Friday, March 07, 2008

Is Collision Detection necessary for good PvP?

The most annoying thing about a lack of collision detection is how much it changes the mechanics of melee classes in PvP. Without this law of physics existing it becomes quite possible for two objects to be in the same place at the same time. Throw in the time honored tradition of requiring line of sight on everything and you get some weird side effects. My favorite one has to be jousting where slow 2 handers are used by people to land a hit then they run through their opponents. Sometimes you'll see two melee classes both trying to use this method which is how it got the name of "jousting".

Another common problem of not having collision detection is that it makes spells with a cast time very hard to get off in close quarters. If you watch your target's cast bar then step through them right before they finish the spell you can almost always avoid it. Most casters are well balanced enough to have an AOE or CC spell for such a situation but some classes like shamans are limited in their options. As a result a lack of collision detection inherently gives classes that have instant cast abilities and spells a distinct advantage.

This becomes a problem only when you a few classes limited to spells with long cast times. It doesn't matter if they get better mana efficiency or deal more damage if they can never get the spell to hit a target. This is a contributing factor to some classes being non existent in the lower arena brackets. You think it would be easy to fix the problem but in several cases it would actually change the entire balance of the class. Thus we see Blizzard having to experiment by adding and removing effects to talent trees instead of just applying class wide changes.

It’s probably easy to avoid most of these issues if class balance is designed around collision detection from the ground up. This way classes which have an abundance of instant spells and abilities aren't favored as much when fighting other human opponents. Oh it will still be hard to get spells with a cast time off but it will at least make it possible in close quarters combat. In the upcoming game Warhammer people are already thinking about using tanks to block melee classes from casters. In that game collision detection only works on enemies so it would be possible for tanks to block while casters could still attack through them.

This looks like the evolution of the PvP model and you can already see how this is going to cause strategy to become more important. I don't think we'll see military formations in the game but we'll definitely see tanks become more useful in protecting healing and damage classes. What will have to be closely watched is if Blizzard decides to follow suit and change their game to use collision detection. It might be a coding nightmare and as a result they may wish to see if it adds to or detracts from the PvP experience in Warhammer before jumping on ship. The question thus becomes if it works really well in Warhammer will all MMOs in the future have to use collision detection to have a competitive PvP game.


Captain Angry said...

If I'm not mistaken, Conan is planning on using collision in PVP. If this is the case then PVP may actually be viable as a tanking class because PVP tanks could physically block enemy attackers from getting to casters.

This is more like real life anyway--the real foot soldiers on the battlefield put on armor and carried shields, stood shoulder to shoulder and used weapons to keep the enemy at bay and stop their advance--they didn't do it by shouting insults to build aggro.

Cow Nose the 50 Pound Cat said...

Wow, you know, I had no idea either of these new MMOs where going to have collision detection.

That's pretty exciting!

I was agree with captain angry, tanks block the path to archers/wizards etc with the mass of theri physical presence, like a guard or whatever they are called in football!

Anonymous said...

That would be pretty awesome indeed; I only hope Conan can actually deliver what it promises.

Vaelin said...

I don't know about Conan, but Warhammer is a PvP MMO. It's an MMO with player vs player combat being considered and designed around from the get-go.

WoW is a PvE game. It just is. PvP is fun and neat, but it was really an afterthought. The recent focus on PvP by Blizzard has been precisely because their future competition is not PvE MMOs (EQ2 for ex.)... they already won that fight. They need to entrench themselves in PvP playerbase. A very fickle, easily bored playerbase that is very large. ($$$)

I don't think WoW PvP will ever be able to compare to a true PvP MMO. But the overall package is what people will base their decision on. I'm just glad someone's deciding to make another serious MMO!

Collision detection is pretty darn basic and has been in every type of PvP game for years (1st person shooters, 3rd person shooters, platformers)... I don't know how Blizz designed the rogue class without adding collision detection in...