Rants tag

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

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Rol(l)ing Casters

Last week, Syp brought up the ability to move while casting as part of a list of things he thinks every MMO should have. While most of the items were minor quality of life features, like AoE looting, his comment section got blown up by people who thought moving while casting was the worst idea ever. He even went so far as to post again, expanding on his reasons for including it.
Oh noes, casters that move!
I am firmly in the move-while-casting camp. After years of being frustrated by my inability to move while casting, I just learned to accept that I needed to stand there and take it while trying to out-DPS my assailant, dumping as many talent points as possible into interrupt mitigation. I was so far gone that one fun pugger said, "Oh I see, Hazel is an in-your-face finger-wiggler." I was so used to mobs (and players) attacking me directly that I didn't even move back when I had a tank to divert attention away from me. Rift and SWTOR have similar mechanics, though I played more melee style on my Cleric. And combat in SWTOR is a faceroll. Then along came TSW and GW2. (Sounds of Gregorian chants: "Aaa-ahhh") I don't want to ever go back.

While trying out MoP recently, even the shaman I used—with a mostly melee abilities—felt handicapped when having to settle down to cast a lightning bolt or something. As a caster in previous iterations of WoW, I got stun-locked too many times by a rogue coming out of stealth to buy into the "melee have to move in close, so ranged casters should have to stand still" excuse. The warriors might have a little more justification to cry about moving casters in that context. From my perspective, it certainly never felt balanced.

TSW and GW2 are both balanced to necessitate dodging, and moving while casting. Those who stand still usually die. I'm also not talking about continuing a cast through a drastic move like a manual dodge mechanic, which still interrupt casting in both games. I'm talking about casting while simply running (or walking).

You could say I never learned to play my clothies properly. That's great, until you think about the DPSers (or even the tanks) that blame the healer, when they the ones moving out of range or out of sight of a long cast heal.

The old-school arguments about things being correct the way they were—the "if it ain't broke" argument—forget or ignore that almost everything in a game is a design decision. Balancing this or that class against another can be done a bunch of ways. Tell me this, old-schoolers: was there ever a game where the casters dominated so thoroughly that the devs made the decision to nail their feet to the ground?

8 comments:

  1. I think its leftover angst from 1980's era DnD games where fighters without wings and +20 bazookas of instant death were useless in high level fights. Nerf the casters!

    In reality, there are better ways to do it. The original EQ had (IIRC) a failure rate for spell casting to offset some of its advantages. Or spell components.

    The cool thing about GW2 in particular is that it manages to balance casting while moving and also while doing away with mana/energy bars. Who-da-thunk-it!

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    1. I do like the absence of mana bars for casters. You obviously haven't played a Thief. The energy bar, in the form of "Initiative," is alive and well, though there is no cooldown on weapon abilities. Thieves also have a dodge-and-regenerate skill called "Roll for Initiative." :P

      In general, WoW's version of the dice rolls for casting were very complicated, with the possibility of failure and a second roll for critical hits. I never understand the reasoning, when melee was a single roll to determine hit, crit, dodge or miss. I never looked closely at other dice mechanics in MMOs.

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    2. Yeah I forgot about the initiative thing (I've mostly been playing my Necro) for the Thief.

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  2. I like to do the absolute minimum in combat. Partly it's an aesthetic thing - it just looks so much better - but it's also issues with my wrist, elbow and shoulder. Any fast or sudden movement can make one or more of my joints flare up and an evening of jerking my mouse around can take days to wear off.

    The more MMOs shift towards active combat, the less playable I find them.

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    1. An interesting perspective. Thank you. There was a commenter on Syp's blog that gets nauseated by the sudden movements.

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    2. For me it's the other way around - I think it looks incredibly cool to have a caster approach while spellcasting, strife or run around while conjuring up fiery rain of doom! ^^ people standing still in back row never feels as intimidating to me than somebody quick on their feet who could be anywhere at any moment. mobile mages in WoW BGs were nightmares.

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    3. "mobile mages in WoW BGs were nightmares."

      That's part of the argument for nailing their feet to the ground. I don't see it as much of an issue where balance is concerned. There are other ways to balance the classes. Frankly, I think most of the ways Blizz has tried to balance PvP have been dorked up from the get-go.

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