Monday, June 05, 2006

Just who plays medics, anyway?

I can understand why people like warriors, but give me a priest any day. The more power is put into healing, buffs, debuffs, etc., the better. I suppose you could work out a game where everyone was a hybrid of support and solo combat, thus everyone would get about the same number of kills, but that's just not my bag.

If I want to go around killing stuff blindly, there's the shooters from id software, or console action games. It gets old fast and, while it has a certain amount of visceral entertainment, it lacks a certain strategic quality. Warcraft 3's Blademasters and the like lack a certain underhanded, dastardly element. If I have 7 allies and we're facing 8 opponents, I don't want to be the guy who evens it out - I want to be the guy who adds 50% power to those 7 so that we wipe the floor with them. Evasion and distraction are the hallmarks of the support player - self-heals, hiding, shielding, what have you - that's the sort of sneaky, cunning gameplay which - ironically - you just can't get out of an RPG rogue or a unit that makes itself invisible. Hiding and back-stabbing is easy when you can turn invisible and then backstab for +50% damage. Hiding when your own power is to protect and heal others is the kind of PvP that gets my brain working.

Other people are only dissuaded from this because they can't take on other people face-to-face, and aside from perhaps making them feel cowardly, that always, always hurts their score. Thankfully we're beyond the point in the history of games where kills are the only thing that got points, but if you go pure defense, there's usually little chance of topping the rankings, depending on the game. This I can understand, because defeating the enemy is the bottom line... but when so many people in closed games pray that a lagging opponent will disconnect - adding a free win and removing the point of playing the game at all - it suddenly becomes very clear that vanity points put a large skew in how people choose to play.

I say "vanity points" because the game records one person as the "best" player on the team, but without the support actions of some of the lower scores, the overall victory of the team might not have been possible. The bottom line is the total score of the team, regardless of who gets what portion of that score. In some games, the "score" can even be partially or totally independent of the winning objective!



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