Procrastination Amplification: Punditry on MMOs and games in general.

Snape Kills Trinity with Rosebud

I came back home from the sunny glory that was Puglia on Saturday only to move straight on to some bars with friends. That left me slightly tired the other day so I was happy to discover that there were a lot of videos available from the League of Legends tournament at the last Intel Extreme Masters. One thing to note there was a t-shirt worn by some commentators with the words tank, support, jungle, and carry on it – all but carry were crossed out. These are the four essential roles in a team in League of Legends and the shirt plays on the desire of pick-up players to play the high-profile damage dealing role only. Just like, you know, in MMORPGs.

With the upcoming changes to how tanking works in World of Warcraft and the hopefully-to-be-released-soon-in-the-not-so-far-future Diablo III, people have started to wonder about the end of the age of the holy trinity. It makes sense, too. Clearly, players (on average) don’t like playing anything but impressive damage dealers that kill everything in their way. A Diablo type gameplay model allows for just that. Everyone can nuke at their heart’s content and synergies between players are only of passing interest if they exist at all.

XKCD - Spoiler Alert (CC by-nc, xkcd.com)

Yeah, the relation between the picture and the post is marginal and I've used it before. I still like it though! (image: xkcd.com; CC by-nc 2.5 )

The issue with such a model is, of course, that it completely devalues teamwork. Sure, some classless first-person shooters require a lot of teamwork to succeed but I doubt anyone can compare the teamwork required in a modern raid fight (however scripted those might be) to that in an FPS. While Diablo style hack’n’slash can be a lot of fun, I doubt it is going to help the industry much if they drop the idea of teamwork as a hole.

There are other ways of dealing with the holy trinity of course. The model in League of Legends is already much softer than that we see in contemporary MMOs. Support doesn’t necessarily mean healer, tanks can’t just focus on pure survivability (because they will simply be ignored by other players) and there are many true hybrids available that fill more than one role. Guild Wars 2 is going to have a similar system in which tanking is replaced by controlling opponents and healing by proactive supporting abilities. I like this evolution away from the holy trinity (just as I liked the way tanks actually worked in Warhammer Online.) It doesn’t solve the problem of players not wanting to play the supporting characters though.

League of Legends is the prime example. There are champions that are very pro-active in their roles as support or tanks but you will find many a (non-professional) game with none of them around. What’s more, many players know that having these champions around is very beneficial for winning and will go so far as to ask others to fill those roles. What many won’t do is play them themselves though because they’d rather be the splashy killing machines than the reliable backline support.

Personally, I love playing support-style characters. All my major WoW characters were either healers or tanks and even the LotRO character I’m currently leveling (or rather trying to level, damn you Turbine) is a healer even though I don’t plan on doing much group content in that game at all. I don’t mind a transition away from the traditional trinity to a more LoL / GW2 style model but I would absolutely hate losing the opportunity to play team-oriented characters. I might be in the minority, but I would like to think that support-minded players are an important and vocal minority and should not be neglected.

  • You have a very good point. I for one like the trinity. I do not like playing tanks or healers, but I do enjoy the things a good party with a lot of team work can do.
    The players that want to play tanks and healers by heart do exist. why can one not just tweak the party size to have the ratio right?
    after so many years blizz should have enough data to do just that.

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