Those of you familiar with Futurama will probably know where this is from. Anyways, a bit more specific than my usual stuff, but I think I get my point across.
The problem with the modern MMO is that of roles, builds, and expectations of those roles. In the MMORPG world, there is something called the “holy trinity”. This is your basic group build of a tank (absorbs damage and redirects aggro or the attention of monsters), a healer (they heal), and dps (damage dealers). Some games, like the early World of Warcraft, had a fourth category of “cc” or crowd controllers that could stun monsters. Though these were usually damage dealers as well and there were even more roles, such as kiters, buffers, short order cooks (you mages know what I’m talking about), and so on. Having the right makeup to your group was essential to the survival and success of the group.
But you all know this already. The issue is that classes (like warriors, priests, paladins, etc) tend to have multiple roles they can fill. These classes are called “hybrids”. Through either a system of skill trees or changeable paths, these kinds of classes can fill two or more of the extended holy trinity roles. For instance, a Paladin in wowcrafts can be a tank, healer, or dps. But that’s where problems start. Because of their multiple roles, the general consensus is that they should fall into the “jack of all trades and master of none” category. Meaning, a hybrid tax.
This tax is meant to keep hybrid classes below the threshold of possible damage output of a “pure” dps class, like a hunter or mage. I’m using wow terms here, but this echos to almost every MMORPG game. The theory is that if you can have some mitigation or self healing talents, then you should also not be allowed to toss out as much damage as the other classes that can’t. Makes sense, but on the other hand, if you are not currently using the tank or healer skill trees, then there should be no reason why you are not on par with the other damage dealers.
To me, if you spec in a dps tree, then you are dps. Yeah, there may be some cross over with abilities and talents, but in the end you’re still fulfilling a role and there is no reason you shouldn’t be on par. The only difference between the classes are how they serve up the damage and what utility it provides. So a choice in styles and flavors are what I like to see. I mean, they could just boil us all down to mages, but after a while, you’ll be wanting to pick up a few swords to jig things up a bit. The way I see it, for classic skill tree styled games, you have three trees and even though they spill over, they are like three different classes pushed into one. So next time you see a dps warrior or druid or marauder… treat them like dps!
Also… there seems to be some new MMOs coming out that seek to break this, like the impending Elder Scrolls Online, which seems to not have any kind of holy trinity setup. Good times ahead!!!