.. as a minimum to balance any object. The trinity concept provides that balance, but so much more. It is not the end-all-be-all (nor should it be used in such a way in any design), but it is the stability needed for bigger things.
At the conclusion of the last post in the series, I asserted how symmetrical, singular warfare gives birth to asymmetrical tactics. In a group environment, this same desire to outmaneuver the opponent manifests. The difference here is that the singular entities that form a group can specialize.
Separate Roads, Same Destination
This desire to flank can be see in any competition. The key difference between singular combat and group is that a group does not need to sacrifice between efficiency, capability, and flexibility the way a singular entity does.
This might depict a group of Jacks trying to achieve stability can only extend so far in any direction as they are cemented around their point of origin. The asset to this setup is the ability to shift quickly to perform any role. The downside is the role, when being performed, is decreased in magnitude.
A group of specialists inherently can remain stable in more adverse environments as their points of origin provide legs of stability for the group. The asset to this setup is the range of environments they are able to traverse. The downside is if any one leg falls, the system has difficulty remaining balanced.
The same concept of specialization occurs in a group environment as it does in a singular. When a point of balance is established based on design point parameters, specializations will hover their collective center of mass around it. An individual cannot stray far, as they must remain personally balanced. However, given that groups are a collection of individuals, the range and manner in which specialization is achieved can truly become creative. Given more numbers, the further an individual can roam from the collective center point in their specialization.
A Small Detour
When someone logs into a [modern] class-based, role-filling game, level 1 begins with the player alone. They learn their surroundings, their own abilities, their pitfalls. Over time, they are introduced to group play concepts. A key complaint (in raiding) is a desire to do more than just 1 role. ‘I didn’t sign up for this’. Oh, but you did.
Every player is akin to a single cell. This cell is entirely self-sufficient, but only in a singular scene. Because of the race to flank, it is only natural to expand into a group of similar cells. In a group, this cell begins to operate in the function of a tissue. In a larger group, this cell begins to operate in the function of an organ. It is still the same cell, but increased numbers results in increased need for specialization.
Strength in Numbers
Individuals need groups. Because there is a limit to how far a person can reach in any one direction, their capability to perform any specific function is limited. It’s also no surprise that groups need individuals. However, the way in which that need manifests is unlike that of the individual who needs a group.
Groups desire subject matter experts. The way efficiencies work, groups look to add people to perform a needed function within that group. The larger the group, the more pertinent a singular task becomes. The capability of the group increases, but the efficiency drops. The whole draw to forming a group is that the gain outweighs the loss. In order for this to be achieved, the expertise, in a given area or role, of the newly arrived needs to be as high as possible. The stipulations are so stringent, and the gains so minimal, but yet billions of dollars are spent to achieve this very thing.
So Why The Trinity?
This specialization can, and should, be applied to more than just the trinity. The series has spoken to the fundamental roles of combat, and the derivatives thereof. The trinity has been the springboard for examples used throughout. However, these very concepts can be applied to utility, as well as (de)buffing and logistics. They should not be limited to just the trinity.
However, as the first post established, the trinity is the bottom line, and physical combat does not occur without each of those three. Logistics brings you up to that point, utility does not disallow it, (de)buffing permits it, but the trinity is where combat manifests. This is why the roles of tanking, damage dealing, and healing are made into overarching roles that people step into via class-based systems, ship-design, talent-specialization, shooter-choice, etc. It is almost cyclic reasoning, but because of everything mentioned throughout the series until this point, the stage for why can be understood.
And For My Next Skit..
Build roles into the architecture that people can readily fill. Build the need for a tank, a damage, a healer. But also build the need for an interrupter, a buffer, a portalier, a hybrid, a scout. Don’t limit yourself to the trinity, but whatever you do, don’t fail to include it. Diverse gameplay is defined by the number of options available to the player- don’t arbitrarily reduce that number.
The Three Kings. Don’t leave home (or your MMORPG design table) without them.