How to fix MMOs.

12 04 2011

I read this great article (and ensuing discussion) over at Player vs Developer, and it hit me: I know how they’re going to fix WoW. I was so struck by the tragedy of my thoughts there that I decided to curse my own blog with them (instead of leaving poor PvD to carry all of the weight).

Blizzard is still trying to find a way to solve the tank-shortage. The milestones in their endeavor have been (as I see them):

  • Changing druids (and eventually paladins) from “strictly off-tanks” to “actually really good tanks”…much to the chagrin of warriors, who liked being one in a million.
  • Adding a new class – the Death knight – which at its inception could effectively (and almost without meaning to) tank in all three of its talent trees.
  • Made the game almost trivially easy, to where every dungeon could be AoE’d through in a matter of 30 minutes, and CC was forgotten, even in most “heroic” dungeons.
  • Added a Dungeon Finder Queue so you could automate and officiate the process of “getting in line” over what few people were actually willing to play tanks.
  • More recently, bribery…sorry, incentives in the way of extra gold, tokens, and loot.

Rohan at Blessing of Kings suggests an alteration to the “holy trinity” as it were, adding a second tank and even a second healer to the mix to  make events easier (and perhaps implicitly to make tanking and healing more appealing). Green Armadillo takes this a step further by dilating the number of DPS classes in a group. The former solution is fascinating to me, as it sort of smells like RIFT…where each group I’ve been in so far has had at least two classes capable of healing or off-healing, some which do so without meaning to. The latter I don’t see working for the same reason that it was still hard to fill a run for Karazhan or ZG back in the day…the DPS to support ratio was more skewed towards DPS but still there weren’t enough tanks.

Well, here is my dark and evil solution, as posted on Green’s article: drop the holy trinity. No more tanks. No more healers.

Stick with me here.

Each class is now strictly a DPS role. Players no longer have hit points; instead, every battle has an explicit timer – a countdown – and they must slay the beast before time expires. It is, literally, a DPS race. If your party cannot do enough damage in the given time, you lose.

I hope you think this sounds dumb. Well, think about this: it’s precisely how most players I ever talked to in WoW seem to view the game. Every fight in ICC was a ‘dps race’ with some dancing around. What did people complain about the most? The dancing around, followed closely by healers and tanks taking a lot of blame. What was the least complained about thing? Face-rolling and doing massive numbers on the third-party DPS meters (which were, by and large, inaccurate anyway).

You may not like this. I certainly don’t. I enjoy healing. The numbers are bigger, I consistently have more targets to deal with, and the success of the party hinges upon how well I fill my role. I like putting HPs back. It’s fun. It’s an on-the-fly economy as over-healing is a waste in a way no DPS-class understands…there’s seldom a time where you do too much damage. (Ironically, any event I could think of where too much damage was a problem, it was a MASSIVE problem. How about you?)

In all honesty, I would prefer to see healers and tanks to be made SUPER POWERFUL so that dungeon groups could be one tank, one healer, and like seven to eight DPSers. That is, however, my least-wanted fix. It’s what I view as the bottom-of-the-barrel-but-still-acceptable way of fixing this. What I really want to see is healing (and tanking) made so fun that players want to do it. How to do that is a mystery to me.

Making tanking easy means classes like Paladins and Druids take a lot of heat and eventually get nerfed. Making tanking complicated means people don’t do it well at first and get heckled out of trying further. Making tanks too powerful means people QQ and Ironbreakers get a huge nerf and are no longer viable. (DON’T THINK I FORGOT ABOUT THAT, MYTHIC. Ironbreakers were effective PVP tanks because you could not afford to ignore them. No amount of CC or collision detection can replace simply being dangerous.) Now, step back and consider what all of these issues seem to have in common.

If you guessed social management, you are correct! People screaming in all caps on forums and then getting their way is what I think the real issue is. People yelling at new tanks in chat, or saying derogatory things like “lrn2play” are why we are so short on support classes. In my mind, Blizzard should allocate a tremendous amount of its resources towards moderators who kick and ban jerks. Will they do this? Hell no. What will they do?

Bye, tanks. 😦

At least we’ll be able to blame Blizzard.




One response

12 04 2011

DISCLAIMER: Okay, okay, you got me without even commenting. I don’t *actually* believe that Blizzard will go so far as to drop support classes. They are necessary as they add dimension to the game…the aforementioned dancing. Just standing around and spamming damage spells would actually get boring, whether the people doing it think so or not. They are necessary as they increase the scope (and appeal) of the game, so Blizzard will go to great lengths to fix it.

I wonder aloud however if Trion, in their muddling, has already fixed it for them. TOR is doing something similar where like half of their classes can heal if needed. What’s next, WoW? Rogue and Mage healing? That’s what the other guys are doing nowadays….

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