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Uplink Analysis: The Holy Trinity

Written by David "Scooter" Bass on June 29, 2012

Hey WildStar Fans!

WildStar Uplink is a weekly conversation we hold with our fans about MMO design, philosophy, and news. The main goal of these conversations is to gauge how important certain issues are to the WildStar community. More than just a simple conversation, we ask questions about topics that are important, and we share your responses with the development team directly. Want to participate? Follow @Team_WildStar on Twitter for the weekly question, participate using #WSuplink, and keep an eye on the community team (@CRB_Atreid, @CRB_Aether, and @CRB_Scooter) to interact with us throughout the discussions.

This week's WildStar Uplink topic focused on the ever-present Holy Trinity debate (Tank, DPS, and Heal). The question we put to our community was:

Is the "Holy Trinity" an outdated combat model, or does it still have a place in modern MMOs?

You guys took the topic and ran with it, discussing everything from combat design to elder-game groups to general gaming philosophies overall:

Lauracwilliams: The holy trinity is still around because it works. Plain and simple.

Terrorvacuo: Its kind of outdated, but the "holy trinity" is what makes us what we are in mmos -just give me a shield already.

Grieger: Freedom is beautiful but harder to balance. From the start. Still, balancing after the dust settles works but is risky.

A number of you stated straight outright that the Trinity was outdated, boring, and lazy. But was this inherently the Trinity's fault, or is it a wider problem with MMO design?

Moomanibe: I'm not a huge fan of the trinity. Healers and Tanks have horrible solo play and DPS in a group is mindless.
CRB_Scooter: Does that mean it can't be done? Or that it just hasn't been done well yet?
Moomanibe: MMOs are expensive, and so it's understandable. But the market has become saturated with overly-similar games. Can it be done? Maybe. But that would require breaking away from the WoW-based me-too-ism that pervades MMOs.

Bkmiller428: My opinion: "Holy Trinity" was outdated the day it went live. Never should have been invented! Lazy programming.
CRB_Scooter: Are you speaking to the core design philosophy, or games that force you to pick specific roles?
Bkmiller428: Both. I like WildStar's use of Bartle's ideas, but it's still a programmer making my choices for me. Why have classes at all? Just have skills. Let players decide what character masters. No archetypes, just skills. Maximum freedom of choice, maximum customization, no presets, just variables.
CRB_ Scooter: Ah, I was hoping someone would bring that up! How do you avoid that leading directly into FotM builds?
Bkmiller428: Nothing wrong with FotM builds. Fashion is as fashion does. People are people, some like trending.

Much of the conversation focused on the standard shortage of Tanks and Healers when searching for groups, and the discussion turned to why that might be. I threw out this question to spark some responses:

CRB_Scooter: Are DPS classes typically easier to play due to less pressure to perform?
Gazimoff: No. A good DPS player that can sustain high damage, avoid taking damage and perform support (root/snare/purge) is rare.
Rpepper: Absolutely. I relax a lot more when I'm DPS than when I'm a healer. Not easier, but I play better without stress.
Twonkhammer: DPS needs to perform just as much as a healer and a tank w/o DPS theres no take down.
CRB_Atreid: Thing is. People dying due to a lack of healing/Mob killing group due to lack of aggro/taunting from Tank = obvious :)

A nice side conversation branched off about an item in the French MMO Dofus which both healed and killed allies:

CRB_Atreid: I know Dofus indeed but I haven't played enough to know about their Holy Trinity or not :)
CosmicDebris1: It was a wand which make dommages and heal (both) in random. It could kill your friend, heal them, well or just a few.
CRB_Atreid: that sounds like fun! :) But wouldn't be too reliable. But would be cool for an ALL or NOTHING purpose.
CRB_Scooter: Hold on, an item that will randomly heal or kill another player? I would use that ALL THE TIME.
CRB_Atreid: Pretty much what i thought. Like the ultimate Electroshock Pad...you get back full life or you get shocked to death.
Bkmiller428: Holy crap what did I miss??? 50/50 heal or kill? Sounds like MtG black deck.

Overall, we had a great discussion about the role of the Trinity in MMOs. It seems like most people aren't ready to completely throw out the standard three roles, but everyone wants to see fresh takes on them, and don't enjoy being forced into a specific choice for the entirety of their gameplay.

Thanks so much to everyone who participated in this week's WildStar Uplink! If you want to join in the conversation, follow @Team_WildStar on Twitter and keep an eye on the #WSuplink hashtag!

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