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Darthus

Feeling of "weight" and consequence in Crowfall combat

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I've seen a few other threads on Crowfall combat, but haven't seen one focused on this topic as far as I've seen, apologies if it's a duplicate.

I have a friend who is moderately interested in Crowfall, and he is asking one question: "Does the combat in crowfall have a sense of 'weight'"? Another long time MMO playing friend of mine was incredibly interested in the game until I said it had "action MMO combat", which he said usually sacrificed the tactical decision making.

I think packed within this question are a number of core concepts:

  • Do individual movements/actions in the game feel meaningful and "heavy". (Think Dark Souls)
  • When my attacks connect, does it 'feel' like they connect?
  • Am I able to clearly read what is happening in combat such that I can predict and respond accordingly?
  • If I outplay/outsmart them, am I quickly able to to dispatch my opponent in a clean and satisfying way?

I think some of the concepts above and the concept "weight" and consequence in combat in MMOs, especially in action MMOs is sorely lacking. I'm sure this is due to a number of factors, including things like network latency, variety of animations, and simply leaning on a progession system that favors a lot of skills on a hotbar. Look at these two clips of two hectic chaotic multiplayer fights in two separate games:

1) https://youtu.be/XLKIc9gLyRs?t=2m40s

2) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=StyVyhF3fNc&t=76s

Leave aside as much as possible the differences in graphical fidelity. Which one feels like the individual player actions carry more weight and consequence? Which one is more readable in terms of what is occurring, when there is danger, and how to respond?

Crowfall appears to be doing a lot of things right in their desired combat design. Originally I believe attacks were animation locked, to add a sense of weight and consequence to hits, but from what I understand, it made it very easy for people to just step out of the way etc, so a more mobile solution was devised. This is great for making combat feel fluid and action packed, but it can also make it feel "slippery". In addition, I know MMOs use damage number popups and status message popups in general, but notice how For Honor (a highly skill based tactical game) doesn't display a single piece of text. Everything is conveyed through relatively subtle, but very distinctive effects.

When a huge spell is cast, I don't want to see 5 "KNOCKDOWN" words fly up. If a person's health bar is clearly legible, I don't even want to see numbers on my screen. Communicate criticals through subtle effects like a brief flash or screen shake. Perhaps don't even show the health bars of people I'm not aiming at in general. Here is some potential evidence of why legibility, subtle effects and minimal ui are important to make group PvP understandable:

https://youtu.be/xQjYWHqVhXk?t=2m41s

I really enjoy Crowfall's effort to implement "hard counters" in combat, but in order for that to work, attacks and actions need to be clearly legible, and not spammable. My experience so far is that combat spam is king, and the multitude of effects and fast flying projectiles etc make it very hard to parse what is happening on the screen. I'm sure some amount of this is "git gud" or current combat balance, but I really hope as it progresses combat actually becomes more minimal, consequential and "weighty", yet clearly communicated rather than more spammy and "action packed".

I've seen other people talk about "Time to kill" and how it should be higher to make combat more tactical. To me, the way to do that isn't to make attacks quicker but do less damage. It's that attacks should be more readable, consequential, and yet counterable or avoidable. A major slip up should lead to a very consequential hit, but a good prediction (or series of them), should extend combat naturally.

Thoughts?

 

Edited by Darthus

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Floaty combat kinda fits the needs for crowfall. You're fighting not one opponent usually, but many. I like Dark Souls, but I've come to the conclusion that type of combat wouldn't really work well in this game when you factor things like latency and input lag. In Dark Soul you fight small numbers of opponents, most of which are npcs so there is little to none of the aforementioned issues. In crowfall you're usually fighting in a group against numerous opponents, and in sieges you'll be fighting against dozens upon dozens. In these scenarios your ability to read and responsed to attacks from multiple vectors becomes blurred and diminished, plus you have to deal with latency and input. Floaty combat is generally more forgiving in these scenarios, while heavy weighted combat usually isn't.

The best thing we can expect them to do is add some feedback, and clean up the animations so they don't look so janky.

Edited by Helix

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20 hours ago, Darthus said:

Thoughts?

I don't see it changing greatly at this point. I would like to see more weight/feel behind animations and combat, but even with a lot of polish and tweaking, the design simply doesn't function like Dark Souls or For Honor. Gloria Victis and Life is Feudal also have a more weighted realistic approach but lack much of the variety that fantasy games come with.

BDO is a good example of how melee/magic/range can still work with some weight and tactical play, but it too suffers from over the top UI and animation speed that turn it into a hot mess after more than a few people engage.

For this type of setting, don't really see a way to get away from the spammy, fast, numbers flying system. Simply slowing things down or making it more root animated like it was previously don't shoot up the weight/tactical aspects by themselves, it has to be done from the ground up in every element of the combat/animation design. Was't done here so it is what it is.

With just the base abilities it is already fairly similar to other games, once disciplines get mixed it, there likely won't be an easy way to figure out what everyone is doing when piled on top of one another. 

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Thanks everyone for your feedback. There seems to be a general consensus that "heavy" combat isn't a fit for combat that needs to scale to things like 5v5 group skirmishes and upward to 50 vs 50 siege combat. I recall in one of the Q&A's the devs being asked, "Will you increase party size?" and they said they're leaving at 5 for now because they want each individual person to have to specialize to create strengths and weaknesses in a group, so you can't just have a group that does everything. To me that's a big hint in how they want to develop the combat. They've stated they never expect it to be that every class will be an even 1v1 open field match for every other, and as long as people are able to make interesting combos of classes that fill interesting combat niches, that's fine.

I do still maintain though, and it doesn't seem to be contradicted here, that a lot could be done to refine the combat feedback, UI, clarity, fluidity etc. It would be my dream to play an MMO where in a 5v5, I can clearly tell what my character is doing, what is being toward me, what I need to react to etc, in a clear readable way. I think the more skills have direct, very specific effects, the more this is possible. If a fireball is big, slow moving and does a huge amount of damage, but is on a long cooldown, that allows for appropriate reaction.

Currently when I'm fighting the confessor, I feel like there's a lot of spam going on with them dashing around, flinging rapid fire fireballs and laying down huge flaming tornadoes. Do you all think they will continue to try to minimize unnecessary effects and combat spam and make what is on the screen more directly and immediately readable, or will it go in the direction of the WoW video I posted?

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Like VN said, a lot of this is an illusion created by audio effects.  They need more impactful and "meaty" sound effects for combat.  I would also like to hear sounds based on landing the attacks, and not merely for triggering the attacks.  I don't mind abilities/attacks having sounds just for triggering them, but when they land, I want to hear an altered sound, or something added in to let me know the hit landed.


"Food for the crows..."    Nobuo Xa'el

cdinUTh.png

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On 4/6/2017 at 2:32 AM, Darthus said:

I think some of the concepts above and the concept "weight" and consequence in combat in MMOs, especially in action MMOs is sorely lacking. I'm sure this is due to a number of factors, including things like network latency, variety of animations, and simply leaning on a progession system that favors a lot of skills on a hotbar. Look at these two clips of two hectic chaotic multiplayer fights in two separate games:

1) https://youtu.be/XLKIc9gLyRs?t=2m40s

2) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=StyVyhF3fNc&t=76s

Leave aside as much as possible the differences in graphical fidelity. Which one feels like the individual player actions carry more weight and consequence? Which one is more readable in terms of what is occurring, when there is danger, and how to respond?

This is impossible to answer unless you're experienced at both games. I mean, I do believe you when you say For Honor has better combat. But having never played it myself, it's not obvious from the first video: I have no clue what's going on in it. I see a lot of irritating visual noise (wtf purpose does the crowd of background NPCs even serve, it seems like they're just window dressing?), and even when it's just 1v1 the flow of cause and effect is a mystery. A guy swings and nothing happens, then he seems to block/parry and the other guy's attack goes through anyway, I can't tell why.

On the other hand the Crowfall video is perfectly clear to me. Sure you can't track what everyone is doing, but you don't need to in a brawl that big - you just need to filter out the ones who don't have the range/position/facing to be a direct threat at the moment, and keep an eye on the ones who do. I imagine a skilled For Honor player would say the same thing about the first video: he could filter out the extraneous noise without even being conscious of it, and the crucial visual ques would be obvious to him.

One thing we can agree on is that WoW is a mess, even if you're experienced at the game.

Anyway, nitpicking about the example videos aside, I get your point. I think Crowfall combat mechanics work well, but the game has a long way to go in terms of visual/audio/UI feedback. With enough practice it becomes possible (not easy, but possible) to follow what's going on in combat, to read opponents' actions and react to them. Partly because you can actually see it happening when you know what to look for, partly because you know the archetype toolkits and can predict their decisions somewhat. When you do this well the results are dramatic: you can negate enemy attacks while ensuring your own go through, and one good CC that you follow through on can end a fight pretty quickly (too quickly, imo - time to kill is still a bit low).

It's just far harder than it should be, the sound and UI give poor feedback at the moment. Also when there's lag - and there's pretty much always lag when more than 5 people are onscreen - it ruins the responsiveness of the feedback we do have.

Edited by Avloren

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Having brief flinching animations when being hit would go a long way for this game. The combat does currently feel like they swung the pendulum a bit too far on the floaty side for me but I don't expect that change. Cosmetic polishing would go a long way and hopefully it's on their list. Obviously it's not a priority now but this is a very good topic.

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I dont know if 'weight' cover this but i would say that crowfall combat right now dont feel impactful? Unless you hit a status effect (stun, knock-up/down, etc.) it is like you are slashing thin-air!

When defending it becames a game of who CC first and seize the initiative, can you block? Knight block is debatable. Can you dodge? The dodge power (C?) isnt viable with such a big CD.

Since i plan to play Ranger this wont affect me much 'cuz ranged combat is harder (hitting moving targets, paying attention to the field, etc.) and more engaging but seeing melee videos with people either just hopping around or trying to 'hit' each other as fast as they can seems boring?

Edited by BarriaKarl

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