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Who Wants To Be a Jack-of-all-Trades?

In many class-based MMORPGs, class options include pure classes and hybrid classes. Pure classes excel at what they do, but have a more limited ranged of abilities, while hybrid classes have a larger range of abilities, but have limited expertise in them. The data presented here would also apply to skill-based systems because all these systems have a skill cap and players must decide whether to excel in one skill line or spread out, unless the system mechanics make one or the other a better option (like in DAOC).

Both gender and age were found to impact the preference for pure or hybrid classes. Female players tend to prefer hybrid classes. Also, older players prefer hybrid classes.

Among the motivation components and personality traits, the motivations "compete" (t = -10.00, p < .001, r = .18) and "achieve" (t = -7.36, p < .001, r =.13) were the best discriminators for players who preferred to focus rather than spread.

Posted on February 21, 2004 | Comments (12) | TrackBack (0)


Wow, the older people are, the less they will concentrate. I guess this all relates to the roleplaying aspect of a game. If you concentrate on a skill, it's because you want to be the best in PVP, the strongest, the king. If you take a whole bunch of skills to make a medium-skilled character with lots of possibilities, it's because you want to roleplay and want to take the game slowly.

I guess it just shows that younger generations like to rush games, play hardcore. While older generations take their time, are very patient.

Posted by: Krovax on March 4, 2004 2:36 PM

From my experiences playing, hybrid classes are often the most difficult to play due to their complexity. In a hybrid class a player must be able to quickly react to complex situations from a wide variety of possible reactions.

A pure class, on the other hand, usually is simpler to play due to their power and the ease at which they can be learned.

It makes sense to me that older players would want more complex interactions with their characters than younger players, who are often unable or unwilling to learn the complexities of a hybrid class.

Posted by: richard on April 1, 2004 9:37 AM

I doubt that they picked hybrid to be a roleplayer and be worse at PvP. Hybrid classes can school Pure classes simply because of their range of abilities. Look at the Skald, Necromancer, and Bonedancer in DAoC. I own all three of those characters and I governate pretty much everyone with them.

The BD is RR7, Skald is RR5, and Necro is RR5. All of the characters are on Mordred. There has not been a single pure character that has been able to 1v1 any of these characters of mine ever.
Their templates are decent but not perfected and I still manage to destroy any pure caster or tank. Skalds were even better back in the day when Andred first came out. That was my original PvP server.

It all depends on personal play style. The reason these classes suck on RvR servers is because they are meant to solo. You can either have a solo character that will own all 1v1 which would be a hybrid or you can have a bunch of group characters that are more powerful than all of those solo characters grouped together due to versatility. These group characters require to be PURE classes rather than hybrid.

In other words, hybrid=solo player, pure=group player. This is how it works in most games.

Posted by: Will Rose on April 8, 2004 5:06 AM

Will, if we go on with your idea, a game allowing only pure classes characters would encourage player grouping. But a game allowing only hybrid characters would encourage soloing.

Based on my observations, I must agree. But how could a MMORPG survive without player grouping as social interactions is a great part of the game.

Does it mean that MMORPG should allow only pure classes ?

My first and primal answer would be no, because it might create too much frustration for the player. But with some reflexion, it might not be so bad, as long as players should be allowed to change...

Posted by: Vincent on March 19, 2005 7:32 AM

Its not surprise older players like hybrids. Hybrid classes are harder to play. As mentioned in anothe report, you noted how younger players prefer physical traits over mind traits (STR vs INT). I think older players enjoy the challenge of trying to balance a character, which is harder. We saw the same trend in younger players preferring both PvP and rogues .: where their main focus was power, something they can relate too. Older players spend more time thinking about their strategy. Perhaps their desire for a more balanced class falls into some sort of vicarious living through their character.

From Marlows perspective child has yet to personally achieve many of his needs and is thus still trying to meet his physical needs. Adults hopefully, have homes, jobs, and are now headed to higher level needs that may explain why they want more balance.

Posted by: Steven Turner on December 8, 2005 6:34 AM

just makes sense to me -- older people have learned to like a vast variety of things, and their choice of character would reflect this.

though a 10-year-old is happy eating the same dish of mac-and-cheese every night, an older person needs variety, and hybrid characters provide this.

the perfect example is the role of the "druid" class in WoW -- the druid is allowed to shapeshift into different "forms," each form being an animal representing another class that you could have picked, such as a bear for the "warrior" class, and a tiger for the "stealth/rogue" class. needless to say, there are plenty of druids in the game.

Posted by: cappy on March 29, 2006 8:41 AM

As a casual gamer, I tend to choose "pure" classes for two reasons: one is that focusing allows me to reach a higher level of expertise in a shorter time. The other is that a "pure" class, especially a support class, is in higher demand for grouping, so I spend less time waiting for a group. I doubt that this will change for me as I age.

Posted by: munkymu on June 23, 2006 4:08 PM

"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly."

Specialization is for insects."

-- _Time Enough for Love_ by Robert A. Heinlein

That concept of action has been with me pretty much since the first time I read it lo, these many years ago. And it's how I prefer to play MMORPGs.

I'm not interested in spending all my waking hours in some futile attempt to be the "best" at something in a game. I prefer to go my own way, do my own thing in my own time. Specialization would box me into a particular set of content -- why would I want to do that?

By having a jack-of-all-trades character, I not only improve my chances of being able to survive most basic problems the game flings at me, I'm also able to experience many of the different types of content available. I can never master any of them -- in fact, being a generalist in a MMORPG pretty much insures that there's some content (the so-called "high end" or "endgame" content) that I will never be able to enjoy.

So? If it's that intense, I'm not interested. I get enough "intensity" in my life outside of games; I play games to _get away from_ intense stuff.

The jack-of-all-trades approach lets me enjoy a game on my own terms... unless of course the game insists on stuffing every player into a neat, tidy little class to fill some developer-determined role, rather offering a rich array of player-selectable skills so that players can write their own stories. A class-based game is the mortal enemy of the generalist.

So why don't developers respect those of us who prefer to be a jack-of-all-trades?

Posted by: Flatfingers on June 29, 2006 2:13 PM

Running through WoW, 'hybrid' and 'pure' classes are mostly defined, but I can still choose my skills to rough things up a bit =D As a dwarven rogue, I don't see a lot of grouping (everyone wants a belly-dancer ;) ), but there are a few items and skills that get me in good with the groups I do join. Yes, we sneak and backstab, but would you complain about the rogue who manages to sneak a bandage or crystal restore in while you're taking a beating and the priest is elsewhere? I've managed to replace the group priest once or twice thanks to my 'useless' items, and there are a few people who yell for me every time they need a healer or damage-stacker. =D Hybridization for life!

Posted by: Ioke on December 25, 2006 5:57 PM

Personally I just like to have my options open, be self-reliant. I like to solo a lot, and if I happen to be killing a beasty that only a certain fighting type (ie. range vs melee) can kill, it behooves me to have a decent sized level in that skill. As for non-combat stuff, if I have decent levels all around, I don't need to ask favors or spend currency to get an item I might need. Being useful in general is a nice feeling, really.

Posted by: nekobawt on March 30, 2007 5:16 PM

I must say that I would have always considered myself a jack of all trades, personally, but on reflection, most of my characters are specialists. When I think about it, I find this to be the most fun, because although they have inherent skills, it is my ability to play other classes that gives each of them extra skills, not usually attributed to that class. For instance, my tank can get behind a mob in a flash, to better pull agro away from the squishy (thanks to my rogue skills) and my hunter makes a great tank when our priest gets rushed, because of how I've learned to run my warrior. So for me, being a jack-of-all-trade character comes from running and learning all the specialties.

Posted by: Powd on September 25, 2007 6:33 AM

These results surprise me. I would have thought that older players would be the more focused players.

In any event, I prefer hybrids for a variety of reasons. The first is that I enjoy soloing or duoing as opposed to groups, because then I feel I have the freedom to do what I want, when I want. When I have the ability to fulfill various roles, soloing or being in a small group allows me to adapt my playstyle and therefore see more content than I would be able to if I were, say, sitting around for 2 hours looking for a group because my class had no ability to survive on its own (only to find a group and be roped into a single camp or questline rather than doing what was most opportune or fun at any given moment).

Another reason has already been cited - I find the hybrid challenging. I enjoy surviving and even thriving when pure class mindsets are bombarding me with assurances that I will not be able to survive. I also, when I do group, enjoy filling up whatever slack the group needs rather than being always delegated to the same role. I tank when I need to, dps when I need to, crowd control when I need to. I prefer hybrids with a range of buffs and utility spells, such as EQ's ranger, for this reason.

Lastly, I RP and I often find these characters more compelling. It is a challenge to create an interesting straight warrior character. It is even more of a challenge to create an interesting hybrid character that does not rely on tropes or stereotypes in order to develop a semblance of originality. When so many shadowknights are 'boo, I'm evil,' I want to make the same 'boo, I'm evil, and here's why you'll always remember it' character. One that sees the crutch of hybridization and casts it aside to say, here I am, enjoy me!

Posted by: jrain on March 9, 2009 4:56 AM
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