As I am working away tonight at MMORPG.com, I started to think about class design in games and how we have stuck with the same format since pretty much First Edition D&D. Tank, Healer, DPS, Caster, Ranged, and maybe Hybrid can now directly describe almost every class in class based MMOs. I wanted to ask why this format has not changed in almost 30 years?
We have seen the basic class format remain in fantasy gaming for almost two generations now, with no real changes on the horizon. Will we be forced into this format for an eternity?
I am not talking about games like Ultima, Fallen Earth, or Earthrise here. I am specifically talking about games that work on a class system. My question is, does a party have any other needs besides aggro management, damage, healing, or buffs?
I am not sure what the answer is here. I look back on Dark Age of Camelot and think about all the classes that game offered. Though each one fell into this archtype it was the way the classes were presented that made them cool. I had a Berserker, he had one major ability, to go Berserk...yet somehow the class was fun and kept me playing for a long time. Perhaps presenting players with a variety outside the box will get them interested in something else.
WoW is centered around the raid mentality which means everyone must fill one of the roles. Other MMOs both before and after have followed suit and now remain in the same format.
I would love to see an MMO adopt a system similar to AD&D 3.5. Where players can both multi-class and have some side classes that can take to make their character into exactly what they want. From what we saw at E3, Trion's Heroes of Tellara looks to follow a model like this one. It will be interesting to see how they can set things up.
AD&D got much more fun when they gave players alternatives to their core classes. Perhaps MMOs can take another note from the old school book and follow suit.