(Sorry about the meager posting of late… a bit busy at the office.  Four applications, including 2 entirely new ones, a total of 13 systems, plus 3 upgrades and 1 new PBX, all and sundry to be installed or at least in testing by Jan 1… not all my job, of course, but a good portion of it is under my purview.  And all of it representing business acquired since mid-November…  gotta love Section 179 depreciation.  Add in the usual holiday activities, and our first snowfall (yay!) with attendant traffic snarls (gah!)…)

This post is somewhat disjointed, I’m afraid… but I wanted to get some thoughts written down.

I’ve been somewhat stuck on musing about resolution mechanisms and systems of late… combat systems mainly, but also related to crafting and other activities.  This has largely been prompted by the contrasts between various recent or upcoming games (TR, PotBS, Hellgate:London, EQ2 update, etc), but it’s been on my mind for some time (I recall posts a few months back where I made comments about Vanguard and Sword of the New World along similar tangents, for example).

I’ve been working on a loose classification system to try to bring some order to my thoughts.  It’s far from complete, but some of the considerations I’ve been pondering…

Random effect ranges (“50-150 damage”) vs. static damage values (“100 damage”)

Random effect ranges seem to have somewhat faded from ubiquitous use.  TR and CoH are two games that instantly come to mind where each successful attack with a particular attack or weapon has precisely the same impact, variations only coming from differing defensive capabilities of the target, and the occasional “critical” doing precisely double damage.  I’d presume the rise of DPS analysis amongst players as a key measurement of effectiveness had some influence on this. 

I haven’t yet checked to see exactly which games still feature random effect ranges: DDO is the only one that I’m relatively sure of at present.  I think WoW and EQ2 both do as well, but I wouldn’t swear to it (I haven’t made a point of watching that closely in those cases, I must admit.)

Random chance of success vs. automatic hit

Most games have moved to this model, it seems.  “Missing” when the target is obviously in range and within arc of swing/line of fire often feels quite jarring.  This has been somewhat replaced/obfuscated in some case by Dodge/Parry/Block notifications (TR and SNW come to mind), but even those are used far more rarely than might be expected from a fully random hit/miss mechanism.

Random special challenges

This covers features like the events that can pop up in EQ2 crafting, stun effects in CoH/CoV, and so on.  Relatively random effects that need to be countered by player activity (selecting the appropriate reaction to fix/cancel the crafting problem, “popping a purple” inspiration to cancel the stun).  It’s somewhat of a whack-a-mole type of mechanic, but it can be an effective addition to a resolution system, adding a dash of tension and reaction time testing.

Player controlled facing and targeting vs. auto-facing/targeting

This seems to be easier (or more obvious) to implement with ranged combat than anything else, PotBS ship combat and TR ranged combat being recent examples.  It covers nearly any situation where the movement and targeting as controlled by the player has a significant impact on the results.  I can’t think of a melee implementation off-hand that has attempted anything similar (there possibly are, I just can’t think of one), but it might be an interesting experiment to see if it could be done.

Limited options vs. wide array

The best example of what I’m talking about: compare TR’s 5 weapon slots and 5 ability slots to the typical EQ2 and WoW multiple bars of 10 options each.  The memorized spell slots of EQ1 fall under this general consideration as well.  This also drives/is driven by the interface interaction style… the point and furiously click of TR vs. the target and then trigger multiple options in varying sequence of EQ2.

I’ll come back to this topic over the weekend, but I wanted to at least get some thoughts down today.  Anyone spot any other design aspects that I’ve missed/overlooked so far?