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PostPosted: Tue Nov 10, 2009 11:50 am 
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In MMORPGs, massive battles usually devolve into a stream of players collapsing toward some central location into a blob. Is there a way to stretch out the blob and allow for massive battles to occur along a long line of opposing forces?

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 10, 2009 12:09 pm 
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Generally players form zergs because that's the easiest solution to winning a fight. Got pushed out of an area? Get more players. They also form zergs however because players generally want to be where the action is and where they feel like they are contributing.

Splitting up the zerg however has solutions that can be borrowed from any strategy game. The penalties for concentrating your force in one place is that this usually leaves other locations undefended.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 10, 2009 12:19 pm 
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Hoofhurr wrote:
Generally players form zergs because that's the easiest solution to winning a fight. Got pushed out of an area? Get more players. They also form zergs however because players generally want to be where the action is and where they feel like they are contributing.

Splitting up the zerg however has solutions that can be borrowed from any strategy game. The penalties for concentrating your force in one place is that this usually leaves other locations undefended.


So how do we make players not want to leave "areas" undefended?

One thought I had was that NPC lieutenants could form up along a battle line of opposing NPC lieutenants. Then, your PCs group up with each NPC lieutenant and get buffs for doing so. Then, as the fight progresses, good things happen for the team that keeps their lieutenants alive and bad things happen for the team that leaves their lieutenants to fend for themselves. So each column in my picture above would essentially be a group of x players "attached" to an NPC lieutenant. We could play around with whether or not you can give the lieutenant advice as to charging forward vs retreating. We would, of course, not allow all the lieutenants from grouping up in one big blob.

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"Hamilton is really a Colossus to the anti republican party. Without numbers he is an host within himself. They have got themselves into a defile where they might be finished but too much security on the republican part will give time to his talents and indefatigableness to extricate them. We have had only middling performances to oppose to him. In truth when he comes forward there is nobody but yourself who can meet him. His adversaries having begun the attack he has the advantage of answering them and remains unanswered himself. For God's sake take up your pen and give a fundamental reply to Curtius and Camillas" - Thomas Jefferson to James Madison


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 10, 2009 1:50 pm 
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Friendly Fire
Slower paced combat without the ability to flee easily (without dying)
No overpowered stealth classes
spread out group objectives

One reason why people huddle together is protection from gankers - stealth classes, overpowered classes and players much higher lvl in skill.

If you have game where a lvl 40 stealther cant instagib a lvl 20, and 3 lvl 20's can take out a lvl 40...you have a more interesting game. If it takes that lvl 40 2 minutes to kill a lvl 20...by then several more people could come to help out.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 10, 2009 2:56 pm 
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Dustie wrote:
Hoofhurr wrote:
Generally players form zergs because that's the easiest solution to winning a fight. Got pushed out of an area? Get more players. They also form zergs however because players generally want to be where the action is and where they feel like they are contributing.

Splitting up the zerg however has solutions that can be borrowed from any strategy game. The penalties for concentrating your force in one place is that this usually leaves other locations undefended.


So how do we make players not want to leave "areas" undefended?

One thought I had was that NPC lieutenants could form up along a battle line of opposing NPC lieutenants. Then, your PCs group up with each NPC lieutenant and get buffs for doing so. Then, as the fight progresses, good things happen for the team that keeps their lieutenants alive and bad things happen for the team that leaves their lieutenants to fend for themselves. So each column in my picture above would essentially be a group of x players "attached" to an NPC lieutenant. We could play around with whether or not you can give the lieutenant advice as to charging forward vs retreating. We would, of course, not allow all the lieutenants from grouping up in one big blob.


The lieutenant idea goes back to the PvE fight again... much like the Warhammer keeps. People will catch on quickly to kill the lieutenant to move the fight forward/win... Unless the lieutenant is healable from a player I don't see it being very good.
But then again there are discussions of staying away from healing from the get go.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 10, 2009 3:11 pm 
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* Soloable objectives (encourages people to split off from the main force)
* Multiple fronts (gives people somewhere to split off *to*)
* Friendly fire and AE weapons (discourages clumping)
* Defense is easier than offense (makes people care more about losing something, which means they will spread out and defend multiple areas rather than clumping together for one big fight)

Note on this one -- this doesn't mean that defenders necessarily have a strategic advantage, just that it's less bothersome to defend than it is to attack, so many players will see the value in defending a spot rather than trying to capture a new one.

I don't think defenders have much advantage in Planetside or WW2O. If anything, the attackers probably have a strategic advantage. But defending is easier. You spawn in, run 20 feet and start shooting. Attacking involves placing mobile spawns, driving your tank 5 miles across terrain from the next nearest base, etc. It's more troublesome than defending.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 10, 2009 3:13 pm 
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Diggles wrote:
Friendly Fire
Slower paced combat without the ability to flee easily (without dying)
No overpowered stealth classes
spread out group objectives

One reason why people huddle together is protection from gankers - stealth classes, overpowered classes and players much higher lvl in skill.

If you have game where a lvl 40 stealther cant instagib a lvl 20, and 3 lvl 20's can take out a lvl 40...you have a more interesting game. If it takes that lvl 40 2 minutes to kill a lvl 20...by then several more people could come to help out.


I think the stealth thing is probably one of the more important problems. Its hard to have good tactical fights when half the other team might be invisible. I agree with all your (and others) previous comments on camo vs complete stealth invis.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 10, 2009 3:18 pm 
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Kakarat wrote:
[The lieutenant idea goes back to the PvE fight again... much like the Warhammer keeps. People will catch on quickly to kill the lieutenant to move the fight forward/win... Unless the lieutenant is healable from a player I don't see it being very good.
But then again there are discussions of staying away from healing from the get go.


I wouldn't want to limit the idea yet by setting out the details. I think the details could be worked out in such a way that problems like that could be easily avoidable. Perhaps lieutenants can't be killed until the last player in the "company" is killed or something like that.

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"Hamilton is really a Colossus to the anti republican party. Without numbers he is an host within himself. They have got themselves into a defile where they might be finished but too much security on the republican part will give time to his talents and indefatigableness to extricate them. We have had only middling performances to oppose to him. In truth when he comes forward there is nobody but yourself who can meet him. His adversaries having begun the attack he has the advantage of answering them and remains unanswered himself. For God's sake take up your pen and give a fundamental reply to Curtius and Camillas" - Thomas Jefferson to James Madison


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 10, 2009 3:22 pm 
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Also, I think slower paced combat contributes to zerging -- especially slow paced combat with healing.

Zerging/clumping works because it's easy to take a few hits and melt back into the crowd, get healed, move to the front again, and everyone in the zerg is trying to do this. It starts off as 5 vs 5 but two minutes later it's 10 vs 10 and 20 vs 20 and 50 vs 50 because combat pace, healing and resurrection are causing players to build up rather than killing them off and working towards a resolution.

If combat tends to be shorter (e.g., just about any FPS game ever) then it becomes more profitable to find an alternate route of attack than to keep trying to cram in with the hordes. The hordes get mowed down.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 10, 2009 3:26 pm 
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Slamz wrote:
* Soloable objectives (encourages people to split off from the main force)
* Multiple fronts (gives people somewhere to split off *to*)

I don't want people to split off so much as spread out and participate in one large battle that extends past an individuals clipping plane to one side and the other. This would be a battle whereby you hold your line so that the enemy can't break through and attack the position/thing/resource you're trying to protect. Further, if your section of the line is broken, the enemy will gain some advantage by being able to come at the back of your line to either side of the breakthrough.

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* Friendly fire and AE weapons (discourages clumping)
* Defense is easier than offense (makes people care more about losing something, which means they will spread out and defend multiple areas rather than clumping together for one big fight)

Note on this one -- this doesn't mean that defenders necessarily have a strategic advantage, just that it's less bothersome to defend than it is to attack, so many players will see the value in defending a spot rather than trying to capture a new one.

I don't think defenders have much advantage in Planetside or WW2O. If anything, the attackers probably have a strategic advantage. But defending is easier. You spawn in, run 20 feet and start shooting. Attacking involves placing mobile spawns, driving your tank 5 miles across terrain from the next nearest base, etc. It's more troublesome than defending.


I agree, but do games like planetside, with their various ranged weapons and vehicles, make battle line creation easier then MMORPGs? I would say they do, so we also need to figure out if this can be done in an MMORPG with only melee and relatively short range spells and arrows. I would think it would be easier to form battle lines with shorter range combat systems in MMORPGs but it seems to be the opposite.

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"Hamilton is really a Colossus to the anti republican party. Without numbers he is an host within himself. They have got themselves into a defile where they might be finished but too much security on the republican part will give time to his talents and indefatigableness to extricate them. We have had only middling performances to oppose to him. In truth when he comes forward there is nobody but yourself who can meet him. His adversaries having begun the attack he has the advantage of answering them and remains unanswered himself. For God's sake take up your pen and give a fundamental reply to Curtius and Camillas" - Thomas Jefferson to James Madison


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 10, 2009 3:45 pm 
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If you really want battle lines, I would try to do it via mobile spawns, ranged attack, implementation of bonuses for being in cover and keeping movement speeds low.


Planetside almost had this with the implementation of the BFR. It was a great idea which they ruined with the flying BFR, so let's pretend flying BFRs didn't exist.

The BFR was super hard to kill, very slow and required infantry support because it was much better at killing enemy vehicles than enemy infantry. If 5 BFRs encountered 5 enemy BFRs, you couldn't just "go around them" or charge into them. BFRs got a big defensive bonus by crouching so they'd crouch and trade fire across the field.

This created battle lines. Infantry would bring up mobile spawns to support the BFRs and since mobile spawns had to be spread out to function, this tended to spread out the infantry. Maybe you spawn at mobile spawn #1 but in the course of combat you wandered closer to mobile spawn #2, so when you die you resurrect over there. People get spread out across the line due to the multiple mobile spawns.


I would think you could do this in an RPG simply with the mobile spawn idea. Behind each of your rectangles in the picture would be another mobile spawn, slowly advancing towards the enemy fort, or towards the enemy's own mobile spawn line. (The role of the BFR was basically to prevent "enemy cavalry", aka vehicles, from swooping in to destroy the mobile spawn. If your game has cavalry, you'll need some equivalent to the BFR to allow these mobile spawns to work correctly without simply forcing defenders to clump around them.)

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 10, 2009 3:55 pm 
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You're right, BFRs did create battle lines. Of course orbital strike and flying BFRs ruined it the next week. Basically, I'd just want to replicate that idea. You'd have these things that are slow moving, hard to kill, and useful for taking cover that dictate the battle lines. I'd make them even more dependant on close support then BFRs. I'd want them to be almost useless by themselves, but very powerful with a group of players "linked" to it.

Ok, so think of the LTs from my idea as the BFRs. Maybe they're player controlled even (and we meld this with the hero idea -- more powerful with more people who follow the hero). Perhaps each one has a matched spawn point a certain distance behind the line (but still closest to the LT/hero for which the dead player was a follower).

Get rid of total invis stealth, add friendly fire and AE damage and viola.

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"Hamilton is really a Colossus to the anti republican party. Without numbers he is an host within himself. They have got themselves into a defile where they might be finished but too much security on the republican part will give time to his talents and indefatigableness to extricate them. We have had only middling performances to oppose to him. In truth when he comes forward there is nobody but yourself who can meet him. His adversaries having begun the attack he has the advantage of answering them and remains unanswered himself. For God's sake take up your pen and give a fundamental reply to Curtius and Camillas" - Thomas Jefferson to James Madison


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 10, 2009 4:01 pm 
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Yeah, for what good it'll do, that was what I wrote to Smedley when he opened that blog about PS2. ("Planetside Next") Bring back the BFR but make it a slow moving mobile spawn point. No jumping. No flying. Ideally it could have some "command" functionality, like the guy driving it can access an RTS style display to direct people with. Maybe it can have a gunner position for self defense. But the point is to turn it into a slow moving infantry spawn and haven that can create battle lines in between major objectives.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 10, 2009 5:54 pm 
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You can impliment the mobile spawn idea to the fantasy world of MMO's as long as it contains the following rules.

Mobile spawn units exert a zone of control
No mobile spawn unit may deploy in anothers zone of control
Modilbe spawn units can be attacked and destroyed

All the rest is easy. As long as you have other deployables out there to support the people attacking a base like: Catapults, balista or what ever you need for a mobile base you are good to go.

Most importantly the map has to be big enough that mobile spawn units are required to push or destroy a front. If someone can just run back from another base in two minutes there is no need for the mobile spawn concept.

This thins out defense and offense. The Defense wants to find the mobile spawn units to push back the attackers. These attacks can come as squads or individuals as long as a single individual is capable of killing a spawn point.

If the land is large enough you hopefully want it to take multiple mobile spawn units in order to push on a base.

If you combine that with the lattice system you have multiple reasons for smaller groups to reak havoc behind enemy lines.

For example: The Zerg on defense pushes and destroys the current forward mobile spawn unit of the offensive team. If the offensive team doesn't have another unit deployed that means the dead have to spawn back to there nearest base. This immeidately puts the Defense on Offense and the Offense on Defense.

That means multiple mobile spawn units are required to be deployed at the same time. This helps spread people out.

If you use the lattice system you gain a benefit for screwing around in the enemies back lines but since they can't capture anything in there back lines this means you can keep that action to a limitation and away from the zerg. This is something Warhammer never grasped and again is something that individuals can do.

For example:

I can take a single squad and go behind enemy lines and screw up the lattice behind the attackers of our base. This prevents them from creating mobile spawn units at the front. I can't actually capture the base because I don't have a lattice to it so therefore there is no reason for the Zerg to go there.

The defender doesn't require a zerg to defend it but there is a benefit to defending the base. With out it the people at the front can't build what they need to win.

The lattice system creates both a thining of the Zerg, creates individual accomplishments and supports the bigger picture while thinning out the front lines all at the same time.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 10, 2009 6:33 pm 
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I forgot the other thing you need are fixed units (like spawn towers in Planetside) not connected to the lattice that if captured give benefits to defending or capturing a local city/base. In your fantansy MMO you have to capture cities but there are towers or castles outside of the cities that if owned making taking the city or defending the city that much easier. You don't have to take them to own the city but they add multiple points of interest to the players.

This thins the Zerg out and gives the attacker or defender multiple points to fight over.

While there are ways to give individuals accomplishments and to thin out zerg consolidation I would suggest taking another tact to dealing with it. Make your game zerg friendly. In the end with Planetside, there were a ton of individual things you could do but if you didn't have the raw power to take a base you weren't going to do it.

You need to reward the zerg and expect it to happen because in the end with out a zerg you can't win the ultimate pvp fights.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 11, 2009 9:12 am 
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The other obvious thing, of course, is to have more than 2 teams. I think this will be a failing of Aion in the end game pvp.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 11, 2009 11:36 am 
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Vllad wrote:
You can impliment the mobile spawn idea to the fantasy world of MMO's as long as it contains the following rules.

Mobile spawn units exert a zone of control
No mobile spawn unit may deploy in anothers zone of control
Modilbe spawn units can be attacked and destroyed

I think the spawn points are 50% of it, but you also need an extra reason to want to say near a certain one instead of simply running toward the blob. In planetside terms, you need the BFR and the AMS (not necesarily right next to each other, but matched up in some way -- maybe the AMS is 100 yards behind the BFR to be kept back from the line).

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 11, 2009 11:59 am 
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Dustie wrote:
I think the spawn points are 50% of it, but you also need an extra reason to want to say near a certain one instead of simply running toward the blob. In planetside terms, you need the BFR and the AMS (not necesarily right next to each other, but matched up in some way -- maybe the AMS is 100 yards behind the BFR to be kept back from the line).


True, they are only part of it but are not limited to only one form of protection.

Remember we didn't need BFR's to protect AMS's in Planetside. In-fact they gave away AMS locations as much as helped them.

Don't forget we could plant an AMS and protect it with 3 engineers better then a single BFR could. We would lay down our AMS then put multiple Turrets around plus mine or gun the hell out of the place. It made the static area very difficult to attack with the combination of Anti Air and Vehicle guns plus a turret.

The idea is to create a mobile base. As long as you create multiple ways to defend the mobile base rather then just giving the zerg a place to spawn you have accomplished your goal. That is a potential problem I see with Aion.

We have the mobile spawn point but other then standing around with our PC's there are no deployables.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 11, 2009 12:08 pm 
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Agreed. It's really a shame that we didn't get more experience in planetside without the taint of orbital strikes. It was getting very close to what we wanted and then we'd have a much better case study to go with.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 11, 2009 2:23 pm 
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Vllad wrote:
Most importantly the map has to be big enough that mobile spawn units are required to push or destroy a front. If someone can just run back from another base in two minutes there is no need for the mobile spawn concept.


Actually, as long as the defenders can spawn in the base, then attackers will need a mobile spawn, even if the bases are close together.

e.g., in Planetside you could own the tower and assault the base from there, which was only maybe a 60 second run away or less, but spawning and running for 60 seconds to reach the battle is still a sizable disadvantage compared to defenders who spawn inside their base and join the battle immediately. Every good base fight in Planetside required the mobile spawn to eventually be inside the walls of the target base so that attackers would have the same run time as defenders.

I want large maps and mobile spawns mainly for the variety it should create. Planetside ended up with a LOT of wasted space. Since the mobile spawns were fast movers, you'd just bypass all the intervening terrain, so 90% of your combat time was spent within a small radius around one base or another, which tended to make fights a little "samey". There were interesting terrain features that might have made for some good battles in the open but usually you'd just be quickly driving through them.


My idea for a mobile spawn in a sci-fi game:
* Slow moving (e.g., a little slower than regular infantry run speed)
* Can spawn infantry while moving
* BFR-style shield to protect it against air and ground attacks by vehicles
* Anti-air / anti-vehicle cannon to help cover nearby infantry against enemy vehicles
* Most vulnerable to enemy infantry, who can simply walk inside the shield and attack it with anti-vehicle explosives
* "Sphere of influence" that disables other mobile spawns that get too close
* When spheres overlap:
a) if near an enemy base, the one furthest from the enemy base has its spawner disabled
b) if near a friendly base, the one furthest from the friendly base has its spawner disabled
c) If the spawner is enabled, the vehicle can "park", which makes its spawner override the previous two rules

The idea is to make the mobile spawner something that has to gradually approach the target, and if there are multiple ones in play, there is a reasonably intuitive mechanic for how they behave. (Planetside only had rule "c" -- you had to park it to spawn there -- but I don't think that idea meshes well with my idea that they should be slow moving, and they must be slow moving if we want these open field battles to take place.)


I think the value of the BFR in Planetside was that it fixed the broken circle. Prior to the BFR, vehicles beat infantry, end of story. You really just didn't want to be in the open as Planetside infantry. The quicker you can spawn and get inside the target base, the better. BFRs made it more rock-paper-scissors. BFRs beat vehicles but infantry beat BFRs. One infantry hotdropping on you from a plane could kick your ass, but you could hold off three Vanguards from overrunning your own infantry.

I think maybe originally the designers wanted the circle to be "Plane beats vehicle, vehicle beats infantry, infantry beats plane" but it ended up with planes just being another vehicle that was good at killing infantry.


So I don't think we necessarily need "the BFR", but we need that model. If vehicles are generally better than infantry, then infantry needs a supporting object which is generally better than vehicles but is itself susceptible to infantry.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 11, 2009 2:30 pm 
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Incidentally, WW2O (which for all practical purposes is the same thing as saying "real life World War 2") had this model working reasonably well.

Tanks beat infantry.
Artillery beat tanks.
Infantry beat artillery.

That's not a hard rule (tanks could potentially beat artillery and infantry sappers could potentially kill tanks) but that was the general trend.

I think you need a dynamic like this to keep everything valuable in the field, versus Planetside which tended to undervalue outdoor infantry.


(For the record, planes beat everything in WW2O but they spend most of their time fighting each other.)

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 11, 2009 2:58 pm 
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I have to admit that I had a really good time mobilizing with an assault force to take the next base. It was really cool seeing dozens of players and vehicles equipping and moving out together. At that point though it was a race to get to the next base. A slower moving spawn point would create more combat between bases. I enjoyed PS I just wish the combat engine had been more crisp.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 11, 2009 3:32 pm 
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I don't really think the PS engine had a problem with crispness, I think it was just the design.

Obviously the engine supported hit boxes (if not originally, then eventually) because BFRs had hit boxes.

It could also support precise aiming because that's how sniper rifles worked.

One of the real PS screwups was in weapon design. All of the weapons were sloppy, lots of them were absurdly sloppy and just sprayed bullets everywhere. Had Planetside mimiced Rainbow Six weapon design, I think it would have been a lot more popular. I don't believe it's a fault of the engine.


And while apparently they thought infantry hit boxes would be too hard to support, I would have liked to see them give it a shot. Surely we could do it today (although this goes back to my other theory, which I shall now dub the "Slamz Law of Density" which is that as server power increases, game makers will use the added power to cram more people onto the same hardware, rather than using it to improve the game mechanics. 50 years from now, when we can create a computer the size of a fingernail with more power than 50,000 modern desktops, it will just mean that they put 50 million people onto one server with really shitty mechanics.)

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 11, 2009 8:33 pm 
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EMPIRES mod had a mobile 'commander' vehicle that if it died you lost, similar to Natural Selection & Total Annihliation/Supreme Commander.

Put some gun turrets on it and other spots, like an AT-AT.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 26, 2010 1:47 pm 
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Diggles wrote:
Friendly Fire
Slower paced combat without the ability to flee easily (without dying)
No overpowered stealth classes
spread out group objectives

One reason why people huddle together is protection from gankers - stealth classes, overpowered classes and players much higher lvl in skill.

If you have game where a lvl 40 stealther cant instagib a lvl 20, and 3 lvl 20's can take out a lvl 40...you have a more interesting game. If it takes that lvl 40 2 minutes to kill a lvl 20...by then several more people could come to help out.


another would be more defensive classes. the intercept/guard ability that shield users in DAOC had where they could take hits from a chosen target and abilities like shield wall in Warhammer were great.

the ability to turtle down and shrug off a hit is important. the downside needs to be it takes awhile to get into formation to do this and you are exposed to positional damage. So if some rogue shows up behind me and stabs me, I take alot more damage. If I break ranks then the guys around me lose defensive bonuses and all the AOE hitting us then decimates the formation.

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