[VX]Basic Game Making: Using the Database- The Class Tab

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Player Character Creation, Part Two


OR

Using the Database to Make a Custom Class




Objectives
Spoiler for:
Today we will cover the use of the Database’s Class tab to explain the selections and options available when making a custom Class. A Class is the job an Actor performs in the PC party. As with any of the tutorials I write, we will be using VX as the example, but the techniques are fairly universal.

Ever since TSR  :blizj: first printed the original “red box” of Dungeons and Dragons™ rules, gamers like you and I have been using Classes. If you have ever played that game, then you already have a working knowledge of why certain classes have only a select group of skills and equipment options- that my friend, is one of the keys in game design even in this day and age. Of course, your opinion may differ from mine. Seek the truth as you experience it.


Classes, Actors and Characters
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Classes are different from Actors; while the two are related, they are two different things. Actors are people in your world who happen to be PCs. Classes are the jobs they do. Or if you prefer, the Actor is inborn ability and Class is trained ability. :D  Those two aspects smooshed together are Player Characters, or PCs.

Class helps maintain game balance in this way. In the last tutorial, we made an Actor that is strong and tough, but has little in the way of intelligence or magic power. To make up for these shortcomings, we’ll make a Class that is a real combat specialist- lots of heavy weapons, heavy armor and a few skills that make his already deadly hits even deadlier. In the grand scheme of things, unless we’re making a single hero game, every character needs to be specialized to some degree. ^-^

Yes, you could have an Actor with high strength and hit points become a magic user, but the results would be underwhelming. ::) Classes are designed to give the Actor’s inborn talents a chance to shine, just like most people in the real world. You don’t see many Physicists in Pro Football for a reason; ergo you should not have a less-than-athletic Actor classed as a Fighter.




The Class Tab
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The melee actor we made in the last tutorial is only geared toward melee until we give him a class- I believe we couldn’t because the class was as then undefined, so let’s define it now. The class we are working on now is going to be called “Fighter”. I know, boring, but it works.

The Fighter is a melee combat specialist with access to lots of big weapons and thick armour and shields. He is the party’s guardian, or at least scapegoat, and will take the majority of the combat damage thrown the party’s way.

Okay, go fire up the RM software. Open your project, and go to the Database. Now click on the Classes tab. What is this evil wall of text and checkboxes?!?  :o

Image coming soon

Hang in there; learning to navigate the mess is why you’re still reading. It looks formidable, but it’s really easy.

You may wish to keep this spoiler unfolded for reference.


Weaponry
Spoiler for:
Alright, first off, click on the button marked “Change Maximum” at the bottom of the Class list. Increase that number by one, and name the new Class “Fighter”.
 
The first big chunk of information defines the weapons the class can use. Weapons are great for inflicting hurt upon the enemies since they require no MP or any special resource to use other than the ability to equip them, and thus are a major component of the Fighter’s makeup.
 
All you have to do is decide which weapons are appropriate for this class’s use and check the appropriate boxes. With the default equipment, the Warrior class has access to some pretty standard, hard hitting weapons- clubs, swords, axes and polearms. Great, but we’re going to make our own from scratch, remember?

Using the Warrior class options as a guide we see that the weapons available are reliable in a fight and cause consistently heavy damage. This is good, because we need a mechanic to compensate for the inability to use multi-target skills, healing or high-damage spells that our Fighter Class will have. Why won’t he have skills like that? Because we’re making a combat specialist. There should be some player choice as to whether or not the Class will be a weapon and shield fighter or a two-handed weapon fighter, so throw in some really hefty two-handed weapons.  :P

Weapons like daggers or whips are not appropriate for the Fighter class because they do too little up-front damage. Additionally, missile weapons like bows may not fit the mold because they are used best from a distance, and the Fighter is designed to be a toe to toe brawler and take punishment- his class risks its own safety to protect the rest of the party. 8) (Pssst, that’s another reason we made the Actor that will take this Class tough.) We should save those kinds of weapons for a class that doesn’t depend on its equipment so heavily, or uses a different style of combat. Remember, the key here is balance, and we have three other Classes to make!

Armour
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We don’t plan to give our Fighter skills that reduce damage or impair the enemy’s ability to cause damage, so he’ll need to be able to use some nice heavy armour and some shields. :D That’s in the second big chunk of checkboxes.

Armour is the stuff that stands between your skin and the enemy’s claws or teeth or whatever. It’s miserably heavy in most cases. Since our Fighter will be standing in front of many claws and teeth, let’s be nice and give him some solid protection. In fact, it’s the one area in which the Fighter should be the top dog!  :zwink:

Again, pick the most appropriate equipment and check the box. We’ll want to give the Fighter access to the best protection there is- the “mail” type armours like chain and plate. Robes are inappropriate because they’re just clothing, and while leather armour is decent enough, there is something better that fits the Class’ job description and needs.

The Armour category is not subdivided into body armour, helms and shields, so we’ll have to pay a little bit of attention here. Our Fighter’s job is to take hits, so he can have the best shields and helms as well. Rings are not entirely appropriate because they offer little protection in exchange for something else, and while amulets do some nifty protective stuff, the net result of heavy armour and shields combined with our Actor’s toughness is better. You can and should include some equipment in the accessory category that the Fighter can use, but keep it minimal and make the equipment focus on something un-flashy, like a status defense.


Position
Spoiler for:

Looking up at the top of the screen, we see a box that has an option for position. This is a combat mechanic that puts the Class closer to or farther away from the enemies. :-* This is important because the closer a Class is to the enemy, the more likely the Class will be targeted by the enemy. Conversely, the Class will also have an easier time hitting the enemy with melee weapons.

Click the drop-down box to reveal your choices; Front, Middle and Rear. These designations represent how much space the Class keeps between it and the enemy. Obviously, given the parameters of the Class we are making, the Fighter ought to be in front. This give him a chance to bring his heavy weapons to bear, and also interposes him between the bad guys and his soft, squishy companions.  :)

Middle is not an appropriate choice because the melee weapons the Fighter will use do not have any reach, and since his role is to absorb hits, any position other than Front raises the odds the enemy will target another PC. Rear is a poor choice for the same reasons. Save the rear for the Classes with the weakest defenses or for those who use magic or missile weapons.


Resistances
Spoiler for:

Now you can give the Class state and elemental resistances or weaknesses in the boxes in the top right corner of this tab. Your heroes shouldn’t need a lot of tinkering in the resistances tab, in my opinion. If you do, pick two or three to modify and only by one click in either direction. Otherwise the bad guys will have a harder time hitting your PCs with spells and plain melee, and combat mechanics already give the PCs the advantage.


Image coming soon

The possible levels of resistance can alter a Class’ received damage. For example, if you set Fire resistance to A, the Class will be healed for as much damage the spell would ordinarily cause. Set to the other extreme, F will cause the Class to take double damage. :(

States, on the other hand, do not cause the same kind of healing if Resistance is set to A. Instead, that makes the target totally invulnerable :strike2: to that state.

 If you choose to alter these parameters, try to toss in a disadvantage or two to balance- and even then, make it subtle!


Skills
Spoiler for:

The last thing to do is pick the special skills our Actor will have, and at which levels they get those skills. Skills cost MP to use, so any Class with any skills can’t have an Actor without MP. Skills allow the Class to do things that are out of the ordinary, like ignore armour or inflict status ailments. Spells fall into this category as well. Skills essentially reflect the Characters’ deep understanding of the job and how to get the most from its training.

To set Class Skills, simply click the white space in the skill box in the lower right of the class tab and use the dialogue box to pick the skills you want to be learned at which levels.  ;D

Image coming soon

Our Fighter will be rather skinny :gracie: in this department, but he will have some abilities. A melee class should not have spell use like a Wizard would, so spells that cause a lot of damage are out. Fighters should also not have the healing capabilities of a Cleric class, either. Those kinds of abilities are the mainstay of the respective class archetypes and should remain so. For right now, let’s focus on the vanilla Fighter Class and worry about hybrid Classes later!

Some appropriate skills are those that cause a little more damage per successful hit, or allow the Fighter to hit more than one enemy- but again, the ability to affect several targets is getting into the territory of other classes, so let’s keep those to a minimum, and have them gained at higher levels.


Rounding Out the Character
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Now let’s go back to the Actor tab and fill in the blanks we left. Class: easy, Fighter. Starting Equipment: The bottom echelon of his possible equips. Special Abilities: That’s up to you, but the basic Fighter class is made for little flash and a lot of utility; in other words, he works fine without any of those.

A Fighter that has any of the Special Abilities should also have a concurrent limiting factor. Two Swords is insanely powerful for a melee class, especially one that already is designed to hurt the bad guys plenty. Great Guard is also a bit of overkill, since the Character is going to be clad in steel from head to toe and already has high survivability.

However, if you are careful, you can include those abilities with a handicap; if you give Two Swords, limit the Fighter’s weapons. No two-handed stuff, obviously, and nothing that is designed to be an “ultimate” weapon on its own. It’s very relative, but during playtesting you’ll see what I mean. ^-^ The Fighter armed with two Dragon Swords is going to murder everything on the screen in no time. That’s no challenge, and therefore no fun! If on the other hand he has two Mithral Swords, that’s a lot less damage and thus a bigger challenge.

Pharmacology is not a good choice because it does not fit the Fighter’s job description well, and Equipment Fix is just… well, it’s stupid.  :mad:

Now playtest your new Character to make sure it works for your game!


Other Classes
Spoiler for:
The format and decision making process we used to make the Fighter can works for any Class you wish to make. You can now move on to other classes, but try to keep them basic until you truly understand what the Class creation process was meant to do. Above all other considerations should be game balance! When you make the other classes, tailor their abilities to the job they do.

So many novice designers want to make their PC gods among men, and I’m here to tell you that is a bad idea. The reason the heroes are heroic is because they have a real chance of failure! If your PCs are indestructible, don’t make a game. Write a short paragraph about their assured victory and draw a picture of the bloodied foe at their feet.
 


Conclusion
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This overview of Classes showed us what the information slots mean and how to alter them- more importantly, how to alter them in a balanced way. We stated that while Class Creation is in and of itself rather complex, it is a basic skill in that it ought to be in any designer's toolbox. We saw how to make a Class from the ground up, and coupled with our knowledge of Actors, we made a Character.

Our Character is not invincible, but neither is he incapable. He fulfills a needed role in the PC party, and he does it better than any other party member can. We understand why our Characters- the combination of Actor and Class- must be balanced, and we saw how to achieve this balance.

As you forge ahead in your projects, never forget the key to good gaming: there must be a challenging yet achievable goal to the game. If your Characters are balanced with respect to the difficulty of the game, you will always make this happen!

M00sey

« Last Edit: March 21, 2014, 03:58:56 PM by EvilM00s »
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