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Combat in MMOs: It isn't the problem

dotdotdashdotdotdash Llandrindod WellsPosts: 364Member

So I'm sure we're all actuely aware of the current trend for new  titles in the MMO genre: action-orientated combat systems.

TERA did it. GW2 did it. Raiderz did it. TESO is about to do it. Neverwinter is doing it.

There seems to be this prevalent belief from developers that the problem WE have with MMOs isn't to do with the fact that MMOs have been serving up the same content, the same incentives, the same motivators for the last 10 years without any apologies or attempts to move beyond them. It is instead to do with the combat systems.

I think this is totally the wrong conclusion to come to.

I had GREAT fun with WoWs combat system. When I go back from time-to-time to check out how the game isn't doing anything interesting, I always note how fun it is to play (especially in PvP). Warhammer Online had a great combat system (once you got over the fact that Mark Jacobs thought inventing "Mythic Time" was a good way to solve lag). Star Wars: The Old Republic also had a great combat system. I can't say that I enjoy any of those games any more; they come with a "been there, done that" feeling: they all want me to raid, they all want me to run instances/group quests, they all constantly bribe me to play with new tiers of gear, and they all bog me down under a time-crunching grind that I'm just not interested in anymore. They all have enjoyable (sometimes brilliant) combat systems however.

Now don't get me wrong: I'm not saying that I don't WANT action-orientated combat in my MMOs. I love The Elder Scrolls and The Witcher 2, and - like many other people - enjoy action-RPGs (and action games in general) thoroughly when they are done well.

It does feel however that some studios are relying on a change of combat system to sell their games entirely. Take The Edler Scrolls Online, for example: beyond the shallow alterations that come with a change of setting, it very much sounds like World of Warcraft... with action combat. I'm not saying it's a WoW clone; it isn't. I am saying that the basic formula they are using for content is as near to as identical to WoWs formula. It's the same formula that games like LotRo and SWTOR use, and Everquest before them. It's a formula that has been in play for over a decade, and it hasn't changed very much at all. As I said in another thread, it's more accessible now than it was, and there's more of it than there was, but it's still broadly the same as it was "back in the day". TERA is another prime example of a game that relies entirely on its combat system to stand out.

My personal feeling is that MOST of us aren't bored of the genre as a whole because of the combat systems these games use. Instead, I think we're bored of being offered the same incentives, the same motivators, the same form of entertainment game-after-game without any sign that the genre is moving forward.

Developers approach MMO development as "long term" projects. They expect us to stick around wholesale for end game. When end game - the actual game - hasn't changed in a decade... do they really think we'll actually stick around anymore? Either developers start making MMOs designed for short term play, or they do something to diversify (or change) how they are structured.

The genre is stagnant and boring, and it has very little to do with the combat.

Comments

  • AerowynAerowyn BUZZARDS BAY, MAPosts: 7,928Member
    i will agree in the fact most MMOs end up being the same at the end.. do dungeons do some instanced PVP, collect some loot and get better gear.. what you seem to be wanting is a good big name sandboxy style MMO where the game is mostly community ran other than dev controlled.. couple big name games are going this route though so id keep your eyes open for games like archage, the repopulation, EQNext, and couple others.. i enjoy all types of games but looking forward to see how the big name games of 2013 turn out as some look to have some new and exciting ideas to bring to the genre..

    I angered the clerk in a clothing shop today. She asked me what size I was and I said actual, because I am not to scale. I like vending machines 'cause snacks are better when they fall. If I buy a candy bar at a store, oftentimes, I will drop it... so that it achieves its maximum flavor potential. --Mitch Hedberg

  • TatercakeTatercake Auburn, WAPosts: 279Member

    ug i can not play this crappy old school  target and click  combat meybee you like it but  i hate it and stere from all games with  this type of combat i want to see more skyrim combat mortalonline type of combat where you got to have some skill  tolive and kill the old click combat is old  boring  and   just plane not  good  the new action combat is getting better but still  gets old fast 

     

  • KyleranKyleran Tampa, FLPosts: 19,978Member Uncommon
    OP has a valid point, changing one mechanic such as combat won't make MMOS a lot better overall. This was very evident in TERA, the combat was a nice change of pace, but the game overall was pretty underwhelming.

    In my day MMORPG's were so hard we fought our way through dungeons in the snow, uphill both ways.
    "I don't have one life, I have many lives" - Grunty
    Still currently "subscribed" to EVE, and only EVE!!!
    "This is the most intelligent, well qualified and articulate response to a post I have ever seen on these forums. It's a shame most people here won't have the attention span to read past the second line." - Anon

  • LauraFrostLauraFrost New York, NYPosts: 95Member

     

    Each combat system has its own audience.

     

    Just like Turn Based and Real Time strategy games. Both itch different kind of itch.

     

    I personally would be interested about an MMORPG that focus more on the Resource Management / Tactics of a combat than the "action" (TERA, GW 2...etc) and Twitchy (WoW, Rift, Aion..etc) kind of combat. Bring us more of the slow paced, resrouce management, tactical and strategic combat just for one MMORPG (not two, just one) as a change.

     

     

  • QuirhidQuirhid TamperePosts: 5,969Member Common
    Originally posted by LauraFrost

     

    Each combat system has its own audience.

    Just like Turn Based and Real Time strategy games. Both itch different kind of itch.

    I personally would be interested about an MMORPG that focus more on the Resource Management / Tactics of a combat than the "action" (TERA, GW 2...etc) and Twitchy (WoW, Rift, Aion..etc) kind of combat. Bring us more of the slow paced, resrouce management, tactical and strategic combat just for one MMORPG (not two, just one) as a change.

    Nearly every game has been tactical so far, but otherwise I agree with you: Different games for different needs.

    I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been -Wayne Gretzky

  • StonesDKStonesDK SomewherePosts: 1,805Member

    I can only say it's different for me.

     

    It absolutely is the combat. If the combat was fun, then doing the obligatory kill x quests would be more entertaining as well. I wouldn't have to complain about the repetitive nature of having do the same types of quests over and over. They would be fun doing because the combat system is fun

  • simmihisimmihi -Posts: 615Member Uncommon
    For me, the "action combat" does nothing else but bring in my game the exact type of player which i can not stand. We used to have games with depth, character oriented, community-oriented. What we got now are just glorified arenas, shallow games with semi-identical "classes" and 5 buttons, where the "difference" is made by those who can fast-mash a key twice to dodge.
  • MumboJumboMumboJumbo LondonPosts: 3,221Member
    Originally posted by LauraFrost

    Each combat system has its own audience.

    Just like Turn Based and Real Time strategy games. Both itch different kind of itch.

    I personally would be interested about an MMORPG that focus more on the Resource Management / Tactics of a combat than the "action" (TERA, GW 2...etc) and Twitchy (WoW, Rift, Aion..etc) kind of combat. Bring us more of the slow paced, resrouce management, tactical and strategic combat just for one MMORPG (not two, just one) as a change. 

    *scratch?

    Combat is fairly important if you slice up the proportion of time spent doing activities in mmorpgs eg running, chatting, combat, etc.

    For me the tab-target with reduce health bars is too detached. Either the FPS - quick kill speed rush or the tactical brain-flexing strategy of combat would both be more interesting. The half-way house of tab-combat is not very engaging. It's also very prescribed: Eg not being able to push another player off a cliff or "locked" in a sword-fight ie context does not have enough qualitative change on the combat.

  • NikopolNikopol The ZonePosts: 626Member Uncommon

    As far as MMORPGs go, not only do I not like action combat, I actually dislike it. I guess I'm old fashioned in that I expect my character's strengths to matter more than mine in an RPG.

    You know the drill, you know the thinking:

    I can be slow, but if my character is fast, that should suffice. Or I can be skillful, but if my character is weak, I'll get crushed. I like it that way. It just makes sense. It has a coherent philosophy to it. The action-combat RPG with well-timed dodges, aiming and positioning and all its twitchy nature makes no sense to me at all. I can't see why I'm not playing a straight out action game instead and getting rid of the stats altogether.

    Anyway, I thorougly agree with the OP on most points... It seems we're trapped in the "kill things, loot things, progress, run dungeons and kill each other" mentality. This is the limit of what developers can come up with as gameplay? I don't think so. There's a reason GW2's jump puzzles were so popular, because they were at least fresh to a lot of MMO players and made sense in terms of "exploring the world", which quite many MMO players cherish.

    On the other hand, though, I must say I'm also still looking for that "classic fantasy MMORPG" that never materialized. The one with the, yes, old-school combat system, a boatload of classes and races, a big beautiful open world, a lot of character to its lore, well-written quests that don't put you on a rail to cap, impressive dungeons and raids, deep character customization in both progression and appearance, a lot of non-combat progression, deep systems for PVP and PVE and certainly a well-oiled engine...

    I can't help but think we still don't have that game.

     

  • LoktofeitLoktofeit Stone Mountain, GAPosts: 13,638Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by dotdotdash

    1) It does feel however that some studios are relying on a change of combat system to sell their games entirely.

    2) The genre is stagnant and boring, and it has very little to do with the combat.

    1) That is because their games are entirely combat.

    2) It has everything to do with combat because that is the only element of gameplay that is left in most MMOs.

    There isn't a "right" or "wrong" way to play, if you want to use a screwdriver to put nails into wood, have at it, simply don't complain when the guy next to you with the hammer is doing it much better and easier. - Allein
    "Graphics are often supplied by Engines that (some) MMORPG's are built in" - Spuffyre

  • SuperNickSuperNick CambridgePosts: 460Member

    The problem with MMOs these days is as follows:

    1. They release too early because their parent company forces them out. They then spend the next 6 months trying to repair the damage but it's already end of game for most.
    2. They focus TOO much on one aspect of the game. Be it voice overs, PvP, PvE, crafting or combat.. often multiple areas are left to suffer where other areas excel.
    3. MMOs are often not being made by people who have a passion for MMOs and really know the industry. The real heavy hitters who know MMOs are relegated to smaller studios so their talent is going to waste.
    4. Companies are trying to innovate a little TOO much. Just work on making your game and systems the best they can be and you'll have a solid game. GW2's trinity-less system was some of the worst group play i've ever experienced and it didn't translate that great into WvW either.
    5. Companies don't seem to understand the definition of content patches anymore. In Asheron's Call we used to get regular mini-expansions every month or two, completely free of charge. These days a company thinks if they make a few bug changes, add a dungeon, balance some minor class stuff then they've done their content patch for the quarter.
    Pretty much every MMO to come out in the last 2 years has failed at 2 or more of the above, leading to their demise.
     
    One last other issue that we're seeing is the budget required to bring these games to life is becoming more and more every day.. companies are not able to risk $100+ million dollars on a game that might fail so therefore they don't. You get stuff like NWO instead which is a fairly low budget game that will make a small splash in the industry.
  • darkhalf357xdarkhalf357x Brooklyn, NYPosts: 1,164Member Uncommon

    Combat is important but only one aspect and different people like different things.  I dont like action combat in my RPG.  RPGs are (were) about story and gradual progression.  It wasn't about tactics but more about planning your moves and building your character understanding if that dungeon boss wiped you that you could eventually defeat him with the appropiate skill tree or time.  You played a role that happen to have a class and race.

    Today I feel they are trying to turn RPGs into a type of 'drop-in, drop-out' FPS.  Get in, lobby (dont socialize), do a 10-minute dungeon, log off.  It really defeats why MMORPGs were created in the first place.  Times are just changing. MMORPGs (and online gaming in general) is the 'new' thing in entertainment.

    But as long as people keep buying/supporting the model and publishers make millions it wont change.  Best I can hope for is a kickstarted indie title with a strong dedicated community.

    image
  • darkhalf357xdarkhalf357x Brooklyn, NYPosts: 1,164Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Loktofeit
    Originally posted by SuperNick

    The problem with MMOs these days is as follows:

    1. They release too early because their parent company forces them out.
    2. They focus TOO much on one aspect of the game.
    3. MMOs are often not being made by people who have a passion for MMOs and really know the industry.
    4. Companies are trying to innovate a little TOO much.
    5. Companies don't seem to understand the definition of content patches anymore.  
     

    #2 is the only one grounded in any kind of reality.  In the future, please preface such ridiculous 'the man is bad' speculation with 'in my very uininformed opinion' so that no one gets the impression that you might be trying to pass this drivel off as fact.

    How would you explain SWTOR and COH?  "Good" developer/publisher experiences that have an audience?

    The Publishers/Developers have responsibility here too.  Them owning up to it is a different story, especially if consumers will literally buy whatever they release.  Doesnt give much incentive to do anything else.

    image
  • IcewhiteIcewhite Elmhurst, ILPosts: 6,403Member
    Originally posted by dotdotdash

    The genre is stagnant and boring, and it has very little to do with the combat.

    And yet; if you flip on over to the PVP topic, it has everything to do with the combat.

    Huh, now what will we do?

    Self-pity imprisons us in the walls of our own self-absorption. The whole world shrinks down to the size of our problem, and the more we dwell on it, the smaller we are and the larger the problem seems to grow.

  • EtherignisEtherignis philadelphia, PAPosts: 246Member
    Yeah it seems some developers focus more on combat then the overall game like pvp and pve thats why we dont get the full experience of the mmo because devs spent there money on graphics, combat or gimicks.
  • darkhalf357xdarkhalf357x Brooklyn, NYPosts: 1,164Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Icewhite
    Originally posted by dotdotdash

    The genre is stagnant and boring, and it has very little to do with the combat.

    And yet; if you flip on over to the PVP topic, it has everything to do with the combat.

    Huh, now what will we do?

    I think this is the problem itself.  PvP and PvE leverage combat in different ways and when you try to merge them into ONE game it doesnt work for either side.

    In PvE I want unique customization.  Give me 1,000 skillpoints and allow me to nitpick various skills to build a character around the way I play (this is what I hope TESO brings over from TES but low to no confidence).

    Where in PvP (I dont play) I assume they want balance so each race/class combination has a fair chance to win based on skill.

    I say make two separate games.

    image
  • GrayKodiakGrayKodiak Nada, FLPosts: 576Member
    Originally posted by Icewhite
    Originally posted by dotdotdash

    The genre is stagnant and boring, and it has very little to do with the combat.

    And yet; if you flip on over to the PVP topic, it has everything to do with the combat.

    Huh, now what will we do?

    Come to realize you dont fix a genre by making it into something else,

    Rap music doesn't need more country lyrics and cowboy hats,

    American Muscle Car shows don't need more 4 cylinder Nitrous burning engines

    MMORPG's dont need more FPS elements and arcade style mechanics. There are already games of that nature, perhaps some of those games could be made persistant, and if they want it, given progression, but I begin to question the roots of the RPG of a game that plays more like doom online than baldurs gate online. The error is assuming that you are going to be able to attract both player base types in one product, in the early days MMORPG's were so niche it naturally attracted the RPG crowd first and foremost but now it is a mainstream genre and is attempting to attract a wide and vast audience, but at times it ignores the elements that started it.

  • PrimalBindsPrimalBinds Akron, OHPosts: 1Member

    I agree. Most MMORPG games are getting similar combat systems with a few minimal twists on them to make them unique to that game. RaiderZ and Dragon Nest are pretty unique though in the fact that they require dodging and aiming. I think MMORPGs should start focusing on what to do outside of combat since most MMORPGs besides games like Runescape are basically all combat based. People don't want to do combat forever.

  • BanaghranBanaghran HuisoPosts: 869Member
    Originally posted by MumboJumbo

    Combat is fairly important if you slice up the proportion of time spent doing activities in mmorpgs eg running, chatting, combat, etc.

     

    This is the main point, should it be a important, big portion? 

    Flame on!

    :)

  • nariusseldonnariusseldon santa clara, CAPosts: 22,441Member
    Originally posted by Banaghran
    Originally posted by MumboJumbo

    Combat is fairly important if you slice up the proportion of time spent doing activities in mmorpgs eg running, chatting, combat, etc.

     

    This is the main point, should it be a important, big portion? 

    Flame on!

    :)

    Yes, for me. Combat is fun, again, for me.

    In terms of the market, it is pretty obvious that violence is popular.

  • LoktofeitLoktofeit Stone Mountain, GAPosts: 13,638Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by darkhalf357x
    Originally posted by Loktofeit
    Originally posted by SuperNick

    The problem with MMOs these days is as follows:

    1. They release too early because their parent company forces them out.
    2. They focus TOO much on one aspect of the game.
    3. MMOs are often not being made by people who have a passion for MMOs and really know the industry.
    4. Companies are trying to innovate a little TOO much.
    5. Companies don't seem to understand the definition of content patches anymore.  
     

    #2 is the only one grounded in any kind of reality.  In the future, please preface such ridiculous 'the man is bad' speculation with 'in my very uininformed opinion' so that no one gets the impression that you might be trying to pass this drivel off as fact.

    How would you explain SWTOR and COH?  "Good" developer/publisher experiences that have an audience?

    The Publishers/Developers have responsibility here too.  Them owning up to it is a different story, especially if consumers will literally buy whatever they release.  Doesnt give much incentive to do anything else.

    I agree the Publisher and Developer have a responsibility, too. However, for someone to suggest that the problem is developers with no passion for their work or that the patches are done wrong is simply absurd.

     

    There isn't a "right" or "wrong" way to play, if you want to use a screwdriver to put nails into wood, have at it, simply don't complain when the guy next to you with the hammer is doing it much better and easier. - Allein
    "Graphics are often supplied by Engines that (some) MMORPG's are built in" - Spuffyre

  • insaner666insaner666 Sao PauloPosts: 18Member
    Originally posted by simmihi
    For me, the "action combat" does nothing else but bring in my game the exact type of player which i can not stand. We used to have games with depth, character oriented, community-oriented. What we got now are just glorified arenas, shallow games with semi-identical "classes" and 5 buttons, where the "difference" is made by those who can fast-mash a key twice to dodge.

    i agree, action combat brings another type of audience to MMORPGS, and they will claim their needs.. wich usually don't have the depth of a real RPG player, like the first RPGs were all turn based, i think about them differently, action combat is not an evolution its just another type of combat.

    People just need to know that action players care less about History and Character immersion, or envirorment, and more about fun in a short space of time in combat.

    I Still enjoy Ultima Online combat... why ? maybe because i have imagination, the best engine we have, and i still like SWTOR Combat too. "Action Combat just turned more of the same" to me, maybe because you expect lots of fun fights, but in the end all the co mplexity of blocking and hiting with RMB or LMB, turns into just that... clicking buttons.

    Action Combat : Less imaginative, so you depends only on what you see and the moves are show totally to you, what.

    High expectations -> High Experience -> Very Low imagination -> Often boring   

    Any other non Action Combat: More imaginative, same shit happening always, so you force yourself to imaginate what is happening there, nothing is showing in your face what they look like while dodge or block, nothing show how idiot he looks while you double tap left button to dodge. So you can focus on another parts of game like its envirorment and the History. ,maybe read books;

    Medium expectations -> Low experience ->High Imagination -> if you like it will take time to bore you.

     

    This is my view of the old fashion players, just that.

  • BanaghranBanaghran HuisoPosts: 869Member
    Originally posted by nariusseldon
    Originally posted by Banaghran
    Originally posted by MumboJumbo

    Combat is fairly important if you slice up the proportion of time spent doing activities in mmorpgs eg running, chatting, combat, etc.

     

    This is the main point, should it be a important, big portion? 

    Flame on!

    :)

    Yes, for me. Combat is fun, again, for me.

    In terms of the market, it is pretty obvious that violence is popular.

    IMO, and you will surely disagree, without other stuff mmorpgs end up more or less as fantasy fps with (for fps players) great annoyances, like quests, crafting...

    The result we see now...

    Personally i would be for a more strategic approach, activities that can improve even combat, while not necessarily involving combat, something a player can get lost in.

    Flame on!

    :)

  • nariusseldonnariusseldon santa clara, CAPosts: 22,441Member
    Originally posted by Banaghran
    Originally posted by nariusseldon
    Originally posted by Banaghran
    Originally posted by MumboJumbo

    Combat is fairly important if you slice up the proportion of time spent doing activities in mmorpgs eg running, chatting, combat, etc.

     

    This is the main point, should it be a important, big portion? 

    Flame on!

    :)

    Yes, for me. Combat is fun, again, for me.

    In terms of the market, it is pretty obvious that violence is popular.

    IMO, and you will surely disagree, without other stuff mmorpgs end up more or less as fantasy fps with (for fps players) great annoyances, like quests, crafting...

    The result we see now...

    Personally i would be for a more strategic approach, activities that can improve even combat, while not necessarily involving combat, something a player can get lost in.

    Flame on!

    :)

    Questing is just an excuse to kill stuff. Look at it this way, how often does people actually *read* the quest stuff. Crafting is a way to get gear. I highly doubt if many play MMORPGs for crafting (except those playing Tales of the Desert, of course). Personally i don't.

    And what is this FPS talk? There are MANY different type of combat. Diablo focuses on combat as much as a FPS, but the style is 100x different.

    And even if there are other activities that improve combat, while not involve combat ... the game still rest on combat deep enough to support those activities. ANd there are activities .. like gear optimization, theorycrafting, build optimization ... all very popular non-combat, but combat-improving activities.

    Are you a theorycrafter?

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