Want some deep insight into how MMO design works? Like, really, really deep?
We’ve got a good one for you today, then.
Eric at Elder Game has written a stormer of a post looking at pet classes, and the problems of balancing them in MMOs – which then goes into how balance works in an MMO overall, what an “action economy” is, and why there’s such a temptation to make pets almost useless:
“There’s a game-balancing concept called the “action economy.” It just means that you can only make a certain number of actions in a game, so you have to fit all your actions into your “budget.”
In an MMO this is incredibly apparent: if a fight lasts 30 seconds, and pressing a button takes two seconds, you have an action budget of 15 button presses. (Of course, all sorts of other things determine the actual number of actions, but you get the point.)
Pet classes break the action economy, which is why they’re hard to balance. The pet can perform actions at the same time that you are performing actions. So now either all of your actions after summoning the pet have to be sucktastic and useless, or your pet’s actions have to be useless instead. Otherwise you’re getting a double helping of awesome actions.”
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