Posted by: mrrx | January 17, 2007

Will a Dev get a clue on combat mechanics ?

Apparently, there is a glimmer of hope that some MMO will manage to tell you how it works.     At least, after reading the latest from Nerfbat you might think so.

Blackguard laments the problem of player perception of how things work in the game, and hits on the solution towards the end of the piece.     No, most of us do NOT understand how these games work other than the simplest things.       This spell does 1000 damage while the other one does 900; so I’ll use that one.     But what does that mean ?    

I get a ton of spam about the combat, with which I am apparently supposed to use a parser on to back into a formula about how much damage I’m doing to a mob.    You know what – I’m not that smart.      I think the game’s documentation should tell me how things work instead, accurately, and that I’d have much more fun with the game that way.     It would also lessen or eliminate the phenomenon he’s talking about.

You could get useful info without revealing all the secrets about each mob in a game.     Devs may, or may not, expect players to know that the spirit they are fighting is immune to melee weapons before the fight.    But is it actually immune, or just effectively due to some arcane math ?

In brief, I’m expecting to be able to construct combat outside of the game.    The trick should be, nobody would do that because the computer is much more efficient and pretty at it.     However, if I could manage some analysis of how the game works, I might manage to find something even more fun to do inside the gameworld, like *gasp* try to be the toughest kid on the block.     The way things stand, between our ignorance and the Dev’s ability to nerf, it doesn’t make any sense to me to even try.     Remove the ignorance and you’re on to at worst a cat-and-mouse game with the Dev’s, trying to find seams where you can excel they never intended.

The best case, of course, is increasing player enjoyment.    Making things that much more accessible and open is going to draw more people in.      Things can still be detailed, complex, and fun – but with some knowledge of what it is that we’re actually doing, besides “Let’s see what happens when I fight this monster”.     Besides “Each of these swords does different things, but I cannot determine which to pick.”

When I made my last post about combat mechanics, I had assumed it was some combination of effort and change that effectively kept players in the dark about how things work.     I was wrong – I have it on good authority that what’s really going on is the mechanics and formulas are considered a trade secret or somesuch.

How to play the game, is a trade secret ?     This may be true, or false, may be something imposed above a developer’s head.    But anyone willing to break this mold and show me the formula for damage computation et al, is going to get my dollars no questions asked.    That’s how things worked when I played AD & D, and it’s how I have always wanted things to work in the MMO arena too.

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