- How will combat “feel” in Crowfall?
- How is combat tactical?
- Does combat use tab-targeting?
- How does targeting work?
- What is the simulation model? Can players “walk through” other players?
- Does the game use the “trinity system” of class balance (tank, dps and healer)?
- Why de-emphasize combat healing?
- You don't have healer? That's what I play!
- How do you prevent seasoned characters from smashing new players?
- How can you allow for so much character customization, and still claim that every character is balanced?
How will combat “feel” in Crowfall?
In deciding what we want combat to “look and feel like,” we are drawing a lot of our inspiration from other recent MMOs. We love the idea of action-combat – but we have to make sure the game doesn’t get too “twitchy” (i.e. require lightning fast reflexes or too much button-mashing).
Crowfall combat has certain elements that are similar to Wildstar (our movement includes things like sprints, dashes, and double jumps) and other components that are similar to TERA (combo attacks that have short “locked” animation sequences – chains that you can opt to continue or break - for a cost.)
The result, when combined with our voxel terrain and physics based movement systems. is combat sequences that look more fluid, feel more visceral and require more tactical thinking.
How is combat tactical?
Our goal is to create a pace of combat where you can recognize your opponent’s attacks and respond to them appropriately. For example, when a Knight sees a Champion leap in the air, he has time to right-click and block the attack. This would not only reduce the damage from the Champion’s attack but, when a Knight blocks, it also makes them immune to many forms of crowd control.
We feel if the combat pacing is too fast, there isn’t an appropriate amount of time (when you factor in internet latency) to give the player the feeling that they can counter incoming attacks.
Does combat use tab-targeting?
No because we’ve tried to make combat in Crowfall a little more action-combat focused than your traditional MMO. For instance, we have “dashes” that you can use to avoid attacks as opposed to a passive (randomized) dodge system. Finding the right balance on this one has been extremely challenging from a design perspective, but we think we’ve found a mid-point. Hopefully you’ll agree.
How does targeting work?
Generally, melee attacks happen in the area in front of the character. There is no hard “target”. Attacks use various shapes such as cones, rectangles and spheres.
Ranged attacks use the targeting reticle to define where the player is “shooting”. In some cases, we’ve created a ground targeting projection that will define where area attacks will execute.
What is the simulation model? Can players “walk through” other players?
We use a physics model for character movement and combat simulation. This means that players and projectiles move realistically in the 3D environment with momentum and inertia. This implies a number of interesting side effects that you probably aren’t used to such as players being unable to move through each other, projectiles hitting accidental targets, etc.
Does the game use the “trinity system” of class balance (tank, dps and healer)?
Some elements, yes, but overall, not really.
We have characters that are more offensive. We have characters that are more defensive. We have characters with support powers. But we made the game purposefully light on in-combat healing, to make it more deadly.
We’ve opened up the character customization options (through promotion classes and disciplines) to make each character a mixed bag of skills and powers. Every Class begins with a predisposition towards a certain playstyle, and of course certain Races are more suited to certain roles (Giants are brutes, after all!) but after your initial selection the game system really opens up and allows you to customize your character.
Why de-emphasize combat healing?
In more traditional MMO’s, combat healing adds a multiplier to each combatant’s effective hit points. A group’s guardian isn’t just managing one health bar, his “effective” health pool is equal to his personal health bar multiplied by their support healers’ mana-driven powers.
This makes a lot of sense for games that focus around player-versus environment combat where the monsters have thousands of hit points, especially raids. It makes less sense in a game focused on skill-based player-versus-player combat. Since Crowfall doesn’t have PvE raiding we don’t really need super powerful healing.
You don't have healer? That's what I play!
Our intent is for the support classes to have key buffs, debuffs and physics related powers at a cost of damage or defensive capability. That isn't to say there won't be healing. There will be options with classes and disciplines to pick up healing powers. We just didn't want to make the traditional firehose style healer that most "trinity" combat systems use.
Like most attacks in Crowfall, healing requires the caster to aim and properly land heals. There are a variety of different methods of healing targeting such as reticle target, projectiles, ground targeting, trap style and reactive.
How do you prevent seasoned characters from smashing new players?
This is a fairly large problem for traditional (level-based) MMORPGs where high (or max) level characters are basically invincible against mid- and low-level characters. Numerically, this is often caused by power escalation: the low level warrior might hit for 10 to 20 damage while the high level hits for ~4000.
In a game that is PvP-focused, this is obviously not going to be a fun fight for the low-level player. Level-based progression systems force their players into zones based on level brackets, which really segments the population.
Since Crowfall is a very different game, we’ve approached this problem from a few different angles.
First, we are using a skill-based system; there are no levels. Without levels, the difference between a “maxed” character and a starting character is far less severe.
Second, we designed the game to have a much flatter power curve, meaning that your biggest gains for any skill (or attribute) come early and the remaining gains are all on a steep “diminishing returns” curve.
Additionally, access to equipment will be largely based on acquiring it rather than an arbitrary “level” restriction. To add to this, the power curve for equipment has been dramatically “flattened,” as well. Power gained from equipment is much smaller than in a level-based game, but still meaningful enough that players aren’t running about naked.
More action-related mechanics such as dashes and blocks will create opportunities for new players to avoid damage that isn’t based on a random number generator. Additionally, terrain and position make a huge difference, making the game much more tactical.
Lastly, because we use passive training as the primary mechanism for advancement, there is no grind for player powers or camping of monsters to find that “one rare item”. Players will essentially have a full arsenal of powers to use from the beginning.
How can you allow for so much character customization, and still claim that every character is balanced?
The idea that all characters should be equally balanced in all situations is not one of our design goals. We’re giving you the control to be able to customize your character. The natural result is that some character builds will inevitably be better than others.
Instead, our goal is to create a deep, complex simulation filled with tactical and environmental considerations and emergent gameplay. No single character is better than others in every situation.
This approach means that mastery of the game relies on skill, knowing how to build your character in a way that suits your playstyle and then seeking out situations in the game that will be to your advantage. It also means that adventuring parties will be less cookie cutter since the roles are not as clearly defined.