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Questions for Lee Hammock from the last blog...


Pathfinder Online

Goblin Squad Member

@Lee Hammock,

We understand you're very busy, and a lot of our questions from that blog probably just got buried.

1. Will I be able to use the exact same weapons in two different Weapon Sets? For example, if I have 9 Abilities that work with a Short Sword and Shield, will I be able to set up two different Weapon Sets that use the same Short Sword and Shield?

2. If #1 is Yes, will it still take me 1-2 seconds to switch Weapon Sets?

3. Which slots are dependent on the Weapon Set? Is it only the 6 Weapon Slots? Or can my Refresh, Utility, etc. slots also change when I change Weapon Sets?

Thanks :)

Goblinworks Lead Game Designer

Nihimon wrote:

@Lee Hammock,

We understand you're very busy, and a lot of our questions from that blog probably just got buried.

1. Will I be able to use the exact same weapons in two different Weapon Sets? For example, if I have 9 Abilities that work with a Short Sword and Shield, will I be able to set up two different Weapon Sets that use the same Short Sword and Shield?

2. If #1 is Yes, will it still take me 1-2 seconds to switch Weapon Sets?

3. Which slots are dependent on the Weapon Set? Is it only the 6 Weapon Slots? Or can my Refresh, Utility, etc. slots also change when I change Weapon Sets?

Thanks :)

Usually I wait for people to post my name three times before I appear, but I'll make an exception.

1 & 2: Huh, actually we hadn't discussed that possibility yet, so thanks for pointing it out. So I don't have an answer for you on 1, but if 1 is yes, 2 will be yes as well as we don't want you to get access to a extra set of abilities without paying the overhead cost of swapping weapons. Little odd from the simulationist point of view granted, but balanced from the gamist point of view.

3: Refresh, Utility, etc slots are not weapon dependent, though other sorts of actions may change them (such as activating barbarian rage powers).

Goblin Squad Member

Lee Hammock wrote:
Refresh, Utility, etc slots are not weapon dependent...

I'm still not clear.

If I have my Wizard Wand Weapon Set active, and have a few Spellbooks in my Refresh slots, does that mean that those Refresh slots will still be occupied with Spellbooks if I switch over to my Holy Symbol Weapon Set?

And thank you very much, Lee Hammock, for taking the time, Lee Hammock, to answer our questions, Lee Hammock.

*grins*

Goblinworks Lead Game Designer

Nihimon wrote:
Lee Hammock wrote:
Refresh, Utility, etc slots are not weapon dependent...

I'm still not clear.

If I have my Wizard Wand Weapon Set active, and have a few Spellbooks in my Refresh slots, does that mean that those Refresh slots will still be occupied with Spellbooks if I switch over to my Holy Symbol Weapon Set?

And thank you very much, Lee Hammock, for taking the time, Lee Hammock, to answer our questions, Lee Hammock.

*grins*

See, three times, here I am. Like Beetlejuice. Or Hastur.

Your example is correct. If you had spell books slotted in your refresh slots they would remain regardless of what weapon you have equipped.

Goblin Squad Member

Thanks for clearing that up. And I promise not to use this awesome summoning power too often.

Goblin Squad Member

Hm, let's see if I can do this: "from the land of beyond, beyond..." ;)

From the Thornkeep pdf:

Thornkeep p.78 wrote:

Another challenge is to make the numbers more granular.

As Hammock explains, “Having 6 hit points at first level can
work in a tabletop game since you (hopefully) have a benevolent
GM. In an online game, characters need more of a buffer
between ‘okay’ and ‘killed in one shot.’”

For this reason, the pace of play is also a challenge. In a
tabletop game, players have plenty of time to consider their next
actions while other players are describing theirs. According
to Hammock, in the simultaneous-action environment of
Pathfinder Online, “If your wizard doesn’t even have time to
realize he made a bad decision when he moved 5 feet closer to
an orc before he’s dead, that’s not a fun experience. Players need
time to realize they made a bad call and work to rectify their
choice, even if that time is just a few seconds.”
Hammock wants to avoid situations in which players spend
10 minutes traveling to a battle and preparing themselves with
spells and potions, only to die in 18 seconds. “That’s not much
fun,” says Hammock.

This makes abundant sense. But one thing that grates with me in mmorpgs, is "chipping away" at meters using the skill hotbar via often the same sequence: For eg you apply a buff on yourself, then debuff your opponent, then mix up some damage (initially a damage over time perhaps then a spike and then control them from either fleeing (roots etc) to finish them off. So for me it's working out the way to get the meter down fastest.

Whereas, it's more fun if you can attack/defend, counter-attack, counter-counter (maybe a super risky attack, that if fails leaves you exposed or wipes out a lot of resource) - in this way you are responding a lot more to what your opponent is doing as well as perhaps ensuring you don't make any mistakes (some chance) for an easy opening.

It's much more dynamic when you get that interplay and you sort of know your percentages of going for a risky big hit or otherwise. Eg Beat'em ups do a good job of slow animation but heavy hit that if misses those frames of animation leave you exposed.

Anyhow food for thought. Maybe that 6 second refresh will achieve this interplay connection in combat between combatants.

Goblin Squad Member

I think the game should not so much concentrate on single player vs single player mechanics but rather on group vs group mechanics.

Position yourself well, kite opponent melees if you are a healer, don't spread too far, look where their mages are and home in, that is all the main part of the fun for me because it involves participating in the game itself.

A game that concentrates on actions, reactions and counter actions usually degrades into "watch the umpteen buttons and bars on my UI intensely to get out the most DPS in the shortest time" (like in WoW) leading to not being able to notice a lot of the actual game on the screen.

So keep the combat easy, make the roles strong.

Goblin Squad Member

AvenaOats wrote:
But one thing that grates with me in mmorpgs, is "chipping away" at meters using the skill hotbar via often the same sequence: For eg you apply a buff on yourself, then debuff your opponent, then mix up some damage (initially a damage over time perhaps then a spike and then control them from either fleeing (roots etc) to finish them off. So for me it's working out the way to get the meter down fastest.

In other words, you'd rather not have to follow a rotation for combat (to use a WoW term, and honestly, I don't like the Priority system, either, because it's just pressing whichever button is highest on the priority list as soon as it comes off cooldown, which isn't a whole lot better than a rotation).

Goblinworks Executive Founder

I'm thinking that something along the game theory (but not the gameplay) of DCUO. Every action can be countered, and is the counter to some enemy action.

I got a lot of mileage out of starting an obvious ranged attack (which is countered by lunging) and then aborting to block (which counters lunges).

If your opponent can accurately predict what you are doing, he should have a serious advantage. If you are using the same rotation over and over, it should be easy to break.

Goblin Squad Member

AvenaOats wrote:
... one thing that grates with me in mmorpgs, is "chipping away" at meters using the skill hotbar via often the same sequence...

This is what I call "chopping wood". It's not fun.

I'm not sure it's feasible right now, but I would love to get to the point where I didn't need to see hp bars in order to see how I was faring against my opponent.

I think AvenaOats' suggestion about having Abilities that leave you vulnerable when used is very interesting.

MicMan wrote:
A game that concentrates on actions, reactions and counter actions usually degrades into "watch the umpteen buttons and bars on my UI intensely to get out the most DPS in the shortest time" (like in WoW) leading to not being able to notice a lot of the actual game on the screen.

That's interesting. I read AvenaOats' post and thought he was asking for the same thing you're clearly asking for - a game where watching bars is much less important than recognizing and adapting to what our opponent is doing.

DeciusBrutus wrote:
If your opponent can accurately predict what you are doing, he should have a serious advantage.

And that speaks to exactly what I thought AvenaOats was asking for - a way to capitalize on our opponents' actions.

Interesting... :)

Goblin Squad Member

Yes, I was struggling to word it or even form it into a question. Those are the things I'm thinking of.

1. Avoiding too much "chopping word"
2. Adapting to the enemy skills/choices
3. Alternative eg risky move that may leave you open to more damage
4. Maybe even forcing the enemy to adopt defensive skills for a while as a strategy?

Also, most of all, countering another player's choice of skill with your own or even attacking their skill and knocking it out for example so you "turn the screw" on them before making a break-through and damaging their health (constitution reduction?) IE skill attacking skill as well as health.

But it's always nice even if one player has an advantage to still keep it dangerous; maybe the other can go for more risky tactics when nearer min. health?

Goblin Squad Member

AvenaOats wrote:
Also, most of all, countering another player's choice of skill with your own or even attacking their skill and knocking it out for example so you "turn the screw" on them before making a break-through and damaging their health (constitution reduction?) IE skill attacking skill as well as health.

I'm not sure how much I like the idea of everyone getting the ability to deal ability damage to a person via melee attacks. Something like that should be reserved for critical hits and magic debuffs and such.

Goblin Squad Member

Not necessarily ability damage, but being able to decrease it's efficiency, such as a skill that is a perfect foil for another particular skill or combination of skills "out-thinking" the other player (as well as player skill in timing/position etc)?

Goblin Squad Member

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Well, I think the "critical hits" system described in the latest blog partialy addresses that aspect...

... in fact, I might suggest that in addition to being a simple function of the RNG that characters might purposefully affect that. Perhaps with different types of attacks...maybe that suffer a penalty to hit with a higher percentage chance of inflicting a critical if hit. I would also suggest that injuries inflicted by criticals, even minor ones, NOT be cureable while the character is engaged in combat.

What people generaly don't like (as has been aptly pointed out in the latest blog by Lee) is being "defeated" or taken "out of action" completely in an unpredictable manner. What people don't mind so much (I think) is having some portion of thier combat abilities degraded quickly do to an action and then having to deal with that.

A big part of the problem in most MMO's (and in PnP D&D and Pathfinder as well) is that players aren't really Damaged when they take Damage. They are just as effective in combat when they are at 1 of 100 hit points as when they are at 99 out of 100 hit points. Not only is this completely counter-intuitive/unrealistic it actualy leads to a rather tacticaly unsatisfying game-play dynamic....the "chopping wood" or (as I like to call it) "race to empty the bucket" situations that Avena talked about. Those systems only get accentuated in many MMO's where players get thousands upon thousands of hit points.

However if damage actualy leads to real damage...that is a players combat effectiveness gets degraded...an interesting dynamic starts to happen. Firstly there is a bit of a cascade effect...that is once a player starts to loose combat effectivness (ability to deliver hits, ability to defend, ability to manuver) it becomes more and more likely for them to get further damaged/degraded to the point where they are defeated. It becomes apparent to them that they are on the path to defeat, long before they are actualy defeated. They still have the option to do SOMETHING (unlike being killed)....they have the possibility of being rescued by allies or maybe doing something spectacular on thier own to reverse thier fate....they have the possibility to try to withdraw and slavage what they can of the situation.

It creates a more nuanced combat situation then the simple hit point game that most MMO's play and allows for more dynamic/fluid combat without quite the same problems created by unpredictable death....

- In larger fights...rendering an opponent "combat ineffective" or forcing them to "withdraw" is pretty close to as good as actually killing them...since it achieves pretty much the same results as a kill would...namely ending that persons contribution to the battle for a significant amount of time.

- In specific situations where a kill really matters (i.e. you want to loot thier corpse, you were being paid to assasinate them)...it closes one tactical game (who wins) and opens up another ....can the target now escape the combat (lose but still withdraw) or can you finnish them with a kill.

- It creates much more significant gradiations of result then the simple Win/Lose dynamic in most MMO's. In this sort of system it actualy MATTERS if the "winner" took significant damage in achieving the victory. It's not a simple matter of wait 2 minutes till your hit point bar refills. The "winner" may have to expend resources (healing spells, potions, etc) to get themselves back to full capacity...they may even need to withdraw from the field to get themselves mended. That's not just a consolation prize for the "loser" but it also means the very act of engaging in combat is not such a straightforward decision...even if you are fairly sure you can win.... you have to balance the benefits of "winning" the combat with the potential costs of the injuries you might sustain even in victory....you may even be prompted to consider other alternatives before combat.

I think the "critical/injury" system opens up some very intriguing game-play possibilities that really set it apart from other MMO's and it really might be an interesting avenue for expansion upon. YMMV.

Goblin Squad Member

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Expanding upon the above post...there could also be manuvers/spells that set the target up for taking a critical hit without actualy delivering it. That could be an example of what Avena was mentioning about manuver...counter-manuver.

So say rather then a regular attack you executed some ability (attack, spell, combat manuver, etc) that significantly increased the chance for the target to recieve a specific type of critical IF they were attacked again within a specific time frame.

Think of it as a short, very specific debuff that didn't actualy do anything on it's own...but just made the target more vulnerable to certain types of injuries/criticals.

The target is then left with the tactical choice of doing something to remove that vulnerability (counter manuver) or ignoring it and going offensive instead.

Other team members (or perhaps the origional attacker themselves if the vulnerability lasts long enough) now have the opportunity to try to take advantage of that vulnerability if they can coordinate efforts.

You could also introduce a mechanic where certain types of attackers/manuvers etc came at the COST to the attacker of placing a vulnerability on THEMSELVES.


*Boisterously applauds GrumpyMel*

Seriously dude, Keep up these amazing posts and by the time the game releases I may need to buy you a pie. I tried to write a post to go along with what Mel said but I've got nothing worth saying after that besides +3.

Goblin Squad Member

That's a good point about the crits GrumpyMel. I need to look at what Pathfinder does with those in some more detail. Agree, it's very essential in "longer drawn-out" combat to avoid a slippery slope.

I'd prefer to see it that "disabling" skills or at least leveraging a small advantage can then lead to more penetrating health attacks (and constitution effects) if future attacks are successful. I mean: Specifically that it's important to break-down a player before the more serious health damage starts to come into significant consideration. Perhaps more offensive and more defensive changes to the skills can be taken so there's a switch in tactics for players at different stages of combat and playing those tactics well can even the combat back out again? Not sure how that would work.

Perhaps if recognising skill use is important, then feign skills, all-or-nothing skills might be interesting. I wonder if skills can modify automatically based on context also (so they do the same thing but with a change in emphasis)?


I also like GrumpyMel's suggestion it reminds me of the Condition Track that is present in some other RPG's IMO it balances out the HP pool dynamic of the race to empty the bucket. I would be in favor of a "wound" condition that would hinder your combat effectivness

Goblinworks Founder

I too support GrumpyMel's posts above. There is something so much more realistic about losing effectiveness when injured that it really appeals to me. How it is executed would be pretty important, however. Perhaps a system where one is still 100% effective until 67% or 50% of HP or something like that could work.

Goblin Squad Member

GM Hudson wrote:
it balances out the HP pool dynamic of the race to empty the bucket.

This sounds good to me also.

I had another quick read of the Critical Hits in the latest blog and found a table: Slashing/Piercing/Bludgeoning. I don't have a very strong grasp on these things, in all honesty.

Goblin Works Blog wrote:
Characters have a chance to score a critical hit based on their attack bonus, the defenses and armor of the target, the ability and weapon used to attack, and other such factors. If a critical hit is scored, the character suffers an Injury. An Injury is a long-term debuff that continues to affect the character until the character receives a certain amount of healing, with the amount depending on the severity of the critical.

So crits will inflict a debuff. What about disabling some skills? So eg you recognise a skill that your build is really not fitted to deal with, so maybe it could be possible to select to aim to crit that skill? If that skill is associated with eg right-arm, maybe you can select that to "aim" at on a UI*? It may debuff/crit something else but by selecting the area you wish to focus on, perhaps you tell your avatar to increase the odds of the type of crit you are most going to benefit from?

* eg: So as long as you know a particular skill is associated with a section of body (or other marker): you can do something to counter the enemy more targetted/prioritised?

Goblin Squad Member

I think these are very interesting ideas, but there's a trade-off between richness and complexity. You can design a game system that is very, very rich and has lots of options, but may be so complex it's a barrier to some players.

Goblin Squad Member

Yeah, I think the other thing to remember is that we're also limited to 6 action bar slots per weapon set....which is probably a good thing given muscle memory and peoples ability to process stuff in real time. So I'd imagine it'd be better to not be overly complex about move/counter-move for those sort of factors alone.

The way I see it could go down would be something like this..

Slot 1 - Generic Attack... something that is mostly doing HP type damage ("chopping wood") with a small chance of inflicting a crit. This would be you basic, safe, low stamina cost attack.

Slot 2 - Buff/Debuff..... This would be the same sort of buff/debuff that most MMO's use genericly. Some temporary effect that in itself reduces an opponents combat abilities (or increases your own) on it's own and goes away on it's own in a couple rounds. Maybe something like "Intimidating Shout" gives a target a -1 to hit/-1 defence Morale modifier for 2 rounds. No real risk but may cost a decent amount of stamina.

Slot 3 - A "Setup" ability that inflicts no damage or direct debuffs on it's own but leaves an opponent more vulnerable to crits which do injuries (long term debuffs). This ability would maybe persist for 2 rounds or until countered by the target. Something like a "Feint". No real risk (but you are doing no direct damage) probably low stamina cost.

Slot 4 - A "Swing for the Fences" attack. Something that trades a penalty to hit, high stamina cost and maybe puts a vulnerability on the attacker themselves in return for much increased damage and crit chance.

Slot 5 - A defend/recover ability that removes any vulnerabilities on the character (e.g. generic counter-move) and maybe gives you a + to defense for a round. No risk, but no attack and has a decent stamina cost.

That leaves 1 slot open for doubling up with some variation of the above or something else. You maybe have 2-3 variations of each that you can learn per weapon set...so there is some strategy/variation in how you setup your action bar even using the same weapon setup.

Leaves the game controls relatively simple/playble in terms of the basics.

Where you get complexity/depth can come from situational factors that act as modifier to the above, rather then memorizing a ton of different actions....

Simplest example would be something like facing/flanking bonuses...so you get a modifier for attacking someone from behind.

Maybe other sorts of positioning (threatened zones, collision detection, AoO's, etc).

You could maybe have terrain effect modifiers, so trying to melee while standing on difficult ground recieved a negative modifier...maybe more for wearing heavy armor...so fighting in a swamp in full plate wasn't as easy as the guy in light armor.

You could also maybe do things like selection of weapons effect on abilities. Maybe using Sword and Shield allowed you to learn and equipe an improved version of the Defend/Recover ability....while using a 2-hander gave you a better version of the "Haymaker" type attacks.

You could also maybe modify weapon effectiveness vs armor type. So using a barbed whip really cut apart the guy in robes but wasn't very effective vs plate...by contrast..a warhammer might not be the best choice for dealing with padded armor but is pretty much designed for dealing with plate.

The key is...the player is at it the core using a relatively simple set of basic abilities to do things....with some variations on the costs and exact effects of those...but the game starts to get deep when you start laying in different situational modifiers that effect those abilities. It's also important that each one of those modifiers is relatively intuitive to understand.

It's not hard for most people to get the concept that you don't want to be attacked from behind by someone with a really big hammer while you are standing in a swamp wearing full plate. What you want to avoid is the player having to memorize that you need Ghost Mastery Substance #142 to counter Flying Dragon Circle Kick #17 debuff. That's just pointless complexity for the sake of being complex (IMO).

Essentialy you want the inexperienced player to be able to still play the same game by understanding the same basic "moves" as the pro does.... the pro just understands all the different nuances and circumstances that can factor in to make the most effect of each of those moves. Just like Chess...you only have to know how a handfull of pieces move to play the game on a basic level...knowing when and where to make each of those most effective is a lifetime of mastery. YMMV.

Goblin Squad Member

GM Hudson wrote:
I also like GrumpyMel's suggestion it reminds me of the Condition Track that is present in some other RPG's IMO it balances out the HP pool dynamic of the race to empty the bucket. I would be in favor of a "wound" condition that would hinder your combat effectivness

I dunno what it's called in Guild Wars 2, but it sounds to me also like their Finisher mechanics, where some abilities create a "field" that other abilities get a boost from when performed within the field. For example, creating a light-aligned field and using a spinning finisher within that field dealt some extra damage and healed allies within range of any conditions they had on them, or using a leaping finishing within the same field gave your target a blinding debuff.

Goblin Squad Member

One way I was thinking of representing targetting of another characters "slots eg 1-6" as illustrated above in GrumpyMel's post: cue ascii stick-man in the user UI*, you could use the keyboard to highlight areas of the body effectively as "markers" for the skill bar or other eg


  • Right-Hand: skills: 1-3
  • Left-Hand: skills: 4-6
  • Legs: Movement/Evasion
  • Body: Armour
  • Head: Stun

Debuffs, skills etc.

That way you could target different skills, different debuffs via the above^ to add tactics to the combat apart from avatar position or skills > property of skill: It can change according to the below "mapping/marking"?

eg*
._O_
..|
../\

ps: I was always terrible at art.

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