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The staff of gets together to bring you some behind the scenes insights on stories, the industry and the site itself.

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Community Spotlight: Are Healers Boring?

Posted by MikeB Monday September 23 2013 at 3:24AM
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In this week's Community Spotlight we focus on the thread, "The life of the Healer" by Arclan:

A rumor is going around that the Healer class is boring; and that everyone else gets the 'fun.' Well let me disagree. My secondary EQ character was a Cleric, and I spent thousands of hours playing him and loved every minute of it.

1. You get respect from everyone, and appreciation from your group mates

2. You help push the group into more dangerous and lucrative encounters.

3. You employ constant problem solving and decision making; deciding who to heal, when, and for how much. All the while trying to avoid aggro and, if you got it, keeping yourself alive.

4. The consequences of your decisions are high; literally holding the power of life and death.

Although I mention problem solving/decision making third, it is THE reason I loved being a healer.

Read on for some highlights from the thread!

naZchoco finds healing the most fun:

I've been healing since 99' as a Cleric myself. 

I love the respect I get from it. 

I love how attentive we have to be on certain fights. Aggro control, status ailment curing, heals, while all the same doing the usual waltz around red rings and AoEs like everyone else. 

I think it's the hardest of the classes and I think it's the most fun.

The only problem I have with it is we usually get the shaft in terms of looks. Except cleric - at least it was plate wearing :D

Psistorm finds healers to be the hardest to play, but also the least rewarding:

Personally I feel that healers are probably the hardest class to play, and in many ways also the least rewarding. You get to keep everyone alive, watching 5 targets on top of needing to know when the fight needs special attention on top of doing the mechanics, and if you slip up you generally get shouted at. You pretty much have to have healed a dungeon in order to be allowed to heal a dungeon, so to say. Or at least have read up on every encounter.

Meanwhile tanks need the same kind of pre-knowledge, it almost feels as if healers/tanks aren't allowed to learn anymore in todays MMO society, people expect them to know everything up front already. They need to be more geared usually, though they don't have to do a ton of work over dps. They often are subject to different mechanics, but most games seem to give them gratuitous threat building abilities so that threat isn't really an issue.

Meanwhile DPS can die all they like and blame others in some games, only need to do the waltz whilst spamming their rotation as fast as they can, because the tank is expected to keep aggro and stay up, and the healer is expected to smooth over any screwups the group does.

Granted this is my personal, perhaps slightly jaded opinion, but in todays "don't talk, just kill stuff already" LFG experience, this seems to be what it boils down to. Which is probably why I a) really should find me a nice guild on any upcoming MMOs I play and b) will probably pick up tanking. I tried healing once and it really is a bit too much for my taste, but tanking I tried out and I like the taste of it.

So what can games do to make it more fun? Imho break up the trinity, and try to make every role responsible again. And re-introduce CC and support as a major player. Make it so that DPS classes aren't pure DPS, but instead have a good helping of temporary buffs, small heals and such at their disposal, as well as some CC. Make fights revolve around those concepts, make the party turn into a scenario where people help each other, rather two people carrying three others to an extent.

Ridelynn has mixed feelings about healing:

I usually like playing as a tank, because you tend to control the direction and tempo of a group.

I've dabbled with healing a bit here and there - it's not bad. You certainly get some amount of respect, and the healer and tank are more or less in sync - they both have to be on the same page, or the entire group just falls apart. In some games (and particularly in large raids) it seems like you just stare at health bars, and it's an entirely different meta game. I got bored with it fast in EQ and WoW, but in FFXIV I'm liking it a lot better.

DPS is just kinda along for the ride... You follow the script of the event, and you follow the pace of the tank, and you try not to get the (negative) attention of the healer.

I was always the DPS type guy. I used to love playing rogues and I still love playing archers. Today, I can have fun doing anything. It was actually Warhammer Online that changed my perception on support roles. Tanks actually had an important role in WAR's PvP and I learned to appreciate healers a bit more when I played the reworked Archmage. The Archmage was a lifetap healer who could heal his secondary target while damaging an enemy at the same time. Their healing wasn't as strong as someone dedicated entirely to healing, but it was actually respectable and honestly, quite fun.

I haven't spent a whole lot of time being a healer in a dungeon setting, but I don't think I would find playing whack a mole with health bars all too exciting. That said, healing isn't inherently boring; it's all about how you do it. There are certainly mindless healing classes out there, but there are also exciting variations available and that's ultimately what we should strive to see in our MMOs.

What's your take on healers? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Community Spotlight: Underappreciated Fiction MMO

Posted by MikeB Monday September 16 2013 at 6:42AM
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In this week's Community Spotlight, we focus on the thread, "Underappreciated potential..." by Helleri:

So, I would like to know; If you could pick one work of fiction you felt is or was undervalued and have it turned into an MMORPG what fiction would it be and why? Could be an Ancient Epic, Classic Novel, Graphic Novel/Comic book series, Show or Movie etc.

For me it would be "The Pirates of Dark Water" (brief intro at top):


1) The world of Myr is deeply detailed and laid out. The main characters journey to it's most interesting and amazing places. And, through this the world it's creators envisioned was really shown off well (much better then the highly generic back stories and motivations of the main characters them selves).

2) It wasn't finished. This was originally meant to be 5 episode miniseries. Then it was redone, and expanded to become a full series. But, 21 episodes in, it got yanked. With main characters only having found 8 of the 13 treasures. This was much to the disappointment of some. And, the series (along with many tanked to almost forgotten series of the 90's like "Dinosaurs") has developed a cult fandom. So, on top of it being a great setting it has unfinished lore and still a bit of pull out there, that could easily be tapped by the right creative minds.

3) The blend of concepts I find to be fairly unique. It's part high fantasy and part piracy. It has interesting aspects like gun powder being hardly known of or used. There is a lot of small scale biological warfare blended with magic and melee. Briny bone swords with poison, miasma pistols, Jarred dragon flame throwers, acidic cephalopod launching trebuchet, and dragon riding bolo, bone spear, and net hurling fighters. Some inhabitants posses the power of geomancy. Others are massive physical brutes. Some are techno-wizards of a kind... and none of it seems to ill-conceived or far fetched for the world presented.

4) There is a clear and present world threat. The dark water since it was unsealed threatens to consume all. And this is nasty stuff. In most cases you are pretty much dead if it gets a hold of you, and really bad off if it so much as grazes you. it's like aliens from the movie abyss mixed with BP oil spill and malice on its mind. Beyond that, half the inhabitants of the world are slavers or pirates (or a mix of both). And, ruthlessness rules the see (even the hero of the series is more of an anti-hero...seriously, for being a noble and of supposed good character, he lets a lot of dirty deeds just slide).

5) I have seen a number of fail pirate games, And, I'd like to see something that makes up for that.

Read on for some highlights from the thread!

jesad offers up The Warriors:

The Warriors

Sure, sure, we have APB, which is nice.  But can you imagine?

Let's talk about straight up "show your colors", territorial control, gang wars?  Yeah, yeah, I know I am sounding like part of the problem right now, but I can't help it.  This concept would kick.  Forget about the guns.  Make guns like epic weapons.  Focus on hand to hand and melee weapon based combat.  Have the cops be very difficult to beat NPC's, and have them run you down for breaking enough laws to become infamous.  Heck, even have parts of the game be designed specifically to set you up?  Make it a constant battle between managing and expanding your territory, getting money, staying strong, and not getting busted.

And put that one mechanism that Wushu has in it where all the other gangs get to vote on, and go after whoever they think is the biggest problem this week.

Now you have the Warriors - Armies of the Night Online.


Wizardry picks Jason and the Argonauts:

it took me all of 3 seconds to answer this because i have a lot of passion and love for the Jason and the Argonauts movies.

Somebody actually made a real cheap game off that movie but was no where near good enough.If done professionally it would be an amazing game.You could have ship building needed to travel to distant islands and battle other cultures [please no more FACTION] ,i prefer cultures.Every single game that comes out uses Factions,it is like carbon copy game design,each copying the last.

Just imagine this ONE scenario.Your group goes out and slays a dragon.You burn it and gather the dragon's teeth.You keep those in a bag ,ready to toss them out during a rainstorm.The children of the Hydra ARISE,Skeleton warriors to fight with you or against you.FFXI uses the Charm ability to charm creatures to fight on their behalf,again that is part of the magic in the series.

Giant Roc,Crabs,Cyclops and various other creatures.You have the Giant Tasos immune to weapons and melee damage.

You could even have the island of NI with killer rabbits ....ummm lol j/king.

The game would basically revolve around all the mythical creatures with the main story line based on securing the golden Fleece.The game would have a large land mass with many undiscovered islands with hidden treasures and Pirates.

Swedish_Chef suggests...Cthulhupunk?!:

I agree with Shadowrun, but let's up the ante a bit. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you:


That's right. Take all the high technology & corporate shenanigans of cyberpunk, add in the Lovecraftian nightmare of your choice, and you have one of the most awesome settings created that not many people seem to know about.

Cybernetically enhanced Deep Ones used as corporate shock troops? Check.

Genetic experimentation on shoggoths? Check.

Futuristic weaponry combined with eldritch incantations of power? Check.

Digitized Elder Gods invading cyberspace and causing hackers to go mad on a global scale? Check.

It really blows my mind that to my knowledge, nobody has ever made a video game with this setting, much less an MMO. Much like the lack of a decent game based on Macross (seriously, how the hell do they keep fucking them up?), it's a continuing source of bewilderment for me.

I guess fighting near-immortal creatures with advanced weapons, cybernetics, and ancient, forbidden knowledge while keeping an ever-slipping hold on your sanity doesn't appeal to people these days, more's the pity.

Edit: Thought of another one. Ravenloft. It's a fantastic setting, yet there's only been a grand total of 1 PC game which has used it. Keeping this brief so I won't go into details, but it's a gothic horror type setting within the D&D universe and it's really worth checking out.

I'm going to have to echo some of the comments on Shadowrun. Shadowrun is one of the most well-known and yet underused cyberpunk IPs out there. Of course, cyberpunk is generally underused, but with Shadowrun's IP recognition, it really is a wonder why we don't see more Shadowrun games, and especially weird we haven't seen an MMO thus far. 

I've had a bad track record over recent years with regards to finishing singleplayer games, but when Shadowrun Returns came out this summer, I plowed right through it. My pick definitely goes to Shadowrun!

What underused or undervalued fiction would you like to see become an MMO? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!

Community Spotlight: Useless Loot

Posted by MikeB Monday September 9 2013 at 3:52AM
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In this week's Community Spotlight, we focus on the thread, "Why waste time with useless loot?" by Vermillion_Raventhal:

"Shouldn't by now all loot be useful in someway to use at least for crafting? Why waste resources making loot that we can never use? Or is it just to help sell bag slots?"

Read on for some highlights from the thread!

Aines is fine with the "useless loot":

"I have always considering these items as gold. Basically instead of dropping gold, they drop these items that you can sell later. I would not want to change that. Maybe it is just me, but if everything that any mob dropped would be useful for something...meaning, all items would be useful for something, it would feel wrong. I want this junk in my inventory :P"

Morrok feels its there for immersion:

"As was also said above: immersion.
It doesn't make much sense that a rat carries gold pieces around, but it makes some sense that a NPC would be willing to pay for the rat's whiskers or tails, if only as a proof of extermination.
(Think of the skalping practice in the wild west, or the cutting off ears)

Same for a goblin (or other mobs):
Such a creature might carry some equipment that is crude to you, and perhaps have a different monetary/barter system (think salt or sea shells or stones that were used for currency in some parts of the world, but being totally useless to the conquistadores).
But the goblin's beads might be worth something for someone.

I mean, why did euopeans in the 19th century pay big money for mummies only to unwrap them at a party?
Think that the egyptian grave robber much cared WHY got his money instead that he simply cared THAT he got it?"

MMOman101 likely gets it right:

"Useless loot is the most realistic--not fun--but realistic.

If we assume that many of these bi-pod creatures are less advanced then we should assume that their weapons are less advanced.  A monster that is not very smart may have  a make shift blunt or sharp item that would be useless for many adventures. 

Most of the monsters that are killed in MMOs have very little society or trade.  We should assume that their weapons. armor, and equipment would be of lower quality. 

If we are talking just pure game mechanics, I can still see a reason for "useless" loot. 

1) It makes carrying space have some value.  It furthers the need for larger bags and more of them.  This in turn creates an avenue for one of the few crated items in most MMOs. 

2) It forces people back to hubs at some point.  Without this players would be able to quest for longer and longer without returning.    This creates more natural breaks in game play and can give people a reason to go to the AH or have possibly have contact with another player.

3) It gives people multiple carrots on a stick without giving to much value.  If everything that dropped had value it would make grinding on mobs even more valuable.  If Mobs dropped almost nothing it would not incentivize killing.   There needs to be a balance reward for killing.  If people only got useful items quests may not be valued for the players. If people got nothing players may only want to do quests and focus on quests that had little to no combat. 

I honestly so little reason to drop useless gear in the current MMO structure.  Now if an MMO was heavy in crafting I guess it would make sense to have Mobs drop a lot of items that could be deconstructed or used in some way.  There are not a lot of MMOs that focus on crafting and crafting does not seem to draw enough people in to make a change like that in all MMOs."

MMOman101 pretty much hits the nail on the head. Players like to feel like they're constantly picking things up and forcing players to go back to town and sell helps break up the gaming session so that there are necessary lulls between the action. That said, I really hate junk loot even knowing all of this. It's just annoying and I find it refreshing that I don't have to deal with it as much in Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. Everything you pick up in that game is either an item or some sort of usable material. Is it always useful? Not necessarily, but it's not just straight up junk to sell to vendors, either.

What's your take? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!