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Do We Still Hate 60% of our Dungeon Group? June 6, 2013

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, MMO Design, polls, World of Warcraft.
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In writing yesterday’s post about TorilMUD I ended up reading through a bunch of older posts on the subject.  That always happens.  It is, frankly, one of the reasons I have a blog.

One of the posts I ended up re-reading was from February 2011 about what I called the Commoditization of Roles.

In that post I was trying to explore the holy trinity of tank, healer, and damage and how that trio really wasn’t a “thing” until it World of Warcraft went that direction, and that once the Dungeon Finder came in, the whole thing was set in stone.

The Dungeon Finder only works because Blizz has built content that requires three roles in a specific ratio; 1 Tank, 1 healer, and 3 DPS.  So roles become a commodity in a sense, each class has talent trees that reflect specific roles, and if you want to play in such groups you have to adopt one of those roles.

It is practically an analogy for the move from individual craftsmen to the production line.  Dungeon Finder remains a massive success… in terms of how many people use it, if nothing else… because because every player has to be one of the three types of widgets the machine uses.

Old news, I know.  And I am going to assume, not having used it, that the Raid Finder codified the ratio of roles in raid groups as well.

Anyway, part of the background noise that got me to write that post was a considerable amount of hate being directed at players who chose the DPS role.  They were, to quote somebody who commented on that post, “dumb DPS” and/or “lazy lords.”  And that attitude was echoed pretty far and wide.  Tobold, for example, called DPS players selfish simply for choosing that role.

About 18 months have gone by since then and I haven’t heard much on the topic lately, which makes me wonder if people have gotten over that or if we just have bigger fish to fry.

So with an eye to picking at an old scab that might not be healed, I have a poll.

What do you think of 60% of your Dungeon Finder group?

Comments»

1. Wilhelm Arcturus - June 6, 2013

I am going to take a cue form forums, I am going to hijack the first comment to reprint “other” responses, which are listed below, with comments when I feel inclined:

-Waaaah [No idea what that really means]
-See my comment on thread [Oppa Bhagpuss style]

2. bhagpuss - June 6, 2013

I voted “Other”. I said in my comment to the 2011 post “DPS is the least interesting thing you can do in an MMO”, which may be a tad hyperbolic but does largely represent my view. More cogently, DPS is primarily a description of that thing that everyone does when they don’t have a more specific role.

Without re-hashing the old Everquest-did-it-best argument (it did, of course) I believe that in a class-based MMO most classes should have specific responsibilities that their class is the acknowledged expert at, but also should crossover with one or more abilities of other classes. In a dungeon situation, for example, gameplay might require a range of tasks from scouting, trap detection and removal, putting mobs out of action (mezzing/charming/rooting/stunning/morphing, you name it), rendering the group invisible, inaudible, intangible, refreshing mana/energy/endurance, healing, curing, rezzing etc etc etc.

It should be possible to get through that dungeon in an entertaining way with a wide permutation of the classes available in the game. The lack of any one class should never lead a group to decide the attempt is doomed to failure, although it is entirely acceptable for there to be a hierarchy of preference.

DPS should be just one specialization along with all the others. One or two classes might excel in it but they should also be passably good at other things. All classes should be able to do some DPS but preferably while, or inbetween, doing something more specifically associated with that class.

I’m all for trinities but I’d never include “DPS” as a full role in one.

3. rimecat - June 6, 2013

One of the things I liked best about LotRO (before the great F2P sell-out) was the role of the Lore Master and the mutability of class roles. I remember more than one fight tanked by a Min, DPS Champ, or Hunter.

In WoW LFD as a tank, I just hope that I have a group of DPS that doesn’t include a complete fool. It happens much less often than I’d like. Probably why I’ve been slowing down on group content.

4. nunya - June 6, 2013

If DPS is bad, what are those people supposed to be choosing?

Also, the trinity goes back to D&D and was “thing” there long before bits and bytes replaced pen and paper.

5. Wilhelm Arcturus - June 6, 2013

@nunya – Please, find me a reference to tank/healer/DPS as the specific party makeup from the time you indicate. Or go read the post I linked where I lay the groundwork for my assertion. I do more than just was “was too!”

It was much more tank/healer/utility back in the day. WoW killed off the utility role and replaced it with a DPS role.

6. Whorhay - June 7, 2013

I think that DPS is just the optimal Utility role in WoW. In Everquest the Utility role was almost always filled by a class that could reduce the damage output of the enemies by 70 to 75% as well as bringing DPS increasing buffs to the rest of the party members. And initially WoW did have useful utility classes in the Shaman, Paladin and Warlock. I’m not really sure that either game did a better job figuring out that utility role though, because in EQ if you didn’t have a slower you weren’t doing much of anything that wasn’t trivial. In WoW because there aren’t any huge debuffs like slow the extra utility you always need is DPS.

The reason that people see DPS as a problem role is because in WoW everyone can solo their way up to the raiding bits, in EQ you had to group constantly to make any leveling progress unless you played your character in a perfectly optimal way in a situation that played to your characters strengths. So the leveling part of the game worked to balance the classes out long before you ended up in a raid or difficult group situation. Additionally, in EQ, because people nearly from the get go were having to deal with not always having the ideal set of roles, players learned to play with different strategies rather than just give up.

Some of my favorite memories from EQ where times when we didn’t have the holy trinity but found a way to use what we had to great effect. I remember a group of 2 Druids, 2 Necros, a Shaman and a Rogue crushing an exp camp area because we’d snare, dot, and then kite to death everything in sight. Another time I played with some enchanters without any big healers and we charm kited stuff for hours. I remember a group of pure melees DPS’ing the crap out of stuff and after each fight everyone would take off their +hp gear and bandage each other up to 50% before re-equiping and pulling the next mob. I can’t honestly remember any kind of similar experiences from WoW even though I played it for longer and was more involved in it’s endgame.

7. Lumi - June 7, 2013

I feel like a distinction needs to be made between classes that are pure DPS (e.g. hunters, mages) and the hybrid classes that are able to take on tank/healer/both roles in addition to DPSing.

I think its unfair to judge or hate on pure DPS classes for choosing to play a DPS class. For example when I first started playing WoW I chose hunter not because it was easy to play, but because I’m a fan of archery in real life and liked the concept of the class.

It’s true that we tend to assume the worst and make personal attributions of other players, (e.g. “he is lazy”) but there are myriad reasons other than laziness why someone would play DPS.

However, I will admit that when I’m playing a hybrid class (generally healer) and another player of the same class shows up in my party as DPS, I tend to be extra critical of their performance. I watch dps meters extra closely and mentally compare their numbers to my own, deciding whether I would have been a better dps spot than the other guy. If so, it does make me disgruntled that he’s dpsing while I’m healing.

Healing is a binary task: either the tank/party dies, or the tank/party lives. Once you meet that threshold of keeping your party alive, a healer’s skill (e.g. avoiding overheal/being 100% efficient) becomes less important to how fast your group is able to complete the instance.

DPS on the other hand, is more = faster. If there are two people capable of healing, I would always want the person who does higher dps to be the one who dpses and the other person to do the healing, and I become annoyed when this is not the case. As a healer I do not like carrying low dps.

8. Jenks - June 7, 2013

I don’t really like the current use of holy trinity, I much preferred its use in Everquest. Today in WoW, it just means “all the roles” – why is there even a term for that?

In Everquest, holy trinity was used disparagingly/jealously by DPS to refer to the three favorite sons, who were featured in nearly every group – warrior, cleric, and enchanter. Your group started with the holy trinity, and then the forever replaceable DPS got to fight for the last 3 spots in the group. The phrase has so much less meaning now. There is so much less drama attached to it.

9. Prinnie Powah - June 7, 2013

“The Dungeon Finder only works because Blizz has built content that requires three roles in a specific ratio; 1 Tank, 1 healer, and 3 DPS. So roles become a commodity in a sense, each class has talent trees that reflect specific roles, and if you want to play in such groups you have to adopt one of those roles.”

Interestingly, at lower levels with heirlooms at least, that’s not necessarily the case. I’ve been in a number of parties where the official tank has dropped and a DPS (usually in plate, but sometimes a risk taking hunter or somebody) picked up that “role” for better or worse.

Or sometimes all the DPS just ran at all the things while I screamed and healed all the DPS.


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