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Posted: Jul 27th 2009 1:57PM (Unverified) said

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This is exactly it. The trinity only works because of how enemy aggro works. The trinity falls apart as soon as the DPS or healer drops. Make smarter mobs, give players more versatility, and then you'll see entirely new frameworks for teams emerge.

Planetside was a great example. What you did depended on your loadout. It wasn't a free-for-all, you had a job based on your certs and equipment. But that job was either hacking enemy terminals so your buddies could arm up, or repairing busted vehicles on the field, you still had your role to play. And squads that worked well together weren't hard to spot.
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Posted: Jul 27th 2009 11:37AM Meagen said

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I think, more than the Holy Trinity itself, what I'm tired of is the kind of mindset it creates in MMO players.

I play City of Heroes, that has well-defined support, tank and damage roles, but pretty much any team can be successful as long as the players are competent. Sometimes when I pick-up group, I run into players who have the mindset that you *have* to have a tank and a healer to succeed. They can have a Force Field defender who makes attacks against the team miss nine out of ten times, and a Fire Control/Trick Arrow controller who immobilizes large groups and debuffs them into uselessness, and they *still* refuse to start a mission until they get someone who can conjure up floating green numbers.

And then there's Guild Wars, where (aside from the fact that pick-up grouping is very rare because of the prevalence of NPC henchmen) professions that don't fall neatly into one of the three slots are sometimes sidelined despite being extremely useful. A Necromancer built for hexing can make enemies damage themselves every time they attack (turning the higher attack speed of monsters in Hard Mode into a disadvantage) - but with a different build, they can buff the party's Energy and damage by sacrificing their own health. Or they can summon a wall of undead minions that divert the enemy's attention while the rest of the party blasts them, turning them into fodder for more minions. Sadly, some players can't get beyond the "if it's a Warrior it's a tank, if it's a Monk it's a healer, if it's an Elementalist it's a nuker, if it's something else idk" mentality.

Posted: Jul 27th 2009 11:59AM (Unverified) said

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Strange, I have been playing for 10 years as well and never paid attention to any such rule or "trinity."

While I have always known people that say it is a must, I have known plenty of people that do things in whatever way they feel like it. I think people need to realize that there are "correct" ways of doing things, meaning "faster" or "easier."

But there are almost always choices, unless you are in a very specific instance or quest that requires those classes.

But most MMO's allow all classes to go forward, although some might be slower than others. In other words, if you NEED to do everything by the book and to gain max XP all the time, go for it. But be ready to follow some rules.

Otherwise, I haven't met a game yet that does not have, at the very least, some flexibility to do things with a different group make-up.

Beau

Posted: Jul 27th 2009 12:21PM (Unverified) said

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I am so sick of the trinity. Give me games that don't have it and aren't based in medieval fantasy.

Posted: Jul 27th 2009 12:38PM (Unverified) said

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I don't think we're stuck with the trinity now or in the future. In Everquest there were four major parts to a group. The original material for MMORPGs, pen and paper rpgs, did not have a trinity. And I think future games will have the technology to create a more immersive experience if we ask for it.

It wasn't tank, dps, healer. It was tank, dps, healer and cc or crowd control. It was a necessity after a certain point in Everquest. If you couldn't find a shaman, enchanter or beastlord you couldn't kill things without a lot of pain and suffering. Yet, World of Warcraft made crowd control a very small part of the action. Sometimes a mage might sheep or a warlock might seduce and occasionally there is a need to kite the monsters around. It is in no way as important as it was in Everquest.

I don't remember ever seeing the words tank, healer or dps in the role-playing games Battletech, Robotech or Dungeons and Dragons But, I know that this is the birthplace of MMORPGS. Robotech always seemed to be one on one duels. Battletech was all about groups of 4 balanced mechs or specialized groups or armies. In Dungeons and Dragons you could have a full group of warriors or three clerics or a mage and a warrior and it didn't matter, the game was tailored to the characters.

Video games are evolving all the time. Left4Dead has an artificial intelligence director that's very much like a Dungeon Master from pen and paper games. Why shouldn't we have something bigger, deeper? Start with a typical character creation process. Choose your skills and powers or in a hardcore mode, the game would randomly select them for you. The director then creates the story around you, bringing you together with other people to complete the same goals but tailoring the experience to your skills so that you never need to have a healer, a dps and a tank. It may seem unreachable today but I don't think it's really that far away, especially if we tell the game developers that that's what we want.

Games evolve. There were four roles in Everquest, there's three in WOW. I haven't played every MMORPG so there may very well be one with six roles. We've got a rich history where roles are absent and a bright future, where a character might be something more akin to someone you might meet rather than a caricature.

Posted: Jul 27th 2009 12:45PM cforciea said

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The comments here are really frustrating for me, because while I loathe the idea that I'll be stuck playing nearly the same game with the same class roles over and over, I can just read above to see why it is a smart business decision to not try to innovate.

Really the biggest fallacy here is that the trinity class roles are somehow an unavoidable conclusion to the system. In a system designed around getting hp bars to zero, the only unavoidable mechanic in the combat system is the one where you move the bad guy's health bar down to zero. That's it. You could make a game where you and an opponent hit spacebar to remove 1 health point from your opponent. It would be boring as heck just sitting there slamming a keyboard, but it would be a complete combat system.

When you try to make a combat system like that more interesting, one of the first things you will universally come up with is a mechnic by which players can control incoming health loss intead of just outgoing. This is where the tank and healer parts of the trinity fit it. They are one of the oldest variations on this game mechanic, and therefore one of the most imitated. They are, however, just a small slice of the mechanics that we already have (even in most trinity-centric games) to address this mechanic.

In fact, there are already easily citeable examples of mainstream games that have minimal support for the tank or healer roles and instead provide other means to the same end. One of the most obvious examples in my experience is City of Heroes. One of the biggest things general MMO players end up needing to unlearn when picking up City of Heroes is that a healer is the be-all, end-all of party damage mitigation. Players are often openly derided by community members for asking for a healer when building a party. Even the most heal-centric power set in the game (empathy) has only a few direct healing powers, and it is typically not as strong at keeping other players alive as somebody with a powerset like Forcefields, despite the fact that the Forcefield set has no ability to heal players at all.

Guild Wars is also a solid example of a game that does not truly have a tank role. The warrior profession is heavily armored and hard to kill like one might expect, but the game does not contain skills that directly manipulate aggro at all. A warrior can knock enemies down and slow them to try to control their movement away from less beefy party members, but not only do they lack any ability to "taunt" targets to get their attention, but their high armor rating is actually a liability when it comes to keeping a mob's attention; mobs AI tends to focus on targets with the lowest armor and health, so they will run right past the warrior a few feet away to go chew on the monks and elementalists standing in the back of the party.

Unfortunately for gamers like me, though, the MMO audience places very high value on homgeny and simplicity of gameplay. I can rail against the idea that game design all has to be the same, but at the end of the day, if a new game is going to fail to attract a bunch of players because they can't roll a healz0r, I can't really blame them for sticking a priest in, no matter how little sense it makes for the setting or how identical it is to every other priest in every other game.

Posted: Jul 27th 2009 2:26PM (Unverified) said

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This guy gets it.

The whole point is that the trinity only exists because of a very limited scope of combat we are so used to being forced into we accept it as an inevitability. The fact of the matter is that with multiple monsters and a intelligent AI, the roles fall apart. A 'tank' class cannot simply stand still and 'taunt' a mob, the mob will move and attack intelligently. There, your 'holy trinity' is broken, and it wasn't even that difficult.

I long for a system to break these roles because they're stagnant and only really hurt any class which isn't the best in those roles. Why take a 2nd rate healer/tank/dps when you have the option to pick up the theoretically most powerful healer/tank/dps.

If instead you simply had to react and actively adapt to a combat situation, every class could have a unique style of play while working towards an end goal.
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Posted: Jul 27th 2009 12:50PM CCon99 said

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I would like to see something different other then the "Holy Trinity", but sadly it just works to well in these types of games. As a game like Champions Online has shown, doing away with these templates, ends up leading to players just not wanting to bother to group and just play solo.

Posted: Jul 30th 2009 10:11AM (Unverified) said

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Praytell, how has Champions Online "shown" anything yet?
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Posted: Jul 27th 2009 1:52PM (Unverified) said

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To put it in even more simplistic terms--sports (namely football), DPS is offense, Tank is defense, and Healer is the Gatorade. It's about as simple as you can get. Get simpler, and you have no need to group.

What a smart designer would do is try to diversify within the trinity and create skill positions. Easy ways to do that would be to define melee/range and group/solo classes in each branch of the trinity. Another interesting thing would be to make more unconventional classes. An example could be a tank that relies on speed and agility to dodge attacks and "annoy" enemies rather than on a high defense and HP to soak attacks.

Just a thought.

Posted: Jul 27th 2009 6:51PM Belkar said

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The holy trinity has been around far longer than MMO's. While a D&D adventuring party _could_ consist of nothing but thieves, it was much nicer to have a handy cleric to cast cure light wounds on the party. And it got even easier if you were able to get a warrior to come along and be, not only sturdier (able to take more hits) and harder to hit (get hit less frequently), but also able to make creatures pay more attention to him. While the trinity is not required, it makes things work so much easier.

But really, the best thing that a trinity does is help individuals find a meaningful way to contribute to a group. New players can quickly and easily understand what they're supposed to do, and can usually measure their performance across groups. Playing an MMO should be be about group dynamics, not just kill stuff and get loot.

I suspect that this is one of the pervasive reasons as to why the trinity persists. Far more than the simplicity of game balance, players want to feel that they're special and important.

Honestly, I think if there's any place for iteration to happen in this holy trinity is a shift from a class system (ug, me warrior, me tank good) to a skill system (yah, see, I spent all my points in threat and dodge but skipped all the absorbtion talents cause I think this is a better build...) which would allow players to feel even more unique and awesome.

Posted: Jul 27th 2009 3:01PM SgtBaker said

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If I'm not mistaken, in EVE, the Holy Trinity got gate camped and podded long time ago. Haven't seen them since.

Posted: Jul 27th 2009 6:56PM (Unverified) said

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@SgtBaker Eve has not done away with the trinity it has only camouflaged it. You still have specific tanking techniques (spider tanking) or super tanking fits in battleships/tech 2 equivalents. You also have logistics ships that can repair and transport shields. The need for these in most of the game, since most of the game is relatively solo oriented, is lessened but not dead. Try taking on sleepers without a tank or some sort of support. Speaking of gate camping, unless you are in a 0.0 system you still need to be able to tank the sentry guns long enough to kill your target and run away for 15 minutes.

How many people did PSO have in its day? How accessible was it? How long did it last? And the biggest question, do MMO designers even pay attention to other MMOs? I hope that Champions online is more in line with your description of PSO Cameron with its abilility to have damage dealers with some healing/buff and healers with some major attack powers and what not.
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Posted: Jul 27th 2009 3:20PM (Unverified) said

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Games are built on numbers. Numbers go up down or stay the same. So the complexity turns into, how many of those bars there are? Which consumes faster, which is more delicate etc.

Posted: Jul 27th 2009 3:46PM (Unverified) said

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I would love for this to go away, but in order to do that the MMORPG genre must move out of the early 90s in gameplay. (And also story-telling) Sure, the graphics are improving, but that's about it. The AI in MMOs needs a dramatic overhaul, but developers can't do that as long as these classes have defined roles. The AI will continue to run in a straight line to players or stand still firing ranged abilities, so that the appropriate classes can control them with their set-in-stone abilities.

We can't rely on these new action MMOs to be the only source of improving AI. It needs to make its way to more traditional MMOs as well.

Posted: Jul 27th 2009 4:07PM Jenks said

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I actually prefer the older model of very specialized classes to the newer, jack of all trades classes. It's a side effect of making every class 'soloable,' the classes all start to meld a bit.

Posted: Jul 27th 2009 5:03PM mode7overworld said

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This question serves as a reminder that Phantasy Star Online - one of the original mainstream online RPGs - still has plenty of very obvious lessons to teach and nobody willing to listen, for whatever reason.

There were no threat tables and no auto-attack and no cooldowns. Melee characters could provide lower-rank support heals without stepping on the toes of dedicated healers. Healers could provide additional lower-rank offensive spells without eliminating the need for dedicated casters. Ranged characters could use melee weapons without getting in the way of dedicated melee. Furthermore, you had constant, direct control over your character. There was no autoattack, and you could distance yourself from the enemy if it came after you. The result was a fun, responsive game that could be played regardless of group composition while still retaining a feeling of teamwork in the face of challenging opposition.

Why has this model not been elaborated on? Why are there no other online RPGs with direct-input combos and realtime combat mechanics? Why isn't there an unobtrusive blending of class dynamics without homogenization? PSO got so much right nearly 10 years ago, so why has every game since then been so incapable of doing something similar?

It's like developers are all in a race to see who can ignore good ideas in the most thorough manner possible.

Posted: Jul 27th 2009 8:00PM Xii said

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I agree 100%.

I still play Phantasy Star Universe today, which is similar, although the classes have been changed/expanded a bit.

I'd love to see another game with real-time combat and controls, and which didn't require the holy trinity system. Not having an aggro system really frees PSO/PSU (and PSP/PS0) from being locked into the same old combat that every other game seems to lock itself into.
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Posted: Jul 30th 2009 5:31PM TheOtherJames said

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PSO is also the first thing I thought of. It's near the top of my list of all time favorite games for the reasons you mentioned. It was great how every class was durable enough to operate independently, but working together could take you a lot further. Strategies were completely different than what you find in other MMOs. A refinement of the combat system (admittedly, it was very rough) would make a great base for a new game. Without the trinity.
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Posted: Jul 27th 2009 10:44PM (Unverified) said

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This is a bit like saying, "Are you tired of pizza crust, cheese and tomato paste on your pizza yet?"

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