Tanking for Dummies

Warriors: A Problem of Design
July 26, 2009, 8:08 pm
Filed under: Analysis, Strategy | Tags: ,

We’ve had two revelations about Warriors recently that should be an important study of videogame design.  First we have the revelation about the limitations of rage mechanics, and second we have the impact of rage mechanics on Warrior gear design.

To wit:

This really just gets back to the way rage works, which is that damage leads to rage so you have to pick a point at which you balance warriors. High damage and high rage? Low damage and low rage? The way to fix it is to normalize rage even more so that you always get X rage per second regardless of gear. But once you always get X rage per second you essentially just have rogue energy. So, as with the previous question, we don’t like the way it is working and want to change it but we don’t have a perfect substitute in the can just yet.

Pretend for the moment that we are in the room that someone first proposes how Rage should work.

Bob: I have an idea about warriors.

Jane: Okay, let’s here it.

Bob: Let’s give them a resource, like anger points, that they get whenever they hit something or get hit.

Jane: There’s a problem with that.

Bob: What do you mean?

Jane: Okay, well, part of our game is that you’re always getting better gear, right?

Bob: Well, yes, of course.  It’s a staple of MMOs.

Jane: So eventually you’re going to be hitting things really hard and things are going to be hitting you less hard.  Because you gear is getting better.

Bob: That’s the general idea.

Jane: So this resource will either be infinite, or it will be approaching nil.  We’ll be constantly having to introduce random constants to try to normalize things.

Bob: Uh, well, I told this to the boss and he thought it was great.  It’s going into the next build.

Jane: <facepalm>

Rage normalization is something we’ve come to regard with dread.  And rightly so.  Also, we’ve come to really dislike the way boss design either gives us tons of rage or almost none.  We’re unique among classes this way, and it all stems back to those two problematic design principles.

What is worse, attempts to correct this “problem” are always focused at the sharpest part of the “bell curve”, the 95th+ percentile.  These high end raiders and pvpers have the best gear and hence are racking up near infinite rage in the right situations.  But when these corrections occur, those most effected are in the widest part of the curve who don’t have that gear and so their effectiveness goes down dramatically.

The impact for tanks is more subtle.  Our rage generation tends to be inversely effected by gear.  The new changes in the base Shield Specialization should provide some help to this situation, but only on a limited scale.  This problem of DPS warriors should be a cautionary asterisk on all attempts to make Warrior Tank rage generation based on damage.   Without a doubt this problem will continue to be with us as long as the base rage mechanic remains unchanged.

With that in mind, I would like to challenge other Warrior bloggers to contribute their ideas for a new warrior mechanic to completely replace rage.  I’ll be contributing my first attempt at this design on Wednesday, so keep your eyes peeled on this space.


2 Comments so far
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It seems to me that one of the goals for changing rage is to keep the rage bar just the way Goldilocks would want — not too little, not too much, but just right. It’s no fun to be rage starved and infinite rage situations present problems of their own. I think it could be useful to think about mechanics that would help to reduce the chance of either of these situations occuring. I have a few ideas that might help towards this end:

1) Make rage gains scale inversely with current rage amounts (eg, warriors gain double the normal rage when the rage bar is 70). This is a fairly clumsy solution, but it is one possibility.

2) Smooth rage gains out by giving warriors an ability that steadily generates rage over time. My idea here would be a bleed effect on the target that awards the warrior a couple rage per second for ~15 seconds so long as the target attacks the warrior or the warrior attacks the target. This could help a lot in low rage situations. I also see the potential for some interesting changes to warriors in providing an array of bleed effects with cooldowns that would need to be monitored.

3) Award rage based on number of hits (normalized according to weapon speed) rather than the amount of damage done. This would keep rage gains constant as gear improved. This would also give dps warriors another incentive to stand behind the boss to avoid dodges and parries and the reduced rage generation that would come along with standing in front of the boss.

4) I’m not sure what to do about infinite rage. I think most tanks have gotten used to it enough that it is not seen as a problem beyond the question “how do I spend it all?”

Comment by Lujanera

1) It sounds like you are talking about a logarithmic curve, but I think that the difficulty would be in finding a way to make it so that the formula does not end up making the equivalent of “infinite rage”.

2) Could work, although it might simply have the effect of making Warriors more like rogues. There’s potential though.

3) It would be hell on tanks until you got to expertise cap, but with some talents to help it might be possible.

4) It’s situational on the whole Infinite Rage thing. Some fights it’s the way it is. Others, it seems like you really have to fight for every point you can get.

Comment by Tarsus

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