What's so bad about underwater combat?

| Monday, June 27, 2011
For me it's the disorientation. I lose my sense of distance when I don't have the ground nearby. The feeling I get is a lot like when I play a different game, or different class, and I no longer know what the ranges look like, whether for spells or aggro. But it gets worse. Up-Down is hard to tell unless I'm very close and I level my camera. Until then, no clue.

I have no elegant ideas for the distance issue. A distance indicator on portraits could help, but it would seem a bit odd that my paladin can, just by looking, tell the distance of an enemy down to the tenth of a yard, especially when I as the player am completely lost.

But the height, that I can fix. Around, or possibly inside, the target circle (the green or red thing on the ground that indicates your target), add another circle which indicates relative position on the z-axis. If they are above you, white; below you, black; even, grey; with gradual lighter or darker for positions in-between. Being a color-based system it isn't going to be especially accurate, but it could help quite a bit to at least know in advance that an enemy is much higher than you.


Nils said...

For me it's really that I don't like the setting. I wouldn't like a racing game as major part of an MMO, and I don't like the underwater game with the Z-axis.

In addition to that the sacrifice in terms of immersion is significant. Humans just don't walk into water with their clothes on. When did you last see it in real life?

In my opinion, these underwater scenarios are a result of "Wouldn't it be cool if?" - thinking, instead of good game design.

Syl said...

"When did you last see it in real life?"

Oh come on, seriously that question from you? ;) if we tried answering this consistently, we'd have to erase at least 50% of the features that make MMO worlds magical and fun.
to me there's no immersion loss here; just like I love to fly on a gryphon or hurl firebolts, I love exploring underwater themed zones. it's part of the magically enhanced "Me". ^^ but I guess it depends on whether you prefer the 'medieval/historic' MMO approach over the epic fantasy one or not..

I've been waiting for Vashj'ir since vanilla WoW. I'd love to see underwater instances or combat that implement the challenges this presents in a meaningful and smart way. IMO it all depends on how you'd do this.
also: underwater world is shiny.

Nils said...

If the designers gave me an amphibian race, I'd love to swim with my char, Syl. But humans? Dwarfs? Orcs? I have no desire to jump into the water with my iron plate mail. But I have to to play the game ..

Syl said...

...butbut, it's magical plate mail?

I get your point, but still - the fact that you can do instance runs eternally in said platemail without ever getting tired makes no sense either. knights in full platemail were not exactly the most mobile crowd. there's endless such examples if you look for them (hunters with eyepatches anyone?). but in your case, I guess then you just need to roll a druid in WoW. :D

I think we had a vaguely similar discussion in the past; I like the 'multi-themed' world maps and environments, even if it's as simple as 'fire land', 'winter land' etc.

Nils said...

Guess what my main is (.. was), Syl.
I actually liked Vashj'ir on my druid. Finally swimming like the pinniped I can transform to.

Then I tried it on my firemage and I was like: Pyroblast 2000 meter under the sea. In salty water. Oh yeah. quit.

There are some things where I have trained myself to suspend disbelief. I don't want to need to take a piss every now and then. Really.

But giant fireballs 2000m below the ocean's surface? Warriors that happily jump into the salty water with their plate mail? Rogues that don't fear about their leather armor? And do you know what it feels like to stay in salty very cold water for that long? The pressure ?

It's just too much. I cannot suspend disbelief for so much stuff simultanously. And I just don't think it is necessary.

I'll think I'll makea blog post about the right use of water in a fantasy world. Something like this or this or this or this or .. this.

Water could be so much more than it is right now in MMORPGs. And to turn it into something flashy harmless and fun, is turning this into this

Syl said...

LOL! love that last pic!
I'm certainly all for making water scarier and bigger in MMOs, you go for it (but keep in mind we dont all have the newest PCs!).

Max said...

Lol you know what? You just suck with 3d :) Try playing flight/space sims to embrace the "Z"

On the other hand I find underwater combat a completely retarded idea and the GW2 video of it was my biggest disappointment with otherwise promising game

Nils said...

Here's what's so bad about under-water combat, Klep ;)

Hyperian said...

Magical fire shot from my finger tips, feather lite platemail, did i mention the magical fire that i can conjure out of nowhere? Id kill for some feather lite gear. You should see some of the shit i have to carry around on a daily basis... and its designed to be used in water haha. sometimes leaving stuff to the imagination is just what the doctor ordered.

DSJ said...

You are experiencing a common problem that occurs to actual divers.... disorientation without a reference ... divers are taught to relax and find the natural direction "up" but many novices can in fact get into a situation of panic where they don't actually know what direction they are facing or even up from down. You can experience the same thing if you run fight sims without a reference point like flying through clouds .. RL echoed in a virtual environment.

Anonymous said...

They're the same things that are bad about aerial combat: demanding positional requirements, a movable yet awkward camera that defaults to a downward view, the lack of a reference plane (provided by the inner ear when visual cues are lacking in real life), poor UI controls for and different/limited abilities while moving in 3 dimensions (often vehicles). Underwater combat works best on the sea floor where it can actually be a 2D experience.

Vudu said...

I decided to post my comment on my own blog since I had thought about writing a tiny bit about what you asked.

In response: An underwater tale...

I hope you don't mind, it seemed like a good idea at the time. =P

hopefully you have back-links enabled.


Klepsacovic said...

@Max: I've played a decent few flight sims (TIE Fighter counts, right?), though not much lately. Those are different though, in that they aren't based on a plane that has been haphazardly extended upward. They are actually 3D, so a straight line to the enemy makes sense, less so in WoW.

@DSJ: Maybe WoW needs a /relaxandfloatupward command.

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