a class.

One of our major roles is to make sure classes’ power matches when they’re obtainable and the amount of effort they take to obtain. When a class strongly exceeds this, we may make adjustments to put the class either back at how it performed previously, or back in its relevance category.

This is often in the form of taking away power from one role of the class, and increasing its performance in another, in the way of direct power, or quality of life updates. However, we try to do this as little as possible, so you don’t feel like you’re losing out on power you earned.

Because of this, class rebalancing is almost always done in response to a change that’s inadvertently made the class too powerful or too weak without directly affecting it. This means that, after the rebalances are made, the classes should generally return to how they were performing, but maybe with a spin on style, or more quality of life features. We always urge you to try changes with an open mind, and look at the bigger picture instead of focusing on individual changes in the class.

Our goal is to give you a selection of classes to choose from at any point in the game, for any major role. A lot of this is taken care of by constant class buffs, reworks, or rebalances of older classes to bring them to levels that make sense when you obtain them.

The Process

So how does a class actually go from one state to another? Like any other work that’s done, class changes are scheduled and then integrated into a workflow. This means that one class change can pass through the hands of many people.

Usually, an impetus to change the class begins the process. This can come from suggestions from you, suggestions from our testers and devs internally, or just a waitlist of classes we’ve been wanting to change.

Then, we need to find a time slot where the balance team isn’t significantly occupied, and we can work directly with other devs to implement changes. These multi-team changes include things like changing quests, changing items, or changing art. This is generally where planning meetings and coordinating work is- which generates many documents.

The actual testing can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks- in which time the class will undergo numerous iterations, and have each one tested, to varying degrees. This is often the most tedious part of the process- where ideas can become reality, but can also become bugs.

Dealing with bugs, roadblocks, and other obstacles is the trickiest part. Sometimes, a core mechanic to the class will fail to work for one reason or another, and then the class dev leading the project will have to think of an alternate solution. This can either take the form of redesigning the class, or recruiting the help of our programmers to fix these bugs. This often has extensive ripple effects across the rest of the class, and can lead to much more redesigning and testing.

After we’re comfortable with the balance, and all asset changes have been tested, finalization for changes is integrated back into the weekly release workflow, and so must be planned ahead of time. This is usually the stage where design notes posts and marketing is created, right before the final release of the changes.

When a new class is created, this process grows even more complicated, since writers, artists, animators, and often programmers need to be involved.

Discussion and Terminology

We tend not to direct players on how to use classes because we want players to retain creative freedom in figuring out their own ways to use and play the classes, and for writing guides to be a community driven activity.

If you would like to see a change to this, please leave us your feedback, and let us know! We’re happy to give out information about classes so long as it betters the experience for everyone.

Part of the consequence of this is that our terminology isn’t the most clearly defined, so I’d like to talk about it.

Generally, we have four categories of classes we refer to:

  • Starter/Early-game 
  • Mid-game 
  • Late-game 
  • End-game classes 

When we refer to these, we may either be referring to them in terms of power, or in terms of obtainment methods. This has been a point of confusion for some people, as the two don’t always line up. Since our main priority is to make the two line up, it can be confusing when we refer to a class in context of one of the two terms, so we’ll try to be more specific in the future. 

Additionally, this four-category system isn’t absolute- we actually balance them on a smoother spectrum. This means that late-game classes can have relevance in end-game applications, and by putting in extra effort and going out of your way, you may be able to get late-game classes where you should normally be running into mid-game classes. We try not to dictate when and where you can choose to do that, and instead only limit it when necessary.

Another term that’s often used for class power is “Tier 2 classes.” This is an older term that was used to describe classes that need multiple rep factions or minor classes to unlock, and we often lean on this term to describe powerful classes. The definition of it is largely unclear, and so we will stop using this term in future posts.

Plans and Progression

So where does this leave us, and where are we going next?

Next up immediately is changes to several mid-game classes to improve their quality of life, and perhaps to buff a few. Classes you can expect to receive quality of life include:

  • Eternal Inversionist 
  • Star Captain 
  • Guardian
  • Ranger

Classes that will receive buffs are:

  • Blaze Binder 
  • Royal Battlemage 
  • Evolved Leprechaun 
  • Elemental Dracomancer 
  • Legendary Hero 
  • MechaJouster 
  • Infinity Knight

We’ll be spreading these out over a couple weeks.

Additionally, several classes may receive more significant changes.

Chaos Shaper will receive some more extensive work and buffs, but will be all positive.

ArchPaladin will receive some quality of life changes, and its main stacking and sealing mechanics will be changed to be more dynamic in play:

  • Commandment will stack faster but cap lower
  • Righteous Seal will be more effective but less constant
  • Sacred Magic: Eden will be made more usable in play.

Chronomancer Prime will receive:

  • Increase in cooldown to Temporal Collapse, and a slight reduction to damage 
  • Increase in healing, to improve its sustainability in combat 

Timekiller will receive:

  • A change to its autoattack where temporal rift will be removed, to prevent it from stacking too quickly 
  • Small reduction in cooldown of Stretch Time, alongside an increase in range 
  • Increase in cooldown of Compress Time 
  • Small bonuses to its passives

These more extensive changes are still tentative, and subject to change. Ideally, we don’t plan to make calendars obsolete or necessarily weaker than their meta placement, we just want to reign in some of the overpowered ones, and buff some of the weaker ones.

Following this, several larger projects are being put in motion as well, including beginning development on several of the new classes you’ll be seeing this year. If you’re interested in how we develop classes, and what our workflow is like, keep an eye out for the next devblog!

 Over the course of the rest of the year, we have several other projects to improve gameplay.

  • More rebalancing in the Chaos Saga questlines, so that newer players may have a more balanced experience (shooting for the early part of the year)
  • Major mechanic we plan to overhaul to improve everybody’s experience (after the saga rebalances)
  • Expanding /classhall (we're looking to do this several times in 2022)
  • Reintroducing a few rare class skill sets (though the original art will remain rare), as we have been doing
  • As far as Insignia bosses go, we still plan to release them, but at a much slower rate. 

We’ll be discussing more details about each of these projects as we come upon them.

What do you think of this dev blog post? Please tweet us at @AqwClass and @Alina_AE, or join the official Artix Games Discord server to share your feedback with us directly, and discuss it with other players! 

~ Eht

Tags: Alina,
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