The holy trinity of a RTS has always been a Rock-Paper-Scissors deal, or Infantry - Vehicles - Aircraft type deal. The holy trinity of a MMO though always gos Tank-DPS-Healer. No matter how many times a game maker tries these basic designs keep seeping back in. There are many successful RTS developers that have easily moved beyond the R-P-S design and added in a much more dynamic and fluid system giving players many choices.
MMO's on the other hand have had a seriously difficult time doing so. Some new ones have forgone this and embraced the trinity quite well, a recent one that did this was Star Wars : The Old Republic (not a bad game btw if anyone cares). One that has tried to escape it that just came out was The Secret World which I have not tried but have heard mixed reviews on how successful it was at this.
Why am I bringing this up? Doug and I have been talking about re-balancing the mod. Some may say "what, again? Just put the damn new units in then go back and look at it!" To those people I say "sorry, sucks to think that way." You see we want each release to be properly balanced and with each release we're getting closer to what we want to see out of this game. But each time we do something it seems other "cracks" in the design appear that make us go "mmmmmm".
In this case though the design issues we've found have NOTHING to do with the actual way the game factions work or how they are implemented. Instead it comes down to the units themselves. You see when I designed the formula for units value/cost/damage output there were a few things that I left out that at the time didn't seem to matter much. But as things continue to evolve my original design flaws are becoming apparent.
What this all boils down to is a redesign of a different scale. I am working on a new unit formula for designing the units for the game right now while Doug works on the more refined changes from a faction design level.
And with that comes the holy trinity of Tank/DPS/Healer or in our case Offensive/Assault/Repair/Utility.
A unit classified as Offensive would be the typical Meat Shield of an MMO. These units are designed to take a hit and keep on going. If you need a unit that can survive the onslaught of enemy fire it's an Offensive force.
An Assault classified unit is a unit that specializes in dealing a lot of damage and they typically have greater range. However assault units are not the toughest units out there and can quite quickly die if not properly supported.
A Repair classified unit is a normal unit (if there is such a thing) that also has the ability to heal others.
Finally if a unit does not fall into one of the other 3 classifications it ends up as a Utility unit. This isn't always a bad thing. Utility units typically have other "powers" or "features" going on that help them keep a role in their army.
An example for Gundam players would be as follows. An RGM 79 would be an Offensive unit as it is ment to be used on the front line. As such it would get a "bonus" to its health to allow it to fill such a roll. A GM Sniper or Guntank however would fall in the Assault Class. A Guntank however through the course of the game would change classifications to become a Repair class after certain upgrades are met.
This is just an idea and not even a fully fleshed out idea here. But it's one to think about as we go forward. This kind of classification mixed in with our other design would allow players at a glance to instantly see what kind of units and how they actually would function on the battlefield at a glance. If I'm looking at the following....
GM 79 - Offensive Troop
GM Sniper - Assault Elite Support
Guntank - Assault Heavy Support
Powered GM - Offensive Fast Attack
I know that my GM79's are going to be the cheap front line units that have the least features, that the GM Sniper is going to be a very effective but expensive damage dealing unit, the Guntank is going to be a slower but more heavily armored alternative to the GM Sniper, and the Powered GM is going to be a more expensive but much faster option to the GM79. And you know what, I'd be right. What are your thoughts?