Mechanics

Ok, so to start off, some of you would like to know about my visit to Mexico (I guess I am that interesting?).  And, I stayed a resort the entire time and drank fruity drinks.  I was right by the beach, away from any drug wars that may or may not have been happening during my stay.  I had a lot of fun, but thats what I get for going to a resort.

 

Oh, I had a post over at Guild Wars 2 Hub where I discuss itemization and how people get them, specifically the token system versus the traditional loot pinata system.

 

http://guildwars2hub.com/features/editorials/guest-editorial-itemization-guild-wars-2

 

And I am no longer part of the GWI team, main reason being my schedule conflicted with theirs too much.  However, it is still a good news site (along with Guildmag, Guru or whatever site you go too, and if you are smart, you do not favor any site over the other) but I don’t recommend their Engineer section as it seems thin.  For example, this post:

http://www.guildwarsinsider.com/aeta-top-5-engineers-fix/

Brings up some good points, but was extremely pre-emptive and not up to date considering it came out the day before the beta weekend (something like this needs to be post, not prior as you lack the time to correctly analyze the changes/bugs).  Engineers did receive a substantial boost across the board but a few bugs ruined the experience for most (such as blunderbuss not working correctly).  I agree with the point that turrets need more tool belt integration rather than another deploy button while inactive and a detonate button while active.  This is where Arena Net can really make turrets shine and the primary component to fixing the problems with turrets.  However, the randomness of the Elixirs adds to the fun of the Engineer and really shows that Alchemy is not a perfected practice yet (if you notice, most of the engineer technology isnt really perfect).  And the utility kits are fine, we have too much of it as is.

 

Easy fix, post it later, see the changes and wait for the list to come out of all the updated skills to the Engineer.  Sometime next week, ill begin posting all the changes and reformatting the way that post works so its easy to see what changes have happened.  Also, actually test the content, nowhere in there does it discuss the problem blunderbuss has had during the beta.  Although, when you think about it, Engineers are a ranged class with an ability that rewards you for being in close.  But then again, im not a new conglomerate and only focus on one aspect of the game, so what do I know?

Cool, so lets talk about bad mechanics in MMOs.  Essentially (in case you do not know), a mechanic is term used to describe the way things work.  Mechanics are the principal component of the actual game and theory crafting.  Because without understanding how something works, you cannot begin to theorize how to optimize it.  Without understanding out it works, you cannot hope to solve the intricate puzzles that are raid bosses.  Mechanics are what dictates how much that fire you are standing in does, the area it covers, and even where it lands.  Naturally, there are good mechanics and bad ones.  Good mechanics are those that work well, provide interesting gameplay.  And there there are bad mechanics that provide useless, unfun, or otherwise irritating gameplay.  There are also basic and complex mechanics, such as not standing in the fire, or avoiding a giant windwall that circulates around the environment.

Mechanics can originate from any source in a video game.  Whether that be a player, NPC, or the environment itself.  Player abilities all work in various ways, from teleporting your character, inflicting status effects that buff or effect your other abilities, bounce from target to target, or even increase your own capabilities.  Environmental mechanics are swimming, ground based buffs like speed boosts, bounces, walls, or even weather and effects on the environment.  NPC based mechanics are generally debuffs or enrage timers, maybe even after a specific amount of time the NPC will do some kind of spell or ability that can be avoided.  You also have general mechanics that are universal to how the game functions, such as in Guild Wars, in order to use an ability, you had to be stationary, or in WoW you had to be stationary to cast spells with a cast timer (unless you had some other ability which allowed you to do otherwise), or in Guild Wars 2 where you can do anything while moving and even dodge.  Some games have zero gravity, or the inability to jump.  This is just a general overview, now for the fun part.

Bad mechanics, as stated before, are mechanics that the developers put in place for a variety of reasons.  Whether for balancing purposes or that they believe it to be fun or interesting.  However, sometimes, they believe somethings to be fun, but provide very boring experiences.  Daily quests fall into this category.  Sometimes you have mechanics that add great flavor to the game but work against core mechanics of the game.  Stationary mechanics fall into this category in Guild Wars 2.  Others are simply unfun, but things that fall under this category tend to be that way due to balancing issues, like extremely long crowd control times or the ability to be stun-locked.  While sometimes these mechanics are fun to some people, like dailies are actually fun to some people but others feel that they are a job.  Nobody likes being on the receiving end of a stun-lock, but I know that people enjoy doing it.  And not being able to jump can be one of the most irritating things in the game.

So lets delve into specifics as to why they are bad.  Every game has bad mechanics and some games do these mechanics better than others, for this reason, I will only go over 1 at a time and for each specific example that they fall under.

In my last post, I talked about how turrets fail in design in Guild Wars 2.  I still feel this way, although some new ideas were discussed as to how to fix the problem.  Turrets fall under a category of stationary mechanics in that they stay in place until destroyed, run out of time, or triggered.  Traps, Auras, Mines, and Bombs also fall under this category, but some of those make sense for balancing purposes and some of them fall in line with the turret.  Guild Wars 2 has a very specific set of core mechanics that allow players to move and constantly be able to move.  So in a game where movement is part of the very core and heavily emphasized, stationary mechanics seem pointless.  Of course, the idea only makes sense in very few circumstances such as defending, where you have the time to set up and prepare for any oncoming invasion.  However, whenever you have stationary mechanics, balancing becomes an issue.  If the stationary mechanic provides a significant source of damage, then the caster has to sacrifice his/her own damage in order to balance out, but this means that the stationary mechanic limits the character into defending.  This, in turn, limits the class in its offensive capabilities unless they utilize the mechanics, but are then limited by the fact that due to the heavy emphasis on mobility, means that you will be constantly picking up and replacing these turrets.  As such, turrets become essentially useless and more of a balancing hinderance than anything else.

I was told of one idea to fix this problem is by allowing turrets to add a “stored” buff; that while they were not deployed, that they would grant some kind of beneficial effect.  This is probably the single, most elegant, way of fixing the problem with turrets and the balancing problem they bring to the table.  Think of this scenario, if the turrets dealt a considerable amount of damage, and so did the Engineer’s skill set, then you have a class that is fantastic at attacking and ungodly in defense.  Anything that is ungodly is considered unfun to many, especially if it requires a few people to take down a single class.  So something like a passive buff could allow for the weakening of turrets or other areas while still making them viable.  The problem is, that despite this, they have to allow for turrets to not be a requirement in order to be slightly competitive.  But I will let the developers figure that one out.

Daily quests fall under many categories, but generally speaking, when you force players to grind out repetitive tasks in order to achieve a small goal, its bad design and a bad mechanic for retrieving that thing.  However, grinding can also be a means for gating content.  Such as at the end of Burning Crusade, there was the event involving the sunwell and doing those daily quests helped build up forces and unlock the dungeon.  There was a huge goal there and everyone that participated helped further along that goal.  And whenever you get the entire server in on something, its becomes extremely fun because there is something more than just doing it for yourself.  However, when it comes down to a single piece of gear that is absolutely required for you, and only you, to do some kind of content, it gets boring.  Quest chains are better forms of content gating unless the situation before is present in which the server is actively participating for the betterment of the server and for the sake of the story.  Guild Wars 2 removes dailies (although that is if you don’t count in the daily achievements) and the entire quest system in favor of the event system.  This event system brings the server together for the betterment of the server.  By doing and through continued effort in participating in these events, more of the server becomes unlocked and the server becomes a better place.  However, when the server becomes barren, the server suffers and turns into a proverbial warzone where everything is under siege.  That town you just saved is now infested with pirates, and since nobody is there to save it, it will remain under pirate control.  This type of daily is fun.  RIFT has the unique invasion system (which works the same as the event system in GW2, as in, you cannot control when or where it will happen and requires multiple people to accomplish), and those were fun, but highly repetitive because they never affected what happened to the server.  Invasions only happened for so long and and any town that is taken is retrieved because of a debuff that is put into place on the enemies that make them weaker the longer they are alive.

Mechanics of retrieval tend to be tied to gating content, and sometimes its a means of forcing players to play the game more or for a longer amount of time.  But, I have an article that talks all about that so I won’t go in any further.

Other unfun mechanics are the product of poor balancing.  Generally, if a class has the ability to one-shot you, or keep you under complete control, then there is a huge issue with that class and its balance with others.  As such, balance is completely subjective and player skill is such an outlier that achieving perfect balance is impossible.  Professional players tend to be where most game developers balance around (which is sad, considering that is generally 1% of the entire player base) because their skill levels are nearly identical.  However, there are other things to take into consideration, such as random mechanics like critical strikes, evasion, and so forth.  One of the things that made Enhancement shamans was that one proc of Windfury on a 2 handed weapon meant certain doom to anyone who got hit.  It is just how it was and nobody thought it was balanced.  But, then again, this was also pre-arena where there was no real competitive scene in WoW.  During Burning Crusade where small scale PvP was introduced, Warriors and Druids became the dominate classes, so much that there were many changes that happened during that expansion.  Warriors would still dominate as number 1, and Druids would remain mostly unchanged until the following expansion where they revamped healing.  Despite all this, on a casual level, everyone will find other classes to be over powered.  The reason why these classes were considered overpowered was due to Druids ability to shapeshift, having extreme mobility, and the ability to heal on the fly.  Warriors had Execute and Mortal Wounds, one dealt an extremely high amount of damage but could only be used when at low health, while the other reduced healing on their target.

When I played RIFT, people cried out that clerics were overpowered.  This statement was based that clerics were essentially human walls who can survive 2-3 people attacking them at the same time.  This was definitely true, clerics could do that, but all their attention was focused healing and not retaliating.  I could hold my own against several other players, but when you added in the fact that I was not doing anything but running away and healing myself, it seemed balance.  I had to trade my offense for complete defense.  Now, I could take on people 1v1 and actually come out on top, but that was heavily dependent on the amount of gear the other player had.  My cleric was based on the idea of the druid, being able to heal on the fly while providing unique buffs that reduced the amount of damage that they took.  I took mechanics that the class had available (damage reduction buffs tied to aoe heals) and abused them and essentially became immortal.  Unless focused by an entire team.

Now, these are just my own opinions on mechanics that I find to be bad by design.  I am sure that there are people out there that completely disagree with me.  So what are some examples of bad mechanics that you have encountered?  These are just a few examples of what I have encountered, and I know there are more out there because I have not personally played every game.  So share down below.

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One response to “Mechanics

  1. Pingback: This week in Guild Wars 2 | GuildMag - Guild Wars 2 Fansite: Magazine, Podcast, Editorials and more

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