Rants tag

Rants, ruminations, and rambling remarks from my mad, muddled, meandering mind.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Another Dead Horse: "Clunky Combat" in TSW

Shoutout to the BtV crew!
It being the Halloween season, both Syp and Belghast (You may be able to tell how many blogs I actually manage to read on a regular basis. It isn't a long list.) have posts up today  about The Secret World. Belghast's post was a recruitment piece, promoting the virtues of the game. While Syp had some creepy screencaps. Perhaps inevitably, the topic of TSW's "clunky, slow combat" came up in the commentary, and Tanek finally offered up a possible explanation, at least from his perspective. I decided to write a rebuttal; however, Tanek did point out that TSW is one of his favorite games. But it is in spite of the combat, rather than a result of it.
Scooter, checking the mail
"Fighting with fist and blades I have not felt like most skills give any feel you are actually fighting anything. For most of my skills [those that don't involve knockdowns, etc.] there is no feedback beyond watching the enemy health bars tick down."

Name a game where this is not the case. None of the MMOs I have ever played effectively mimicked how a real battle with swords would play out. SWTOR, for example, makes some attempts to vary the animation to account for blocks, etc. But all too often the characters swing their lightsabers and weather blaster bolts with only a floating red number and a gap in the health bar to show for it. WoW was even worse, with dodge calculations happening entirely in the background.
Sometimes, I mash buttons.
"Some of this may come down to play style and choice of weapon, . . . the game decided that instead of your assist target being yourself or a group member, it picks the enemy or an inanimate object."

If you're trying to directly target characters in the battle area, I can see how this might be a problem. As a healer, I target using the party/raid frame (the default will do). This is an old habit I picked up playing WoW.

Mouse-look/target mode:
"I have come to like using what some call mouse-look mode. . . but it seems to only work when that was exactly where you had your cursor when you went into mouse-look. There is no easy way to temporarily use the cursor if needed to do something like click a loot roll button on screen (to be fair, the only game I have seen do this in a way I like is DDO. . .) Switching targets can seem a bit random. . ."

This seems to come down to preferred playstyle. I've never used "mouse-look" as described. (When I left-click-and-hold, the camera moves around my character. Right-click-and-hold causes my character to face the same direction as the camera. Holding both down, makes my character move. (Yes, I realize this is fairly normal behavior for MMOs post-EQ.) By default, reticle-based Target Mode in TSW is toggled by hitting "T" on your keyboard, and works consistently as far as I can tell. Toggling out in order to mouse click the UI or whatever is no more difficult than many other games where Target Mode is the norm and not just an option (e.g., The Elder Scrolls Online). As an aside, reticle targeting being the default is the reason Scooter and I never got into TESO. And if Tanek hasn't found a satisfactory toggle method outside of DDO, that's cool. But then TSW's is simply one of many combat systems he must not like.

Be the bullet.
"This is not always a problem specific to combat, but movement is TSW can seem somewhat 'floaty.' When fighting multiple enemies in an area that is not flat, this can lead to some interesting situations where you might have trouble avoiding environmental damage because you just… can’t… jump… on… that… ROCK!"

Again, this is not a problem unique to TSW. I've played plenty of games in which jumping and uneven surfaces were problematic at times. This is due to a discrepancy between the generally more intricate visual details of the game world vs the generally much simpler polyhedrons used to calculate collisions in the game environment ("hitboxes"). Hitbox Dissonance affects everything in this list, really.
Overall, I would say that combat in TSW is on par with most other MMOs I have played. Having said that, I do have my issues with it. Though I still consider it one of my favorite games, I haven't played TSW in quite a while because I developed an extreme dislike of the AEGIS system the devs implemented with Issue 9 ("The Black Signal") and the Tokyo zones, making an already fairly long per-mob time-to-kill even longer.
A Looonnnnggg Time to Kill
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  1. I very much agree, with one exception: i learned that the Aegis system is not that bad once you got into it. By now you can just go to the auction house and buy some low level ae capacitors, which makes everything with Aegis much easier to handle.

    It's still inconvenient in some fights, but that's intended to make the fights a bit more interesting, in general use it's not that bad once you have a reasonable percentage of damage converted to Aegis damage. (My personal impression, of course. )

    [Next to that, if you need support in game, just let me know, although from all i gathered our shedules are quite different and meeting might only work on weekends. ]

    1. Thanks. I appreciate the offer. Admittedly, I quit in a fit of pique. Right now, I am hot and heavy in SWTOR, getting ready for the expansion at the end of the month.

  2. I never really cared about comments of "floaty", "no feedback", "lack of impact", etc, which some also apply to my favourite MMO GW2.

    When comparing GW2 combat with TSW, I prefer GW2 and I have to say that the main difference between both in mechanic terms is (or was last time I played TSW) the lack of auto-attack in TSW.

    I put it down simply to the animations style - in GW2 I feel like the character movement is fluid and natural while in TSW it always seems that the character is made of two different sections - the torso and the legs - that aren't in sync with each other. Actually the arms sometimes move a bit weird in relation to the rest of the character.

    I don't know, it is clearly something that can be qualified as subjective but alas it detracts from my fun.

    1. The animations can be be a bit odd at times. But I've found that to be the case in many MMOs. I agree though, GW2 is a gorgeous game.

    2. What you describe i actually see in SWtoR. When i started that game, i also was highly active in Mechwarrior Online and found it amusing that i found the mechs movement in MWO to be way more organic than in SWtoR. All characters in SWtoR are animated like battlemechs, with the waist being a turning disc and the torso and legs operating completely independent from each other.

      That being said, this actually is true for all MMOs which allow combat actions while moving, the difference is mostly how the animations look like. And truth to be told, the animations themselves in GW2 also are not better than those in TSW, the difference is that GW2 flashes you with bright effects for every other ability, covering up the omnipresent animation issues.

  3. For me, it feels less "impact"-ful than say WoW or GW2 because the health bar just doesn't feel like it correlates to the buttons I press. When I launch a fireball in other MMO's it feels like when it hits, there is impact to the health bar. Sometimes the enemy will flinch or get knocked back or what have you, but the main impact I feel is lacking in TSW is to the health bar.

    It just doesn't feel like, for me at least, button pressing and skill rotations correlate to anything instantaneous.

    1. That may be. As I mentioned. Individual battles in TSW are relatively long, with either the amount of health points being more substantial or the damage of abilities being weaker. I personally like the longer battles because in many other games it seems like the mobs fall before I've built up enough resources to do anything spectacular.

    2. Once you got a good setup running, combat actually is not that slow. Yes, gear also helps, but a good combination of actives and passives, along with properly using all your ressources (forced criticals, AoE-tabing, etc. ) is the foundation of high killing speed.

      The difference is, or even more was, in the flow of the game. In GW2 i am able to get a character close to the end of the personal storyline without ever bothering for my setup. Only at the very end i am forced to improve a bit, but even then i can just die through it if i choose to do so.

      The game, just like most MMOs out there, treat you like a child and holds your hand, protecting you from all hardship. You might be disrespected, but you are guaranteed to be successful and have fun, making the game (and many other MMOs of that design style) to be very accessible for the casual player.

      In contrast TSW formerly absolutely demanded that a new player would inform himself and use a proper build. (Be it from guides or built by himself. ) Things got smoothed out by now, but informing yourself is still very helpful. The game treats you with respect but challenges you. Unfortunately this comes at the price of lower accessibility and being unfriendly to the casual player.

      In the end, for me fights in TSW feel smoother and easier than in GW2, especially since i feel that TSWs less flashy animations and effects give me essential info more clearly, while in GW2 i have to learn stuff by dying again and again. (When playing GW2 together with my girl and facing a boss, i regularily have to ask her if those white circles in this fight are from her and i should use them for combos, or if the very same looking white circles this time are from the enemy and i should dodge out of them... )

      But i guess it also boils down on how much time and brainpower you invested into the game, the more "casual welcome" start of GW2 just never made me care that much for efficiency as TSW did.

  4. The combat mechanics are enjoyable in the game. What kills me is the builder spam/spender spam that I've been experiencing so far, though I think that's because I'm lower level and running in a group of three, lol.

    1. You mean the system which only TSW and a few other games have?

      Examples of the few would be:
      - Assassin in Diablo 2.
      - Rogue in WoW.
      - Basically any class in Rift.
      - Witch and Witch Hunter in WAR
      - One or another class in almost any MMO out there.

      That being said, i also know that this mechanic gets exhausting after a while, but at least unlike in those games, TSW offers some variations and combinations.

      Examples would be to run with passives which boost every eigth attack, use elemental magic where you want to use a consumer every two or three points built, some abilities you want at five charge, others you want quickly and don't care for charge, the difference of some weapons building the charge on enemies and giving you the option of consume-tab-consume, etc. Of course, while such optimisations allow you to squeeze out extra damage, it also requires extra effort and many players are not willing to go for that. (I am also too lazy to optimize like that in solo play... )