Tobold's Blog
Monday, June 21, 2010
Bioware solves the healer / tank shortage

I finally got around to watch the E3 videos about Star Wars: The Old Republic. Looks solid, but very much like every other MMORPG out there: I watched a Sith go on a quest to kill 12 troopers, plus a second quest which involved killing the trooper's officer and clicking on some container behind him. Combat involved targeting enemies and clicking on buttons on a hotkey bar. How exciting! Wait, no, that's what I've been doing the last 10 years already.

But the videos also talk about classes, and that reminded me of a remark a friend of mine once made about SWTOR: This will be the only game out there in which everybody wants to play a tank or healer, while there is a shortage of dps. Of the 8 classes announced, the 4 non-force users are the dps classes, while each side has one Jedi / Sith tank and one Jedi / Sith healer. I think it is safe to assume that more people want to play lets say a Sith than a Stormtrooper, which ends us up with more tanks and healers than damage dealers. Well, maybe Bounty Hunters and Smugglers will end up being popular too and everything balances out, but I can't really imagine SWTOR having a tank / healer shortage. Very nice social engineering there, Bioware!

Now how are you going to prevent everybody choosing the Dark Side of the Force and your PvP being completely unbalanced?
Actually they have an even better system for solving the tank/healer shortage. Each player will have Companions. You can have one companion out at a time. Dungeons (flashpoints) are balanced for a group of 4 players and 4companions. These companions can fill any of the three trinity roles. So if your party forms and you don't have a healer, one or two players get their healer companion and you run the instance.
I applaud them. A nice idea that certainly hasn't been without controversy.
"But players want to play DD and a Jedi !!!!!11"

Seems like I will buy that game and test it. But it will most probably be just another one of those distractions. Not a grand activity, but something that makes you feel like wasting your time.

Interaction with other humans can be so much more than that.
You keep saying you are bored with clicking on stuff and pressing buttons on your keyboard as a control scheme. Using a mouse and keyboard for controls, what else are you going to do? Joystick? Voice command?
@ Honors Code- Where are you getting that information from? I've seen the companion footage, but I haven't seen anything saying they can fill in for other players and perform their roles...and if they could what does that say about the combat itself if an npc can fill in for tanks/healers all the time?

Anyhoo the Trooper was also revealed as having a Tanking Tree during E3 so my guess is that Bounty Hunters will also be able to fill that role for the Sith faction, which leaves us with Jedi Knight/Trooper as tanks/dps with Counsular as Healer/dps for the Republic, with Sith Warrior/Bounty Hunter as tank/dps with Inquisitor as Healer/dps for the Sith. Sounds nice enough to me.

BTW What else can you expect from the combat controls Tobold? Many PC games, not only counting MMOs, have you targetting an enemy and pressing hotkeys to peferom attacks...not sure what you were expecting from the Old Republic there.

It was one of many E3 interviews I read/saw last week. I'll try to dig it up tonight.
These two interviews describe some of the class and companion roles.
"I watched a Sith go on a quest to kill 12 troopers, plus a second quest which involved killing the trooper's officer and clicking on some container behind him. Combat involved targeting enemies and clicking on buttons on a hotkey bar. How exciting! Wait, no, that's what I've been doing the last 10 years already."

Ha! I applaud your sarcasm here. I don't see grinding mobs as a very Star War thing to do to level up. So I im guessing that yes we'll be repeating the WoW model of quest/instance repeat ad nauseum to ding.

The only thing that will keep it fresh will be if they have new and evolving story lines like GW is doing now with the story line it's slowly unfolding leading up to GW2.
If you read up on swtor a bit you will find that the trooper class has a tanking tree and the smuggler class has a healing tree :)
"Now how are you going to prevent everybody choosing the Dark Side of the Force and your PvP being completely unbalanced?"

The difficulty lies in factional balance for people actually interested in PvP. For example, if WoW census is to be believed, there is pretty close to a 50/50 faction split overall, but the faction ratios become skewed once you look at PvP servers (60% hoard) and PvE servers (60% alliance).
Healers that don't heal and tanks that don't tank don't solve the problem though. You can look to early WAR as evidence to that. If you get a "support" class the option to DPS they will forgo any type of support and just be content with bad dps with heals to keep themselves alive, then complain that they don't do enough DPS.

SW:TOR looks more and more like a same old thing that isn't going to impress anyone other than being Star Wars.
I think "The same old thing" is exactly what most people want. Give me a 1-2-3 tank-healer-dps playstyle game with a few small twist, and polish it to a high shine. That's all I want.
They're going to prevent the Sith getting too strong by making their armour sets and weapons stupid looking. I'd love to play sith but the models look terrible. Jedi healer for me.
Everyone says they want the same old thing but I don't think they do. Why play something that is basically the same as what you already play?

I personally think a lot of gamers THINK they want a WoW clone, but when it comes they will get burnt out on it quickly. I think gamers are starting to buy into the idea that you have to do the standard WoW/MMO model in order to make a successful game.

I think a lot of MMO gamers who have been around awhile are burnt out on the standard kill 10 Storm Trooper quests, and thus SW:TOR will fall victim to the so called WoW tourist which is really just familiarity burn out.

I’m not hating on SW:TOR, don’t get me wrong here. I’m more than likely going to buy it but I’m trying to be as realistic as possible about it. I also feel that blogs are a place where we can voice our predictions about MMOs with limited knowledge. I mean if people are saying that it’s going to be a great game based on what we’ve seen why can’t I say it will be overall unimpressive?
They have also complicated the problem by making every idiot and noob want to play the tanking and healing class. Anyone who has had a noob tank or noob healer in a WoW random knows how awful an idea that is.

That said, having non-force characters in demand might actually make the game playable for me, as I have little interest in a jedi/sith character.
-VG of
The big problem surely is that in a game whose unique selling point is immersive story grouping rather screws up your appreciation of the story.

Playing a Bioware game with someone in the group picking the dumbest responses on purpose may be aggravating.

I guess we'll have to learn to roll with it or play solo.
Now how are you going to prevent everybody choosing the Dark Side of the Force
It's funny, because 6 months ago, the talk was, "how are we going to make sure anyone picks the Dark side over being a Jedi?"
The PvP apparently is only consensual and not world pvp, so battlegrounds only. Does not matter for them if there is a 10:1 imbalance of factions. It will only cause a longer queue, but that could be countered by cross-server battlegrounds a la WoW.

I cannot help but feel disappointed. WoW, now voiced and in space set in the Star Wars universe? Even if SWTOR will be really good, it is a wasted opportunity to advance the genre! :(
ceteris paribus, who will want to thread on azeroth when they can go about tatooine, hoth, dagobah system, coruscant and what have you?

This game although no WoW Killer (WoW is immortal and it will assimilate us all) will give Blizzard a run for their money, at least I hope so.

One thing is certain, pretty soon we will hear some Blizzard exec saying things like "WoW was always about the storytelling and we will return to that core in our next expansion"
"Even if SWTOR will be really good, it is a wasted opportunity to advance the genre!"

Would you invest a shitload of money to advance a genre when players will punish you for steering out of their comfort zone?

Some commentators here say that they want change and that's what most players secretly want. You are so right, we did see that when modern warfare tanked miserably or when guitar hero franchise collapsed on the first sequel...
"Of the 8 classes announced, the 4 non-force users are the dps classes"

I thought the Trooper was a tank?

I suspect that a lot of the classes will be hybrids with multiple specs to make things easier.
”Would you invest a shitload of money to advance a genre when players will punish you for steering out of their comfort zone?”

Almost all of us already understand what you’re saying here, but you need to remember, we’re the consumers. When we play games for the enjoyment, we shouldn’t be concerned with how a company operates financially. Belaboring the obvious point that companies are in this for money always detracts from the subject of our concern, which is our ultimate enjoyment and our response to a game’s design. It’s nice that you know how business works, but there’s really no need to use a company’s financial management in a discussion about game design, it just isn’t a justified argument.

As for SWTOR, it looks even more hopelessly generic than before. I really thought that once more information came out I’d gain interest, but nope. It feels like Bioware is arrogantly using their fame and Star Wars related buzz words to make a copycat MMORPG. Their extremely-similar-games-that-always-become-popular-somehow don’t make them king of RPGs; they in no way simply deserve to have their own MMORPG if this is how they’re gonna treat the genre.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Star Wars, and at one point could probably recite the entire original trilogy. But this isn’t really Star Wars, it’s Bioware’s same tired game with a Star Wars skin and weak MMORPG elements copied from elsewhere. I mean, not specifically calling it a “talent tree” doesn’t make it any less generic.

In an interview, a Bioware rep was asked how a smuggler could go up against a Sith lord, and he responded by saying (not word for word) “You are the best smuggler in the galaxy, and at this time Sith are common, so you can hold your own". That doesn’t even make sense. It’s such a simple and obvious flaw and the Bioware rep gave such an inane response because Bioware can’t think outside Bioware, and only in a single player game could that response be acceptable. And the companion characters are more of the same. Why would every rogue smuggler have a balanced team of dedicated followers with him everywhere he goes?

The game looks like a series of mashed together generic MMORPG and Bioware mechanics, covered up and loosely strung together with the Star Wars label.
Trooper - Tank/DPS + Moderate CC
Bounty Hunter - Tank/DPS + Moderate CC
Jedi Consular - CC/Support + Moderate DPS
Sith Inquisitor - CC/DPS/Support
Smuggler - DPS/Support + Moderate CC
Imperial Agent - DPS/Support
Jedi Knight - Tank/DPS
Sith Warrior - Tank/DPS

That was an answer to the users who claim that players secretly want change although the larger community has proved time and again that it doesn't.

That statement wasn't on design, was on player expectations and no business will put it's money on supposedly secret expectations that didn't hold any truth in previous experiments.

If you discuss features, I'll discuss features and design. If you say that players secretly want this or that, or that they think they want this or that I'll always point to the fact that no investor would jeopardize his capital in such bets, specially now when the gaming market is clearly saying: gives things we already know and keep innovation to a minimum.
Not sure that will solve it, the dps players will complain they don't do enough dps. The force users will complain they don't have godlike powers.

The second issues is easy: make all the dark side users Gungans.
From what I've read, it will be possible to change your alignment during the game.
"Bioware's same tired game"

Great. I know myself and millions of other RPG players are thrilled about this.

Bioware is hands-down the top RPG developer in the world. If they simply fused WoW and KOTOR down the middle I would be happy.

If you didnt like KOTOR and their other RPGs, then this game obviously won't be for you.

Personally I would be happy even if its designed to be playable single-player. I have been waiting for KOTOR 3 for years, and the fact that it will now be "endless" pretty much is a godsend.

Also economically I think they are best to do this as well. Even if they draw in (numbers all hypothetical) 50% of the devout KOTOR fans, 10% of WoW-kids after tourists leave, maybe 10-30% from several or many other themeparks....well thats a TON of players right there.

They are using market research, data, competitive benchmarking/results, and the like to put together the *best* product possible (from the viewpoint of the investors in a way I suppose).

Actually, I contend that an MMO based on such a valuable IP should never be the place to experiment with truely original ideas/concepts. See: SWG and its bug-ridden mess, WAR and its failed launch, etc.

As much as people will whine & complain about how they need "innovation", its simply...not that simple!

Its unrealistic to expect them to do anything other than the use the most logical, research/result driven, and proven methods possible.

There is a reason that major corporations are almost never the source of innovation. Its economics, not some science fair.
Bioware has been pretty upfront in trying to set the expectation that they aren't looking to 'advance the genre'. They are making a familiar MMO in a world that has many passionate fans and applying their core competency, telling great stories through video games. See KOTOR, Baldur's Gate, Dragon Age for evidence of their competency. I understand that Tobold and others want to see a revolutionary game but SWTOR won't be it. Bioware is still trying to convince people this is an mmo and not KOTOR with a chat box.
"This will be the only game out there in which everybody wants to play a tank or healer, while there is a shortage of dps."

I disagree. Just like WoW, there will be no shortage of tanking or healing *capable* classes, but the large majority of those players will be ignoring their tanking and healing specs in favour of DPS'ing.

Paladins are very popular, but how many of them are prot or holy?
I have a hard time understanding why someone would want to wield a freaking LIGHTSABER and sit back casting heals. Your taking the most legendary weapon known to man (well, ok, geeks) and trusting that the player won't use it?

Yeah that makes sense. I just don’t like it when people use that kind of argument to justify a game’s design, because as the target audience we should be the ones directing constructive criticism instead of just accepting that the company will most likely design it a certain way.

@J. DangerouS

I’ve played almost every Bioware game, and I’ve enjoyed most of them (although Dragon Age was a bit boring to me, I still put about 80 hours into it). The same game is fine if you stick to that specific genre, but you can’t keep doing the same thing if you venture out to say, MMOs. You mention realistic expectations, but do you really think it’s realistic that this will be an endless KOTOR 3? If they were simply making KOTOR 3 I would have no problem, but as an MMORPG they’ll have to water down both aspects. It’ll have be shallow or disjointed to account for the main singleplayer component in what’s supposed to be a massively multiplayer world.

That’s why they should think outside at least their box with this game, and that’s why no matter how much polish their game has, the basic premise will still seem flawed to me. It’s hardly even an innovation problem too, just a design issue. Decent ideas are out there and successfully implemented in games (even WoW has an open, non-instanced world, that’s worth something), but SWTOR’s combination of mechanics just doesn’t seem interesting. I know it’s somewhat unrealistic to expect them to innovate at all with the Star Wars license, but accepting that does nothing to help my disappointment because I personally don’t care in the least how much money Bioware pulls in. What’s important to me with these games is my enjoyment so I’ll almost always discuss only that.
Bri just reiterated my point. You see it more and more in WoW, WAR, and other MMOs. People are rolling Healers and Tanks with the intent to DPS because of the increased versatility and survivability.
Post a Comment

<< Home
Newer›  ‹Older

  Powered by Blogger   Free Page Rank Tool