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Casual Thoughts from a Semi-Retired Philosopher

I play MMOs as an alternative to TV. Sometimes it even turns into quality time with the wife and daughter. Most of the time it's a distraction from doing something productive or meaningful.

Author: Hluill

Filling and Unfilling Bars

Posted by Hluill Tuesday October 1 2013 at 2:44PM
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Star Wars is updating and I am bored.  Ignoring my dog for a few more minutes, I've decided to rant a bit.  I am tired of the Hit-Point Race that seems to be the only mechanic that MMO developers seem to use.  Every encounter is a race to empty the opponent's health bar faster than my own.  That's it.  Tack on some cool graphics and give me some buttons to mash and it's all about the the bars: fill mine while I empty theirs.

I've hated the idea of hitpoints since my Pen and Paper days.  My first gaming mod enabled faster and more "realistic" combat.  After a few dozen tours in the military I've learned that "realistic" combat is not possible on a computer, nor would it be entertaining.  The gap between reality and digital simulations will always be vast.

Maybe I'm a sadist, but I still think it would be neat to try to bring it a little closer.  Here are some of my ideas on how.

First: no more freakin' hit-points!  One makes a series of saving throws versus the effectiveness of an attack.  The first being a skill throw that would allow the hit to occur.  The next would be an armor throw to absorb some (or all) of the attack's effectiveness.  There might be throws to stay standing or to maintain an action.  Ultimately, there would be a saving throw  to stay conscious.  Attacks  that hit remove participants.  One's level doesn't increase this final throw's chances massively.  Damage is a very subjective thing.  I've seen guys stub their toes and pass out.  And I've seen guys walk ten miles with a bullet in the gut.  A splinter in the eye will remove most.

Second: gear matters, but not in some magical, makes-you-stronger way.  Armor isn't made out of white plastic: it actually ruins the effectiveness of an attack.  But it's heavy and people look at you funny when you wear it in the grocery store.  Instead of thirty pounds of armor, maybe I want to carry thirty pounds of ammo, or food, or water, or self-help books.  I remember MMOs with encumbrance rules, what happened to them? Give me a pack animal for all that quest, crafting and gathering stuff, and even my armor when I decide to go for a swim.

Third: the trinity needs to be rethunk.  No one goes into combat screaming: "Attack me!  Ignore my healer and just attack me!"  And wouldn't it be nice to fight an enemy that falls for that?  But, combat is full of diversions, distraction devices, flanks, engagement areas and such.  Couple of facts: first guy through the door gets most of the attention but has a high rate of survival, especially if second and third do their jobs -- but, the ambush that initiates on the point man fails (though it sucks to be the point man).

Fourth: twitch is for kids.  I admire the skillz, but there ain't much running and jumping and sideways sprinting being done while attacking.  Sure, plenty can be done between attacks, sometimes.  While many clueless lieutenants dissagree with me, I have found that a slow, steady, aggressive maneuver is more effective than a half-assed, rushed one.  That's why various martial arts spend so much time practicing forms and stances.  Slow is smooth; smooth is fast, sir.

Thanks for bothering to read my rant.  And I really don't care what your thoughts are on it, unless it's to say how cool you think it is and you want to give me a few million to design a game.