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Thursday, June 23, 2005


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There have been many intelligent essays written on increasing the role of player skill in MMORPG's. But, hey, intelligence is not my style. I get my ideas from goofy anime golf games.

I was playing Hot Shots Golf on my friend's PSP and I had three thoughts. One: this is the only good game for the PSP (don't e-mail me about Lumines). Two: I should really sign up to play
Shot Online, the free multiplayer golf game with roleplay elements. And three: I have a wacky idea for adding a little excitement to MMO combat.

If you've ever played a PC golf game, from the old PGA to Tiger Woods, you know about the accuracy/power gauge. It effects how far you hit the ball and whether you slice your shot or not.

I am going to use the example of nukes here, but I think it would also work with heals, taunts and major attacks. Let's say you cast ice comet. The gauge pops up and the bar starts heading upwards. You click the mouse to stop it at a colored line or as close to the top as you can. The colored line is the "safe" power. The line then moves downwards and you need to click again at the colored accuracy bar. If you hit the line perfectly the spell will definitely hit. If you miss by a little bit it will probably hit. The more you miss it by, the greater the chance of a resist or fizzle. Also, if you went for "safe" power, as opposed to overpowering your spell, you get more of a margin of error.

This would be totally optional. If you have the gauge off, your ice comet will hit in the range of 3,000 damage with a chance to hit of 80 percent. Using the gauge you have the chance to hit for up to 4,000 but you may hit for much less if you click the power too early and your chance to hit may be as low as zero if you totally miss the accuracy line. The speed at which the bar moves would have to be somewhat random to prevent macros.

The bar's speed could be slowed by buffs or even items to make it easier to cast a perfect spell.

Well, that's my idea. I think it would be a fun little way to make combat more interesting. I'm not that into adding first person shooter elements to MMORPG's. I also don't like the idea of extremely complex combos which require voice chat to pull off. The current HO system in EQII is fine and workable. In my guild group someone will type "fate" and we can pull the Luminous Fate HO off in a short time. I just don't want to take this to extremes.

Let me make it clear that I do believe there is skill involved in EQII as it is now. If you play in a lot of pick-up groups you will find that out right quick. Tanks that don't taunt, healers that go for dps instead of healing, and mages that, well, overnuke, are just a few of the playstyles that can lead to disaster.

As a brief aside, what is with the people who spam lengthy chat macros in groups or raids? Sure, if an enchanter is mezzing some mob or a tank is pulling then I want to hear about it. But what's with:

"I am casting reactive heal (Adept I) on Bob in seven point five seconds it will heal roughly 250 to 340 points of damage over a period of 40 seconds. Thank you and have a nice day."

I'm not even exaggerating that much and I've seen people post novels like this literally every three seconds. It recently got to the point where I was so fed up I started spamming:

"Casting Westfend's Ice Spear on mob as soon as I take a sip of my delightful beverage...according to my calculations it will do roughly 672.4 damage with a 79.2% chance of landing. I'd also like to give a shout-out to some of my peeps from South Qey. I'll be hear all week ladies and gents!"

There is a discussion of player skill in MMO's over at the
Aggro Forums along with a bunch of other interesting threads so head on over and join in.


Anonymous warm_machine said...

That's a really good idea! I hope someone picks up on your tip, I'd like to try it out.

11:05 AM  
Blogger Neil said...

EQ2 doesn't provide any mental or physical challenges. You have to know what buttons you are supposed to be pressing and have a grasp of how the game systems work, but that is a knowledge requirement, not a skill requirement.

12:20 PM  
Blogger Aggro Me said...

I understand where you're coming from, Neil, and time played is definitely a greater factor in determining "success" than any skill. I guess I just have a wider definition of the word "skill." Some of the skills required to play EQ2 might be:

Resource Management: Making sure your character is properly equipped, etc. Deciding on the proper price to sell an item. Building social connections to maximize resources.

Tactical Skill: Determining the proper spells and actions to use in each combat situation. Also, pulling correctly, positioning properly and not getting aggro.

But, yeah, you're right, it is not overly challenging in terms of physical or mental skill. The fact that so many people still screw it up, though, or at least are unpleasant to group with argues for the fact that there is some level of skill involved.

The next batch of MMO's are claiming that they will make player skill important. Tactica Online, for instance, claims that squad based tactical combat strategy will be crucial for success. Tabula Rasa is going the FPS route. We'll see how it works out.

1:36 PM  
Blogger supernoob said...

It sounds like a cool idea, but I would also like to suggest making the 'power/accuracy' meter an optional thing where you can turn it on for the chance to use skill for a 'better' or 'worse' spell, but be able to turn it off and get simple generic results. There are times when I'm sleepy that my reaction times have slowed down and I'm sure I'd be 'fizzing' or 'undercasting' all the time. I'd like the chance to turn it off and just go with a plain old heal.

Also, you would want the generic option for people that can't do the meter. My wife for instance LOVES golf games, but simply put she sucks at them because she can never hit a ball straight.

1:40 PM  
Blogger Aggro Me said...

I agree Supernoob, I would probably turn it off half the time myself. There are times when you are just too tired or are chatting while in a fight. I would definitely want it to be optional for those who didn't think it was fun.

2:57 PM  
Anonymous Anskiere said...

Awesome idea, I think =)

3:57 PM  
Anonymous Matthew Pass said...

It's a lovely idea, but I'm not sure about the implementation. If it were done server-side, there would be Mighty Lag Issues; and if it were done client-side, it would get hacked... :(

4:31 AM  
Anonymous Nonentity said...

They had a speed/accuracy thingy in the original Asheron's Call, along with hit location.

It was kinda cool, gave some strategy to it.

11:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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11:37 AM  

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