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Revisiting the "Holy Trinity" of MMORPG Classes 362

Posted by Soulskill
from the or-druid-as-the-case-may-be dept.
A feature at Gamasutra examines one of the foundations of many MMORPGs — the idea that class roles within such a game fall into three basic categories: tank, healer, and damage dealer. The article evaluates the pros and cons of such an arrangement and takes a look at some alternatives. "Eliminating specialized roles means that we do away with boxing a class into a single role. Without Tanks, each class would have features that would help them participate in and survive many different encounters like heavy armor, strong avoidance, or some class or magical abilities that allow them to disengage from direct combat. Without specialized DPS, all classes should be able to do damage in order to defeat enemies. Some classes might specialize in damage type, like area of effect (AoE) damage; others might be able to exploit enemy weaknesses, and some might just be good at swinging a sharpened bit of metal in the right direction at a rapid rate. This design isn't just about having each class able to fill any trinity role. MMO combat would feel more dynamic in this system. Every player would have to react to combat events and defend against attacks."
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Revisiting the "Holy Trinity" of MMORPG Classes

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  • by floofyscorp (902326) <floofyscorp@@@gmail...com> on Friday December 18, 2009 @08:44AM (#30485746) Homepage
    Runescape does, and I believe EVE technically does also.
  • by Shivetya (243324) on Friday December 18, 2009 @09:39AM (#30486236) Homepage Journal

    It was a stat and skill based game. You could be everything and be damn good at it. Essentially what happened in AC was the people mini-maxed their characters to an extreme because you simply had an unlimited amount of experience to be gained. That game was fun because it was about being under the dozens if not more mobs and having the ability to get out alive. Nothing really has compared to combat AC style. Let alone PvP. Hands down the best PvP of any MMORPG. You can dodge spells in AC!!! See the giant snowball coming at you, just side step.

    Still it lead to what one should have expected. If you can do about everything you really don't need anyone else. Yeah, specialized tanks were able soak up damage better than some mages but like UO, tank mages existed and they could withstand quite a bit too.

    Of course with no class based system comes some fun when you allow stats/skills to reach silly numbers, like run speeds that would make even the fastest drake in WOW look like a slouch

  • by querky (1703040) on Friday December 18, 2009 @09:47AM (#30486338)
    i play runescape for the reason that you aren't constrained to one class, you can do whatever you want!
  • Re:Batman analogy (Score:4, Informative)

    by Alphanos (596595) on Friday December 18, 2009 @10:37AM (#30486964)

    You're looking for Runescape. It's designed so that you can fight using melee, magic, or ranged/archery depending on your preference of the day, and you can eventually master all three. Similar with non-combat skills. In fact a few upper-level monsters and bosses are designed such that to defeat them you must switch combat styles mid-fight by swapping out your equipment.

  • Re:Batman analogy (Score:2, Informative)

    by killmenow (184444) on Friday December 18, 2009 @11:17AM (#30487476)

    Yes. I play GW frequently. You can learn a lot of different skills for your character's primary and secondary "profession" but only have 8 skill slots available at any one time. Another cool thing they do is there's part of the story line (completely avoidable if you don't want to do it) that if you follow it and complete the missions your character becomes "Ascended" which allows you to then change your secondary profession at will. You can get so called "elite" skills as well but only one elite skill can be in your build at any time. You can create character builds, save and load them whenever you're in a town or outpost, and effectively switch between a healer, damage dealer, or tank at will depending on the need of the mission at hand.

    Each profession has a primary attribute that you can only use if it is your primary profession but you can change so many other things at will there are specialized builds people have determined for different quests and types. For instance, I started out as a ranger (archer, trap (AoE) setter, and the only profession that can own a pet) but the pet was mostly used only as a (not the most effective) tank. With some recent skill additions, I can effectively run around as a beastmaster with my pet being a very effective tank and a moderate damage dealer. I also still frequently play as an interrupter as rangers are one of the better classes for interrupts. It's nice to be able to interrupt a healer and disable their best healing skill for 20+ seconds.

    Thanks to the builds I can also play my elementalist character and easily switch between a fire/water/air/earth mage as needed. I'm just starting to get the hang of my ritualist/necro character which summons spirits (ritualist) and uses corpses to raise minions (necro).

  • by Canazza (1428553) on Friday December 18, 2009 @12:01PM (#30488136)

    Three of the five mobs on the Maulgar fight in Gruuls lair were like that.
    Kiggler the Crazed was normally tanked by a class immune to polymorph (Druid, either Feral - the proper tank spec - or Moonkin - the ranged DPS spec)
    Olm the summoner is tanked by a warlock controlling Olms own pets
    Firehand is tanked by a mage who spell-steals his damage shield as he casts his big spells.

    one of my favourite fights (as I got to tank Kiggler :D)

  • by Bragador (1036480) on Friday December 18, 2009 @02:58PM (#30491128)
    You are describing Shadows of Isildur, Armageddon and Harshlands. MUDs of course... Maybe you should try any of them and see if you enjoy it? Make sure you hang out at the bars at first though.
  • Re:Pigeonholding (Score:4, Informative)

    by Darinbob (1142669) on Friday December 18, 2009 @03:31PM (#30491592)
    I think the jack-of-all-trades is not useless. They're very useful. A lot of MMO players don't see things this way, because they're playing a strategy game where all parameters are known, rather than an RPG game. Ie, they've done the same fight a thousand times, and know exactly what is needed to succeed. So they plan around having perfect characters who fit exact roles. Most of those games demand that you're always the best you can be, giving 110%, gear checks done before you're allowed to join the team, etc.

    However in situations where the unexpected may happen, the hybrid character becomes much more useful. Noobs they'll say, some other group will have memorized that particular fight and know exactly what to do. But that's not everyone. Newer MMOs are being designed to attract more casual players who don't raid constantly, who spend relatively more time soloing, and who use almost exclusively pick-up-groups when doing group content. So thinking on your toes becomes necessary, and the particular role your character will fill may not be known until everyone gets together, and the role may change during the encounter.

    Tank+DPS+heal is boring. Hybrid is fun. And yet in many MMOs the hybrid characters are looked down on or shunned.

    The only MMO I'm playing now (and maybe the last) is Lord of the Rings Online. I've got a captain there, who is incredibly fun in groups. Not the best tank, not the best healer, not the best damage dealer. So it gives out buffs, but in some older more hardcore games that type of character would be dismissed as worthless in serious groups because it's not the best at one classic role. However having a captain in a group makes everything run a lot smoother. You can switch between several roles on the fly (no expensive respecs needed in advance), doing what is necessary at the time. A bit like Druid in WoW, except that in WoW the high end groups would still demand that you pick one role, spec for it, then stick to it (boring).

    Look at games like City of Heroes or Champions Online too. The traditional roles can be done, but it's not necessarily the best way to go. Naturally of course, since players will want to be superhero archetypes, not fantasy archetypes in tights. For instance, a defender type can have a "healer" build that directly repairs lost health, which a lot of new players from other MMOs try out, but it's not necessarily the best way to defend the team (preventing damage with debuffs or force fields tends to be more effective than repairing it afterwords).

    The whole EQ style of tank/dps/healer is old and creaky and needs fixing, along with the idea of "aggro". You don't see this in most single player games. The tank as a high-armor but low-damage guy with aggro is an MMO invention.

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