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Dev Discussion #40 - Enemy Indicators

VaknarVaknar Moderator, Member, Staff
edited April 25 in General Discussion
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Glorious Ashes community - it's time for another Dev Discussion! Dev Discussion topics are kind of like a "reverse Q&A" - rather than you asking us questions about Ashes of Creation, we want to ask YOU what your thoughts are.

Our design team has compiled a list of burning questions we'd love to get your feedback on regarding gameplay, your past MMO experiences, and more. Join in on the Dev Discussion and share what makes gaming special to you!

Dev Discussion - Enemy Indicators
When it comes to enemy “conning” (indication) systems in-game, what features do you like? If you do like indicators, to what extent or delineation?

Below are some examples of these systems, what they mean, and how they work. Let us know which you prefer, or if you have any new ideas!

When you target an enemy, which option below do you prefer:

Old School Style: You see only the level of the enemy, and the colors indicator if they are below, at the same, or above your level. If you are in a party or raid, the indicators logically conclude that you can take on higher-level enemies.

Intended Audience Style: You see the level of the enemy, color indicators, and intended audience indicators for solo players, parties, or raids - stars, triangles, borders, skulls, etc.

Keeping 8 player party sizes in mind, would you prefer solo, party, raid, or more precise solo, small party, medium party, large party, small raid, and or full raid indicators?

Hard Core No Indicators (TTRPG) Style: You do not know the power of the enemy, nor it's intended audience until you encounter and learn about it through your combat experience.

Are there alternative features and systems you don’t see listed above that you like? If so, what are they?

Keep an eye out for our next Dev Discussion topic regarding RNG!
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Comments

  • Happymeal2415Happymeal2415 Member, Alpha One, Adventurer
    No indicators for me please
    The less indicators the better
  • CstephCsteph Member
    I guess I'm more into that old school style not too hardcore but a slight mystery on what I'm facing, while Still showing damage bar but not damage needed for it.

    Games I tend to play use a skull icon indicating they're a higher level then you, but theres no indication how much higher they are.
  • Less indicators are my personal preference. Too many extraneous tags and elements floating in the environment diminishes the sense of immersion. If there was a way to give the player a sense, or feeling of foreboding, as to the level of threat, trepidation, or ease when targeting a mob/player, without popping it up in the middle of the screen it would be good. Perhaps a screen edge color tint or other non-centered indication when entering danger.
  • psym3xpsym3x Member
    What about the option to choose the one you prefer? I am solo out in the world so I choose to play TTRPG Style but then I join a party so I decide to switch to Intended Audience Style. Being able to choose allows us to play how we want but also change if needed to not be a burden to others in certain scenarios.

    Whatever you decide to go with, please make sure it is as minimalistic as possible. A beautiful world can easily be ruined by having UI elements cluttering up your screen. A hide UI keybind is nothing more than a solution to an avoidable problem.
  • BlipBlip Member

    Intended Audience Style: You see the level of the enemy, color indicators, and intended audience indicators for solo players, parties, or raids - stars, triangles, borders, skulls, etc.- YES PLEASE

    Keeping 8 player party sizes in mind, would you prefer solo, party, raid, or more precise solo, small party, medium party, large party, small raid, and or full raid indicators? More presise is better.
  • For me personally, I would like the Hardcore No Indicators as a baseline, but Scribes can note the information down from mobs, store that in the library & people can access it at a later date.

    This would allow players to discover the world for themselves & share it with other players, rather than be told about it from the get-go
  • CaerylCaeryl Member
    Old School seems like it would fit Ashes best. Call it some instinctive threat assessment, vague enough to keep it tempting to poke the bear, but enough info to know it might be a bad idea.
  • Old School / Intended Audience for sure.

    There's no fun and no reason why you should go fight an elite mob and die to it because you had no idea what it was, especially if it just looks like a regular enemy and isn't special or extravagant in appearance at all. That would just suck and feel bad, and not provide any positive feedback for the player.

    I'd rather now the enemys approximate level. If it's within my own level range, if it's an elite that a group of 2-4 players can kill, or if it's a raid boss or something in between.

    The more information players have in order to combat and adjust to obstacles, the better. To an extent of course.

    As long as the player has a good idea of what they're going up against, that's what I prefer.
  • NerrorNerror Member, Alpha One, Adventurer
    edited March 29
    I would like a dynamic system.

    Start off with your character not knowing anything. Hard Core No Indicators style. The more you kill of that species of monster (I assume we are talking PvE only with the way the questions are worded), the more granular and detailed the shown information gets, including even specific strengths and weaknesses on mouse-over at the highest levels of knowledge.

    I am hoping we'll get a sort of bestiary in the game, where people can fill it out by interacting with all the creatures in Verra in some form. It doesn't always have to be from killing them.

    I know you write "enemy", which could include players, but I would prefer you differentiate the systems between enemy players and enemy NPCs.
  • VeeshanVeeshan Member
    edited March 29
    Old school imo did like the old Everquest style tbh yellow/red were higher than u white was ur level blue was below u and green was super below you, there wa salso a message disaplyed too imply the mobs str.
    Colour = mobs level
    msg = mobs str
    For example u could get a blue mob con but the msg would say its a challenging fight so it a lower level mob but its a strong low level so it will be a challenge dispite being higher level than it.

    Also in regards to name plate they shoul be hidden when crouching it allow for people to hide from players either might be wanting to kill you or ur sneaking up on somone.
    Might not be a bad thing to hide HP bar from people outside of group just make it harder for people to gank somone on 10% hp for example would take away from opportunist easy kills or atleast reduce them not knowing if somone it 95% hp or 10% hp for example will turn off some player randomly murdering somone cause it a free kill cause there 10% hp or something
  • NoaaniNoaani Member, Intrepid Pack
    Intended audience is imo the only real option.

    There is a reason every game moved from a simple display of level to a display of intended audience - this is a shift that first happened over 20 years ago.

    Anything less than giving players this basic information is just going to cause player frustration. Some people may label this as a learning experience, or say that a need to go out and learn these things on your own is good, but at the end of the day, all it causes is player frustration.
  • mcstackersonmcstackerson Member, Phoenix Initiative, Royalty, Kickstarter, Alpha One
    I prefer the hardcore, no indicators. I like the mystery and i feel like it makes it more immersive.
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  • Riley RainRiley Rain Member, Intrepid Pack, Alpha One
    I believe the best option is for information to be both unlockable and toggleable. When players start they can only see the barest details (enemy name and an HP bar) as in the Hardcore mode. As they fight they gain information that can be viewed in a bestiary. They can then change what information gets displayed on mouse-over to be as extensive or minimalistic as the player desires.

    When it comes to me doing PVE I work best with minimal information when presented with a monster, but extensive information once I’ve fought that monster several times and I’m reviewing.

    One benefit of the intended audience style would be implementing it in tandem with a mentorship system. When higher level players assist lower level players more information can be shown to the newer player for the senior player to use for explaining and teaching the game.
  • I'd like Hard Core No Indicators (TTRPG) Style.

    With the option to buy/craft beastiaries or to have a beastiary included into advanced crafted maps by cartographers. If the plan is to have cartographers in Ashes still.
  • JeanPhilippeQCJeanPhilippeQC Member, Alpha One, Adventurer
    May I choose a mix of Old School and Hardcore? All you can see at the first fight is its level colour. In a similar way of Black Desert Online, more you fight it, more you get information about it: elite or not, how much health it had and so on. It could add fun to risk versus reward system and it’s had a certain mystery of what we are fighting. It is similar of what Nero suggests.
  • ShoelidShoelid Member, Alpha One, Adventurer
    Intended audience

    Some may like the mystery or immersion of no indicators, but the fact of the matter is that there will be high level monsters that are way outside of your level range that look like normal wolves/boars/goblins. Your immersion will fall flat quick when a normal-looking wolf one shots your ass because you went a little too far from the newbie zone.

    This isn't DnD where the DM can give you subtle hints that something may be more powerful than it seems. DnD is limited by one's imagination, but Ashes is limited by time and money and they simply cannot make unique art and perfect context clues for every single enemy to properly convey its strength.

    It needs to be properly and fully communicated, especially because node levels will influence enemy levels and we won't always see the same enemies in the same place.

    I think somewhere between 'old school style' and 'intended audience style' is good. I would like markers for elites & rare elites, but leave other rare mobs unmarked to hide their presence a bit. I would like a marker if something is meant for a specific quest, so that I can look out for it when I'm on the quest, and so that I can ignore it when I'm just out exploring. I would like a marker if something is meant for a group, but leave the size of the group up for experimentation/research. I would like level obfuscation if the enemy is significantly outside of my level range.

    In WoW, I always adored how being drunk made enemies appear weaker. It gives you a false sense of confidence and has caught me off guard several times. It's one of those rare things that makes you feel exactly how your character does. Messing with your information system on rare occasions is something I've always been a fan of.

    The initial assessment is the first point of contact with a monster. The way the monster itself looks, their name, their level... These things determine how you feel about the monster and how you treat it. With the right balance of information, indicators, and obfuscation of those things, you can make the player feel immersed without frustrating them half the time.

    Lastly, I think this is one of those things that, if made hardcore, might mildly please some really niche players, but frustrate lots of others. If the opposite is done and its made really accessible, your hardcore niche players might grumble about it, but your target audience will be significantly larger in return. The game is already hardcore enough, make sure the casuals will enjoy it too.
  • AzheraeAzherae Member, Alpha One, Adventurer
    I believe that at the end of the day it doesn't matter very much, unless the enemy designs of Ashes are going to be mostly based on 'this one can't be beaten because it does much more damage'.

    Mobs show their level relative to you, to some extent, by the color of their name, and then their 'expected party size' somewhat by the SIZE of their name (this seemed to be happening in Alpha-1 but also turned out to perhaps be a bug? Bring it back! lol) or some symbol.

    It's definitely more interesting to not know the exact level, but the 'slight pink, red, deep red' seen in Alpha-1 was working really well for me personally. Obviously being an FFXI player I'll also take some nice detailed stat-check messages. If unfamiliar, an example.

    "The Goblin Enchanter seems Incredibly Tough, it seems to have High Defense."

    That 'high Defense' was a quick-check of the mob's defense stat vs your attack stat. You could buff your attack, and then check again, to see if it was now 'no message' (indicating even) and therefore you might be able to take it, or still 'High Defense' which was usually an indicator of enemy type, OR that they were really high above you. It would also report their evasion rating, and usually, this was sufficient, though I'd love something like 'it seems especially resilient' or something to indicate an Elite with high HP, in case you missed the name or saw a name and weren't sure and wanted to check that it wasn't an Elite.

    I don't care for BDO's knowledge system (particularly the part where just gaining 'knowledge' makes the mob easier to fight somehow), it's just a gate that doesn't seem to add much and stacks RNG on top of that.

    Unlike usual, I'm not speaking for my group here, so you might see multiple quotes or similar feedback from them.
    Sorry, my native language is Erlang.
    
  • JustVineJustVine Member, Alpha One, Adventurer
    edited March 29
    Enemy Informational Indicators

    If I had to choose between your three explanations 'old school' is closest to what I prefer but I have several tweaks and critique about the design approach in question.

    1. Hiding information from players about bosses has a threshold where it makes people go to a wiki, or worse, rely on external information that may bias their first encounter. The more systems and instances you have in a game that lead to 'failure that could have been prevented if you looked something up before hand' the more dependent on external wiki's and tools a player base will become. This in my opinion is bad and flawed user design that kills all the work of creating immersion and increases the culture of a player base towards a lack of experimentation and instead encourages optimization approaches. I believe this is a key factor in overall cultural toxicity. There will always be people who go to a wiki first. But it really should be a last resort for the majority of people who just want to play the game and be immersed.

    2. Health of the enemy for enemies that are not a world boss should be shown as a general percentage for all other enemies. I would even argue this is a good thing in PvP but for separate reasons. For enemy's however knowing when a rage state change will occur is a good tactical indicator that can cut down on a lot of frustration and encourage teamwork coordination efforts. Note that I do not think you should get specific numbers. Just enough to work with to gauge your strategy and approach to the enemy.

    3. Some indicator of enemy difficulty relative to your own stats/gear. The color system was optimal in the Alpha in my experience. If you don't have the ability to tell what enemy's would be appropriate to fight ahead of time, you make going to a wiki as habit more attractive. Especially since players can tame mobs to kill other players to avoid corruption. So being able to have a good learned awareness completely in game of the range and relative strength of mobs is going to be even more important than in a PvE only game.

    4. Some indicator for enemy type is optimal. Preferably this is done in a more nuanced way like 'being able to determine the enemy's defense is it's highest stat relative to your attack' via a 'check of enemy strength'.

    5. Consistent gear and silhouette design on enemy's to make determining class easy enough on contact. Lived experience at lower level should teach you 'nonhumanoid' creature's different classes, but humanoids will need far clearer markers via gear. (You already intend to do this and I think this is a good design goal.) However a symbol on a name plate could be plenty fine.

    6. Things like an enemy's mana, tp, etc can stay hidden and as part of the 'learned experience'. Having those hidden encourages players to build responsive and tactical skills over time so that when content increases in difficulty they have basic skills they can approach a situation with. By contrast health and strength of enemy do not really teach you much in terms of technical skill. They tell you 'how much resources you might need' and 'at what point in the fight will this enemy radically switch behavior' and not much else.

    Intended Audience Indicators

    Similarly if you are going to be dividing enemies such that they have 'intended audiences' you should probably have a way for players to know that from the ui. Either by having it as part of the enemy's name plate, or by having it be detectable by checking the enemy. Or both. More is better in this case.

    However, like some users said above, if enemies are divided by 'intended audience' solely based on enemy damage output and bolstered health, it's probably not as heavy a loss if you don't have more specific indicators beyond the + signs used in the Alpha.
    Where in the world IS Carmen Sandiego. Anyone seen her recently? Asking for a friend.
  • George_BlackGeorge_Black Member, Intrepid Pack
    edited March 29
    No indicators. Just good animations
  • GrandSerpentGrandSerpent Member, Alpha One, Adventurer
    Azherae wrote: »
    Mobs show their level relative to you, to some extent, by the color of their name, and then their 'expected party size' somewhat by the SIZE of their name (this seemed to be happening in Alpha-1 but also turned out to perhaps be a bug? Bring it back! lol) or some symbol.

    It's definitely more interesting to not know the exact level, but the 'slight pink, red, deep red' seen in Alpha-1 was working really well for me personally. Obviously being an FFXI player I'll also take some nice detailed stat-check messages. If unfamiliar, an example.

    "The Goblin Enchanter seems Incredibly Tough, it seems to have High Defense."

    That 'high Defense' was a quick-check of the mob's defense stat vs your attack stat. You could buff your attack, and then check again, to see if it was now 'no message' (indicating even) and therefore you might be able to take it, or still 'High Defense' which was usually an indicator of enemy type, OR that they were really high above you. It would also report their evasion rating, and usually, this was sufficient, though I'd love something like 'it seems especially resilient' or something to indicate an Elite with high HP, in case you missed the name or saw a name and weren't sure and wanted to check that it wasn't an Elite.

    I have a similar perspective.

    For me, a lot of the fun of an exploration and combat-heavy RPG is not knowing for sure whether you'll be able to take on any given enemy, and needing to experiment and take risks to work out what you can handle.

    However, it's still probably good to give players at least a general idea of where they stand relative to a given enemy. Some guesswork and uncertainty are interesting, but having no idea at all the strength of a monster might be frustrating in practice.

    I think that the color-coded enemy names in Alpha 1 were an effective and simple way to quickly communicate the approximate strength of an enemy, without giving away too much information. I also like the idea of bosses designed for a group having their names in a different typographic style, perhaps with larger, bolder letters.

    Icons next to the name could also be used to give more specific information about relative defense and evasion, similar to the stat-check messages in FFXI that Azherae mentioned. Displaying general information about relative level as an icon, in addition to changing the color of the monster's name, would also be make sure that color-blind players aren't at a disadvantage.

    I think a combination of colors and icons (e.g. "🔰 Harmless Butterfly" versus "💀🔺 Skullcrusher Behemoth") would communicate relevant information quickly and simply, while avoiding accessibility problems, and not giving away too much about the precise strength of an enemy.
  • 1sab3la1sab3la Member
    Personally my preference is no indicator however not sure how well it would go over for the majority. So I will hope for none or old school and have as little as possible
  • I prefer no indicators. No indicators = better adventure in my opinion and more risk vs reward. Healthbar and nameplate is enough. Maybe we can get information about enemy's when we kill monsters that belong toghter.
  • TalentsTalents Member, Intrepid Pack
    I personally prefer some indication to what level the enemy is but that's about it. Doesn't need to say their exact level, but maybe a Red name if they're way higher than you, Yellow if they're around your level, and Green if they're far below you.
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  • emerysemerys Member
    Hard Core No Indicators, Even if its just a option in the menu~!
    Just reading that is is a option made my hear skip.
    The first encounter on a new spieces of enemies is a thrilling part of any new adventure.
    I duno what balance you can find between; ppl crying its too easy or too hard and good luck with that.
    Gradual knowledge and understanding that would maybe boost damage to the enemies.. like in a beast book or something, evolving the knowledge bar of your target would peak my thrill in this aspec.
  • meedxmeedx Member, Alpha One, Adventurer
    We're in an age of gaming that has any information you could need readily available in the forms of datamined information, spreadsheets, wiki's or you tube guides.

    Limiting information no longer promotes trial and error but rather forces people to get external information outside of playing the game because its the most efficient way of progressing something.

    If you provide no basic information it will only cause frustration for inexperienced players and a trivial,
    one-time obstacle to overcome for more experienced players.

    Intended Audience Style alongside some visual representation of fight difficulty, in my opinion is the best option.
    For example classic world of warcraft did this well in the way that you could recognise a humanoid as a caster/mage npc or a melee npc just by visuals or by it just having a mana bar indicating it has spells to cast that require mana.
    But without prior experience of fighting it you wouldn't know its exact abilities or if you needed to kite it, interrupt, if it itself had an interrupt etc.

    Even the name itself can indicate the type of combat you'll be entering,
    i.e; Skeletal Warrior vs Skeletal Arcanist or Dwarven Guard vs Dwarven Medic

    Give me basic, relevant information in the forms of level, health, name, elite/group status as well as some visual cues (robes/staff for caster, shield/plate for melee) but then leave the rest up to me.

    Normal/Non elite, Elite and Raid Boss/Boss are enough to give an idea of a minimum player count needed.
    i.e elite could mean 4 or 8 player, it would depend on player skill, composition, level disparity etc, let that be decided by the players rather than a forced "label".

    Let the players decide how hard an encounter is (to an extent), if you give a boss or encounter intended number count to clear/complete it. that will only cause players to bring more than that number to guarantee success from the start.
  • In my opinion the best for the game would be to have Intended Audience Style or all 3 styles be up for choice by players in-game.

    In my opinion the best for me would be something in between Old-School Style and HardCore Style:
    Not being able to see the level of your enemy
    No intended audience indicators [other than the basic (Normal Enemy, Elite Enemy and Boss Enemy)]
    Having colors indicator with a possible range of the level of the enemy, example:
    (5 or more levels above your enemy = blue color)
    (3-4 levels above your enemy = green color)
    (0-2 levels above or below your enemy = white color)
    (3-4 levels below your enemy = yellow color)
    (5 or more levels below your enemy = red color)
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    Aren't we all sinners?
  • Nerror wrote: »
    I would like a dynamic system.

    Start off with your character not knowing anything. Hard Core No Indicators style. The more you kill of that species of monster (I assume we are talking PvE only with the way the questions are worded), the more granular and detailed the shown information gets, including even specific strengths and weaknesses on mouse-over at the highest levels of knowledge.

    I am hoping we'll get a sort of bestiary in the game, where people can fill it out by interacting with all the creatures in Verra in some form. It doesn't always have to be from killing them.

    I know you write "enemy", which could include players, but I would prefer you differentiate the systems between enemy players and enemy NPCs.

    I have a similar opinion to the above.

    Start off as no knowledge if the creature is new to you, then as you gain knowledge you understand the creatures betters and thus know their difficulty/tactics/etc.

    As Nerror said you can gain that knowledge in a variety of ways, killing, stalking, or reading about them from a scribe who has killed/stalked them themselves.

    This would add to the MMO/community aspect of AoC as it puts an importance on in game communication.

    It may provides Scribes another source of income (creating info to add to personal journals)
    It may also provide a source of income for beast hunters (to sell information to Scribes).
  • OkamiOkami Member
    I really loved Black Desert Online's style where you don't really know much about the monster aside from the color it's showing until you get knowledge from killing that specific mob a certain amount of times. It just makes sense from an RP standpoint, you probably wouldn't know anything about the monsters in an icy tundra if you've lived half your character's life in a jungle.

    side note/tangent, it would be really awesome if there's a bestiary completion journal somewhere in the works for this game because I had so much fun completing mine back in Black Desert! it would be a fun way to get some cool cosmetic armors on completion of the journal in a specific area or maybe blueprints for region-specific house decor, like books that have particle effects that you can display with pride in your bookcase at home. Or maybe a more practical approach would be that you gained S rank knowledge on goblins in a desert area, so you might have partial knowledge already learned by the time you see goblins in a neighboring region.
  • XatamaurXatamaur Member, Alpha One, Adventurer
    Hard Core No Indicators that way when you attack someone its completely random and you could get rolled. Would also be a slight deterrent for those who like to pray on lower levels.
  • akabearakabear Member, Braver of Worlds, Kickstarter, Alpha One
    edited March 29
    Prefer as clean and unobstructed UI as possible.

    Mobs merely a color bar or equivalent indicating
    1. well below current level
    2. within current level range
    3. a little higher
    4. much higher

    And to compensate, the master map to have some indication of overall zone / area levels
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