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Thread: Macros: Lets talk combat mechanics

  1. #1
    Rift Disciple
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    Default Macros: Lets talk combat mechanics

    This is not a thread about how broken GoS is, sorry. It's also not a thread complaining about the existence of macros, and i have no intention of missusing the word 'exploit'. Lets call this a discussion of why the mechanics of combat for most souls and callings are dull and simplistic, to the point that they can be played effectively by a macro that does nothing more than mashing 5 buttons at the same time. Also, this post is WAY too long, and you DEFINITELY did not read it.

    MMOs are or should be games that are designed to entertain players over an extended period of time, after all they're subscription based. For the majority of this period, players will be fighting things, because ultimately the game is about combat. Making combat interesting to play should then really be seen as a priority, because if using your character to kill heal or tank things is repetitive and dull, the game isn't going to last very long. So lets talk about complexity and 'depth of play' in the combat mechanics.

    Depth of play is not measured by the number of different buttons your calling has to press. If it were, then Age of Conan would have better combat than Street Fighter. A class that has 10 damaging attacks on different keys, on various cooldowns where the optimum way to play involves pressing them all in order from most to least damaging, and then doing it again, is not engrossing to play. The best way to evaluate the depth of a set of rules and mechanics is to consider the choices and decisions the player has to make based on the information provided to them, and a set of rules that leaves you making no choices is badly designed. In a real time action game you are looking at not only the difficulty of the choices, but also how many choices a player is asked to make in a time frame, a 'fast paced' game can be said to be a game that requires a player to make many choices quickly.

    To get more specific then, let me throw out some class designs. Here's an example of some poor mechanics, using a melee rogue or warrior archetype:

    Bad-Mechanics-Dancer!

    Button 1: Attack for 20 damage, generate 1 resource point
    Button 2: Attack for 40 damage, generate 1 resource point, 8 second cd
    Button 3: Attack for 20 damage, generate 2 resource points, make target bleed for additional 40 damage over 12 seconds, 8 second cd
    Button 4: 'Reactive' ability, usable after a crit, not on GCD, deal 40 damage, 6 sec cd
    Button 4: Finisher! Do 15 damage per resource point
    Button 5: Other Finisher! Do 12 damage per resource point and increase damage dealt by 1% for 2 minutes
    Button 6: Increase all damage by 30% for 15 seconds, 2 minute cooldown
    Button 7: Increase crit rating by 30% for 15 seconds, 2 minute cooldown


    Ok, so 7 buttons. This is some generic design that could be any rift soul, it probably sounds like some of the specs you may have played before, abilities exactly like this are scattered across trees of the rogue and warrior callings. This probably sounds like a perfectly normal set of mechanics for a class that anyone could come up with in 30 seconds with a napkin, it's also a really badly designed ruleset.

    The reason it is bad, is because it offers little to no choices, your choices are essentially limited to when to pop the 2 minute cooldowns (Which is 'when they are off cooldown' unless encounter mechanics dictate otherwise), and when to use Button 5, which is an almost irrelevant choice because the cost for using it (damage difference over Button 4) is practically 0, the pay off is practically 0, and the duration is too long. Everything else is simply pressed whenever the cooldown finishes, and button 1 is filler. You do not have to think about when to press abilities, because the cooldown does the thinking for you.

    Button 3 is a short dot, which could have offered the possibility of managing dot uptime by refreshing just as the dot is about to fall off, except by adding significant damage and 2 RP to the initial strike, the dot element becomes meaningless and you again want to simply press this on cooldown. If anyone noticed, this button is 'Puncture' from sin, and the other finisher is all of the 'tiny buff for ages' finishers spread across all the rogue trees. The reactive ability should always be pressed immediately as soon as it is available, and cannot be pressed at a bad time, the RP generation is pretty much static so the build will quickly fall into a mind numbing rotation of 5 buttons then finisher...

    And the final nail in the coffin - this build fits into 2/3 macro buttons. The whole RP generation cycle is just a single macro that presses all the non-finisher abilities at once, ordered with button 1 at the end. The cooldown abilities, the dot, the reactive ability all dissapear into a macro which then becomes 'press this macro till 5 RP, then press button 4'. This is how the majority of Rift souls are currently designed, any flavour or theme to a particular soul dissapears because all skills are replaced with Macro: Dodamage. The fault is not with the existance of macros, it's with the simple combat mechanics that can be replaced by mashing every button.


    Now let me show you how it could work better, i had a good roffle at Bladedancer when i first built one, and immediately realised that the whole combat mechanics just boil down to spamming a macro because the game does not let you press abilities at a bad time, so i thought up a few ways it could work better. Here's my earlier thoughts on how BD could work while keeping the intended theme of mainhand/offhand rythmic attacking:

    Not-So-Bad-Mechanics-Dancer!

    Button 1: 20 damage, 1 RP, increases damage of button 2 or 3 by 50%
    Button 2: 20 damage, 1 RP, consumes damage buff from button 1, 40% chance to allow use of Button 3, proc has 5 second internal CD
    Button 3: 20 damage, 2 RP, usable only after proc from button 2, not on GCD, cheap energy cost, does not consume buff from button 1
    Button 4: Dot that deals 30 damage over 8 seconds, stacks 3 times, 1 RP
    Button 5: Finisher deals 15 damage per RP, also increases damage of auto attacks by 100% for 6 seconds

    I'm going to go indepth and explain the tricks of this one, because it won't immediately click, it's 5 buttons, and i only put button 4 in so i could talk about it in a second. You'll notice nothing is on a cooldown except for the proc ICD, you can press most of these buttons whenever you like, but the game rewards you for making a conscious decision to use the right button at the right time. Button 1 and 2 are obviously Keen Strike and Quick Strike, the difference being that you can press quick strike whenever you like, but using them one after the other is rewarded with additional damage, this immediately breaks the macro.

    Button 3 would be the replacement for reprisal, it no longer procs on dodge/parry because far too much of the tree is already reliant on that idea, and it's a design that has no relevance in end game pve, or pvp against half the soul combos - there's no point creating an interesting set of combat rules that don't work 50% of the time. The trick to button 3 is, pressing it immediately is always a dps loss, so mashing it with a macro is bad. Button 1 adds a 50% damage buff to it, and that damage buff is consumed by the same attack that can proc it, so you always have time to press Button 1 after button 2, and then react in time to replace your next Button 2 with Button 3 instead for a damage boost. It also has a subtlety to it that can slightly increase the damage of players willing to put the effort in, which is a great thing because the mechanics can then appeal to varied skill levels without the average MMO player feeling that he can't use the meat'n'bones of the soul. The subtlety is the ICD on button 2: 5 seconds stops you simply mashing it for procs yes, but it's also just long enough that a normal rotation of 1,3,1,2 done as quickly as you can press buttons will never proc twice in a row, it's slightly too fast. To maximise damage you can intentionally delay the next attacks, refreshing button 4 or using a finisher in between and then waiting, so that you are able to proc again on your next button 2. It's a minor damage boost that average players don't have to care about, but skilled players can exploit and feel like they are getting more out of the build. Waiting is a choice, and a very good one to incorporate into a game as long as people never have to wait too long.

    The finisher has a damage boost to auto attacks on it, this is not a random damage addition, it's another subtlety in design. On normal energy regen, assuming most of those skills are 30 energy, you will not get 5 CPs again 6 seconds after the finisher, so it will not have full uptime. When you proc button 3 however, the extra CPs off the GCD allow you to easily reach finisher before the auto attack buff runs out. So here's the trick, if you proc button 3 and reach 5 CPs quickly, it's a DPS increase for you to then WAIT, and pool energy untill the buff expires. You then use the finisher and burn the energy you stored up to reach the next finisher quicker, the better you manage this the higher the uptime on the buff over a fight. This fits the timing/rythm theme of Bladedancer and adds more depth to the mechanics that good players can exploit, but average MMO players can ignore without feeling like they are missing out on the fun of the soul.

    Then there's button 4, yea it's fiery spike from Nightblade. Fiery Spike is a nice ability because it rewards good management of the dot, it rewards good timing in a granular way - the earlier you refresh it the less damage you do, and you can take bigger risks to eek out tiny amounts of damage by refreshing as late as possible, but average players aren't crippled by refreshing it in a nice safe window of 2-3 seconds before. It's such a nice ability, that trion had to go and remove it from play by creating the lingering flame talent... which makes the whole thing automatic and brainless. You could have an ability that works similarly to generic FS in a tree and tune its damage so that using it is a small damage increase in pve style fights, and not using it in pvp due to it being impractical, or casual players not using it because they have enough to think about would not cripple the soul's dps. So it's an 'extra' to the otherwise 4 button design idea to Bladedancer, but having extras for the dedicated to exploit for a tiny rather than gamebreaking bonus is a good way to keep people of all abilities amused.

    So to wrap that up, this isn't just a request to fix Bladedancer, though i wouldn't complain, this is a plea in the hope that the design methodology in general can be sharpened up a notch, to everyone's benefit. It's early days, you can still make this work well.




    There's no way anyone read that.

  2. #2
    Telaran chumppi's Avatar
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    /bump (too late for this mmo though)
    <Mushroom Mayhem>
    - Never argue with an idiot, they'll drag you down to their level and beat you with experience
    Click for my build!

  3. #3
    RIFT Guide Writer NotTrev's Avatar
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    Great post. 100% agreed. I felt this way leveling both warrior and rogue. If you've tried Sin, too, you'll learn that abilities with positional requirements can be macro'd as well. For instance : /cast backstab /cast savage strike . Backstab casts if it's positionally possible, if not you don't miss a beat simply casting savage strike.

    One thing I would despute though, for rogues, is that using reprisal on a "do damage"(aka cp generation) macro could result in a dps loss if you're at 4cp. Would be best simply to use any 1cp generator, finish and use reprisal off the gcd immediately on the finisher's gcd. It's the only reason I hesitate to macro reprisal.

  4. #4
    Soulwalker tnyfgr3's Avatar
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    if ur unhappy with macros play a mage macros r all but useless except for chloro healing mouseovers...

    happy to solve ur problem for u, enjoy!

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by tnyfgr3 View Post
    if ur unhappy with macros play a mage macros r all but useless except for chloro healing mouseovers...

    happy to solve ur problem for u, enjoy!
    hes isnt complaining about Macros, just the fact that most classes can be macro'd into a 2 button class, BD/Sin can have macros like

    puncture (10s bleed, 10s CD)
    Backstab (positional req, only goes off if behind)
    percision strike (10s CD, only usable after Keen)
    quick strike (only usable after keen)
    keen strike (makes hidden buff for PS, and QS)
    reprisel (off GCD)
    blade tempo (off GCD)

    this makes a BD/Sin into a 1 button CP builder class, where none of the abilitys cause anything but more damage, with Sab you wouldnt use spike charge back to back because of the longer bleed effect, you would clip damage, but Puncture does not have that issue, you always use Percision if its off CD and usable, if not use quick, if you cant use that use keen, so macro or not i can press 1 macro that orders my skills or just slide my finger across the number keys from 1-7 and its the same thing, but i need room for my finishers which for BD/Sin cant be macro'd but for NB it can be. takes thought and decision away from classes is what hes not agreeing with.

    also knowing people who play mages, and played them in beta 5-6 and open ive macro'd mages to the 2 button class (pyros can have a 1 button mash key for offence)
    Last edited by Dobranoc; 04-02-2011 at 07:33 PM. Reason: added mage comment

  6. #6
    Shadowlander
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    I want this at the top.

  7. #7
    Telaran
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    I say: Le Nice!

  8. #8
    Plane Touched Lemmy's Avatar
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    Coming mainly from a pvp perspective here - I like to be able to put a main rotation into 1 keypress, allowing me to foucus more on positioning, movement, target selection etc.. But there needs to be other stuff too.

    I've tried a few warrior soul combo's so far in this game, but I always keep coming back to riftblade-heavy specs.. Why? Because of the utility.. Yes, I put my main attack rotation into a macro - but there is also so much situational stuff there too.. roots, silences, snares, forks, single-target and aoe stuff and mobility.

    I've tried 44 champ builds.. and 44 paragon - but once your macro's are good, they're very much 1-dimensional, 2-button spammers. Boring imho (I lol at all the qq posts last month about flamespears being 1-button spammers)...

    so idk.. it's good because it allows you to do steady dps while having the more important cc stuff there right when you need it.. but you're right - it's pretty damn boring if your build doesn't have a ton of situational stuff.

  9. #9
    Soulwalker
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    I think this is the second post I've seen from you and both are equally insightful and a good read. Thanks for the contribution, it's really good food for thought for MMO Developers as a whole.

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