The Difficulties of Introducing New Classes to Neverwinter

To start off the week on Unblogged, I’d like to talk about new classes today. More precisely about the difficulties of bringing them to life in Neverwinter. We know the devs already have the next addition planned, but for whatever reason the release or even the design has been postponed multiple times. Druid, Monk or Bard is what’s getting thrown out as suggestions the most, and recently even the game itself fueled the rumors with a tweet.

I believe this was just a D&D reference to the extended tweet length that Twitter introduced, but we picked up the discussion nonetheless in the the first “Podcast of Annihilation” that I recorded with Nova, JayAgeDee and SNK o Elzy over the weekend. First of all, kudos to the guys of knowing way more about D&D rules and lore than I do. It was a pleasure to listen to them going back and forth about classes, their pen and paper powers and how you could bring them to Neverwinter. But the aspect of the discussion that I personally found most intriguing was the question how to make new classes appealing to players.

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Creating a Class Is a Massive Task

I think Neverwinter has multiple issues when it comes to adding a new class. Designing one from scratch, creating all the assets, animations, icons, and balancing requires a massive effort from the team. And for such an undertaking, a class doesn’t add a whole lot of content in itself. It’s always fun to fiddle with the new powers, figure out synergies, builds and fits within the meta, but in the end you’ll be running the same dungeons and the same quests for the umpteenth time. Neverwinter neither has independent starting areas nor long and immersive class quests lines. That’s why the effect of having a new class available can wear off pretty fast.

Who Is Going to Play It?

You gotta ask yourself: Who is going to play the class? Of course you have a bunch of players that simply like certain classes because they know them from their offline adventures. Maybe you’ve played a Monk or whatever and are eager to bring it to live in the game. That’s fine, and should absolutely be a factor in introducing new classes in a D&D game. On the other hand, it’s not like we have a strong focus on RPG elements. Foundry anyone? So this alone is probably not enough to warrant the massive development time.

What you need to do is make a bunch of existing players pick up a new class because of gameplay reasons, and that’s not too easy. First of all, the class should have a unique style of play. I always liked the Hunter Ranger because it was so different than what we had. The concept of switching between ranged and melee stances and having six instead of three encounters is unique, and great. You would definitely need something like this. On the podcast we were talking about the Druid a lot because of its ability to Wild Shape into animal form. It’s not only a complete new element visually, but you could do tons of things with it from a gameplay perspective as well.

I don’t want to get too deep into class theory here, because that’s a topic of its own. It’s just that you probably need something as interesting as Druid’s Wild Shape. Otherwise players won’t likely try the class.

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Five-Character Dungeons

The other challenge when introducing a class is finding its place in the current meta. In Neverwinter, your bread and butter is five-character content. So chances are that some classes will always have it harder to find groups than others. Just ask the Scourge Warlock or Trickster Rogues currently… This is not easy to solve. You can’t just make new classes overpowered so that players have to play them. But if they don’t overtake a role within the meta from another class, new players will have it hard to get into endgame content. And that’s obviously not great either. It would be much more convenient if Neverwinter had more 10 or 20 player content that mattered. You just have much more freedom to pick classes in a larger group, and often variety even comes with additional benefits for the whole raid.

Balancing Effort Increase

Talking about being overpowered, a new class also significantly increases the necessary maintenance efforts. New additions always mess with balancing as a whole. Seeing how long it already takes for the devs to make changes, I’m having trouble understanding why we should have another piece that potentially only adds to these struggles. TR are waiting forever, SWs will at least be bad until Mod 13 and the latest DC change in Mod 11 is queued up for a revision since half a year. That being said, the devs already stated they want to get the current balancing right before adding anything anyway.

So overall in Neverwinter’s current state, no big focus on RPG, five-character dungeons, no unique class content, balancing issues, it might be hard to justify throwing a bunch of resources on a new class design. You at least have to come up with good solutions for the mentioned stuff. And figuring all of that out behind the scenes might exactly be the reason why it takes so long to bring new classes to the game.


What’s your take on new classes in Neverwinter? Would you like more no matter the consequences or are you a little bit wary as well? Share your thoughts in the comments below and visit the corresponding thread on our message board!

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j0Shi

j0Shi

j0Shi plays the Neverwinter MMORPG since the open BETA in 2013 and is a regular contributor to the blog and the whole UN:Project. Originally a Guardian Fighter, he has built up ALTs of all classes and plays on BIS/near-BIS level.

10 thoughts on “The Difficulties of Introducing New Classes to Neverwinter

  • November 20, 2017 at 8:15 am
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    No more new class soon = people are going too sail away.
    Especially me.
    There are, druids, bards NPC, so …
    Cryptic are, from the beginning (City of Heroes powers customization), the type of people to say “Oh no, it’s to hard to do, or the game motor can’t handle this or that” and finally they bring “impossible” to game. The one who want to kill his horse always find good reasons, that’s Cryptic.

    Reply
  • November 20, 2017 at 11:47 am
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    I’d come back for a monk. Specially a dragonborn monk.

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  • November 20, 2017 at 11:55 am
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    A new class is need IMO, i’m really bored.. the RNG kills the game and Cryptics Greed has hit its last nerve with me..
    Content – for me my suggestion is Fix the balancing , while doing that have a team work on content , a big enough map with enough quest to keep me busy for 6 to 8 months to complete all and during that time you can fix other stuff but right now there is nothing to do , i wont keep running the same darn dungeons all the time and the rewards a shit..don’t get me started on those events.. oh my word..

    Reply
  • November 20, 2017 at 4:13 pm
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    They really need to get a new class into the game, otherwise the game will bleed out fast.

    The recent nerfs and random queue pushed a lot of players away, and that will hit even harder on console.

    Or they have just focused all their energy/developers into the new Magic: the Gathering game, and will just keep supporting Neverwinter on a bare minimum, until some contract expires or the game dies, whichever comes first.

    Reply
  • November 21, 2017 at 4:13 am
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    We have enough classes. I don’t really see a reason to add one, it’s a content for a fraction of players who will take up the grind. You can make new class content, like adding an additional specialization so that we have 3 instead of 2. It’s not that much of a work, you can make all 9 classes with a similar effort to craft a new one from scratch, and it’s a content for everyone.
    Balancing is not an issue. They suck so hard at balancing that it’s really a non-argument.

    Reply
  • November 21, 2017 at 12:51 pm
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    I would probably go about it all in a different way. More like the old Everquest setup where you had a tank, healer, dps and support. Move buffs away from clerics and tanks and drop them more into warlock and add bard andor druid as another support class. Leaving OP and GF to Tank, could also make druid tank build. Then DC, Op and one Druid build to heal and Bard, Warlock to do Buff and Debuff. The rest stay DPS. It would be a huge re-work of the game but would allow far more opportunity for longer term success. Adding those classes in that manner would fix the 2 DC meta, add another tank class and increase variety. The game in general is a balancing effort, every time there is a new release of any kind the entire game needs to looked at to see if something gets broken.

    Part of the benefit of new classes is learning the new interactions. The content may not change but new dynamics might make something more enjoyable for an entire party and the community in general and most of the abilities are in the game really. Support stuff is there, redo the visuals and rename. For the necessary new abilities Bard and Druid borrow from other classes anyway. Bard would have a full buff build with an aura type “instrument” setup and a debuff build the same way. Then move Warlock more to Buff debuff as well Temp lock and cursing. Druid build and cleric rebalancing would be more difficult probably but it’s been done before. Make druid more heal over time ticks and clerics shielding and mass swing healing. Then and animal shape druid where depending on the branch you can either tank or be dps. Either way all the abilities are really present in the game.

    The issue is the game is getting stale no matter what “new content” is released. The gaming community won’t stand for 6 month long content without leaving en masse and the most new content is repetitive anyway. “Here are 15 new quests in 1 zone for you to repeat every week until you’ve completed the “campaign”.

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  • November 21, 2017 at 1:42 pm
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    Since First Edition AD&D, Fire, Lightning, Plant, Animal, Sun, Weather, Healing, Studded Leather/Animal Hide armour. That’s a Druid.

    Shapeshifting is a kind of minor thing, really. If they made a Druid, I’d hate it to be focused only around shifting to an animal form during combat, although that would be the obvious TAB ability.

    But the Ranger already has some of the best Druid Plant spells. They could make a Druid, though, as it would borrow from other classes, just like OP borrowed from GF and DC, but ridiculously over-powered.

    Reply
  • November 22, 2017 at 11:51 pm
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    no need to put in new classes, just put in other feat trees that give drastically different abilities, in D&D this is called specialization and class kits……… and why the fuck does the wizard not have FIREBALL, it is the go to spell for wizards in d&d since the beginning

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    • November 23, 2017 at 7:30 am
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      But a badly timed or misplaced Fireball could also kill the party. Imagine the pitchforks and torches! It would even make Knockerbackers welcome. The only thing that would cause more outcry is if TRs could pick our pockets!

      I also wish there was not so much focus on being an Ice Mage, but I’d settle for internal balance and icy powers not being so OP compared with Arcane.

      Reply
  • November 24, 2017 at 5:28 pm
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    Theres another difficulty having to do with how loosely defined the current classes are as well.

    Guardian fighter and GWF.. they were literally 75% the same thing until recently.

    Are you going to make a monk a melee class? ..how will that differ from GWF.. just add in brass knuckles and copy paste the powers? Do we really want another in your face melee class?

    Druid.. so a rugged nature type.. who might that sound like in the game. We already have HRs summoning crushing strangling roots of various types. ..using powers of the forest to disappear. (its weak but they have it).

    Bard.. how exactly is this going to differ from TR? .. they have a bag pipe with a different graphic?

    They have simplified the hack and slash, and generalized the classes they have in this game down to the point that a new class would be even more redundant than it already is. They could accomplish the same thing by adding a few powers to the same class or adding more customization options to the existing classes; both of which take less work than creating one from whole cloth.

    They already lack in development power enough to add in non gameplay effecting style changes regularly. ..people think they’re going to add in another class when every mod for the past few years has included failed attempts at class balance. Theres just no more room at this inn.

    Reply

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