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Danshir's Blog *Where I rest after I stop my stabbin*

To talk about a large variety of MMORPGs honestly with no prejudice. Also to simply talk about the insane, funny, or just plain outrageous MMO experiences we as players have had.

Author: Danshir

Sony sure knows how to make people mad.

In a typical MMORPG, there are two types of characters that rarely have to LFG for long. The tank and the healer. With most players playing some type of DPS*Damage Per Second* class there is nearly a constant demand of tanks and healers. However in the latest expansion for the age old MMORPG EverQuest, that has changed.

Mercenaries.

To those new to this idea or just new to EverQuest entirely, mercenaries in this context are NPCs*Non-playable characters* you can hire to join your group like a normal PC*Player character*. In need of a healer? Hire one. In need of a tank? Hire one. DPS classes are now always able to hire these npcs in a pinch instead of possibly waiting for hours to find one ran by a human being.

This is a bad thing.

In EverQuest I now see a steady stream of Clerics LFG for hours on end. No one wants them now as they bring nothing to the table. A mercenary is far more reliable than a random person that could go afk without saying anything, be a loot hog, be an idiot, etc. Why take the risk? So we have an expansion that completely shuts down a complete class. But wait...they can just hire a tank mercenary too right?

Yeah, IF they have the latest expansion.

It seems SOE tried to fix its low player population with NPCs that simply encourages people not to group up with real players. I've joined several groups where around half of the group were Npcs. The ol days of a fun filled group chat filled with different personalities is long gone for EverQuest it seems. However this was simply a failed fix to a problem many MMORPGs suffer from. I know in my personal play time I was constantly LFG in World of Warcraft when I wanted to do a heroic instance. That or in a group that was looking for a tank and/or healer.

This could go on for hours.

So what is the solution to this? This isn't fun for the players of the DPS classes to be waiting for hours on end to snatch up the first healer/tank to make a whisper in the LFG channel. I frankly find it's time to abandon the classes that inspired MMORPGs, Dungeons & Dragons. While the archetypes concept worked very well in the table top scenario due to a large number of "friends" being there, it doesn't work online.

So, Hybrids. Classes that can function in several roles at ONCE. I'm not talking about WoW's current Hybrids such as a Priest can switch talent specs to dps or heal, or a Warriors tank or dps. The ability to perform BOTH tasks at once. Warhammer Online has done something akin to this with their classes.

So what do you think? Should MMORPGs stick with the D&D inspired ideas or adopt "classes" that can fulfill multiple roles? Or is there another solution besides a very bad one by SOE by using NPCs to replace PCs?

Leave a comment. Do it.

Show your support, or come flame me at my home base by viewing the original post*or at the very least clicking real quick* here at The MMO Experience *and leave a comment about the new format..I can't decide if I like it..or HATE it*

Quizzical writes:

If a game is built around the assumption that players will use mercenaries a lot, as Guild Wars is, it works fine.  Pasting that into a mature game like EverQuest with a playerbase that doesn't want that sort of games sounds like trouble to me, though.

It's not so much that this or that type of game is better.  It's that you have to pick one and stick with it rather than constantly changing your game to try to appeal to those who didn't like it before and alienate your existing players. 

Sat Dec 20 2008 8:59PM Report
Danshir writes:

Guild wars did it fine, it was made with that as part of the system. However SOE just dumped it in willy nilly. While it is a "Quick" fix the really low player populations so you can still do group content, it really hurts existing clerics who WANT to group.

I thankfully play*when I do play EQ*both a class that can solo without anyone and know enough people that play regularly that I'm fine, but I see a lot of clerics*or any healer for that matter* LFG and only getting pity invites.

 

Sat Dec 20 2008 9:04PM Report
Azmaria writes:

It's funny, D&D has recently changed its system to being all hybridized classes.  "Healers" have become "Leaders" and just allow you to use your "Healing Surges" (self healing powers, limited number per day, heal 1/4 of your HP at base) more often than on your own, as well as having CC, party friendly abilities, and light offensive powers.  Tanks and DPS both have ways to trigger their own healing surges, so no true "healer" class exists anymore.  

That being said, I think hybrid classes or even no classes at all will be the way to go.  Let the "tank" use elemental magic and whatever the hell else they want to, etc.  Players are smart enough now to build their own unique class, and coders are good enough to make that happen. 

Also, mercenaries, henchmen, heroes, etc...they work well if originally planned into the game.  Being slapped on as a hotfix for bad population isn't gonna work so well - at least at first.  If the game developers take the time to make it a really well thought out system before implementation, then it will work its way in to being a decent alternative to full player groups after time. 

Sat Dec 20 2008 10:57PM Report
Nightbringe1 writes:

The mercenaries in EQ are not entirely bad. With the sole exception of the clerics, who have been able to dictate groups for the past ten years, nobody is complaining.

A real human behind the keyboard is always going to be prefered for challeging content. The AI's while good, are not THAT good.

The larger problem in EQ, and a lot of other MMO's, is the general unwillingness of the population to take a chance with pick up groups. The players are all to jaded and to uber to take a chance with someone that might not be quite as uber as they are.

The addition of Mercenaries to EQ is a good thing. No longer do players have to spend the entire evening hoping to get that magical group put together, only to have the cleric leave 15 minutes after they get to their camp because someone else asked for their help. Those dps players can now put together their own arbitrary groups.

Not that any of this affected me.......I've been soloing on my magician for so many years now that I've long since stopped hanging an lfg tag. With the exception of guild groups that ask me to join them it is just not worth the heartache, and my guilds groups ALWAYS take real people over mercenaries when they are available. In this instance, the cleric mercenaries are primarily used during off hours play or as buff / rez bots. (They also finally gave druids and shamans a 90% rez, breaking the clerics near monopoly on this service once and for all)

Sun Dec 21 2008 12:44AM Report
KrystDaymen writes:

I agree with the first two repliers.  Hiring npc's works fine as long as it's implemented in game AT RELEASE but changing the base system of a mature game such as EQ is never a good idea.  That was the major death nail in UO, and yes I know it's still running.

Having a specific class is very limiting.  It works fine in solo console games but as a multiplayer concept it fails because of what the blog author said...you have to wait forever for a healer or tank.  This is is why number leveling systems and systems that box you into a specific class don't work.  Skill based leveling systems are the best yet very few offer it these days.  Example: in UO, original UO before it was totally nerfed, there was a healing SKILL.  If you had bandages, the more you used them on yourself and others the greater the skill increased.  No healer needed.  As for tanking, you could always hire an npc to work for you from the beginning of the game so it was normal.  It made it so that one could solo IF needed.  TBH, waiting for hours for a healer sux...or for anyone for that matter cause games are meant to be fun...not work or a bore.  Any who are interested in reading my blog on cookie cutter mmo's please do so.  I talk a lot about what's wrong with today's mmo's.

Sun Dec 21 2008 1:55AM Report
Antarious writes:

Do away with classes... In UO nobody ever spammed "looking for healer (or tank)".  Skill based games (yes my favorite) are imho the way to go.  Let the players decide what they really want instead of locking them into some role (which may not be wanted end game).

I could say more but nobody would want to read it.

Sun Dec 21 2008 1:17PM Report
Deewe writes:

My main character is always a healer. I can say in most MMO playing a healer is a pain but the most challenging class.

I don't play EQ but I understand your concern. I played DDO as a Cleric. I can say I'm really happy for the players they can now hire healers.

As long as there will be classes and levels building the right group will be an issue. Funny we never had this problem in Pre-CU SWG.

I don't think the real issue lies in henchmen or people not willing to join PUGs. The very issue is the lack of efficient LFG / LFM tools.

There are always fine people willing to do the same quest(s) as yours but they are mostly clueless you are also in the same boat.

Implement decent in game tools and this won't be an issue anymore, trust me.

In the end aren't MMO made so people needs each others to play?

 

Sun Dec 21 2008 1:38PM Report
Danshir writes:

So, we can sum it up that we*as gamers* really don't want a Class system anymore, but something akin to just getting skill points per say and putting them in any ability we want.

What about a system that Blue Dragon *by Mistwalker* or Dream of Mirror Online by Aeria games uses? You "level" in classes, but you are never stuck in said class, you can switch classes by talking to a class trainer. While this doesn't sound that different at first, you can TAKE skills with you. So you could go from healer to warrior and take your healing skills with you.

While I'd prefer a skill point system, its just an idea.

Thank you for such intelligent comments =). You all deserve medals..or cake.

 

Sun Dec 21 2008 2:19PM Report
brostyn writes:

I like the mercs. It gives players who can never find cleric or tank something to do. Let's face it there are hardly any players in EQ anymore, and mercs are a great way to get people back together.

Mercs aren't as powerful as PCs, so going with a PC is always the better option.

Sun Dec 21 2008 4:45PM Report
fugue14 writes:

Clerics were the biggest snobs in the game. They were so desirable that they had an attitude about joining any group that didn't roll out the red carpet for them. "Sure ill join your group, after I finish dying my armor and baking a cake. Your tank better be anguished gear too or I'm not going to waste my time on you peasants." Clerics were generally fat chicks with over the top fantasy names in elitist guilds who overused the term "hun" and couldn't be bothered to move from the portal hub because they are too busy spurting out emoticons in guild chat. The tanks who would leave groups five minutes in because the cleric missed a heal and he dropped below 75% weren't much better either. I'd just have to sit back and laugh if I saw them all get replaced by mercenaries.

Sun Dec 21 2008 6:17PM Report
fansede writes:

Well all you people who want skill based systems should have games coming like Darkfall and Mortal Online. However, won't you have a different problem of players creating hybrids and self healers and little need for more pure healer types?

Anyways mercs may be a clever answer for old games like Everquest. Most new players may be able to overcome the "old content" (which are ghost towns) without the constant LFG calls. Given there are so many new expansions, how else do you keep a game with content 10 years old attractive to new MMO gamers?

Sun Dec 21 2008 7:52PM Report
Ziboo writes:

 I've never played EQ with mercenaries, but think it is a viable idea for those that are LFG and don't want to wait forever.  It would expedite people with limited time schedules and allow them to get on with the game instead of waiting or spamming LFG.

 But I do really like the idea of skill points vs a fixed class, especially as so much game content is catering to the solo player or PUG game play.

 

Sun Dec 21 2008 8:41PM Report

MMORPG.com writes:
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