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  1. #1
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    Where did the tank-healer-DPS combo come from?

    ...and why is it so popular? (Substitute DPS with DPS Rogue or DPS Mage as necessary.)

    I've never played an MMO, my first encounter with this system was in Dragon Age. I don't remember old party based games (Icewind Dale) having such explicitly fleshed out roles, although it was of course a good idea to have a mix of fighters/mages/clerics/thieves. In recent role-playing games, even class skill sets and talents seems geared towards slotting characters into one of the above roles; it's like the devs are insisting we form parties this way.

    One of the reasons I didn't jump into The Old Republic was this. I was hoping for something unique, given how different our conception of Jedi/smugglers from the Star Wars universe is from the above combat roles. (Something like KOTOR would be fine. Not great, but fine.) I don't think there are any tanking types in Star Wars to begin with, except certain kinds of droids. It was disappointing to see the same cooldown based stand-and-cast, swing-and-count mechanics coupled with the tank/DPS/healer system.

  2. #2
    Lesser Hivemind Node Harlander's Avatar
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    Pretty sure it goes all the way back to the early MUDs, and beyond, to D&D...

  3. #3
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus duff's Avatar
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    I'm not sure. But if your looking for an MMO without the 'trinity' you may want to take a look at GW2. I'm not sure how their system will translate into a gameplay experience, but it certainly looks more interesting and involving.

  4. #4
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    The desire to optimise, which is even stronger in video games than PnP, leads inevitably to this structure. You can have all sorts of types of characters with different abilities, but if one is more durable than the others, it'll always be better to have him soak up as much damage as possible. If someone can heal, it's best for them to focus on healing that character as it's more 'bang for buck'.
    Unless you make classes that are all equally durable and can all heal, it ends up going in this direction...

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    I don't think this is anything new or recent, it's been present in a majority of cRPGs since forever. The recent trend is more along the line of reducing and/or streamlining the number of classes available for character creation.
    Dragon Age is a good example, because it doesn't include one of the archetypes (the cleric/healer), instead combining that role with the mage, removing the need for a dedicated healer (though you can still heavily specialize in healing if you want to). If DA:O was a D&D game, a lot of the specializations would be distinct classes instead (like the Bard & Ranger specializations for the rogue or Arcane Warrior & Spirit Healer for the mage).

  6. #6
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    D&D.10char

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wizardry View Post
    D&D.10char
    Yeah, you could almost call Dragon Age retro, as it reduces the number of classes back to those of 1st edition D&D (which only had Fighter, Mage and Thief). *runs for cover*

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Subatomic View Post
    Yeah, you could almost call Dragon Age retro, as it reduces the number of classes back to those of 1st edition D&D (which only had Fighter, Mage and Thief). *runs for cover*
    No. Fighter, cleric and magic-user. I don't think there was a thief in the original 1974 D&D.

  9. #9
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Screwie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wizardry View Post
    No. Fighter, cleric and magic-user. I don't think there was a thief in the original 1974 D&D.
    Also, fighting-man instead of fighter.

  10. #10
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Heliocentric's Avatar
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    Still, if you want to wind it right back its simply mathematics. It's why RPG's are mostly just boring strategy games aside from the story.
    You can't break even the more primitive RTS' down to a simple trinity of win.
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wizardry View Post
    No. Fighter, cleric and magic-user. I don't think there was a thief in the original 1974 D&D.
    You are right, that's what I get for not doing my research. According to wikipedia, the early editions of D&D (before 1st Ed.) had the Cleric, the Fighting man (yes, really) and the Magic-User. 1st Edition already had six classes (Fighter, Cleric, Magic-User, Thief, Bard and Monk).
    Last edited by Subatomic; 02-03-2012 at 04:59 PM.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Screwie View Post
    Also, fighting-man instead of fighter.
    Yeah, fighting-man. That name didn't last long though. Magic-user lasted all the way up to 1989 when 2nd edition AD&D was released.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Heliocentric View Post
    Still, if you want to wind it right back its simply mathematics. It's why RPG's are mostly just boring strategy games aside from the story.
    You can't break even the more primitive RTS' down to a simple trinity of win.
    I think that's a bit unfair, as you can (or at least should be able to) customize your characters to a far greater degree in RPGs so they fullfil more diverse roles than just damage, tank or healer, and most group based RPGs allow for more than three characters so there's already overlap that allows for strategic decisions (Do I need two healers to survive this fight, or do I get by with one? Do I want to emphasize ranged or melee combat? and similar decisions).
    Also, if you really wanted you could shoehorn most RTS units into the same trinity (SC2 example: Archon = Tank, Dark Templar, Stalker = Thief, High Templar = Magic-User etc.).
    Last edited by Subatomic; 02-03-2012 at 05:00 PM.

  14. #14
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    While most mmos and crpgs use the tank/dps/healer setup pre 4th edition d&d there are no formal roles for classes. You do have healers, mages and heavy armour wearing characters but what you do with them is up to you and how the DM runs the game. For example it is perfectly possible for a party to have no healer and just use potions and wands or for a cleric to stand at the front of encounters and fight monsters up close or the fighter to wear light armour and be almost impossible to hit.

    I would guess the setup originated from adapting paper and pen rules and encounters to a system where you have to hard code everything, from the AI to the scripting. A DM in a game of D&D or Vampire or whatever makes the game work by adapting the rules and encounters to the players they have. Its not so much of a competition between DM and players rather a shared story telling experience.

    From what Ive seen game AI is a long way off of being able to approximate a DM though the closest would probably be the director from the Left 4 Dead games.

  15. #15
    Network Hub Hensler's Avatar
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    I think a case could be made for it going back to historical military concepts, and just overall efficiency of the system.

  16. #16
    Activated Node Ansob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Subatomic View Post
    According to wikipedia, the early editions of D&D (before 1st Ed.)
    You mean "before the first edition of AD&D," which is not "before the first edition of D&D."

    But yeah, this actually goes back to Chainmail, pretty much. Older than a lot of things.
    Multinational man of misery.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by SamuelH View Post
    While most mmos and crpgs use the tank/dps/healer setup pre 4th edition d&d there are no formal roles for classes. You do have healers, mages and heavy armour wearing characters but what you do with them is up to you and how the DM runs the game. For example it is perfectly possible for a party to have no healer and just use potions and wands or for a cleric to stand at the front of encounters and fight monsters up close or the fighter to wear light armour and be almost impossible to hit.
    An interesting point to make is that clerics are often the best tanks in D&D.

  18. #18
    Lesser Hivemind Node Keep's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Screwie View Post
    fighting-man




    Time to hit the streets!

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wizardry View Post
    An interesting point to make is that clerics are often the best tanks in D&D.
    Indeed, their spell casting is almost as good as a mage in terms of pure damage, Implosion is very strong, combine that with domain spells in 3rd edition, the ability to wear full plate, etc etc and you have the arguably the strongest class in the game.

    Even so I've always liked mages myself.

  20. #20
    Lesser Hivemind Node Winged Nazgul's Avatar
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    D&D munchkins.

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