Lone wolf or team player – when is it right?

Like I said from a previous post, in tactical shooters and MMO’s are designed to be played among a group of players. It’s obvious that developers when they try, do their best but their will has to be strong enough to push through with something more than just the “solo sometimes but you need to do this and this as a team” game. Though the concept isn’t new; more of something pre-Diablo that has perfected over the last few decades. However there is much to progress before seeing something hardcore in a MMO and shooter centered around teamwork and coherence.

Most of the time I see, there is mostly a mechanic that forces team play like team points for stuff involving you being close to a buddy or class specific items with attributes. These to me are pretty annoying. Sometimes, certain mechanics does suggest it and make even more challenging than it appears. Of course weapon and health adjustments is handy but it should be somewhere between impossible and “I can do this alone.” Largely, teamwork in terms of game mechanics should not be highly limited but to only challenge the player to think differently on strategy depending on the scenarios.

Besides from what can a developer do to raise the bar, the player and method of play should be considered to be used for the whole and not put forth a singular purpose. The old concept of assign a vital number of tanks, DPS-ers and healer is far rudimentary. It is obvious that the ratio of 1:2:1 from my point of view though it is debatable to 2:1:1 or of any combination of 3 combatants to a healer or buffer. In shooters, the classes may not be definitive but relevant. No doubt you can blur the lines when it comes to it. The tanks can act as DPS-ers and healers. However there is much more into roles that is separate from the class mechanics. Example being a forward observer or reconnaissance who can act as a light but offensive unit before the main group can pile on. In RPG’s, this would be filled as the AoE, scout or DPS class. Then you move into specialty classes depending on what mechanics are available. But more primarily in a large group despite genre would be the leader’s second man which would carry out simultaneous attacks when in a large group. Depending on the size, the leader may have more than one executive player to lead attacks and focus on secondary objectives. Lastly, the “operator” who takes care of stuff the entire group can’t control such as method of transportation as well as logistic and miscellaneous actions that the group cannot operate without a player deploying certain items of weaponry. To me, these are things I consider are guidelines and ethics to join a group which would be most effective.

Usually these roles are subtle, those hold firm usually end up with the strongest group. Aside from what you can do within the game, there are more things to do to solidify the coherence. Primarily voice communication to move chat to almost the speed of speech which comes in handy. Also refining each person’s expertise and abilities (both in the game and overall developing their style of play). Focus more on how each person’s style of play and work to challenge them. Not really just getting them familiar with classes, but more on tasks that may be instinctive or highly reactive to the scenario (example: medic needs to heal like mad and attack when being attacked, let the buddies beat down the baddies). Also if you’re in a clique like a clan then establishing group responsibilities and boundaries like focusing and practising if it’s a competitive group of players.

No matter how far you go in focusing on these points, you have people who jump in with their rules and play styles. Just keep in mind, teamwork involves the coordination of various members to achieve a common goal. Ironically, that’s how I think people would survive a zombie apocalypse.


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