Oct 062014

Of course, this isn’t the only way to make a multi-class system, but I think these are generally sound design decisions if you want to make a multi-class system as seen in many RPGs (like FFT, Blue Dragon, Bravely Default, Wild Arms XF, etc).

1) Use slots to equip secondary abilities & passives into, thus requiring the player to make choices rather than just allow everything learned to be used at all times (encouraging extreme grinding for ultimate characters).
2) Provide enough free slots to allow creativity and prevent feeling trapped into 1 or 2 best abilities.
3) Make it so that classes give all of their currently learned abilities and passives for free while currently equipped.
4) Ensure that classes aren’t useless at base level, thus allowing for late-game experimentation & emergency switching if the player’s planned strategy fails.
5) Reveal limited previews of future abilities to be learned thus allowing for planning. However, don’t do total preview to prevent the player from becoming bored with the job system early on (maybe just the next ability to be learned is revealed).
6) Give all characters innate attributes that distinguish them from other characters, regardless of class. Examples: stat differences (major stat differences, not just mild variations), unique usable items & equipment, exclusive jobs & abilities, etc.
7) Avoid making the innate character attributes & abilities too powerful – you want them to make each character feel unique, rather than invalidate the rest of the class system.
8) Avoid truly broken combinations – primarily combinations that render the player essentially invincible or able to take infinite numbers of turns or win every battle with no risk of defeat.
9) “Sort of” broken combinations, on the other hand, are to be encouraged since they make the player feel powerful & clever for discovering them.
10) Design unique classes – not just the standard Warrior/Mage/Healer generic classes.
11) Don’t overwhelm the player. If you give the player too many options, too quickly, they’ll just pick a few favorites and ignore the rest.
12) If equipment is class-specific, save class equipment load-outs to avoid having to spend too much time re-equipping.
13) Have fun!

 Posted by at 5:10 pm

  5 Responses to “Some suggestions for a good multi-class system”

  1. Not only do the stat differences define the best path, but often I’ve seen the stat differences done as ‘men fight physically and women use magic’, and that irritates me.

  2. See, I enjoy slots (FFT comes to mind).

    I enjoy having to make tactical and strategic decisions for what I need in my party, but very much agree that I should be given “enough” so that I can experiment. I’m probably one of the few people who liked Diablo 3’s new skill system for that very reason.

    I pumped a lot of hours into DQ8, and I honestly didn’t enjoy the “unlocks for everything” system. I felt too powerful.

    Great article, I always enjoy these kinds of posts.

  3. I despise “slots”. It often makes me feel like I wasted a lot of time earning skills that I can’t use. I love the Dragon Quest approach- once I earn it, its mine and available regardless of changing classes. Passives should be permanent to the character, and never “slotted” just to get the advantage. I want to feel like my time was respected by the developer, who allowed me to become massively overpowered. I also like the way they open new jobs, when you master certain classes, obvious hybrid classes become available with even better skills.

    The only real problem with Dragon Quest is the sheer number of duplicated skills with different names. It would be much better if everything was completely unique.

  4. Thank you for sharing, good observations! #9 reminds me of a “sort of” broken combination in the recent Transistor by Super Giant, so maybe this really was a purposeful design decision. I can’t wait to see your studies in action 🙂

  5. I really liked the system in Dragon Warrior/Quest 7. I really liked that classes could be mastered which unlocked new advanced classes but I think a slot system like you describe in #1 would have made it better. Learning everything is nice but it makes it so that every character can be the same.

    Something about #6 though is I find if you give characters major stat differences it sort of defines the best class path for them. The character with the highest intelligence stat is going to be the caster and so on. I’d agree that characters should be different mechanically but it would probably be better by limited equipment or unique passives rather than stat difference and special classes.

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