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Shroud of the Avatar Forum » General Discussion » Interesting feedback on SotA combat system

14 posts found
  Aragon100

Elite Member

Joined: 2/06/08
Posts: 2224

 
OP  7/29/14 3:08:42 AM#1

 

AdamZax over at SotA forums gave this balanced feedback on SotA combat system -

https://shroudoftheavatar.com/forum/index.php?threads/my-card-combat-feedback-and-suggestions.13383/#post-222200

 

 

Alright, having given the card combat system a fair test over the weekend, I want to provide my feedback. I tested out combat against animals/monsters, against players in 1v1, small group fights (2v2 or 3v3) and just free for all chaos (attacking everyone I saw and being attacked by everyone I saw).


I died a lot, I killed a few people, and I got a good grasp of how the system works and what I will be capable of doing with it.

I spent most of my combat time with 2-5 of my guild mates, none of whom participate in these official forums yet (but I am trying to convince them to start), but all of whom fully agreed with my assessment of the system, so take that how you will.

Unlike quite a lot of people I saw and fought, I didn't just pick the most powerful combinations and fully developed trees. I wanted to try out different play styles and different combinations of skills and see how they work within the system, rather than just going for easy kills. I suspect that a number of the people who absolutely love this system did not apply the same mindset to testing, but I digress.

I will list what I liked about the system, what I didn't like about the system, and my suggestions for making the system better.

What I liked

Variety of skills.
In looking at the trees, it looks like there will be a good variety of skills to play with and develop a character with. It looks as though the game wants to allow a good mix of play styles and encourage many unique types of characters. I am looking forward to seeing a minimum of 'cookie cutter' builds and it seems like the variety of magic alone will achieve that.

Combat pacing.
So far the pacing of combat looks like it will be about right. Not too fast with a bunch of instant death that you don't see coming, and not long and drawn out to the point of becoming boring. It seemed like the average 1v1 fight was taking maybe around 45-60 seconds on average, which seems like a good time to me. That of course changes and will change as people get used to moving around and kiting and such.

The system worked smoothly. 
Regardless of what I think of the mechanic, it did work smoothly and as it was supposed to. It was hard to visualize earlier how it would look once it was implemented, and it exceeded my expectations in that it was pretty straight forward to use and I didn't encounter any hiccups as far as bugs or anything not working how it should.


What I didn't like

As a direct counter to my positive comment about variety, this system actively discourages it. 
There is no reason to make a diverse and interesting character type in this system. You are actively punished for diversifying your skill set in a few different ways: 

The more skills you add into your deck, the less likely you become to draw any of them. If they are anything other than offensive skills, then you not only become less likely to draw them, but less likely to draw them at a time that you actually can use them or need them.

 

The common rebuttal to this has been to just lock in a few skills that you want available, but again, you are punished for this by paying extra focus to use them, and by those skills taking up hand slots. This also only works out well if you have just a few skills you want available (like a single heal). What if I want to play a character that has a lot of utility spells, or a character that switches between bow and sword depending on distance of his enemy? In that case I can not rely on the random draw to give me the skills I need for the situation, so I might as well lock in the majority of my skills. This punishes me by paying extra focus, and being limited to only the amount of skills available as my max hand size, instead of the 20+ I could be rotating through in an unlocked deck.

 

If you choose to build different decks with different skills in each -ranged and melee for example- and try to swap them out during combat, you are punished by paying extra focus skill points to swap more efficiently. It also gives you a time delay where you are swapping instead of doing damage to your enemy. Even if the time delay is small, you are still at a disadvantage compared to someone with a narrowly focused offense deck that can just keep hitting you. Even with a quick deck swap, you get access to different skills, but are still subjected to the randomness and hope you get something to make the swap worth it, or use locked skills and pay extra focus for them.

 

The system actively punishes those who want to diversify and rewards those who stick with a very narrowly focused character, specifically, a character that is nearly all offensive skills because those are the only ones you can rely on being useful no matter when you draw them. You can 'get around' the system with locked skills or deck swapping but you pay a cost to do so, whereas someone with a narrow focus can easily be more effective and more efficient at combat. 


The random draw system makes no intuitive sense.
This system makes no sense to anyone that has not followed the conversations on the forums and read all the dev posts. My guild members, who do not follow the forums, were taken by complete surprise with this new system. That in itself is fine, if they can reasonably figure it out on their own, after all, that is exactly what any new player would do when the game is released. The system should make enough sense that someone can figure it out. Currently it does not. 
Common questions I answered multiple times as I helped my members get set up:
"Why can't I use this skill when I want to after I learned it?"
"Why won't this skill show up when i'm fighting?"
"Why do I keep getting melee skills when i'm nowhere near them? I need a ranged skill"
"How do I make <insert context specific skill here, heal, coup de grace, etc> show up when I can actually use it?"
"Why do my skills show up randomly in different slots? How do I make them show up in the same slot so I can remember where they are?"
"Why do I have to pay extra to use a skill when I want to instead of when the computer tells me to?"

The case of context specific skills is probably the most dramatic example of this system making no sense. The computer will happily deal out skills to your hand that you can not use. Ranged skills when you are in melee, melee skills when you are at range, healing spells when you are full health, coup de grace when your opponent is full health, etc.

When you are 50 yards away from someone and they are at full health and you are dealt a coup de grace skill, it simply makes NO SENSE to have that card at that time. No reasonable person would grab that skill, at that time, yet the random system will deal it to you, and expect you to 'use what you are given'. This is supposed to make the game somehow more strategic, or more tactical?


It makes no Logical Sense.
This is perhaps my biggest pet peeve with the system. It simply makes no logical sense. It is inconsistent with the rest of the world and the rest of the game systems that are in place, as well as being completely inconsistent with reality.

Crafting is a logical process. This material plus this material makes this item. This item plus this item makes this weapon. Its a progression that you can reason out and apply logic to and have positive results.

The conversation system is a logical process. You initiate a conversation with an NPC. They will reply to you based on the questions you ask them, and give you information based on certain keywords that you want to know. You can use reason to ask the right questions to lead to answers that you want to know.

The combat system is a completely illogical process. You learn skills, but have limited or no control over how they are used. You choose skills for a certain situation, but may not actually draw them for that situation. You invest heavily into mastering fireball, but cant actually choose to cast fireball when you want to. The game dictates to you what skills you can use and when, regardless of your mastery of them. There is nothing logical, realistic, or tactical about not being able to use a skill that you are a master of at your discretion. It's like telling a boxer he can only use his Jab when the referee touches his nose. So instead of watching his opponent and using his fighting skills, he is watching for the referee to touch his nose, throws the jab once, and goes back to watching the referee for another signal.

It quite simply makes no sense and is not a system that you can reason your way to your desired results. In order to achieve your results you need to stack the odds in your favor with more copies of the skill, in which case the odds are in your favor but still out of your control. Or you lock them in and be punished for it, as discussed above.

It is distracting
This has already been mentioned many times so I won't beat it to death too much, but having to sit and watch the hotbar is distracting and immersion breaking. Even after getting to know the icons, you still have to watch the bar to see where they will pop up so you can hit the right key. Or if you fill your deck with just offense skills, you can just spam whatever keys you want. Anyone with a variety of skills or spells in their deck will be stuck watching the bar though in order to know when to cast and what to press. It distracts from the combat rather than immersing you in it.


My Suggestions to Make it Better

I don't believe in complaining without offering a solution, and the devs seem to have made it pretty clear that this system is here to stay regardless, so the following is my suggestion for modifying this system to something that I think would solve at least some of the problems I discussed above.

I think that the core of the problems above is the complete randomness of the draws.

I have suggested it elsewhere but I will explain it again. We need different hands.

How it would look:

Have an 'offense' hand and a 'defense/utility' hand. The interface would look almost exactly the same. You enter combat, and the hotbar pops up. Instead of one hotbar in the centre of the screen, you now have 2 hotbars, one offset left, one offset right. Set the max hand size for each one to 5 or 6 or whatever, instead of the 10 that we have now, so that the screen isn't too cluttered.

Keep the current system of dealing out a random rotation of cards, but have them sorted into their respective category now instead of all going into the same bar.
So on the offense side, a mage may get dealt fireball, fire arrow, fireball, searing ray .... while on the defense side, at the same time, he is being dealt root, heal, gust, fire elemental, douse... etc.

You could still have just the single deck, no need to complicate things and have separate offense or defense decks for this change. Splitting the hotbar into 2 parts would be a simple change and allow more variety and larger number of cards in one's deck. 

What would this change fix?

This simple little change would fix a lot of the problems caused by the random draw system, while still in keeping with the intended spirit of the system.

You still have your random draw and rotation, modified by the focus skills. 
You still have the 'chaos' and unpredictability of combat' that many feel is a must.
You still have the 'new and innovative' feeling, instead of a traditional static hotbar system.

However, with this small change, you gain the following benefits:
- You can add a much larger variety of spells and skills to your deck, and have a more reasonable chance of using them when you get them.
Since you will always be rotating through some defense and utility skills, and always rotating through some offense skills at the same time. So you don't have to worry about getting a defense skill at a bad time that you need offense, and you don't need to worry about getting a fireball at a bad time when you need a heal. They are in separate hands.

- You gain much more tactical options, by having some offense and defense/utility skills available at any given time, you have more choice in how your combat goes. You can choose to play a defense skill, or go in for the kill, rather than being forced strictly into what the game has dealt you.
Keeping in mind that you still are at the mercy of the RNG for exactly what skills you will have in each hand, so there is still the chaotic aspect to it, and making the best of the skills you are dealt. This just dials back the randomness to a more acceptable and slightly more realistic level.

- It makes it easier to remember your hotkeys, as hotkeys 1-5 would always be offense, and 6-0 would be defense, for example. The skills would still change places in those keys, but at least you would have some level of consistency.

- It opens up more options for mixing and matching skills and play styles, and it opens up more options for the much anticipated combos! Not only can you combo your offensive abilities like they had planned, but maybe now we could get some options of combos that mix offense and defense skills in creative ways. Playing both hands effectively could add some depth to combat and open up a lot of possibilities for both the players and the devs.


In Conclusion

The system as it is right now is not fun, and makes very little sense. It is easily one of the worst combat mechanics I personally have ever played.

However, I see some potential for keeping in the spirit of the system while making some easy changes that can dial it back to a more reasonable level, while opening up a lot of opportunities for various play styles.

Thanks

  acidblood

Hard Core Member

Joined: 1/13/06
Posts: 243

7/29/14 3:28:17 AM#2
Yep, sounds like it has exactly the problems I expected... still, early days and all that, looking forward to seeing where they take it.
  Distopia

Drifter

Joined: 11/22/05
Posts: 15578

"what a boring life, HATING everything" -Gorilla Biscuits

7/29/14 3:43:24 AM#3

Over the weekend...was kinda of key to me, the guy makes a bunch of conclusions after a weekend of play, beside the point of telling me over and over again how I'll feel.

"It doesn't make sense to me." seemed to be the overarching theme of his critique. Could just be a matter of he needed to spend more time with it and learn the ins and outs, as it sounds like it's something quite different than normal, which is bound to feel illogical when you are conditioned to play as we are.

I'd have to try it, it sounds really interesting to me. Yet maybe he makes a good point...hard to say without seeing it and experiencing it.

For every minute you are angry , you lose 60 seconds of happiness."-Emerson

It is a sign of a defeated man, to attack at ones character in the face of logic and reason- Me

  blythega

Advanced Member

Joined: 12/27/04
Posts: 138

7/29/14 3:53:29 AM#4

My eyes are bleeding from the wall of text however I tend t agree with the OP. However, it was a test to obtain player feedback and allow the devs to examine the very issues you have highlighted.

So. Based on that the process appears to be working as you have provided not only a balanced review but a suggestion on how to improve things.

Let's see how they improve things for the next iteration.

 

 

  MMOredfalcon

Hard Core Member

Joined: 9/18/13
Posts: 123

7/29/14 8:00:06 AM#5
Originally posted by Distopia

Over the weekend...was kinda of key to me, the guy makes a bunch of conclusions after a weekend of play, beside the point of telling me over and over again how I'll feel.

"It doesn't make sense to me." seemed to be the overarching theme of his critique. Could just be a matter of he needed to spend more time with it and learn the ins and outs, as it sounds like it's something quite different than normal, which is bound to feel illogical when you are conditioned to play as we are.

I'd have to try it, it sounds really interesting to me. Yet maybe he makes a good point...hard to say without seeing it and experiencing it.

 First off...we only have a weekend here and there to test and assess different aspects of the game.  And th OP is absolutely right. The combat system makes little sence. I for one was concentrating on archery with some melee skills. Well what good is it when I go into combat using the bow, and only my dodge melee skills pop up. And once the enemy is near I am getting all blanks and archery skills.

In some ways, it can work. In a group if a players focus is totally on archery, or tank, one can build up a deck just for that. But there is no way of knowing what skill or when a skill you want will pop up.  Like a healer class, who can't heal because all the wrong cards are popping up for him. Or a tank who can't tank because he gets a wack of dodge or parry skills comming up and no useful combat hits.

The combat system is about the worst I have ever seen in over 20 years of gaming. It is the breaker for me. Some may like it, but I think the majority will not enjoy it so much. We'll see if it is improved over time. The Devs of this game have been good at listening to the players concerns, so we may find a happy medium.

  jtripper

Advanced Member

Joined: 10/14/13
Posts: 39

7/29/14 12:01:01 PM#6

The OP makes some good points but it's the same one made repeatedly on the forums:  they can't deal with the randomness (pun fully intended).  :)

 

There have been similar suggestions on having multiple hotbars or split hotbars that deal from multiple decks.  That's actually something I can see happening.  It's likely they'll start with splitting the hotbar in two and dealing from two decks that you've equipped.  I think that will mitigate some of randomness but will never negate it completely, nor will it mitigate the amount of "plate spinning" as it's been called.

 

In regards to the focus penalties for locked skills or the fully locked option (so it acts jut like any MMO hotbar), those are temporary and will be reduced as stated by the devs.  They said it's high now just for testing purposes.  I also think the deck swap penalty will also be reduced.

 

  Aztec

Advanced Member

Joined: 9/19/04
Posts: 107

Accept conditions as they are or accept the responsibility to change them.

7/29/14 4:07:47 PM#7
I have to agree with the OP here that the random card system makes no sense at all and it just makes for confusing battles. The most important part is that it is annoying and not fun. It is also hard to tell whether you even hit certain buttons or not as they are flashing and moving up and down rather quickly. Other than this one issue the game seems to be moving at a good pace and shows some promise.
  superconducting

Hard Core Member

Joined: 4/21/13
Posts: 705

8/07/14 7:35:25 PM#8
Originally posted by Aragon100

The system as it is right now is not fun, and makes very little sense. It is easily one of the worst combat mechanics I personally have ever played.

^^ This.

I never even tried release 8 and I could tell from the video how crappy the combat system was. Anybody who thinks this combat is good by any means is simply delusional.

Who the heck wakes up in the morning and says-- I DON'T WANT the ability able to cast spell X when I want. Instead, I want to make a random pick from a deck of cards and see what happens. Ridiculous!

WHOLE SYSTEM needs to be overhauled.

  Violation419

Advanced Member

Joined: 8/13/07
Posts: 7

PC ~ ps3/ps2/ps ~ wii/GC/nes/snes/n64 ~ xbox/xbox360 ~ I am the gamer.

8/08/14 6:39:31 PM#9
Originally posted by Aragon100

 In Conclusion


The system as it is right now is not fun, and makes very little sense. It is easily one of the worst combat mechanics I personally have ever played.

However, I see some potential for keeping in the spirit of the system while making some easy changes that can dial it back to a more reasonable level, while opening up a lot of opportunities for various play styles.

Thanks

I took the time to read a bit of your post but the wall of text just plain hurt me so I couldn't get through it... that said.

I've spent a fair amount of time (about 100 hours) in combat with this system and I've tested far more of it than most... I can tell you that as it sits now it is GREAT.  Here is what I don't understand about the complaints:

 

The current combat system allows you to have FULLY LOCKED and usable skills... noble slots is what they're calling them.  The best format I found for melee combat was a fully locked skill bar.

The current combat system allows you to hybrid lock and randomize your skills... The best format I found for group play was a medium ranged heal with a rez locked... and all the damage cards I had on random as a caster.  I'm used to playing ranged caster/mage so this just came easier to me (played a mage in UO for 3 years, played a necro mage in UO for 3 years, played a spriest in WoW for 6+ years).  I loved this setup.

The current combat system allows you to have FULLY RANDOMIZED and usable skills... chaos is what they call it!  If you watch any of the dev videos they say (notably Chris Spears, the lead Tech for the game, said he thought this in the last pvp video he did) that this will not be a desired play style for skilled and high quality gamers.

If you want to abuse the system then join us in R9... beat the crap out of it... and remember: combos aren't in... skill progression isn't in... half the skills aren't in... no balancing has been done... it's a PRE-ALPHA RELEASE :)

Cheers!

When will we get a UO style game with WoW dated graphics... Please see "Shroud of the Avatar" :)

  Aragon100

Elite Member

Joined: 2/06/08
Posts: 2224

 
OP  8/09/14 5:43:24 AM#10
Originally posted by Violation419
Originally posted by Aragon100

 In Conclusion


The system as it is right now is not fun, and makes very little sense. It is easily one of the worst combat mechanics I personally have ever played.

However, I see some potential for keeping in the spirit of the system while making some easy changes that can dial it back to a more reasonable level, while opening up a lot of opportunities for various play styles.

Thanks

I took the time to read a bit of your post but the wall of text just plain hurt me so I couldn't get through it... that said.

I've spent a fair amount of time (about 100 hours) in combat with this system and I've tested far more of it than most... I can tell you that as it sits now it is GREAT.  Here is what I don't understand about the complaints:

 

The current combat system allows you to have FULLY LOCKED and usable skills... noble slots is what they're calling them.  The best format I found for melee combat was a fully locked skill bar.

The current combat system allows you to hybrid lock and randomize your skills... The best format I found for group play was a medium ranged heal with a rez locked... and all the damage cards I had on random as a caster.  I'm used to playing ranged caster/mage so this just came easier to me (played a mage in UO for 3 years, played a necro mage in UO for 3 years, played a spriest in WoW for 6+ years).  I loved this setup.

The current combat system allows you to have FULLY RANDOMIZED and usable skills... chaos is what they call it!  If you watch any of the dev videos they say (notably Chris Spears, the lead Tech for the game, said he thought this in the last pvp video he did) that this will not be a desired play style for skilled and high quality gamers.

If you want to abuse the system then join us in R9... beat the crap out of it... and remember: combos aren't in... skill progression isn't in... half the skills aren't in... no balancing has been done... it's a PRE-ALPHA RELEASE :)

Cheers!

Just one question - why didn't you mention the disadvantages you get by using these locked (noble) skills?

[quote] Noble Skill - A noble skill is a skill which cannot be combined with any other skill. Some skills are always noble but some become noble for various reasons such as a skill being used on you or because the skill is in a locked slot. Noble skills will almost always have a higher cost of some kind. Example costs could be cooldown, reagent use, focus cost, etc.[/quote]

https://shroudoftheavatar.com/forum/index.php?threads/lets-talk-about-combat.4094/

Using locked skills when combos arrives will put you in a major disadvantage against player's that use these random card (skill) combos since the locked skills wont have the same cooldown, reagent use and focus cost.

And just imagine how much focus you will need to have on that hotbar with it's random combo card's popping up instead of actually watching the combat going on. I prefer watching the battle and try to read my opponent's instead of watching a hotbar with random card's popping up.

 

 

 

  MERLIN_THE_GREAT

Novice Member

Joined: 8/19/14
Posts: 2

8/19/14 8:08:04 PM#11
Pre-Alpha...
  Mookzen

Hard Core Member

Joined: 3/20/12
Posts: 14

8/21/14 3:05:21 AM#12
Game design so far up it's own ass that it proceeds due to seeing a glimmer of light on the other side, the shit that should have been on its way out during early brainstorming sessions is introduced into the system ass-backwards in such a way as to come right out of the mouth in a perverse spectacle of fundamentally misguided innovation.
  superconducting

Hard Core Member

Joined: 4/21/13
Posts: 705

8/28/14 8:41:47 PM#13
Originally posted by Mookzen
Game design so far up it's own ass that it proceeds due to seeing a glimmer of light on the other side, the shit that should have been on its way out during early brainstorming sessions is introduced into the system ass-backwards in such a way as to come right out of the mouth in a perverse spectacle of fundamentally misguided innovation.

Dude.... you've got a unique talent there.

  Vorthanion

Hard Core Member

Joined: 7/02/11
Posts: 1917

8/28/14 9:29:01 PM#14
Doesn't sound like fun to me, just going by the game's own description of the combat system.  Any game that punishes you for using skills when and how you want to use them  is not the game for me.  The more games "innovate" their combat, the more I miss EQ's combat system.  Today's MMORPGs are all about low skills counts / all skills being combat focused, forced combos, time to kills in the milliseconds, high stress twitching and no room for any mistakes at all and little if any ability to recover from mistakes.   All of these things make modern MMORPGs much less appealing to me.  If I wanted this crap, I'd be playing FPS or RTS or Platformers.