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Reader Comments (15)

Posted: Jan 17th 2011 9:53PM DancingCow said

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learning how to play your role = a thinly veiled insult for anyone who complains about imbalance?

I'm not one to worry about balance - I played a WoW warlock on a PvP server for the first 12 months after launch, when they completely useless in PvP. And despite how bad they were I kept playing them because I enjoyed them.

And those who take to the forums screaming "nerf that other class cos omg one managed to kill me and I'm so awesome they could only do that if they were overpowered!" can be irritating.

But the tone of this article is a bit on the nose. It seems to put forth the idea that anyone who complains of imbalance is incompetent.

I think "The importance of enjoying yourself / your class" would have been a better approach.

Posted: Jan 17th 2011 10:48PM CalebG said

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For the current mechanics of many MMO games like World of Warcraft, I always have the very familiar dilemma presented to me, what I want vs what is expected.

This is especially true in games with classes. While classes are made to give players easy, predefined choices, making it easy for players to choose, as well as for game balancing, it also brings with it limitations.

But, put in humans and the drive to not only succeed but excel comes in. Elitism is present in all of us. We do not only want to play what we want to play, we do not want to be only good, we want to be awesome. And in games like WoW, this translates to what is expected of you.

Do such expectations like DPS/heal amounts, HP amounts and gear score matter? Yes, they do (as long as they are reasonable of course), but they also serve to lock a player into a certain play style he might not want.

Equipment actually makes this more apparent. Now, players of a class have to go a specific route AND have specific equipment, just to be "viable" in the path they wish to take.

Most (including me) approach MMOs with a different mindset these days. Upon entering, they seek out the "best" class, the "best" mode of progression and "the best" gear. But how most games are these days, they just drive players to that mind set.

I long for a game which allows one free choice of who he wants to be, with little limitations. Perhaps then, we might be able to enjoy MMORPGs as RPGs with an MMO component, as opposed to what it is today, where MMORPGs are almost a totally unique genre of it's own.

Or perhaps, that isn't a bad thing?

Posted: Jan 17th 2011 11:18PM DancingCow said

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@CalebG

"I long for a game which allows one free choice of who he wants to be, with little limitations."

Ditto.

It's why I'm drawn to games like eg. The Secret World.

The fewer restrictions you place on players, the less they have to worry about power, optimisation etc. and the more they can just jump in and enjoy playing.
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Posted: Jan 18th 2011 2:49AM CalebG said

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@DancingCow

While it certainly does have it's appeals, all I can really do is keep my fingers crossed.

To further elaborate, I don't mean being able to jump in and be a staff-swinging, sword-wielding mage/warrior at the start. Only Gandalf (in the movies) can do that.

However, neither do I like the idea of game mechanics seemingly made to prolong game content, as opposed to just having more game content.

I don't mind running through dungeons which is... well... a dungeon, and not a fancy designed instance with unique mechanics and tons of scripted events with sub-bosses and a main one. I mean, when was the last time a "dungeon" really was a dungeon? In WoW, the only instance I could recall being an actual dungeon was the Stockades!

I can identify my explorer, achiever and socializer in me they all play a major part in my choice of game. However, these days, it seems that many games are focusing too much on the achiever portion!

Back to the topic, I would love to see a new MMORPG with a combination of EVE and UO type character development.
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Posted: Jan 18th 2011 2:59AM jeremys said

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@CalebG I would love to see a tiple-A budget fantasy-based sandbox game, but like one Massivley's writers eluded to: We know that's not happening anytime soon. And I would love to be proven wrong.

What I would love to see is for Runewaker to start turning their economy into a more sandbox economy. With the still-infantile craft system and auction house, the unused tools(Disenchant) and the loads of horizontal content they currently have I think it would greatly boost the fun of the game without needing a rewrite of the code or interfering with what's already in the game.
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Posted: Jan 18th 2011 3:20AM CalebG said

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@jeremys
Sadly, that writer is right, as coming from a publisher's perspective, we are still a minority.

The term sandbox for an MMO strikes fear in many publisher's hearts, simply because it targets a specific demographic as a P2P, and hard to monetize as a F2P.

Simply put, casual players get intimidated with sandbox games. And that could even apply to many hardcore players of games like WoW.

Can you even imagine what would happen if you dump a WoW player in the city of Britain? Even if everything looks like WoW, only with the mechanics of UO?

That feeling of "Uh, what do I do?" is something everyone wants to get rid of, but is also the fundamental aspect of a sandbox game, which will reply "Well, you can do anything, and everything if you so wish to invest your time!"

Most casual gamers would just leave then. And that's when the CCU (Con-Current Users) drops, the ARPU (Average Revenue Per User) drops, and any bargaining power for additional funds drop.

Perhaps, someday, an ultra wealthy individual interested in such a game might create a company to make one. Perhaps one who had experience in making such a game before, if only he could get his head out of space and back onto Earth... you know.
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Posted: Jan 18th 2011 3:13AM Maraq said

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I do think there is a certain amount of responsibility on the part of the player, when teaming with others, to be able to fulfill the percieved function of their toon, whether that comes from the class they are playing, or the "build" they say they have.

But i think there is something more important.

I think it breaks games when certain classes are seen as "must haves" in a game, and others not, and teams spend ages waiting around, turning people down, because volunteers are not the "healer" or the dps toon they need. No matter how good you are in your class, you were simply unlucky enough not to choose a class that is top of the list for teaming with. Various games have this problem and Aion is one of the worst examples, but not alone.

On the other extreme, i hate it when, for instance in City Of Heroes, when you have focussed on your class, eg a brute, for tanking and melee dps, and other classes/builds eg, tanking dominators completely invalidate your build when you cant aggro due to frozen mobs continously. In a game where roles are important, *not* playing your role , and taking over someone/everyone elses, can screw up others fun.

I play Guildwars at the moment, and i love the assassin class to the point where i struggle to invest and develop my other toons to the same point as my sin. I remember very well the difficulty of getting teams with an assassin for the main elite/master level missions in the early days. Now i have a regular group who know what i can do, and plan for it, without the snobbery of "sorry, your too delicate, we need either ranged dps or tanking melee".

This is one reason i'm keen on Guildwars2, where there is apparently no outright healer class. I'm hoping that now, rather than people doing the "Looking for healer only", people will make the most of the players/classes that are available to team with, and generate winning strategies based on what skills they have, rather than on what they think they "must have". I think healers can polarise peoples roles in teams, where you are either holding aggro, healing or dps. I think without healers, all classes can now feasably share those roles, making co-operation, imagination and skill more important than the straightjacket of your class. Surely that has to be a better community building mechanic, where teams are successfull on skill, not the rigid axioms of "must have a warrior/aggro/dps and monk/healer/cleric" mantras, where anyone who wants to play a slightly more imaginative role gets left out and almost punished for being a bit less conventional.

Posted: Jan 18th 2011 3:29AM CalebG said

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@Maraq
When there are predefined classes, there will always be such a problem. Players are expected to fulfill their role and stick to it, and being unconventional pose a risk to the rest of the group, regardless of how powerful your non-conventional class/build is.

Fear of the unknown in a nutshell.

No one likes losing/wiping, and the chances are much higher when they take say, a rogue focused on tanking. It doesn't matter if you have more health, armor, dodge and block then a warrior, but the fact that players have a preconceived idea on what a tank should be, and you don't fit it, they will just pass you off for a "real" tank.

As much as I would like to take the easy route and point a finger at the developers and their game mechanics, I would have to say, the fault is equally as much on us, the community, for creating such expectations.
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Posted: Jan 18th 2011 3:58AM DancingCow said

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@Maraq

That City of Heroes problem, in my experience, comes from solo-oriented players teaming up only for the better xp.

But also from poor leadership.

When you see stuff like that happen, the team should pause and someone should politely explain to player X that what they're doing is disruptive and what they should be doing instead.

And if they continue to be disruptive, then you kick them from the team.

But in this case "you cant aggro due to frozen mobs continously" - it sounds like the dominator is doing their job? Brute should rush in first to take the alpha strikes, dominator should throw down controls and then DPS'ers wipe everything out.
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Posted: Jan 18th 2011 7:32AM Maraq said

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@CalebG
@CalebG
"As much as I would like to take the easy route and point a finger at the developers and their game mechanics, I would have to say, the fault is equally as much on us, the community, for creating such expectations."

I agree with everything you said, and the quoted section above especially. We do share the responsibility, but then i think thats a moot point. A good community, thats open minded, friendly and non judgemental is a cure all, or at least panacea, for many game ills. It definitely helps immeasureably when a dev team actually bear in mind human nature when designing a game thats going to exploit human nature.

I'm certainly not advocating the view that the devs are to blame for players narrow mindedness or lack of vision. But they *are* totally responsible for the design decisions they make, caveated by learning from experience. Hence why i applaud the devs of Guildwars 2 for not including a healer class. At first i was really taken aback by that decision, but now i think its very smart, and worth a try.
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Posted: Jan 18th 2011 7:45AM Maraq said

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@DancingCow

"But in this case "you cant aggro due to frozen mobs continously" - it sounds like the dominator is doing their job? Brute should rush in first to take the alpha strikes, dominator should throw down controls and then DPS'ers wipe everything out. "

As for CalebG, i also agree with pretty much everything you've said. Re the quote i've incuded here, i'll explain the scenario better.

Domi (often more than one) rushes ahread of party and freezes/controlls mobs. they have not been herded into a group thats easily aoe dps'd, but are frozen like a garden of statues all over the place. Using perma-dom, the state that doms build up to where there powers recieve a big boost, they are able to effectively dominate, tank, and dps entire mobs. As a brute, without aggro, i cant dps, and i dont even get a chance to tank, as the domi(normally plural) freezes an entire mob before anyone has a chance to do anything else. If some of the mob control, then they are so far apart that each remaining player has to split up to kill them, aggravating the healers job by making it difficult to aoe heal. A conscientious player will not run ahead of the team too far and steal the fun of the upcoming mob, but also will not make the support toons jobs harder by creating the usual "split" party problem. Yes, i know the solution, just leave them to die. I'm simply describing the problem, as caused by bad player attitudes.

if you've not specifically faced this scenario, then no biggy, i simply use it as an example of how bad attitudes can ruin role based games, whether those roles are rigidly adhered to, or ignored by the playerbase. Both ways is a problem.
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Posted: Jan 18th 2011 7:47AM Maraq said

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@Maraq
"If some of the mob control, then they are so far apart ..."

should read

"If some of the mob break/resist control, then they are so far apart ..."
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Posted: Jan 18th 2011 8:49PM DancingCow said

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@Maraq

Ah yeah I know what you mean. And the added difficulty in CoH is that AT does not equal role. Every primary/secondary powerset combination is different.

But like I said. Pause, explain, given them a second chance and then kick them if they can't get it right.

CoH solo and group mechanics can be quite different but it's not difficult to adjust your strategy for teams. So anyone who doesn't, doesn't can go.... solo themselves ;)
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Posted: Jan 18th 2011 8:39AM Strangeland said

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This is why PVE players are skeptical that PVP can coexist with the same builds. PVP and PVE, we all know are totally different experiences, but games like WOW often try to make the same talent builds "balance" for both.

Simple example. In vanilla WOW tanks were not expected to do dps at all. they were expected to play a role of holding aggro and absorbing damage. healers healed, hunters pulled and rooted, etc. everyone had an *equitable* role.

but then you take your same talent build to the PVP arena and gee... unless you are a dps class you suck. So now massive amounts of re-balancing and tweaking have to happen to make PVP and PVE both work for the exact same build.

WOW (and other games) should never have gone down that path... the dual spec system they have now should have been introduced for PVP. you have a PVE spec with very different but equitable roles, and you have a PVP build you switch to when you enter the battlegrounds. (LOTRO did this creatively by isolating PVP in such a way that player class specs would not be pitched against each other, rather against player controlled monsters with totally different talents. )

The process of trying to make PVE builds and PVP builds across every class type equal in both PVP and PVE has been the biggest source of homegenization of the game experience. Every class and build now has to be able to do everything equally.

Nobody in the PVE crowd wants that, and if there was a distinct PVP dual or tri-spec then you could isolate the PVE experience from the PVP experience and create talents and builds that are right for each.

bottom line is you can build a diverse, balanced equitable set of classes to challenge the environment easily enough... but as soon as you pitch those same class specs against each other, all the rules change and everything must be homogenized, ruining the diversity possible in "equitable" trees where classes have a role to play.


Posted: Jan 18th 2011 10:27AM Tom in VA said

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Arg.

This topic makes me grateful for the soloability built into many MMOs and reminds me why I so seldom group up for dungeon instances any more.

I don't want to be assigned a "role" (and usually there's an expected build and gear requirement to go with that role). I am weary of the industry standard party composed of Tank, Healer, and generic DPS Players 1, 2 and 3.

In the "old days" of WoW, I can recall with fondness many a dungeon run with the "wrong" sorts of class combinations: too many squishies, too much plate, nothing but dps, etc. These kinds of challenges were a lot of fun, imo, because players had to think, improvise, and adapt. Well, that doesn't happen so much any more. Now, we have "roles."

One of the things I loved about Guild Wars (GW) was that I could experiment with all types of build compositions and unusual class combinations (such as my Monk/Ranger) and party types (by using AI); unfortunately, that's an "outside-the-box" approach to group challenges that very few other MMOs seem to allow.

Even in GW, other players might ask you to "ping" your skill bar and then critique it). I finally just started using only my heroes/henchmen in GW and tried out the (sometimes wacky) builds and party configurations that I wanted to try. It was a blast.

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