Hidden in an apparently innocuous post lies deep insight into the mind of Lead PvP designer Gabe Amatangelo and the future of Huttball.
There are many complaints going around about Huttball favoring some classes above others. These people make good points that movement abilities are not evenly distributed and hazards have proved notoriously difficult to balance in previous mmo games. It should be no surprise that Bioware took the time to address a related question, even if Gabe intentionally avoids the real issue by carefully selecting this question to answer.
First off, the question poses an interesting solution to Huttball’s imbalance. The main problem seems to be extremely mobile ball carriers and the ability to pull enemies into fire. Gidoru, the player who asked the question, is thinking about ways to limit the ball carrier’s movement. Simply preventing any special movement effects from being used on the ball carrier might be an elegant solution. If I implemented this I would probably prevent both friendly and enemy movement effects.
Either way, Gabe clearly explains that they are not looking at this type of change, mostly because they belive Huttball is fairly balanced. They don’t want to add any more pvp specific rules than they already have, and honestly I tend to agree with that philosophy.
Such rules begin to split the game into two different games and brings players closer to asking why they don’t play a game that is purely PvP or PvE. MMO’s thrive on the sense of community that comes from having many people trying to accomplish different goals. PvP specific rules would, in at least one regard, be counter-productive to an mmo.
It’s telling that Gabe does not even admit to an imbalace in win ratios based on class composition, but it is also convenient that he wasn’t pressed on the issue of Shadows/Assassins. That’s why I’m guessing he might have chosen to answer this question. Shadows are probably the strongest Huttball class right now and since Gidoru only asked about Guardians/Juggernauts and Sages/Sorcerers, Gabe get to tear down a straw man argument. He only mentions the 2 classes asked about and points out that they do not have exceptionally high win ratios. Nor should they since Shadows and Assassins are far stronger but Gabe gets to dodge a tough question.
It’s tough because it is something that he admits they thought about when designing the warzone. They knew the risks and the results clearly favor classes with movement abilities. Gabe is right that every class has a role to play in Huttball, even if that role is difficult to figure out or has a high skill cap for certain classes. There are plently of players not making the most of the abilities their class has and complaining about the abilities other classes have. In general, if you can’t help score or stop the enemy team from scoring, you should stay up on the ramps, put out as much damage as possible and attempting to control middle.
Even so, a warzone that doesn’t favor particular classes at least a little bit is impossible. Simply placing a pillar on the map changes class balance. Huttball certainly favors some classes and it looks like Bioware intends to leave it that way.
Perhaps this is part of a larger balancing strategy. I previously suggested that Huttball be kept out of ranked warzones for the reasons mentioned here. However, if it is only one of many warzones that players must participate in for rating, then Bioware only needs to balance the warzones together. While certain warzones might favor certain classes, on the whole it could be close to fair.
In my mind, the problem with this idea of balancing over multiple warzones is that the movement effects which are great in Huttball are still really good in any warzones. The rest of the warzones are far simpler than Huttball and do not strongly favor any particular class. If Huttball is included in ranked warzones most teams will build around it.
In the very final sentence Gabe practically confirms that Huttball will be ranked. The only way he could mean anything else is if normal warzones will also be open to 8 player queuing which I highly doubt and also discourage. Remember, Bioware never said anything about Huttball not being a ranked warzone. I have just been hoping they would change their mind. Even though I play Guardian I fear for the possible effects on the delicate pvp balance.
The only thing left to do now is embrace the situation and start thinking strategy. Even though I believe Huttball favors certain classes, I don’t think it prohibits any. While every good team will NEED at least 1 Guardian, Shadow, and Sage, they will need more than just those classes to fulfill all the roles. At least, as Gabe says, they will “pay close attention” to possible Huttball imbalance. I have reason to believe that Bioware knows what they are doing better than I do. Better for them to make the right change later than the wrong one now.