Lately many discussions have touched upon the topic of the so called 'Holy Trinity' design and yet it seems many define it differently from one another. To that end I figured a detailed look at the trinity and discussion would be beneficial for everyone.
What is the Trinity?
The trinity is the popular, common, and now iconic concept of having three primary roles that form the backbone of a group. Tank, DPS, and Healer. Their are also many sub-roles depending on the particular game as well. This design is popular for many reasons the primary one being it is very easy to design content for and it is recognizable for veterans of the genre. There are a few important things to understand about trinity design including a detailed defining of the roles, a look at what is required to create the roles, and finally a look at STO compared to the classic Trinity.
Tank: The tank takes damage. The two important qualities required to be the tank are the ability to reduce the damage from enemies and ability to make the enemies attack them. In the trinity system a true tank will take as little as half or even one quarter of the damage from an enemy attack when compared to the others.
DPS: The DPS deals damage. They deal tons of damage typically about twice as much as a tank and up to four times as much as the healer.
Healer: Simply put the healer, heals. They keep the tank alive primarily and occasionally heal the DPS but not because they want to.
Secondary Roles: This can be anything from crowd control, to pulling, to utility,
off-tanking, backup healer, and many more depending on the game. These are typically not required though.
System Requirements for Trinity
This is a big part of the trinity style that is often overlooked during discussion. It is pretty easy to define the roles, and to see the qualities that a character wants for those roles. But what qualities or mechanics must the game have for a Trinity system to work?
Hyper Specialization: As I said when defining the roles it is not that a tank merely holds agro they also have the capability to significantly reduce incoming damage thanks to damage mitigation and/or avoidance. A 50 damage hit to the tank would typically deal anywhere from 100 to 200 damage against the other party members. The healer is typically the only one who can heal a significant amount during combat and the DPS will out damage the tank and healer combined by a large margin. They also have built in weaknesses the tank doesn't kill very fast, the DPS will die if a monster looks at him wrong, and the healer doesn't kill period. Many trinity games balance the group vs solo issue by allowing the characters to change gear/skills/styles between group and solo content.
Resources & Downtime: Another thing trinity games have are resource systems. Many characters have mana that is limited during combat, health does not regenerate during combat without heals which cost mana, and after a difficult combat encounter the party will need to rest to restore lost health and mana. This is important because it creates a desire for players to try and be efficient to minimize the amount of downtime during party play. In many good parties downtime can almost be eliminated completely whereas in solo play or extremely difficult content it cannot be. In addition many combats are simply attrition based, will the target die before the party exhausts all resources is the heart of the challenge.
Difficult Encounters: The final thing required for a trinity is that the combat encounters must be brutally difficult as to force the players to specialize if they wish to win. The DPS will die in ten seconds or so to the damage, the tank would take five minutes to kill a monster, and the healer has both of those problems. Many games accomplish this by applying a template to monsters drastically increasing their damage and hit points but not their level.
Trinity in STO
STO has many design differences from the standard trinity that are impossible to ignore. It lacks hyper specialization as every ship has the ability to self heal, damage mitigation differences are not that large between them, and while damage has gotten to the trinity point in some cases it is not enough on its own. Many ships passively regenerate more health over an encounter than another ship would be able to restore to it for crying out loud. Finally there is no downtime, and aside from a handful of long cooldowns this game also lacks the resource management that trinity games require.
PvP has Trinity NooB!
No, no it does not. At-least not the typical trinity. And note this is ignoring obviously broken pre-made combos but the roles in PvP are basically Kill (burst), Support (heal/cleanse/spam clear/etc), Setup (Subnuke/tractor/power drain/etc) and strangly enough that doesn't even apply universally to ship hulls. Some escort Kill ships pack Support and spider tank, a support cruiser may use a Setup eject warp plasma and so on.
Where to Look for Inspiration?
ARPGs. Diablo, Torchlight, Path of Exile and so on are the closest in design to what STO currently has. Think about it, little downtime, casual friendly, pew pew focused, and plenty of character customization/tweaking. In addition for the more hardcore you can focus on completion speed for your challenge just like in an ARPG.
Trinity, making it Happen
For those who are very stubborn and reaaly want to see a trinity here is what it would take and cost.
- Massive increase to overall HP, massive decrease to passive regen
- Moving of BOff abilities like EPTS, HE, TSS up from ensign to Lt for example
- Modification of Hulls escorts/Sci would have much less HP than cruisers
- Increase cooldown length on many boff abilities that are healing in nature
- Massive increase in game difficulty
- Reduced variety and freedom in ship design. Additionally half of current ships would likely become worthless in groups.
- PvE queue would need redone or much fail would happen
- Barrier to entry for end game team play would be significantly larger
I just happen to be hip deep in character design myself for the next PnP RPG my group and I will be playing and this tends to make me think alot more about the trinity and character design in general. The system is a heavily modified D20 and there are four player members which tends to scream trinity aside from everyone hates being the healer. So this is what I have done for the classes myself.
Fighter: Inspired heavily by 4th Ed DnD the fighter will deal consistent damage, excel at tanking large groups of weaker enemies, can manipulate enemy positioning, debuff enemy targets, and finally mitigate damage for his allies.
Rogue: Stupid high single target damage but inconsistent with lower hit chance, high avoidance defense but it will be streaky, high mobility, and finally a minor amount of CC against enemies.
Warlock: High AoE damage, strong debuffs, strong single target damage but his heavy hits are limited via resource.
War Priest: Struggling with him a bit he will have powerful buffs that also enhance himself. He will pan out similar to the fighter but be a bit better at defense against single hard hitting enemies and lack the enemy manipulation. Still working on a nitch for 'em beyond the buffing but that just might be good enough as is.
Which ship would you give Feign Death to, to facilitate better "pulling" as a secondary role?
I need to know so I can make a Gorn and fly the IKS Iksar.
In a "typical" MMO - you have Dungeon X you run until you gear up to run Dungeon Y you run until you gear up to run Dungeon Z you run until you gear up to run Raid A you run...etc, etc, etc.
In STO...well...you can complete the optionals in any of the ESTFs with your mix of green, blue, and purp Mk IX/X/XI gear from just leveling up. You don't have to run STF X so you can run STF Y so you can run STF Z so you can run ESTF A so you...etc, etc, etc.
Yet, there is STF gear. Mk X, Mk XI, and Mk XII. You don't need it to complete it. By farming for the gear, you can farm the ESTFs faster (more efficiently) - but that's so you can...er...yeah...farm faster. It's a way to get Dil, make some ECs, etc.
I think I saw you ask in another thread if there was a major change in the dev team at some point, because there are several things like this. There's a gear progression - but there's not a gear progression. There's the Trinity - but there's not the Trinity. Etc, etc, etc...
It is all additive. In most games your stuff all multiplies. If you get upgrades of +10 on three pieces it ends up being 10 x 10 x 10 where as in STO it ends up being 10+10+10 simply put. In addition it does not allow you to modify some values beyond a set threshold like bonuses to hit points for hull. Other systems operate independently from one another to avoid multiplicative stacking as well, for example equipping a field generator (+shield total) has no effect on the passive shield regeneration value.
Fortunately for Cryptic most of the players lack the understanding of the math which allows items to sell. Take the purple Mk 12 tac consoles for instance that add a truly pathetic amount of damage compared to the far cheaper purple Mk 11, or even blue Mk 11 really. Yet they sell for a ton. This drives the 'progression' mentality that makes them money as people buy lockbox keys to sell for the EC to get the 1% boost.
Other things though, like the Maco +10% universal resist is extremely powerful and worth far more than the single [Reg] mod it sacrificed for it and show real power creep. But those are the exception not the rule.
And that is another reason I think a team swap happened. Those romulan +Crit boffs/Rep bonus/Console really changed the face of DPS and are why it has skyrocketed this most recent season. They represent a shift in the design approach and I fear what silly stupid power creep we will see next time.
But really once again this just reminds me of the good old school ARPGs like Diablo 2. Getting geared enough to beat the game/farm was not that difficult and the math was mostly additive. Diablo 3 on the other hand, lets just say that game is the best example of why * is dangerous in game math I have ever seen.
As for the randomness of the system design I'm going to place the blame squarely on Gozer leaving. Content creation and character design are tightly linked and dependent on one another. I would bet even if Gozer had little direct control of the systems team he was still used as a sound board and/or for advice. Only thing that makes sense. Was Gozer gone when they did the weapon power mechanic change way way back?
i have a very simple rule in regards to the defined trinity model.
at all times the rpg trinity model and advanced technology must at all times maintain a strict contact embargo.
the reason for this is that it was designed for myth and magic team games, only reason it has stayed popular to this day is the ease at which it can be modelled to online gaming without showing lag.
it is however increasingly obsolete with games like tribes ascend and planetside demonstrating it as second rate.
that does not mean you throw class specialisation out the window, you simply use the model the trinity system was derived from, to balance a possibly infinite spectrum of specialisations tweaked to the players wants.
Thankfully this game isn't like those old mechanics. Times change. I think they just need to buff up the weaker stuff.
I remember in City of Villains when they changed dominators without nerfing anything else, they really made them great. Controllers still sucked but the villain side was almost well balanced except for the same class powersets. The villains epic ATs were also great.
Trinity should work in a way that allows each class to defeat each other, and not simply pidgeon-hole them into restrictive roles requiring mutual support. It's the mentality of Tac-Escort-DPS, Eng-Cruiser-Tank and Sci-Sci-Support that has led to the situation that the game now finds itself in. Now, only Tac-Escort is viable under most situations because it is the only class with the ability to consistently defeat another ship type in combat, as well as because its attributes are by far more preferable than other combinations.
STO should allow every class had the tools necessary to defeat one another in combat, but still being able to fulfil a specific role when working as part of a team. If you look at Diablo I, they also had a three-class trinity with the Warrior, Rogue and the Mage. Each class could learn and equip each other's weaponry and skills, but none of them could clearly match another class in terms of potency for a given area. Each class could use their respective skills to kill another in combat, but could also work together as a team. The same applied to Diablo II, even though abilities became limited by class.
Every class should have the option of working independently
Every class should also have the option of working together, thereby increasing their overall effectiveness
I agree with the idea of class trinity, but I disagree with the idea that all character classes and ships should be forcibly shoved into narrow, specialized roles. Design decision should account for the fact that while one ship may be better geared for one role than the other, it should not come at the expense of its ability to presumably defeat another vessel in combat.
My question is this.
If you are not going to have a PvE environment that allows the three main ship classes to fulfill roles, why have several ships that are clearly designed with roles?
We have Cruisers (Tank/Healer), Sci ships (Healer/CC/Debuff) and Escorts (Spike/DPS/Light Debuff).
The PvE environment is designed as such, that only one of those roles is ever necessary, and due to this is also the only role that is optimal and desired.
The people playing the other two ship classes, the ones whose roles are mostly a facade, constantly want their DPS to be better to be able to function in the PvE environment that only has a clearly designed space for one role.
If you aren't going to at least have "Trinity-light", what purpose do those 2 ship classes serve in pve?
Use Action RPGs as inspiration.
They are very much designed with role intents.
I see another issue, you are under the incorrect assumption that all weapons were created to be equal, they were not.
You've also completely ignored BOFF slots and how that interacts with the Hull/Shield/Turn values of ships.
BOFF slots are a larger determining factor in what a ship is actually going to be capable of doing - and in many ways more so than "An 8th weapon slot".
In addition to this what kind of weapons a ship has access to, as well whether the design of the ship actually supports the use of those weapons* will also tell you what the role of the ship is. (*Carriers for example, can use narrow arc cannons but their ship design is clearly not in favor of doing this and is more a flavor addition than anything).
With all that being said, we have seen quite the proliferation of hybrid ships but I believe this is due to the need to drive new ship sales and the current ship lines are almost completely covered for every standard possible layout.
You're arguing against the trinity, but the trinity has already influenced the design of the ships.
The only thing the trinity hasn't influenced is the content environment where those ships perform.
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