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Reader Comments (49)

Posted: May 5th 2011 2:12PM DarkWalker said

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@tmarg

Tanking needs to be "reinvented" in order to make it draw more players. The alternative of eliminating the tank role is probably worse; having too few roles gets boring. A MMO with only two roles would lose a good part of it's appeal.

At the same time, games that rely on part of the players being tanks (or any fixed role, for what matters) to advance group content should consider fallback plans; character/group flexibility, outright player bribes, training resources in the game, NPCs to fulfill the role, whatever it takes to avoid preventing groups from forming due to a shortage of one of the roles.
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Posted: May 5th 2011 2:19PM rhorle said

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@tmarg

But if we move tanking to more realistic, why can't I just blow a hole in the floor and watch the boss drop to its death? Why can't I crash my A-wing into the bridge of the SSD and when the "flashpoint".

Why can't I just vent the atmosphere instead of having to defend a ship from rebel attackers? Its a game that is designed to get people to play in groups and play together. Sure you can design a brand new method of tanking, sure you can write that role out completely. But in the end you can't make it more realistic without making everything else related to combat just as realistic.
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Posted: May 5th 2011 2:37PM tmarg said

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@Threecubed

The entire tank role evolved from taking advantage of poor enemy AI. Coincidentally, this is why it has never worked in PvP, other players don't have bad AI. It isn't unrealistic in terms of being supernaturally based, it is unrealistic in that it constantly reminds you that you are actually playing against a fairly stupid computer. It's terrible for immersion.

Thankfully, technology has progressed to the point where the enemies that we face in MMOs don't NEED to have terrible AI either. The only reason tanks still exist is that it's easier for developers that way. Getting rid of tanks would require developing combat systems more complex than the current autotargetted hot key spam fests that dominate the current market. Frankly, that's what I think a lot of people really want anyway.
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Posted: May 5th 2011 2:42PM Jimmy Chowda said

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@tmarg

The tank make it possible to balance group PvE. Far too many variables without one.

And yeah, the "reinvention" described here is already in WAR, which is the benchmark for MMORPG PvP. Thankfully, the PvE looks to be something special in SWTOR.
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Posted: May 5th 2011 3:27PM rhorle said

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@tmarg

The enemies in games do can't have good AI because it is still a game. How fun would it be if the AI antcipated your dodge or cooldown, or "escape" mechanic and one shot you because it thought ahead? How fun would it be for your group to start an encounter and your healer dies right away because no one can stop the damage from the boss focusing on a the weakest member.

No one would like a game with actual smart AI.
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Posted: May 5th 2011 4:12PM Borick said

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@Threecubed "And yet in games where you do tank, you're shooting fireballs out of your hands or summoning demons or all sorts of unrealistic things. Saying tanking is unrealistic is pointless, when you really mean "I don't like it"

Shooting is something we as humans are predisposed to do. It doesn't matter if it's a fireball, arrow or psychic blast -- we have a mutually agreeable and rational consistency in how a projectile works.

Likewise summoning a demon or hiring mercenaries. These have real-world analogies that are secured below the superficial level of pixels and storyline.

Tanking is not extensively intuitive except as a way to exploit 'dumb' content. Being able to put together a shield wall of hoplites is great until some Alexander flips you the phalanx.

In MMOs we have real-time bucket brigade healing that has no real-world combat analogy that I can think of. Tanking has been overengineered and needs to be put in its proper perspective.
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Posted: May 5th 2011 4:26PM Borick said

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@rhorle But if we move tanking to more realistic, why can't I just blow a hole in the floor and watch the boss drop to its death? Why can't I crash my A-wing into the bridge of the SSD.

Good question. I think that you should be able to.

I used to bag star destroyers solo with anything from a Y to a B in XwingVsTie. A dog's vomit of fighters supported by one tramp freighter took out both star destroyers.

I ask why we should be locked into protected skill-bubble combat systems? I care nothing for the convenience of the developers.

If the developers are afraid of such chaos, then I think they're getting too old and derivitive-minded and need to hand the reigns off to some younger blood willing to make mistakes.
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Posted: May 5th 2011 4:54PM Threecubed said

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@Borick
And it relates to tmarg's decryal of tanking as well

I have to say that I don't understand what you were saying.
"Tanking is not extensively intuitive concept except as a way to exploit 'dumb' content"

Tanking never originated from stupid AI, the concept of defending is not hard for most people to understand.
We've all heard stories of someone stepping in front of a bullet, drawing the attention of a wooly mammoth while cavemen buddies flank the beast, or even using demoralization techniques to disrupt the strategy and coordination of your enemies. This is where tanking evolved from. It is toward these ideas that tanking in PvP brings us back to.

The complaints against tanking are NOT against the role, but against the way enemy AI in MMO games tends to react to tanks. This is once again, not the fault of the tank role, but of the immense difficulty to make believable AI. Having your enemies simply pick out your healers or damage dealers and prefer to kill them instead of a tank is stupid and hard to believe too!
How do THEY know who is the healer? What are the tells, a droid floating around, green hand-sparkles? What'd prevent a defender from dressing up as a healer does, or have tons of droids flying around? Nothing. It would be really neat to have a game where you could use mimicry and diversionary tactics to greater extent, but just imagine how difficult it would be to make it feel real.

Not only would it be immensely difficult to create the AI, but you would have to remake healers and damage dealers too. Current MMO classes are not built to handle AI that is as intelligent as it would need to be in order to justify reinventing the tank.

TL;DR
Don't hate the role, hate the AI. You have to fix the AI before you can fix tanking.
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Posted: May 5th 2011 5:15PM Borick said

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@Threecubed "Tanking never originated from stupid AI, the concept of defending is not hard for most people to understand."

Tanking as we define it in MMOS did develop out of exploiting stupid AI, and cannot be considered without acknowledging the arbitrary prop that combat healing created. It wasn't until EQ that we started stacking up behind a meat shield and using bucket brigades to keep that wall maintained.

Tanking is not an aspect of hunting. What you are describing is misdirection, not tanking. No neandertal was taking the brunt of the mammoth attack for the other cavemen. They certainly didn't do it while being kept alive in real-time by a bunch of shamans.

The hammer and anvil concept works, but you can't shoehorn such a general concept into absolute mechanics and expect to have anything that isn't an unsustainable skill bubble.

I'm a human being. Show me a wall of hoplites, and I'll flank it or trump it with a phalanx. Show me a phalanx and I'll face it with heavy cavalry. If can't do these things becuause of the 'rules', then it's just a cage match, and that holds no interest for me.

My point is that tanking is not an absolute structure, nor are roles. It is my opinion that the mechanics of tanking and healing in MMOs have passed the point of rational intuition.
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Posted: May 15th 2011 5:20PM Konfess said

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@tmarg QFT "Getting rid of tanks would require developing combat systems more complex than the current {RPG] that dominate the current market. Frankly, that's what I think a lot of people really want anyway."

I have seen this argument everywhere I turn. I'm sick and tired of reading that RPG / button mashing be replaced by FPS / Lag and twitch.

These same FPS anti-tank/anti-healers have no problem stealthing and stunning but cast a Fear or talk about a tank taunting in PvP and they HIT the ROOF.

I say More MMOs need to incorporate a BUTTON that pulls the DPS off the healers and makes them run to the TANKS for a spanking.
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Posted: May 5th 2011 2:41PM (Unverified) said

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TOR isnt re-inventing anything. careful with your wording =P

Posted: May 5th 2011 2:42PM Dumac said

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I don't think this brings tangible effects to playing a tank in PvP. I mean, from my perspective, swinging a giant two hander and barely doing any damage to the opponent isn't fun. When i played a Swordmaster WAR, i felt i was little more than a distraction to other players. Yeah i'd taunt and guard, but i don't see or feel any of the effects directly. I hardly think having the effects magically appear on the scoreboard is going to make it more engaging.

But that may just be me. It's nice that they're trying to do something about it, at least.

Posted: May 5th 2011 2:48PM Seldra said

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See this is what I always wanted out of a tank in pvp. When I was heavy pvper in my WoW days I did the pvp title grind with my war and back then, it was fun goin into bgs prot specced. What it missed was the lack of feeling heroic and protecting your teammate in a warzone, taking a bullet for them with your shield etc.

Posted: May 5th 2011 3:53PM Borick said

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So tanks will be passive healers. Has anyone considered what this will do to PVP tactics?

I didn't play WAR. What does it do to team selection and how does it scale from small-group PVP to larger battlefields?

It sounds like a cludge on top of a cludge to me. Tanking wasn't ever an intended part of this genre. The current tanking/healing model developed from exploits used in a few MUDs and EQ, and I think it's holding back innovation at this point.

I'd love to fight an AI who uses rational tactics. I'd love for combat to not seek a balanced equation state (There is no such thing in PVP).

As long as we have the strict tank/healer/DPS model we will never be able to apply dynamic new elements like aerial combat and support. Strategy and tactical decisions will always be made in a protected skill bubble. It's crap.

Posted: May 5th 2011 7:10PM Laurs said

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@Borick

Mate, the fix here isnt as easy as you make it sound. Solving the "problem" of the holy trinity of RPGs isn't something that can easily be done but the developers refuse because of convenience. If i may exagerate a bit, finding a viable alternative to the holy trinity is like finding the cure for cancer. From a design point of view it will take somewhat of a genius in the field of game development. And i'm not talking here about a fix ala: remove tanks and healers, dps all the way, fix bosses so that most of the damage is avoidable. That's not a solution, that's just taking a single-player design and lazily applying it to the MMO genre.

To conclude, if you feel you have a really really original and inovative solution to the holy trinity, by all means, try to develop a game that would showcase your idea, or get in touch with someone that could help you do that. The dude that does find a solution will be the next Notch: millionaire over night for a brilliant piece of game design.
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Posted: May 5th 2011 9:04PM Borick said

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@Laurs

Great reply. Thanks for the perspective. Cynical polemic is easy, and game design is not.

"That's not a solution, that's just taking a single-player design and lazily applying it to the MMO genre."

I disagree with the adverb, so I can't exclude single-player design from the solution. Engaging the individual seems too critical to dismiss.
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Posted: May 5th 2011 4:04PM (Unverified) said

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Depends on the game, but tanks don't always suffer in PvP. In WAR & WoW they were quite useful for taking a licking and keeping on ticking. My Pally Tank was near impossible to kill. So I wouldn't consider them useless, just not DPS orientated.

Posted: May 5th 2011 4:29PM SaintV said

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When I hear the word reinvent it reminds me of the word clone. Sounds boring.

Posted: May 5th 2011 5:05PM Vundal said

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as everyone has said , WAR did this before. Its a brilliant and very simple idea. Will make swtor's pvp a slight bit smarter, which is always good.

Posted: May 5th 2011 5:07PM Elikal said

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Sounds cool!

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