Rants tag

Rants, ruminations, and rambling reports from the front lines* of the Massively Multiplayer Multiverse.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Bugs, Glitches, and Misunderstandings

I was reading MMOGC's post this morning about past and current issues she's had with Funcom's Age of Conan and The Secret World. It's actually a positive post overall, more about not letting problems with prior games deter you from trying new ones from the same company. I tend to agree overall. While I didn't have the same technical issues with AoC that GeeCee did, I couldn't get into the game the way some have. It never really clicked for me, even though I found the original Conan short stories entertaining.
So along comes The Secret World, a game I didn't really intend to play. Even now, with it being the current shiny, I'm trying my best not to jump on the hype train. But I gotta say, I haven't had this much fun playing a game since my first couple years of WoW. SWTOR was exciting to start. The opening crawl of "my" story really revved up my excitement, the first time I saw it. I quickly lost that rush with each succeeding character.

Don't get me wrong, SWTOR has been a lot of fun. However, I haven't even logged in at least two weeks. Battlechicken's issues, even though they were resolved, still soured me on BioWare's game. It may seem silly to stop playing a game because of something outside the game itself that didn't even happen to me, but there it is. I haven't even gotten my main, Versteckt, up to max level or finish his story. My other characters languish at various stages of the game, and on my SWTOR character page. Mostly, it feels like an effort, a chore, to log in and play. I'd probably enjoy it if I do, but the incentive to is gone. CORRECTION: My lovely bride wants to finish the stories of Versteckt and Chic(c)o, so we'll be doing that.

On the other hand, TSW has drawn me in, in a big way. I encountered my first major bugs yesterday, with the chat going haywire (which happened to everyone) and a major quest, "Something Wicked," bugging out at the worst possible time, making it unfinishable. Hopefully, both will be fixed quickly. I did manage to finish that quest on another character the night before, but did have some trouble deciding what to do to solve the puzzle. And trying to figure out if I was doing it wrong or it was bugged. So I can understand the frustration of GeeCee and others.

None of that is game breaking, though the chat problem made it difficult to resolve the quest bug.

I wonder if some of the "bugs" people encountered during beta were misunderstandings of the game mechanics or even game terminology. For instance, the mechanic called "Dodge" in many other games—like WoW—avoidance of an incoming attack, is called "Evade" in TSW. The thing is, "Evade" in WoW means a mob has stopped attacking and is returning to its default position. This sometimes happens if the mob is bugged for whatever reason. So there I am, swinging at a zombie, and I see the word "Evade" fly above its head where damage numbers should be. "It's bugged, dammit!" No, the mob merely avoided my swing.
The "clunky" combat, turns out to be fairly subtle. With the possible exception of the "hearth" spell to Agartha, which I have not tested, every spell in the game is castable on the fly. Which means I can be moving to avoid an attack at the same time I am setting up my own. This makes the battles more dynamic than I realized at first. Also, each school of combat has things that make it unique, beyond the superficial animations. For instance, Blood Magic allows you to sacrifice some health in order to cast a power-consuming spell; something that is impossible for the other two schools of magic. Unless I am mistaken, melee consumers hit the same whether you have one power or five. (Please forgive my inexact terminology)  Ranged (gun) consumers are more powerful the more combo points you have on the target. Those subtle differences change the way each school plays; on top of which, you may (should?) have abilities from two different schools of combat, further changing how you approach combat. It's not simply a choice of guns, magic, or melee.

I have never gotten this much into the combat theory of a game. Most of the time, I'm either just taking what looks good, or following the advice of someone else far more interested in theorycraft. And that says a lot to me about The Secret World.

12 comments:

  1. I learn something new about the ability system and combat every day.

    For instance, thus far I've only been taking into account my own "closed system" of abilities when building my decks -- i.e. I've been maximizing my own performance through putting together a build of passives and actives that play off each other, especially giving thought to those that take advantage of the "affected states" like afflicted, weakened, impaired, etc. For example, I'll be sure to have an ability that "sets" that state and one or a few that will "exploit" it, so each of my decks will have that state as a theme.

    I've run into situations where there's this awesome ability that I would love to throw into my current build, but can't because I wouldn't be able to fit in complementing abilities to make it worth it.

    Anyway, recently, as both my husband and I have been building our decks and getting used to them, I've started factoring his build into the way I play. He's fist weapons and blood magic, and thus have a lot of abilities that set "afflicted" state. Me, I'm mostly utilizing abilities that take advantage of "impaired" states. But given, I'm always grouped up with him anyway, the other day I threw in a random ability that exploits "afflicted" states. By myself, that ability would be superfluous in my build and completely useless, but when playing with my husband, it boosts my damage and really shines.

    Why this is such a big deal to me: you've heard me say before how I enjoy synergy when it comes to combat. This system can deliver it in spades. I'm completely enamored with it.

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    1. That is awesome, the way Affliction and Demo Locks and Shadow Priests synergized in Vanilla WoW, because of a Shriest talent for maximizing shadow damage. :D They nerfed it to only affect the priest's own spells. :C

      I'll have to coordinate with Sctrz.

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    2. I found out last night that it can also be helpful in a group while doing instances. I can take in account what states the other four people in my party tend to be setting, which may offer up an opportunity to use certain abilities I've wanted to use that can exploit those states.

      I don't even have to ask either, when I fight with my group, four little indicators beneath our target's health bar will light up like Christmas lights to show just which states are being set. So handy!

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    3. Oops, pressed that Publish button before I was finished my thought.

      I was going to add that this is especially helpful when you have those passive abilities that boost your overall effectiveness regardless of what abilities you're using, like Chance to penetrate is increased when target is in _____ state, or Chance for an extra hit when target is in _____ state.

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    4. Right, I figured the passives would be where that really takes off. I've noticed a few of my own passives that proc off states I can't set myself.

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  2. I played through pretty much the entirety of Kingsmouth using just an Assault Rifle and the three attacks I got in the Training Room. I didn't spend a single Skill or Action Point. In comparison to my experience in beta when I went through the same material spending points as I got them, I couldn't really see a difference. I was in the Academy in Savage Coast before I began to notice any slowing down from not having any skills or gear above Q0.

    The Dungeon combat is supposedly very challenging but the outdoor stuff isn't, so far. Which is good for me because I am not a big fan of being challenged.

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    1. The dungeon stuff has been very challenging, especially last bosses. My group wasn't able to complete the Inferno the other day. The thing is, because of how well designed the fights are, I can't say I even mind so much getting my ass kicked.

      Also, while you still need to have a tank, healer, trinity etc, it seems a lot more flexible. Every fight is potentially doable even if it means each group member may have to tweak their decks a little to "customize" to the fight. For example, on a fight with lots of ads the encounter became dramatically more manageable as soon as we swapped in some AoE abilities. On fights where we need crowd control, some roots and impairing abilities really helped. Need some extra healing? Another DPS can potentially provide that on the fly. Really, really love how the game allows you to do this. The more I think about it, the more elaborate I realize this system actually is and the more impressed I am.

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    2. Yes, that's what I mean by subtle. Even within single trees there is so much variation in the abilities, that you have to think about optimizing for specific encounters. The nice thing is that you can optimize, but it makes it more of a strategy/planning thing than a simple "stay out of the fire! pew-pew" kind of encounter (though there are a few of those, as well).

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  3. I played for a few hours straight last night and had a blast. I'm trying not to go all rainman on the game, and figure out every last little bit. I definitely need to learn more about the fight mechanics such as the affected states you're talking about mmogamerchick. I haven't really been adjusting my build much, mostly because I didn't have the points to spare. I've got some more freedom now, and I'm already starting to think about what I want. Some of the stats are a little confusing, for example crit rating and crit percentage. I can see that being simplified at some point.

    I also want to figure out the crafting thing a bit better. I'm just disassembling and up-converting all the crafting materials I can get my hands on, then keeping them until I know what I'm doing.

    The game is a blast. I'm really enjoying it. It's a shame I'll be playing less when I start school soon.

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    1. We still need to get together sometime and play. Sctrz is on a SWTOR kick again, though, to push thourgh the end of our mains' stories. So it may be a week or so.

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  4. It is my belief a bit in some the missions that some in fact are indeed working correctly when some players think its bugged. But because some missions are bugged and they may have had a few before it's easy for them to assume that because the mission don't seem to be advancing that they figure it's bugged. When in fact but not in every case the mission is working fine and player just haven't figured out how to advance the mission.

    I remember doing the mission at the Coast in Savage Coast where you look through a Telescope. I kelp looking back and forth and didn't seem the mission would advance. I started something was wrong or well bugged. So I even looked through the Telescope fir a while to watch the entire mob senario play out. Hmm nothing happened there either. So I started to use my mouse, maybe I'm missing something here. Eventually I clicked it and just like that it worked and I could of being assuming it was a bugged mission. I can only assume how many players are assuming what may be bugged is indeed not, but quite a few missions are which probably make some those players assume well if they not smart enough to figure out mission well of course it must be bugged. And that I doubt isn't always the case.

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    1. Yes, I wonder the same thing. I wonder how many of the puzzles are so obscure that players just figure they're bugged, because some puzzles actually are bugged.

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