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ESO tests turn-based combat to fix lag

YashaXYashaX Member EpicPosts: 2,553
Good news folks, ZOS has decided to try out turn based combat to see if they can reduce the lag in Cyrodill:

https://forums.elderscrollsonline.com/en/discussion/539136/update-on-cyrodiil-performance-upcoming-aoe-tests

As part of our ongoing performance optimizations, we have been spending a lot of time analyzing and addressing problems in Cyrodiil. I'm going to give a summary of what has happened over the years, what we have been doing to alleviate the problems, and our future plans.

When talking about ESO server performance, it is important to understand that all abilities in the game (with some exceptions) have a "soft" limit on the number of times they can be executed. An example of a "hard" limit on an ability is an ability that can be executed one time every two seconds, enforced by the server. ESO doesn't have many of those. Instead, we designed the game to have soft limits, which mean you can execute as many abilities as you want as long as you have the resources - Stamina or Magicka - to cast them. There is a global "cool down" timer on all abilities, which is set to 1000 milliseconds.

The design goal of soft limits in any game is to allow players to create builds that let them execute abilities more often depending on build choices made, and not to have hard ceilings on damage or healing per second. This gives a lot of control to the player, which makes for a really fun and interesting system, but it can lead to situations where players cast too many abilities too quickly (and continuously) if strict limits on resources are not enforced.

Over the years, player power has grown considerably. With the addition of the Champion System, various armor/weapons sets, and changes to abilities, we have reached the stage where players - with the right build - can cast near-infinite numbers of abilities. If you add in a properly managed group, with some focused on damage and some focused on healing and regen boosts, you have a perpetually running never-ending stream of abilities.

With that in mind, consider how Area of Effect (AOE) abilities work: when cast, they look at a specific target area - almost always the area directly around the caster - find targets, and perform the ability. Each of those steps requires server calculations.

At launch, Cyrodiil’s processes were able to keep up with the number of AOEs cast, because most players couldn’t cast that many of them: they ran out of Magicka or Stamina, so they had to use AOEs judiciously. Over time, as player knowledge grew and regen builds grew in power, more players could cast more and more AOEs before running out of resources.

During these years, we found and fixed many performance issues in Cyrodiil, and we continue to do so. We've fixed significant issues, uncovered more, and continue to find and fix with every Update.

However, one foundational issue remains. At some point, we crossed a threshold where most players in PvP were able to cast endless AOE abilities, without ever running out of resources. This is done through player knowledge, builds and group mechanics – resulting in a constant stream of AOEs with many players never using any other type of ability.

This is not what we intended, but part of the fun of Elder Scrolls games is designing a build that has unexpected and powerful results, and we allowed it. However, as this behavior grew more prevalent, we reached a point where casting so many continuous AOE abilities in such a small area started to overwhelm the server process for that area, leading to situations where the "lag meter" spikes and the server becomes unresponsive for a period of time.

Our initial response to this problem – starting with Update 22 – was to find (and fix) more than a few problems with AOE ability calculations and make them more performant - and we stayed (mostly) ahead of the problem. But as more players reached maximum Champion Level and more players started utilizing this particular method of "AOE spamming", we have reached the point where we cannot fix this issue around the edges: we need to address the core problem, which we will be starting with Update 27.

To do this, we will need to first do some analysis, and we can only do this on the live servers. As much as we try to avoid running tests on live servers, they are the only place where the combination of player behavior, specific builds, and mass battles happen. So, starting the week of August 24, we will be running a series of tests on the live PC servers – both NA & EU, only in Cyrodiil. Please note that we will not be running these tests on any Console servers. Each test should take about a week, but if needed, we will extend the testing time.

The first round of tests we are planning will focus on Area of Effect (AOE) abilities in Cyrodiil and will make it more difficult for AOE abilities to be the only abilities used, adjusting cooldown, cost and regen values of all AOEs (damage and healing).

Specific details on the tests we will be running in Cyrodiil are as follows:
  • Test 1 – Shared global AOE cooldown - 3 second timer. This test adds a global 3 second shared cooldown to any AOE ability. This means that when you cast an AOE, you will not be able to cast another for 3 seconds. For example, as a Templar, if I cast Ritual of Retribution, I wouldn’t be able to cast Puncturing Sweep for 3 seconds.
  • Test 2 – Individual AOE cooldown - 3 second timer. This test adds an individual AOE cooldown to each AOE ability. This means that when you cast an AOE, you will not be able to cast that same AOE ability for 3 seconds. For example – as a Templar, if I cast Puncturing Sweep, I wouldn’t be able to cast Puncturing Sweep again for 3 seconds.
  • Test 3 – No cooldown, global ramping AOE cost. This test adds a global ramping AOE cost for each AOE cast. Similar to how streak or roll dodge works, where when you cast an AOE you receive a debuff for 5 seconds, each stack of the debuff increases the cost of any AOE cast.
  • Test 4 – Individual AOE cooldown – 3 second timer, global ramping AOE cost. This test adds an individual AOE cooldown to each ability as in test 2, but also combines that with a global ramping cost from test 3.
During the times that any of these tests are active, we will be awarding double Alliance Points for anyone active in Cyrodiil.

After we complete the above tests, we may try other combinations of cooldown, cost, and regen values on AOE abilities. However, we need to run these tests first and then assess the data. We will then let everyone know what we found and how we will move forward. We will be very upfront, but please be aware that if these tests confirm our hypothesis, then chain-casting AOE abilities will no longer form the core of the ESO PvP experience in the way it has for the last few years. We would then go through each class and ensure that there are viable builds for each and make adjustments as necessary.



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IselintzervoKyleranNycteliosAmathebcbully
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Comments

  • IselinIselin Member LegendaryPosts: 14,301
    Umm... that's not what "turn based" means :)

    They're just adding cool downs and progressively increasing resource cost to combat AOE spamming.
    GdemamitzervoNyghthowlerKyleranBrainykitaradNanfoodleboris20BabuinixNycteliosand 7 others.
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  • BrainyBrainy Member UncommonPosts: 345
    Iselin said:
    Umm... that's not what "turn based" means :)

    They're just adding cool downs and progressively increasing resource cost to combat AOE spamming.
    LOL when I first read the headline, I thought it was moving to something like Civilization.  I was wondering how that would work.  Didn't sound good.
    YashaXFedayginGorwedragonlee66
  • DibdabsDibdabs Member RarePosts: 2,921
    Right you are.  So, NOT turn based then.  That's a relief!
    Fedaygin
  • remsleepremsleep Member RarePosts: 485
    edited July 29
    Turn based..... Cyrodill

    Can you imagine what a shitshow that would be?

    Good thing is that "turn based" is not at all what was meant 
    Fedaygin
  • Sal1Sal1 Member UncommonPosts: 374
    I.E. we don't know how to make a game with more then 2 players online and have an action combat system? Give me a break...
    FedayginZenislav
  • NanfoodleNanfoodle Member EpicPosts: 8,243
    I left because of performance problems. I was unable to play Cyrdiil for almost 3 months. I had enough. I hope they get this fixed. 
    Fedaygin
  • AeanderAeander Member LegendaryPosts: 5,722
    They really just need to do everything they can to eliminate the animation canceling shenanigans that make this game a complete joke.
    NanfoodleNycteliosjitter77OG_ZorvanFedaygin
  • NanfoodleNanfoodle Member EpicPosts: 8,243
    Aeander said:
    They really just need to do everything they can to eliminate the animation canceling shenanigans that make this game a complete joke.
    That would lower the input lag by a large %
    OG_ZorvanFedaygin
  • remsleepremsleep Member RarePosts: 485
    Aeander said:
    They really just need to do everything they can to eliminate the animation canceling shenanigans that make this game a complete joke.


    Every time animation canceling is taken out - combat gets really dull and boring for me

    Animation canceling shenanigans is what makes combat skill ceiling higher and gives a lot more options for skilled play.


    That's just my preference.


  • AeanderAeander Member LegendaryPosts: 5,722
    remsleep said:
    Aeander said:
    They really just need to do everything they can to eliminate the animation canceling shenanigans that make this game a complete joke.


    Every time animation canceling is taken out - combat gets really dull and boring for me

    Animation canceling shenanigans is what makes combat skill ceiling higher and gives a lot more options for skilled play.


    That's just my preference.


    If your combat system is so bad that it requires an exploit to work, you need a new combat system.

    Also, not everything that makes your game more skillful makes it better. In fact, it often does the opposite.

    I could program my MMO to require a Dance Dance Revolution style quick time event every time I want to use a skill. That would certainly make the game harder to play. It would also make the game suck.
    SovrathMendelYashaXGdemamiOG_ZorvanZenislavGormogon
  • cameltosiscameltosis Member EpicPosts: 2,527
    Certainly an interesting move, and I'll agree, this is not a switch to turn-based combat, simply adding in more cooldowns to reduce the server load.

    From the endless complaints about server performance in Cyrodiil, I can only assume this will be a good thing in general. Given that Cyrodiil is the only thing that makes ESO an MMO, it should definitely be a priority!
    Fedaygin
  • NycteliosNyctelios Member EpicPosts: 3,808
    remsleep said:
    Aeander said:
    They really just need to do everything they can to eliminate the animation canceling shenanigans that make this game a complete joke.


    Every time animation canceling is taken out - combat gets really dull and boring for me

    Animation canceling shenanigans is what makes combat skill ceiling higher and gives a lot more options for skilled play.


    That's just my preference.


    It fits a competitive controlled environment like a fighting game.

    MMOs have many different of gameplay loops which leads to different flavors.

    After I exploited the shit out of animation canceling I couldn't play with characters that would struggle to reach the same  'optimization'.

    Because some builds get way more numbers out it the system becomes unbalanced on its core, which is a very serious issue to have in a multiplayer game.
    YashaXOG_Zorvan
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  • NanfoodleNanfoodle Member EpicPosts: 8,243
    edited July 29
    remsleep said:
    Aeander said:
    They really just need to do everything they can to eliminate the animation canceling shenanigans that make this game a complete joke.


    Every time animation canceling is taken out - combat gets really dull and boring for me

    Animation canceling shenanigans is what makes combat skill ceiling higher and gives a lot more options for skilled play.


    That's just my preference.


    Animation canceling is needed for some things. Like using a skill and now someone is attacking you. So animation canceling to dodge is needed. Problem with ESO is everything uses animation canceling. Its over done. The game is no longer about combat skill but how good you can animation cancel to chain every skill into a long line of non stop death. This is a big part of lag because everyone's builds are built this way. So the number of keystrokes are crazy when you think of large scale battles. Adding cool down times to skills will do nothing if animation canceling is still in play. 
    tzervoGdemami
  • MendelMendel Member EpicPosts: 3,809
    Minor prediction.  Adding a cool-down timer won't fix a universal performance problem.  At best, it can hope to reduce the lag *within the constraints of the current population*.  If they hope to have more people participating in Cyrodill, there will be a increased number of characters casting AOE spells at one time.  At some point, the server will have as many AOE calculations as is believed to be causing the performance issue, just split across more players.

    In my opinion, adding cool-down timers is a solution that doesn't scale.



    KyleranNycteliosAlBQuirky

    Logic, my dear, merely enables one to be wrong with great authority.

  • AeanderAeander Member LegendaryPosts: 5,722
    Nanfoodle said:
    remsleep said:
    Aeander said:
    They really just need to do everything they can to eliminate the animation canceling shenanigans that make this game a complete joke.


    Every time animation canceling is taken out - combat gets really dull and boring for me

    Animation canceling shenanigans is what makes combat skill ceiling higher and gives a lot more options for skilled play.


    That's just my preference.


    Animation canceling is needed for some things. Like using a skill and now someone is attacking you. So animation canceling to dodge is needed. Problem with ESO is everything uses animation canceling. Its over done. The game is no longer about combat skill but how good you can animation cancel to chain every skill into a long line of non stop death. This is a big part of lag because everyone's builds are built this way. So the number of keystrokes are crazy when you think of large scale battles. Adding cool down times to skills will do nothing if animation canceling is still in play. 
    I can't claim to be a fan of arbitrary "it's awkward because skill" mechanics in any genre, even fighting games.

    One of my favorite parts of Smash Bros. is just how simple and intuitive the controls are. It's all about being good at the game, not being good at the controller. And I really hate how some of the new characters (Ryu, Ken, and Terry) brought all that special input nonsense into the game.
    Nanfoodle
  • AmatheAmathe Member LegendaryPosts: 7,159
    I see turn based and think Knight to Queen's Bishop 3.  Or woot I  finally landed on Park Place. Time for me to build some houses bishes. 

    This must be different.
    AlBQuirkyAsheram

    EQ1, EQ2, SWG, SWTOR, GW, GW2 CoH, CoV, FFXI, WoW, CO, War,TSW and a slew of free trials and beta tests

  • YashaXYashaX Member EpicPosts: 2,553
    Iselin said:
    Umm... that's not what "turn based" means :)

    They're just adding cool downs and progressively increasing resource cost to combat AOE spamming.
    Yeah, obviously a clickbait title. Anyone who has played in the CP campaign during prime time would know that turn-based combat has been a feature for quite some time now.
    GdemamiGormogon
    ....
  • klash2defklash2def Member EpicPosts: 1,741
    yeah, I was terrified when I saw Rich's post lol.. but this is actually just "Hey AoE spammers, you are breaking our game, glad you are having fun, but we gotta nip ya."

    It actually should help a ton with performance. I think its a good call. 
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  • WizardryWizardry Member LegendaryPosts: 17,642
    edited July 31
    1 They sort of get it !
    2 They are basically in a nutshell talking about not having a "handcuffed" combat system,something i have mentioned a lot over the years.
    3 Full turn based=no timers,you can go bake a cake and come back and nothing has happened and to that i say hell NO.
    4 Answer>>FFXI ,slower combat,tons of action reaction with slower timers.You can make your resources last a long time which doesn't handcuff combat.
    5 FFXi is the perfect example of how to make a game work because it had to work,multi platform and for the PS2.I have personally played seeing pings over 400,NO OTHER game can be played with that type of ping,so yeah take a look at how FFXi does it,IT WORKS.

    Never forget 3 mile Island and never trust a government official or company spokesman.

  • Morgenes83Morgenes83 Member UncommonPosts: 182
    remsleep said:
    Aeander said:
    They really just need to do everything they can to eliminate the animation canceling shenanigans that make this game a complete joke.


    Every time animation canceling is taken out - combat gets really dull and boring for me

    Animation canceling shenanigans is what makes combat skill ceiling higher and gives a lot more options for skilled play.


    That's just my preference.


    There are two types of animation cancelling.
    - Cancel to abort an action as an reaction to the enemies action, e.g. cancelling your long animation attack to block an enemies attack
    - Cancel to just shorten the time of the animation to do more damage over time than when letting the animation finish

    While the first one is totally ok and is e.g. what makes M&B, Mordhau, Chivalry combat so good the second one is just stupid imho.

    It should be an action-reaction system with clear consequences for cancelling and not just cancel to do MOAR DAMAGE which is ESOs system
    YashaXGdemamiAlBQuirkytzervoNyghthowlerGormogon

    1997 Meridian 59 'til 2019 ESO 

    Waiting for Camelot Unchained & Pantheon

  • IselinIselin Member LegendaryPosts: 14,301
    remsleep said:
    Aeander said:
    They really just need to do everything they can to eliminate the animation canceling shenanigans that make this game a complete joke.


    Every time animation canceling is taken out - combat gets really dull and boring for me

    Animation canceling shenanigans is what makes combat skill ceiling higher and gives a lot more options for skilled play.


    That's just my preference.


    There are two types of animation cancelling.
    - Cancel to abort an action as an reaction to the enemies action, e.g. cancelling your long animation attack to block an enemies attack
    - Cancel to just shorten the time of the animation to do more damage over time than when letting the animation finish

    While the first one is totally ok and is e.g. what makes M&B, Mordhau, Chivalry combat so good the second one is just stupid imho.

    It should be an action-reaction system with clear consequences for cancelling and not just cancel to do MOAR DAMAGE which is ESOs system
    Technically there is only one type of animation canceling: you can either cancel out of a skill animation or you can't.

    Many games have canceling that makes no sense to abuse because if you cancel you lose the effect of what you canceled. That is done by the simple method of calculating and applying the effect of the skill only if the skill animation is completed.

    ESO's problem and why it leads to canceling abuse to increase DPS is that they calculate and apply the effect at the beginning of the animation so there is zero penalty for canceling it early.

    They have the ability to change that any time they want since they already have many skills in the game, all channeled skills, that work by having several "ticks" that are calculated at different times in the channeling animation. When you cancel out of those skills, which you can do, you get the partial effect of only the ticks that were counted before you canceled.

    All they need is the will to do it - to change when in the animation the effect is calculated and applied.

    That wouldn't slow down just AOE spam but all skill spam since no one would cancel for any reason other than legit defensive reasons if canceling meant a DPS loss.
    YashaXGdemamiAlBQuirkytzervo
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    ― CD PROJEKT RED

    "... the "influencers" which is the tech name we call sell outs now..."
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  • BlazerXBlazerX Member UncommonPosts: 72
    edited August 2
    LOL what a joke with those of you who actively promote the BULLSHIT that is Animation Cancelling.  For fuck's sake you can just program that shit into a mouse like a macro.   There is no "skill" that is involved in that shit show at all. IT IS AN EXPLOIT.  DEAL WITH IT.

    Hell I might even try this again if they EVER take this shit out.
    GdemamiYashaXeoloe
  • ChildoftheShadowsChildoftheShadows Member EpicPosts: 1,826
    BlazerX said:
    LOL what a joke with those of you who actively promote the BULLSHIT that is Animation Cancelling.  For fuck's sake you can just program that shit into a mouse like a macro.   There is no "skill" that is involved in that shit show at all. IT IS AN EXPLOIT.  DEAL WITH IT.

    Hell I might even try this again if they EVER take this shit out.
    Hey. 
    "Wake up, It's RNG, there is no such thing as 'rare'"
    - Ungood
  • RhoklawRhoklaw Member EpicPosts: 7,021
    I was hoping for an RTS version of ESO, but I guess a Civilization version works too, lol.
    YashaXAlBQuirky

  • AsheramAsheram Member EpicPosts: 4,206
    Iselin said:
    remsleep said:
    Aeander said:
    They really just need to do everything they can to eliminate the animation canceling shenanigans that make this game a complete joke.


    Every time animation canceling is taken out - combat gets really dull and boring for me

    Animation canceling shenanigans is what makes combat skill ceiling higher and gives a lot more options for skilled play.


    That's just my preference.


    There are two types of animation cancelling.
    - Cancel to abort an action as an reaction to the enemies action, e.g. cancelling your long animation attack to block an enemies attack
    - Cancel to just shorten the time of the animation to do more damage over time than when letting the animation finish

    While the first one is totally ok and is e.g. what makes M&B, Mordhau, Chivalry combat so good the second one is just stupid imho.

    It should be an action-reaction system with clear consequences for cancelling and not just cancel to do MOAR DAMAGE which is ESOs system
    Technically there is only one type of animation canceling: you can either cancel out of a skill animation or you can't.

    Many games have canceling that makes no sense to abuse because if you cancel you lose the effect of what you canceled. That is done by the simple method of calculating and applying the effect of the skill only if the skill animation is completed.

    ESO's problem and why it leads to canceling abuse to increase DPS is that they calculate and apply the effect at the beginning of the animation so there is zero penalty for canceling it early.

    They have the ability to change that any time they want since they already have many skills in the game, all channeled skills, that work by having several "ticks" that are calculated at different times in the channeling animation. When you cancel out of those skills, which you can do, you get the partial effect of only the ticks that were counted before you canceled.

    All they need is the will to do it - to change when in the animation the effect is calculated and applied.

    That wouldn't slow down just AOE spam but all skill spam since no one would cancel for any reason other than legit defensive reasons if canceling meant a DPS loss.
    His first example isnt an abuse, you would understand if you played any of the 3 games he listed. Its called a feint, trick your enemy into thinking you are attacking in 1 direction by canceling attack by hitting the block button. It is also useful in stopping an attack that might hit a team mate as they have friendly fire too.
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