Rants tag

Rants, ruminations, and rambling remarks from my mad, muddled, meandering mind.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Roles, Rules, and Relationships

Last week, the main speaker at Scooterz' graduation ceremony spoke about the three Rs. Not the ones you may be familiar with, but the ones in the post title. She spoke of their importance in what we sometimes call meatspace, or "real life." But the three Rs are are equally important in cyberspace, especially in online gaming.

Over the past couple weeks, the value of the Unholy Trinity has been hashed and rehashed, perhaps ad nauseum. Some think that it has ossified group play, requiring a set number of this or that role. As a result, people are either forced into roles they did not choose or left on the sidelines because they play a disproportionately common role. Others, those who like serving in the less popular roles, would like to be able to continue in those roles.
But time marches on, as does technology. Artificial Intelligence is becoming more intelligent, and old ways of setting up combat are changing. Much like armies and navies of the world have had to adapt to changing technology in war, gamers will have to adapt to changing technology in MMOs.

Tanks may become defenders, working to control the battle through "physical" means rather that threat manipulation. Healers will still need to heal, but will likely add or re-emphasize shielding and mitigation in their arsenals. (I personally loved being a DiscoPriest; no need to heal damage that doesn't reach the target.)  DPS will likely become the new threat, as is fitting. They'll have to adapt, as well.

The rules are changing. Perhaps rather than mathematical charts that control the flow of combat, more complex algorithms that mimic intelligent decision making will come to the fore. The min-maxing munchkins, the "elitist jerks" who thrived on play-to-win ROLLplaying will no longer hold sway over "the right way to play."
There are towns all over Europe that have gotten rid of all roadway traffic controls (e.g., signs, signals, painted lines, etc.) throughout their jurisdictions. Doomsayers predicted disaster as drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians would not know the rules or their roles. Instead, what occurred was increased safety, traffic flow, and economic activity as users of the road learned to communicate and pay attention to those around them, rather than depend on the traffic signs and lines to keep them "safe."

In much the same way, players of upcoming MMOs will be forced to communicate and coordinate better, to form relationships, even if only briefly. Gaming on social media is not necessarily social gaming. Then again, neither is queueing for a random dungeon with a group of strangers and succeeding only because you know the fight and your own role so well the you have no need to actually communicate with or relate to the other players. In games that many players swear have little to no opportunity for social experiences, I have had plenty. Maybe it's not the game that has the problem with sociability.
I stopped "pugging" some time ago. If I see someone "in the wild" who needs help, I help. If I need to do group content, I take friends along. I know my roles, but I am willing and able to adapt to the changing rules of new MMO innovations. The important thing to me is forming and strengthening relationships with other players.


  1. One of my favorite inventions of this last generation of MMOs is "passive encounter tagging". I love not having to worry about whether or not a player is going to get credit for something if I jump in and help them. The only negative is... when I go back to an old school game, I tend to be a horrific kill stealer for the first little bit as I get re-acclimatized.

    I hope that the new games can strike a balance. Passive grouping, but still give players tangible reasons to band together into large groups and form guilds. It would be sad to think of a generation that phases out the potential for places like House Stalwart, by implementing so much passive grouping guilds become obsolete.

    1. I doubt a game will come out that doesn't include guilds (or corps or cabals). Those that don't, or have only have limited guild functionality, often find themselves with a raft of critics over such faults.