Alganon Interview with David Allen — The MMO Gamer

Alganon Interview with David Allen

The MMO Gamer: Having looked through the library some, I noticed that there were several sections on various classes that were grayed out. To me this suggests something similar to class specialization late in the game. While I personally very much advocate the use of such a system in order to allow players to make more informed decisions about what they want to do, I also understand that this might simply be a case of “Not Implemented yet”. If the latter, do you have any plans to add further specialization in classes beyond what one can do with abilities?

David Allen: I’m not sure what you saw, but we have a number of classes that will be added over the years as the game grows. That and the content of the library is still being refined. I think the Library is one of the most overlooked features of Alganon. Players have been asking for this for years, and now they have it, it’s just natural and what they expect; they forget we’re the only game that has it embedded within the game itself (removing the need to use 3rd party support sites). In addition the Library will also grow to reflect the accomplishments of players throughout the game, showing a “spotlight” on characters, guilds, and families.

The MMO Gamer: Being able to select multiple roles is something that is rarely tried in games of this nature, and for good reason. It creates what many might call a nightmare for balancing teams. How does your team intend to combat the “tankmage” that so often occurs when games allow dual classing? Beyond just making sure that the game breaking combinations are toned down to something sensible, how do you intend to provide enough viability to other, perhaps less conventional, class pairings?

David Allen: Well, rather than me telling you how the team will handle it, let’s ask the team directly!

Hue Henrey (Lead Designer): The problem with the “tankmage” is that they have high survivability and high damage at exactly the same time; they stand there and take the hits while they do large amounts of damage. This is completely unbalanced. When I first said the words “Dual Role” to our systems design team, they came to the same conclusion. However, our Dual Role system is not the same as a Dual Class system. Our system is designed to address these issues.

As many other games have proven, the key is in limiting what roles the class can perform at any one moment in time. The easy way to do this would have been to give them a button on their ability tree that they can use to switch between roles, but we wanted to find a way that was more fun – to spice things up a bit. In the process we found a few ways to handle it, and so each of our classes achieve this same goal in a slightly different way (or combination of ways).

For example, a Ranger is the closest to this simple switch. A Ranger’s role is, for the most part, determined by their presence. When a Ranger wants to change role, they will change their presence. A Magus, on the other hand, changes role based on which actions they use. A Frost tank needs to keep using their frost actions to stay alive – but these spells are the lowest DPS spells in their arsenal. To do DPS, they will need to use other spells, but using anything other than a frost spell means they will quickly get their face smashed in. In other words, if they use tanking actions, they are poor at DPS. If they use DPS actions, they are poor at tanking. If another player can pick up the target, they could switch to DPS, but they can’t do both roles at the same time. Other classes have other techniques that achieve this same goal of “one role at a time.”

For the second part of the question – providing viability to less conventional pairings – we need to look at another facet of Alganon’s Dual Role System. In Alganon, every class has a primary role that is tied to their class. This primary role is given to them by default. To customize their character, players will be define a second role – using a traditional point-tree interface that players will recognize from other RPGs. These trees are organized into the combat roles we’ve used to define our group content, so players looking for combat efficiency will likely stick to a single tree. However, players are free mix-and-match these abilities as they see fit. The goal is to provide players with options for their second role.

This, coupled with the different ways that we limit players to “one role at a time,” means that every player has at least one viable specialization, and that one comes for free. Even if your second role is considered sub-par by the hardcore community, you can still find a place in their groups. A “less conventional” character will simply find that these hardcore groups still accept them, but ask them to stick to their primary role. This gives players the freedom to create a character based on how they want to play, but without giving up the primary role that allows them to be accepted into the most hard-core and elitist of raid groups.

Of course, this system isn’t some crazy, revolutionary, new idea. In fact, most of the top players in World of Warcraft used to respec often in order to force that game to work in a similar way. These players would have one spec because their raid group requires it, and respec when they wanted to enjoy the game in a different way. None of these players ever called a meeting, or wrote up a design document, or even realized they were designing a system; they just played the game the way they wanted to play it. Creating this system just happened. The designers of that game tried to fight against this player-created system by making respecs progressively more expensive, but, eventually, the players won their battle against the designers, and the ability to save a second spec was added.

One of the key philosophies behind Alganon is to avoid such “player versus designer” battles. Rather than fight against our players, we plan to pay attention to how players approach the game and make that choice more rewarding. There is no “player versus designer” mindset here. We want to make a game our players love, not make our players love our game. If players want to require a certain spec, let’s give that spec away for free, and let everyone enjoy it.

This is why Alganon players get their primary specialization automatically. You don’t have to look it up on a website, struggle to set it up again when the game changes, or worry about getting it wrong. It is always there. While this is helpful for players who don’t want to hassle with setting up their primary spec, it is a hundred times more helpful from the “looking for more” side of the equation. When you need a tank in another game, you have to ask if the other player has the right specialization. If not, they could be lacking where your group needs them most. In Alganon, that primary spec is free and required. Every soldier has the actions they need to tank. Every single one. If you need a tank, ask a Soldier. Done. Good to go. You don’t have to send out (or receive) a hundred tells asking about specialization.

This philosophy is also why every class has roles that are vastly different. In other MMOs, a few classes are considered hybrids because they can choose to specialize in very different roles. One or two classes get to choose between roles as different as “Tank or Heal” or “Support or DPS”, but most others are only given a choice between “Blue DPS” or “Red DPS.” In Alganon, however, the choices between different specializations are always as big as “Tank or Heal”.

Rangers, for example, have a primary role of aggro/movement control, but can choose secondary roles as different as tanking, healing, or DPS! Soldiers have a primary role of single-target tank, but can choose secondary roles of multi-target tank, DPS, or support! Healers are single-target healers by default, but can choose to specialize in raid-healing, DPS, or support! A Magus is a multi-target DPS class, but can choose between single-target DPS, multi-target tank, and aggro/movement control!

As we add more classes, they will come with a primary role and 3 very different options for their secondary role. Never will there be a class with two of the same role in their list of options. This gives our players more ways to have fun without forcing them to level multiple characters. Again, this isn’t some wild and crazy idea. These roles were created by looking at the optimal strategies players uncovered and “required” in other games. We just made them more fun, and accessible to everyone. We’re not looking to reinvent the wheel, we’re looking to give players more ways to have fun with the wheel they already know and love.

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  1. Alganon Interview with David Allen #mmo #mmorpg

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  3. Alganon Interview with David Allen : The MMO Gamer: The MMO Gamer on November 14th, 2009 07:13. Alganon Intervi..

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  5. Alganon Interview with David Allen : The MMO Gamer: Are there any plans to bring that game world, it's hist..

  6. Besides the illogical organization of questions, what's with the weird, frightened tone of voice on the questions? Was Allen holding a gun? Or your nuts in a vice?

    Don't apologize before asking; just ask the questions in a clear voice and be professional. That works very well, even when interviewing devs of games far bigger than this one.

  7. This is the interviewer's polite way of saying "This seems like World of Warcraft, circa 2002." A lot of the questions are politely phrased but pointed – for instance, the surface appearance may show shades of WoW, but there is no over-arching story to speak of and the world feels dead and uneventful upon entering it (it's in open beta now). This is WoW without the deep backstory and lore. If you're bothered by lore and storylines, this is your game.

  8. Whitewash.

    "Why does your game look EXACTLY like WoW?"
    Because we wanted everyone to be familiar with it?

    "Then why does it have UI elements copied from the UI in WoW, that aren't features in your game? (like the keyring, the icon is there, but it doesn't function for anything)."
    Oh because we plan to implement it.

    "Is there anything you can say beyond corporate lingo and twisted statements that amount to nothing?"
    Just play it! Trust me!


  9. These guys (David Allen and his devteam/Alganon supporters) are nothing more than a bunch of pissed off developers/gamers that want to recoup some of their losses from having played wow by making a game of their own so similar to wow in order to mock Blizzard, and at the same time screw unsuspecting customers out of prepaid subscriptions on an unplayable game due to all the bugs! They're closing the doors on their own beta testers in two days to go paid launch "release" despite beta testers cautions and advise.

    It also has come to the public's attention that reportedly the lead dev and CEO has attempted to phish phone numbers out of prospective customers on his own forums under the pretense of customer service. Be advised this is not a joke this is one to stay away from parents be advised I repeat be advised.

  10. I played the game in beta and it was interesting but never bought the package deal they offered before Live ( thank god ).. I did buy it 2 weeks ago " after they reduced the price " and I have not been able to log into the game . Some people can play but alot of people cant because they get disconnected before login or after character selection. The first day, there was a dev trying to help but after an hour I was on my own..The people playing the game get in forum and try to help but theres little they can do This game is in no shape be live now.. Buyer beware cause the chances you'll be able to log in is not so good.. sorry to say
    They know they have a serious problem but I wonder how serious they're dealing with it.. There has been 2 patches with failed fixes for the DCing which makes me think the wrong people are working on it.
    The community is small 1 player stated there was 30 players on one server and 37 on the other and I kind of believe it.. Makes me wonder how long they can last that way.. I had no choice but to cancel my subscription and delete the game.. Give this game time before buying cause theyll either fix their problems or fail trying..

  11. To be honest I don't mind if it is a copy of WoW, someone had to do it and slap Blizzard since Blizzard done it also and stole a lot of ideas from previous mmos. But at least to be a good copy, smooth as WoW is, this looks unpolished, from what I saw in the videos.

    I say anyone that can manage to copy WoW but change the lore characters and models should be a winner, and you can do it with anything, from Sci-Fi to Fantasy…

    allods looks WoWish also which is good:)


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