I need to hustle this morning so the post may or may not be disjuncted. I had a generally lousy time sleeping last night as all sorts of odd noises kept waking me up. The end result is that I gave myself 15 more minutes to sleep at one point… and now I am probably more than 15 minutes behind schedule.
Out to Pasture
Yesterday my post about EQ next, its removal of role based combat, and my subsequent despair caused a pretty large comment storm divided up between my blog, Google+ and twitter. I have to say I had a vastly different gameplay experience than a large number of the posters. But that said it does seem like there are a massive amount of people disgruntled about tanking in general or even the concept of needing one. Rowan wrote a pretty great rebuttal with his post “Thanks, But no Tanks”.
I feel in many ways like I am being put out to pasture, like I am some relic of a bygone era. It reminds me of the same kind of feeling I had when Warriors in World of Warcraft went from the only viable tank, to by far the worst one. It’s like being told, “Thanks for tanking all of those years, but we really have no need for you any more”. I am sure that a lot of my healer friends will be feeling the same way. I remember going into GW2 with some of those folks, and ultimately they were extremely disenfranchised when they couldn’t find a healer to play.
Divide and Conquer
All of this is to say that I am not open to new ideas, but more that I am extremely disillusioned with the alternatives that we have seen before. Brian “Psychochild” Green who happens to be part of the Storybricks team, made a quick comment in my Google+ thread.
The holy trinity came about because of primitive MMO AI. Vastly improved AI means a new dynamic is needed. Wait before you despair.
And honestly I am completely fine with a new dynamic… but I want there to be a “Tanky” role in whatever it is. This can mean a lot of things but so long as there is room for strong defensive and protective gameplay, I will probably be okay. Taunt has always been a crutch, and a tool that the good tanks used only in situations where things were already out of control. I can live without the artificial construct of instant threat generation. Additionally I can live without the concept of the tank being the one person who gathers up all the mobs… in fact the “AOE it down” mentality while effective is extremely boring.
I want a role so that I focus on the biggest and hardest hitting mob, while the rest of my party burns down everything else. I want to engage and keep busy the big guys while my team either through the use of crowd control, or simply dps juggling takes out the rest of the group . I am completely fine with that kind of a paradigm. I just want a beneficial role to play, and this really has not been the case in any other game that tried to blur the lines of the trinity. A guardian in Neverwinter is about the most useless thing ever when it comes to grouping… I don’t want to be the sword and board guy that is dragging the entire team down.
They could go down a completely different avenue and pattern the constructs off of pvp based tanking like Warhammer Online. I am again completely fine with this paradigm as well, as I really enjoyed tanking on my Ironbreaker. The different there and the construct that allowed this to function was that players had physical mass. You could not idly clip through other players or npcs… and as a result “Tanks” could create physical barriers to keep players from attacking the squishier targets.
This was an enjoyable mechanic and there was quite a bit of synergy between the support functionality I was supplying and the damage dealing my friends were doing. With the destructible and constructible world concept… I could definitely see a tank being an obstacle maker that slows down or impedes the enemy from getting to the party. So long as I play an important role in the party, and the addition of my abilities improves gameplay rather than drags them down… I will find a way to be happy with whatever defensive gameplay it provides.
DPS is Boring
Ultimately I play a tank most of the time because I like being able to take tons of abuse. I habitually level in every game as either a full tank or a custom tank hybrid build. It is the style of gameplay I always gravitate towards. The avatar I have in my head, always has a sword and shield and lots and lots of armor. My time constraints often times push me into a mode where I simply cannot be the lynchpin of the group, and cannot tank… so I fall back on dual wield dps generally. The problem is I find that style of gameplay boring.
DPS to me is avoiding stuff on the ground while trying to execute a “Simon Says” like pattern as quickly as possible to do the maximum amount of damage. Obviously from the comments in all the threads yesterday, this is a gameplay style that a lot of players enjoy. For me if I am not having to juggle targets, manage aggro, and protect other players I quickly get bored and zone out. My biggest hope is that whatever the new scheme ends up being with EQ Next that it gives me more to do than just run around idly and mash a few buttons blindly.
I realize that I am probably in the large minority of players that enjoy tanking, and do so even when NOT in a group situation. I know we are out there however, and that tanking to me is just something we do instinctually. I just hope was we move forward there is still a place for us to have a valuable team contribution without having to fall back on a gameplay style that just isn’t natural for us. I like grouping with my friends, and in many ways I took up tanking because I wanted to protect my friends… it ties into my deep protective instinct.
The problem is this same instinct just doesn’t really apply in the same way to strangers. The evidence of the lack of people who want to tank or heal that keeps being brought up are the long lines in the dungeon queues. I present an alternate explanation… those of us who tank or heal because of this protective instinct… simply do not want to tank for strangers. I love tanking for friends and guildies… but I have zero interest in ever queuing into a random because every experience I have ever had as a PUG tank was relatively bad. The tank in these groups is the focus of everyone’s ire, and until that changes you will always have able bodied tanks like myself unwilling to subject themselves to the crap storm… especially when we can form groups
relatively easily within our own guild.
I have rattled on enough for the day, and I probably will have opened up a few more cans of worms that will work themselves out during the day. I am open to new ideas, but every break from the trinity thus far has failed miserably in my eyes. Here is hoping that Storybricks will be the magic sauce that makes non-role-based gameplay enjoyable. I have a lot of hope about what Storybricks will do at least from a single player experience… but I just have yet to see any alternate scenario actually work as far as a grouping one. If they can deliver fun and non-chaotic group play I will be more than happy to hitch my banner to their wagon. I hope you all have a great day, and I hope nothing I have said offended anyone.