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The Pub at MMORPG.COM  » A lot of skills vs. a lot of buttons

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  Rattenmann

Elite Member

Joined: 12/08/05
Posts: 508

 
OP  1/10/14 10:57:34 PM#1

Hey there.

 

Today i wanted to bring up a point about the controversy concerning "Too many skills".

 

I have seen countless people claiming that everything past a certain number of skills is wasted and not fun because they don't want to play the keyboard. And while i agree on disliking fighting my keyboard, let me try and present this topic in a differend manner. First i want to make a bold statement so you can start hating on me, then i will explain ;-)

 

There can NOT be too many skills!

Now get a breather and let me explain why i think the problem is something else. Too many skills would be a problem only if:

  1. You absolutly need all those skills all the time
  2. They are not diverse enough to be fun in itself
  3. They are all needed for a "rotation"
On the other hand alot of skills can be a lot of fun if:
  1. They all have their place, like fun spells that just put on a shiny Wizard hat on your head for example
  2. Not needed for every dps rotation
  3. Don't mirror each other to the point of simply having slighly different resist checks
A lot of skills are actually more fun if it is done right and the UI is not terrible. But yes: doing the UI and skills right is easier on the developer if they only give us 4-8. Does that bother me? No! Damn, it is their job to make a fun game for us. And i want difersity and not boring gameplay.
 
 
To give two extreme examples to "prove" my point.
Example on 4+ hotbars with 10+ skills each
 
When i was still playing WOW in Cata i played a Warlock. I absolutly loved how skills where handled there.
I had 6-8 Skills in my DPS rotation (keep in mind warlocks had one of the bigger rotations). But you actually had to adjust your rotation based on movement / bossmechanics. Then i had 3-4 Skills for AoE rotation that usually did NOT show up in single dps rotation. Add another dunno... 4? Buffs for once in a while and like 10 skills / spells / items that i had on my bars for fun like illusions and pets and stuff. Add some potions for emergencys and some spells for emergencys.
 
I could react to every situation in the game, yet i could also just relax and usually go with 6 buttons. BUT i had the POSSIBILITY to do way more if shit hit the fan. And those extra buttons where NEVER mandatory, they simply gave extra OPTIONS.
 
Yes, i had 4 Hotbars full of stuff. No it did NOT feel like fighting my keyboard at all.
Fighting looked impressive, since using differend attacks / skills + pet always had some diversity and it was a relaxing experience.
 
Example on a hand full of keys only
 
It is everyones guess which game i am talking about here, since well... you know i am not officially allowed to talk about it ;-)
Should be an easy one tho.
Anyways: FIVE skills plus one "big boom" skill as a max.
 
Fighting is very much no fun. You always do the same 2-3 attacks, since at least 2 hotkeys go "to waste" on buffs / pets / emergency skills. If shit hits the fan you have to pray that you actually have the right skills on your bar. So basically you have to adjust your hotbar whenever you take a step to another area and you are out of luck if you don't already know what awaits you there.
Readjusting midfight because something happened, like a teammates death... unexpected adds,... whatever... is not possible at all. You have to stick to what you have.
 
I remember some funny, yet so fitting, sentence i have read somewhere about this issue: "Hey mage, we got adds... get a fireball casting and blow them away!" - "sorry, i can't... i forgot how to cast a fireball so i could make the air smell funny".
 
Yes, i only had 5 skills. Yet i WAS fighting my Keyboard like mad.
Why you ask? Because the same game tries to adjust the boredome of skills with countless useless keybinds that are mandatory, but boring. You need 2 keys to loot (no joke), another to dodge, every attack needs a new key even tho it is the same fucking attack. I had to scroll down the list of controlls for like 10 seconds to reach the bottom and i STILL only had 5 skills to choose from.
 
So what is more fun?
Having the possibility to adjust if needed but only having to use 4-6 skills for full dps. Or only having 4-6 skills and not being able to adjust if needed?
I guess the answer is easy enough.
 
Too many skills is not a problem in itself. Bad design of said skills is the problem. And i know there are countless games that do have bad design. And i fully understand how a person that only played those comes to the conclusion that more skills = bad.
On the other hand less skills is bad design right there. Even if the skills are great. Current games offer way less possibilitys and options for the player anyways. Reducing this even further is no good design at all. No matter how you put it.
 
So pretty please: Go the extra mile and make skills usefull, fun and diverse. Don't limit us on what we can do. Don't make us tell our raidleader that we "forgot" how to AoE all of a sudden, but don't make all options mandatory either!

MMOs finally replaced social interaction, forced grouping and standing in a line while talking to eachother.

Now we have forced soloing, forced questing and everyone is the hero, without ever having to talk to anyone else. The evolution of multiplayer is here! We won,... right?

  iridescence

Novice Member

Joined: 6/12/12
Posts: 1492

1/10/14 11:26:35 PM#2

Good post. It's tactical vs strategic thinking I think. The strategic player wants a lot of skills available so, through knowledge and memorization, they want to win a fight before it even starts by being crazy prepared. The more tactical player wants  fewer skills in play to give them more reactive freedom for things like dodging or using terrain to advantage. Although there definitely still is a strategic element to games which force you to pick your deck of skills from a large selection before combat (so maybe those are the best melding of strategy and tactics).

 

I suspect there is a similar breakdown about hotbar vs action combat in MMOs (really it's stupid to have a tab target system without a lot of skills - you  really get the worst of all worlds).

 

One addition is that I think if you are going to have a lot of skills in the game you should outlaw mods and macros. The challenge of these systems is actually knowing which skill to use at which time in which order. When you have a mod or a macro to do that for you it really does just become dumb button mashing.

 

I prefer having a lot of buttons but as long as the game has a lot of skills to choose from I think both systems can work

  Loktofeit

Elite Member

Joined: 1/13/10
Posts: 13621

Currently playing EVE, SMITE, ArcheAge, and Combat Arms

1/11/14 12:02:09 AM#3
Originally posted by Zaradoom

 
So what is more fun?
Having the possibility to adjust if needed but only having to use 4-6 skills for full dps. Or only having 4-6 skills and not being able to adjust if needed?
I guess the answer is easy enough.
 

If combat is nothing more than DPS, then the former, of course.

There isn't a "right" or "wrong" way to play, if you want to use a screwdriver to put nails into wood, have at it, simply don't complain when the guy next to you with the hammer is doing it much better and easier. - Allein

  Shoko_Lied

Advanced Member

Joined: 5/07/07
Posts: 2129

SWG Publish 4 Jedi:Flurry: TKM unlock

1/11/14 12:14:56 AM#4
I like buttons more. More traditional and with roots from the old roll dice games.
  Rattenmann

Elite Member

Joined: 12/08/05
Posts: 508

 
OP  1/11/14 12:25:43 AM#5

Is it a good MMO / RPG if DPS is the only way to play it?

For me the answer is a clear no. I wholehearthly disliked GW2 for this very reason. I dislike dodging attacks for the sole purpose of not getting damage at all. I don't mind doding hard attacks or to help get pressure of a healer... but having to avoid every single attack (or block it), simply annoys me and does not feel like fun to me.

Let's put it this way: A RPG is all about roleplaying and options. An action game is all about reactions and well, action. How do you think having 20-40 skills would be fun in an action game? It would totally suck for the majority of players (inlcuding me! I like my action games to be action based!). But why in the world do we use action controls in current gen RPGs then? It fits just as bad.

Why would i "forget" how to cast spell xy in a RPG? In a shooter like action game you could easily argue only having space to carry 3 weapons. And your knife obviously can not launch a rocket. So you "forgot" it.

 

Blending of genres can be done in many ways and can work well. Blending of controls that just don't fit is a bad move in my book tho.

MMOs finally replaced social interaction, forced grouping and standing in a line while talking to eachother.

Now we have forced soloing, forced questing and everyone is the hero, without ever having to talk to anyone else. The evolution of multiplayer is here! We won,... right?

  User Deleted
1/11/14 1:02:57 AM#6

My problem isn't having a lot of fluff skills, my problem is when you have 30 damage / heal / tank skills and they all sit in a priority order, like in pretty much any themepark tab target MMO.  Whats the point, aside from having a few different spell effects thrown in? There really isn't one.  This could easily be handled by skills visually changing as you go through a combo.

 

Personally I would like to see a more realistic amount of skills that don't need to be put into a supermacro to be efficient.  Skills that change dynamically based on how and when they are used.  They have done this already in single player RPGs, why is this so difficult for MMOs?

 

Combat should be about thinking 'whats the best approach at this point in time', not 'which skill has the highest damage priority at this point in time'.

 

Do we really need a 'stab' and a 'backstab'? Surely this should just happen dynamically when you go behind your target.  Or skills changing dynamically while in stealth.  Aim a fire spell at the ground to create a fire wall.  Combine spells / skills with friends to create new ones.  That's the kind of combat I want.  Not spreadsheet damage priorities.

 

Fluff stuff can easily be handled by out of combat menus, theres no need for 5 hotbars full of fluff crap.

  Rattenmann

Elite Member

Joined: 12/08/05
Posts: 508

 
OP  1/11/14 1:32:52 AM#7

That sounds exactly like you have played a game where it was done wrong.

Mind telling me where you got that from, so i can check it out? I personally have yet to play a MMO where a priority order had more then 8 skills. And those 8 got reduced one patch later to 5. I have never seen anything above those numbers myself, maybe that is why i don't have issues with many available skills.

I don't agree on outside menüs for fluff and fun skills. That is not exactly nice. I prefer those on my hotbar. Don't feel like going trough those console radial stuff to buff up my party or to start dancing. I want the option to put those on my hotbars and execute them with a press of a button. How that is handled, i don't care. But i want the option to easily SEE the action if i so choose AND be able to execute it with one button.

Radial menus are just bad, i hate them, really.

I do agree on dynamically changing stuff tho. Many games do this, but all should. Backstab and stealth being a great example i agree on. Interaction keys are another that are a big point for myself.

 

If i need to interact with something, make that button x. If i am already interacting and need to "take all" for looting for example: make that button x as well. Simply as that. Should be in every game, no matter if rpg, action or whatever.

MMOs finally replaced social interaction, forced grouping and standing in a line while talking to eachother.

Now we have forced soloing, forced questing and everyone is the hero, without ever having to talk to anyone else. The evolution of multiplayer is here! We won,... right?

  rounner

Apprentice Member

Joined: 9/07/06
Posts: 609

1/11/14 1:34:24 AM#8
I went back to check out Vanguard the other day but I couldn't play any of my high level chars because I forgot how to play them. It would take me days of situational playing to remember all of the different rotations and reactions for a char. When I remember and am in the zone its great and what I like, but I understand why others would want a simpler system.
  User Deleted
1/11/14 1:44:54 AM#9

When I first played AD&D (late 70's), I despised playing the Wizard and Cleric "spells for the day" guessing game. I never played either of these two classes. The same goes for 5-10 skill/ability/spell slots. I HATE guessing beforehand what I may need in the future. I prefer having all of my skills, abilities, and spells available when I need them.

I also dislike the trend to make 1 skill perform many tasks, like a DPS attack that also does Healing and/or Crowd Control. I prefer skills that do one thing and do it well. When I need to CC or Heal, give me a skill/ability/spell that does this, not CC AND Heal.

More skills mean more variety to me. They also mean I am better equipped to deal with more situational scenarios and survive.

  Rattenmann

Elite Member

Joined: 12/08/05
Posts: 508

 
OP  1/11/14 3:38:58 AM#10
Originally posted by AlBQuirky

When I first played AD&D (late 70's), I despised playing the Wizard and Cleric "spells for the day" guessing game. I never played either of these two classes. The same goes for 5-10 skill/ability/spell slots. I HATE guessing beforehand what I may need in the future. I prefer having all of my skills, abilities, and spells available when I need them.

I also dislike the trend to make 1 skill perform many tasks, like a DPS attack that also does Healing and/or Crowd Control. I prefer skills that do one thing and do it well. When I need to CC or Heal, give me a skill/ability/spell that does this, not CC AND Heal.

More skills mean more variety to me. They also mean I am better equipped to deal with more situational scenarios and survive.

Simply hits the nail on the head for me. Agree 100% there. Even the AD&D casters,... oh how i disliked that. Still played every game due to the superb story and stuff tho :-)

MMOs finally replaced social interaction, forced grouping and standing in a line while talking to eachother.

Now we have forced soloing, forced questing and everyone is the hero, without ever having to talk to anyone else. The evolution of multiplayer is here! We won,... right?

  Kevyne-Shandris

Apprentice Member

Joined: 3/10/08
Posts: 1980

You can't † BURY † ¤¤ Holy Paladins ¤¤ As we will always __.- ASCEND -.__

1/11/14 7:43:27 AM#11
Originally posted by Shoko_Lied
I like buttons more. More traditional and with roots from the old roll dice games.

^^This.^^

 

51 combat arts and abilities is better than 12 keybind that's even chained macroed (with the kids screaming later that the game isn't hard [or is boring] anymore). -_-

  Helleri

Spotlight Poster

Joined: 5/26/08
Posts: 927

“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”- Henry Ford

1/11/14 8:55:31 AM#12
I just don't like what I considered clutter skills. The many small things I should be able to just do, as apposed to having them tied to a skill. Like fishing, summon mount, fire making etc. Those things that invariably stay at level 1 because they are on the bar as a nominal add. I find that games with too few skills tend to flood the bar with things that don't need to be skills. If I wield a fishing pole (and I have bait); I should be able to just click a body of water I am close enough to and fish. Why does it have to be a skill with the added complexity in being a skill of cast time, duration, and cool down? Where I tend to see "Too Much" with skills, is where a lot of them just feel like filler.

  Lord.Bachus

Elite Member

Joined: 5/14/07
Posts: 9100

I believe in life before death... So dont forget to enjoy it while you still can.

1/11/14 9:04:15 AM#13
Originally posted by iridescence

Good post. It's tactical vs strategic thinking I think. The strategic player wants a lot of skills available so, through knowledge and memorization, they want to win a fight before it even starts by being crazy prepared. The more tactical player wants  fewer skills in play to give them more reactive freedom for things like dodging or using terrain to advantage. Although there definitely still is a strategic element to games which force you to pick your deck of skills from a large selection before combat (so maybe those are the best melding of strategy and tactics).

 

I suspect there is a similar breakdown about hotbar vs action combat in MMOs (really it's stupid to have a tab target system without a lot of skills - you  really get the worst of all worlds).

 

One addition is that I think if you are going to have a lot of skills in the game you should outlaw mods and macros. The challenge of these systems is actually knowing which skill to use at which time in which order. When you have a mod or a macro to do that for you it really does just become dumb button mashing.

 

I prefer having a lot of buttons but as long as the game has a lot of skills to choose from I think both systems can work

Strategical is planning ahead of time... placing the right skills on your bar is very strategical

Tactical comes with real time decisions...  choosing the right skill at the right time...

 

If you look at this definition, what you just wrote makes not a lot of sense to me..  I personally beleive that every MMO needs to be strong both tactical and strategical...  

 

A game like GW2 was very strong Strategical... but failed somewhat in the tactical department as the best results could be gotten from clicking the abbiltiies as soon as they where off CD... despite the fact that they tought they where creating a very  tactical game with the dodging and such...

 

 

If you want to make a game tactical... the more real time choices you give a player, the harder it comes to decide in a fraction of a seccond which to choose..

 

 

Best MMO experiences : EQ(PvE), DAoC(PvP), WoW(total package) LOTRO (worldfeel) GW2 (Artstyle and animations and worlddesign) SWTOR (Story immersion) TSW (story) ESO (character advancement)

  Kevyne-Shandris

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Posts: 1980

You can't † BURY † ¤¤ Holy Paladins ¤¤ As we will always __.- ASCEND -.__

1/11/14 9:14:08 AM#14

With fishing there is skill involved just casting a line. Be it reel or fly fishing. No different than in golf with picking what clubs when and how to correctly swing them.

 

Cast times are also related to the server needing to register the activity (otherwise the database would get overloaded with calls). It's a functional issue.

 

I like how that MuD did the fishing better, not only using different baits, there's running text of what's happening...like the fish is nibbling on the bait. Takes a larger nibble. Strikes. Runs off for 10ft. You attempt to reel him in. Line snaps. Fish gets away (or the big fish reeling them in is a 10min epic fight to not lose the line -- and no that fish isn't used for cooking, it's for trophies!).

  CyclopsSlayer

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Joined: 1/31/04
Posts: 533

1/11/14 9:20:23 AM#15

I always preferred the flexabilty offered by more skills and buttons.

The 5 button systems offer a very limited systems that allows little room for anything conditional. Take Elemental damages, I knew using Fire damage against a Fire based foe was useless so I would switch to Water or something else as the occasion called for. The 5 button systems are more in the ARPG family with Diablo/Path of Exile and such, than they are on the MMORPG.

The limited, dare I say crippled, skill systems have to compensate by making all things the same, a Fireball now hurts a Fire elemental the same as a Ice Bolt or whatever. They remove all traces of depth and complexity in the favor of 'twitchy' mechanics and gimmicks over strategy.

  goboygo

Hard Core Member

Joined: 10/02/13
Posts: 757

1/11/14 9:21:27 AM#16

Great post but this is the guy your debating:

Bong......check

Console Controller.........check

Keep it simple stupid combat.........check

Game on man!

  Kevyne-Shandris

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You can't † BURY † ¤¤ Holy Paladins ¤¤ As we will always __.- ASCEND -.__

1/11/14 9:24:42 AM#17
Originally posted by Lord.Bachus

If you want to make a game tactical... the more real time choices you give a player, the harder it comes to decide in a fraction of a seccond which to choose..

 

That's the rub -- real time game play LoL/eSport style; or a slower pace that requires more careful preplanning of abilities (like in D&D games where you can only pick a couple abilities when you enter town -- can't switch them out in the wild, which gets you to prefer certain skills over others due to how you play and there's "no going back").

 

Like the D&D model because you can get COMFORTABLE with certain abilities, and in turn by getting COMFORTABLE, you master them. Instead of being a jack of all trades master of none, you specialize within your class and become good in your niche. Like someone who likes heavy single target combat vs someone who prefers AoE. Not the heavy handed approach seen in WoW where Blizzard forces players to accept what the devs want and force you to play it that way to THEIR convenience, not how you prefer to play.

  syntax42

Hard Core Member

Joined: 3/30/07
Posts: 1308

1/11/14 9:29:02 AM#18

First, "a lot" should be spelled as two separate words.  

 

I disagree with the OP. 

 

I played Rift recently and I did not enjoy the excessive number of skills.  I simply don't have enough buttons within reach on my keyboard to press everything needed to play the game.  I dislike using my mouse to activate skills because it feels slower to react.  Then, someone introduced me to macros.  Suddenly, every ability I needed could be bound to around 10 buttons on every class.

What's the difference if you have 10 buttons or 10 skills, then?  For me, not much.  Only the animations and effects change in a game like Rift.  So, why can't games like GW2 do the same?  Wouldn't that be the same thing as having Rift-like macros?  I think so.  You can choose to press 222, or if the situation changes, you have to press a different button to react to the change.  The tactical part is choosing if you want to finish the chain for a certain effect or if you need to react to something.

Games with fewer skills can work.  They just need to get a little more creative about it than having 1-2 animations and effects per skill.

  Kevyne-Shandris

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You can't † BURY † ¤¤ Holy Paladins ¤¤ As we will always __.- ASCEND -.__

1/11/14 9:34:08 AM#19
Originally posted by syntax42

I simply don't have enough buttons within reach on my keyboard to press everything needed to play the game.  I dislike using my mouse to activate skills because it feels slower to react.  

Good.

 

Why? Being dependent on macros and addons to play cheapens your experience in appreciating different games that can have 51 combat arts/spells/buffs, and not forcing players to get game controllers and fancy 10 button mice to play so folks can have a "challenge" and brag about their eliteness.

  Lord.Bachus

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I believe in life before death... So dont forget to enjoy it while you still can.

1/11/14 9:41:39 AM#20
Originally posted by UNATCOII
Originally posted by Lord.Bachus

If you want to make a game tactical... the more real time choices you give a player, the harder it comes to decide in a fraction of a seccond which to choose..

 

That's the rub -- real time game play LoL/eSport style; or a slower pace that requires more careful preplanning of abilities (like in D&D games where you can only pick a couple abilities when you enter town -- can't switch them out in the wild, which gets you to prefer certain skills over others due to how you play and there's "no going back").

 

Like the D&D model because you can get COMFORTABLE with certain abilities, and in turn by getting COMFORTABLE, you master them. Instead of being a jack of all trades master of none, you specialize within your class and become good in your niche. Like someone who likes heavy single target combat vs someone who prefers AoE. Not the heavy handed approach seen in WoW where Blizzard forces players to accept what the devs want and force you to play it that way to THEIR convenience, not how you prefer to play.

in essence its still the same tactical layer... but the more time you give people to choose, the easier it gets to make the right tactical dessigen   

 

However i agree with you somewhat... because next to tactical and Strategical there is one other important  structure in a games combat system... and that is the execution phase... for example if you want to hit player A with your big gun Blow up abbility in a FPS interface... your tactical decision was good... but your executing ie the aiming fracked big time...

 

making people think fast as in my example makes the tactical dessigen much harder... and for most people impossible because they lack the cooordination... yet it does not make the tactical dessigen less important, as in this kind of gameplay only te best of the best can make the right dessigens at the right time and execute them flawlessly.... this is what people call skilled gamers and this system allows them to be very much better then the average Joe..

 

I think there is a lot of room for slower paced games, that allow people to think carefully before they act..   actually i think in the end that the market in MMO gaming land is much bigger for the sl+ower gameplay then for the ultrafast gameplay... because many many more people will feel competitive... and on top of that... people that love the ultrafast gameplay most often turn towards shooters anyway....

 

So i think there will allways be a huge market for tab targetting games with awesome annimations and a huge tactical choice of skills...   ie.  the WoW clones... because most people feel comfortable at playing them...

Best MMO experiences : EQ(PvE), DAoC(PvP), WoW(total package) LOTRO (worldfeel) GW2 (Artstyle and animations and worlddesign) SWTOR (Story immersion) TSW (story) ESO (character advancement)

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