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Posts posted by n0mDePlume

  1. I don't agree that 4E really locks down everyone's movement.  I played a warden for a few years and even he couldn't really lock down movement for more than a few characters at a time and that's literally what I built him to do.  I agree that 4E does make movement and positioning more important, and that is ultimately the goal.  We are implementing our Engagement system with the understanding that we may need to modify elements of it to find the right balance of tactical movement requirements and freedom of movement in our combat environments.


    In the example of the wizard, I don't believe that's any different than dealing with a persistent hazard, something that comes up with great frequency in the IE games.  I do think it will probably require more than one click to move around such a hazard, but I don't believe it will devolve into endless multi-clicking.


    In the last example, melee enemies moving through melee enemies, moving characters will not trigger Engagement.  If two opposed melee fighters rush by each other and they're not stopping to attack, they won't engage the other.  Also, if a fighter is not in his or her Defensive mode, he is likely to only be capable of engaging a single target at a time (his or her current melee target).  If some of those melee enemies are targeting someone rushing past, they will stop to attack and that will result in Engagement, but that's a typical and intentional result.



    I'm surprised you're actually using 4E as an example of something you want to emulate in PE.  I would have hoped you'd say "don't worry, 4E is a rules heavy, turn based game which many people consider very slow, and we don't want our engagement mechanic to produce that kind of game".


    You're saying that making movement and positioning more important is ultimately the goal, which sounds like a design decision bigger than just engagement.  Can you understand my concern about trying to do this with a click-to-move CRPG?


    Party movement and pathfinding AI has traditionally been one of the weakest spots of these games, showing the limits of the engines and generating a lot of complaints.  This is a genre where NPCs can frequently teleport because pathfinding is so easily broken, and where post-IE games avoided full party control because it was harder to deal with.  I remember times - many times - when I tried to move a character halfway across the screen in combat and they decided to take a detour halfway around the level because a moving enemy temporarily blocked their path.



    Having engagement as a specific feature is one thing, and can obviously be debated.  But if you want to emphasize movement and position in general, do you plan any engine/UI improvements to go along with that?


    Someone gave waypoints as an example.  I'd hate to have game mechanics that required waypoints, but they are the classic way of allowing multiple units to execute complicated moves without having to madly scroll back and forth and babysit all of them at the same time.

  2. n0mDePlume, it sounds like you prefer a different type of micromanagement, not that you don't want to micromanage.  Users on this forum have consistently (though obviously not universally) expressed a general dislike of standard aggro/tanking mechanics.  Engagement is not conceptually much different from threatened area/AoOs, which we already had experience with in NWN2.  It's also a mechanic that many tabletop D&D players are familiar with if they've played 3E, 3.5, and 4E.


    In IE games, you typically don't move full parties through melee.  You typically move a few characters to ranged positions and a select number of characters into melee with specific targets.  It's true that if you click past melee enemies who are not engaged and run past them, they will engage you.  That's entirely the point of the mechanic.  I certainly understand if not everyone likes it, but it feels more in the spirit of D&D mechanics as well as mechanics that were in NWN and NWN2.



    I know everyone hates tank mechanics, I do too.  They're inherently unrealistic, and when you base your entire gameplay on them like WOW does, combat turns into a simplistic tank-and-spank.  I would never suggest putting hardcore tank mechanics into PE.


    Tank mechanics are used because they work extremely well with point-and-click real time games.  One reason is that it keeps movement controls simple, you don't have to fight with a click-to-move UI to circle around an enemy or try to "go sticky" in the middle of a group of enemies or something.


    Another reason is it doesn't limit movement.  The first thing D&D 4 style AOO does is lock down everyone's movement and turn it into a subtle positional game.  This is great for a tabletop game on a small mat... but why would you want to reduce the amount of movement in a real time CRPG?



    Just because people complain about WOW tank-and-spank doesn't mean they'd like a game where they were frequently unable to move where they wanted to for fear of AOO.  Feeling unable to move is a particularly punishing feeling for most players.



    I'd like to clarify I'm not mainly worried about the "bonus attack if your target flees" thing, I'm worried about the "engament triggers against adjacent enemies" thing.  It's based on proximity.  Producing or avoiding proximity is easy in many games, but with a click-to-move system it's something the UI is not designed for.


    Here's an example of my problem.  I want to get my wizard past an enemy who is in a fight but sticky and still capable of engaging someone extra.  I have the enemy under attack but that doesn't make him safe to walk by.  There is space around his engagement zone, but my wizard still has to circle around him, there's no straight line through it.  How do I do that with the click-to-move system?  Do I micromanage the wizard's movement, pausing every few seconds?


    And from the point of view of someone trying to lock down enemies, it's far easier to target the ones I want to lock down than to try and micromanage movement so that my guy gets in the way of what are presumably moving enemy targets.  A moving fighter moving into a patrol of moving enemies using click-to-move?  It's what the control system was designed to avoid.

  3. Our plan is to use the selection circles (which all characters have) to indicate when they are engaging, engaged, and the targets involved.  The most typical example would be two melee combatants moving toward each other and starting to fight.  Their selection circles would increase in thickness when they are engaged and a short, overlapping line would run from the circle of the enemy engaging them toward their circle.  I.e., characters who are engaged/engaging are visually linked through their selection circles.


    We do not want to slow movement because that is not as clear as stopping movement and requiring you to give new input to move the character.  We also very much intend for this to require you to be more careful with moving your characters.  Yes, moving away from an engaging character can be difficult because of the risk involved, but that's the intention of the mechanic.  We don't want it to be overly punitive, but we do want people to be wary about moving around melee enemies.


    Disengagement Attacks will likely not be animated on the character's mesh.  They will probably be abstracted in a fashion similar to NWN2 (though if we can find a higher fidelity solution, such as a duplicate "ghost" mesh to animate those attacks, we would use that).


    So, um... is this game using a movement system other than "click where you want to go and the characters pathfinds to it"?


    Because one of the big achilles heels of the IE games was pathfinding, especially pathfinding in combat.  People, including myself, complained a LOT than moving was way more of a chore than it should have been.  More recent CRPGs (Neverwinter Nights, Dragon Age) have had consistent complaints about pathfinding problems and how moving in combat seemed like it took too much effort.


    What I took away from that, especially from my own personal experience, is that point-and-click movement of a full party can be painful in the best of circumstances, and lots of people really dislike being forced to do it frequently to prevent bad things happening.


    Now you're saying you deliberately want to make moving around in combat harder so that people will have to pay more attention to it?


    It sounds like you're deliberately adding player overhead (pay more attention to how you move) and enforcing that through punishment (move wrong and we'll stop your character in their tracks and put them at risk of a nasty attack).  I mean, if I need to get past someone who can engage me, does that mean I have to manually click click click to circle around them?  Is there a corresponding reward to compensate for that?  Is the ability of my fighters to lock down a couple of nearby enemies so incredibly cool and so constantly useful that it makes up for the constant overhead and punishment?



    I've been told by game designers (and my own experience) that the thing players hate most above all is being locked down, and that they also hate putting in constant effort to avoid punishment rather than to gain reward.  This is one reason most MMOs are set up to require players to lock down enemies all the time, but far more rarely involve enemies locking down players.


    I know that when I played IE games, I was often frustrated by my inability to lock down enemies, but I was never once frustrated by their inability to lock me down.


    I'd rather you guys think really carefully about whether a tank mechanic can do basically the same thing a lot more cleanly - no pathfinding problems, no need to micromanage movement, not limited to targeting people who are right next to you.  And it's a lot easier to justify enemies being unable to tank than being unable to engage.

    • Like 1

    Would the on-screen indicator for the radius of the engagement area be... the Engagement Ring? 8)



    I really hope they won't include any artificial convenience indicators for area effects - neither in this case, nor in the case of AoE spell placement etc.

    This is an RPG, not an RTS game or a CAD program.


    For example, in the IE games I always found it a lot of fun to try to place Fireballs in such a way that they would hit all visible melee enemies at once, but not hit my own front-line melee fighters. It wouldn't always work out, so there was a risk involved - but when it did work as intended, it felt really satisfying. A circle indicating the exact area that would be affected on release of the spell, would have negated much of the risk and fun and immersion (and sense of achievement for becoming better over time at placing the spells).


    I think the same would be true if a circle would show where exactly your characters can move without being engaged or disengaged.


    Combat isn't something sterile and precise comparable to placing objects in a CAD program, it is messy and bloody and often unpredictable.

    An RPG should reflect that.



    Movement is fundamentally different from spells.


    In the IE games you don't control your characters' movement, you only control their destination.  All I can do is click on enemies to attack them or click on tiles to move to them.


    Now if there are suddenly "danger zones" right in the middle of combat, like the engagement zone of an enemy, I'm not usually going to find myself in that zone because I clicked on it.  I'm going to find myself in it because the AI decided to pathfind its way into a really inconvenient place.  Moving a full party in combat with a dozen enemies is pretty painful already.


    You can only have so much realism in a game before it becomes X-Com and has to be turn based.



    And that's when the enemy uses it.  For players, is it really any better than a tank mechanic?  I mean, I probably have a couple of characters who can "engage" any significant number of enemies.  If I can choose targets to engage (with an ability or by attacking them), and they reliably stay engaged with me, that just sounds like tanking.


    If engaging automatically targets the first enemies to pass by me, and they have to be right next to me, that sounds worse than tanking.  I'll have to micromanage my movement to be able to engage enemies.  And what if I engage someone I don't want, putting me over my limit to engage someone I do want?


    And if tough enemies will just say "the heck with the damage, I'm going past anyway" that also sounds worse than tanking.  Generally, if I'm trying to lock down an enemy then it's much better to lock them down than to simply do more damage.




    I believe I'd be perfectly happy for fighters to have a limited tank mechanic based on selecting specific targets.  Just have the ability to pull some nearby enemies into melee range and keep them there, at the cost of doing less damage.  I want to target specific enemies to lock down, using point and click, with the weakness being that they're still perfectly able to attack.


    Tank mechanics aren't popular because they're realistic, they're popular because they're easy to use in chaotic real time battles.

    • Like 1


    Seriously, in tabletop D&D attacks of opportunity don't prevent you from moving away from someone you're engaged with, they just slow you down to 1 step per turn.  Put another way, you have a "really cautious" movement mode which can get you away from dangerous situations when the enemy doesn't want to pursue you.


    Think about this from an intuitive gameplay perspective.  What if enemy A is attacking character 1, and character 2 comes up to help his friend?


    Under normal circumstances, nothing.  Character 2 can attack enemy A with impunity and walk off whenever he wants.


    If the enemy happens to be an "engager", on the other hand, character 2 may now be "engaged".  Since he's not the enemy's primary target, he's still not going to be attacked.  He can still help his buddy safely.  Until the moment he decides to step out of range, in which he takes a nasty hit, perhaps a lethal hit.



    This introduces a whole new thing to worry about in the game - if I tell my character to move (deliberately or just by accidentially selecting him), HE CAN DIE!



    In my experience with IE games, when managing a party it was incredibly easy to issue an undesired move order.  I mean, in Baldurs Gate with six guys on the screen, I'd be dragging to select and it was easy to select someone I didn't want.  This didn't really matter, because moving was rarely dangerous, it just canceled some attacks.  All I would say was "woops, I canceled some attacks, better click click click and re-issue them".


    I really do not enjoy games where making the wrong kick can be lethal!  That does happen in some games, obviously mistakes sometimes kill you, but even in X-Com which is a turn based game they required a double-click to move because they'd made a wrong move so frequently fatal.



    Under this system not only is an accidental click potentially fatal, you're talking about abnormally high damage for attacks on enemies withdrawing from engagement.


    And how the heck do I know my characters are engaged, anyway?


    That's now a VERY important piece of information, something I need to be able to casually see just by skimming over the battlefield in real time.  It's hard to see how a character's facing or animations could reliably indicate that they're engaged, so you're going to need a bright pentagram or something around every engaged character on the battlefield at all times, and a visual indication of exactly who they're engaged by.  This needs to be impossible to miss and easy to figure out without pausing.



    Is there going to be some protection to prevent mis-selected characters from being moved out of engagement?  A warning or a double-click to move when you try to move any engaged characters?


    How do I know exactly where the engagement radius is, and exactly which enemies CAN engage?  Trial and error?  Am I going to fight a pack of 12 goblins, 2 of which are Goblin Elite engagers who wear a different color of hat?  Do bigger enemies or enemies with reach weapons engage at longer ranges (in D&D the answer to that is "sometimes yes")?



    And back to the slide... will there be some way to move out of engagement, deliberately, without being attacked?  Because it just seems fantastically unintuitive that you could be fighting a guy without being hit, because he's aiming at someone else, and yet unable to back away from him without being hit.  The slide is absolutely critical to the D&D AOO mechanic to make it work - it's not supposed to lock you down, it's supposed to slow you down so much that you can't just run off.


    If I can get out of engagement, do I need a special "slow move" option to get out of it safely?  Or will engagement act as a sort of sticky "slow field" which forces me to move slowly, then if I double-click I can run out of it fast at the penalty of taking an attack?



    When I think about actually implementing this in a game, it sounds like a UI/UX nightmare.  It sounds like a tabletop mechanic that isn't a natural move to a CRPG where you're controlling a party of characters from a top down perspective.  If this was WOW, maybe it would be doable (although among its zillion mechanics I don't think WOW uses this one), but only because that's a one-character game where you're expected to be looking closely at your primary target.  Even so WOW players would have an add-on saying "YOU ARE ENGAGED" in bright red letters in the middle of their screen.


    Positional mechanics in general don't sound like a good idea in a game where I'm trying to control an entire party of characters, potentially in the middle of a dozen enemies, in real time, and I don't even control their movements!


    Yeah, that's another point - how do I keep my guys from getting engaged given that I click to tell them where to go, not how to get there?  How does the movement AI decide whether or not to have them run through a zone where they will get engaged?  What about when the enemy who could do the engaging is moving?  This sounds like it would give a huge incentive to keep pausing and micromanaging movement, when I want characters to slip by an engaging enemy without becoming engaged.  In tabletop this is easy because it's turn based and there is a nice map grid...



    I strongly suggest that the moment you decide to generate extra attacks based on the way characters move, you're creating a giant frustration in a game where the player does not have complete control over character movement and trying to increase control quickly enters micromanagement hell.


    If you want to control movement (and I'm not sold on the need for that), do it by controlling movement.  Kiting seems easy to stop - force ranged attackers to move more slowly after an attack rather than only having to stop for long enough to run their firing animation.  The key is that while it may take 4 seconds to fire a bow if you're already standing still with your bow out, you shouldn't be able to run, spend four seconds accurately firing a bow, and run again.  You could just require an extra delay to attack if the character has just been running.


    Anything precisely positional, where I have to worry about moving onto "sticky ground", is just way more than I want to have to deal with.  Even an enemy who simply slows down people passing near them is someone who provides an opportunity to avoid their effect through carefully second guessing the movement pathfinding.



    Over all, I suspect there's a reason why CRPGs avoid positional mechanics, and even the well-travelled "cover mechanic" is only for games whose levels are designed from the ground up to support it.  Compared to other games the player has unusually low awareness of and control of position.

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