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Meta Builds

I would just like to throw this out there. I’ve never been a big fan of meta builds. However I’m not a game designer either and have no idea how difficult it is to keep everything balanced. So if creating meta class builds is unintentional then please disregard this. However if it is intentional, again, I’m not a fan of that. The main reason is because there are classes and builds I would like to play during a “season” but because they might be completely nonviable I wind up going along with the stronger cookie cutter builds.

This leads to looking at YouTube commentators and forum posts to learn how to make a certain build etc…

It would be refreshing to be able to just pick what ever skills to customize my character the way I want to and still wind up with a workable build.

I hope that all made sense. The point is that the other big name arpg’s seem to offer diversity but we all know that everyone just winds up going with one of the fewer meta builds.

I think it would be nice to actually have diversity.

Just my opinion though.

Ion Hazzikostas, the Game Director for World of Warcraft, has commented in the past about the distinction between perceived differences and actual differences in power.

One example he offered was that if one Mage spec did 1% more damage than another Mage spec, the one dealing more damage would see considerably more play - and if in the next patch they swapped, so would the relative popularity of the two specs. That is despite 1% being so small a disparity that Critical Strike RNG would have a larger impact on your damage than which of the two specs you play.

Another example he offered was the meta sometimes being wrong. The people racing for a World First boss kill or raid completion were far more likely to actively switch between specs, talents, and so on. Due to differing boss designs, sometimes a given choice which usually proved to be mathematically inferior to other options would be the best for a specific encounter. If a pro player logged out with ‘bad’ choices selected because they were advantageous for the fight he or she was stuck on, many people would go to their armoury page and copy their choices without thinking twice. Clearly situational talents could see use by a considerable number of players just because a single person used them for a single boss fight.

So how is this relevant?

We’re not going to go out of our way to put noob traps or otherwise weak options into our game. But we certainly can’t promise you that there’ll never be a meta - because simply put, that isn’t up to us. To return to my example of World of Warcraft, the team at Blizzard have spoken of their pride at just how well most specs are balanced and their exasperation at how even the tiniest of differences between specs are used to justify one being the “right” choice for a class to use.

Please read the above in terms of the game at, and after, launch. The game is currently a pre-alpha demo, and during this stage of development balance just isn’t a huge priority. Too many things change too frequently for us to invest significant resources into balance - we only have 2 classes implemented so far!

[quote quote=3674] So how is this relevant?

We’re not going to go out of our way to put noob traps or otherwise weak options into our game. But we certainly can’t promise you that there’ll never be a meta – [/quote]

That sounds great. I love what I’ve seen so far with the skill system. I’m a big fan of customization. So it’s nice when you can level up your skills without too much worry about whether or not your going to completely wreck your build. I think we can all think of times in the past in other games when we hit a wall and realized that our build just wasn’t going to cut it. We weren’t going to be able to progress any farther with it and so we had to go back to the drawing board. But on the other hand there are games out there that this has never really been a big problem and makes you feel a lot more comfortable and free about making your character the way you want to without worrying about wasting your time.


Thank you for the answer. I do realize that you are still in the early stages of development, I just wanted to try to suggest something from a players point of view that might be constructive.

I also dislike having “meta” builds

I’m glad you are taking a thoughtful approach to your design

That is a great point about perception. One thing I’ve noticed in arpg’s in particular is there is a tendency for there to be… uhhh, I suppose one could call it “perception creep”. Some meta build will perform at a certain level, and this is the expectation of what is a “working build”. Then another meta build will pop up and perform say 5% better. The perception is now reset and while old meta build is still just “okay”, it is pushed aside for that new meta build.

A couple cycles later and there ends up being this common situation where some players suggest old meta build isn’t viable, even though mathematically it still is. What I mean is the “viable” build has not changed in numbers, the only thing which changed is the perception. And it really can be as minor as 1% for it to affect perception.

I don’t really have a point. I just find it interesting how perception in gaming ends up playing out. You can have two builds both which destroy 99.5% of the game, but for the .5% other part of the game, one build will perform say 10% better. From a bigger picture view, these builds are essentially exactly the same for nearly all content, yet the playerbase can and often does view the viability of both builds to be quite different.

Perception is a funny thing.

There will always be meta builds. The best you can do is balancing them as well as you can.

Trying to minimize the emergence of meta builds is imo a dangerous thing. If you look at diablo 3, that is an extreme where basically everyone uses a single skill to deal damage and all other skills are support skills to help/enable you to maximize that skill. That is extreme skill synergy. Skill synergy pushes towards meta builds. Skill synergy is however also an important aspect to make nice game play. You also don’t want to balance everything out so much that it doesn’t matter how you build your character because everything will work equally well.

imo, it’s pretty impossible to not have a “meta.” There’s always going to be a certain combination of skills that and gear stats that create maximum efficiency.

What it always boils down to is what makes it fun for you? Are you willing to drop a little bit of damage or mobility or defense for the playstyle you enjoy most? Or do you want to be an efficient killing machine and min/max everything.

It’s ultimately the choice of the player.

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