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Reader Comments (30)

Posted: Dec 22nd 2009 10:46AM Scuffles said

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Get rid of the Tank, Healer, DPS structure makes about as much sense as removing the grind from MMOs. When its that grind that keeps you playing and that structure that keeps your groups from bursting into flames.

Much like the grind that everyone hates a setup that assigns people rolls to play in a group is a necessary evil.

The closest I have seen to removing that is a hybrid job system in which a single player can play as a tank with subset jobs that allow them to heal themselves and do some decent DPS but doesn't really shine in any specific area. You get a "Jack of all trades" effect going and you end up mediocre at everything.... but you can solo ..... which degrades and negates the whole purpose of the MMO which is in the end group interaction and synergy.

Posted: Dec 22nd 2009 11:39AM (Unverified) said

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There have been plenty of games (AC and SB) where u dont need to choose your role you choose your build and as long as your good your good.

There have also been a number of games (EQ for example) where the threat table was very different from wow's. more of an aggro and dmg system, no "high amount of threat" abilities.

This "trinity" mentality is what i think is stopping the scifi genre from ever really getting off the ground.
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Posted: Dec 22nd 2009 12:00PM Scuffles said

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True but even when you get to spec out your character however you like 60% of the game population tends to migrate to three or four archetypes the other 37% will just suck and you will have that rare 3% that have some freak build that they play like beasts (usually thats when "re-balancing" comes into play in the form of "nerfs" which force them back to cookie cutter).

Which gets me on a whole other tangent of MMO aggravation where people who have never tried to play a certain class or way scream OP and start chanting nerf without respecting the effort and planning people put into their build but I shall hold that for another time ^.^

Even with all the options under the sun the statuesque doesn't change much :(

Honestly I could go for a decent Scifi/Steampunk MMO so I'm game for them trying to change whatever they want, even if it is replaces one evil with a slightly more round about, open ended evil.
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Posted: Dec 22nd 2009 10:51AM Enaris said

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I'm not sure I agree with Controllers in CoH being "DPS with a little more control/buffing."

Of course Controllers (and Defenders) in CoH are hugely variable. You've got an enormous list of power sets you can take, which radically change the way your character interacts with the team. (A /Empath is very different from a /Kin which is very different from a /Force Field).

That said, with just a few particular exceptions (high level Fire/Kins being the most important), a Controller does less DPS than anyone else in the game. Less than a Tank, less than an Empath Defender (the closest thing to a "healer").

Their entire usefuless is found in using their mezzes, buffs and debuffs to best advantage. Sure, they can throw in damage along the way, but it's going to always be very, very secondary.

So in that sense, I think that Controllers either break the "trinity", or fit more with the "healer" than the DPS sorts. (As they mitigate damage, and some can heal to a point)


Proud owner of a Level 50 Gravity/Force Field Controller

Posted: Dec 22nd 2009 11:11AM (Unverified) said

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Ok, it's old school but I still very much like old UO's skill system. You still end up with archetypes, but I liked the sheer flexibility of the system of those 700 skill points you could spend however you like on skills, with each skill going from 0 to 100. Build a warlock with warrior/mage skills? no problem. Or make a stealth archer, or a stealth poisoner, or a healer/warrior or a magician/alchemist. I just loved that the game had so much freedom.
A shame though that later on you got more and more forced into ceartain roles because of how items and skills complemented each other and steered you into the classic classes.
SWG also used to have a nice skill system... another Raph Koster game though.
I wish more games would expand on those ideas of how skills and classes can work, rather than just copying WoW. After all, does anyone still think they can compete with WoW by just copying it?

Posted: Dec 22nd 2009 11:13AM Serious Table said

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The thing that amazes me is that we have the way to break these archetypes when you think about it. They've been prevalant in multiplayer games for a while. I will use one of my favorite classic games as an example: Phantasy Star Online.

PSO had three archetypes, which were divided into four classes each. Those classes were just gender and race combinations that had different stat allocations, but were the same class overall. These three classes were HUnter, RAnger, and FOrce (sic). Their roles were pretty simple and worked very well for the game, since it was meant to be multiplayer and have solo capability.

HUnters were Melee-oriented. They used all the Sabers, Swords, Partisans, Daggers, various in-your-face type of weaponry. This meant that they had higher HP, Attack Power, and overall Defense/Evasion than the other two classes.

Next came the RAngers. They were, as their name suggests, range oriented. They specialized in Handguns, Rifles, Launchers, Slicers (which were a ranged melee weapon; yeah, go figure that one out), Shotguns, anything to deal damage from afar. Because of this, their HP and Attack Power was slightly lower than their HUnter bretheren, but they were in less danger due to dealing damage from farther off.

Then there was the FOrce. These fragile characters were the powerhouse class that dealt magical damage from short to long ranges. The true definition of a "Glass Cannon". Low HP, Paper-thin armor, severely lacking choice of weaponry, but their selection of spells and sheer damage outweighed those negatives.

In modern-day MMOs, that would mean you had Melee DPS, Ranged DPS, and Support/More Ranged DPS. How did the character's heal? Every character had access to "Mate" items (Monomate, Dimate, Trimate) that would restore HP instantly. You were only allowed ten of each mate in your inventory at a time. Also, all three classes could learn the basic healing spell Resta (except the Android versions of the classes, but they had health regen to off-set this).

HUnters had fairly weak spells, but had access to the Debuff spells, so they could debuff their opponents while close up and deal more damage. RAngers' spells were a little more powerful, and had the party buff spells for supporting their ranged teammates, instead. FOrces had access to ALL spells, of course, which made them the perfect support class. I still remember that my Level 30 Resta spell on my little FOnewearl could only be described as an "explosion". I was healing my front-line buddies to full from a VERY safe distance.

What about a tank? That was easy enough. The enemies attacked players at random, and the bosses used random scripted attacks (as in, a series of scripted attacks, but which one was at random). Some were massive AoEs that attacked the whole parties, others were attacks that destroyed single targets. You avoided damage by avoiding attacks since they had travel time, instead of having someone stand and take it. Bosses have been doing this kind of thing for a very long time! Legend of Zelda, for instance. Certainly, those attack ONE target, but the same general idea can be put into a multiplayer game well, I think.

In short, it's been done before. While PSO wasn't technically an MMO, it still demonstrated how a small party in an instance could work without the working Trinity system. I think you can do that for Raids, as well. Just make the bosses bigger, and put on weakpoints that have to be exploited, attacks that have to be dodged. I would love to see that.

(Also, WAY TO POST THIS, Eliot! I was just drafting up something like this for my first post on my MMO Design blog, and you dun gone and blew it! >:O :P)

Posted: Dec 22nd 2009 12:23PM hmmdar said

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I don't think there is anything with the concept of the tank/healer/dps(cc) per say, but I think the real problem lies in forcing players to stay in that given role on that toon for eternity in that game.

EvE Online's model of anyone can do anything if you train up for it seems to remove the stigma from the holy trinity. People can perform those roles as they choose or switch to another when ever they want just by switching ships.

FFIX did a similar concept where you could train in multiple careers, and switch between them just by going back to your house.

Posted: Dec 22nd 2009 11:28AM Aganazer said

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Its sad how underused the search, trap, disarm, and lockpick aspects of the rogue role are. In a game like DDO a rogue can be just as important as any other role, but in the mainstream MMOG's like WoW they are simply melee DPS.

It was never meant to be a trinity! Its a quad.

Posted: Dec 22nd 2009 11:28AM archipelagos said

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I wish people would expand their horizons beyond the trinity but this is the MMO industry we're talking about, it's not exactly famed for innovation and you can place a large part of the blame for this squarely at the feet of the community. If it were up to a large portion of the playerbase we'd be playing generic MMOs with orcs vs humans via the trinity until the end of time. Alas, this is probably a generational thing and we will probably need to wait for them to cop it before things change.

Posted: Dec 22nd 2009 11:50AM GaaaaaH said

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To be fair, some blame also goes to the financiers - why take a risk when standards are proven to work?
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Posted: Dec 22nd 2009 11:39AM (Unverified) said

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The reason for the trinity is simple -- because it makes sense. The moment you step back and say, lets break the trinity you need to ask what makes more sense. If you think it's logical that boss mobs should always attack healers, two things happen: either no one plays a healer because dying sucks, or healers want armor as good as a tank.

Essentially in establishing a holy trinity you are placing restrictions, artificial as they may seem on what classes can do.

If you have ever played Asheron's Call you would understand that while being able to do everything in the game is great, eventually people start making the same exact character because it's the best. Whether it was OG Mage, Life Sword, Life UA, or even 3 school Staff for a while. Everyone was everyone and everyone could do everything.

If you want to break the trinity the only solution really is that everyone suddenly has to stack as much health and mitigation as possible. Which seems odd, because I don't generally think of a Mage as a plate armor wearer.

But if you honestly dislike the holy trinity there are enough games to play that do not force this on you.

Asheron's Call
UO
Darkfall

They all come to mind.

Posted: Dec 22nd 2009 11:49AM Serious Table said

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Well, follow that same mentality, Darzin. Does it make sense that a boss should constantly be attacking a tank all the time? Sure, it's how it works in the Trinity set up, but would a boss be constantly attacking one person?

Why would players have to stack unlimited health and mitigation, though? I think we're stuck in the Turn-based MMO setting right now. We need more action games, where skill and timing and aiming are important instead of auto-attacking. That'll make breaking out of the Trinity far easier, because you work to DODGE instead of ABSORB attacks.
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Posted: Dec 22nd 2009 1:09PM Snow Leopard said

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I like the system the article proposed in which every character is more or less their own tank and healer. Each character has a way of defending themselves and healing damage if caught in a sticky situation. The current trinity just feels strangely artificial.

I sometimes feel RPG developers need to look a little more closely at fighting or shooter games, in which roles are very different and often more flexible. When I’m playing halo, gauntlet, or lord of the rings with my friends, there’s still that sense of comradery and teamwork. You need to stick together and save each other’s butts from danger, and each character (or weapon) plays a bit differently from the other. However, there’s no defined roles, no job you are stuck with. If a teammate dies, you can compensate for it and pull through. There’s no “tank’s dead. We’re screwed” moment here and there’s no arguing over who has to play as Gandalf at the start of each mission.

Although I like healing, the whole concept of a guy standing in back, waving a staff and healing everyone seems kind of strange, almost as strange as one poor fellow getting repeatedly munched on while the monster ignores all the people shooting at it. It would be much better if each character could just stand on their own yet still gladly benefit from the aid of his fellow players. This isn’t soloing exactly as much as it is self-maintenance. Instead of focusing on watching health bars, battles could revolve.
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Posted: Dec 22nd 2009 1:12PM Snow Leopard said

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(Sorry, got cut off)

…battles could revolve more around positioning and blocking and avoiding your opponents next attack.
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Posted: Dec 27th 2009 2:10AM (Unverified) said

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@ Darzin

You just prove how stuck you are in the Trinity frame-of-mind. You give an example that in itself resolves around there being a Trinity in the first place rather then a true example that bases itself in all types/styles of gameplay.

* You assume the healers are weak and hence cannot defend themselves. If there was no tanking class in the first place then players having good armor is not a problem.
* Actually assuming there are healers in the first place is in itself shows that your example is based on a Trinity setup anyway.

So you never 'took a set back' and 'break[broke] the trinity'. So your example isn't even valid!

Hence showing that you yourself have become so adapt to the Trinity frame that you lack the understanding of what it does and doesn't do.


Anyway, Trinity will be broken. Currently it is a part of gaming because of lack of AI within games. When smarter AI comes around (while the AI will still have patterns, they will be more complex then "tank have most threat so tank gets attacked") the trinity setup will become obsolete (even though many games may still use it for flavour).
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Posted: Dec 22nd 2009 12:04PM (Unverified) said

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The trinity concept really does not work well in Champions Online. This is my main beef with CO (and will probably be my main problem with STO). They've applied the stereotypical fantasy game mechanics to a superhero game. Who was Superman's healer? Was Spider-Man a tank, DPS or healer? Who was the CC in the Avengers? It's just silly to apply these concepts to anything outside of the fantasy genre. Heck, STO looks like there's going to be 3 types of ships you can pilot. "I'll fly the healer ship for my group." WTF? Was Picard a tank or DPS? It's just silly.

God forbid someone should attempt to think outside the box and come up with something new. Yeah, that would suck.

Posted: Dec 22nd 2009 12:19PM Serious Table said

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Well, in STO's defense, their archetypes make sense at least. Escort ships are fast and maneuverable so they can toat more guns. Cruisers are as they should be; massive, huge shields, lots of weapons, but slow. Science Vessels are support because of advanced sensors and . And that's kind of how the Navy is built now.

But I agree that SOMEONE needs to think outside the box. And if any genre can do it, Sci-fi most certainly can.
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Posted: Dec 22nd 2009 12:26PM Enaris said

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I've not played CO, but do play CoH, and I think they hit upon a pretty good approach there Now, there are multiple aspects of the "trinity" that are broken there.

Look for a moment at the base classes in CoH (CoV has a bit of a different mix).

Tank: Yep, this is pretty much what it sounds like. This is your Superman. Now, a well built tank is all but invunerable to anything short of really silly amounts of enemies, or an AV (and some builds can solo an AV).

Scrapper: Melee DPS.

Blaster: Range DPS (and depending on the type, a chance for some pretty serious Mez power).

Now, so far, that all sounds pretty standard. It's the last two that really mix things up (and in a good way).

Defender: There are lots of powersets that Defenders can use, which give them a variety of abilities... but they can Debuff, Buff, some limited Mez, Heal... and then do some damage (but not remotely to the power of the Scrappers and Blasters)

Controllers: They specialize in Mez, and then then can buff/debuff/heal, with very limited damage.

The real kick in all of this? There honestly is not a true "Healer" in the entire bunch. Yes, you CAN build a Defender to Heal. However, that's only one approach. What's more, a player who truly understands their powers that is using the primary "healing" set (Emapth) will find that their other powers are actually more useful.

There are lots of defending sets that either have very weak heals (Radiation, Storm) or even none at all (Trick Arrow, Force Field, Sonic). They contribute through their buffs and debuffs.

What's more, a well built team that has a couple of those type of defenders (or controllers that use that as a secondary), honestly doesn't need a healer a great deal of the time. The Buffs/Debuffs give you enough of an advantage that someone who is "healing" focused can die of boredom!

In fact, overall, City of Heroes is one of the best games I've seen for not forcing "optimum" team configurations. Despite the broadcast chatter asking for this or that, there truly isn't any AT that is needed on a team for it to be successful (Exception: High End AV's, especially those on Task Forces, may require a bit more planning in team build, but even there, you have a great deal of flexibility)
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Posted: Dec 22nd 2009 7:14PM (Unverified) said

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Right as rain, this is why I quit SWG after an hour of play. I realized the morons in charge had hamfisted a weak attempt at a Fantasy RPG group into the Star Wars universe, because frankly they have no frickin' idea what else to do.

Then to my shock and horror, virtually every other game company did the exact same thing, and for the last 8 years most MMOs, no matter what their names or classes, have essentially been the same to play. There were a couple of exceptions (Planetside comes to mind) but by and large they're all the same game with a different name.
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Posted: Dec 22nd 2009 12:46PM (Unverified) said

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Even the latest incarnation of the tabletop RPG "Dungeons and Dragons" (4th edition) encourages the Trinity and having specific roles within a party. The roles are class archetypes and described as Defender (tank), Striker (DPS) and Leader (healer). There is a fourth role, Controller, which is somewhat optional but a great support archetype; much like a Controller in CoH.

Depending on the specific class you choose (or multiple if you multi-class), feats and powers you take there are enough options to blur the archetype boundaries and be more of a "hybrid" class. A Defender that can do significant damage but might be not as tough or "sticky" (similar to a Zone of Control in wargames) as a pure Defender, for example. Or a Striker that can hold his own in the middle of the fray and take a few hits without flinching.

I believe that character classes and the Trinity are useful as a framework but giving players enough options to tweak their classes to the point of blurring the line between *two* roles is ideal. Note that there are 3 roles so no one character should be completely self-sufficient, by filling all 3 roles, or all characters will end up being nearly identical.

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