Yesterday, the gods of Team Fortress 2 felt the need to bestow upon me a glorious moment for my birthday. The payload was in a trench, and just then someone threw a jarate at the bomb cart. This lowly pyro did jump into the fray pushing the cart thereupon critting down two heavies, a medic, an enemy pyro, and some other hapless being before succumbing to enemy fire. The moment was epic. I just had to share. Allow me this one small indulgence.
I, as well as Zubon, have been playing a lot of Team Fortress 2. I really enjoy the chaotic style of play that public servers are ripe with. One can usually find me amidst the Lotus servers. Now back to regularly scheduled Kill Ten Rats thoughts:
Team Fortress 2 is based on the theory of player skill. The teams are “evenly” matched, players are able to switch classes at any time, and in most scenarios battle lines are drawn. The gameplay of Team Fortress 2 is similar to an MMO in that it is a team-based game that cannot usually be won by a single, exalted gamer. If the team on average sucks and there are too many snipers, even with two or three masters that team will usually lose. However, Team Fortress 2 does give, quite constantly, the feeling of personal triumph (like one I described above). Being able to take out two or three enemies before succumbing to death leaves the feeling of not only contributing to the team but also the feeling that it was because of player skill. This is something I find lacking in many MMOs (especially regarding PvE), and upon examination gives quite a hole that could be filled.
Take a normal raid. Players are combined to create an amoebus output of DPS while simultaneously mitigating and repairing inputted damage. There are some tentacles that do more damage than others. Some tentacles are better at keeping the invaders busy until attention can be drawn to said invaders. Some tentacles merely run around putting band-aids on other tentacles. Yet, all in all there are no heroes.
Sure, there are moments when a last standing member manages to take down the raid boss, but these instances are few and far between. And, last surviving tentacle doing its job is not really heroic, just necessary. Usually, though, the amoeba lives and dies as one. Fault is laid bare to a specific minority when losing. Yet, with a win, rarely are MVPs named. The raid leader gets thanked for managing the cooperative process, healers are thanked for doing their job, and everybody views the amoeba as generally being good. It’s been a great, banal system.
Could an MMO system be created that gives the feeling of being a proactive, reactive, intelligent hero in the team encounter? I can only hope for such an MMO that gives me the feeling of success and acknowledgement in a risky, breakaway, and most importantly skillful performance. Until then, I will play my part.