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Anthrage

Crowfall's Combat System is Flawed

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So, I've been gaming for 42 years. Since I was 5. My father was a computer system's analyst at Canadian National Railway and the programmers there had used company computer resources - a very different thing then than it is now - to create a text-based adventure game, a MUD as it was called, using a complicated text parser which all of the programmers in the office at the time worked on. The really interesting thing was, this game was developed over more than a decade, with coders adding to it over time as they came and went.

 

There was no central design document or any tracking of who added what, so over time, the various rooms and solutions to the challenges presented became mysteries to even the people working on it...there were rooms that no-one currently working there had any idea how to solve, and the whole office would work on a particular problem for weeks or months in some cases. It was a crazy thing to consider, and quite epic, until someone at the corporate level noticed the unexplained but considerable use of system resources and shut the whole thing down. They didn't even archive it in any way, like a mad fever dream it was just gone, leaving behind only it's influence on everyone it touched.

 

For me, as a child, and as my first gaming experience, it was definitely influential. My father bringing me to the office on weekends or late nights when he had actual work to do, he'd sit me in front of this terminal with the blinking cursor, and somehow the rudimentary language the parser used, the basic but logical commands, were perfectly suited for comprehension by a young kid with basic language skills but naturally predisposed to out of the box thinking. At 5, just about everything is outside your box - you haven't even finished building your box yet. That experience was influential on how I thought of gaming as I grew older. Code was a language - and the elements of any particular game at the user level were a language too. Learning how best to use that language very often translated directly into success - and creativity became an important part of that process.

 

Decades and countess gaming experiences later, across all genres, I've learned that a game's success or failure, which stems from, for lack of a better term, the beauty of it's core system, is dictated fundamentally by it's language. Language is composed of pieces and rules which determine how those pieces can be used, much like a board game such as Chess or Go. And like such games, as with languages, simplicity and the beauty inherent in this foundation is the best indicator of success, longevity and enjoyment in use.

 

Right now, Crowfall's combat language is not beautiful. It's grammar is inelegant and clumsy, and it does the equivalent of trying to seem smart by using too many big words, that it doesn't realize don't quite mean what they think they do in actual use and don't really go together. Like many dead languages that look good on paper, but were just not well-suited to actually being spoken, Crowfall's combat system elements are more slam-poetry than Shakespeare. As someone who has done and enjoys both to varying degrees, I can tell you that these are things which can only be good for a limited time in any particular sitting before you encounter something that makes you ask yourself what the hell you are doing.

 

Crowfall's combat, right now, is full of 'what the hell am I doing' moments.

 

In my humble opinion - yes I'm old enough to remember when it was IMHO and not IMO - Crowfall's combat is a bit too influenced by years of console gaming and MOBA playing. Not by the designers, but by a large segment of the gaming population. Combos, Ultimate powers, low TTK...these are all things which in an action combat-based MMO don't lend themselves to enjoyable, balanced gameplay. This is true even in a system which is designed more around group combat than that of individuals, because in a very low TTK environment, which caters to high player-count battles, your group fights are essentially group v 1s or 1v1s. This is not a good thing.

 

Complexity in combat should grow naturally out of diverse options of simple abilities being refined through player choice, not simple choices made through few options of complex abilities. When you can represent a combat sequence like this 1-2-2-2-4-2-5, you've made a terrible mistake somewhere.

 

This is just my opinion, that of an old gamer who has spent some time on both sides of the fence, both coding and playing. I've played every genre and while my opinion isn't inherently correct, it is at the very least, well-informed. Obviously we haven't seen everything in terms of available powers and the customization the overall system allows has not yet been fully revealed, but I feel that we have seen enough of the language ACE is using for it's combat systems and philosophy for me to question how well it's going to play out in an ongoing conversation carried on by hundreds if not thousands of people at once. I'm not sure what it will sound like yet, but I'm pretty sure it won't be Shakespeare.

Edited by Anthrage

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it does the equivalent of trying to seem smart by using too many big words

 

I feel like that is what you are doing. Business writing which is direct and straight to the point is something you could learn much from.

 

I agree with the title thread and feel that CF character creation is certainly lacking meaningful choices. Your point is lost by your wordiness and comparisons to Shakespeare. I would probably agree with a more compelling argument and specific examples instead of metaphors and analogies.

 

Pretty cool what your dad and coworkers did though.

 

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You're certainly not the first person to accuse me of being wordy. It's alright, if it's too much for you to parse, I won't hold it against you. We live in a 140-character world, not everyone can handle metaphor and analogy. If I'd wanted to write in a point-listed business format - which I do often - I would have.

 

As for the point and specific examples, I did give a few - Combos and so-called Ultimates being two. The Essence dynamic and attack type system are two more. Anyone who has spent a bit of time with the combat system and a few ATs should have their own experience with the flawed complexity I am referring to.

 

Take the combos as example. These gate higher and more effective damage behind a chain. In theory this is supposed to add value, but in practice in some cases it actually reduces it. For some AT's where mobility is required for survival but remaining stationary is required for chaining casts...it's literally a bad combination. For an action-combat versus a tab-targeted system where large-scale group fights are the meat of the experience, it is not an idea dynamic.

 

An alternate method of achieving a similar effect can be seen with GW2's combo fields. Instead of A leads to B leads to C, you have A + B = C, where A & B can be provided both by yourself, or each by 2 different people. Here we have complexity without rigidity through simplicity and dynamic application. GW2 did a few things wrong, but this was not one of them in my opinion.

 

Hopefully that clarifies and simplifies things for you a bit.

 

I feel like that is what you are doing. Business writing which is direct and straight to the point is something you could learn much from.

 

I agree with the title thread and feel that CF character creation is certainly lacking meaningful choices. Your point is lost by your wordiness and comparisons to Shakespeare. I would probably agree with a more compelling argument and specific examples instead of metaphors and analogies.

 

Pretty cool what your dad and coworkers did though.

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"Combo" wasn't the best way to describe CF abilities. What we have (and GW2) is chained abilities. The GW2 combo system was cool interactions between abilities.

 

CF also started with a goal of a 40 second time to kill. Which at the time was mostly due to the fact that we couldn't hit each other. As they improved the fluidity of combat TTK dropped. In addition to mobility I think they've had quicker TTKs because the game doesn't have the risk it will during go live. Once we get all our AT in the game we see a balance pass that brings TTK to around 30 seconds against a target dummy.

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The "combo" system is just a "chain" attack system. I've made a post or two talking about I hate the current combo system and how abilities are implemented in this game (and the MVP philosophy in general).

 

Here are some of my thoughts: https://community.crowfall.com/index.php?/topic/13044-opinions-on-combos/?hl=combos

 

There's a lot of little (and some large) things they need to fix about combat. I think the low TTK can be addressed mostly by reining in critical hit damage (it's out of control atm IMO).

 

Archetypes in general feel too "one-dimensional" atm. This will most likely change with disciplines and promotions (hopefully). I'd like to see more utility and maybe a bit more survivability on certain archetypes outside of needing a babysitter (aka legionnaire/druid).

 

 

 

CF also started with a goal of a 40 second time to kill. Which at the time was mostly due to the fact that we couldn't hit each other. As they improved the fluidity of combat TTK dropped. In addition to mobility I think they've had quicker TTKs because the game doesn't have the risk it will during go live. Once we get all our AT in the game we see a balance pass that brings TTK to around 30 seconds against a target dummy.

 

Personally, I think 40s is too low, but I guess you have to factor that's 40s if the person is just standing there and doesn't have allies standing around healing, peeling for them.

Edited by helix

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I have three things to say:

  1. With your writing style, I think you should consider writing books. Really, you got some good story telling skills right here.
  2. Concerning the TTK, I agree with you: a TTK too low, with the current rez system, will be harmful to the strategy that players could deploy. But this can always be balanced later on.
  3. About the combos, they are IMO simple enough to be used, and "deep" enough to allow some versatility. Plus the 10 power tab is, also IMO, a good compromise between MOBA and tap targeting. More would be too confusing, less would be too boring. Last but not least, part of this power tab will be customizable, meaning that you may always be surprised when fighting an archetype, even if you know it well.

Just as a kind reminder:

  • All the archetypes are not out yet.
  • All the archetypes will all have several revamps until release.
  • Each unique release (and revamp) will most probably impact the whole roaster.

However, balancing, customization, TTK, etc, are always good points to mention, as they will be fundamental to the game combat mechanics.

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Crowfall's combat is low skill-ceiling, the archetypes imo suffer from the gw2 syndrome of small skill bars.  I doubt this is going to change much.  Optimization will increase the skill-ceiling a little but this game will never have that precision action combat that we see in some of the eastern mmos. 

 

What it does have though is the potential for intrigue and the social elements will help give combat meaning. 

Edited by VIKINGNAIL

Skeggold, Skalmold, Skildir ro Klofnir

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You're certainly not the first person to accuse me of being wordy. It's alright, if it's too much for you to parse, I won't hold it against you. We live in a 140-character world, not everyone can handle metaphor and analogy. If I'd wanted to write in a point-listed business format - which I do often - I would have.

You're not too wordy, you're just pretentious. Metaphors, analogies illustrate a point in a rhetorical manner, but are never the center of a philosophical essay. Actual philosophy is thinking the things as they are, not as they appear in reflections of things that they are not (= metaphor).

 

Your "metaphor" of the language is no metaphor, it's the literal meaning of Logos as the foundation of every thought (logic) and scientific reasoning about reality (and therefore reality itself, -logy). So you just brought a commonplace, that has no specific meaning for the current topic.

 

On topic:

"League of Legends" and "Blade & Soul" should be models for "Crowfall"s combat. Especially for economic reasons.

Edited by Doradur

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1. Thank-you, I have written a few things. As you can see, it is not to everyone's taste - fortunately I don't really care what people think. :)

 

2. Obviously you are correct, as regards future balancing and the incomplete landscape when it comes to ATs and powers. My point, which I may have buried, is not so much the specific values they are currently using for their variables, but the ideological values (that one is for you Doradur) that underpin their choices in creating the foundation of their system, may be such that whatever choices they make will result in an equally flawed system.

 

3. The combos - as I mentioned in an aside and as others pointed out more directly - are really just chains. My issue with them relates specifically to how they gate damage and other effects, in some cases almost exclusively, and that for ATs which must maintain mobility, those gates are not easy to pass through. It, like Essence, is another case of loading complexity onto the user, but presenting simplicity to the target they are being used on. It should be the opposite.

 

I agree regarding the number of powers one can load at any one time, and do recognize these will be different between individual players - though not necessarily as different as we might imagine. Personal taste will only account for about 15% of variance here, the rest will likely follow what is most effective for a given role. I'm concerned about how those powers do what they do, than I am with how many there will be.

 

Thank-you for the compliment and the constructive comments on the point... 

 

I have three things to say:

  1. With your writing style, I think you should consider writing books. Really, you got some good story telling skills right here.
  2. Concerning the TTK, I agree with you: a TTK too low, with the current rez system, will be harmful to the strategy that players could deploy. But this can always be balanced later on.
  3. About the combos, they are IMO simple enough to be used, and "deep" enough to allow some versatility. Plus the 10 power tab is, also IMO, a good compromise between MOBA and tap targeting. More would be too confusing, less would be too boring. Last but not least, part of this power tab will be customizable, meaning that you may always be surprised when fighting an archetype, even if you know it well.

Just as a kind reminder:

  • All the archetypes are not out yet.
  • All the archetypes will all have several revamps until release.
  • Each unique release (and revamp) will most probably impact the whole roaster.

However, balancing, customization, TTK, etc, are always good points to mention, as they will be fundamental to the game combat mechanics.

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Combos for old people huh? :P

 

Interesting that over 78% of the people who voted in the poll were not happy with combos. Perhaps it is something that intend to change once they introduce the tray power customization elements of the system. It would be very interesting if we could 'craft; combos, much the same way we craft things now. They did graze the edges of this idea with the crafting of modifiers on custom armor sets...it would fall within their design philosophy it would seem and it could address some of the issues.

 

My concern about TTK is that as we are not seeing large scale combat yet of the type those of us who played SB knows is coming and is the intention, even once we account for the mitigation we know is still missing from the system, TTK will still be too low. I feel a big part of this is how many things root you in place - many ATs have decent mobility, but not as much that can be used in the contexts which offset TTK.

 

Regarding your combo poll - do you think a complete rework is the way to go, or can they simply address the issues you/I mentioned? 

 

The "combo" system is just a "chain" attack system. I've made a post or two talking about I hate the current combo system and how abilities are implemented in this game (and the MVP philosophy in general).

 

Here are some of my thoughts: https://community.crowfall.com/index.php?/topic/13044-opinions-on-combos/?hl=combos

 

There's a lot of little (and some large) things they need to fix about combat. I think the low TTK can be addressed mostly by reining in critical hit damage (it's out of control atm IMO).

 

Archetypes in general feel too "one-dimensional" atm. This will most likely change with disciplines and promotions (hopefully). I'd like to see more utility and maybe a bit more survivability on certain archetypes outside of needing a babysitter (aka legionnaire/druid).

 

 

 

 

Personally, I think 40s is too low, but I guess you have to factor that's 40s if the person is just standing there and doesn't have allies standing around healing, peeling for them.

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3. The combos - as I mentioned in an aside and as others pointed out more directly - are really just chains. My issue with them relates specifically to how they gate damage and other effects, in some cases almost exclusively, and that for ATs which must maintain mobility, those gates are not easy to pass through. It, like Essence, is another case of loading complexity onto the user, but presenting simplicity to the target they are being used on. It should be the opposite.

The point of gating certain abilities behind other abilities is so that players can read and react to what the other player is doing. If a confessor hits me with their #1 ability, I know to throw my shield up because the stun is likely coming next. The same applies to their knockdown combo. The confessor may surprise me and do something different, but there really aren't that many choices. The lack of other choices is the issue, not the combo system in itself. Hopefully promotion classes and disciplines will add more variety and choice to our combat decisions.

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I understand that is the intended point of the gating, I just think it has too high a price. Telegraphing these gates powers, if this point is manifest fully, also has the side effect of negating their usefulness. As I said before, we're offloading the value to the target from the user. Not sure this is the way to go.

 

The point of gating certain abilities behind other abilities is so that players can read and react to what the other player is doing. If a confessor hits me with their #1 ability, I know to throw my shield up because the stun is likely coming next. The same applies to their knockdown combo. The confessor may surprise me and do something different, but there really aren't that many choices. The lack of other choices is the issue, not the combo system in itself. Hopefully promotion classes and disciplines will add more variety and choice to our combat decisions.

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I understand that is the intended point of the gating, I just think it has too high a price. Telegraphing these gates powers, if this point is manifest fully, also has the side effect of negating their usefulness. As I said before, we're offloading the value to the target from the user. Not sure this is the way to go.

This system has been in since day one and there have been no shortage of people getting hit with these abilities, so I think your concern is overstated. All it does is create a window of opportunity for the target. It doesn't play the game for them. 

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I said if it is manifest fully, I do not think we've hit the skill ceiling yet in this respect, but fair enough.

 

How about concerns relating to front-loading of costs, gating of damage and CC/debuff effects, and the impact on mobility? As the current system fine as is as far as you are concerned?

 

This system has been in since day one and there have been no shortage of people getting hit with these abilities, so I think your concern is overstated. All it does is create a window of opportunity for the target. It doesn't play the game for them. 

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I said if it is manifest fully, I do not think we've hit the skill ceiling yet in this respect, but fair enough.

 

How about concerns relating to front-loading of costs, gating of damage and CC/debuff effects, and the impact on mobility? As the current system fine as is as far as you are concerned?

Costs are not front loaded, at least for the knight. I imagine this was removed from the other archetypes as well. I tested it with the knight a month or so ago. I'll have to re-test now that the knight will be stamina-based, but I assume the results will be the same.

 

As I said, gating damage and CC is a good thing. Do you want everything to be easy-mode like the Myrm's "C" ability? If anything, that knockdown should be gated as well. Without gating, it becomes a contest of whoever uses their CC first, which will make it really difficult for archetypes without CC.

 

If mobility becomes too strong because of the gating of CC abilities, they can make adjustments like they just did for the knight, but I think you may be viewing this too much as a 1 vs 1 scenario. In the heat of a large battle, players aren't going to be able to pay attention to and react to everything that is going on around them. 

 

So, to answer your final question, yes, I think the current system is fine. That's not to say that it doesn't need tweaking and balancing, but the underlying system is preferable to having every CC in the game available instantly.

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Complexity in combat should grow naturally out of diverse options of simple abilities being refined through player choice, not simple choices made through few options of complex abilities. When you can represent a combat sequence like this 1-2-2-2-4-2-5, you've made a terrible mistake somewhere.

 

 

This is the take home and I agree. MVP results in most AT using only a few abilities almost all the time. It feels artificially fungible and simplistic.

Edited by coolwaters

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 Crowfall's combat is a bit too influenced by years of console gaming and MOBA playing.

 ^

 

This, so much this.

 

And you can tell this is the direction they are stubbornly trying to maintain.

 

The new soul power is so much a combo action game cheese it makes me extremely sad.

Edited by Vectious

CfWBSig.png

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I agree with this.

 

I'm only half the OP's age, but I spent a solid chunk of my life on MUDs too. In fact, the one I was most active on is still alive and kicking today, though I'm no longer active there... And I have to say, combat in MUDs heavily influenced what I enjoyed when I moved on to MMOs, too.

 

MUDs were very much about risk vs reward. You could have a longer skill list, but there was always a tradeoff. Higher exp per level requirements or various grinding methods or puzzles or quest chains you had to complete to earn them. Then each round of combat allowed you to manually input commands, giving you the power to choose how combat played out based on what skills you had available and which skills were needed. There's an active PvP scene in my old stomping grounds, and it's insanely skill based...most of the time.

 

So when I started playing MMOs, I expected to be able to deeply customize my characters and be given a lot of strategic options in combat. But this was not always the case. Shadowbane was an excellent example of this totally being the case. So was RIFT, for all its flaws. I'm told that WoW might even have been my thing several years ago, but now it's turned into a very pretty and very uniform batch of cookies.

 

Combos used to be things that you made with your build. They weren't built in, necessarily - you might have two skills that synergized with each other, and as a result using them in sequence became a form of optimization, but the game made you figure that stuff out for yourself, and sometimes it wasn't even intentional, let alone built directly into a single skill. Like the old 45-second stun lock that rogues could force people into in before-my-time WoW. OBVIOUSLY the devs didn't plan that, but some dedicated rogue players with a hard-on for math figured out how to do it.

 

I like being forced to plan my character builds and experiment with them, but I also like being forced to do the same with my skills. Even Elder Scrolls Online with its pair of skill bars that only hold 6 skills gives you a surprising amount of versatility. Figuring out how to make a non-standard build function in endgame content or PvP is an amazing feeling, especially after you've been told that it's a terrible idea and will never work.

 

If I want my Confessor to throw fire tornadoes, I should be able to just hit a button and throw fire tornadoes. If the devs think fire tornadoes are too strong, they could apply a long cooldown to the skill that gets reset after I throw two fireballs in a row. There are ways to incorporate the things that are in the game now without forcing us into extremely specific patterns in combat.

 

I hope to see changes to those systems once the game goes live, for sure, because right now it's just not terribly fun for me.

Edited by goose

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Software_release_life_cycle#Pre-alpha <--this is where we are. If your complaint is that the game don't not works good, come back later.

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On topic:

"League of Legends" and "Blade & Souls" should be models for "Crowfall"s combat. Especially for economic reasons.

No, these games should not be the models for Crowfall; return to a traditional MMORPG with some action combat elements.  Make the game about the character, and less about the game mechanic interactions.  League of Legends is for short attention people, where some of us would like to actually think more about our games, and immerse ourselves into the fantasy worlds that are created by the developers; with it all being wrapped up in a fun PvP experience.


lUvvzPy.png

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"League of Legends" and "Blade & Souls" should be models for "Crowfall"s combat. Especially for economic reasons.

Ah, yes, the classic strategy games "I enjoy the tears of my teammates" and "hit it til it dies." These are exactly what come to mind when I think of deep customization and strategic combat. It's like Go if each piece did something different. Brilliant.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Software_release_life_cycle#Pre-alpha <--this is where we are. If your complaint is that the game don't not works good, come back later.

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