Tag Archive for caster

Alliance: 60

And Silithus was as good as I expected it to be. Lorilai gonged 60 and a few moments later Ishiro did as well.

Then I spent the rest of the night telling people that “No, I don’t want to join your raiding guild.” Do these people just sit around doing a /who on level 60 priests? Some of them were even kind enough to inform me that if I was interested I would need to respec as a Holy Priest. Hmm… lemme think about it… No.

Seriously, it was really irritating and it probably is not going to stop.

The night was very cool other than that, and was a perfect example of why I love these games. There is this quest chain in Silithus, Noggle has been poisoned and the person helping him needs to find a cure. So first we go get samples of certain spiders and scorpions. No luck. So we try some other spiders and scorpions. Ah-ha! He’s cured, but in all his confusion of running away from a nest of scorpions he stumbled into he’s lost his pack and would like it back. It turns out there is also a wanted poster for proof of the defeat of Deathclasp, a scorpion who has been doing alot of killing. So, Lori and Ishiro head down to Bronzebeard’s camp (we’d been there before) and looked around for this nest of scorpions. When we find them we also find Deathclasp. So, we prepare for battle… charge in… and everything is going well, until it goes horribly wrong and both of our spirits are wisked away to the graveyard. Hmm… new plan. See, Deathclasp is a level 60 elite, and he’s got a 58 guard and a 57 guard. And at this point we are still level 59. Having been messing around in Winterspring before coming to Silithus, we both have mechanical yetis. I blew mine in the previous fight when things started to go wrong thinking the extra damage might help out. It didn’t, and its going to be a while for it to refresh. But Lori has her yeti, and I have my mechanical dragonling (yay engineering!). Last time, we foolishly tried to fight Deathclasp first because I forgot the basic rule: If the elite is a caster and the guards are not, kill the caster, but if the elite is not a caster, kill the guards first. Essentially, casters always have less hit points, and a caster elite will tear you up with spells and mostly you can ignore non-elite guards for a little until you finish. An elite warrior, however, is just going to take too long to kill, so the tank should get aggro, kill the guards, then fight the elite. And with a yeti and a dragonling, the second time we were easily victorious. Booyah.

I love single group and duo play, because its extremely dynamic, often chaotic (unless you are methodically pulling single mobs and snoozing away the exp), and almost always satisfying. And the paladin/shadowpriest combo that I’ve seen a number of people shun works very well for us. Other things might work better, but so what? And then to have this brilliant night of duoing sullied by the spam of guild invitations looking for heal-bot number X to raid Molten Core… ugh. Even worse was having to hear back the responces when I would tell them “No, I don’t plan on doing any raiding. Single group and PvP are what I’m into.” Genius replies like “LOL” and “No raiding? What’s the point of playing then?” and “Loozer”, and lets not forget “U just ding? Wait a week and gimme tell when u bored. U change mind.” Whatever…

Personal Space in Games

In MMORPGs, one of the decisions that gets made in their design is whether or not to give player characters personal space, or as I usually call it a “bounding box”.

EverQuest had a bounding box. Two people could not pass directly through one another. This caused issues when popular NPCs, like bankers, would get mobbed by players resulting in people who could not get close enough to interact. And sometimes this caused huge uproars when it came to doorways and other tight spaces. It was not uncommon to see an ogre in the Plane of Knowledge sitting in the bank doorway being an ass and demanding to be paid to move. It had other uses too, on my server there was at least one incident of using an orge to block a passage way into raid content, denying competition to a second group to a raced spawn.

Of course, going with no bounding box at all can cause just as much issue. In World of Warcraft players have no personal space. This is great when it comes to the auction house because there will commonly be fifty people trying to crowd around the one NPC. The drawback comes in PvP combat. A spell caster has to keep his target in his field of view to cast, so in order to interrupt casting all a melee player needs to do is run right up, step through the caster, then step back. In about a second the target goes from being in front, to 180 degrees behind, back to front again. Even with good reflexes and high speed mouse control, its very hard not to lose the spell cast, and for a melee player with a slow two handed weapon he won’t even miss a swing while he two-steps the caster’s blast into interruption.

What I would suggest is that instead of strictly making the bounding box a property of the character object, also make it modifiable by the surroundings. Make it so that in a defined area, around an NPC or doorways to buildings or narrow hallways in dungeons, the player becomes “intangible” and other players can pass right through them, and while not in those areas, players have a seeming mass and cannot be stepped through.

And with this, I kick off my section “The Game That Never Was“, which is going to be a collection of ideas that I have about what would make the perfect MMORPG.

The Normal Progression…

I’ve been discussing the problems with character balance in EverQuest with a few people recently, and I think we finally nailed down the problem with why the pure melees have fallen behind and more importantly why the perception of pure melees of themselves is so bad.

It boils down to the “Natural Progression” of a character through his life in game from level 1 to 65 (currently).

Let’s take the pure casters first. They start with spells. Intelligence casters get new ones every 4 levels until 24, then every 5 levels after that until 49. For wisdom casters, the priests, its spells every 5 levels from the beginning. In this progression to 49 they also gain specialization (20 for intelligence, 30 for wisdom), and through items they gain focus effects that can change the power, duration and cost of their spells. At 50 they begin to get new spells every level, 50 itself holds very little, but 51 to 65 ranges from 3 to 8 or so new spells per level, some more usefull that others, but they gain spells none-the-less. They also gain more items, and with those items can gain focus effects to further enhance their spells.

The Hybrids experience the same progression as their caster parent, only to a lesser and slower degree, with spells being at levels 9, 15, 22, 30, 39, 44 and 49. But at 50 they start to gain spells at every level up through 65 just like their caster parent. The penatly they suffer here is that they do not get all the spells of the parent class, but they also gain a few speciallized spells that they alone have. They gain also through items and focus effects, although sometimes to get these effects they will have to sacrifice other stats… but that is as it should be. They also gain melee skills as they level. Most of them get their last melee skill at level 40 (rangers get their last at 35) and those skill cap out slightly lower than their parent melee class. Above 50, hybrids get disciplines – 2 each, one damage dealing, one damage avoiding or recovering.

Pure melees get melee skills and items. Their melee skills stop at 30 or 35. Their items possess no focus effects (currently their are items in the Plane of Time that have melee focus effects, however, after strenuous testing, where caster focus effects return an average 6% increase in power per effect, melee effects return an average 0.5% increase in power, and these are not available to everyone). Above 50, pure melees get disciplines – one per level although not totalling 10 because some levels are skipped on the way to 60. Beyond this, a pure melees only method of advancing themselves is through items and pure level mathematics of the game (a level 55 monk will take less damage than a 54 monk during a fight all other things equal due to the small effect that level has in all game calculations), and their items don’t yield to them as much as the same items yield to the hybrid (wisdom, intelligence, mana, and spell focus effects).

What’s missing here is that beyond disciplines (most of which are situational, short duration, long reuse skills) a pure melee has little to look forward to as he levels except for the pursuit of more and better items. This has the effect of making playing a pure melee feel extremely one dimensional.

Pure melees, in my opinion, need to get more special attacks. I’ve written before about combat styles, and while I still think that idea has alot of merit, in my mind more special attacks would actually go much further to alter not only the game, but the perception of those who play it.

For Warriors:
As it is now, a warrior gets Kick, Bash (if he uses a shield), and Taunt. One of the current issues with warriors is that while they numerically should be the superior choice for all a group’s tanking needs, they lack the most important feature that is truely required, that of being able to reliably hold and control aggro (the attention of the mob). At first, not being able to as reliably hold aggro seems like a decent trade off for the up to one thousand hit points he may have over the other plate tanks, however, upon playing in actual environments it becomes apparent that maintaining agro is actually more important than hit points as long as the hit points of the tank are high enough to survive a few rounds of combat without healing. With 70-75% slows available to high level groups, attaining a point of survivability is almost trivial, and being able to maintain aggro (or more importantly to pull aggro back off the slower) far outdistances the other factors of tanking.

To that end, what I would suggest for warriors would be a series of special attacks along the lines of kicks, slams, slaps, pushes. There would be two lines within the warrior attacks, the first would be aimed at helping resolve the aggro issues with a low damage high taunt attack. This would allow for the warrior to juggle his taunt key with this attack for a more readily available aggro increase. The second attack would be higher damage, but lower taunt. This would allow a warrior to increase his damage in situations where he is not tanking, or does not need the additional aggro of the high taunt attack.

For Rogues:
The only problem I see with rogues is one similar to clerics. A cleric gets complete heal at level 39 and will use it forever. A rogue gets backstab at level 10 and uses it forever.

There isn’t really a problem with this except in that rogues have little to look forward to as I described above. So what I would propose is giving rogues a series of attacks similar to backstab in that they need to be executed from behind the target, but of increasing damage as the rogue levels. Similar to the warrior, I would give rogues two lines of attacks. The first would be extremely high damage line. Every new attack in this line would be stronger with a higher minimum hit and higher maximum hit. The second line would be half the power of the first line, but have a built in “evade” that lowers them on the aggro list, a distracting blow if you will. This would allow rogues to choose between the evading attack when they need to reduce aggro, but go for the high damage when aggro isn’t a concern.

For Monks:
Monk are supposed to be martial artists. As such, for them I see a simple continuation of the series of skills they already have. These upgraded attacks however would have various attributes, pushes, 0 second stun, a crippling attack that would through melee debuff the ATK of the mob, and other similar things.

In all these cases, it would allow all pure melees to have actual class related skills to look forward to as they levelled in addition to their gear, so in that respect it would allieviate the problem that pure melees don’t benefit from levels as much as other classes.