Over at Horriftic Intentions, brannagar has posted a bit about what he thinks the community wants. My first mistake in getting involved in that discussion was that I was sent a link to the post and didn’t pay attention to the fact that the blog is a Rift fanboy site. I don’t mean that in a derogatory sense like some people might. I just mean that the author is clearly excited for the game, has already taken the stance that Trion (the makers of Rift) knows all (and agrees with him). Had I known, I probably would never have commented there at all and instead come straight here to talk about the issues at hand.
Essentially, of the four points he makes, I completely agree with three of them. Two, flying mounts and arenas, on the grounds that just because one game (and for most people that one game is WoW) has them that every game should have them. The third, the random dungeon finder, because while I’m certain it leads to more progress in games like WoW, I ultimately feel that the implementation destroys community. Why bother meeting people and making connections when you can just use the tool, get a group, and then never play with those people again?
The fourth point of his, the one I disagree with, is that some people are asking for an Auto-Face or Stick function for PvP. As you can see from the comments once I stuck my nose in and the two of us bantered back and forth, clearly brannagar likes circle strafing. I’ve mentioned my views on circle strafing on here before. And if you dig around you’ll find a few more times I’ve brought it up, especially where I say that Fallen Earth actually does it well in that you actually move slower while strafing.
Upon reflection, I see that I was actually mistaken. There shouldn’t be accuracy and damage penalties for movement. Yes, it is more realistic, but it would serve mainly to irritate players. Looking back at my old posts, I do think a speed penalty should apply for various reasons, but even so there are much better ways to handle this.
You see, circle strafing has plagued FPS games for a long, long time. The solution on the PC where people use a keyboard and mouse was for players to crank up the sensitivity of their mouse so that small twitches left and right would rotate their character through wider arcs more quickly and allow them to keep the strafing player in sight. However, when FPS games became more popular on consoles, and especially after the introduction of the double stick controller which allowed for much better circle strafing, asking people to crank up the sensitivity of their controllers actually had an adverse affect on the rest of game play. So, FPS games innovated by adding in the ability for players to perform a 180 degree turn with a single button. While not completely nullifying circle strafing as a tactic, it allowed the target player a fighting chance to catch their attacker on the flip side.
This is what MMOs need for PvP. A 180 degree flip would do wonders to level the playing field as immobile casters have to deal with highly mobile melee characters while still allowing attentive melees to change direction of movement and not giving the immobile players automated assistance.
In the end though, while I’m glad for the outcome in that it let me realize what is really missing from MMO PvP combat, I was also reminded how annoying it is to argue with the faithful. It’s possible that brannagar could read this (that’s the downside to linking to things, the authors can find out you are talking about them), and he might even come here to tell me how wrong I am and that a 180 flip would be stupid or game breaking and how Trion is luckily smart enough to never consider putting something like it in. And that’s a shame, because I’d much rather discuss how to make PvP fun for everyone without breaking it for anyone, and as it stands, circle strafing makes the game broken for people who can’t defend against it.
And that doesn’t even begin to touch on collision detection and line of sight issues. Being able to break a caster’s spell by stepping through the caster is totally broken design, and yet is the way most games work. Maybe we’ll cover that in another post.