Tobold's Blog
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Looking for tank and healer

Age of Conan recently introduced regional chat, a general chat channel spanning several zones in the same region, to which you are subscribed by default. So what are you most likely to hear on that channel? "LFM tank and healer needed". Although the combat system of AoC is much faster and initially appears to be different than that of World of Warcraft, the same holy trinity of tank, healer, damage dealers is ruling group combat. And although you usually need only one tank, one healer, as compared to three damage dealers, it is still always the tanks and healers that are in short supply. Because just like in WoW they are needed for groups, but not quite as good as damage dealers in soloing. Plus ça change …

So lets have a look at where this system is coming from. We start with a thought experiment: Imagine you and 4 friends want to go out in the woods to hunt a bear (Disclaimer: This is a *thought* experiment. Do *not* try this!). One of you is wearing his best quarterback armor, one of you has a medical degree and a first aid kit, and the other three are armed with swords and bows. The guy in the armor is telling dirty bear jokes to the bear to taunt him, the guy with the first aid kit heals him, and the other three are trying to deal maximum damage to the bear. If you picture it you'll immediately realize that this would never work in the real world. You can't "taunt" a bear, he'd probably attack the person closest to him trying to stick a sword into him. You can't heal somebody during combat either. The bear will not just hurt one of you after the other, but thrash around and all of you that are close. It'll be difficult enough to use a sword without hitting the others in the group that are close by, and firing an arrow into the melee combat is more likely to hit one of your own guys than the bear. The whole tank, heal, dps system is completely unrealistic.

The system is also not coming from pen and paper roleplaying. I haven't read the 4th edition rules of Dungeon & Dragons yet, but in all the D&D systems up to now there was no "taunt" at all, and healing somebody in combat was difficult, because healing spells in D&D aren't ranged, and you'd need to roll a touch "attack" roll to do it. What D&D has is positioning and control zones, so you can have a warrior standing in front, a rogue sneaking up to the enemy from behind, and a mage or priest hiding behind the back of the warrior. But firing an arrow into melee has a well-defined chance to hit somebody from your group instead of the monster, and a mage can't use his best spells like fireballs without frying his friends.

Many single-player computer RPGs also worked with positioning. In the simplest form you could assign group members to either stand in front or in the back, which modified their changes to get attacked. I've never seen a single-player game using "taunt" abilities, but in-combat healing was often used.

The first game I saw a "taunt" ability in was the original Everquest, and since then pretty much every MMORPG uses that system. If positioning doesn't play a role in a game, there aren't many possibilities left to determine which group member a monster should attack. Either its completely random, or the game determines some sort of threat list, based on dealing damage or healing activity. But if you have some classes in lighter armor dealing more damage and some classes in heavier armor dealing less damage, if you have a threat meter with no taunt ability, the heavily armored guys never get attacked, because they deal less damage than the other group members. Without taunt a tank would be as gimped in group combat as he already is in PvP and solo PvE, two cases where taunt doesn't work.

If we wanted to design a game without the eternal "looking for tank and healer" problem, first of all we would need to make all classes deal the same amount of damage per second, just in different variations. As solo combat and PvP very much depend on damage output, having all classes have the same damage output incidentally solves many class balance problems, there are no more gimped classes that are only good for group support. There could still be classes more heavily armored than others, but that would be balanced by other class abilities for the less armored classes, e.g. stealth, or better ranged combat. In any case the effect of armor would have to be much weaker than in current games. And taunting or other "threat management" abilities simply shouldn't exist. Healing should be done by everyone for himself with potions, and between-combat regeneration methods. Combat healing, if we really wanted it, would be a secondary class feature of a class having the same damage output as anyone else.

In the end we could either have a system with no tanks or healers at all, or an intermediate system where at least tanking and healing classes are as popular as other classes, because they would be equally powerful in solo PvE and in PvP, while being not so extremely mission critical for group PvE. Ideally there would be collision control, and some zone of control system, so positioning would be more important, instead of people spamming abilities that increase or decrease their threat level. Just because players and developers are so used to it doesn't mean that the tank and healer based group combat system is the only one possible. It's disadvantages are abundantly clear by now, and it is time that some game breaks out from that mold.
There is no lack of healers in AoC.

The 3 healer classes are strong soloers. Hell, the ToS is considered by most to be the best soloer.

Every group ive been with had 2 healers.

Im playing a Bear Shaman and i really like how being an healer + melee DPS was well implemented in one class.

So in summary you want to eliminate class roles down to melee and ranged.

Over simplification, but I think that is where you end up. Everyone ends up being a hybrid who can do a bit of everything.

I agree that a "threat" mechanic is very contrived. Surely any sort of intelligent creature that expects to one-shot everything in front of it would figure out that spending 5 minutes beating on one guy wasn't working....

Similarly look at how much damage a tank takes in any 5 man fight in WoW. How realistic is it to take more than 100% damage every 30-60 seconds?

Without tanks and healing there is no burst damage and every fight becomes a DPS race. Or CC abilities have to be used constantly.

Zone of control style mechanics are intersting, but hard to implement. They probably require shifting party composition to be heavy on defensive melee. e.g. deploy a semi-circle of sword and board to create a pocket of safety for caster/archers (also requires collision detection). I can see how this could work for PvP and some PvE, however the 25 man raid against a single large target doesn't translate so well. I can't imagine getting 50% of players to play melee/tanks, but I could be wrong. I also have concerns about balancing group and solo play.

Originally AoC was supposed to have friendly fire (note I haven't played it yet). Guess that got removed to make it a more casual friendly experience.

I agree that the tank, heal, dps trio is an increasingly boring game mechanic for those who've played much.
One issue with positioning in MMOs is the "you can't get there from here" issue. A big reason that casters can safely cast behind the warriors is that the foes simply can't get around the warriors. First you risk major damage; turning your back on someone swinging a yard of steel at you is a Bad Idea. More importantly, there's the physics problem of two bodies existing in the same space... a problem most MMOs don't have because of griefing issues. Developers don't want players able to block other players from reaching a position.

If any foe can get to any other foe at any time -- I can't think of a single MMO where a shield wall is a valid tactic -- then you're stuck with taunting as a way of making the heavy armor guys taking the brunt of the damage.

(As an aside, I'm pretty sure Champions, aka the HERO System, has the ability to "taunt" as part of the Presence Attack ability. I haven't played it since 1995, though, so I can't say for certain.)
EvE, as usual, is an oddball game here. While it does have logistics (healing + buffing) and damagedealers, there's no dedicated tanks. Everyone is expected to either avoid, mitigate and/or repair damage. Or fly a cheap ship.
See also: City of Villains.

Nominally, corruptors are healers and brutes are tanks, but everyone can take a hit (except maybe dominators, who just CC them instead), and most classes have some way of healing. But, most classes have healing, or CC, or just more damage to mitigate damage, rather than having the one guy get all the threat all the time. Sure you can use the trinity, with a brute tanking and a kinetics corruptor sitting there healing, but then you aren't using everyone to their full potential, and you don't need to like in other games.
I seem to recall from a WAR Online video last year that they had a couple of ways of getting around this, even though they still have tank, healing and dps classes.

Essentially the tanks use collision detection to stop the enemy getting through to everyone else, therefore they need to kill the tank first.

The healers could only heal by generating something similar to mana through combat. Each hit they did on the enemy would contribute to their healing spells.

DPS classes still do DPS. Not sure how collision detection affects their ability to do damage from a safe range.

Will just have to wait and see I guess.
Just wanted to throw out Diablo 2 as an example of a game that worked relatively well and had no form of threat list or taunting.

Of course it only really worked because the AI was non-existent but it's a good example of how class balance can work without taunt mechanics.
What if every class had two types of spells and talent trees; one for damage or solo play and one for support or group play? Players would get seperate points for both trees. Everything in the support tree would exclusively work on other players or only be active when grouped.
That way, everyone would be able to take on a support role.
Would that work?

Hm, that gives me another idea; what about spell combo's that require multiple players to cast a spell simultaneously or shortly after eachother? It would make grouping a lot more fun! But that's a whole different subject.
You've brought up something that I always wondered about. I am an MMO player with a pen and paper background and this never existed in AD&D.

A lot of MMO boss fights are just endurance events. I would rather have no/limited combat healing, quicker fight and rely on strategy to win. The mob hitting whichever player is pissing it off the most, realistically.

It's a sad state of affairs, someone really needs to innovate in this area. I'm looking forward to WAR but it's appearing very much like WOW with knobs on.

Come on MMO makers, INNOVATE!
4E is a bit different than past editions of D&D. There's not a Taunt ability, but the "tank" can mark a creature to reduce the damage it deals to non-tank PCs. (Kind of what they're planning for WAR?) Each PC has inherent healing abilities, although it takes a Cleric-type to allow a PC to heal more than once a battle... and there's even some ranged healing.

And yet, the rules don't seem to lend themselves to "gang up on one then switch" battles. I really need to play some 4E to learn more.
just wanted to say that there is a feat called GOAD in the complete adventurer expansion v3.5 that works just like taunt.
Anonymous said:
"Hm, that gives me another idea; what about spell combo's that require multiple players to cast a spell simultaneously or shortly after eachother? It would make grouping a lot more fun! But that's a whole different subject."

The LOTRO Fellowship manouver system works a bit like this. Situations in combat trigger an option for a fellowship manouver. Every group member then gets the option of choosing blue, red, green or yellow, and if it's done in one of the right sequences you get a powerful combo move as a result. Not only offensive moves but also healing can be accomplished in this way.
"Because just like in WoW they are needed for groups, but not quite as good as damage dealers in soloing"

...stop. That's the problem right there. In D&D a complete group could very well play a priest and be happy with healing as the game master would make sure of it. Could it just be that the mechanic is ok for groups but lacks a single player role?

As long as all single player actions revolve around "Kill X by doing Dmg Z" it gets boring not to be a DD. But if there were equal quests like "Rescue X by healing Z" (much like the priest epic weapon quest), it would be fun to play a healer in single play. Same goes for tanks.
I agree that position-based combat would be excellent. There are two barriers to this:
- Requires collision detection between players and mobs, which (as Felucca demonstrated) is a big opening for griefing
- Requires clients to have a very accurate representation of where the server believes everyone is located and oriented. MMOs currently don't have this property due to latency and bandwidth limitations.
Room for interesting innovation, for sure.
As others have said. I have a tendency to roll classes which i think will be rare (and thus in demand), due to apparent or perceived weaknesses, difficulty leveling or other factors. I went for the healer amongst healers, Priest of Mitra. Well, that decision was based on the documentation.

In game it seems this is actually a FotM class (popping up Everywhere), which must be nerfed according to many.

In PVE this class is *extremely* easy to play thanks to an excellent crowd control spell (contrary to belief not that hot in pvp), a good -but only effecting the player- panic heal, plus a relatively good immunity button (only 4 secs though). And all that combined with decent damage output.
I'll second Diablo 2 as an example of what you are describing. Every class did damage, every class kept himself alive (often through life stealing items that give you a percentage of the damage you do back as health/mana). I do think there was less strategy involved in that game though, although you could form some fairly synergistic groups in multiplayer.

Just to be contrary, I kinda think the tank/healer/dps setup isn't as unrealistic as you think. If I was leading a group of friends like the one you describe, I would put the strongest/best protected guy out front. I bet he COULD "taunt" a bear into focusing on him by yelling a lot and making aggressive gestures. And I'd want to keep any guys who know first aid back, not fighting the bear, because we're going to need him afterwards and can't afford for him to get hurt. But that's a bear...I've certainly always found the threat mechanic dumb in the case of intelligent enemies. Because they ought to be able to figure out that it's the healers and damage dealers who need to be bashed.
It's funny that you mention D&D now, since 4th Ed has borrowed a LOT of conventions from EQ-style MMOs. Each PC class fits into a "role" of Defender (tank), Leader (healing/buffing), Striker (DPS), or Controller (CC). There's no threat, but Defenders can "mark" an enemy to make it either take damage or attack penalties when attacking the Defender's allies. Also Defenders have movement control abilities such as forcing an enemy backwards and immobilizing enemies that try to pass.

There's some other odd MMO conventions, such as encouraging the DM to give discrete quests with associated quest rewards. Your class is permanent upon creation but you can retrain your abilities each level (like a talent re-spec in WoW). There's more, but they've slipped my mind at the moment.
If you've ever been in a fight, it's very difficult to disengage yourself from your opponent to run across the room and engage someone else. (Oh sure, in movies they make it seem simple, one solid haymaker by the hero and the glass-jaw baddie drops unconscious like a sack of potatoes.) In PVE I suspend my disbelief and see "taunt" like this, taunt is the fake collision detector in pve. It engages my opponent and ties him up.

However in pvp taunt is meaningless since it does nothing and because there is no collision detector everyone goes for the healers and ranged dpser's first. I don't know how they could do it, but I think the game would be improved if they could add a collision detector for the BG's and Arena. If you can't "taunt" a player then, he shouldn't be able to run through your body and vice versa.
If you think back to a medievel-era combat system, you could potentially construct a model whereby damage dealing was dependent on your range from the target and balance accordingly.

1) "Knights" would be heavily-armoured, and deal massive damage from close range
2) "Mages" would deal damage from a long range, however by lightly armoured and poor toe-to-toe
3) "Archers" would be good at a medium range, but also able to deal some damage up close (think switching from bow to short sword)

If you grant each class the ability to heal itself you could remove the healer role. Perhaps vary the healing rate by class (e.g. Knights, being strong, sturdy individuals, would heal faster than the wimpy wizards)
:-) I mentioned this topic in one of the previous Sunday open discussions. Am enjoying the discussion.

Personally, I'm not so concerned about whether a system is realistic or not. Mostly just whether 1) Is it fun? and 2) Does it remove the 'need' to have a tank and/or healers in every group? (Since this tends to be the ones that you're always searching for, when you want to form a group.)

I'll try to think of some alternatives, too, and if I come up with anything, I'll comment later about it.
Part of the problem in WoW, and it sounds like everquest as well, seems to be how the games are designed with "the big challenge" being a single boss at the end. Because the end fight has to be challenging, and out of convention, the boss has to have lots of hit points (which makes "kill it before it kills us" strategies less usable, and also makes kiting harder due to classes running out of mana, more chances to goof up movement, etc., resistances or immunities to shutdown skills (to prevent just 1-2 characters from being enough to kill the boss), and damage so high that only certain, specialized characters can handle it.

I don't mind tank/nuke/heal in general, but WoW was designed too limiting in the amount of ways to construct a group (Due to how the skills worked and how the instances were designed), and the individual roles were often kind of limited (the "skill rotations", healing becoming whack-a-mole reactive, or proactive "start to whack the mole before it pops up", etc.) the guild wars system is something i think a lot of these games could learn from, since although damage reduction and healing exists, the hexes, conditions, protective spirits and enchantments, etc. provide more ways to make parties, more roles, and more things for a character in a particular role to do.

As long as all single player actions revolve around "Kill X by doing Dmg Z" it gets boring not to be a DD. But if there were equal quests like "Rescue X by healing Z" (much like the priest epic weapon quest), it would be fun to play a healer in single play. Same goes for tanks.

Heavily agree with this, not only to remove some of the "Everyone must do damage", or "damge dealers more popular", but add more diversity to the "kill 10 assorted enemies." quests.

(I still would expect damage dealing to tend to be more popular, just because that is usually a flashier role, but it would hopefully reduce somewhat the player desire to play damage dealer over other stuff.)
An excerpt from a blog entry I had on the subject in April:

Why change it? Because it’s flawed. And it’s boringly predictable. Remember that this design philosophy was the result of limitations in being able to script good AI. In recent years, the ability to program AI has come a long way and that is a problem that no longer exists. The reason for having such a system is antiquated and the only reason the system exists is because we haven’t evolved past it. In part, we haven’t evolved past it because we (as the gaming community) haven’t demanded that developers give us a better game.

I think part of the reason I have some hope for Warhammer Online is that it is based on a pen & paper / miniature game that has it’s roots in these old games. A concept like “flanking” is irrelevant in WoW because the game lacks collision detection. I am by no means sold that WAR will be anything more than WoW, but I will say that the idea of collision detection brings a bit more realism to the game and I have to believe that a smart developer would build a smarter AI to take advantage of the nuances such a system could provide.

The most common complaint that I hear from people is boredom. Bored with the grind. Bored with the lack of new content. Hmm. Well, if the content was a little more dynamic, then it wouldn’t get old nearly as quickly. WoW players don’t do things because they are fun or challenging, they do them because they have been taught that meaningless grinds provide them with items and gold. I say give them fun and challenge along with the reward and they would gladly embrace the change.
i hear theres that sort of system being implemented in the chronicles of also has collision detection and every class has a healing ability... not sure if theres a taunt, but from what i read (and this was a while ago), im not sure there is aggro meter in the same sense as these past mmos.
If everyone could heal and everyone damage, it would become very boring though. I'll draw a comparison with Tabula rasa in which everyone can heal but the majority just do different dps ... boring as hell.

Distinct roles in games such as this fulfill a role in human nature, some people are more suited to being healers or dps or tanks and the game just caters to that.

WAR has a good fix to this but obviously I can't say much as it's still under NDA, but suffice to say it's shaping up to be really exciting now.
I remember in DIKU MUD where you would use a taunt ability to get mob(iles) off your casters.
The real issue is that taunt doesn't make sense, and that most games force players to trade survivability for damage.

Dungeons and Dragons has a good methodology for handling this - ignoring the fighter in the front will often end up with a lot of pain. In 3rd edition, fighters didn't "tank" so much as control space. Anyone trying to pass a fighter by would provoke opportunity attacks (he gets a combat advantage because you didn't properly guard against him), and do things like trip you (stop movement), stun you, knock you back, etc. This persists to the new 4th edition, where Fighters can "mark" enemies that they attack. The mark reduces the enemy's chance to hit anyone but the fighter, and the fighter is also allowed to make free attacks if the enemy is adjacent to him and attempts to move away, and powers to move around on the battlefield unhindered, and to move unwilling subjects closer to him. Plus area attacks, with which to mark groups of enemies.

The purpose of being a "tank" in those games was to control the space on the battlefield, creating a zone in which one's teammates could act unhindered. Which was important, since casting a spell while people are swinging swords at you is pretty difficult. That's why the fighters and such get targeted first... if you leave them alone, they are a huge threat. You can't ignore them, because they will make it nearly impossible to take down the rest of the team if you do, or even kill you with a large weapon in the back.

However, in MMORPGs, there is usually no such thing as collision detection. There is no such thing as 'I get a free attack on you from behind for massive damage'. They needed to be able to approximate something like that, and so they created an abstract "threat" system. The concept is that by using "high threat" moves, a tank generates (in the victim's mind) the idea that he is the biggest threat, and therefore the monster keeps attacking him.

At some point, it breaks immersion. We consciously know that the tank does minimal damage. We consciously know the tank is just gaming the system, because he literally *isn't* a threat at all. WAR's taunt concept is pretty good; DnD uses a similar idea. The enemies don't *have* to attack the tank, but they do because it's difficult to do anything else. The tank gets free hits on whoever attempts to get past him. The tank will screw you up if you ignore him. So you attack him instead, because it's just too annoying to do anything else.

*THAT* makes sense. It's a good model. It's something that doesn't break immersion. It's just something that needs to be implemented.

People have pointed an important issue in WoW - lack of collision detection - and an important fact in WoW - ‘taunt’-abilities are implemented as magic-type effects.

First, collision detection could change a game like WoW a lot. And I think that WoW desperately needs smart collision detection (can’t just run through things, and objects like chairs behaving more realistically instead of like concrete fixtures).

As a side-bar to that, if area effects truly affected everything - ‘friendlies’ too - in an area, that would be a potential game-changer as well. But I would add a way for the caster to ‘mark’ or ‘buff’ friendly targets to reduce or exclude them from damage (rather than the behind-the-scenes way it’s done now).

A second sidebar, to me, is that magical effects shouldn’t necessarily conform to physical LOS. Why can’t magic go around, or through, physical objects? I personally find that to be lazy design, lumping a hunter’s standard arrow shot and a magic spell into the same combat engine.

Second, in WoW ‘taunt’ is really implemented as magical. And there are some raid bosses who are immune to taunt (Moroes) or have no aggro table (Shade). Without collision detection, mobs (or other players) can run right through your burly Tauren tank to the squishy. Additionally, there is no real penalty to disengage and run to another player (such as in PvP); there should be a standard ‘daze’ penalty at minimum.

Finally, as I recall (it’s been many years), our D&D was of a hack-and-slash style, so we actually did tend to play in a ‘trinity’ mindset (like a commando team). I think that the ‘realism departure’ is that in WoW the tank deals ‘threat’ instead of damage, which is why it seems weird. A design where the tank deals actual damage - rather than threat - might ‘feel’ more realistic.

And in WoW there already is the capability for a pally or druid tank to heal himself (and other permutations of multi-tasking the ‘trinity’). The ‘problem’ (by design) is that at instance and raid difficulty the incoming damage volume makes single-point mitigation and healing impossible. And also, specialization makes being a ‘true hybrid’ not excel at anything in the current WoW design.
I would love a game that was more like actual medieval combat. When I played D&D back in the ’80s none of my friends had to stand in the back and help the rest of us play. We all took part in the combat.
I could see foot soldiers forming a shield wall or a pike formation. Archers to attack at range and cavalry to close that range as quickly as possible.
When humans hunted mammoths, they didn't have one guy standing out front getting stomped on.
I played Dungeons and Dragons Online for a while and they had collision detection. While it didn't always prevent mobs from getting through due to lag and whatever, the idea was there. A couple of well armoured sword and board types up front stopping the mobs from getting through. Even the healers (clerics) would help with the wall, or create a secondary wall, since they also wore plate and had a shield. The caster, ranger types would be up the back letting fly. Of course it helped that most encounters were indoors where corridors would help limit movement around the "tanks". The few outside instances that they had were utter chaos most of the time.

Imagine a WoW where there was not only collision detection but the tank dealt decent damage and had an in-built movement restriction aura around him. Once you were in his "zone", it would be hard to get out of it. If you didn't face him, you opened yourself up to criticals and extra attacks. And if you faced him but attacked someone else, you got interrupted regularly. That's something that would work for both PvE and PvP.

Combine that with boss encounters where the boss isn't as powerful as they are now, but come with friends. Encounters become more like battles with the tanks and offtanks forming walls, arcs or circles to protect the rest of the party. Healing isn't as important as damage mitigation. Like DDO, it could be something that is done rarely with cleric types being brought mostly for their buffs and offtanking abilities.

If it could be done with the polish of WoW, that would be a game I would love to play.
Some more thoughts on that...

I'm replacing the trinity with a binary. While it's nothing new, it does address some of the boredom issues healing seems to generate. The trinity has two preservation roles and one damage role. The binary gets rid of the healers (mostly anyway, mild healing in between other tasks might be okay) and relies more on the tank to prevent damage being done to the group. I love healing, but if I could preserve my group by preventing damage instead of repairing it, as a big scary armour-plated tank, that would be a lot more fun than HoTs, precasting, and otherwise just standing around waiting to be blamed for a wipe.
Some ideas for a binary boss encounter...

Six tanks form a defensive arc in front of the raid. A wave of 12 mobs assault the wall and the battle ensues. Most damage is completely mitigated by the tanks in a roll against AC type fashion rather than a fixed percentage like WoW. The enemy takes damage, and the tanks eventually start to get worn down. One or two tanks take some critical hits and fall back to be attended to by one of the ranged players, or to administer their own first aid. They may seek cover to do this to prevent from being interrupted (or finished off) by an enemy ranged attack. A druid switches to bear form to fill the gap while this happens, and a cleric unslings a shield and stands alongside him to help. The warriors return to the line and the wave is defeated, or has had enough and retreats, giving the group time to recover before the next phase of the boss encounter.

The movement restriction aura a warrior (or tank) has could be based on his own strength versus the strength of his opponents. He may be able to hold back (or delay) 20 kobolds, but may struggle to hold back a single angry boar. Some boss encounters may force back the wall (like 3 agry ogres), forcing the group to retreat into a more defensible position, such as a room, where the doorway would allow more than one warriors aura to overlap and hold back the enemy. The group may use this time to recover and recharge some abilities. A caster may unleash a spell to blast or otherwise knock back the enemy, or a barbarian may beserk and charge, and the group will sally forth to take advantage of the enemy's disorientation to finish them off and to prepare for the next phase.

A game like this could be more exciting, dynamic, and provide more moments of "remember when?" than the repetitive stuff we have now.
As a quick comment from a longtime D&D player, the "Tank" was also usually among the highest DPS in the group as well. I played D&D since AD&D back in the day (I'll admit I was 11 then but still). Fighters have always been able to wear the heaviest armour and use the heaviest weapons in D&D. A fighter in full plate and wielding a 2 handed sword isn't an uncommon sight, and could do the job of damage sponge and DPS better then anyone else. The difference was that their skills otherwise were lacking. As it moved to 2nd and 3rd (and 3.5) this became even more defined, especially when skills came into the mix. Fighters were your melee specialists. Rogues were the skill monkeys. Mages were offboard artillery, and Clerics were back-up tanks and after-fight recovery. You don't see those combinations in any MMO, do you? Warriors that can DPS and tank at the same time? Healers that can off tank (closest you get to that is a Healadin in WoW, and they generally have to slot for healing OR tanking, not both)?

Now I've read 4e, and fighters still are some of the most powerhouse guys in the mix, but that's been reduced slightly in a way some longtime players are actually calling MMORPG-like. I haven't played it to test this out, but fighters now have to pick and choose if they're going to tank (which nets them a lot of unusual abilities that can literally move their enemies around) or DPS (which nets them some of the highest damage modifiers for their abilities).

In the end, it seems like D&D inspired MMOs... and now MMOs are inspiring D&D. Thankfully 4e lessens the need for a healer thanks to it's new self healing "Second Wind" system. But it should be noted that a majority of encounters in D&D were to fight it out, and heal AFTER the fight was done. Healing during a battle usually was counter-productive.

As an aside, going into an MMO expecting D&D like stylings is a dangerous and frustrating thing, as I did way back when. I didn't play WoW for years because I got so angry with my attempt. I tried again without that pre-conceptiong this time (And hearing about it for years form an addicted roomie) and had far better luck this go around.

- Polecat
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