The Bard Class - The Past, Present and Future

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tsaej
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The Bard Class - The Past, Present and Future

Postby tsaej » Wed Dec 11, 2002 10:45 pm

Written below is my own personal thoughts on the bard class and why it has been and continues to be one of the best and yet the worst class in the game. This is in no way meant as a flame or personal attack against anyone (I know and fully appreciated how much work has been put into this unique class), but lately I have noticed that my once burning passion for the class has gone out and I am trying to examine why.

My Personal History:

I first started playing this mud in February 1996 right before the great dream (if I remember correctly heh). My brother introduced me to the game and at first I was apprehensive (at the time I thought if a game didn't have graphics, well, then it flat out wasn't a game at all!) but I gave it a chance and low and behold I became addicted much like many other people who have played here. It wasn't until May of 96 that I created my first bard named Tsaej. I originally created a bard because my brother and I had this great idea that we would be able to heal ourselves while we fought, boy did we have a lot to learn!

It took awhile, but eventually I got to level 10 and was able to play my first set of songs (including heal). This is of course when I found out that I could not fight and sing at the same time...doh! Nevertheless I stuck with him for awhile because I found out that getting a group wasnt that hard. I could heal 10-20 hpts per verse (which was about every 14 seconds or 4 combat rounds) and by level 15 or 20 I was up to 30 hpts *woot*. Throughout my teen levels all I ever played was heal since no other song was really desired by the groups I was in.

I began developing a great passion and love for the bard class but by level 28 leveling started to really slow down and I decided to take a break (summer 96). From my observations at the time level 30 was a huge landmark for the bard class. At level 30 you got song of flight which was the last song you could get! However, I still took a break and started playing some of the other classes.

It wasn't until the fall of 96 that I went back to Tsaej and started playing him again and got myself level 30! Now, another one of the main reasons getting level 30 was so important is because you would get asked for zone groups (yes! Even at level 30!). I kept playing and started to level fairly quickly which was the trend for most bards right up until level 38 and stopped dead again. During all of this time I considered skills very important and at 38 I really started to practice them.

This brings me up to the summer of 97. I was in my high 30's at the time and zoning now and again. It was during this time that I started going around with The Order of the Wyrm and eventually joined that association.

By the end of Toril (I cant remember the date anymore...was it 99 or 2000? shrugs) I had only gotten to level 43 but all my songs and instruments were very good (you couldn't see your skill level at that time). In my opinion right up to within I'd say 6-3 months prior to the end of Toril was the Golden Age of the bard class. I could log on and regularly see 6+ bards playing at a time and sometimes as many as 12. Some of the best times I have ever had playing here was going on Bard Adventures with groups of 4+ bards hehe. As Toril started coming to an end though the Golden Age came to an end as well.

When Sojourn2 came back up I noticed that it came without bards. I played Tsaej at first but started to lose interest in playing a bard again and accidently became outcast due to my own stupidity in changing equipment. After the second time of releveling Tsaej and getting him oc'd again I decided to hell with it and made a drow thief named Vlazik and was an evil ever since. Throughout Soj2 there were very few bards and the class was almost extinct.

When Soj2 ended and Soj3 came back up for alpha testing I helped test the bard class and noticed that some changes had been made. By the end of Alpha testing almost all of the bugs had been fixed. When beta came up I noticed a new class...Battlechanters!!! I made Tsaej once again but now as an Orc mwahaha!

However, my joy ended rather abruptly at level 10 when I found out the class was broken. I stuck with the class for some reason and made it all the way to level 37 before the changes came in, but by this time I just didn't have the love for the class anymore. I look at this time before the new changes as the Dark Age of the bard class.

I know this has been long winded, but I wanted to give a background of my history before going into my thoughts on the class.


The Bard Class (Past, Present and Future):

In 1996 when I made my first bard they could only be Half-Elves, could not sing the same song as another bard in the same room, songs were area affecting, they pretty much went on indefinately (no mana). As well, the only truly useful songs were Heal, Heroism (hasted at level 40), Revelation, Flight, and sometimes Sleep. The remaining songs were good for RP purposes only. Throughout the bard era in Toril they were used quite often in zoning but only ever 1 bard per group except in rare cases. On the whole however, the only bards who made it to high levels all had very similar personalities it seemed. They all had a deep passion and love for the class. I have always found it very interesting that the class seemed to attract such spiritful people who always seemed to be so happy all the time hehe. However, much of this died along with the Golden Age.

The first major change to come in was opening the class to the other good races. After that no changes were done until Soj3. When alpha came up I noticed that some major changes were done to the class.

1. Bards could no longer sing different songs in the same room, but could sing the same song.

2. Songs now worked on a song rejuv idea. What this meant was that each new verse would renew the song and make it better. Thus, if you stopped playing flight for example the effect would immediately wear off. For those that remember, song of flight used to keep a person flown for about 2 mins.

3. The stutter rate was extremely high (before changes this meant a long period of lag...unfortunately I cannot remember the exact time but 6+ seconds at least).

When beta came up these changes were still in and some new changes were put in.

1. All songs did considerably less (with high stutter this made the songs all but useless).

2. The bard was given a whole slew of rogue skills to play with.

3. The skill virtuoso was implemented.

4. Bard eq-restrictions became the same as rogues.

This marked the dark age of the bard in my opinion. A class that had already become highly unpopular (it was never a really popular class) became all but extinct. During this time the class was in my opinion the worst class ever to grace the mud. However, for whatever reason I still had that passion for the class and I kept playing the class and eventually got Tsaej to level 37.

Then, the day finally came, the long night was over and the sun began to rise. At the end of the summer 2002 the new bard class was introduced. Most people know about these changes so I won't go into detail naming them all. This marks the end of the Dark Age and the beginning of a new age as of yet unamed.

This new class is radically different from the original class that I fell in love with and perhaps that is why I cannot seem to come to love this class, but I don't think it is so simple. I truly do love the new changes that have been put in and I believe that it has re-vitalised a class that was all but extinct. As well, I guess I can't complain because it is the first set of real changes to the class that have been made in 6+ years of playing it. But there just seems to be something missing.

I notice that a lot more bards/bchanters are playing now, which is awsome, but I notice a distinct lack of the comraderie and love that was shared in the past between fellow bards, perhaps this is just on the evil side but an observation nonetheless.

I also notice, that once again again at most one bard is ever brought along in a zone group. So the question arises...has the class actually gone anywhere since I started? Yes the class is vastly different but the same problems still face this new incarnation. Only a handfull of songs are used, only one bard is used in a zone group at a time.

I know that bards now get spells and rogue skills but you can't use them and sing at the same time so on the whole they are not used at all. In zone groups it is preferable to wear +hpt eq to survive instead of hit/dam and the melee damage done by bards is minimal anyways.

So, has the class really changed in its usefullness since 1996? My answer would be no. The next question arises....what now? How do we make this class better?

My true answer is I honestly don't know. I have given my opinions and thoughts on how I think the class should be many times before but I am usually shot down or ignored. So I am not going to bother with them now.

I know this has probably gone on forever but I just needed to vent my thoughts and feelings into writing which I don't do very often. I hope I have not offended anyone and I thank all of those who have taken the time to read my dreary thoughts.

Before leaving I would like to put it to you. What do you think about the bard class as it stands today? What is lacking that keeps it from rising into one of those classes that is not just useful but actually wanted. I know the mud can't sustain a hundred classes all of which are needed or a zone can't be done, but isn't it time the bard class had its day? Maybe it's not. I leave that to you.

Tsaej Mallorn (Half-Elf)
Tsaej Brokenfingers (Orc)



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Dalar
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Postby Dalar » Thu Dec 12, 2002 12:09 am

I love bards. The healing song is great for exp and is decent during zone groups. Area slow is very nice. Song of sorcery is great for speed casting. Offensive harmony haste saves enchanters and elementalists and necros alot of time. In general I believe bards are a jack of all trades, not great in one particular field but decent in many. Would I bring one to a zone? Defintely. area slow is a awesome. song of sorc makes invokers nuke that much faster. Would I bring two to a zone? If i would if not enough people were on. My opinion may change when I finally hit 50. I'm only lvl 40 right now. Also remember that accompany has never been used with two 50 bards with max accompany. For all we know it could be a force to be reckoned with.

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Shevarash OOC: 'I never thought I'd long for Muma to be on OOC'
Dalar
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Postby Dalar » Thu Dec 12, 2002 12:09 am

double post

[This message has been edited by Dalar (edited 12-11-2002).]
Aldira
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Postby Aldira » Thu Dec 12, 2002 2:02 am

I asked you, like, 4 times to zone when other people in the groups you were leading said you had slots open, and every single time you responded that a bard wasn't what you needed.
Dalar
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Postby Dalar » Thu Dec 12, 2002 2:49 am

ok now i get it!

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Shevarash OOC: 'I never thought I'd long for Muma to be on OOC'

[This message has been edited by Dalar (edited 12-11-2002).]
Guest

Postby Guest » Thu Dec 12, 2002 4:44 am

Thanks for the feedback.

I would like to say here that I, personally, don't think bards are fully completed. I put quite a bit of work into getting the engine done, and laying the groundwork for their songs.

As I've posted on another thread, there are going to be a couple of new songs sometime fairly soon. Two songs isn't going to suddenly make the class the best on the mud, but they're designed to address a couple of issues (and to give the bard some ancillary value outside of combat in one case).

Bard spells aren't really intended to be an entirely different role for them. They're mostly there to give them an opportunity to contribute in minor ways, or in emergencies. As such those aren't likely to change.

But songs? Sure, they're quite likely to have a few more revisions, as I'm able to observe bards as they're actually played in the game. As an example, I originally designed the songs to become more powerful if they were sung for a long period of time. It turns out that in fact bards don't tend to sing the same song for very long. So this system got a bit of an update recently.

In the end, the mud is what we, the staff, and you, the players, make of it. There are numerous opportunities for comeraderie. Of course there are numerous opportunities to blow people off, too. If we want to have a game that's fun, however, we need to pass on the latter.

By now, I hope the players realize that we listen to feedback and try to implement what can reasonably (due to technical issues or balance) be implemented. Certainly this will continue for bards and battlechanters.

P.S. One of the saddest things for me during this whole process was the passing of Kobei, someone who had said he was looking forward to the changes and was one of the beloved bards of which you speak.

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Shevarash OOC: 'if (!strcmp(GET_NAME(ch), "Dartan))'

[This message has been edited by Iyachtu (edited 12-11-2002).]
Gurns
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Postby Gurns » Fri Dec 13, 2002 2:27 am

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by tsaej:
<B>I look at this time before the new changes as the Dark Age of the bard class.
</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
You and every other bard!

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"><B>On the whole however, the only bards who made it to high levels all ... had a deep passion and love for the class.
</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
It follows. Bards have never been a "power" class, so to get to any level, you had to play your bard a lot. If you didn't love the class, you made another PC.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">The first major change to come in was opening the class to the other good races.</font>

*nod* It's all been downhill since then.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">This marks the end of the Dark Age and the beginning of a new age as of yet unamed.</font>

There's two pieces to that age. The initial class could be called, I think, Kobei bards. I didn't know him as well as some of you, but the singing, the good rogue skills, plus a few other things to do...He woulda loved it.

The present state of the class, with fewer rogue skills, but more (coming) songs? We'll see...

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"><B>But there just seems to be something missing.

I notice that a lot more bards/bchanters are playing now, which is awsome, but I notice a distinct lack of the comraderie and love that was shared in the past between fellow bards</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
That follows, too. A lot of folks rolled bards when the new class went in. To see if they liked it, for variety, or because it looked powerful. And there's still some of that going on. There's a shakedown period, and eventually, those playing bards will again mostly be those who play it because they love being a bard.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">I also notice, that once again again at most one bard is ever brought along in a zone group. So the question arises...has the class actually gone anywhere since I started?</font>

Yeah, I have to pay attention to what's going on, now.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">What is lacking that keeps it from rising into one of those classes that is not just useful but actually wanted.</font>

Bards who can take the class as it is, and realize how to utilize the songs we have to the greatest advantage for the group we're in (which song you sing when depends on the composition of the group, the zone, and where you are in the zone). Leaders who think about what a bard can do, and are able to give any bard some direction on what the leader wants accomplished. Even spellups aren't always the same, whether warriors are bashing or resucing or punching varies, whether casters should do offense or hex/silence or other stuff varies, and bards have enough songs to vary for different fights as well. Leaders don't depend on each member of the group to decide what to do on their own (unless it's a group that's been going out together for a long time, and even then the leader often reminds them). But when I ask "What should I sing?", I'm still often told "Your choice." Not always, but often. Sometimes that means "It doesn't matter what you sing, you're along for the ride on this fight." Sometimes it means "No idea, so please do something that might be useful."

So, the full power of this class has yet to be seen. Not that bards will ever be the first class looked for. But I expect we won't be the last.
tsaej
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Postby tsaej » Fri Dec 13, 2002 4:47 am

Wow Image Thank you so much for the feedback. I completely understand and appreciate the staggering amount of work that must have gone into basically creating a brand new class. For that I am forever grateful and as I have already stated I truly do like what has been done with the class.

I believe that there have been huge steps made in the right direction. I am also glad to hear that work is still being done and I can't wait to see how the class will pan out in the end.

As for the useability of the class in zones I couldn't agree more with Gurns. Perhaps the class is like one of those 3D pictures where everyone can't see the image yet. It is going to take the bard population to show what they can do and thats not to say that some leaders don't already know how to employ them effectively.

The first time I met Kobei was in The Order of the Wyrm. We became friends immediately as most bards do hehe and had some great adventures. I will always miss his up beat happy attitude and awsome generosity towards others. To me he embodied what the spirit of the bard should be.

Reading through things again and doing some personal reflection I have come to realize that although I may not have the passion I once did for the class I still love it above all others. I don't yet see where the bard class is going to end up but I do believe that this new age is going to be awsome Image and I just hope I'm around to see it come into fruition.

Tsaej Brokenfingers

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Caedym
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Postby Caedym » Fri Dec 13, 2002 11:56 pm

And here is the inevitable Caedym post. Unlike my usual, I'll make this short and sweet.

A mountain of code didn't make a hill of beans difference. The end.

-Caedym misses hanging out with Kobei.

“So, has the class really changed in its usefullness since 1996?”
-Tsaej


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Snurgt
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Postby Snurgt » Sat Dec 14, 2002 12:29 am

At least it was just line of unappreciative negativity, instead of 4 pages worth. Thanks!

Alot of us love the new bards Itchy, keep up the good work!

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Dalar
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Postby Dalar » Sat Dec 14, 2002 4:35 am

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Caedym:
<B>And here is the inevitable Caedym post. Unlike my usual, I'll make this short and sweet.

A mountain of code didn't make a hill of beans difference. The end.

-Caedym misses hanging out with Kobei.

“So, has the class really changed in its usefullness since 1996?”
-Tsaej


</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

i'm sorry, but have you ever seen a high level bard in zone? they make a difference.

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Oyob tells you 'are you a god?\'
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Postby Vigis » Sat Dec 14, 2002 6:20 am

I miss Kobei and I wish he could have been here for the changes. Nothing else to add except that I miss Kobei
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Postby Ambar » Sat Dec 14, 2002 9:59 pm

I'm sure Kob knows what changes have been made .. there was only the best place for a man as sweet as him to go .... I'm sure he watches us and his family every day ...

u know i log my goodie on from time to time just to go see his statue and sniffle a little?



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