No Love For Tanks

Good morning you happy people out in the verse…  yeah I just got finished reading a post about Firefly… ignore me.  This is another one of those “doing things under NDA that I can’t talk about” weekends…  so as a result I usually am pretty scant in what I feel I CAN blog about.  Thankfully SOE Live is still giving me news to react to so that is mostly what I will be doing.  Additionally I seem to be down another couple of pounds as of this morning which would make 54 total since I started this latest foray of sensible living.  I am fairly proud if I do say so myself.

No Love For Tanks


I have so much gratitude for Curse gaming for having the forethought to record all of the SOE Live sessions that Sony themselves did not have the foresight to live stream over  As a result of their work I bring you the Class Panel video 1 and 2… and my commentary on it.  I watched this last night along with a few other friends and we pooled our comments over a shared chat channel.  My rabid fanboyism from Friday quickly turned into quiet terror when they started unfolding their vision for the game as a whole.  I have to say most of it sounded almost word for word like the pitch we heard leading up to the launch of Guild Wars 2.

To preface the part that scares me… they talk about a concept of “everyone taking care of themselves” and “No tanks or healers”.  Which always seems to read to me as the pipe dream of every dps that has ever played a game and been bitter that they are not treated as seriously as the tank and healer characters.  I am totally fine with not having a strict reliance on tanking or healing… but it scares me that they plan yet again to abolish these roles.  My mind is filled with nothing but visions of the giant chaotic mess that grouping in Guild Wars 2 was.

Tanks LIKE Tanking


The component that designers bent on this path seem to completely miss…  Tanks enjoy tanking and Healers enjoy healing.  We do not feel like we are forced into those roles… those are the roles we assign ourselves happily and willingly.  I LEVEL as a tank because I enjoy tanking mobs, it feeds off my protective nature and I know many tanks that feel exactly the same way.  Additionally I have lots of friends who are extremely nurturing people, that will always gravitate towards playing whatever the feel to be the most supportive healing class because they want to in equal parts “nurture” their friends.

These are not some artificial roles that we have been forced into by bad game design… these are roles that fill our need to protect or nurture or support in a game.  Not everyone wants to wildly mash buttons and destroy the targets as fast as they can.  I feel as though there is a certain kind of game designer that just fundamentally does not get this drive.  At one point in the video one of the designers describes the gameplay as “one person is forced to focus all the damage on them, another is forced to heal that person, then everyone else pretty much gets to do whatever they want and have fun”.  It is almost as if the designer does not realize that tanking and healing ARE fun for the players that really like to do it.

I don’t view tanking as a sacrifice, I view it as feeding into my most primal nature and my inborn need to protect my friends.  I would be willing to expect that all of the amazing healers who have supported me over the years did not feel forced into that role.  Game design like this makes me think that these folks simply do not understand the amazingly symbiotic relationship between a tank and a healer, and how awesome it is when you get to a point that both players can predict the actions of the other.  Maybe I am just lucky that I have had a long line of healers that I got to this point with… and I simply wish designers understood this better.

Granted there are definitely times where I don’t want to tank… and I am sure there are times where the healers don’t want to heal.  That is completey cool and why we have modern gameplay that allows us to switch the roles around freely.  However I do not feel that the problem is the roles themselves.  Without roles combat feels like a chaotic mess, and simply something I do not enjoy.  I was on board with Guild Wars 2, until the moment I did my first dungeon and saw that zergging a boss down from the resurrection point was a completely valid tactic.  There is nothing fun about that kind of gameplay for me… and I am scared now that after seeing this amazing concept that we will end up with that sort of haphazard grouping.

A Solo Experience


Right now I feel as thought I will still enjoy playing Everquest Next, so much about the game seems completely amazing.  I just fear that it might be a completely single player experience for me.  If Landmark provides a random world with random storybricks encounters that I can explore freely… that might be seriously enough to keep me happy regardless of how the larger gameplay evolves.  If EQ Next is nothing more than Minecraft evolved I will play the hell out of it and be exceedingly happy to do so.  I just am not a huge fan of what sounds to be their design mantra of abolishing roles again… since that went so tragically wrong with Guild Wars 2.

I am extremely amped to get into the beta experience and build all sorts of nifty things in Landmark.  I still go on massive Minecraft binges where I will do nothing but that game for a weekend and build entire cities… only to abandon the map and start from scratch again when the next creative urge hits.  All I have ever really wanted is to have the Minecraft freedom with a better game wrapped around it.  Having that kind of randomly generated and ever changing world, with awesome MMO controls mixed in would keep me happy for hundreds of hours of gameplay.  I could not be happier if I logged into my email and saw a beta invite right now.

So I am very much still on board with the notion of EQ Next… but I just heard the first things that deeply concerned me.  Here is hoping that this turns out to be more marketing spin than actual gameplay.  I feel as though there are a lot of dps out there with chips on their shoulders against tanks and healers… and that every so often one of these design schemes that tries to undo the roles of teamplay comes along.  Here is hoping they will dial it back before release.  They did mention that they would support “defensive” gameplay, and depending on what that means I would be happy with the protector role in another fashion even if it is not gather up all the hate and soake the damage.  I guess only time and subsequent releases will tell how this shakes out.

Wrapping Up

Well I have the lore panels to view, and that might be fodder for tomorrows posts.  Additionally we need to pick up the house today and I want to get that done sooner than later so I can piddle around in Rift and the thing that must not be named.  I hope you all have had a great weekend and are prepared for the work week ahead of us.  Additionally I hope you have been as amped as I am to see all the yummy footage coming out of SOE Live, Quake Con and the Rift stream.  I love Norrath, so no matter how frustrated I might be with a given direction they seem to be taking… I will always give the game a shot because of my love of the world.