Wednesday, March 22, 2006

A Comment on the Difficulty of MMOs

Gitr posts a comment:

Yes, and that's what is so amazing about the people that suck so incredibly bad at an instance as easy as Deadmines.

Can they even tie their shoes? Have they ever played a computer game that requires using a mouse AND keyboard at the same time?

I think a lot of veteran MMO players underestimate or forget how unique the aggro mechanism is. Most non-MMO games (and real life, for that matter) use positioning instead of aggro to determine how fights work. I cannot think of a single-player game which really has the same concepts.

Most games: The dragon does not attack the priest because the warrior is blocking the way.
MMORPGs: The dragon does not attack the priest because the warrior has more 'threat'.

The first time you do Deadmines is often the first time you are really exposed to the tank-healer-dps trinity that is at the heart of current MMORPGs. Previously, you've been soloing, or fighting mobs where straight-out dps is a solid tactic.

I know that it took me a great while to truely understand it. WoW is the first game I've played that used aggro-based mechanisms. I played a warrior first, and the concept that 'threat' is different than--but linked to--'damage' was hard to really grasp.


  1. Hello! I just discovered your Blog and I am really impressed with it. Agree with your post on the MMORPG and it's unique way of Threat and Aggro management... I discovered this aspect early as a with my warrior. But I digress..

    I've tagged your blog and would like to add you to my links list if it's quite alright. You can find me at

  2. Even then most people don't understand "threat." Even people with threat meters don't fully understand it. Threat is a topological idea. It's not about who has the most threat but who has threat closest.

    This is why rogues constantly get yelled at for pulling agro. Most people think you need 130% of a tank's agro to pull it off them. And this is range. Closer in the number drops to 110% threat. A mage foolish enough to be close in can be as low as 120% if they are halfway in between the tank and the rest of the casters.

    This is why pulling threat back when a tank has lost it is so hard. The tank is already at least 10% below who ever pulled threat, and if it's a caster then he may be at a 30% deficit. Taunt is only going to give the tank time to try to rebuild threat and create seperation. If dumb mage runs, or if they keep going all out...then the tank will lose agro to them.

    This is why DPS calls crush PUGers. Because you always get one idiot who rushes in and tries to show off their "leet" DPS. Since PUGs generally aren't using something like Vent or Teamspeak there is a delay in getting that person to stop. Since most small guilds have access to a teamspeak or Vent server they can comunicate better. Combined with a better knowage of how the other people will react, this is why even small guilds have better runs then any PUG.

  3. deagen: Thanks! Feel free to add me to your links.

    thoma: you are correct, but I was primarily looking at new people who have even less knowledge of the system. People who don't understand what threat is. Or think that threat=damage, and as soon as you do more damage than the other guy, the mob comes after you. That's a very simple way of looking at threat, and it is dangerous because it's often right.

  4. As much of a learning curve as this presents it is no where near as bad as in other games. FFXI didn't have the 10%/15%/20%/30% cushions. If I did 101% more threat then the tank did, I would pull agro. Generally the next highest agro total would be the white mage trying to heal me. And the party would wipe. It's one of the reasons I hated Ninja tanks because they generated so much less threat.

    That is why you don't see many non-five man raid instances before the 50's. The whole point of small groups is that it shows cause and effect so much better. It doesn't make them the best training grounds except for learning the basics of your class.

  5. As a fury warrior, I never had to battle over-nuking mages too often. If I lost aggro, I taunted, and then DPS'd myself.

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but I had a slight aggro advantage by being high-threat using Heroic Strike, SU's, AND damage. In MC, I can rip agg off our GM as MT in about 5 seconds using Heroic Strikes alone, so if I'm playing tank in a mid-50 instance and doing my tanking tactics, it takes quite a bit of nuking. The Molten Giants and Core Hounds come after ME, not the squishies.

  6. There are alot of things to pick at there. Which stance is your MT in? Which stance are you in? Stances affect agro generation. If spamming Heroic strike is pulling agro off your MT then you are either DPSing early or MT is having threat issues. While Heroic strike does generate alot of threat, sunder armor generates more, revenge generates more, shield slam generates more hate...

    And Mages and Locks have a very easy time generating threat. Find a SM/Ruin build Lock...have them throw up CoD, any dot, and have two large crits in a row. They will have agro if they don't watch themselves carefully. (3000 + DoT Damage + 3500 crit + 3500 crit...)

  7. I can forgive new players going thru deadmines, but when I see reckless lvl 60 players that haven't learned how to play in instances, I have to admit that's kinda lame.