June 10, 2011

Homogenization: A misused word

I know I said in my last blog I would write about healing, but I've come across another thing that has gotten me thinking back on tanking again. Mostly the fact that I have some of the most petty reasons why I never play certain classes. In this case, the reason I stopped playing my heroicly geared priest, for now at least, is because I can't stand not seeing her legs. Having grown up a tom boy wearing dresses in not exactly my thing, and I don't like it anymore on my fake avatar characters in a pretend video game it seems. And yep, that's as petty as you can get without diving into something as stupid as one pixel being off. I am just weird that way.

That being said, I saw a word getting tossed around A LOT this last weekend, and today, as I sat there roaming from archeology point to archeology point in the pointless meandering of digging for stupid lore that only a crazy person like myself would be interested in and not really caring about the rares (though I would not begrudge the game if it gave me Zin'Rok >_>) , I got to thinking about that single word that got tossed around like a dirty diaper that no one wanted to touch. And that word was homogenization.

In short summary, homogenization generally means to make everything the same or close to the same. Now, before people start going off on a rave train, when it comes to the convoluted and impenetrable granite octopus that is the MMO gaming industry, homogenization is actually a good thing. Especially in an industry that, for the longest time, was adamantly against choice. You don't have to look far to see proof, because even the monolithic sloth that is WoW demonstrated for a very long time, that it was solely against choice (despite what Blizzard claimed and lied about).

However, in the case of how this word is being used and what is actually being delivered, Inigo Montoya once said, "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means. "  In short these people are using this term to state each and every class is exactly the same "like WoW" as they would generally use as their dead horse argument. But it's obvious even to a retarded monkey these people obviously have no clue what they are talking about, because even with the classes having much stronger positional roles than they did in previous expansions of the game they are still nothing alike. Each one still handles things in their own quirky ways, and it astonishes me how much people misuse this word just as much as they misuse immersion and quite a few other words.

Now, using WoW as my example, since it's pretty much the elephant people always say ignore but will never shut up about (irony?), I am going to discuss my experience with tanks from three separate classes. In this case, Death Knight, Warrior and Paladin. Why, because I've played all three, know how they work, and know that each one is still quite different, despite having similarities like a threat power and a taunt power (woah, two similarities, they have to be the same class, stupid homogenization /sarcasm). That being said, I won't comment on bears, except as an outside observer, because in general I hate druids, and most of the time I hate druid players because they are generally further up their own ass than most other players, and that's an incredible feat, especially since most of them play worse than paladins. Not saying all druids are bad, or jerks, but most of the ones I've come across have been.

Now if you look in WoW's past, despite anything the original text use to tell you, there was ONLY ever one tank in WoW and ONLY ever one healer in WoW. Anyone telling you that Druids and paladins were capable of tanking or healing were lying out their ass. Bears couldn't hold aggro for crap, and paladin seal and judgment system was so unwieldy that even attempting to maintain any form of threat in that convoluted system was a massive waste of time. And healing, druids brought a few tricks but were still not on par with priests and no way could raid heal effectively like a priest, and paladins only brought cleansing to the table, and only cleansing, and anything else was just extra so the paladin wouldn't blow their own brains out from mind numbing stupid boredom that was raiding with a paladin. Every time both these classes asked for fairness the response was cynical, at best, from Blizzard, condescending most of the time, with little more than pandering and putting poster children up to make the people playing those classes feel they were represented before firing said community people not more than a few months later. The only class that constantly felt it received love was of course, the shaman, which practically excelled at everything, except tanking due to the lighter armor they wore.

Now, everyone considered TBC to be the golden age of tanking for everyone else in joining the crowd, especially paladins who have been wanting to have a larger role in the grand scheme of raiding besides being a cleanse bot. What little I played, however, and tried, all I know is whoever claims that was blowing more gas than Congress does during a filibuster. Needless to say, paladin tanking still sucked ass, and the only area I might contend to agree with that they excelled at was the AE stuff, but let's face it, the WoW nerd is predictable and can't make up its mind if they want CC to be used or not to be used in their fights or what. The current wah wah from the majority of "It's too easy" crowd is generally in CC isn't being used enough pocket, even though they were the exact same ones that would claim CC was used too much back in the day. But, rose tinted glasses and all.

Anyways, enough about pining on the stupidity of all the classic stuff, that's the past, and the current game is still the current game. Everything's been streamlined, updated, and made more user friendly. Brace yourselves hardcore people, that's a good thing. However, unlike how these people will say, none of these classes play the exact same. Though homogenization is a word they throw out a lot as their Mary Sue argument, it has about as much weight as air and it's even less filling. So let me dive straight into the three tanks I've played and only think about druids, maybe.

First up is the Death Knight, Blood is their spec. Arguably, this can probably be seen as the strongest of the three tanks for several reasons. They have powerful AE aggro tools, they have self and team healing capabilities (depending on if how they glyph and spec) and probably have some of the best survival tools in the long run. But, the death knight is hamstringed by the runic system in that, unlike the previous expansion, the current death knight incarnation relies on a 1 minute CD mostly to use their plagues for effectiveness otherwise they lose a lot of their survivability, and some of their survival is still reliant on random chance. They pump out some of the best threat as well when it comes to the tanks, and have some of the best aggro control tools in the game, which makes a DK an invaluable tank, if you have a good one, or one of the worst, if it's a thicky behind the wheel.

Next is the paladin. And just like his past incarnation, his threat generation is still on the soft side. Paladins still excel at massive levels of AE threat generation and probably good for people that love to just throw out AE damage a lot. They also are very good at personal survival and have a couple of abilities that can be useful to a team as a whole, but in the thick of it all, are more about themselves than the actual team when it comes to tanking. Though they have the standard tools and a threat maker that isn't reliant on a stance or presence, they have no high threat moves that defines the other two tank classes, DKs and warriors, and this is the crux of the issue with paladin tanking and if they have DPS on their team that is more than adequate for the situation. Their attacks are also limited mostly by procs and a global cool down so it's only a class for the very patient, and tends to be a class for people that like to take things slowly and steadily and easily predictable. Though I had one paladin tan try to tell me paladins never lost aggro (despite me ripping it right off him without so much as doing two criticals) I do know unless the paladin is exceptionally better geared than the DPS, they actually have a tough time maintaining that threat.

Finally there is warrior. I can straight up say warrior tanking is not for me. It's very spastic, and I feel like a chimp spastically slapping buttons every time I tried playing my warrior. They have heavy single target threat, which is good, but it takes some effect to get crowds properly trained and it's a type of game play that needs to be mastered over time. It's not something you can jump into and expect to do well or just accidently get right like the other two have that ability. I have a lot of respect for warrior tanks in the current day and age of WoW, well the good ones at least, because to be as good as some of them have actually demonstrated must of taken some effort and time to actually do right. Especially the ones I've seen be able to hold off large groups of mobs. For me I always felt I kept coming up short, even if I was being told I was doing the best job ever as the tank, because it just feels like so much work as a warrior. And I never actually liked it in the end, because you were bouncing around so much from mob to mob to maintain that AE threat, as well as so many damn buttons (it felt like I needed to utilize two trays worth or fail) that it never really felt like there were options there as a warrior tank.

Again I just attribute this to warrior tanking just not being for me, and in the end, that is what is good about this set up. I have an optional choice to play as other tanks instead of being forced into exactly one role doing exactly one thing. And in those three instances I can say that as much as they are "homogenized" all three are still wildly different. Just because they have a taunt and heavy armor doesn't make them the same.

As far as bear tanks from my view points and what I have seen, I don't fancy them since they generally suck at threat management, still. I've seen quite a few good ones, but generally how most of the druids act in general is what throws me off and ends up forcing that uphill battle of you gotta prove yourself with me druid before I accept you mentality I have. Like right after the Cataclysm patch that changed all the classes and paladins ended having might placed at level 54 or something like that, had a druid telling me I was a moron for not using might, even though I was level 48 and had 6 levels to go before getting might. Actually was annoyed about not having might then myself, but that druid reinforced a lot of horror stories I've heard about druids, considering he was also terrible at the whole group thing.

Anyways, the entire point of this was because of how much homogenization has been getting thrown about the SWTOR forums, especially concerning the classes. In this case, BioWare was smart and saw people wanted options to play what they wanted, but not always in the concept that they, BioWare, might have imagined. Some people wanted to play an Inquisitor like a tank, like Darth Maul, so now we have that capability. Or to be a combat medic trooper instead. So that is an option. These are smart decisions and it's funny how people think this is not the case.

Now, going by from what I've read and actually seen, the three tanks classes will play exceptionally different from each other. The Trooper is a ranged tank, which means being in melee is not optimal to the class and kiting will be their best option. It also looks like troopers have a variety of attacks designed to slow or immobilize targets so they can keep that range. Jedi look to be the more traditional, in the enemies face type fighter relying on heavy armor and defensive abilities, which means will probably be more warrior-esque. Then the Consular is an  evasion tank which to me sounds like heavy amounts of dodging and probably using force heals and such much akin to a paladin with shields and such. That's three options and the less people have to rely on one class to do something, the better.

I don't know, I think it's just the elitist mind set kicking in these days and trying to say that any sense of choice or homogenization is a bad thing (despite these same people are the ones that scream if there is no choice) and the days of Furor and Tigole (the same people that had the warrior sit in in EQ that crashed the servers that became developers on WoW in its early days mind you, so figure that out) where everyone only relying on exactly one class to fill the specific roles of tank and healer are still strongly ingrained in their hearts. Personally, games will never truly escape the tank, healer, dps model, no matter how much people say it's past its prime (despite roles are used in real life, you don't send a plumber to do brain surgery after all) however the option that specific classes can choose multiple roles is a good thing and trying to dissuade that choice is just silly.

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