Bearwall!

Thanks go to the MMO Melting Pot for clueing me in on a kerfluffle in progress around the blogosphere. I tend to miss these things, as I’m an old, out of the loop kind of Bear. 

From what Rebecca said, Tobold wrote a post recently that has inspired other people to write their own posts, either in support or condemnation.

There’s always some kind of drama in the blogosphere, so I’m not too sure what this particular kerfluffle is really all about. (I do love that word, I think kerfluffle shall be my word of the day. Not to be confused with the word ‘fluffer’, which, as we all know, is someone who heaps praise on the writers of WoW Insider in the hopes of being linked to. Right? That *is* what a fluffer is, right? Hold on, let me just check the urban dictionary… whoops! Oh, really? Wow, okay, moving on…. ya know, on second thought, that really is a fairly apt, oh never mind…) 

Umm, right, the kerfluffle. As far as I understand it from the Noisy Rogue’s post, the big to-do is something about Tobold saying that DPS only get to have their selfish fun because other responsible people step up and do the nasty, undesirable jobs of tanking and healing. Furthermore, if DPS want to be socially responsible, then they have a duty to step up there and take a turn as the tank or healer their own selves, whether they like it or not.

Yeah, I paraphrased mightily, tongue firmly in cheek. What I did was take a perfectly innocent quote, and read into it with the utmost of paranoia and suspicion, looking between the lines, above and below the lines, behind the lines, and coming up with my own damn lines as well. My version sounds kinda BS, doesn’t it? But that’s what some people seem to have read into it before they teed off.

Right up front, I want you to know that I don’t really care what all the drama is about, or what Tobold was really trying to say, or whatever. He knows what he was trying to say, and I’ve been on the blogging front long enough to know that while I always know what I meant to say in a post, that doesn’t always translate into the words on the screen. Did he mean whatever it was in the way it’s been taken? Only he knows, and only he knows whether he’s satisfied that he got his point across or not. Plus, you know, maybe he’s right.

I like to tank. I love to tank. That is the part of the game I have always loved the most. And, that is the part of the game of World of Warcraft I do not currently do at all, because I will only tank for people I know, and enjoy playing with. If I were playing on Horde side, there are folks there I like playing with and I would tank for them if they so desired. I’ve been focused on Alliance side since the expansion released, though, so I haven’t. I will not tank for strangers, not because it’s hard, but because every time I’ve tried there is a person that is a rude little obnoxious asshat… and I refer you to my comment above about being an old kind of Bear. Life is simply too short and too precious to me to waste my time dealing with punks, so I don’t.

That being said… Tobold has a valid point that since the current system has fewer tanks and healers looking for groups than there are DPS, it provides a good source of conversation on why… or, better yet in my opinion, a constructive discussion on what could be done differently, if anything at all?

I’m planning on taking a crack on speculating on ways it could be changed. Not for WoW, but for another MMO design looking to try a different approach to what is ‘known and accepted’.

As I like to say, even a blind squirrel gets a nut once in a while. Who knows, maybe I’ll actually have an idea worth something. Don’t hold your breath, though.

Whatever else you care to say about it, Tobold clearly wrote a successful post, because here I am writing a post inspired by it. Sorta.

I’m really more inspired by the central idea behind it all; the relationships between tank, DPS and healer, and what can be done about it. 

For any of my readers that have played MMOs in the past, the dynamic is a familiar one; challenges are designed to be too difficult for any one player to complete on their own. A group is needed for victory. The challenge typically has villains that do too much damage for someone who is not a healer to live through, does too powerful a single attack for anyone not a tank to survive even with a healer, and has too high a health for anyone not a DPS provider to burn down before the juice that keeps those heals going runs out.

So, roles are decreed; a tank to survive the big hits and keep the big bad’s attention; a healer to keep the tank alive through all the damage, and a DPS (or more) to do enough damage to defeat the big bad before the healer’s mojo runs out.

Thus, the unholy trinity upon which so much of our MMO group gaming is based.

Where we often see a disconnect, is that our MMO play experience is not IN a constant group. It is a combination of solo play with just occasional group situations.

When playing solo, most encounters are designed favoring a playstyle that delivers high damage output in a very short period of time, burning down individual bad guys quickly to move on to the next one. Thus, the most common and friendliest playstyle for solo players, by design, is the DPS role.

This means that, also by design, in order for a tank or healer to rise in the game, someone has to step outside of what they already know and are familiar with, the DPS playstyle, and take on a brand new role they know nothing about and have no previous experience in.

What is even more intimidating, often they have to do this in front of a live studio audience, who may have varying degrees of experience on how to play themselves… along with varying levels of civility, patience and compassion. 

And the final catch – while you can stack on more DPS players, as many as you’d like to increase the groups’ damage output, the overall success or failure of the entire group often rests on the shoulders of the tank and the healer. If the tank fails to hold the attention of the big bads or the healer fails to heal the people who need it as fast as they need it, then the DPS players or healer, who BY DESIGN are far squishier, will fall. Generally, once players start dying, the group will fail. Nobody likes to lose, and strangers can be downright vicious and cast blame far and wide when it happens.

Is it any wonder that, no matter how fun you try to make the healing or tanking roles, there shall always be people who refuse to try it? For fear of failure, fear of looking stupid, fear of letting other people down, fear of ridicule, fear of something unknown, fear of the expressed rage of others at a loss, fear of the consequences of not being prepared enough or ‘good’ enough.

Is there a problem with this system, or is it fine as is? Does it maybe just need some tweaks?

I think one fundamental issue that could stand to be addressed is how tanking and healing are roles that do not come into play in an MMO until it’s time for a group. Until that first group, there is never a time when tanking or healing are a valid, fun, successful playstyle.

If, through some combination of changing classes or encounters, the healing or tanking playstyles became both fun AND equally as effective as DPS to play solo, then I think you would see more people getting skilled in using them, and thus have a lot more confidence in those roles going into a group.

Tanking as a viable solo playstyle has already been done before, and people loved it. People who play World of Warcraft are already familiar with the concept of the person who levels as a tank, usually as a Paladin.

Why? Because Paladins, once upon a time, had both good survivability AND self-healing abilities, and although their damage output was lower than standard DPS classes, they could damage multiple bad guys at the same time. A leveling Paladin tank would just gather up lots of bad guys, and by damaging them all at the same time, burn them down slowly but as a big group. Yes it took them a long time for the fight to finally end, but overall, they killed enough extra enemies that it all kinda evened out. 

Even at the time, it wasn’t a very consistent way to level. The biggest reason being, you need areas your level that have lots of enemies close enough together that you can gather up a group. With single target fights being the norm for soloing DPS players, you didn’t see that kind of arrangement at every level of the game.

How could you make leveling as a tank a more attractive solo option? By placing more bad guys in an area that can be gathered up, and have those opportunities at every level of progression. Also, you could encourage it by increasing the ratio of physical bad guy to stationary spell casting bad guys. This would let you gather up lots of bad guys that will dutifully chase you around, but leave you one or two spellcasters that will let you practise silencing/line of sight pull techniques on them.

So, sure, you could modify your game world a little bit to accomodate the player wanting to level as a tank. Keep the enemies spread out enough for single target DPS style players to move through without being swarmed all the time, but have enough of them just close enough to each other that a leveling tank could gather a bunch up without too much trouble, in every zone they adventure in.

That is a game adjustment that would help encourage more leveling tanks, and in the process remove some of the fear from new tanks joining a group for the first time.

But what about healing?

How do you set things up so that healing is a valid playstyle?

I think one way to address that issue is to eliminate healing as a seperate role. Incorporate it into the management all players have to handle for themselves.

I’ll get back to that point in a minute, and let you build up your anger in the meantime over the very suggestion, by getting back to tanking. :)

I think another change that I’d love to see done is that tanking should be an option every class should have.

Let’s look at World of Warcraft for some examples of what I’m talking about.

During the Burning Crusade expansion, a lot of players took pride in finding ways to perform as a tank with classes that were traditionally DPS only.

The most famous of these was the Rogue class, which has the option to activate abilities that increase their chance to Dodge incoming attacks very successfully, for a short duration of time.

The challenge for these Rogue players was in arranging encounters so that they could get all the killing done before the duration of the especially high Dodge wore off. The tanking also usually required gear chosen for it’s very high Dodge boosting stats.

There have been many players who, of their own initiative, tried to force a DPS class into tanking, and succeeded. How much more successful would it be if the designer of the game gave them intentional tools to do that tanking properly?

What’s the biggest role of the tank? Is it to survive incoming damage? No, because a Mage with Ice Block can do that as well for a brief period of time, and so can a Hunter with Feign Death.

The main duty of the tank is to keep the attention of all of the big bads on him, and off of the rest of the group. Only after that is health important.

If a player can keep all of the big bads on him alone, AND survive the fight, that player has accompished the role of a tank.

So, two aspects of the tank to duplicate amongst the classes; a way to hold the attention of bad guys, and a way to survive that attention.

Anyone who has played World of Warcraft for any length of time around a Paladin tank knows that, even when fully specced as a tank, sometimes a Paladin would just be utterly unable to hold the attention of the bad guys. As soon as people started shooting, the bad guys would go running wild.

Why? The Paladin has a special ability that they can choose to turn on or off called Righteous Fury. The sole function of Righteous Fury is to make everything a Paladin does cause increased Threat. Heals, damage, anything that any character could do that would normally cause Threat (the effect that gets the attention of a bad guy) would have the value of that Threat significantly enhanced. Enhanced high enough to normally overshadow anyone else in the group.

It’s a “I’m the tank now, dog” button, and Paladins that forgot to activate it would find themselves quickly ignored as the DPS players, with their higher damage output, attacked the bad guys.

My suggestion is, why not offer all players an “I’m the tank now, dog” ability? Something they can activate that intentionally boosts the Threat value of everything they do.

But go beyond that. That same ability could incorporate a multiplier to the player’s health, providing the boosted life that tanks often need. It could also turn on a ranged Taunt ability, something that only a player with the “I’m the tank now, dog” ability active could use. (You know, to prevent those accidental taunt tag teaming). And of course, with ITTND on, there would have to be a downside, or people would run with it on all the time. So, as soon as it goes on, your Threat output may go up by 400%, but your damage output would be reduced by 400%. You are holding attention and surviving, not being a one man death machine. Boom, instant higher threat, higher survivability, and a reason not to use it when you want to do lots of damage. Sure, you could level using it… you’d just need to grab up 4 or more enemies to kill at one time to make up for your reduced damage output.

But there is more to being a tank than threat and health. There is also having a unique way to feel like you’re tough to bring down.

World of Warcraft has shown us that it is possible to have tanks designed around something other than shields and plate armor. Rogues have long effectively survived some nasty stuff using their long cooldown abilities. Remove or reduce some of those long cooldowns, and give them a threat increaser, and they’re a ready made tank.

Druids had their high armor value to reduce all incoming (physical) damage. Warriors and Paladins had their Defensive Stances, Shields and Swords to Block and Parry.

Hunters have a pet they can send in, in their stead. That never has worked very well for consistent group situations, mainly because there are limits to how powerful the pets are designed to become for fear of PvP balance issues. Having a toggle for a tanking mode that dramatically reduces damage output while increasing threat output and health/armor would go a long way to changing that, especially if the Hunter could use their Misdirect to their pet as a Taunt. How fun would that be? A long distance tank, seeing when their pet lost aggro and taunting the mobs back to the pet? It can already be done with Intimidation, and traps help control enemies very well. Hunters are just so close to being tanks, they can taste it. 

With these examples, it’s easy to see that if this was the direction a design team wanted to go, it could happen. 

There are so very many things that could be tweaked a little bit to every existing class in WoW to accomplish the goal of giving an option to perform the tanking role; hold the attention of all the bad guys, and survive incoming damage.

As long as damage output was drastically reduced while tanking, and the focus was put on generating high threat instead, it wouldn’t even be a destabilizing influence on most PvP situations, especially if you could only change into that tanking mode while out of combat.

But what about the healing role? I hope you held onto your anger and are ready to unleash it on me now :)

Why not remove dedicated healers entirely and put the responsibility of self-healing squarely on the shoulders of each player?

Again going back to an existing example, currently the Rogue class in WoW has a very interesting experiment going on. Recently a new spell was added, giving Rogues a heal over time capability. Recuperate is a new Rogue finishing move, giving the player the option to choose to use combo points on a self-healing “Heal over Time” spell instead of on increased damage or on speed boosts.

Similarly, Paladins with their new Holy Power combo point system can use those points on an instant cast heal spell called Word of Glory.

With some modifications, such a system of self-healing choices, sacrificing damage output in exchange for self-healing at various rates, could be used to replace the traditional healing class entirely. After all, how much damage is taken, who takes it, and at what rate is directly controlled by the game design team.

But the only way it could work would be if the dedicated healing classes were no longer an option, and every class had valid ways to choose to either heal themselves OR do damage/generate threat.

If you give just a few classes the ability to self-heal, and keep the dedicated healing classes, you’ll quickly run into what Rogues are seeing now; changes to the effectiveness of Recuperate as the designers try to find a ‘sweet spot’ that let’s it be helpful while the Rogue is alone, but isn’t too powerful when there is a healer nearby during a raid.

Many challenges in MMOs like World of Warcraft right now are balanced around trying to find ways of keeping dedicated healing classes busy/occupied during a raid. Because the design is built around the trinity of tank/DPS/healer, then a healer has to be there. But, if there isn’t enough for the healer to do, the healer will be bored and not have fun. So encounters are intentionally designed with more kinds of damage, more things that need to be removed like Curses or Poisons, bigger spikes of sudden damage that may kill the tank instantly to keep you on your toes, a limited resource like Mana to manage so you have to stay aware of what’s going on at all times, all sorts of complexity just because there has to be a healer role, and that player has to be kept busy.

If you remove the dedicated healer role from the design equation, you remove the need to design encounters to intentionally tax healers to the edge all the time. You can cut back on the massive damage spikes, and force each player to be responsible for his or her own cleansing of curses, or of moving out of goo that causes damage, or of sacrificing damage output temporarily to regain some health when needed… or of choosing to push harder on damage, trusting in the defeat of the boss before they die.

You bring the responsibility back squarely on the shoulders of the players… and you also force them to use their judgment, with nobody but themselves to blame if they die, unless they pulled threat from the tank.

I know that World of Warcraft is far too developed and fine tuned to ever go in that kind of radical direction.

What I do hope is that someday we will see a game designer take a hard look at the unholy trinity, and decide to see what would happen if healing were the responsibility of each individual player, instead of just one or two in the group.

I also think it would be a lot of fun to see a game where leveling as a tank was an option for every class, and thus the question in any group would never be “who here can tank?”, but instead “which of us wants to tank this one?”

To misquote one of my favorite songs; “Glory be to God that there are no more of us, for one of us could tank it all alone…”

48 Responses to “The (Un)Holy Trinity”
  1. lokyst says:

    Apologies for bringing DCU into a Warcraft post, but it looks like they are trying to play with the trinity there as well. In alerts (group instances), players can take on 1 of 4 roles: Tank, Healer, Controller (replenishment), and DPS. The thing is that DPS is common to all “classes” and the class you play determines the other role you can perform. Players can switch between their DPS/other role outside of combat instantly. Instance groups consistent of 4 players and the ideal group consists of one player for each of these roles.

    (In my opinion, SOE have failed slightly in that it’s never made clear to the beginning player that you can and are expected to switch as needed to your other role by hitting the T button in a group. As a healer, I’ve watched in terror as a fellow party member pauses in front of a boss before charging in as DPS. You can almost hear the gears click as they think to themselves, “I guess I’m the tank? That’s what it said in the class description. Here goes!”)

    Anyway, rather than getting rid of the healing role, it seems another approach is to make the DPS role redundant by making all tanking / healing / replenishment powers do damage to the enemy. And it might have worked except that they left a slot open for the role of DPS and everyone just assumes it should be them. /babble

  2. Chris says:

    Well these roles aren’t something that is completely new to WoW, nor are have these roles matured in the game independent of the community. There have always been players that have pushed boundaries with varying degree of success (“Hey I have a shield, I can tank right? As a shaman?”)

    I also am not going to put all this on Blizzard’s shoulders, because there’s clearly evidence the WoW community itself is quite broken in this regard.   Even if you made solo play more viable for healers or tanks, the reality is that the reason most people don’t tank or heal is because they can’t hack the crap you get when in those roles. So many players hide their own insecurities like so many people have for ages – by attacking the thing they are afraid of and those who deal with it successfully. I watched too many of my friends go through this thinking they can tank because they watch me do it, and expect to do as well as I do right off the bat, then give it all up the moment they cause a wipe (1st couple of pulls). The failure in front of a live audience (even a friendly one) was too much, and they never did it again. I think really the only people who take up these roles are the ones that can ignore those around them, dust it off, and give it another go.

    Given the major, major misconceptions and myths that already permeate the WoW community, there is only so much complication it can handle. Take for instance the view held by many in the community that think only DK’s and Pally’s can tank in Cata, and stack stam over and over again. Mitigation is nothing to them. I actually get yelled at for taking “rogue” and “hunter” gear all the time. I could go on an on about stupid stuff the general WoW community hold up as fact.  My faith in most the community to grasp anything but clearly defined roles is minimal at best.

    And now that dual specs are 10g, no one should have a problem leveling a tank or a healer. You even get all the gear you need for all your possible roles questing. I collected a feral, boomkin, and resto set, all good enough for normal dungs just by completing all my quests.

    I am whole heartedly convinced that the reason there aren’t more tanks and healers is as simple as fear of responsibility. Most people walking this planet don’t ever want a position that would cause social failure. And most of them can’t also live with the fact they are too afraid to take on that responsibility, so they lash out and make excuses. We’re surrounded by this in everyday life (fear of public speaking is still king of fears), why are we so surprised to find in an online video game?

    I also found Tobald’s post (taken by itself, I’m not too familiar with the blog) to be making a good point, one that should’ve been engaged directly as you have done.  Noisy Rogues’ response was everything they claim Tobald’s was: pathetic, stupid, moronic, mean, and not adding anything at all to the conversation.  The moment someone starts ad hominem attacks (and wow, that was a wall of nothing but ad hominem) it’s a clear indication said attacker’s position is now intellectually bankrupt and should be dismissed out right.

  3. Tsudrats says:

    In an odd sort of way I don’t mind the disparity between tank and heal availability and dps numbers partly because when on either of my druids I’m pretty much guaranteed a run and find it useful to point out to a dps who’s being a pest that he/she can go or I do and if I do, the group can start their half hour wait … again.

    While logged to my mage with her complete inability to look like a tank and bandage spec as the closest she can come to pretending to heal, the wait times are annoying but hey; I’ve got to check out a lot more of the new content on her than I have on the druids simply because the wait gives me time.

    Although there are draw backs to the current tank/heal/dps format and that I also agree that there are issues caused by the fact that easy leveling encourages you to go dps, I enjoy the fact that one of the things I have to manage in game is the different attributes of each of my characters include the roles in groups they best fit.

    • Rethea says:

      PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE STOP SAYING THIS.
      In progress instance groups are put at the TOP OF THE QUEUE and will only wait a few minutes at most for a tank, healer, or both.

  4. jinkx says:

    /start rant Why not remove dedicated healers? Very simple: i like to heal. I have 3 toons especially for healing. I can fill any roll to some extent, and dps will always be my great first love, but my main alt is a healer. Its a roll i find relaxing. Out of the rat race that dps is and out of the stress-inducing elephant skin growing that tanking is. Healing has its very own appeal and i bet a lot of healers think about that the same way.
    Hell i even know healers who couldnt dps if their life depended on it. Why take that away just because people have the self induced hallucination that we have long wait times as dps and things need to change? /end rant

    The fact that tanks and healers are a commodity today is rather normal as well. People tend to play games to NOT have the responsability they already have in RL, and dps provides that. But barring rogues mages and locks, every other class has an offspec in healing or tanking so if those people really have such a problem with the 40 min que they can always press that little button that says “change spec”.
    As for the “pure dps classes”: give them a healing or tank spec.
    That way you put the responsability for the long que with the players itself and all the wining and dining stops :-)

  5. Eryius says:

    I’m still stuck here… blinking my eyes…

    “is to eliminate healing as a seperate role”

    Dear… Please don’t :) I like healing. A lot.

    I agree with the above posts that people in general should learn to behave when acting in a group. People should not immediately flame each other when something goes wrong. So I don’t like being yelled at, but I’ve learned to ignore a lot of it. Healing and tanking are imo the more difficult roles in a group (healing imo the most difficult) and I like a challenge, so we can leave them be imo. And those that do not want that challenge? There is the 45min queue :)

    I dunno… I think I like the unholy trinity. And I also think that it would help any role to change into another role for a while. I think that would help people realize what they can do to help the other roles in the current party. The DCU example sounds promising. But I don’t think removing a role form the unholy trinity would resolve things, I’d try a route which would encourage people to try each role to make them realize what other people have to deal with.

    Maybe have people train in premade NPC parties/encounters? In Starcraft 2 you can train units and abilities and skills of various sorts in “challenges”. Aimed at figuring out what you like and what you can do.
    Maybe we should have an “out of world” training center (in game, but not on a live server, sort of instanced), where you can pick a few pre-equipped classes/roles and run with 4 NPC’s through various encounters. Then you can try out, before taking 2 weeks to get to max level, what roles you like and get used to certain roles without being flamed.
    Maybe that would take away the fear of failure? Hey, it’s only NPC’s, who cares? :)
    And it gives you a chance to try if you want to level a healing class to max level, preemptively. With pre-geared characters, like in the beta?

    How about something like that?

    • Eryius says:

      Thinking about this some more…

      Maybe give people the option to select a role:
      1) tank
      2) healer
      3) melee DPS
      4) ranged DPS

      Then let them select a class (using the same we have ingame).
      Then also let them select a gear setting: greens, blues, heroics, epics.
      And let them select an encounter difficulty: normal, heroic.

      Using the selected gear (presetup), role, class and encounter difficulty put a group of 4 NPC with the player in a random dungeon boss fight (using old BC or Wrath bosses, tuned for the used gear?).

      Then after the encounter, maybe you can give feedback? Show the stats: healing, overhealing, damage taken, damage mitigated, etc?
      And compare those stats to a “perfectly executed enounter” so you have some idea of where you stand? Let the game give suggestions based on those stats? (ie. try to overheal less, using other spells, or try to use cooldowns for high damage boss abilities for tanks, or step out of the fire to mitigate damage as dps, etc).

      Maybe that would also provide some fun for experienced players to see how well then can perform?
      It would be a chance to reuse old dungeon bosses?
      Let people check out the different roles/classes?
      Let people feel the difference good gear can make?

  6. Helver says:

    One of the things that I was noticing yesterday as I was cruising through the Cata content was that it seems like there are LOTS of places now where there is constant battle in progress – Deepholm, Twilight Highlands, Uldum, Southern Barrens, Ashenvale, Hyjal… It would seem like those embattled areas might be in need some healing. There are already quests to go through and apply bandages to the wounded/incapacitated… I don’t see why you could offer quests to go and actually heal the combatants… For the non-healing classes, it might be the single useful thing you can do with your bandages. And perhaps scale the xp gain for those healing quests based on time to complete the quest – so it might give DPS classes using bandages 12k XP (at level 85) and give 120k XP for the healer that gets it done in 1 minute with a sliding scale in between.

  7. Kemonojin says:

    My druid grew up as a moonkin, and main tanked for his guild all through vanilla wow, up through UBRS back when it was 10 man. No taunts, but enough damage and armor that it worked out. And if all else failed, there was the greatest AOE threat spell in the game, Tranquility. I’ve pulled a whole group of beasties back onto me and healed the rest of the group they were munching on at the same time with it.

    Never tanked with my shaman or paladin, both of them are mainly healers. The druid is a female worgen now; I originally chose the druid as a throwaway character to try on my first MMOadventure game (It’s STILL not an RPG. :P ) to try out all the roles to see what I liked to do… and it turned out I liked all of them… but back then, all druids were healers. Because you COULD heal you HAD to heal, no matter that all your gear was agility for cat form or stamina for bear…

    I have several dps classes (the paladin is no longer among them. Yeesh. 2k dps in LK class gear at 82 on level 80s…) but on the occasions I want to do some mindless DPS, I can use the mage or the hunter… with the druid, it’s always JOHN FRIGGIN MADDEN ( http://azeroth.metblogs.com/files/2009/10/catdps.jpg ) or tanking, both of which can be fun in their own way. ZOMGKITTIESMEWMEWMEW until the tank loses something, bear form and taunt it off, bring it back to the tank and take the beating until he can recover it, heal the healer back up and innervate (when cat durid is fite not ask for ninervaet!) them, then back to tearing off chunks of butt. I like the flexibility of the druid, and it’d be cool to see some of that in other classes. I don’t know if you’d ever really be able to get rid of healers though…

    • Kel says:

      Nice to hear about another giving homage to Tranquility as a great group aggro boost back in the day.. brings back memories of Vanilla with that one statement. : )

  8. Analogue says:

    Healer is my identity; at this point if I wanted to try a new game that didn’t have a distinct healer role I don’t know if I would. Oh I love mage leveling and playing around with fireballs, but it’s my druid and the other healer alts that I really love to play. I don’t think I’d enjoy a game where no one was a dedicated healer.

  9. Malificient says:

    While I think a new game messing with the “trinity” set up could be fairly interesting, BBB’s proposed solution of “anyone can tank, everyone can heal” kills the best part of raiding: the interaction and synergy between the raiders.

    In my mind, the interest and the challenge in raiding comes from figuring out the strategy, the particular tactics that need to be accomplished successfully (tank swaps, kiting, cooldowns for certain abilities, etc.), and how to achieve those things with the current group make up. Dual specs pleased me immensely not just for convenience, but because they made more strategies possible, e.g. 3 healers in a heroic ICC 10 run, but the priest goes shadow for Saurfang to help slow an add.

    A big part of figuring out that strategy is determining how many tanks, how many healers, and how the different classes and specs and players affect those strategies. A tanking group of a warrior and a death knight being healed by a holy priest, a resto druid, and a holy paladin do things much differently than a tanking group of a druid and a paladin being healed by a disc priest, a resto shaman, and a holy paladin, and that’s before getting into having more than one class/spec combination. I’m afraid that if everyone could heal on their own, and anyone could tank, the encounters devolve into “ok, tank A pulls, tank B taunts at 50%, everyone remember to heal up after Massive Ability X,” and…..queue everyone standing in a circle, stabbing the bosses ankles while mindlessly watching nothing but their own health and maybe a threat meter. A lot of the interaction, the synergy, the “team” part of raiding disappears when you’re self-sufficient.

  10. RiegnMan says:

    I can honestly say that I’m not completely opposed to this heretical idea that BBB proposes. I propose that we take it a step farther though. Why not have an MMORPG that allows any race/class combo to heal/tank/dps depending on gear and/or spec but the twist is this:
    All gameplay is conducted in a group randomly chosen by the RNG gods when you log on. You log on and are put with a group of 2-4 other players (who can all perform any part of the “trinity” themselves. Maybe it chooses play mates from your guild first, then your friend list then any group that had under 5 members or whatever. Then you go through and do your quests/dungeon play in the group and level together.
    The obvious problem would be that not everyone would be on the same quests and such at the same time but that’s not my problem to figure out. I’m just the creative lobe of this unified brain. :0)

  11. bigbearbutt says:

    It’s nice to see comments looking at interpretations of pros, cons and improvements or changes.

    I’d appreciate it, however, if the comments moved away from discussing World of Warcraft in particular, or defenses of the known, and instead focused on the point, which was new MMO design ideas for the future.

    As I said in the post, what I wrote weren’t suggestions for changing the existing game of World of Warcraft, they were thoughts on how the current game of WoW many of us are familiar with shows us an imbalance of players choosing amongst the different roles when in LFD, and then offered a few ideas out of whole cloth on how new MMOs might try and take human nature into account and present different design choices to address those issues. I intentionally did not address potential new rols for truly dedicated healers, and more than I brought up ideas for designs that didn’t require a tank at all.

    My hope for a discussion out of this was not for people to defend the known against the completely unknown, fearing even the possibility of change, but instead to foster some kind of reasonable discussion challenging the blinkers that drive people to think, “This is the way it is, this is the way it has always been, so this is the way it must be.”

    Probably too ambitious a thought for a Thursday night or Friday morning, but the readers that visit here have written some very impressive comments in the past that have helped me see things in a new light on other topics, so you’ve taught me to have high expectations.

    • Tesh says:

      Welll… since you pretty much covered what I’d have written anyway (to the point where I wondered if I was having an internal dialogue sometimes, even using Rogue tanking as a case study), I’m not sure I can add much to this. I do want to emphasize this, though:

      ***I also think it would be a lot of fun to see a game where leveling as a tank was an option for every class, and thus the question in any group would never be “who here can tank?”, but instead “which of us wants to tank this one?”***

      Yes, a thousand times yes. I’d even go so far as to make shifting into the ITTND mode something that can happen on the fly, like a stance for Warriors. Let players step up and handle situations that go ballistic on the fly and see who really steps up when it matters. Let skill be the key, and give players the tools they need. When anyone can step fluidly into any role at any time, yes, there might be initial confusion, but it will really sort the players by skill and let them master their play. They can approach soloing however they feel like, and groups can just literally be composed of whomever wants to go play. Similarly, when everyone is responsible for their own back, at least for the bulk of play, the blame game gets short circuited, and that’s good for social ties.

    • Templar969 says:

      Other way to go is to get rid of “class” and make things dependent on gear, somewhat similar to FPS games.

      So BBB can collect/wear a plate set (+200,000 HP), a holy robe set (gives healing spells), or a fel robe set (gives dps spells). People could just switch back and forth to what is needed in the moment.

      Question is, how does that affect the RPG aspect.

  12. Jenova says:

    I’m surprised to see that nobody has mentioned that Blizzard used to have this concept in place with the Diablo series. There were even Druid tanks :). I loved mine, although my Assassin definitely saw the most action.

    One simple change that would make healers irrelevant overnight is to remove the cooldown on healing/rejuve potions, similar to Diablo. Of course, that would probably have some interesting PvP implications, but would be a huge boon to herbalists and alchemists :) Heck, while we’re at it, bring back the teleport scrolls, too!

  13. Mannyac says:

    I don’t play MMOs currently, but I would be interested in a system set-up along the lines of the tabletop Hero or GURPS systems. Pick a race and add the talents/powers/fighting styles, you’d like to the character. Very similar to how the super-hero MMO’s approach now. Why not a barbarian, raging warrior who could also have a bear form. Or a wizard/sorcerer who could change into a flight form. How about a rogue character who could cast a trap spell. It would allow for an amazing amount of variety for players and could incorporate things like the healing abilities BBB was talking about. It would also be great for players who tend to play more solo (as I did) to challenge more difficult quests/instances, etc.

    I don’t know what the designs issues would be like, but I sounds like it might be fun to play.

    Just sayin

  14. Intravax says:

    I love the idea of a tank spec for all classes. I dont think it would work tho to spread the healing around tho. Boss mechanics are based off if abilities that both test the group in interrupting, avoiding, mitigating or healing thru the damage. you may not be able to have enrage timers because who would be able to burn the boss down if everyone is healing themselves thru some type of damage?

    Overall its an interesting idea but the mechanics we know today would flip and possibly reduce the fun factor overall. If everyone could heal themselves then you go back to spikey damage as a way to counter or repetative mechanics of ever increasing damage that will eventually overwhelm because ppl will be too busy healing themselves to do dps. I dont think we would have some of the amazing boss fights today with any other holy trinity model than we do now.

  15. Lyriah says:

    Three words…

    Guild Wars 2

    Okay, two and a bit. It is their intention to break the trinity and the trailer looks amazing. I am a GW1 convert to WoW and the games don’t compare… however, ArenaNet has had a few years to polish their skills and like bending the rules. I look forward to this one.

    If you’re interested, here is the trailer: http://www.guildwars2.com/en/

    Cheers…

    PS – Apologies if someone else has already posted this, I didn’t read all the comments.

    • bigbearbutt says:

      Lyriah, I’ve watched some of the developer videos and read a lot about Guild wars II, and I agree, I really like what I’m hearing there.

      IF they deliver on the promise of what they say they intend, Guild Wars 2 is going to be a game I will absolutely have to play.

      Time will tell, but I do know that I feel drawn to GW2 more than the upcoming Star Wars game.

  16. Ethawn says:

    One could make a compelling argument for systems that would support the elimination of ANY of the three roles in the unholy trinity. When building a game from the ground up, you could easily create a game in which you only had a “tank” and “healer”, and the DPS role was mixed in with those. Or in which you only had “DPS” and “Healer”, and both of those roles handled the tanking as well. Taken to an extreme, you could simply have a game in which you might have 10 classes that all share the DPS/Tank/Healing role, so people are effectively self-supported.

    If this choice was made at the onset, you COULD design a game that took advantage of this direction and incorporated group and raid content that required this sort of role multitasking from every single player.

    I honestly believe though that the problem as whole would be better addressed by changing the approach taken with this “end game content” rather than eliminating players ability to specialize into a role to which they are naturally inclined. Less can be more and more can be less when it comes to role and options available to players.

    It seems to me that the single fundamental flaw in most (all?) MMO end game content is that it is designed with only one core solution in mind, and it does not take into account the composition of the group. A truly innovative MMO would allow the game to adjust content according to the participants rather than forcing participants to be adjusted according to the content.

    Imagine an encounter that provided for environmentally triggered healing when there is an absence of healers. Or situational DPS from the area or NPCs if you have a lack of DPS. Content does not allow players to innovate all that much in finding alternate solutions, and certainly does not do anything to provide external assistance to fill any roles that might not be handled by the group attempting it.

    The content needs to be smarter, provide more options, and be far more flexible about group design than it currently is in most games. We should be able to show up to a 5-man dungeon with 5 tanks, and have the content capable of providing an adjusted experience for that.

    Eliminating the roles that players have available to them (in respect to specializing, as opposed to the Jack-Of-All-Trades approach) places the burden on players rather than placing it on the content designers. Don’t dumb down the variety and options players have, smarten up the content.

  17. Angry Gamer says:

    Ok so I will weigh in on this one. BBB loved the synopsis I too feel Tobold has a point.

    BUT (or is that BUTT here?) I as a primary DPS play right now, I DON’T want to sacrifice MY fun for somebody else. No offense but I really don’t care if rolling and leveling a Prot Warrior was a grand sacrifice to the greater 5 man good or not. I just don’t care. I would think that many DPS would agree with me.

    BUT(^2) I DID level all 4 healing classes in Wrath and healed Heroics and ICC with ALL of them. I understand the issue with needing healers I did the great sacrifice to heal for my guild many a time.

    Why am I not healing now? And why do I not feel like healing in Cata? Two reasons.
    1)I am an angry gamer and I TOO do not want to heal asshats.
    2)Blizzard in their extra-galactic wisdom decided to make the endgame harder by PUNISHING healers.

    So why fight both morons AND city hall? They don’t want Healing to be fun and easy I’ll stay on my BM hunter doing Pew Pew until they “figure it out” and decide to make healing fun again.

    Oh, does that mean that 4 potential healers are no longer available to heal heroics… Gee so sorry about that I really am.

    • bigbearbutt says:

      Well, as I said in the post, I love to tank and I ain’t gonna be tanking with the asshats I keep running into.

      I’m actually disenchanted enough right now that I’m taking a break from the game, having fun doing other stuff. Playing DC Universe, and bought Dragon Age: Origins last night to boot.

      I’ll come back to the game, but the state of the game at the moment broke something that was holding me fast to it, a fragile thread that just isn’t there now.

  18. RiegnMan says:

    Bah, forget all the talk. Let’s all get on Vent, Bear can GM and we’ll just play an RPG the way that we want it to play and not rely on Blizz or any other software for our entertainment. . .

  19. Devox says:

    I have read about some hunters who like to tank, see Big Red Rhino (http://bigredrhino.wordpress.com/) where one has recently tanked the Blackrock Caverns HC dungeon.

    For me, the most memorable groups I had were back when I was playing my druid on Everquest 1. These groups were where we didn’t have the “holy trinity” but formed other groups. Snaring monsters and rooting them was needed but after that having a couple of mages play aggro “ping pong”, or having a ranger/necromancer aggro kiting the monsters was great. You really learned about aggro management then. The most impressive for me was always when the enchanter charmed the toughest monster they could and went, “right there is our tank”. I even remember the time in a group when the tank had gone down and the necromancer decided to “tap tank” the monsters that was impressive.

    Sadly, in all of the MMOs I have played recently, the idea of letting people try things like what we used to do in EQ1 have all been removed or toned down so far as to be almost impractical in the name of game balance or to make it more “fun” in the opinion of the designers. So all we are let with is the “holy trinity” and the few player who try and break the mould.

  20. Ben says:

    Just on wow

    I like your basic idea Bear

    I think make the Warlock Demon form a tank ? it would worksome thing like feral spec for Bears ?

    Make one spec for sharman a tank spec and they can just wear plate ! couple of spells :)

    Personally Rogues and huntards dont feel like tanks and would you want mage tanks ?

    Warlocks could make cool healers too !

  21. esoteric says:

    Concerning evolving game design away from the trinity I think BBB held back too much. BBB loves to tank so its something he wants perserved, whereas a commenter loves to heal so its something they wanted perserved, but both would be unnecesary in the system BBB discribed. It would be possible and I think awesome to design a dynamic game with only ‘dps’ players.

    Hear me out,

    Instead of having a ITTND button, equip all players with defensive abilities they can actively use (a dodge button, kiting tools, shield walls, self heals), and then decrease their damage while they use their defensive tools. From lost swings while blocking with a shield to the inevitable rotation disruption brought by the heavy movement involved in kiting, each player is in charge of not dieing.

    As for the boss, he would attack the player with the most threat. That player either dies or intelliigently uses defensive abilities until another player deals enough damage to get the boss’s attention. The former ‘tank’ now has time to run and bandage, use slower self heals, etc. before they go to burn mode. That way every encounter requires each person to help control the boss, to help burn the boss, and to help keep eachother alive by not having the boss on any one person too long.

    Encounters wouldn’t be scripted dances that require a holydin on the def capped warrior, a disco bubble spamming unavoidable raid damage, and dps who bring x, y, and z buffs (or game specific classses obv). Encunters would be challenges where each person must know the full toolbox available to them to conquer.

    Also this would eliminate some cookie cutter min maxxing, as each person would have to balance defensive stats (dodge for your assasin) with offennsive ones (attack speed) which would make gearing more interesting….

    Then again I mostly pvp so what do I know…. ><

    • bigbearbutt says:

      I actually would like to see that kind of system, and I did do a lot of thinking on eliminating tanking as a role as well. What i hoped was what you did… come up with your own alternative ideas, for just the reason you made.

      For me, it comes down to the difference between how people act when with their peers, people they want to impress or have like them, as opposed to how people act when with strangers, and they feel they can ‘get away with’ acting, well, like their true self.

      Roles where people must rely on each other work great among friends or peers. We’ve all seen what happens when you do that with groups of strangers. You have to hope that the deisre to spend the time succeeding in getting Justice Points and loot drops will outweight the desire of people to be jerks or trolls. For an example of how desperately people want to be trolls and hurt other people, I submit for your consideration example 1: trade chat.

      I would love to see a grop design where the team each has to contribute to the fight in their own way for victory, but each person is responsible for their own success or failure as an individual. I’m eternally tired of people blaming others for their death, or for their taking aggro, or for any of a billion things, it seems like.

      I’d love it if, when someone stands in the fire and dies, everyone in the group knows that it was that person’s responsibility to heal themself, and no other in any way. If you die, it’s because you didn’t pay attention to your own location, threat, or healing, and thus all the fail is on you. No more finger pointing, name calling or other BS.

      Of course, you’d still get the “your DPS sucks” rants, or whatever, because again, it seems to be pretty rampant. I don’t think there is any way to avoid idiots aside from the Wargames scenario; the only way to win is to not play the game.

      • Esoteric says:

        Thankfully under that system though, dps {from an actual recount tool} would be horribly off target. The guy with the most burst would be in defensive longer, whereas the guy slowly chugging out small amounts of threat would hardly ever have the boss’s attention and may actually get a higher score! No really point to be made there, but I like the irony of the less skill you have in your rotation the higher your score may become.

        Irony aside I agree that a system that punishes a player for lack of skill/focus would be incredibly rewarding for the players. My only question would be, is it profitable? Would one be able to sell a game that’s actually that hard for any group to carry any player no matter the reason? If players can’t suck and be asshats would they keep paying? How about PuGs? If the system punishes each player for being the bad, could you create content that would be challenging for a five man group of skilled players while being possible for a group with a single lower skilled or lower motivated player?

      • podog says:

        OK Now you have come back to the real problem once again. “How people interact with strangers” I recall having a much better attitude between players back when all dungeon groups were formed from the same server. When you are faced with the idea that you may HAVE to group with another player again, or that you may be put on an ignore list within your server then you have to learn to get along. I also don’t recall waiting more than 20 minutes to get in a group with my rogue. I also believe that the introduction of dual spec/generic toons may be fine for a new game but should be eliminated from WoW. Before this was introduced a player had to bring certain skills to the group and know how to use them along with the skills of others. If you want another role play a different toon. The more they “water down” the game the more boring it gets and the more everyone expects others to carry the load. I used to love playing my druid healer before they took away my “tree” and made it just another generic healer. Lets face it, dps don’t even have to carry ammo anymore why would they think they should be responsible for thier role in a group or take the responsibility of rolling and learning a tank or healer. I feel it important as a healer to point out that playing a tank /healer role also does not entitle me to some higher level of righteousness. It has been my choice to play a healer(also started leveling a tank) and I have to be willing to accept any responsibility that goes along with that Role.

  22. Nabol says:

    Just one thing, although WoW related.

    Enhancement Shamans are also very close to tanking. They have an optional talent to boost Stamina and can imbue their weapon with Rockbiter, decreasing damage taken by 3% and increasing threat by an amount. Combined with the dodge % they get from all the Agility on gear, I can safely say it’s viable enough to tank in a pinch. I did, and loved it. Note that I also just love tanking in general (I have a Protection Paladin/Warrior and a Bear).

    That said, I’d love to see a system where {insert class here} can just choose to tank. I’m not so sure about the healing thing, because I love to heal and I’d hate to see the role removed. What is clearly an improvement to the trinity we see in WoW is that healers are now capable of dealing damage while healing. Just look at Discipline Priests or Restoration Shamans (with Telluric Currents).

    To be honest, I see no solution to the healing role, except either removing it entirely or just keeping it as it is. But tanking, that could definitely work.

    On the other hand, if you just change group roles to be a choice whenever you do group content, wouldn’t that change the whole thing into some sort of Malygos P3? I didn’t like that, and I probably never will.

  23. Pazi says:

    Nature shows that specialization rules. Also, I believe that even if all classes had the ability to tank/heal, people wouldn’t do it anyway. You see, even with dual-spec many warriors, paladins, druids and deathknight pick the easy dd-road and wait 20-30 minutes for an instance instead of becoming a tank or healer and get instant invites.

    Another thing is, many people suck at this game until they overpower it. If you force responsibilty on them, so they aren’t carried until they overpower the content, they will never get to that point and thus will leave (i.e. not pay blizzard).

  24. Templar969 says:

    Short fix is to give incentive, ie 25% bonux xp to LFD tanks and healers.

    I def think getting more people to heal/tank is a good idea, but some ppl might absolutely suck at it… what does one do about them?

  25. Rauxis says:

    I see pros and cons with your ideas. I liked in Age of Conan how a Shaman worked out, combining hots and melee into one neat package. In the (short time) I played I spend about 50% of my time in groups healing and 50% doing something else (like bashing skulls with my club).

    But there are enough people who like healing because they do not do anything except healing. Even though – even leveling as a healer nowadays is far more comfortable then it was 4 years ago (and I do not mean dual specc – you simply do more damage nowadays then vanilla).

    What Blizz really missed out on is TRAINING oportunities. DPS have their target dummies. It would be easy enough to implement something similar for tanking and healing.

    But the biggest problem by far IMHO is LFD. LFD completely removes the need to “behave”, as there is almost no chance that you will meet people from one group again. I remember the “good old days” when you saw certain people for hours in /lookingforgroup announcing “LOOKING FOR 2 MORE, TANK AND HEALER GOGOGOGO”. No one sane would group with them.

    The problem is not really so much trinity – it’s the people (and lead developer sitting at cloud 9 looking through pink glasses)

    Rauxis, chosen of CAT

  26. Furrama says:

    Hunters already can be effective tanks. You can misdirect to pet and there are glyphs that help make that better, we now have special pets that tank better than others and talent trees to go with them. They can be made crit immunne. Heck, back in the Wrath cycle Frostheim pet tanked Sindragosa. Heck, it was even better at tanking then regular tanks when it came to certain bosses. I wish dearly for more tank options though.

    • bigbearbutt says:

      Yes, they can be, but they certainly cannot queue into a 5 man as the tank in LFD, which is more my point. As I pointed out, Rogues can also be tanks, but you’re not going to see them do so with strangers.

  27. llyspy says:

    Comment on the song quote…does that mean this Bear druid is a Cal Bear alum? lol, Best drinking song, ever.

  28. Esoteric says:

    There are quite a few points here, some I agree with some I don’t. I’ll try and break them down into separate points and answer accordingly just to make it easier for me.

    1> “How people interact with strangers”

    I agree with this. The problem got worse with the Dungeon Finder because you now have millions of people to choose from and the chances of seeing anyone else ever again are very low. I do think it provides more good than bad though. I’m a tad of an altaholic for instance, but hate questing; especially doing quests I’ve already done. The Dungeon Finder gives me a way to level my toons in a much more enjoyable way. I have leveled my warrior, druid, and priest only through PuG dungeons and am very pleased with the result. Sure there were asshats, and lots of quiet semi-awkward runs; but at the end of the day it’s nice to know that the game was designed in a way that I can choose to eschew quests and level in the way I enjoy {rogue currently slowly grinding his way up through pug BGs. Now that gets aggravating!}

    In the hypothetical system outlined by Triple B, I personally think the problem would be lessened. You die in the tankless/healerless system while the boss is on you, than whoops you suck. If you die early and the boss enrages, or people run out of cooldowns or potions or any other means of finishing the enocunter due to being short a person the blame is squarely on your shoulder. In a game with a smaller player base, therefore the likelihood of seeing someone again is much greater, I think simply being a jerk would be lessened. Actual skill and commitment worry me though.

    2> Dual Spec/Generic toons.

    I disagree here. If you were an arms warrior you couldn’t find a group in those days. NonCC DPS just were not needed. You HAD to play a class because those skills and abilities were needed too bad if you liked another class go reroll. Watering down the differences between classes allows for you to bring the player not the class, which is a good idea. The classes still play very differently, but all can contribute to a coherent group. You should be able to grab any tank, healer, and a few deeps and make it through any five man given adequate gear and skill. Cataclysm heroics even cannot succeed with Arms, Fury, Retadin, Priest, Prot Warrior there’s not enough CC, you’ll fail. That is a problem that can be solved by giving warriors and pallys some CC, even if it’s similar to other class’s CC.

    As for dual spec…. I don’t see that as a problem at all. Druids used to carry around gear for two specs anyway and would just visit the trainer and respec when they wanted to change role. All dual spec does is save some g and eliminate the run to a trainer.

    3>No Tree form.

    It sucks. I hate it. I loved looking like broccoli {seriously I got glyph of treant the second I could, dropping 500g for it just because I was so happy. That scribe was shocked at his tip…}. As for generic healer, drus still feel like drus. How do you heal a group all taking damage in LK? Rejuv/WG. How do you do it in cata? Rejuv/WG. How do you heal a tank in LK? Roll LB and Rejuv, have Swiftmend on hand and be ready with the nourishes. How do you heal a tank in Cata? Roll LB/Rejuv, SM on CD, ready with a nourish or nt if he’s way low. Regrowth is for speed.

    If anything druid healing now uses more spells…..

    4> The game itself is watered down and dps just get carried.

    Had to ask a raiding friend to confirm, but his guild will not/does not/shall not PuG even a single DPS for a raid. Awareness, battle knowledge, and skill are too important now. Cata made PvE much harder and DPS who don’t pull their weight arn’t downing bosses either from being kicked or from holding a raid back.

    Back to the task at hand, the hypothetical system, I think it answers all 4 of your concerns.
    1> I already addressed
    2> All toons would have ways to not die, would have ways to deal damage. By your definition they would be generic. But playing a different class when well designed feels completely different from another class of the same role. An affliction warlock and an arcane mage both pew pew for mad DPS in WoW, but playing them both is very very different and not at all generic. In a no tank/no heals system the flavor and feel of the class would be it’s draw, not which class happens to actually have CC.
    3>If I made a hypothetical no Tank/Heals MMO I would have a treant race! And a panda race. Oh! and no humans, they’re boring…. maybe this is why I don’t design games….. >Again in the hypoteticla system being carried wouldn’t be possible, if you’re teh suk everyone would be able to tell and you’d wipe everyone alot.

    The more I think about a tank/healerless system the more I like it. Thanks BBB for the inspiration.

  29. Azzerack says:

    I’d like to point out that there is a transaction based free MMO called “Cabal” that has all tank/dps roles. There is no healer role. All classes have some form of self-healing and some are better at it than others, but there is no dedicated healer.

    At the same time, Cabal is strictly a small group/solo/pvp game, with no real raiding.

    I will just add that I LOVE playing a healer. I find it, particularly in Cata, to be an engaging experience. I know that I am the controller of who lives and who dies, and I know that at times: someone is going to live and in order to do so, someone else is going to die. Beyond having to make the best decisions possible with a variety of abilities and limited resources, you also then have to decide how to allocate those resources once you’d decided on the method of delivery. That is: just because the entire group is low and you’ve decide to use the expensive fast heal doesn’t mean the decision between which of the 3 dps in the group (or 17 dps in the raid) gets the first heal. It becomes even more fun when there are decisions to be made that evaluate some level of risk. Your survival hunter is the best dps in the group, but if you cast an ae heal on the two melee dps and the tank you may save two people instead of just one and heal the tank too – or does the hunter need that heal and will the dps and tank live long enough to be ok?

    Healing isn’t “easy” right now – it’s not the above level of complexity all the time, mind you, but at the most heart-racing and engaging moments of conflict, I’m making split second decisions that leave me with an adrenaline high that no button mashing dps character could give.

  30. Jeromai says:

    “I know that World of Warcraft is far too developed and fine tuned to ever go in that kind of radical direction…What I do hope is that someday we will see a game designer take a hard look at the unholy trinity, and decide to see what would happen if healing were the responsibility of each individual player, instead of just one or two in the group… I also think it would be a lot of fun to see a game where leveling as a tank was an option for every class, and thus the question in any group would never be “who here can tank?”, but instead “which of us wants to tank this one?”

    Guild Wars. City of Heroes. Rift. Guild Wars 2. (To varying extents, and the latter two have yet to be fully tested. But they’re coming…)

    They’re oh so close and coming. And I can hardly wait. Let’s hope more gamers move on from the absolute purity of WoW and onto the tasty complex mix of hybrid combat roles.

  31. poilbrun says:

    Just a point that seems to be overlooked: some players might simply not like or want to do some of those things.

    Case in point: I do not like at all to heal. As a paladin, I can more or less decide what role I want to fulfill and I run with a prot/ret dual spec. The only case I agreed to heal is in raids as main tank healer, where basically the only thing I have to decide is which spell to use on the main tank. Finding on my raid grid who to heal is really not my idea of fun.

    Currently, I still decide sometimes not to tank, not because I don’t like it or am afraid, but because it is true that dps can go into instances with a laid back attitude. The only responsibilities I have is my 1 minute cc and my interrupt, which really isn’t too bad. As a tank, cc is not there (usually), but interrupts are there, plus threat generation, plus picking up adds, plus (and that’s the worst part) handling other players’ errors. And for me, that’s the best part about dps: as a dps, your responsibility is to yourself. As a vanilla mage player, I know that I should pop potions, bandage and glyph Evocation to heal myself, and I basically don’t expect any heal for the healer. As a ret paladin, I will gimp my dps to pop a word of glory too. As a tank, you are mostly responsible for others. As a healer, you are responsible for yourself and others. And given the way some people act in PUGs, I usually don’t want to be responsible for punks…

  32. Cor says:

    Why have dedicated roles at all? I believe this can be done while still being fun. Each member of the team would need unique abilities but every one of them has to have two abilities: taking out the bad guy and surviving. If a hero only has one or the other they won’t be very successful.

    When the boss is focused on player A they drop into “defensive mode.” This keeps them alive but since they aren’t focused on damage their threat drops quickly. Player B, who is being ignored, can go into “damage mode” and start tearing into the boss. They do lots of damage so the boss will turn to Player B who then goes on defense and A goes on offense.

    So how do we keep this game of boss ping pong interesting? By making the challenges require the players to use their interacting powers more.

    The ice wizard finishes their shard stream spell and the boss turns to them. They throw up an ice shield that requires the boss to break through it before it can get to the wizard. By breaking the shield the boss gets a “chilled” debuff. It just so happens that if the warrior uses her mace on any “chilled” targets it does 20% more damage but the fire archer should switch from their flaming arrow attack, which does less damage to chilled targets.

    This type of interaction rewards a player for being knowledgeable about not only their powers but other classes. It doesn’t require specific roles and it only requires some creative thinking to diversify the powers. Warrior buffness blunts the incoming damage. Rogues dodge constantly. Wizards prevent the boss from reaching them. As long as these defensive abilities can’t be used simultaneously with high damage abilities it shouldn’t be over powered.

    I’ve never been a fan of the “holy trinity” style of game design and I wish a company would be brave enough to break the mold.

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