The MMORPG 'Holy Trinity' is going nowhere. Rather than get upset about it, we can dive into the mechanics that build on the concept and make combat interesting. But first, we need to finish establishing what all combat functions are. Not a moment to waste!
Taking a page from mathematics, we examine the concept of the derivative. What we will concern ourselves with here is the concept that after the base existence of something, there are subsequent existences. The subsequent do not occur without the origin, but provide additional details about the original.
One might liken this to the automobile industry. It exists to fill a basic need: one of travel. Because of automobiles, however, there exists an industry for after-market products, for car mechanics, for automobile schools, for legislature governing road usage etc. For completeness, it's important to point out that some of these derivatives are cyclic, but what we will focus on are those that aren't.
(The trinity of basic combat can be seen through real world examples,
but for the sake of this blog, it will be applied to MMORPGs. Real world
examples will be used, however, to provide support for claims.)
Not Quite as Famous as E = mc^2
Recap time. Previously, we established the fundamentals of combat exist in the form of 'The 3':
Tanking - The act of sustaining [incoming] damage.
Damage - The act of removing [opposing] health.
Healing - The act of replenishing [friendly] health.
The derivatives (combat concepts that support the fundamentals) might be defined as follows:
(De)Buffing - The act of hindering/facilitating performance of one of 'The 3' in someone else.
Utility - The act of dis/allowing the possibility to perform one of the 'The 3' in someone else.
Anything outside of 'The 3' is sometimes referred to as 'support' because it is a function, a role, an ability, that works to enhance, modify, support an action by someone else. But what does all this mean? What's going on? Let's dissect the assertion through examples.
This is the art of positively (buffing) or negatively (debuffing) influencing the outcome of someone involved with performing one of the basic 3 combat functions. The key here is identifying that it is not the de/buffer who is actually performing any of the basic functions, they are merely modifying the result of someone else's efforts. An example or two might help.
* A race car driver speeds their F1 machine through a course. It starts to rain. The rain debuffs (negatively impacts) the driver's ability to perform his function. The driver pulls into pit lane. His pit crew slap on racing slicks. The tires buff (positively impact) the driver's ability to perform his function. It is important to note that the driver's ability to pilot his machine is still his own- outside stimuli affect the outcome of his ability, either positively or negatively.
* A pilot takes off on a bombing mission. Prior to takeoff, his ground crew outfitted the craft with oversized inlets to account for high altitude. These modifications buff (positively impact) the pilot's ability to conduct his mission. During the mission, he faces strong headwinds. The wind debuffs (negatively impacts) the pilot's ability to conduct his mission. Again, the important notes are that neither the modifications (inlets) or conditions (wind) do anything more than influence the ability of the pilot.
In an MMORPG, one can perform the roles of buffing through the application of aptly named 'buffs' on allies. These typically augment base statistics, increase attack speed, or boost armor. The roles of debuffing might come in the form of decreased healing, slower cast times, or decreasing a health bar cap.
This is the art of allowing or disallowing the input, or possibility, of someone else performing any functions at all, both fundamental or support. The key here is identifying that it is not the utility who is performing any of the basic functions, they are modifying the input that others have of doing so.
* In the aforementioned F1 driver example, we might view the fuel the engine uses as (positive) utility. It allows the driver the possibility of driving (driving = ability).
* In the aforementioned bomber pilot example, we might view the objective runway being bombed as a (negative) utility. It disallows the enemy planes the possibility of taking off, or subsequently, flying (flying = ability).
In an MMORPG, one can perform the role of utility through positive means, or negative:
+ (Passive) handing someone a health potion, giving them the possibility of healing themselves
+ (Active) using an ability that replenishes someone's resources, giving them the possibility of using their own abilities to tank/damage/heal or support
- (Passive) handing someone a scroll of silence, giving them the possibility of, upon reading, denying those around them from performing any damaging abilities
- (Active) stun/control someone for a time, negating their ability to perform any functions that would tank/damage/heal or support
Thank You, Philadelphia, and Good Night!
The big take-aways are not the chosen words for the base 3 or support 2, but the definitions themselves. Up until this point, the assertion of 'combat being at its lowest point is summed up in 3 categories' as been made. We can now add that all derivative combat, the 'force multipliers' can be summed up into 2 categories: ones acting on the output (de/buffing) and input (utility) of other combat functions, both of which can be positive or negative.
We have just one more concept of combat remaining! To be continued...
Previous posts in this series: combat fundamentals.
Upcoming posts in this series: combat derivative derivatives, and how it all comes together.