Dev Discussion #10 - Group Composition

LieutenantToastLieutenantToast Moderator, Staff
edited October 2019 in General Discussion

Glorious Ashes community - it's time for another Dev Discussion! Dev Discussion topics are kind of like a "reverse Q&A" - rather than you asking us questions about Ashes of Creation, we want to ask YOU what your thoughts are.

Our design team has compiled a list of burning questions we'd love to get your feedback on regarding gameplay, your past MMO experiences, and more. Join in on the Dev Discussion and share what makes gaming special to you!

Dev Discussion #10 - Group Composition
Do you prefer groups that require the MMO "trinity" (tank, DPS, healer), or more freeform groups?

Keep an eye out for our next Dev Discussion topic regarding biomes!


  • NagashNagash Member, Leader of Men

    The dead do not squabble as this land’s rulers do. The dead have no desires, petty jealousies or ambitions. A world of the dead is a world at peace
  • ShazeShaze Member, Phoenix Initiative, Explorer
    edited September 2019
  • I think a good mix of them is healthy. Creating dungeons or group content that requires a more structured team (such as 3 DPS, 1 healer, 1 tank) but could also benefit from off-meta groups (perhaps 2 healers to deal with a specific boss fight, or 3 tanks to soak large amounts of damage for a particular fight).

    Having one set of classes be the go-to for all content is not fun.
  • GubstepGubstep Member, Braver of Worlds
    I have yet to see a game that does free-form groups correctly is the issue. Rift actually had a decent approach with a loose trinity system, having hybrids of DPS/Heals or Offtank/DPS.

    However, something like Guild Wars 2 attempted an even more open freeform system, but you can see where that landed them... They started to have classes fall into more traditional roles over time because it was easier to balance and gave players more structure around what they like to play.

    We also saw tightening of roles in World of Warcraft when they introduced Mythic raids. Blizzard attempted a hybrid functionality with some classes that just couldn't work in Mythic raids because the margin of error has to be lower for raiders in order to challenge them more. By having no roles you cannot make as many assumptions and it becomes a nightmare to balance difficult encounters for the players.

    From a game design perspective there has to be some sort of party/raid structure, it doesn't have to follow a trinity system exactly, but without structure you lose balance and then the game becomes stupidly easy or stupidly unfair.
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  • ilisfetilisfet Member, Braver of Worlds
    edited September 2019
    Totally freakin' free form groups. Wholeheartedly. Being bound to the trinity restricts what people can do, limiting them to their role and the associated expectations.

    I liked tanking in 2014 ESO. The only difference between a DPS and a tank was who had a taunt slotted. So long as you could take the heat, you made the cut. Any weapon combination worked, any armor weight worked; you could make 17k HP and 16k resist work so long as you were on point with active defenses.

    Then ZOS catapulted enemy damage in the DLC group content. Now you need a shield, heavy armor, 30k HP, 33k resist and block damage reduction just to not get one-shot. The average tank runs 50k HP now. Being a tank went from being a vanguard to being a meatshield armed with a wet noodle. I hate it. This shoehorning of viable builds is what I think of when I hear the term "trinity." I hate it.

    Being a tank went from just being durable enough to take the heat and then putting the rest of your stats/gear into supporting the party or dealing damage to putting everything into defense just so you can survive by the skin of your teeth. No more self healing, no more buffing the party, no more dealing damage, no more disabling the enemy -- it's just stack HP, stack armor, hold block and pray your healer has you covered.
  • mcstackersonmcstackerson Member, Braver of Worlds
    I like the trinity as the optimal way to play but it would be nice if there were ways to make any combination classes work.
  • Shaze wrote: »

  • WololoWololo Member, Leader of Men
    trinity. it wld just be nice if lets say 2 or 3 cleric subclasses can replace one main cleric
  • The Trinity and the division of opportunity. Games that are ostensibly free of Trinity present monotonous characters in the end. (An example of my disappointment in "freedom from the Trinity" is TESO)
  • birchtreebirchtree Member, Braver of Worlds
    A game I used to play, Dream of Mirror online, had a system where an "aoe team" would consist of one Tank, a healer, a DPS, a Musician, and a puller. The Tank, Healer, and DPS roles were the traditional type that you are used to.
    The musician role was that of a buffer. In later levels they got a powerful AOE that could contribute to DPS, and they also restored mana to the healers.

    The puller could be *any* class. You'd just bring arrows & and bow and go around the area pulling mobs to your group. The downside of this role was that time spent away from the group reduced the amount of exp you would receive, so they'd traditionally level more slowly.

    Keeping AoC's class system in mind, as well as my previous experience in MMO's, I think I'd like to see many of the classes have hybrid options. A warrior could pick up a shield for extra defense and tank hits for his group, but a rogue could also have a move that taunted enemies around him and use a "dodge" based tanking method. I know several Warlocks in WoW that wish their Blueberry taunt pets could tank for groups.

    I'm playing Classic WoW currently as a druid, and one of my highlights from the past week was when my tank pulled a few too many mobs in Scarlet Monastery before dc'ing. I was the groups healer, but I was able to switch into bear form and successfully tank the pack for my group while a DPS shaman quickly switched to focusing heals on me.

    I do foresee some problems, however. As others have mentioned, balancing a bunch of hybrid classes against one another is terribly difficult. This becomes especially apparent in PVP. In Dream of Mirror online, certain classes simply *didn't* PVP. This wasn't a huge issue because you could switch classes on the same character(think FFXIV), but I understand AoC won't have that system.

    Another issue I foresee is the inevitable "min/maxxing" of classes. If you take a game like League of Legends or Overwatch and watch high level play, you'll see some common themes in terms of what character is being played in each role for any given meta. For example, during some patches, there is a standout best healer, and it doesn't make sense to play anything else. Despite this, if you join a match, you're likely to see characters that are not the best.

    For AoC, it's likely we will have both types of players playing. Those that just want to play whatever is best, and those that want to pick what sounds "cool" to them. Ideally, AoC will have a decent balance so that certain classes don't become must haves while others become literally unplayable.

    The risk that is run here is the same that Druid's had in the early patches of classic WoW. Druids were so bad compared to the other classes on launch that the reputation stuck with them through til Burning Crusade, despite them being completely viable in later patches of Vanilla.

    Conversely, in retail WoW, at the beginning of BFA characters became less powerful as they leveled, and this felt absolutely awful. A class that is bonkers overpowered at launch that then get's patched to be weaker will always make players feel like crap.

    I think we should non-traditional tanking methods such as "dodge" or "pet" based tanks. Ideally, players will start out abysmally weak. Survivability and DPS should be in tug-o-war, with tankier characters doing less DPS, and glass cannons getting obliterated as easily as they obliterate to create balance.
  • Well since every one is going to be abel to swich their second class, one can tecnicly becom a healer / tank / dps , so id like some dungeons where you have to actually adebt to specifique situations.

    After all the trinity is probably going to be the best "easy" team comb to play anyway so you shouldnt make it eather to boring to play nor to powerfull so you "cant" play anything else.

    Alsow interresting would be if there would be some benefits if you would go Dungeondiving with a divers team as possible, like extra loot ore sth. a'like.

    My last thougt on the topic would be, that you shouldnt make to much dungeons that need a specifique number of participans.
    This may seem abit against the howl spirit of AOC but some times you just wan to hang out with 3 friends and dont want to care about some random Guy may ore may not "sabotaging" the Dungeondive.
  • CorpierCorpier Member
    edited September 2019
    When it comes to group composition I think there should exist a need and/or benefit for organizing to have all roles and classes. However, this should not be over emphasized to the point that it becomes a reason for excluding people from playing with who they want as what role/class they want to play. Encouraged and rewarded, yes. Required, with the exception of the hardest content to maximize effectiveness, no.

    I like when roles are emphasized and encouraged to promote teamwork and when diverse class/role mechanics exist for each role in different content. I think it adds replayability to content if you can experience it from the perspective of multiple roles and each does different things in the same content. Additionally, different content could promote different preferred group compositions, one might only take 1 tank and 1 healer, another having multiple bosses or lots of mobs at once could benefit from 2-3 tanks and/or multiple healers. I would like to see each class/role to contribute uniquely to group play and offer rewards in effectiveness or opportunities for organizing to have all roles and diverse classes. Examples might include bringing a dedicated tank to allow damage dealers to push harder without worrying as much about getting aggro, or bringing a rogue would allow additional loot opportunities from chests they can open by lockpicking that others cannot.

    However, I don't like when group elements are strict or require all roles present regardless of content as it can lock players out of playing with who they want and what roles/classes they want to play. I don't want to see situations where people have to pass over bringing a friend who mains a mage damage dealer because they are already bringing a mage/damage dealer from their guild and neither have an alt of the class/role needed to bring 1 of all 8 archetypes or 1 of all 3 roles. If players can do skillful things or have a diversity of build options to do things like timing dodges or spec into self heals, then being able to casually farm loot with friends without having a 15 minute debate on who brings what class/role would be great.

    I still must emphasize, that I think there should be content that, if not requires, encourages bringing all roles for the sake of maximizing effectiveness for completion. Yet, other than difficult content people should have freedom to have viable diverse group compositions and wide build variety to creatively problem solve through content.
  • Definitely freeform group. It's harder to make, but it's more fun and gives players chance to play non meta builds and playstyles, which i personally like. The more freedom for players the better. Also this way it will be easier for friends/guild members play together without forcing someone to play certain class/role just to get into party.
  • SzoloSzolo Member, Founder
    Everything depends on the extent of freedom. A "pure" class with meaningful abilities also in their "foreign" field would make that class alluring compared to a class with only one possible role to use. For example guardians with moderate healing abilities could make a high priest unnecessary for the group.
    On the other hand it would be acceptable if enough templars and paladins could take over the job of both tanking and healing during the fight, but not being able to do any role at the highest level.
    Pure "diagonal" classes should be dominantly best in their respective field, but weak in other roles, while hibrid classes should be jack of all trades, but master of nothing.
    A big raid against a world boss would strictly require a few pure classes while having mostly hibrid classes, however a small group for lesser places could be made out of only hibrid classes.
    You ride that fine line of like everyone is about to die and you shall keep on casting, keep going, it awesome. Thats the best part of healing.
  • leonerdoleonerdo Member, Settler
    I agree with Gubstep for the most part. Basically, challenging content asks the party to do a bunch of specific things (e.g. break dps checks, CC to interrupt, shield/heal through various attacks in various patterns), so you need at least one person on the team to be able to fulfill each of those requirements. That's easiest to design for and balance around when the players are locked into trinity roles (maybe with an extra supporty/bard role), that focus on one specific output.

    I do think its possible though to have those requirements/roles be split up in different ways, though. But only if the class/stat systems allow players to trade their abilities freely, without losing or gaining overall power. Which means, for example, you can't have a stat that only benefits heals/healers. Then, theoretically, anyone in the party could be responsible for the various requirements of the fight, whether that be damage, heals, CC, or even movement. Even the tank's personal mitigation could possibly come from other sources, like damage-down debuffs on the enemy, cast by a bard.

    But again, the stat system has to be set-up so that nobody can stack damage/heals/tankiness specifically. Otherwise, players have to focus on one output and be locked into the corresponding role. I'm not sure it's even possible to make a complex/satisfying stat system like that. I imagine it would there would be several stats that affect class resources rather than outputs or abilities. Or you would have make thing like Crit Chance affect everything (damage, heals, block power, buff power, etc.).

    All of that is to say, yeah, free-form groups are possible, even in top-tier challenging content with strict balance requirements. But it's a pretty ambitious goal. And it would involve a lot more coordination within parties, to make sure that they have all the abilities/outputs they need.

    I'd rather just have the roles be codified in a trinity system, but let players choose HOW they fill their specific role.
  • I like the idea of hybrid classes but I think attempting to balance such beast to playable state would push release to 2030s.

    I wouldnt mind getting the basic trinity as Ive seen so many games failing to find any balance in that.
    Sometimes simplicity is the essence of happiness.
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  • Hey Guys,
    So i dont think the question is do we need a tank or do we need a healer.. its more about are there options who can fill these roles. So for example is it possible for a summoner in some skill combination to have a summon that is able to be the tank. Or is a class with cleric second able to heal enough. It would be nice if we were able to find certain class combinations that are able to CC and passiv heal enough so that the holy three arent necessary.

    Okay seriously now, i believe that the trinity is important for a game, but ONLY in dungeons or raids.
    Why do i believe that? Players will always try to fill those roles no mater what!
    I played GW2 from the beginning, beta days even, and let me tell you... a trinity less game does not work well at the beginning. Dungeons where hard from the beginning, and without a clear class trinity.... that shit got crazy guys. It was normall that people got partly forced to spec into water elementalist, if they wanted to go ele. I played a melee healing tank support (guardian with one handed hammer and shield + two handed hammer), because i could not rely on my teammates to keep me alive. For those that dont know: the one handed hammer heals every third hit around the caster. That was pretty good at the beginning, but there are some crazy builds nowadays in gw2....
    Mesmer(illusionist class) that can indefinitely tank and keep nearly all buffs up on their own, necromancers that can solo heal whole raids with the right spec and knowledge, thief builds that rely solely on autoattacks with a staff, while dodging around the whole room like a chihuahua on crack....

    Learn from other games mistakes! The trinity has its place, and it would be foolish to throw it away in my opinion. The trinity give dungeons and raids some groundrules/guidelines.
    Even though i believe it should be called the quartet, because the support role does not belong in either.
  • kaichirokaichiro Member, Braver of Worlds
    edited September 2019
    I think this question depends quite a bit on what the selection of classes/roles is in the first place. When there is only one or two viable tanks or healers and 20 different dps, the trinity system shows its more obvious weaknesses. When there are hybrid roles and/or some (widely) variable specs that can help break the typical/expected class structure and allow an unexpected class to fill one of the trinity roles, then that system becomes much more interesting.

    On the flip side, games that dont require specific roles (not to be confused with specific classes) tend to usually be those that require less party play overall. In my book not making full use of parties is one of the biggest sins any MMO can commit.

    Also, the more party members that are allowed by a game, more more hybrid roles/classes make sense. If you have groups of 3 it is much harder to add in that bard or to replace the tank with two semi/off-tanks than if you have a group of 5 or 6 players.
  • basvisionbasvision Member, Pioneer
    I really do like the group composition to be a Tank, a Heal and some damage dealers. Another supporter would be nice, too.
    Another version in the game without the trinity or with a lose trinity where you can be a tank but do not need one would also be nice. So those two (or more) playstyles existing next to each other would be great
  • T ElfT Elf Member, Braver of Worlds
    I like unconventional groups; they don't always work, but I don't mind trying. Makes it nice when few people are around to join up.
    Formerly T-Elf

  • George BlackGeorge Black Member
    edited September 2019
    More freedom.

    Free grouping vs Trinity
    Open world vs Instanced PvE
    (Made a seperate topic to avoid derailing this feedback thread.)

    What does Intrepid Studio have in mind to offer the players?

    Personally I prefer free composition and to to leave it up to the players to decide what Classes they need in order to form a group and level up.

    1) Open world
    Obviously a raid boss (big or small) would require one or two tanks to take the hits for the team, and obviously a healer is needed to keep the tank alive.

    Some terrains would require a healer to keep the whole groups HP from going to 0 and cleanse trrrain debuffs.

    2) Instanced PvE.
    There will be some instanced PvE.
    Personally I think that it would be best to keep them to a minimum because:
    a) The game is all about the effect of player actions on the open world. From Nodes to relationships between player guild, every persons actions have an effect.
    b)Instanced content is safeguarded by anything mentioned in a).
    There should be minimum avenues where players do content without being exposed danger and risk/reward and gain loot/xp.

    In instanced PvE (hopefully it will be hard for the sake of challenge) there should be 1-2 tanks healers bards/support depending on the size of the group.

    In different games they have different names and signature weapons.
    Their role is to inspire the group and strengthen them.
    A few things about the role that breaks the trinity.
    a)Some of these classes empower warriors better, some empower mages better. How will the Group Finder system cater to this role?
    What if the group is 1 tank 1 healer 2 magic dps and 1 warrior bard? Fail.
    b)Is it worth having a bard in your group?
    I used to fight with my mates over this.
    We were 1 tank 5 warriors/roques 1 healer. They wanted a bard. I wanted another warrior. Why, for the damage he/she would cause to the enemy.

    What if we were 12-15 people? Then I'd prefer a bard to enhance the remaining 14 people and amplify the damage they would cause to the enemy.
    In Line][Age bards were respected and sought after. Why? Because the groups were 10 or so and the bard buffs made a difference.

    Very often some classes are left outside of a group because others can do more.
    I think that Intrepid should work hard of providing the environment, the world with challenges/mechanisms that require specific solutions from specific classes. (Cleric cleanse, roque climb, summoner calm a mighty beast blocking the way etc etc)
    Give one environment ability to 80% of the classes. Dont give such a tool to the strongest 1v1 classes.
    This way, every class has something to bring to the table of the adventure.

    6) Conclusion.
    I think the best thing that AoC can do to inprove group composition is to

    Let the players decide.
    Make the players socialize.

    I am tired of mmorpgs in which I am parked in the main city and I group up via g.finder with 3 more randoms to form a trinity and rush in silence a 25 min dungeon.
  • pyrealpyreal Member, Pioneer
    Anzoul wrote: »
    Hey Guys,
    So i dont think the question is do we need a tank or do we need a healer.. its more about are there options who can fill these roles. So for example is it possible for a summoner in some skill combination to have a summon that is able to be the tank. Or is a class with cleric second able to heal enough. It would be nice if we were able to find certain class combinations that are able to CC and passiv heal enough so that the holy three arent necessary.

    The only issue with that is that if I role Cleric/Cleric I BETTER be the best healer, not supplanted by a rogue with hots.
  • pyrealpyreal Member, Pioneer
    edited September 2019
    I prefer trinity, because:
    1. Allows content to be harder because the group composition is largely known
    2. Requires more character skill (because of harder content)
    3. Allows good players to shine. If all healers are OKAY, whats the point of trying to excel at a class?
    4. Fosters community. In early WoW I was a decent healer, and after group content I would always get a few "Good job man, can I put you in my friends list?" Why ever bothering making friends with a good player, when you can just blindly pull in anyone.
    5. Free form has been executed very poorly in MMOs to date. I was originally excited about TESO because of their character class system, but in the end it was a huge let down mainly because everyone was All things at all times. You didn't need a guild, you didn't need good players, you didn't need friends, you didn't need community.
    6. The real reason: requires players to play with others, and to appreciate a competent player.
  • VarkunVarkun Member, Braver of Worlds
    I like the trinity tank healer and dps. My hope is that we can get a 4th with AOC and that is the support class done in such a way that is unique and essential to the makeup of the group, but is fun and engaging to play.

    While I like to play tanks or healers I could see myself playing a dedicated support role.
    Close your eyes spread your arms and always trust your cape.
  • A group of martial artists. Healing Fist, DMG Fist, CC Fist, Tank Fist, Assassin Fist, Buff Fist, and of course the mage martial artists who shall cast their ultimate...FIST OF FURRY!!!
  • I also prefer trinity. The main reason is that I take seriously the freeform group. That means I have to be able to complete a dungeon with any combination. Even with mages only. If we set the difficulty accordingly it means that if I go with a specialized party, the dungeon will be easy. So the only viable option is to reduce the freedom. If we just reduce it partially, we can cause problems for the classes who are able to play multiple needed roles. For example:
    We have a group with where we have a member who will go in the first row and 4 dps classes where one of the is able to heal, but he do not want, he more like to play purely dps as other members, not make extra focus to see if somebody need healing. He can do same damage as any other member and the main principle is still freefrom group. What should the team do?
    -Force somehow the person to heal? The more it happens, the less people want to play with that class in DPS role. So we reduce the freedom on the class selection to win freedom in the group creation.
    -Kick the hybrid class? Why he? We talk about freefrom group. He can do same damage as everybody else.
    -kick somebody else? If we need to kick somebody, because we need a specialty in a group it is easier if we just say that our group principle is 'trinity'. So we advertise our free position to a specialty so we do not have to force anybody to do something what he do not want.

    Other side I am open to make lot of hybrid classes. So I am open for a dodge focused tank role for a rouge. I am open for manashield like healing option for a mage etc. But we always should emphasis that we need a healer, we need a tank. So if you join into a group you will know that you will play in what role.

    I am also open for a fourth role like support role.
  • I prefer trinity games. Choices should matter. Alts should matter. Recruitment should matter. Retention should matter. It all revolves around the trinity.
  • HighopeHighope Member
    edited September 2019
    stabby wrote: »
    I prefer trinity games. Choices should matter. Alts should matter. Recruitment should matter. Retention should matter. It all revolves around the trinity.

    I say the same exact thing. :D
  • akabearakabear Member, Pioneer
    edited September 2019
    Concept in Dragon Age which has been fond for a long time was different party compositions created different opportunities.

    For example; enter a dungeon with
    • a tank and you can break through solid walls to otherwise inaccessible areas
    • a mage and you can teleport over areas
    • a rogue and you can unlock areas

    Beyond that I would like it possible that groups can scale up for different activities ie
    • duo
    • trio
    • 5
    • 7
    • 12
    • 20
    What I don`t want to see if people having to box or (bot) to play solo.
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