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 Post subject: PvP RPG Class Design
PostPosted: Thu Oct 22, 2009 10:59 am 
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There are always complaints about class design in RPG PvP games. Some of them, to my mind, conflict with each other.

* Classes don't have enough skills and are too boring to play (this was my complaint in L2), ala "1 1 1 2 1 1 1 2..."
* There is too much CC (this seems to be a complaint whenever there is any CC)
* Melees get kited
* Casters are too squishy


CC skills (snare, root, stun, sleep, knockdowns, knockbacks, etc) are usually a pretty important part of most characters and I'm not sure how you can avoid keeping the game and classes interesting if you took away CC. What would that leave them with? Damage and healing? Is there a way to make that interesting and tactical enough by itself? In a "real world" scenario the tactics come in your ability to use a sword but in an RPG, that's a "character skill", which means you, the player, have very little input with it (and games that make you physically swing the sword with your mouse have always been pretty terrible in my opinion). We have to come up with something for the brain behind the sword to be thinking about.

Melee vs ranged is a problem to solve as well. Usually ranged classes are squishy if you can actually reach them, and their goal is to prevent you from reaching them. It's a terribly fine line to try and walk that would let ranged classes use their advantage of range without always having a CC-breaking melee run straight at them to smash them, while also avoiding making melee classes always die during the approach or get kited to death.


So...

What basic classes would you invent?
What would make them interesting to play?

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 Post subject: Re: PvP RPG Class Design
PostPosted: Thu Oct 22, 2009 11:06 am 
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CC takes the place of active blocking which has never been implemented well in a mmo game. People object to CC because they don't like losing control of their characters for such extended periods of time that they might die in the process. This is much the same as being one shotted.

You prompted me to ask myself, "What if being stunned or feared or charmed caused a 'stance-change' (as per wow warrior) that opened up an entirely new set of skills/spells for you to use?"

Let's say you get stunned and it's a 10 second stun. Maybe this puts you into a defensive stance allowing you to build up a combination of reflective abilities, super-regens, or various defensive abilities so that by the end of the stun you could start the fight. Maybe you get stunned for 10 seconds but 3 seconds into the stun you can shadowstep right next to the player who stunned you. In this way stuns would always have some disincentive for the person doing the stunning and it would give the CCed player some options to direct the combat a certain way. This would complicated combat but has some merit I think.

An idea for a class might be someone who is really good at breaking CC and has a slew of abilities geared for that role. What you are really asking is can we reinvent the damage/heal/cc/defense quadraped that is the foundation of all mmog classes and add something really innovative. I'll have to brainstorm a little.

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 Post subject: Re: PvP RPG Class Design
PostPosted: Thu Oct 22, 2009 11:29 am 
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These issues continue to be a problem because designers continue to use historical references in creating there class based games.

The first mistake is making a class based game. Throw out all class base balancing and you can get away from the boring issues.

With Skill based games putting the character developement into the hands of the players removes the boredom factor because it is purely player based. Balancing skills so all players start the same and build there own type of pvp character should be the goal.

CC and speed enhancments should never be part of any game nor is it neccessary for squishy type players. Everyone moves at the same speed and everyone gets to control there character at all times until they are dead.

Squishy big DPS builds do not require snares and CC to be effective. Planetside, Shattered Galaxies and Shadowbane showed that it can be solved by just making good decisions when creating the skills.


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 Post subject: Re: PvP RPG Class Design
PostPosted: Thu Oct 22, 2009 11:33 am 
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To be fair all characters in PS do not move at the same speed. Every vehicle had a different acceleration, top speed and pivot speed. IMO this enhances the game as long as it is balanced but has never been tried in a fantasy mmo to my knowledge.

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 Post subject: Re: PvP RPG Class Design
PostPosted: Thu Oct 22, 2009 1:45 pm 
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Skill based or class based doesn't make a difference as far as I can see, so far as this topic goes.

The issue I'm getting at is that if you were to design your character and you could give him any skills you wanted, what would you give him that would be interesting, tactical and not ruin other people's gameplay?


Basically, list for me your dream character. What skills do you have on your toolbar? How does that character play?


I'm not even sure how to answer this question myself, because most of the interesting effects are CC related.

For example, if I wanted to create a tank character that works in PvP, what skills would he have? Just about anything I can think of that's "tanky" would end up being a sort of CC. I want to protect my healer so I.... stun you? Snare you? Root you? Knock you down? Knock you back? Force you to switch targets to me? Physically block you with player collision? These are all basically crowd control abilities -- they force the target player to do something other than what he wanted to do, which was beat on my healer.

Maybe we could have "indirect crowd control", though, like if I get a shot at your back it's going to be a good one, so you'd better not let me get behind you with a sword. But I'm afraid that would tend to result in some awfully twitchy gameplay.


I'm still tempted to do something with "henchmen". Like rarely would you ever control just your character solo. You'd always have a selection of henchmen with you which you can control via an RTS like interface. This would let us keep your main character fairly simple and the real focus in combat would be on controlling your "troops" -- flanking, ambushing, scouting, etc.

Not sure that's what people have in mind when they think of "MMORPG", though.

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 Post subject: Re: PvP RPG Class Design
PostPosted: Thu Oct 22, 2009 3:00 pm 
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What about skills that cause the player to hover above ground for a short time? Like a levitate spell that would put you out of range of melee for 5 seconds? What about illusion spells that would cause 2-5 mirrors of the target to appear?

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 Post subject: Re: PvP RPG Class Design
PostPosted: Thu Oct 22, 2009 3:38 pm 
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Maybe the basic question is "what makes RPG combat fun".

To me, CC can be a lot of fun because of the tactics it adds. This squishy guy can't get away from me because I snared him. This melee can't hit me because I just turned him into a sheep. Granted nobody likes getting hit with CC but it does add a tactical element.

Positionals can be interesting -- attacks that only work from a particular direction -- but I don't really favor the twitchy feel it puts on the gameplay. I feel like it's less tactical and more trying to wrestle with the mouse and keyboard interface to act faster than you can react, which isn't, in my opinion, meant to be the focus of RPG style combat.



I'm starting to think about EQ.

As a warrior in EQ, you literally just had 3 buttons: autoattack (which was a toggle), bash (to interrupt spells) and taunt (which didn't do anything in PvP).

Where you spent the majority of your time was in "situational awareness". The combat wasn't really exciting. The real gameplay around combat was in making sure you were hitting the right guy and keeping on top of a dynamic situation. EQ didn't take it easy on you in terms of "adds" and if you weren't paying attention to what was going on, you'd end up wiping.

More modern MMORPGs put the focus on 1v1 combat where you have a great variety of abilities because you are meant to focus on your target. PvE coddles you by staying tame enough that you rarely find yourself in a dangerous, out of control situation, which means you need less situational awareness as you focus on your 1v1 fight.

In PvP, though, I don't think this style transfers over well. Now you have a character with 15 hotkeys to focus on, but you also are in a very dynamic battle where you need to keep an eye on what's happening around you, but you can't, really, because you're having to focus on your 1v1 combat and your 15 hotkeys.


Maybe there's something to be said for creating a really SIMPLE combat setup where most people have a very small selection of abilities to perform and then you arrange your game world for brutal PvE -- mobs that frequently run, call for help (and get it) and forces you to spend a lot of time examining the bigger battle rather than focusing on your individual 1v1 fight. Then when PvP breaks out, you're playing the same game: you have few abilities because you're meant to be monitoring a wider scope, perhaps with frequent target switching as opportunities change.


This also addresses something I've been thinking about with gold farmers and bots:
If your game can be readily played by a macro then your combat design must be fucking stupid.



For example, suppose your warrior had the following abilities:
1) Autoattack
2) Snare - target must be moving away from you and must be under 25% health

Autoattack has an automatic feature called "sucker punch". Anytime you autoattack someone who has not hit you within the last 15 seconds, it becomes a "sucker punch" and does extra damage. It's not a taunt, per se, but it has that net effect. Maybe it's like a personal debuff that stacks, so the longer you get to sucker punch them, the more damage it does. They basically need to target you and swing at you once to at least show that they're paying attention and are now "on guard" and not taking sucker punch damage anymore.

That's it.

2 buttons.

You are now expected to engage in situational awareness. NPCs, like players, will tend to try and run away when injured and if they make it away they'll tend to call for help. NPC patrols are common and have long eyesight, so adds will be a regular expectation. You're expected to be spending your time watching what's going on around you rather than watching your hotkey bar waiting for your 15 different abilities to refresh or be useful.


(I do think that this would be a hard sell to the public, though. "2 buttons?! OMG!")

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 Post subject: Re: PvP RPG Class Design
PostPosted: Thu Oct 22, 2009 3:57 pm 
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Every player has a different tolerance level for situational awareness + x number of keys.

Hmm I was about to type you would bore the ever living crap out of me with two keys, but then I had to think that in R6 I pressed the fire button and the grenade button and the prone button and the rest was watching the angles and the minimap and that wasn't boring. It wasn't boring thought because you could at best take one or maybe two hits before dying. In an MMOG with health bars and shit I would personally need more action post-engagement.

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 Post subject: Re: PvP RPG Class Design
PostPosted: Thu Oct 22, 2009 4:06 pm 
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I like the situational awareness combat style as long as auto targeting isn't part of the game. Take auto targeting out and that will compensate for lag.

For example of you shoot a fire ball at me you have to aim and lead to shoot it at me. If it misses it misses. If you lay spells down you lay it on the ground and hit what ever is there. If you swing your sword it hits what is in front of you, if you shoot a bow you have to lead your target or it may miss etc.

The problem with situational combat with auto targeting is you have to calculate to many factors that create misses which creates lag and positional attacks always hit with directional benefits. Auto targeting is to hard to balance.

Take auto target out and now you can simplify the combat with out making it simple. That will keep people's attention.


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 Post subject: Re: PvP RPG Class Design
PostPosted: Thu Oct 22, 2009 4:16 pm 
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The problem with aiming and positional combat is that no one has managed make servers perform that well outside of a 16v16 environment with any fidelity.

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 Post subject: Re: PvP RPG Class Design
PostPosted: Thu Oct 22, 2009 4:18 pm 
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Without autotargeting, lag becomes a much bigger issue because we have now made it into a "twitch" game -- you can dodge my arrows if you see them in time and move. You can't dodge my arrows if you have a 500ms ping. Autotargeting actually levels the playing field when it comes to lag.

Autotargeting is also part of the "RPG". As an RPG, "you" are not necessarily supposed to be good at shooting a bow or aiming a fireball -- that's up to your character's skills to decide. If your character has crap arrow shooting skills then you won't be hitting many people with arrows, regardless of your mouse skills. If your character is good with a bow then you can have a 500ms ping and be a chimpanzee and you'll still shoot people in the eye with arrows because it's your character's skill that matters.

That's why I specifically called this thread "PvP RPG class design". I agree that if we switch to an FPS model we can forget all about the RPG stuff and go to an aiming model, which is intrinsically interesting.

But if we're building an RPG, then hit/miss calculations should come from character attributes, not player mouse skills.

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 Post subject: Re: PvP RPG Class Design
PostPosted: Thu Oct 22, 2009 4:49 pm 
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Aiming doesn't have to be a mouse game. Games in the past have done that but you can compensate for that. I agree we don't want a twitch game.

You compensate for that by having skills that impact targeting reticles.

Think of reticle cycle times from Planetside. What if the skills you take impact the closing of the reticle? You can decrease reticle time, increase accuracy of non closed reticles. You can also widen reticles for AoE or change reticle types for different types of attacks. Instead of taking more damage skills, your accuracy skills can effect reticle operation.

You can remove the twitch aspect of non auto target functions and compensate for lag differences by creating specific skills to achieve the accuracy levels you see in FPS games. I have no problem with that if to achieve such accuracy levels you are giving up, damage, defense, crits, CC and/or a rounded damage types.

All you end up with then is there is one guy who can hit you with every he aims at however he is giving up a ton of damage and has to hit you a bunch to kill you. The guy with 500 ping who put all his skills in damage only needs to hit you once.

There is a balance out there.

The speed of missles can be adjusted. Hell you can even have skills that made missle weopons faster and do less damage or slower and do more damage.

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 Post subject: Re: PvP RPG Class Design
PostPosted: Fri Oct 23, 2009 11:44 am 
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How about combo's?... it takes a 'bash' from a warrior and a perhaps another 'bash' from another warrior to actually 'stun' you for say 3 seconds.

Or You have a warrior that does a slash with a sword and a Necromancer with a 'plague' spell. Because the slash cut the opponent the plague will do 30 more damage a tick. But of course the combo does not come up if the opponent blocked, parried or dodged the slash.

I believe it was EQ2 that came up with these neat combo's.

The more 'characters' you have involved in the combo, the more ingenious the attack is. Max amount to combo is of course the people in your group (6) perhaps.

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 Post subject: Re: PvP RPG Class Design
PostPosted: Fri Oct 23, 2009 11:55 am 
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Kakarat wrote:
How about combo's?... it takes a 'bash' from a warrior and a perhaps another 'bash' from another warrior to actually 'stun' you for say 3 seconds.

Or You have a warrior that does a slash with a sword and a Necromancer with a 'plague' spell. Because the slash cut the opponent the plague will do 30 more damage a tick. But of course the combo does not come up if the opponent blocked, parried or dodged the slash.

I believe it was EQ2 that came up with these neat combo's.

The more 'characters' you have involved in the combo, the more ingenious the attack is. Max amount to combo is of course the people in your group (6) perhaps.


that sounds like a fairly neat idea, kinda common sense...but remember how pople would min max and certain classes that werent part of the optimal DPS combos might be left ouf of groups. I dont like the whole deal of HAVING to do combos to do max damage.

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 Post subject: Re: PvP RPG Class Design
PostPosted: Fri Oct 23, 2009 1:26 pm 
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One thing I'd like to try to get away from is anything that's "obvious".

e.g., if the opponent is cut, then now is a good time to cast your plague. If it's going to be that obvious, though, then the game should just cast it for you. Otherwise we're essentially making Guitar Hero where you're watching the screen and pushing the buttons it's telling you to push in the sequence it's telling you to push them.

I don't really favor that because it's too straightforward to be a tactical element.

I don't really like the whole curse/cure mechanic in games either, for the same reason. If I have a DOT on myself and can cure it, then curing it always seems to be the smart thing to do. Somehow we need to get rid of the "no-brainers" and only keep the things that make for interesting tactical decisions.


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 Post subject: Re: PvP RPG Class Design
PostPosted: Fri Oct 23, 2009 2:10 pm 
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I would like some sort of element that makes fights last a good amount of time, but no so someone can run away easily.

I think if you are in run mode you should not be able to dodge or parry and -50% block. if you turn your back you cannot do any defensive ability and you take +20-50% damage. So just like in real life, if you get surrounded/flanked, you're going down.

But this also entails good collission detection and slower movement speeds. THis would also allow the use of formations for a more strategic level of play.

I also want friendly fire and the the 'lob' ability that you can shot OVER not thru your teammates

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 Post subject: Re: PvP RPG Class Design
PostPosted: Fri Oct 23, 2009 2:35 pm 
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I don't know. Curing a dot now or curing it later really depends on the dot duration, potency, mana cost of the cure, health of the opponent, etc. It could very well be that you just eat the dot and continue to kill the other player because letting him live longer is going to cost you the fight. The curse/cure dynamic is not a no-brainer imo.

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 Post subject: Re: PvP RPG Class Design
PostPosted: Fri Oct 23, 2009 3:13 pm 
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Slamz wrote:
One thing I'd like to try to get away from is anything that's "obvious".

e.g., if the opponent is cut, then now is a good time to cast your plague. If it's going to be that obvious, though, then the game should just cast it for you. Otherwise we're essentially making Guitar Hero where you're watching the screen and pushing the buttons it's telling you to push in the sequence it's telling you to push them.

I don't really favor that because it's too straightforward to be a tactical element.

I don't really like the whole curse/cure mechanic in games either, for the same reason. If I have a DOT on myself and can cure it, then curing it always seems to be the smart thing to do. Somehow we need to get rid of the "no-brainers" and only keep the things that make for interesting tactical decisions.


The way the combo thing worked in EQ2... you didn't have 'one' particular spell to cast after the so called slash. You had 3 or 4 different ones you could use. or just cast something completely different. There was a heck of a lot more to it than my silly example.

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Kakarat ~ Shaman ~ WoW ~
Kakarat ~ Witch Hunter ~ WAR:AoR
Riona ~ Knight of the Blazing Sun ~ WAR:AoR
Kakarat ~ Swashbuckler ~ EQ2 ~ Venekor
Eef Eigten[F-18]~ 60 Aracoix Rogue ~ Shadowbane
Kakarat ~ 60 Ogre Warrior ~ EQ ~ VZ


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