( ? ) A Note on Spartacus: Classification, Toxicity, & Development
Hey everyone, Kalo here! What I’d like to quickly touch on here is why they decided to call Spartacus a melee fighter and not a melee assassin. Over the Twitchcon weekend, you hear the commentators call Sparticus a “Glass Cannon” many, many times. (For those who don’t know what that means, it’s as you would probably imagine: a cannon, packing a lot of power that shatters as easily as it destroys.) Spartacus definitely lives up to that, and paired with his mass amount of mobility, I’m left wondering why he isn’t plainly called an assassin.
Did the Breakaway devs purposefully decide against said wordage? Here’s hoping they’ll simply answer that question, but I’ll share some quick thoughts on why I think they might have anyway. Firstly, I don’t think a character that kills and moves even faster than Spartacus would be very healthy, so I doubt the slot is being reserved for other warriors down the line. A few thoughts on this though: most importantly, this game is about much more than killing your opponents. Sure, you could run around chasing players all game, but if the opponents just play around you and plop the relic into the goal 3 times, you’re wasting your time. That being said, giving our Spartan the classification of fighter implies that he excels in those skirmishes and relic play alike, while assassin makes it feel like he’s only meant to kill.
Let me clarify: this isn’t necessarily about being perfectly correct with which word to pick as it is choosing the best word to present the community with. We can talk all day about inevitable toxicity in game communities and let that candle burn itself at both ends until there’s nothing left, but my question is: how do we make sure we’re actually taking steps to prevent toxic growth as best as we can? Dodging the term assassin may just be that first step.
Added note: I had written this first part days prior to the newly released Spartacus article. I just want to comment on the part about “counters” in that while I agree characters countering each other is good, hard counters (nearly guaranteed wins) can be dangerous, because if there are too many, the game becomes more of a rock-paper-scissors match than a possible uphill battle for different match ups. Point being, strictly developing characters to counter other ones is a slippery slope, however I don’t think Spartacus follows in that case.
@Kalology, I think this goes back to what you were saying about not labeling things in a way that suggests play-style. Calling someone an "assassin" suggests a specific method of play ("I go in to the back line, I kill the squishies."). Sparticus can definitely be played that way, but it's putting him in to a box. He can run the relic (as we saw with Sparty Party - the one I played, not when the Dev's got rekt #kappa), he can focus the buildables (get to the backline quick and take them out), he can also play the backline ganker. But it may be good to not specifically use the word "Assassin."
However, I think there is a "common language" that has developed in gaming (specifically thanks to MOBAs) that the Devs may have to be careful with. The terms "Support" and "Tank" are almost synonymous in the gaming world today. So when you call Thorgrim a Tank, but call Morgan a Support - that may be a little odd. I've personally been using the term "utility" to describe Morgan, but even that might not be completely correct.
I don't know - I think at the end of the day, Breakaway is it's own game, so terms in this game may be different than in others. Honestly, this game is less like a MOBA than it is like WoW Battle Grounds anyway, so terms like "Support" and "Tank" have different connotations.
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Good questions and conversation. Spartacus was explicitly called a fighter and not an assassin, because we wanted his role to be good damage with some durability, but not too bursty. In terms of his current balance, he is outputting too much damage too quickly. This is something we are looking at.
At some point in the future we will release an assassin. Our goal with assassins is not to prescribe a playstyle but to create a character with strengths and weakness. With the multiple objectives in Breakaway, assassins can serve a variety of interesting roles- from the obvious kill squishies, to a "free safety" role where they protect against breakaways, to a hit & run style role where they kill buildables/get buffs.
I'll talk to Adam about setting up a blog post in the future where we dive into our 7 character archetypes and what the design goals for each are.
@Zin_Ramu Wow, thanks so much for this reply!
Very excited about the 7 classifications, what an awesome piece of information to give <3
Best of luck balancing Spartacus, I imagine his simple kit makes it a little difficult to walk the fine line on.
Keep up the great work and thanks once again, this is very exciting!