Well folks, I thought I'd post a quick blog during lunch to talk about combat in MMo's, specifically Age of Conan.
Most reader will already be used to the skill bar version of combat, prevelant in MMo's. While this suffices for most, it leaves me cold. I want real combat, with me at the helm, not taking a back seat to preloaded animations.
Now, AoC promises revolutionary combat, so called free form fighting. However a closer look at the released information and videos, so the same skill bar combat plus an added directional attack button.
This is a far cry from the original vison and has been changed to allow for the greater majority to get to grips with combat. Fine, no issue with that one.
However, the fundemental element missing from all combat in MMO's is choegraphy. By this I mean limits on movements and a system for controlled reaction and count-action for players. Currently there is too much freedom and this has created melee combat flows of stun, circle, circle, stun, circle, circle etc.
In PvP in AoC and most other MMO's combat is based on distance form the target and the direction they/you are facing. This is ok, until it's 2v1 or 3v1 etc. Then the single player is dead 99.9% of the time although they may not know it yet. The reason is because 1 player cannot position themselves adequately to properly defend themselves due to a badly designed freedom of movement system.
The very thing I beleive most players want is great looking, exciting combat that has pace, flow and momentum, just like the movies. When you played swg, didn't you want epic saber duels ala phantom menace or return of the jedi? What you got in reality was constant circling and running away.
To achive a good, paced combat system requires control and limits, not just on skills, but movement. It is from the combination of movement and pacing of attacks that the dance of war is born.
Pace is important too, you should get the coice of how hard you attack, by adding momentum to attacks. To mush power and you over swing and allow the opposing player to dodge/counter etc. use too little allows easier parrying but opens up feints etc.
Also flow is something missing in combat. You know that in medievel time full plater wearer would fight for about 5 minutes on average then retire and another would take their place so they could catch their breath. Just the same, MMOs should have flow between the winning player in combat and like wise provide opportunites for the loser to regain the upper hand.
In AoC Prepare to be disapointed, combat has a few new buttons but it isn't a step forward, it's just a side-step to mediocrity.
Anyone that is trained in using weapons will tell you fighting is a dance, it has flow and timing and is all about control, something that must be added to any MMO combat system if players are to get the chance to really enjoy swashbuckling their way through the enemy.
What do you think?