Monday, June 30, 2008

The White Tower Speaks: Gear vs. Skill Part I

Before you read this, make sure to pop on over to the The Greenskin! and read Bo's article. It's all sorts of amazing, and provides a suitable base for what I'm about to talk about.

The eternal debate, Gear vs. Skill: the truth is, there's not much of a debate, as Bo mentioned, there are very few people who are going to say "I don't want to beat people because I'm 'better' than them. I want to beat them because I have better gear."

Does anyone really say that? To me, that statement makes no sense. When I beat someone, I want it to be because of my deeper understanding of game mechanics, proper use and timing of skills, solid team work, and generally just being faster or smarter than my opponent.

Does this always happen? Of course not. There is always someone out there smarter or faster than you. There will always be people who are capable of beating you, no matter how good you (think you?) are. That's a given. But what about the people who beat you, not because they out thought you, or outmaneuvered you, but simply because their gear allows them an unfair advantage over you.

That's what gets me. I can play a match-up perfectly: anticipating CC, interrupting heals, maximizing burst damage etc. While my opponent makes numerous mistakes: forgetting about diminishing returns, letting a heal get counter-spelled, and still win, simply because his gear allows him to take 3 or 4 times more punishment than me, or deal out twice as much damage.

No one (at least not me) wants to lose that way, and I really hope no one wants to win that way either.

But let's face it, gear is a large part of MMO's, it always will be. People have to have something to strive for, a reason to keep playing. Who's going to keep playing for an item that makes one stat .001 percent better? A few, maybe, but what's the point?

That's the problem, there's got to be a balance. How can we balance gear so that it provides a means for players to keep having something to strive for while keeping the gear differential in check?

Come back for the next installment of The White Tower Speaks: Gear vs. Skill Part II

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