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Reader Comments (46)

Posted: Jul 27th 2009 8:14AM (Unverified) said

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Personally I would like to think there will always be a place for defined classes.
For me, it's satisfying to play a specific role. For example when I play a pure healer, I enjoy the feeling of being the 'source of power' for the rest of the group. When I play tank I equally enjoy being up front taking a beating and keeping nasties off my peers. And equally, I enjoy managing DPS and taking the mobs down when firing on all fours as a Mage or Ranger.

After all, the genre's been about *role* playing - more often than not, being a team member that's relied upon is a satisfying experience.

My exposure to blurred lines in classes has been awkward and unsatisfying at best up to this point - often resulting in a mess with team members standing on each other's toes given the lack of any specific purpose.
And where strategies for each member have been defined, in a classless situation, we might as well have been playing classes anyway.

I'm all for options in the future (whatever they may be) but don't go throwing the baby out with the bath water?

=)

Posted: Jul 27th 2009 8:21AM (Unverified) said

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My biggest issue with the 3 is that healers really dont fit thematically in many settings they work fine in fanstasy but beyond that they feel like a square peg forced into a round hole.

Posted: Jul 27th 2009 9:24AM (Unverified) said

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Logistics ships work very well in Eve Online. They certainly don't have the same proportional section of gamers as other MMOs might see healers in, but they are always in demand, and for good reason.
You do also see quite a bit of the EWAR (debuffs in the form of tracking disruption, capacitor warfare, ECM , dampeners etc) going on in Eve which kinda breaks out of the DPS / tank / healer trinity too.
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Posted: Jul 27th 2009 8:19AM (Unverified) said

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personally, i'm waiting on Earthrise. I"m so burnt on the fantasy genre. I don't think the fantasy is dead but i think we're seeing a trend of sci-fi because fantasy is being done way to much. Tho, i think we might see the sci-fi trend may last a bit or that we might see more of them in the near future i think there will always be a fantasy game floating around.

Posted: Jul 27th 2009 8:21AM nomoredroids said

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Did you read the article?
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Posted: Jul 27th 2009 8:23AM nomoredroids said

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I personally enjoy the defined roles, myself. It facilitates teamwork, and teamwork is what an MMO SHOULD be about. Not that you can't have teamwork without the trinity, but I like having a niche of combat.

Posted: Jul 27th 2009 8:24AM (Unverified) said

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The hange will not be permanent. Tank/DPS/Support didn't get here by accident, and I don't think you can out-develop it. There may be alternate systems for separating classes that develop, based on the structure of whatever game introduces a new Trinity, but at some point, someone's going to go back and do the Trinity better.

Posted: Jul 27th 2009 8:42AM pcgneurotic said

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For me, the 'classic' classes are the yardstick by which a measure the effictifveness of a game's mechanics - the fighter/warrior is my baseline for seeing how everything might play out from there, so I'm always happy to see the pre-defined classes.

Having said that, I'm also happy when I can really, genuinely, 'roll my own'. My favourite rpg character ever is my old Morrowind 'warrior-with-spells' Argonian, so any mmog that offers an open character sheet from teh get-go is also fine by me.

Posted: Jul 27th 2009 8:47AM fzzzt said

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Tired of it? Yes. Will it go away? No time soon.

Unfortunately current and upcoming MMOGs are just too simplistic. Even the trinity can be done with just a healer and tank (albeit more slowly); DPS is just a bonus. Since there is only one mechanic for the vast majority of MMOG advancement: hit points, and since they can only change in two directions: up or down, you only need two skills. Something to make yours go up and something to make your target's go down. Killing things is the primary way to move forward, and killing things only involves getting their HPs to zero.

Eventually we may have another dimension that makes other classes more important, or maybe that will make the games too complicated and implement too much interdependency. Just off the top of my head, if you can imagine a StarCraft-like MMOG with the Protoss and their personal shields, another dimension could be energy manipulation (ignore the fact that Terran and Zerg don't have shields). Or, more Fantasy-like, take stamina the way Shadowbane used it. Your stamina affected your movement, combat ability, and other aspects making it an important attribute. This would open the door for a "Shaman" class or something that manipulated the stamina of PCs and NPCs. I suppose the real problem is tacking on extra classes (hybrids and DPS) to an old system that only really needs two skills. This reminds me of the Blood Mage in Vanguard, which was a lot of fun to play, and manipulated health and mana, moving it between NPCs and PCs via damage and healing.

Everyone seems to have moved away from the practically required grouping of EQ, so I doubt adding more complexity will be a welcome change for most people. IMHO it's a shame, because it fostered social interaction better than current mostly-solo games.

My 2 cents.

Posted: Jul 31st 2009 7:58PM (Unverified) said

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Exactly. And the mechanics are simplistic because..... SOE was in charge of the very first MMO when they bought Verant. And what kind of group activities appeal to massive bureaucracies?

Ones in which everyone has their defined role, their task list and their activity schedule, along with a reporting mechanism to make sure management is kept up to date.

So when the developers present their combat gameplay models for approval, guess what the suits want to see? A nice, neat, fake battle experience with defined roles for everyone, everyone with their little task list in hand, and all the numbers put in spreadsheets to report on how things will go. Arggg.

Let's contrast this with the gameplay model from which all of this springs - the original D&D. What was a healer's role in D&D fights? Was it to stand in the back and throw heals on the big bad warriors as they taunted the enemies and kept aggro? Why no, it was as a PLATE ARMORED, WEAPON SWINGING FRONT LINE FIGHTER. Or a shapechanged wild animal melee form for the treehugging healers lol.

Why was that? Why the need for armor and weapons, or shapechanging into a melee-capable form? Why would you have to fight if you're a healer and could just heal the real fighters? Wouldn't that be more efficient?

Because in D&D fights, in every attack round, your character is not assumed to be standing still waiting for their turn to strike. They are assumed to be attacking,defending and jumping around doing their battle maneuvers, etc for the entire round, and the attack roll you get is for the opportunity you see once per round to make a clean strike.

And in that situation, it is completely impossible to stand behind someone and heal them as they fight. So all healing always occurred AFTER the fight, and only if you were very lucky could you get off a heal on someone during the fight. Which btw left you completely distracted and open to be easily killed, so it was a very rarely used desperation tactic.

But enter SOE, the first MMO tech, and a drastic change to the way fights are presumed to happen for the sake of making things nice and spreadsheetable, and then add a bunch of clowne - I mean clone- gaming companies, and a decade later, we have entire generations of gamers who have been trained to expect a nice, neat, predictable fight sequence, over and over and over ad infinitum.

The totally sad thing is - it is SO much more fun going into a fight knowing that you must win it with the hit points you have, because you're not getting any more until after it's over. This changes the entire game - no longer do you have raid bosses with like 30,000 hps. Instead, you get cool raid bosses with special abilities that require you to have the right counter-abilities (learned of and acquired on the quests that brought you there) to make it vulnerable enough for a tough, determined party to take out with the weapons, armor and hitpoints they have.
That's a ton more exciting and fun than "Ok, we got our 24 raid group, each group has a main healer and a backup healer, everyone focus your heals on the main tank blah blah blah".

Wow wall o'text, sorry, but this is an issue that's been bugging me (and by that I mean boring me in game lol) since the start of the MMO platforms.
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Posted: Jul 27th 2009 8:47AM elocke said

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Like above posters have stated, I like fulfilling a role. Knowing my place in the group dynamics makes it far more satisfying then wondering what it is exactly I'm supposed to be doing.

On that note however, I am not opposed to trying other methods, but I think over all the holy trinity just "works" when implemented correctly.

Funny and also mentioned above, the difference between scifi and fantasy having an impact on how the holy trinity works. I look at SWG, before Jedi, and how I don't really remember a specific tank per se. I just remember laser bolts flying everywhere trying to take down rancors and giant dinosaurs. Great fun, until...well, you know, they messed the game up.

Posted: Jul 27th 2009 9:07AM Pewpdaddy said

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The trinity isn't going anywhere.

On a different note, I like the hybrid playstyle of games that I can progress in solo and yet am still required at some times to group. Speaking of times in EQ is just like FFXI, your either swimming in invites or your waiting hours for an XP party. The latter really ruins games IMO.

Posted: Jul 27th 2009 9:11AM (Unverified) said

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I think having roles encourages teamwork, which is one of the things that make MMO's what they are. I think WoW probably had a good balance in this area, where you could do stuff on your own, but it would always pay off in the end to have a balanced group.

Wether it's the "holy trinity" or other kinds of roles, I don't really care about though, but they're a natural way of doing things when you have a combat system based on taking and receiving damage.

If you were going for, say, a system where you could kill people with a headshot, or cripple them with a shot in the arm (and not have a healthbar or anything like that), you would perhaps need other kinds of roles. I think this could be an interesting way to go in the future, because it's something we're not used to- but I also think there's a fairly good reason why the trend is damage/hitpoints/etc, and has been that for a long time.. it simply plays better, or is at least much easier to get right

Posted: Jul 27th 2009 9:49AM (Unverified) said

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My first MMO was Asheron's Call, and since The Big Three (TM) consisted of AC, UO and EQ, and only EQ had classes where AC and UO was skill based, I didn't have any exposure to "the classes that were there since the beginning" until about 2004.

Either way, as long as the developers make it interesting I'm sure I won't be tired of them.

Posted: Jul 27th 2009 10:01AM Waxil said

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MMOs can make as many hyrbids as they want, at the end of the day we will always have min-maxers who are essentially one of the holy trio.

However people who play hybrids usually want to be on par with anyone specializing, it creates a pretty messed up balance issue which is far harder to fix than if you simply only offered the trio to begin with.

Posted: Jul 27th 2009 10:05AM (Unverified) said

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Breaking up the holy trinity doesn't necessarily mean the death of "roles" like most posters are saying. It just means that the one or more of the roles we usually think of disappears, and are replaced by something different.

Personally I think that doing away with the DIKU MUD era holy trinity would be good for MMOs; I'd love to see more tactical combat in games.

Posted: Jul 27th 2009 10:42AM Dblade said

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I don't think so, because it's very hard to remove one of those aspects without really borking up the game. A MMO FPS really doesn't add much over a normal FPS deathmatch, and the same for me with a puzzle MMO and something like pogo.com. You aren't really creating a new experience, you are just stapling on an unneccesary persistent world.

The trick would be to keep the MMO idea-collaborative large persistent worlds- and revamp combat mechanics. But it's somewhat hard to see escaping the trinity, you usually have to do damage, endure damage, and heal damage. You have the three roles unless you change the MMO to remove them.

Posted: Jul 27th 2009 10:45AM (Unverified) said

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Other party role compositions have been successful, like the PBAE party, the kiting party or the CC+DPS party, but I still prefer the original Trinity. Why? For all of the reasons mentioned above (by other posters) plus the fact that I usually roll from MMOG to MMOG with 2 RL buddies so the Trinity is perfect for us.

Long live the (Holy) Trinity! :-)

Posted: Jul 27th 2009 10:51AM Jhaer said

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The trinity will only go away when combat stops being designed around three concepts: take damage, recover damage, deal damage. The trinity rose from assigning classes varying levels of those concepts. Tangentially, there is a fourth concept of augmentation of those roles (both positively and negatively), and even a minor fifth of crowd control. Until combat introduces a new concept, the trinity will continue.

As others have said, I like it. Well defined roles make for stronger group bonds. And under current game designs the only way to eliminate the trinity is to allow each player to do/be all three, and as soon as a person doesn't need other people, the majority of them will choose not to, resulting in more solo game play. Some people like that, some don't. Put me firmly in the group category.

Posted: Jul 27th 2009 11:25AM Sente said

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The holy trinity does not vanish without a few other things being modified at the same time. For the holy trinity to have its place, the mob behaviour/AI that is used must be in place also. Take away aggro lists at let mobs behave a bit smarter and the trinity falls apart.

It is a simple model which works well in a limited context. It falls apart as a good model to encourage teaming beyond that context and we get an uneven distribution of people that can and want to fulfill the roles needed.

But there are MMOs that do not need a holy trinity and work well without it - which sometimes confuses people.

I do like to see more variation here - the holy trinity model does not need to vanish and people who like it can play it. It would be nice with more variation in alternate models and approaches though for those that world prefer something different - and without having PvP as the only other option.

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