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Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures: Morrison On Melee vs. Ranged Balance

StraddenStradden Managing EditorHalifax, NSPosts: 6,696Member

Today, we ask Funcom's Craig Morrison about his philosophies on attempting to balance ranged and melee combat styles in an MMO.

I think before you look at the challenges specific to MMO combat in terms of balance between any two sets of character types you have to define what we are usually trying to achieve in terms of balance.

You might think it was easiest to define it very straightforwardly as 'every time I fight I have a 50/50 chance of winning or losing based my skill and approach' but when you actually push players about what many feel about gameplay the reality is that they would feel balance was better when they have a chance of losing, but that they should win more than lose. Most seem to tend towards wanting something like a 75/25 mix of winning to losing...so they recognize the need for, and want, a chance of losing, but they generally feel that its more fun when they win more often than they lose, as long as it isn't too much.

Read Morrison On Melee vs. Ranged Balance.

Cheers,
Jon Wood
Managing Editor
MMORPG.com

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Comments

  • burmeseburmese Austin, TXPosts: 546Member

    Good article but I suspect it won't have the slightest impact on the amount of 'balance' whining in any MMO forums.  I assume Colin has already been well schooled in these areas, seeing as how his team is deep in the middle of a 'balance' overhaul?

    ~\_/~\_O

  • lmzzlmzz CA, CAPosts: 57Member

    That's one of the core problems of AoC; melee is fun and challenging, casting is boring but easy.  This article emphasizes datamining which really has nothing to do with real gameplay. While he's touching on it slightly towards the end but kinda brushing it off as whining, open PvP is not about 1v1 or dueling.

     

    Casters:


    • Get more notched PvP kills due to more splash, dots and AoE's

    • More PvP xp due to above statement

    • Get more chain-kills due to the above statement

    • More PvE xp due to above statement

    • Are always on top of the kill lists in minigames due to the above statement

    • Are of much higher use in Sieges and raids due to the above statement

    • Don't have to meddle with 4 inputs to deal dmg

    • Range (demo has 32m, longer than the Ranger even)

    • Don't have to chase and physically (virtually) hit to do dmg

    • Don't have to use stamina to do attacks, which melee share for sprinting

    • Will always move away, as oppose to the duel and joust of the melee

     

    AoC is going down the bin more than ever anyway. Not even 5 ppl lined up for minigames on the top server, the zones are empty day around. Scrap half the servers and make a melee-only server instead.

    www.excisiongaming.com

    Casual PvP & gaming fun for mature gamers

  • MirandelMirandel Fredericton, NBPosts: 112Member Uncommon

    Actually, he said " melee classes make up all of the top four most played classes in Age of Conan". Not casters, melee :) At least developers are sure about it and see no reason to believe in imbalance.

  • ThillianThillian BratislavaPosts: 3,143Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Mirandel


    Actually, he said " melee classes make up all of the top four most played classes in Age of Conan". Not casters, melee :) At least developers are sure about it and see no reason to believe in imbalance.



     

    He probably has better information than Craig.

    REALITY CHECK

  • lmzzlmzz CA, CAPosts: 57Member

    Fine, I stand corrected. Core problem remains.

    www.excisiongaming.com

    Casual PvP & gaming fun for mature gamers

  • ThillianThillian BratislavaPosts: 3,143Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by lmzz


    Fine, I stand corrected. Core problem remains.



     

    I'm sorry, what is the core problem?

    REALITY CHECK

  • lmzzlmzz CA, CAPosts: 57Member
    Originally posted by lmzz


    That's one of the core problems of AoC; melee is fun and challenging, casting is boring but easy.  This article emphasizes datamining which really has nothing to do with real gameplay. While he's touching on it slightly towards the end but kinda brushing it off as whining, open PvP is not about 1v1 or dueling.
     
    Casters:

    Get more notched PvP kills due to more splash, dots and AoE's
    More PvP xp due to above statement
    Get more chain-kills due to the above statement
    More PvE xp due to above statement
    Are always on top of the kill lists in minigames due to the above statement
    Are of much higher use in Sieges and raids due to the above statement
    Don't have to meddle with 4 inputs to deal dmg
    Range (demo has 32m, longer than the Ranger even)
    Don't have to chase and physically (virtually) hit to do dmg
    Don't have to use stamina to do attacks, which melee share for sprinting
    Will always move away, as oppose to the duel and joust of the melee

     
    AoC is going down the bin more than ever anyway. Not even 5 ppl lined up for minigames on the top server, the zones are empty day around. Scrap half the servers and make a melee-only server instead.

     

    www.excisiongaming.com

    Casual PvP & gaming fun for mature gamers

  • ThillianThillian BratislavaPosts: 3,143Member Uncommon

    All right, and so the problem is what?

    This is asymmetrical game system, there're always differences. Casters might be easier to play, but I still don't understand what the problem is. Did you read what this article is about or not? Or do you think that you are more competent than the statistics and balance item/spell/specs tables? 

     

    REALITY CHECK

  • lmzzlmzz CA, CAPosts: 57Member

    If you have reading comprehension problems with my post, go read the article again as I'm augmenting those statements.

    www.excisiongaming.com

    Casual PvP & gaming fun for mature gamers

  • ThillianThillian BratislavaPosts: 3,143Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by lmzz


    If you have reading comprehension problems with my post, go read the article again as I'm augmenting those statements.



     

    Why would I react to your bullet point mambo jambo. Half of your arguments are just non-true, and half of them are just silly. What is so surprising that casters are able to run off, you have to chase them and they can hit you from distance? 

    That's ridiculous. I asked you, why do you think you are more competent than an exact and precise balance item/spell/spec tables? It is usually a simple math. Just because you percieve it as being unfair doesn't mean it is so. Additionally Craig's statement is supported by the fact that casters are least played and top 4 most played classes are all melee. So again, what is the core problem you keep talking about?

    REALITY CHECK

  • lmzzlmzz CA, CAPosts: 57Member

    Damage parsing means squat in actual gameplay. It's easy claiming something to be mumbo jumbo on the internet,  so if you want to disprove me, lay forth the proof or your words are null and void and mine persist.

    I've been playing AoC since November of 2007 and I'm a good friend of the former AI coder, I believe I know what I'm talking about, along with hundreds of guildies and the rest of the AoC community. If there wouldn't be a problem, there wouldn't be a PvP problem-survey out as well as this article.

    Ta-ta.

    www.excisiongaming.com

    Casual PvP & gaming fun for mature gamers

  • ThillianThillian BratislavaPosts: 3,143Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by lmzz


    ,  so if you want to disprove me, lay forth the proof or your words are null and void and mine persist.



     

    Do you realize, you're just another forum-poster whining about certain subjective imbalance between classes? There's nothing to be disproved. There's some sort of weirdos that have a dream that everything must be perfectly balanced, and they keep their own flame wars on respective class forums. For the rest of the gamers, this is just way too irrelevant and has nothing to do whether they enjoy the game or not.

    So before you go again all doomy and gloomy, please think twice about your attitude.

    REALITY CHECK

  • hobo9766hobo9766 teriit, ALPosts: 454Member

    He screwed up ao so bad and aoc will see just how he did it. He listened to whoever whined, bitched moaned and complained on the forums until they got what they wanted. Its a practice that still continues to this day even with his successor. Whoever trolled the most got what they wanted when it came to class balance and its no different now.

  • kopemakopema St. Louis, MOPosts: 263Member
    Originally posted by Stradden


    Mostly it is about scaling and distribution. If for example your maximum value for DPS was 100 in your game, but 90 of that was contributed by a really rare item late in the game, then in effect your average player only have access to 10, which could become an issue if the mobs are balanced on a sliding scale.



     

    Golly.  Do ya' think?

    What a thought-provoking look into the process of balancing a computer game.

  • Punkins1234Punkins1234 WuppertalPosts: 17Member
    Originally posted by lmzz



    Casters:

    Don't have to use stamina to do attacks, which melee share for sprinting

     

     

    its all you need to say. its one of the big imbalance in the game... Im an assassin with 5k stamina! AN ASSASSIN! ROGUE CLASSE! but demo and necros have more stamina than me and can run more. They dont need stamina to attack so the stamina bar is only to sprint and they do it better than rogues.. damn casters!

     

    "They may want some classes to be more newbie friendly to allow less skilled or experienced players to participate, likewise they might design a class to be rewarding if you get into the complexity of their skills, and one may not have a higher maximum output than the other.

    We face this issue all the time in Age of Conan for example as the game was designed to have the casting system to be inherently simpler to help support players who did not want to deal with the faster paced melee combo system. This makes an inherent imbalance that is supported to some extent by the original design. For us in some way it works, and achieves its objective without slanting the players only towards casters (most players in Conan still play melee classes despite the mechanic imbalance) in other ways it does frustrate experienced players who would prefer everyone was equal."

     

    This is the BIG problem.. fix it and 60% of the balance will be done.

  • EanokEanok WassenaarPosts: 134Member

    Haven't played a caster yet. I'm happy with my fragile, yet hard hitting Barbarian atm. Yep, I tend to die fast at the slightest mistake, there is a good challenge and it keeps me on my toes so to speak. Sometime in the future I may get tired of my character and will reroll a different one, a caster maybe, and try a different approach to the game. 

    In my other game I fly different ships with different attributes, some are close range, some are faster, some are armored behemonts. Each class and ship that is different enough posses a different challenge to the player and requires a different approach to game play. Sure, some classes in AoC may be simpler to play and will appeal to some players, others prefer the more challenging ones.  In AoC classes are different enough to be worth trying several of them.

    Balancing is overstated, keeping the different classes different and interesting is more important in my book. As such, AoC is doing a great work. Jm2c.

     

    Played: UO, SWG, TR, WoW, AoC, EvE
    Playing: :(
    Interested in: JGE, LotR, TSW

  • Punkins1234Punkins1234 WuppertalPosts: 17Member

    Craig Morrison read it 2 times please:

    forums.ageofconan.com/showthread.php

     

    got it?

    no?

    read again!

     

  • Originally posted by fred2911


    Craig Morrison read it 2 times please:
    forums.ageofconan.com/showthread.php
     
    got it?
    no?
    read again!
     

     

    I am pretty sure he has read it since he has actually replied a couple of times in that very thread you link

  • Blackwell99Blackwell99 Toronto, ONPosts: 352Member

    That article was the biggest..

     

    "Working as intended"

     

    ....statement I have ever seen come FC's lips.

    (and Ive seen alot)

  • DarkjinxterDarkjinxter PortsmouthPosts: 174Member

    It's Monday morning at Funcoms' office, AoC's Director Craig Morrison's secretary gives him a cup of coffee.

     

    CM - 'What's on the agenda today Helga?'

    H - 'Nothing much boss, did you have a good weekend?....Oh, yes, it's been a while since you last posted rubbish on teh interwebz MMO sites, you'd best get cracking'

    CM - 'Didn't we post 3 screenshots recently? surely that has appeased the naysayers?'

    H - 'Yes, we did, but 2 of the shots were less than inspiring, and the 3rd was crap'

    CM - 'Aw well, best get to it I suppose, wait...what am i going to say? Can't talk about RotG since no-one's working on it atm. I know, i'll annoy the existing userbase with some drivel about class balancing, that should get them talking'

    H - 'hehe, good one boss'

    CM - 'yeh, as we all know Funcom care not for melee classes, we want more casters before renaming to Age of Casters, best not admit that though'

    H - 'How about we give casters double loyalty points, and half melee's allocation'

    CM - 'Good one Helga, we'll pencil that in for the next patch, when's that due again?'

    H - 'stop teasing me boss, you know as well as I do no-one's working on that either'



    CM hastily scribbles a few hundred word of gibberish onto a notepad and passes it to Helga.

    CM - 'There you go, send that to MMORPG Helga, always good to bump our cause everynow and again'

  • ThillianThillian BratislavaPosts: 3,143Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Darkjinxter


    It's Monday morning at Funcoms' office, AoC's Director Craig Morrison's secretary gives him a cup of coffee. 

    Actually this joke you made would rather apply to Lord of the Rings Online, which you play. Age of Casters (runekeepers?) how about Age of Goats. Noone's working on Lotro's free content updates, because well there weren't any. Last year Vanguard (4 devs) got level cap increased, raid dungeon, 16 unique looking mounts, long quest lines for all the 15 classes for their epic-level spells. Lotro last month, got a half-baked raid, and 3 instances.

    And right, they are adding free goats to everyone now right at level 25. Steefel made it the Lord of the Goats and Harry Potter Online Parade.

    REALITY CHECK

  • SirPacoSirPaco AnnemassePosts: 361Member

    Don't know about LOTR but it certainly applies to AoC lol

     

    There are SO MANY things wrong with this interview it's scary. If you DO care about what the players think about it though, check the big long thread on the official forums (which you don't need to be a member to read).

     

    Personally, out of the million things I would like to say and comment, I pick the last sentence of the interview

     

    Down the years I have watched many great PVP players and the one thing they all share most of all is the ability to pick their fights and see their opportunities and their almost uncanny ability to know when to chase and when to run away.

     

    I just wanted to say, I guess that's why you say great pvp players go AFK during minigames, or AFK at duel spot in epic, or AFK at rez pad in keshatta, or HIDING THEIR BK for massive Battle Keep sieges.

    Basically, in almost every case of PVP you suggest great pvp players to pick their fights and only fight when they are sure to win???????? ARE YOU KIDDING ME??

    They will attack lowbies with low HP, they will run to the guards, they will zone out from fight, they will only duel against classes they are sure to beat, or people think are noobs because they ahve a "bad Kill / Death" ratio, they will ruin minigames for others (who have balls) and they will ruin the end game pvp content for guilds that have the balls, the skill and the organisation to siege.

    AND YOU DARE TO CALL THAT AN UNCANNY ABILITY? How dare you !!!

    You have ruined the game for many great pvp players that I know who have played a melee class since launch, more than mastered evrything there is to master, become highly respected pvp players, but on some nights almost cried at the injustice that they faced in pvp combat and ended up suspending the subscription to the game even though that meant leaving their friends. I will never forgive you for that.

     

    If I had one thing to conclude is you should push people to grow balls rather than pick their fights, especially in a MMORPG called Age of Conan, it's one of the must huge paradox of the game that the violent and brave barbarian theme is drowned in noob harry potter clickers who pick their fights.

     

    Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing.

  • JeroKaneJeroKane OsloPosts: 5,353Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by SirPaco


    Don't know about LOTR but it certainly applies to AoC lol
     
    There are SO MANY things wrong with this interview it's scary. If you DO care about what the players think about it though, check the big long thread on the official forums (which you don't need to be a member to read).
     
    Personally, out of the million things I would like to say and comment, I pick the last sentence of the interview
     
    Down the years I have watched many great PVP players and the one thing they all share most of all is the ability to pick their fights and see their opportunities and their almost uncanny ability to know when to chase and when to run away.
     
    I just wanted to say, I guess that's why you say great pvp players go AFK during minigames, or AFK at duel spot in epic, or AFK at rez pad in keshatta, or HIDING THEIR BK for massive Battle Keep sieges.
    Basically, in almost every case of PVP you suggest great pvp players to pick their fights and only fight when they are sure to win???????? ARE YOU KIDDING ME??
    They will attack lowbies with low HP, they will run to the guards, they will zone out from fight, they will only duel against classes they are sure to beat, or people think are noobs because they ahve a "bad Kill / Death" ratio, they will ruin minigames for others (who have balls) and they will ruin the end game pvp content for guilds that have the balls, the skill and the organisation to siege.
    AND YOU DARE TO CALL THAT AN UNCANNY ABILITY? How dare you !!!
    You have ruined the game for many great pvp players that I know who have played a melee class since launch, more than mastered evrything there is to master, become highly respected pvp players, but on some nights almost cried at the injustice that they faced in pvp combat and ended up suspending the subscription to the game even though that meant leaving their friends. I will never forgive you for that.
     
    If I had one thing to conclude is you should push people to grow balls rather than pick their fights, especially in a MMORPG called Age of Conan, it's one of the must huge paradox of the game that the violent and brave barbarian theme is drowned in noob harry potter clickers who pick their fights.
     



     

    Everyone knows this game is called Age of Casters for a reason.

    I had high hopes for that combat revamp patch back in spring. Did a lot of testing and feedback on it back then to help.

    But in the end they did NOTHING against casters. And they stayed pretty much OP even after the patch.

    Only because these so called Hardcore PVP'ers he so seems to adore all play casters and have the biggest mouth and whine the loudest.  So Funcom just doesn't have the balls to kick their teeth in, shut them up and just nerf the crap out of casters to bring them in line with melee.

    That's why after that famous patch in Spring I gave up on this game. It was either rerolling a caster yourself or not bothering with PVP at all. Or just quit the game.

    I did the latter.

    Cheers

  • comerbcomerb Seattle, WAPosts: 941Member

    Melee has more players because melee in the game is rather fun and playing a caster is boring in comparison.  That isn't justification for making casters ridiculously powerful in comparison.

    Now granted I didn't play the game for very long, but after the billionth time I got absolutely mauled by caster classes while leveling I got fed up with it.  It's too bad, as I was enjoying the melee aspect of the game and may very well have continued playing.  Now I'm not sure what my experience is worth in the grand scheme of things, but I can't help but imagine several other players left the game for the same reason.

    I honestly think the game would have been much better off if they removed the mage classes altogether. 

  • SirPacoSirPaco AnnemassePosts: 361Member

    sorry, I forgot to add the following

     

    www.youtube.com/watch

     

    it is a trailer for AoC in which you see epic and massive PVP battles.

    PLEASE NOTE THE FOLLOWING WHICH APPEARS IN THE VIDEO :

    - no lag

    - no mages

    - mounted combat

    - no crashes

    - epic battle

     

    1 year and a half later in every point mentioned above, the opposite is true in most massive pvp situations (including outside of BK sieges where entire zones crash or lag like crazy)

    This is why I bought the game, not to click huge AOE fireballs and hop around shouting L2P

    Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing.

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