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MMO mechanics - tanks and the Boss

I want to say first off that I am not comparing any game to any other or saying that one is better than another. I started playing MMO's with my friends because we played D&D and wanted to 'get our rpg hit' when we couldn't get together. MMO's were an easy decision. I know they are games in a fantasy setting and we fighting dragons and orcs and giants etc but the whole mechanic of a tank doesn't make sense. Why would the BBEG focus on the most heavily armoured guy sitting in front of him? For example, if I were a BBEG and the guy with the massive shield and armour was standing in front of me but then all of a sudden a guy stabbed me in the back, I would turn around no matter how much the tank was taunting me. And after seeing the guy in leather armour, I would think easy kill and try to twat him. Or if it is a guy in robes hurling fireballs at me, I would charge past the tank to hit him. That is why we never have an MMO-style tank in our D&D campaigns. What is the point? The BBEG will eat the attack of opportunity and go for the wizard. I get the healer and the other roles but unless the tank can physically prevent the BBEG from getting at the others, then what is the point? Maybe the easy argument is to say that if we can suspend our belief when it comes to dragons and fireballs, then we should be able to extend it to tanks and such but something has always bothered me about this in MMO's. Do you see what I am trying to say? 

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Comments

  • XiaokiXiaoki White Pigeon, MIPosts: 2,601Member Uncommon


    Originally posted by buden-ninja
    the whole mechanic of a tank doesn't make sense. Why would the BBEG focus on the most heavily armoured guy sitting in front of him? 
    Because it makes sense in a video game and MMOs are video games.


    If you didnt have a tanking mechanic then the "BBEG" would just walk around attacking what it felt like and killing the DPS in 1 or 2 hits.

    Like, wow, how much fun would that be?


    But really, trying to make logical sense of a video game thats presenting a fantasy magical world?

    So, in that context: why can a tank hold the attention a dragon? A wizard did it.

  • DragonantisDragonantis DublinPosts: 974Member

    Tank: A player who yells insults of a very graphic nature towards a monster to attract its attention XD

  • ScarlyngScarlyng Pleasant Hill, CAPosts: 159Member
    Originally posted by Xiaoki

    Because it makes sense in a video game and MMOs are video games.


    If you didnt have a tanking mechanic then the "BBEG" would just walk around attacking what it felt like and killing the DPS in 1 or 2 hits.

    Like, wow, how much fun would that be?


    But really, trying to make logical sense of a video game thats presenting a fantasy magical world?

    So, in that context: why can a tank hold the attention a dragon? A wizard did it.


    There might well be other ways to create challenge and provide options for things like dodging, blocking, etc. to allow bosses to be very dangerous but doable without the tank mechanic.  However, this might mean that players need skill for such fights, and it's much easier to make bosses 1-hit everyone but give one guy special stuff that mitigates the damage and a pocket healer to mitigate the rest.

     

    Video games "worK' to some degree because people are able to "suspend their disbelief" and immerse themselves in the game.  Maybe boss fights aren't the place for that -- they certainly don't seem to be based on the current mechanics.

     

    I'd prefer different boss fight mechanics, frankly,  So I guess in that sense I'm with the OP.

    The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man. -- George Bernard Shaw

  • buden-ninjabuden-ninja KobePosts: 53Member

    I like the idea of having people move around dodging attacks or using tactics. You don't necessarily have to have a boss with 1 million hit points to make it challenging; just change around the mechanics somewhat. If the tank body blocks the BBEG, then that is one strategy. Some games have collision detection. Baldur's Gate 2 had it and wasn't that from 1998? 

    Anyway, I just wanted to have some fun with this. 

    image
  • XAPKenXAPKen Northwest, INPosts: 4,906Member Uncommon

    One side to this is the simplification of gameplay.

     

    Like your leather wearer with daggers who stabs the boss for example.  It is normal for a character like that to pull aggro off the tank.  From there it's the job of the tank or off-tanks to regain control, hopefully before the boss spatters the rogue into little pieces.

     

    The simplification took place (gradually) when tanking mechanics started becoming so powerful that a multi-pull was easily handled, adds were no longer a problem, and the risk of pulling aggro off the tank became minimal.  No more need for crowd control.  No more need to handle aggro management such as DPSers backing down on damage.

     

    CC, off-tanking, and aggro management aren't easy, so they were removed... or at very least minimalized.  So now we have super-tanks and an element of the complexity of MMORPGs has been lost.


    Ken Fisher - Semi retired old fart Network Administrator, now turned Amateur Game Developer.  I don't Forum PVP.  If you feel I've attacked you, it was probably by accident.  Realm Lords 2 on MMORPG.com
  • XiaokiXiaoki White Pigeon, MIPosts: 2,601Member Uncommon


    Originally posted by Scarlyng
    Originally posted by Xiaoki Because it makes sense in a video game and MMOs are video games. If you didnt have a tanking mechanic then the "BBEG" would just walk around attacking what it felt like and killing the DPS in 1 or 2 hits. Like, wow, how much fun would that be? But really, trying to make logical sense of a video game thats presenting a fantasy magical world? So, in that context: why can a tank hold the attention a dragon? A wizard did it.
    There might well be other ways to create challenge and provide options for things like dodging, blocking, etc. to allow bosses to be very dangerous but doable without the tank mechanic.  However, this might mean that players need skill for such fights, and it's much easier to make bosses 1-hit everyone but give one guy special stuff that mitigates the damage and a pocket healer to mitigate the rest.

     

    Video games "worK' to some degree because people are able to "suspend their disbelief" and immerse themselves in the game.  Maybe boss fights aren't the place for that -- they certainly don't seem to be based on the current mechanics.

     

    I'd prefer different boss fight mechanics, frankly,  So I guess in that sense I'm with the OP.



    There was nothing in the original post about boss mechanics. It was a single paragraph rant about the logic behind a tank in a fantasy setting.


    Im all for more complex boss mechanics but thats not what the original post was about.

  • Gaia_HunterGaia_Hunter BristolPosts: 2,800Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Xiaoki

     


    Originally posted by buden-ninja
    the whole mechanic of a tank doesn't make sense. Why would the BBEG focus on the most heavily armoured guy sitting in front of him? 

    Because it makes sense in a video game and MMOs are video games.

     


    If you didnt have a tanking mechanic then the "BBEG" would just walk around attacking what it felt like and killing the DPS in 1 or 2 hits.

    Like, wow, how much fun would that be?


    But really, trying to make logical sense of a video game thats presenting a fantasy magical world?

    So, in that context: why can a tank hold the attention a dragon? A wizard did it.

    Why does it need to kill DPS in 1 or 2 hits?

    That is the problem - being hit over and over is a silly mechanic. It is a mechanic that works for Mechs and battleships and space ships, that have redundant sub systems and will fight at different degrees of efficiency until they blow up or get repaired.

     

    Currently playing: GW2
    Going cardboard starter kit: Ticket to ride, Pandemic, Carcassonne, Dominion, 7 Wonders

  • L0C0ManL0C0Man Puerto OrdazPosts: 1,065Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Xiaoki

     


    Originally posted by buden-ninja
    the whole mechanic of a tank doesn't make sense. Why would the BBEG focus on the most heavily armoured guy sitting in front of him? 

    Because it makes sense in a video game and MMOs are video games.

     


    If you didnt have a tanking mechanic then the "BBEG" would just walk around attacking what it felt like and killing the DPS in 1 or 2 hits.

    Like, wow, how much fun would that be?


    But really, trying to make logical sense of a video game thats presenting a fantasy magical world?

    So, in that context: why can a tank hold the attention a dragon? A wizard did it.

    If I ever become an MMO GM, I'd probably get fired for doing that for fun... see a raid boss battle, take control of the boss and make it say "you know what?.. screw this.. I'm gonna kill those healers over there first!!!".. :)

    What can men do against such reckless hate?

  • AlcuinAlcuin Broken State, CAPosts: 310Member Uncommon
    I agree with your thinking.

    Illogical agro mechanics go hand in hand with the trinity.

    Both need to be reworked.

    in clinical terms, I'd go as far as saying that both systems have an unhealthy co-dependent relationship.

    _____________________________
    "Ad eundum quo nemo ante iit"

  • GravargGravarg Harker Heights, TXPosts: 3,332Member Uncommon

    In swtor, you can get a harpoon like move on bounty hunter, so the boss only attacks you because it can't move to get anything else...that makes some sense hehe.

  • ScarlyngScarlyng Pleasant Hill, CAPosts: 159Member
    Originally posted by Xiaoki

     


    Originally posted by Scarlyng

    Originally posted by Xiaoki Because it makes sense in a video game and MMOs are video games. If you didnt have a tanking mechanic then the "BBEG" would just walk around attacking what it felt like and killing the DPS in 1 or 2 hits. Like, wow, how much fun would that be? But really, trying to make logical sense of a video game thats presenting a fantasy magical world? So, in that context: why can a tank hold the attention a dragon? A wizard did it.
    There might well be other ways to create challenge and provide options for things like dodging, blocking, etc. to allow bosses to be very dangerous but doable without the tank mechanic.  However, this might mean that players need skill for such fights, and it's much easier to make bosses 1-hit everyone but give one guy special stuff that mitigates the damage and a pocket healer to mitigate the rest.

     

     

    Video games "worK' to some degree because people are able to "suspend their disbelief" and immerse themselves in the game.  Maybe boss fights aren't the place for that -- they certainly don't seem to be based on the current mechanics.

     

    I'd prefer different boss fight mechanics, frankly,  So I guess in that sense I'm with the OP.


    There was nothing in the original post about boss mechanics. It was a single paragraph rant about the logic behind a tank in a fantasy setting.

     


    Im all for more complex boss mechanics but thats not what the original post was about.


    My point, which was perhaps too obscure, is that taunts exist because of the way boss encounters are designed.  Different boss mechanics might open the way for more intelligent boss AI.  Leave boss mechanics as they have been and you are pretty much stuck with having a tank and taunts.  While the OP did not use the words "boss mechanics," that was indeed what he was talking about.  You cannot separate taunts from boss mechanics because the one begets the other.

    The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man. -- George Bernard Shaw

  • DJJazzyDJJazzy louisville, COPosts: 2,053Member

    It's not really a tank that doesn't make sense persay but it is the taunt abilities.

    Get rid of taunt, put in collision detection, use skills such as snares, knockdowns, and other cc abilities. That makes a lot more sense.

  • Gaia_HunterGaia_Hunter BristolPosts: 2,800Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by DJJazzy

    It's not really a tank that doesn't make sense persay but it is the taunt abilities.

    Get rid of taunt, put in collision detection, use skills such as snares, knockdowns, and other cc abilities. That makes a lot more sense.

    I disagree.

    Taunting, rage, morale, fear, are all valid.

    One person absorbing hit after hit after hit that would have killed all the rest of the party isn't,

    And then gets healed and he his ready to take another beating.

    The problem is the concept of hit points, the concept of taunt/threat and instat healing combined.

    There should mobs that were inteligent and disciplined enough to avoid those.

    Currently playing: GW2
    Going cardboard starter kit: Ticket to ride, Pandemic, Carcassonne, Dominion, 7 Wonders

  • maplestonemaplestone Ottawa, ONPosts: 3,099Member

    I think this is one of those situations where you have to ask yourself "is the alternative actually fun?"

    Are there any games out there that have a a PvP arena where one high level character takes on a party of low-level characters?

  • AxehiltAxehilt San Francisco, CAPosts: 8,701Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Scarlyng

    There might well be other ways to create challenge and provide options for things like dodging, blocking, etc. to allow bosses to be very dangerous but doable without the tank mechanic.  However, this might mean that players need skill for such fights, and it's much easier to make bosses 1-hit everyone but give one guy special stuff that mitigates the damage and a pocket healer to mitigate the rest.

    Video games "worK' to some degree because people are able to "suspend their disbelief" and immerse themselves in the game.  Maybe boss fights aren't the place for that -- they certainly don't seem to be based on the current mechanics.

     I'd prefer different boss fight mechanics, frankly,  So I guess in that sense I'm with the OP.

    There are certainly other ways to create challenge, and even within the context of an RPG those ways exist and are waiting to be discovered.

    However it should be noted a few purposes to the tanking and threat mechanics that you didn't bring up:

    • RPGs are intended to be twitch-lite games, if they have twitch at all.  A threat-based AI fits well with that, allowing a central tactical type of decision-making (ability choice) to be the primary form of decisions
    So while a game could function and be fun with no threat system where players need to constantly dodge around, that takes said game several steps away from one of the factors making RPGs popular in the first place.
    • The second is that group-based gaming just seems to work way better with clear roles, and Tank (the guy who sits in front taking damage) is about as clear a role as you can get.  Players immediately understand it, and it makes a certain amount of sense.
    In both cases, the status quo isn't the only viable way to do things.  But someone has to discover new ways of achieving the above two goals without Threat and/or without Tanks, otherwise the genre as a whole will have taken a step backward.
     
    The toughest part is getting rid of the Tank archetype.  I can imagine all sorts of alternative roles which could come in and be a required part of a good group, but none of them have the underlying logic of a Tank because in real war you always have a heavily armored person or thing that you use as a shield for your lighter armored stuff/people.
     
    Granted, Puzzle Pirates is a great example of a game which manages to have hugely varied roles, no tanks, and only loose concepts of DPSing or Healing.  And yet it makes sense because the roles are things which are actually used in sailing (Rigging, Sailing, Bilging, Loading Cannons) even if the execution of those roles is completely arbitrary (playing different puzzles.)

    "Joe stated his case logically and passionately, but his perceived effeminate voice only drew big gales of stupid laughter..." -Idiocracy
    "There is only one good, knowledge, and one evil, ignorance." -Socrates

  • nariusseldonnariusseldon santa clara, CAPosts: 22,441Member
    Originally posted by Scarlyng

    My point, which was perhaps too obscure, is that taunts exist because of the way boss encounters are designed.  Different boss mechanics might open the way for more intelligent boss AI.  Leave boss mechanics as they have been and you are pretty much stuck with having a tank and taunts.  While the OP did not use the words "boss mechanics," that was indeed what he was talking about.  You cannot separate taunts from boss mechanics because the one begets the other.

    More intelligence AI != more fun.

    In fact, it is not even hard to do. The Faction Champion raid encounter back in WOW WOTLK is a good example. No tank & spank. The mobs can go after caster & healers first .. more like a PvP match.

    What happened? People complained about it was being to difficult and was nerfed.

    It is about what players expect and think is fun.

    There are alternatives .. like in Diablo 3 ... but it is hard not to make it too difficult (which obviously is a problem of Diablo in Inferno mode).

  • Gaia_HunterGaia_Hunter BristolPosts: 2,800Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Axehilt

    However it should be noted a few purposes to the tanking and threat mechanics that you didn't bring up:

    • RPGs are intended to be twitch-lite games, if they have twitch at all.  A threat-based AI fits well with that, allowing a central tactical type of decision-making (ability choice) to be the primary form of decisions
    So while a game could function and be fun with no threat system where players need to constantly dodge around, that takes said game several steps away from one of the factors making RPGs popular in the first place.
    • The second is that group-based gaming just seems to work way better with clear roles, and Tank (the guy who sits in front taking damage) is about as clear a role as you can get.  Players immediately understand it, and it makes a certain amount of sense.

    I think we are reaching the point we have to question if it isn't time to change that design.

    There is no reason we can't have action based MMORPGs as well, with several degrees of twitching.

    Sure, in pen and paper, one couldn't have that but just as turn based strategy games gave birth to real strategy games without being replaced, there is no reason we can't have both types of RPGs.

    And that will appeal to another group of players that see MMORPGs as grinds, gear progressions with no skill.

     

    Currently playing: GW2
    Going cardboard starter kit: Ticket to ride, Pandemic, Carcassonne, Dominion, 7 Wonders

  • nariusseldonnariusseldon santa clara, CAPosts: 22,441Member
    Originally posted by Gaia_Hunter
     

    I think we are reaching the point we have to question if it isn't time to change that design.

    There is no reason we can't have action based MMORPGs as well, with several degrees of twitching.

     

    We do. Diablo 3 is a good example. No tank & spank. Action twitch based combat. While it is not a MMO, its playstyle is close enough.

    Marvel Heroes is going to do D3 combat in a real MMO.

  • aesperusaesperus Hamshire, NVPosts: 5,128Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by buden-ninja

    I want to say first off that I am not comparing any game to any other or saying that one is better than another. I started playing MMO's with my friends because we played D&D and wanted to 'get our rpg hit' when we couldn't get together. MMO's were an easy decision. I know they are games in a fantasy setting and we fighting dragons and orcs and giants etc but the whole mechanic of a tank doesn't make sense. Why would the BBEG focus on the most heavily armoured guy sitting in front of him? For example, if I were a BBEG and the guy with the massive shield and armour was standing in front of me but then all of a sudden a guy stabbed me in the back, I would turn around no matter how much the tank was taunting me. And after seeing the guy in leather armour, I would think easy kill and try to twat him. Or if it is a guy in robes hurling fireballs at me, I would charge past the tank to hit him. That is why we never have an MMO-style tank in our D&D campaigns. What is the point? The BBEG will eat the attack of opportunity and go for the wizard. I get the healer and the other roles but unless the tank can physically prevent the BBEG from getting at the others, then what is the point? Maybe the easy argument is to say that if we can suspend our belief when it comes to dragons and fireballs, then we should be able to extend it to tanks and such but something has always bothered me about this in MMO's. Do you see what I am trying to say? 

    And that's the key element right there. Very few games have caught onto that point, but there are some. The tank has to be physically able to prevent an enemy from either reaching the squishier targets, or damaging them. This means that the tank should either have a lot of CC, and/or buffs / debuffs to both help make his teamm8s harder to hit and make the enemy deal less damage.

    Basically, in a good / dynamic system, the tank should make it very difficult to choose which target to go for. Either you try and beat him down, knowing that he can take hits better than the others; or you try and beat down the juicier targets, but find yourself having a VERY tough time doing so.

    The taunt really is unnecessary, and is a throw-back to older RPG systems that hadn't quite figured out how to deal w/ this problem.

  • AxehiltAxehilt San Francisco, CAPosts: 8,701Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Gaia_Hunter

    I think we are reaching the point we have to question if it isn't time to change that design.

    There is no reason we can't have action based MMORPGs as well, with several degrees of twitching.

    Sure, in pen and paper, one couldn't have that but just as turn based strategy games gave birth to real strategy games without being replaced, there is no reason we can't have both types of RPGs.

    And that will appeal to another group of players that see MMORPGs as grinds, gear progressions with no skill.

    Well sure it's important to change the design. We sorta reached that point years ago.  Players had played WOW and were ready for a new RPG.  Still twitch-lite, but a new game to learn, immerse themselves in, and eventually master.  

    And yeah, I'm not saying Action MMORPGs can't or shouldn't exist, merely that there's a non-trivial chunk of RPGers out there who just aren't interested in a game with even a moderate amount of twitch elements.  While I might enjoy TERA (at least until D3 eclipsed it with better combat) there are some players who are just not going to be interested in that type of RPG.

    "Joe stated his case logically and passionately, but his perceived effeminate voice only drew big gales of stupid laughter..." -Idiocracy
    "There is only one good, knowledge, and one evil, ignorance." -Socrates

  • ScarlyngScarlyng Pleasant Hill, CAPosts: 159Member
    Originally posted by nariusseldon
    Originally posted by Scarlyng

    My point, which was perhaps too obscure, is that taunts exist because of the way boss encounters are designed.  Different boss mechanics might open the way for more intelligent boss AI.  Leave boss mechanics as they have been and you are pretty much stuck with having a tank and taunts.  While the OP did not use the words "boss mechanics," that was indeed what he was talking about.  You cannot separate taunts from boss mechanics because the one begets the other.

    More intelligence AI != more fun.

    In fact, it is not even hard to do. The Faction Champion raid encounter back in WOW WOTLK is a good example. No tank & spank. The mobs can go after caster & healers first .. more like a PvP match.

    What happened? People complained about it was being to difficult and was nerfed.

    It is about what players expect and think is fun.

    There are alternatives .. like in Diablo 3 ... but it is hard not to make it too difficult (which obviously is a problem of Diablo in Inferno mode).


    Yeah, I agree.  I can see such a thing being terrible in WoW, because combat and class design is centered around the status quo.  If the game's systems provide more options for players to use tactically, then a changeover to different types of fights would be more likely.

     

    However, you're right.  A lot of development companies are emulating what everyone else is doing, and apparently, more people want less challenge and less people want more challenge. image

    The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man. -- George Bernard Shaw

  • AxehiltAxehilt San Francisco, CAPosts: 8,701Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Scarlyng

    Yeah, I agree.  I can see such a thing being terrible in WoW, because combat and class design is centered around the status quo.  If the game's systems provide more options for players to use tactically, then a changeover to different types of fights would be more likely. 

    However, you're right.  A lot of development companies are emulating what everyone else is doing, and apparently, more people want less challenge and less people want more challenge. image

    "Centered around the status quo"?  Have you even raided in WOW in the last few years?  They have some crazy shit happening.  "Status quo" doesn't exactly describe fighting a giant tank with tanks and motorcycles, while people are catapulted onto the giant tank to kill turrets.

    WOW's almost certainly had more boss variety than nearly all of the "WOW clones" of the last 6+ years.

    Last I raided in WOW, virtually no fights came down to threat mechanics.  At most, threat is just one layer of tactical concern amongst many.  But more typically, threat isn't really part of the fight at all because it's super straightforward for the tank to keep aggro -- but if the raid wipes, it's gonna wipe because of several other layers of tactical concerns.

    Players want challenge.  They just want the challenge that's right for them.

    So while it's complete nonsense to imply WOW is centered around the status quo, one genuine shortcoming is its lack of difficulty options.  Everyone should be able, at every tier of progression starting from level 1, experience a game which challenges them exactly as much as they want.  But that doesn't exist in WOW (nor any MMORPG except CoH, and to a lesser degree DDO.)  If you challenge yourself you're just slowing your own progression.  And that's something which just about every MMORPG needs to improve.

    "Joe stated his case logically and passionately, but his perceived effeminate voice only drew big gales of stupid laughter..." -Idiocracy
    "There is only one good, knowledge, and one evil, ignorance." -Socrates

  • NovusodNovusod Lakewood, NJPosts: 892Member Uncommon

    I agree with OP. The super defensive knight style tank makes no sense.

     

    Though not all MMORPGs use the sterio typical tank of a guy incased from head to toe in plate armor and cowering behind a barn door sized shield. FFXI has a type on Ninja tank, Everquest 2 has a monk tank, and TERA has a warrior that uses light armor and two swords. These tanks use superior avoidance to completely dodge the killing attacks which just makes the mob even angrier. This is the way games should be going. The idea of a trinity works fine but break away from the WoW clone direction or players hinding behind shields. Tanking should be an active role.

  • LoktofeitLoktofeit Stone Mountain, GAPosts: 13,638Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by XAPGames

    One side to this is the simplification of gameplay.

    Like your leather wearer with daggers who stabs the boss for example.  It is normal for a character like that to pull aggro off the tank.  From there it's the job of the tank or off-tanks to regain control, hopefully before the boss spatters the rogue into little pieces.

    The simplification took place (gradually) when tanking mechanics started becoming so powerful that a multi-pull was easily handled, adds were no longer a problem, and the risk of pulling aggro off the tank became minimal.  No more need for crowd control.  No more need to handle aggro management such as DPSers backing down on damage.

    CC, off-tanking, and aggro management aren't easy, so they were removed... or at very least minimalized.  So now we have super-tanks and an element of the complexity of MMORPGs has been lost.

    There are few changes that have dumbed down combat in MMOs as badly as "taunt" has, although the removal of friendly fire without reducing the nuke power of the mage AoEs runs a close second. 

     

    There isn't a "right" or "wrong" way to play, if you want to use a screwdriver to put nails into wood, have at it, simply don't complain when the guy next to you with the hammer is doing it much better and easier. - Allein
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