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How The Combat System Should Be

When it comes to world mechanics, just based off of watching your kickstarter videos, i know you guys will do a great job there because you are attacking the problem with the right mindset, you guys are thinking critically about the problem, and are looking at it from a big picture stand point.

The problem is, I've seen little from you regarding your combat system, and to be honest, even though your world mechanics are amazing, without an amazing combat system to match it, i can't see this game being the masterpiece i know you all want it to be.

So far in just about every MMO, the combat mechanics are basic, they are not truly deep, and its really hard to understand the concept of 'deep' if you haven't gotten very good at competitive game. Not just MMO's but very few games actually have a truly deep combat system.

So far the only MMO i know of with a combat system that actually is relatively, is blade & soul, and even then i still wouldn't say their combat system is top tier.

Some examples of games with truly deep systems, are games like super smash bros, Mordhau/chivalry medieval warfare, or a recent game coming out called Absolver. As you can see 'deep' is irrelevant of genre or type of game. Chess which is a board game is very deep, and Chinese Go another board game, is arguably the deepest game humans have ever created.

With that said, there is no specific layout for what makes a deep system, its truly up to you as the devs to figure what you want to do, but there are clear themes/concepts common in deep systems regardless of how different they are.

I'm going to propose a few ground rules that honestly a lot of people in the MMO community are probably going to disagree with. Probably because they are (no offense) primarily focused on PVE and as such usually don't understand what it truly means to master complexity within a deep system, terms such as 'reading' your opponent and 'mind games', would probably go over most of these peoples heads.

Before i do that i want to also layout my simple argument for why a deep combat system is important, and to show that i am using critical thinking and am approaching this from a big picture stand point, i'm going to use psychology to back up my argument.

Here is a flow graph.

Taken from the Flow (Psychology) wikipidea page:

The first sentence on that wikipidea page is: 'In positive psychology, flow, also known as the zone, is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. In essence, flow is characterized by complete absorption in what one does.'

With that said, i think this is the right direction we want to go in thinking about solving this problem. Because i would argue the above is exactly what we wish to achieve.

<img src="" alt="flow graph" />

In the flow graph you see all the different emotional states in relation to challenge level, and skill level.

If you read the graph you may begin to notice something, all the positive emotions are on the far right of the graph correlating with higher skill while performing an activity, while all the negative are on the far left, correlating with less skill while performing an activity. With arguably the most positive emotion of them all 'Flow' being at the top right which requires both a high challenge, and high skill.

I think if you look at the graph and start thinking how this can correlate with games and how people feel when playing them, you can find some very interesting correlations that could explain a lot of the problems in the gaming industry. Because at the end of the day, the problem of making a good game, is really a problem of human psychology.

I have to go now, but i'll continue this thought further later, but i'd like to leave with proposing a few ground rules when making your combat system.

Skill should be the utmost important factor in <strong>any</strong> interaction, whether its PVP, Trading/economics, or even crafting.

This means level, and gear should be completely irrelevant when fighting your opponent. The weapon you use, and equipment you wear, should only effect how you play (play style), not how well you play. Everything should come down to personal skill.

In short, personal skill should be by far the deciding factor in the combat system.

So many MMO's go wrong on just this basic level.

A deep combat system, will not only be able to allow their players to enter a flow state, but stay there and continue to do so multiple times even after hundreds or even thousands of hours of play time. This means that in order to reach this point, your combat system also has to be challenging, the more challenging, the more skill you can put into it, and as such the longer you can spend truly immersed into the game. However don't get challenging confused with difficult or complicated. A system can be deep and yet simple at the same time. For example the rules of chess are incredibly simple, more simple than combat systems in most MMO's, yet chess without a doubt is far deeper. Chinese Go, has even simpler rules than chess, yet its probably the hardest games humans have ever made.

That's all i have time to write for now, i'll be back later, excited to see the responses.
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