Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Imagine DPS classes had responsibility

It has been discussed a hundred times on this blog and at many other places that the raid design of World of Warcraft puts a lot of responsibility on the tanks and healers, and much less of it on the damage dealing classes. With the predictable result that people tend to shout at the tanks and healers after a wipe, and then tanks and healers are increasingly hard to find. So what if a game came and reversed that? What if tanking and healing was relatively easy, and fails were predominantly caused by the damage dealers not dealing enough damage per second? Well, what would happen would be that damage dealers would be extremely unhappy, and even the monkeys would be screaming how bad a game design that was.

I must say that even as a healer I didn't enjoy WoW raids like Malygos where an enrage timer meant that we wiped when the damage dealers collectively failed to deal enough damage. There is something inherently frustrating about going from being proud to have kept the whole raid alive, to the raid wiping 2 seconds later due to the enrage timer. But then this was WoW, and damage dealers weren't supposed to have any responsibility. People who didn't want to take responsibility chose to play damage dealers in World of Warcraft.

If Star Wars: The Old Republic has enrage timers on all hardmode flashpoints, maybe that attitude will change. It might take some time for the people who were looking for the easy job in the raid to realize that they should have taken a tank or healer instead of a damage dealer, and vice versa. And there will be a lot of hand-wringing about the fact that SWTOR doesn't have damage meters, so you can only say with certitude that your damage dealers collectively failed, without being able to point the finger at an individual. But for the long-term social health of the game, I think this is just the ticket. The very fact that you can't blame a single guy could should make raiding a better experience for everybody. And by the responsibility being distributed among all the damage dealers, there is more room for variations in performance, without one player having a bad day causing a major guild drama.

So while I do agree that enrage timers are a somewhat lazy design tool, I do very much like the consequences of this shift in responsibility. It should allow some players to rethink why exactly they chose a specific role in the holy trinity. And in the long term it should solve the eternal tank and healer shortage most other MMORPGs have.

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