Exclusive Alganon Class Interview #1 - The Soldier

Over the last few years, the implementation of time-based advancement has become more than just a novelty. The success of EVE Online has occurred, in no small part, thanks to their reliance on...

Over the last few years, the implementation of time-based advancement has become more than just a novelty. The success of EVE Online has occurred, in no small part, thanks to their reliance on time-based skill training. Now the developers working on Alganon are going to take a crack at time-based advancement. Along with the interview we recently did with them a few weeks ago, Ten Ton Hammer has nabbed a number of exclusive class interviews, so sit back and enjoy our exclusive discussion with Lead Data Designer Hue Henry on Alganon's Soldier!

Ten Ton Hammer: Where does the Soldier fit into the lore of your game world? Do they represent little more than the armored troops in Alganon? Or are they something more?

Hue Henry: In the world of Alganon, the term Soldier is used for one who has trained to become an expert in physical combat. Anyone who is trained to be an expert in all of the weapons and armors of Alganon is technically a soldier. However, when you choose to be a soldier in Alganon, you are not just a common soldier. You are an Asheroth or a Kujix.

The Asheroth and Kujix are the chosen of the deities, born with powers well beyond those of the common people. While there may be powerful soldiers that are neither Asheroth or Kujix, there are none that can match your potential strength and prowess.

Ten Ton Hammer: In your official description of the Soldier, players only have two traits to choose from, while your other classes often have three. Are Soldiers just that powerful that they only need two traits?

Hue: Actually, there is an unspoken third trait that we decided didn't need to be mentioned explicitly. Soldiers are the only class available at launch that are capable of wearing heavy armor and using all of the available weapons. This provides them with opportunities to better customize their gear to match their chosen combat roles. This is a large enough advantage that we took it into account when balancing the classes, but didn't feel it necessary to point out in the descriptions.

Ten Ton Hammer: Again looking at the description, it seems like the Soldier has a lot in common with the tank class from many other MMOs, especially the Warrior from WoW. How do you believe this class differs from tank classes in other MMOs?

Hue: The core role of a Soldier in Alganon is exactly that - a tank. They are designed to fight via melee weaponry, be able to take survive large amounts of damage from their enemies, and manipulate the enemy in order to keep the attention on themselves and away from those they are charged with protecting. When we designed the classes, we designed them with these roles in mind.

We believe that much of the fun of MMO combat lies in cooperation and interdependence. It is fun to enter a combat encounter, choose which role you want to take, and then perform that role with precision and expertise, sticking to the strategy, but adjusting your tactics as the battle ebbs and flows.

It's no fun to enter an encounter and find that you are weak at the role you've chosen, so we've designed our classes to be strong at their roles. We've designed our Soldiers to be extremely good tanks.

This, of course, means that they will have the ability to mitigate damage done to them. They will be able to control the enemy AI and make themselves the primary target. They will be able to defend their group, absorbing damage that would otherwise hit the weaker party members. For the most part, rather than designing the core of the solder class to be a "different" tank, we've designed our core soldiers to be a "better" tank. If you've played a tank in another game, there are actions you were glad you had - our Soldiers have those. There are also actions you wished you had - our Soldiers have those, too.

However, the one area where our Soldiers are very different from tanks in other games is in the Tactics specialization. Soldiers who specialize in Tactics abilities will have the ability to join a group, not as a tank or melee damage dealer, but as a support class - one that boosts the abilities of the group, rather than focusing on his own actions.

Ten Ton Hammer: There are four different "specialization" branches listed on the website. Are players going to choose various abilities in these branches to become "Core Soldiers" or "Tactic Soldiers" or does this signify something else?

Hue: Teamwork is a major part of the fun of MMO combat, so we've designed our classes to be strong at their primary roles. But, we also know that it's not fun to be locked into a single role. That's why we designed our Dual Role system. Every class has a "core" role that they advance automatically, but they also get a set of ability points they can spend towards a secondary role. Should they choose to place all their points in a single secondary role, they will be able to compete in that role at the same expert level as their core role.

Since nearly every enemy has a melee attack, it makes sense that the enemy will approach its target and fight in melee range. This means that any damage bonuses a tank has will also help a melee-range damage dealer. It was easy for us to decide that one of the secondary roles of a Soldier would be a single-target melee damage dealer. A Soldier that specializes in Weaponry will be able to target a single enemy and "burn them down" quickly and efficiently.

Fighting a single foe is very different than fighting a room full of enemies; it takes a specially trained Soldier to be able to handle both situations effectively. That is where the Protection specialization comes into play. While every Soldier, Protection or not, can handle the one-on-one boss encounter, it will take a Soldier specializing in protection to effectively keep a room full of enemies from overrunning their allies.

Some Soldiers, however, prefer to take a leadership role. Rather than spending anger on damaging an enemy or drawing attention to themselves, a Tactics Soldier will spend their anger on buffing and enhancing their party. Rather than always standing toe-to-toe with the enemy, they will find themselves zipping around the battlefield, shouting orders, providing bonuses, even reducing the threat generated by their allies, before charging back to the front lines to build anger and repeat the process.

These specializations all come without losing their core abilities. Whether they choose to specialize in Weaponry, Protection, or Tactics, a Soldier will always be able to switch to defensive stance, take up a sword and shield, and join your group as a tank.

Ten Ton Hammer: Finally, what kind of skills and abilities will Soldiers commonly have? What can players expect to be doing when they're in combat?

Hue: This will vary depending on what role they are taking in combat. If they use their core combat role and enter the fray as a tank, they can expect to stand toe-to-toe with a single enemy, building Anger with each strike given or received. They can expect to spend this Anger on actions that will increase their threat generation, and keep the enemies attention. Should they be solo, or grouped with a group that is able to control their own threat levels, they can afford to spend a bit of their extra Anger on higher damage attacks. If they find the enemy is stronger than they anticipated, they have a few actions that providing them a temporary boost in their defenses, so as to out-survive their opponent. Knowing when to use these actions and when to save them is a crucial part of tanking as a Soldier. They will need to keep an eye on the enemy and be prepared to react to and even manipulate the enemy's actions.

A Soldier that specializes in Weaponry will also find themselves toe-to-toe with the enemy, only this time they will be focused on dealing large bursts of damage. A Weaponry Soldier will generally find themselves wielding a two-handed weapon and spending their anger on high-damage actions as fast as they can build it. While a Soldier in a tank role is likely to find themselves deciding whether to "use it now or save it for later", a Weaponry Soldier in a DPS role will spend their time deciding which high-damage action will maximize their damage in each situation. They will need to analyze the enemies defenses and determine what can be done to maximize their damage output.

If a Soldier chooses to specialize in tactics and enter combat as a support class, the combat experience will be very different. A Tactics Soldier will start combat by engaging the enemy directly, but rather than use their anger to attack or defend. They will build a pool of anger and then rush to their allies, where they can spend their anger to enhance the abilities of their party members, reduce threat generation, and otherwise allow their teammates to be even better at their own roles. They will be looking at their teammates and deciding, "Who needs my support most? Is it the tank in the front? The healer in the back? The DPS? Or should I stay and build more anger, so I can help them even more?"

Ten Ton Hammer: Thanks for your time, Hue! We can't wait to talk with you again about the Ranger class!

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