“I haven’t seen that in a decade…”

Had an interesting experience in EverQuest last night. I was healing the Unrest Fireplace on my Halfling Cleric and everything was going as you might expect. We had two rangers, a rogue, a mage, a shaman and me. Obviously with no tank things can get dicey, but being EverQuest people are typically a little more careful. Bad pulls still happen like the one we had last night. Puller brought in way too many ghouls and skeletons from the top floor and we ended being being rooted all over the place with no CC.

I found myself having to take a few hits, which is typically not a problem for a plate-wearing healer, but it can only last so long. I noticed the tank (the ranger with better gear) was rooted, so I ran over to him for him to be able to peel the mobs off me. He did, we lived, and all was well. I then received quite a shock: The tank was praising me for how well the fight went saying he hasn’t seen a healer run to the tank for over 10 years, and how I managed to maintain my mana pool with no gear (my cleric’s gear sucks) was a shock to him. I received a few other praises and we continued on for a few more hours.

Nothing I did was particularly worthy of praise. I used the right heals on the right people at the right time. I knew the mobs and what they were capable of, so I wasn’t healing people who had a mob I knew they could tank on them while someone else was risking death. I moved where I needed to be to let the classes do their job. I played correctly.

Their reaction stuck with me. I think they reacted the way they did because people, for the most part, aren’t used to games where people need to think. Modern games tell us where to move (out of the red circles) and UI mods tell us what to heal — or we have infinite mana and just mass heal everyone. Most groups in most games can just AOE everything down and death is unheard of while leveling up.

Playing my class well mattered last night. I liked that feeling. The praise was nice too, but it was knowing I was good at what I did and that very fact influenced what we were capable of doing as a team. I’d like to see that matter more these days.

  • This is what I’ve been saying for a while now. It’s taken me quite a long time to realize that what I’m really missing from my many current MMOs isn’t anything specific about the gameplay of the “good old days”, let alone the exact detail of the actual games themselves. No, it’s just what you describe – being expected to think rather than merely react.

    I always disliked scripting in MMOs. I’ve been complaining about it since Planes of Power. Over time, not only have scripts become completely embedded in all levels of MMO gameplay, not just in raids, where they began, but developers and players both have come to expect overt, clear signals in the form of ground markers, circles, cones, colors and so on.

    Playing well in a group context these days consists primarily of having very fast reaction times and being highly reactive to abstract on-screen visual signals. That is certainly a game that requires skill. It’s kind of like playing a cross between the old electronic version of Simon Says and Twister through an overhead projector, all while someone is taking swings at your head with a nerf bat.

    It’s a game alright but not the game I used to play, which was more like playing three-dimensional chess while solving a cryptic crossword, while someone took swings at your head with an actual baseball bat. I’m okay with swapping the bats but I’d really like the rest of my thinking play back.

  • That’s a good way of thinking about it. Chess-like skills vs. Simon Says/etc. Both do take skill, but I miss having to think on my feet. I miss where the solution is left up to ME and I’M the one having to create the strategy to win when the odds are against me.

  • I play a tank in both games where this is applicable, ffxiv and wow, and healers/dps running close to the tank to peal is not uncommon at all to me. I do compliment people on it to reward good behaviour, and compliments are an easy way to make someone feel a bit better

  • *edit: in both games I play and where this is applicable.
    It obviously applies to more games I do not play ^^

  • Yeah. It’s a function of just dumbing down or scripting anything. In a modern game it’s either impossible to pull that many unrest skeletons, or if you do one guy on the team can solo the train.