Now that the game has been online for well over ten years, Ten Ton Hammer chatted up Dark Age of Camelot producer Stuart Zissu about realm vs. realm combat, class balance, crafting, and more.
DAoC has a whopping 45 classes, and class balance (or at least the perception of class imbalance) has been the downfall of other PvP-centric online games. How have you approached this crucial aspect of RvR play? DAoC is still one of my favorite MMORPGs to this day, particularly because it managed to stick out from the other EverQuest chasers.
Balancing 45 classes is really hard! We're never going to get it 100% right, but we'll try our best. One person may see something as overpowered, but another may see it as viable, and we try things both ways. When we balance, we try not to balance one class against another. We balance according to the realm.
What does this class bring to the realm, to the RvR? What we end up finding is that people don't understand the mechanics, or aren't playing, or just want to call it overpowered... and go in and try to find out why. We start pulling it apart, editing values, and sometimes we find that magic, spot-on thing we need to change. But more often than not, things still need additional changes. The guy we have doing class balance right now is doing a great job, but we still have emails flowing in about various class imbalances and we are trying to make it known that we are balancing the big picture in the realm, and not just on a class vs. class basis.
Speaking of realms, one of the the most brilliant ideas about DAoC, to me, is that there are three playable factions. This is one of DAoC's secrets that hasn't been copied; every other PvP-centric game that I can think of has two. What has the three faction balance done for this game?
Everytime you ask someone that is playing, or were playing, they always talk about how their realm is the best. Everyone has a different opinion on this as well. Having three realms always gives the clear idea of one realm being on top, and then the other two realms would notice and begin to focus on knocking them down a peg. When you get two realms, and you have one that is winning, it's a snowball effect. It's very hard to design a game where the rich don't get richer, but in our game, the rich gets taken down a notch!