Howdy everyone, Thomas “Blixtev” Blair here!
Today I am going to dig in and discuss where we landed on what we have been calling “the Race/Class split” for our upcoming 5.3 publish. I really find the post-implementation style updates tend to be much more exciting than a new system reveal, as they illuminate what we actually finished and is playable vs. a typical what-we-are-planning-and-thinking style of update. If you have been following us for any time you know by now that things tend to change a bit during the implementation phase, sometimes considerably! It’s a nice change of pace to discuss things that you guys will actually get your hands on sooner rather than later.
LET’S DIG IN!
As you know, originally in Crowfall the concept of Race and Class was linked into a single thing, which we called “Archetype”. For example, if you wanted to be a Knight you were stuck playing a human. If you wanted to be a Legionnaire you were forced to be a Centaur… and vice versa.
Each Archetype was themed around an aspect of combat such as “tank”, and had a set of powers based around that presumed role. Each power had a very custom animation and set of power effects. The important thing to note about this pipeline is that these animations and FX were locked to that particular character model (and skeleton/rig) and they couldn’t be used on any other avatar or “body type” without an incredible amount of work. Work that felt like we would never be able to afford.
The team completed 9 of these custom archetypes over a year and a half before Todd really started to question that base assumption; i.e that “we can’t transfer animations and FX between rigs” question. (To be fair, he probably asked this question every few weeks during that year and a half, and the response was always “not unless we have more time and money.” One day he responded to that question was more of a “how much more are we talking about?”)
And that’s when it started. After much estimating and many cross-discipline meetings, a plan was created to break the Archetypes back into the constituent parts that have been a staple in MMOs since the days of Everquest and Shadowbane… a list of Races that player can pick from, and a set of available Classes available to each Race.
WHERE WE LANDED
The reason we had to do this now, before launch, is that it’s a foundational system. If we launched without it, we’d pretty much be locked to Archetypes forever. Now that we’ve reset that assumption, we can start with a list of initial Race/Class combinations and add more options over time*.
Our initial list was derived based on a number of factors. It took into account the cost to support this combination, the balance of Races for each Class and Classes for each Race, and of course the cool factor of each particular combination. We released a chart with every potential combination of Race and Class and drew a line in the sand that said, “These are the combinations that we want to have at launch.”
Since each of these combinations will require some custom work, not all of them will come online when the system is ready (as part of our upcoming 5.3 update). So, which ones will we be rolling out first?
Excellent question! Let’s see how we are coming on our progress!
Here is an updated version of that chart, showing how far we have gotten so far in our development cycle.
Grey cells (i.e. no icon) are combinations we haven’t planned for release (but may come later).
Black cells represent combinations that are in the game, and playable!
White cells are combos that we intend to have by release, but the work isn’t done yet. You’ll recognize that the hold-up for most of these relates to character art; we don’t have a base body done yet for High Elf or Stoneborn, so we can’t transfer over those powers yet (as there is nothing to transfer it to!)
Boxes that are diagonally sliced are complete for one gender, but not both. The bottom portion means that the male portion is complete and the upper portion means that only the female complete (so far).
The holes will continually get filled in future updates and as the missing classes are made playable in the game.
OPTIONS OVER TIME
I noted above (with a little * symbol) that we intend to add more combos over time. Well, we’ve already started!
Looking at the chart above, you might notice that we added a new combination to the mix – the Elken Cleric. This combination wasn’t originally highlighted on the launch chart (which on reflection seems like an oversight, because it’s a really cool concept) and in the course of mapping the Elken animations we found that the cross-over effort was small enough to warrant doing it ahead of schedule.
That’s right! Your murdeer can now pick up a hammer and shield and chuck it like Mjolnir to smash his enemies and watch them scatter.
(And as an added bonus, they can even throw their hammers further than other Clerics, thanks to the ranged distance increase inherent to all ranged powers which is part of their racial discipline!)
NOT JUST ANIMATIONS
While the animations and FX were the bulk of the work, there was a considerable amount of engineering and design work to do as well. Multiple places in code relied on the concept of “Archetypes” doing things; race and class were not a separate “thing.” And a huge number of our design data tables were filled with archetype-related data… not for just the current archetypes, but the future ones we intended to build. All of this had to be modified to accommodate the change to Races and Classes.
To be more specific, here’s a sample of the stuff we had to touch:
- Unarmed attacks (which were based on archetype) needed to be adapted to be based on Race.
- Dodge powers needed to be adapted to be based on Race.
- Movement speeds needed to be based on Race.
- Racial Disciplines needed to be designed, created and granted to the player based on Race choice in character creation,
- …which implies that character creation needs to allow you to pick a Race.
- Archetype skill trees were removed and replaced with Race and Class trees.
- Paired Weapons needed to be broken up into individual weapons, and
- the concept of a main-hand and an off-hand weapon would now be required.
- The character sheet and runestones UIs had to be updated to display Race and Class separately…
…and a ton of other stuff, as well. It was a deep change, and a lot of work, but in the end the game will be better for it!
Now that we’ve split our Archetypes into Races and Classes, we are getting ready to test it internally, in advance of bringing it up on the TEST environment for you guys to play with! The majority of the Race and Class combinations that we want for launch will be available in 5.3, and every update between now and release should “fill in the gaps” of Race/Class combos (and genders) that we haven’t quite gotten to yet.
Oh and we added a Murdeer Cleric, because sure why not.
That’s it for today! Hope you are ready to play Crowfall with even more character customization!
See you in game!
Thomas “Blixtev” Blair