On stats and complexity

I was pondering on something that occurred to me while I was writing up descriptions of various class possibilities for this game. How complex is too complex?

Let me lay it out: At the moment, there are 32 classes I plan to have available. 32. Is that too many? Granted, a player's class is not the defining characteristic. It merely provides a bonus to abilities and skills which are labeled as belonging to that class; players can learn any skill the want to. All players can learn how to pickpocket, and all players can learn how to cast a fireball spell. The Thief and the Mage get substantial bonuses (respectively) to those skills as they those classes "own" them. Also is the fact that there are only 10 pure classes and all 32 of these are either more powerful pure versions of the 10 or hybrid combinations of two of them.

At 32 classes, I figured that I would need a large number of stats to further separate the classes. Players who play a Warrior won't need much Intellect, and since players can change their stats by putting enough effort into playing the character, if a player wanted to make his character a Mage, then he would lose his effectiveness as a Warrior. There are so many stats (right now, I'm thinking of around 15) so that a player can play as a hybrid class such as a Monk, because hybrid classes need two different class skill sets combined into one. If I wanted to play a Paladin, I would need stats which apply to the Swordsman and the Priest, but then have a different set of stats for the Monk (a Fighter and a Priest). The Priest would need two different stats, only one of which applies to the Paladin or the Monk, so that players are not able to easily switch between the two at the drop of a hat. There wouldn't be any point in defining the classes if they could.

The question I suppose I want to ask is "How complex a game system are players willing to tolerate?"

The question also extends to something else I was thinking about: the Character Creation screen. I had a pipe dream that when you created a character, not only would you get to choose your race and looks and so on, but you would also be able to choose what town you want to start in and craft a personal backstory for that character. That back story and location would determine the setting and scenario for the starter area (unlike most games where all characters spawn in a specific spot and then go and talk to the nearest NPC to get their first quest) and could then later be inserted into quests and game events for the character. A character could state in their backstory that their older brother is a successful and powerful member of the Mage's guild in the capitol city. If that player decides to go and train to be a Mage, the possibility exists that they will train under that older brother which could flavor the quest with possible family disputes or camaraderie or even open up unique quests which wouldn't otherwise be available.

Of course, I would have the option of just "Customize appearance, pick a name, race, and starter town", and then a RANDOMIZE MEH! button which would fill out all those details for the player because they want to jump right in or a FAMILY DEAD, DO NOT WANT button which would remove the customized quest content later down the road.

There would be people who would want to have the option to set all of that up however, and the question of How Much is Too Much remains. Will people think there is too much customization that they don't want to bother every time they roll a new character? Will they think there is not enough and begin complaining on the official forums or in email? Which options should be included, which shouldn't?

Would people think these customization options are fun, or would they just not care?

Clearly this is something that should be researched.

Posted by Glyph, the Architect | at 10/04/2009 10:29:00 PM


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