Tobold has an interesting post today where he talks about the holy trinity of MMO’s – tank, healer and dps, and the problems associated with these. There are three basic issues:

1. It’s kind of unrealistic that a smart monster would just stand there and hit the taunting tank while everyone else takes him down.
2. It’s difficult for tanks and healers to level as their damage dealing abilities are weaker than that of dps.
3. You get skewed numbers – too many dps available and not enough tanks or healers.

He has some ideas on how to address these issues, but at the end of the day this is still just window dressing. You’re always dealing with the ‘holy trinity’, so what you’re doing is just changing around abilities a bit to make those three different roles work, which is a bandaid solution at best.

I have another idea entirely – get rid of tanks and healers and make everyone dps. Change the way the encounters work. The one way to differentiate between all the dps classes in this situation would be buffs, mitigation and crowd control. The last aspect is key. Attacking a boss becomes no longer an issue of having one player stand at the front and get hit a lot. It switches to different classes taking it in turn to lock down an enemy while the other party members deal dps. With no healing available, a characters damage mitigation and their skill in using it becomes key to surviving. There are still all three roles present:

Tanking becomes crowd control.
Healing become damage mitigation.
DPS is still DPS.

It would mean that players would have to become responsible for all 3 roles, constantly switching back and forth in harmony with the rest of the group. Every group make-up would be different, requiring you to come up with new ways and tactics to defeat a boss. There would be no tankspot style videos online as the random possibilities based on the classes present in each group would be so different. You could still research a boss online but what you would be researching is their abilities and ways to counter them. This would require that crowd control abilities would work on bosses. It could encourage more realistic fights. I’ve never been a fan of the big room fight situation where the players carefully pull each section of the room while the other mobs stand there with their fingers up their butt seemingly unconcerned that their buddies standing 20 feet away are getting their faces ripped off. With all classes being DPS you could realistically take on a room full of opponents. Remember the Zul Farrak fight on the high steps where waves of mobs came swarming up at you? I think that is one of the best ever fights in WoW. The first time I did it I was enraptured and pumped full of energy. It’s a full-on battle fest, yet at its core it is simple.

This system would solve the three problems listed above and would also lead to better PvP situations. It won’t happen of course in WoW as Blizzard has already invested too much time and effort in the present system. But if I was a new game looking to be the next big MMO, this is the direction I would take.