#1 Edited by insanejedi (654 posts) -

I've been trying to look for a game developer answer to the question why MMORPG combat that uses the auto-attack hotbar system can't have a more active combat system seen in games such as Diablo or Skyrim.

Melee combat is still not collision based on hit boxes in MMOs like in other single/multiplayer RPGs, It's based on this arbitrary "Distance from target" system that if you are 1m away you are in melee range. Making attack animations of your character sometimes no where being next to the enemy being registered as valid attacks. It just looks really dumb.

I don't think I'm alone in when saying that some games like the Original Planetside or other games with "actiony" elements never "feel right." I haven't played Planetside 2 but I think you know what I mean when I say the shooting is never like something in Halo or even Borderlands.

I previously heard back in the late 90s that it was due to bandwith problems and the auto-attack hotbar system was the only thing that could keep up with multiple players connected to a server.

Okay I could believe that... in the 90s but seriously with this?

I mean when Everquest first came out in 1999 we've more than 100x the amount of bandwidth and we're still dealing the same system?

This question ultimately gets directed to upcoming games like Elder Scrolls Online. Which instead of the first person action based combat, still uses this same autoattack hotbar system we've been using for more than 10 god damn years.

So... why?

#2 Posted by GERALTITUDE (3349 posts) -

You erred early my friend! It has nothing to do with "can't". Nearly all the genres we enjoy today were developed with and due to the limitations of technology, and MMORPGs are no different. A large part of the hotkey solution is that it keeps group combat relatively clean, and it's not necessarily "twitch" based (though it certainly is timing based), unlike, for example, an FPS, so the barrier to entry is lower (which is critical for the survival of an MMO).

To use Planetside as an example: I would frankly never *want* it to play more like Halo or Boderlands, and I have a mind to really rail against what you are proposing. This is the same thing that frustrates me when people say "I wish BioShock was more like Call of Duty". I know you're not exactly saying "all games should play the same" but partly that is what you're saying. More active, more responsive, faster, real-time, whatever - this is not inherently more fun or better than a hotkey system, turn-based combat, or anything else: No matter how much you personally disagree. The 10 million or so people who have been playing WoW for the last ten years certainly don't care that the action is hotkeyed rather than live. It's a system, and many people like the system.

Still. You're not alone. And I think you represent a growing population of gamers who want to play MMO style games with the controls you like, rather than the controls that established the MMO genre. This is fine, but I refuse to except any genre-wide critique of the systems. Games should play differently and I want some to be slow, some fast, some with hotkeys and some with triggers.

#3 Posted by ImmortalSaiyan (4683 posts) -

WOW combat > Skyrim combat. Some people like MMO combat. It being bad is not a truism.

#4 Posted by EXTomar (4772 posts) -

Basically: Calculating collisions in a massively multiplayer setting with concurrence constraints between a large number of moving objects in a given "tick" time window is a hard problem to solve. There is a lot of things that game like Planetside gives up to make this calculation in time for it to be useful for the players where saying "This should be easy" is not true at all.

Even a game like Tera does target and positional combat but that too has constraints on combat.

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#5 Posted by Zekhariah (697 posts) -

@insanejedi: Because, the people playing MMOs are looking for that sort of combat. WoW is a social experience, "difficulty" is mostly in terms of paying attention and not going completely off the rails with the rudimentary RPG systems. But you can generally chat and watch TV while playing WoW. Which is why you would play that over a more in depth of attentive sort of title.

Talking about real life stuff while just doesn't work that well in an involved game where you need to constantly pay attention and coordinate.

#6 Posted by EXTomar (4772 posts) -

So lets ask this question: What should change about MMO combat now? Making it more FPS probably wouldn't create the combat experience MMO players want where they want complex interactions across a wide array of effects.

FPS combat is not the "end all" example of combat. In any event, the combat in ES games let alone Skyrim isn't exactly "action packed" anyway. Are you sure the problem isn't the combat in Skyrim before MMO combat?

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#7 Posted by MariachiMacabre (7096 posts) -

I genuinely enjoy WoWs combat. Maybe it's because it was such a fun game to play with friends but I always really enjoyed synergizing my abilities with my raid groups.

#8 Posted by Nickieroonie (141 posts) -

Aside from the bandwidth issues which (to my knowledge) still exist, not having physical hit detection simplifies the game mechanics in a way that allows the developers to balance the game properly and communicate rules to the players effectively.

I don't think that it's impossible to make an MMO with hit detection anymore, but creating a more traditional RPG-style system (think D&D) is easier and is tried and trusted.

#9 Edited by Krullban (1038 posts) -

I enjoy MMO combat, I don't think it's bad at all.

#10 Posted by psylah (2177 posts) -

I have yet to find a game, MMO or not, that could surpass the feeling of control and the sensory feedback I got from combat text while tanking in WoW.

More detailed, more intricate, does not mean more fun or more enjoyable.

#11 Posted by StarvingGamer (8284 posts) -

When you reach high levels of play in MMO's and are dealing with multiple mob/large party position and managing a priority system of your global cooldown and 20+ hotkeys, well, there are few games that reach a similar level of controlled chaos in as satisfying a manner.

MMO combat is fine for them what likes it. ESO can only be better than Elder Scrolls if it has hotbar combat. Elder Scrolls combat is fucking horrible.

#12 Posted by MordeaniisChaos (5730 posts) -

Shooting in Planetside 2 is awesome. The original game is old as fuck, so it's not a surprise that at the time it was hard to pull that off. But Planetside 2 has a really good feel to it, even without hitscan weapons.

As for RPGs, it's about your preferences. I used to really enjoy WoW in the higher levels when you got into dungeons and the like. Early on though, MMO combat is pretty dull. That's just a fact. Especially when you've played any class up past that level. When you've been up to 60 (or 90 or whatever it's up to these days) it's never much fun to go back to the point where you've got like 3 fucking abilities.

Something like WoW doesn't need realistic ranges just to be good or complex. Most good first person shooters include a lot of really really unrealistic hit detection. Bullets that have no travel time, no deflection, no drop? That's way more important to how a game actually operates than the lack of accurate animation. And the MMO at least has the issue of client side vs server side calculations as an excuse.

Just look at a screenshot of the interface of a level 80 Warlock in WoW. It's about a trillion fucking icons all over the place. That game gets very complex in the end game especially with some of the classes.

When you reach high levels of play in MMO's and are dealing with multiple mob/large party position and managing a priority system of your global cooldown and 20+ hotkeys, well, there are few games that reach a similar level of controlled chaos in as satisfying a manner.

MMO combat is fine for them what likes it. ESO can only be better than Elder Scrolls if it has hotbar combat. Elder Scrolls combat is fucking horrible.

It was fine in Skyrim. Just because you don't like it doesn't make it terrible. I really enjoyed shield and sword in Skyrim. Same with marksmanship It wasn't perfect, but a mod to nerf AI casters to have actual depleting magicka and all that made it pretty enjoyable.

#13 Edited by Turambar (6790 posts) -

Considering we have more and more MMOs going the combat route of Tera (or PSO2, or a slew of other not massive, but still online and multiplayer), while the comment that auto attack and hotbar based combat sucking is not a truism, neither is the statement that MMOs are not looking to move away from that.

#14 Posted by StarvingGamer (8284 posts) -

@starvinggamer said:

When you reach high levels of play in MMO's and are dealing with multiple mob/large party position and managing a priority system of your global cooldown and 20+ hotkeys, well, there are few games that reach a similar level of controlled chaos in as satisfying a manner.

MMO combat is fine for them what likes it. ESO can only be better than Elder Scrolls if it has hotbar combat. Elder Scrolls combat is fucking horrible.

It was fine in Skyrim. Just because you don't like it doesn't make it terrible. I really enjoyed shield and sword in Skyrim. Same with marksmanship It wasn't perfect, but a mod to nerf AI casters to have actual depleting magicka and all that made it pretty enjoyable.

I didn't play Skyrim so maybe they finally fixed it. If you like it then that's great, it just couldn't be any more not for me.

#15 Edited by SathingtonWaltz (2053 posts) -

I've always liked the idea of an open ended fps game with mmo elements. Something like a mix between MAG, ARMA, Planetside, and Battlfield. Huge, open, persistent world.

#16 Posted by MordeaniisChaos (5730 posts) -

@starvinggamer: I have no idea how to respond to "I didn't play the game that I was just bitching about the combat in." I mean come on. If you say ES combat sucks and you haven't even played the most recent one, you should have said "combat in Oblivion sucked" because that's clearly what you meant. And you would be right about that. It did. And I don't personally think any mods ever fixed that. In Skyrim, it's not mindblowing but it's plenty of fun if you take the time to find a class you enjoy. Chances are you'll find a sweet spot, and its much more engaging than "Attack twice, block. Attack twice, block," or "S+Mouse 1." If it's "not for you" though you should say that, not that it's shit.

I've always liked the idea of an open ended fps game with mmo elements. Something like a mix between MAG, ARMA, Planetside, and Battlfield. Huge, open, persistent world.

Over in the ArmA community, we've created a few missions that actually are sort of like that. Insurgency, MSO, and Wasteland in particular come to mind. They are usually played on very large maps (maybe not as big as the Planetside 2 ones, but with a great deal more detail and usable space), that have semi-persistent activity. MSO is basically populating an area with enemy and giving the players a world to create a command structure within and run operations within. Wasteland is sort of Day Z without the Zombies. Insurgency is similar to MSO, if I recall.

Rather than playing a scripted missions in a more traditional sense, these "mission" create a region in which the players sort of have to just figure out what needs to be done. They decide where to do raids, when to perform reconnaissance, where to patrol, what elements to use, stuff like that. Some have objectives that can be given out by the mission usually through an NPC of sorts, others just kind of let you do whatever, and chances are no matter where you go, you'll see action.

#17 Edited by StarvingGamer (8284 posts) -

@mordeaniischaos: I never mentioned Skyrim, though I'd argue that any combat system that requires user mods to be enjoyable is probably not a very good system.

#18 Posted by MordeaniisChaos (5730 posts) -

@starvinggamer said:

@mordeaniischaos: I never mentioned Skyrim, though I'd argue that any combat system that requires user mods to be enjoyable is probably not a very good system.

You named the franchise, which includes Skyrim, so if you're going to say the ES combat sucks, you're saying that the Skyrim combat sucks. And as I said, that was just to fix a small issue I had with the game. It wasn't hugely flawed because of that, but it was improved by changing it. I played for a while (like, 180 hours) without any combat mods, and enjoyed it.

#19 Edited by EXTomar (4772 posts) -

The point is the topic is kind of nonsequitir. If "MMO combat sucks" then "Why can't we have better combat in ESO?" Those two things don't seem related. I believe in this case it is "form follows function". MMO players want diverse play through multiple levels of effects. To get that you need access to a lot of skills that can be triggered in any order plus you need positional controls and targeting controls. This is why high end mice have 15 buttons on them and that is still technically not enough.

So I'm confused about the topic in general. Combat in Skyrim was the best ES has been but it isn't exactly great action where people forget a lot of the fighting was setting up the stealth attack (the most interesting but not fast pace) or strafe backwards while firing ranged attacks or block/parry into attack over and over. That is a start but if we want a multiplayer combat engine, let alone a massive multiplayer one, then the game needs a lot of skills. If we have a game with a lot of skills, the classic way to manage them is the Action Bar.

If anything I see that MMOs going forward need to offering more skills through "flavors" but while trying to manage the increasing complexity. It can not take 30 people (with the right classes and skills) 30 minutes to setup an attempt to attack dragon that can be killed in 5 minutes.

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#20 Posted by BulimicBalzac (93 posts) -

Is Terra as pedophilla based as I have been led to believe?! Because aside from the race of *NOT* children that are dressed scantily and paraded around in a disgusting manner Terra has some awesome races... Like a bull dog that smokes a pipe.

#21 Edited by Itwastuesday (967 posts) -

One of my favorite YouTube uploaders has a video about this, and I find myself agreeing with his ideas. While it is a man talking over images, I promise you that he does not use cringe-inducing internet meme jokes, nor does he shout into his microphone to try and be funny. I don't necessarily want all MMO's to be EVE or anything, but I'd like to see more structured MMO's allow for some sandbox-like activities, built on top of a fun multi-user dungeon-crawling format. I hope Neverwinter is good.

#22 Posted by Village_Guy (2598 posts) -

I like the classic MMO style combat as seen in World of Warcraft for example...

It is certainly better than something like Skyrim, I couldn't enjoy the gameplay in that even with mods to improve it.

#23 Edited by Seppli (10251 posts) -

@insanejedi:

  • Latency is causing Networking/Synchronization issues - the more players there are, the harder it gets. Bandwidth is the least of the problems.
  • Execution driven gameplay supposedly limits the appeal of the genre
  • A shift from classic MMO-style combat to more active and involved systems is apparent (Planetside 2, Neverwinter, Elder Scrolls Online, Wildstar, Defiance, Guild Wars 2)
#24 Posted by huntad (1941 posts) -

I just get tired of waiting for cooldowns, auto attacking, long drawn-out battles, etc. MMO combat is not really bad by default.

#25 Posted by Funkydupe (3321 posts) -

As I've grown archaic I've come to appreciate turn-based gameplay way more. Unless FPS games somehow get another level of depth to them it just seems like 70% luck and 30% skill at times; like when turning a corner and there's a dude there and the shooting starts. Its like duck hunt evolved and now you can move around while aiming at ducks, or you can camp in a corner, now that's choice ladies and gentlemen.