Ability Dance vs. Movement Dance

| Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Yesterday I talked about a great game that you might enjoy if you enjoy that sort of think (my apologies to President Lincoln for the butchering). I also talked about the interruptions of raiding, in particular, about how many boss abilities break the flow of abilities. At first glance this may seem inevitable, that if the encounter is going to be dynamic we must be interrupted. I disagree, with that vague strawman that I just created.

Sticking with the boss AoE, how can we deal with this without running away? Well obviously there is the "make the healer's deal with it" approach. I'm not a fan of that one. Let's backtrack: why are we running away? To avoid the damage. We can do that other ways, and in dynamic, reactive ways, which do not break the flow of play.

Anti-magic shell is one approach: have the DK drop it in time and it will negate enough damage to make running out pointless. This has the downside of placing the burden on one class, though it does add some coordination skill opportunities.

Let's imagine remaking the boss special so that rather than an AoE, it is a single-target, instant-kill, on a random play. Everyone is going to run out still, especially the tanks! Or, we could drop grounding totem. Now players can keep playing but the shamans will be reacting.

Fights could include some sort of added player ability, such as temporary immunity to a spell tree. Incoming AoE? Trigger the ability, but don't go running around and breaking your flow.

With these suggestions, players will still be reacting to the fight, paying attention, but without running all over like headless chickens.

Even with movement, it can have better or worse implementation. Grobbulus was a fight which I did not much enjoy. The constant movement was a physical problem, of actually pressing the right buttons while maintaining movement. It wasn't that it broke flow so much as it never allowed it in the first place. In contrast, I enjoyed being a slime kite on Rotface, where while I was moving and therefore my abilities were limited, it all fit together into a coherent set of actions, much like my vague example the other day where I enjoyed picking up streams of adds; in this case I am using fewer abilities in favor of more movement.

I don't mean to suggest that movement itself is bad. As I just said, it can be enjoyable, but it seems that devs often take "dynamic fight" to mean "players run around a lot" rather than "there are events for players to react to", with reactions including more than just standing somewhere else.


Anonymous said...

What you're looking for is http://us.battle.net/wow/en/zone/dragon-soul/ultraxion

Only 1 out of 8 new bosses though. Baradin Hold doesn't count.

Andenthal said...

(All in my own, very humble opinion, of course)

The problem isn't with encounter design insomuch as it is with player knowledge about the encounter before he even enters the instance.

Encoutner designers need to put challenge into the fight. What makes something challenging in an RPG encounter? Whether you get hurt. Death is just the result of getting hurt to a certain magnitude. So essentially, they have to put things in that have the possiblility of killing you. (Either in 1 big hit, or a bunch of small mistakes adding up).

Blizzard knows that you will be aware of the boss abilities beforehand. All they can do to make it challenging it to add randomness to it. Where will the fire be? Who will get the debuff? Etc.

Having things too random can be bad. Continually wiping because Joe the Warlock isn't quick enough with his Shadow Shield ability doesn't feel good. Wiping because "everyone" didn't move out of the fire quick enough feels more "fair" to players. "We" didn't do good enough.

If they were simplified to a give enough grace period so that Joe could most certainly react to the ability, it would just be coded into Deadly Boss Mods, to put big flashing text on the screen that says, "Joe use Shadow Shield now!!" Is Joe reacting to the boss, or to DBM?

One of the only addons Blizzard ever acknowledged in actively killing was that one boss mod that drew red and green spots on the ground to tell you where were good and bad places to stand. Why? It took the only remaining variable out of boss encounters.

Again, the problem isn't with dev's (in)abilities to come up with intersting mechanics, the problem is the players try everything in their power to learn how to circumvent them before they even enter the instance. The only thing that can't be prepared ahead of time is where you will need to move.

Post a Comment

Comments in posts older than 21 days will be moderated to prevent spam. Comments in posts younger than 21 days will be checked for ID.

Powered by Blogger.