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Challenges of Player Versus Player

Posted in For New Players with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 22, 2011 by mikraken23

On some battlegrounds, bloodshed will never cease. One of those battlegrounds is the player versus player arena. Whether it be a rogue standing toe-to-toe with a mighty warrior, or a faithful cleric facing off against a supreme warlock, player versus player creates an entirely new dynamic for all who involve themselves. Rather than beating a series of numbers and programmed triggers of a computer, a person mus now fight another thinking individual. This is a popular aspect of gameplay that can be both fun and challenging if done properly.

Challenges of PvP Combat

There are several factors that influence the inherent challenge of player versus player (PvP) combat. As opposed to fighting computers with predetermined formulas and programmed responses, there is no way to determine what another player is going to do. Essentially, PvP combat involves several challenges:

  • Strategy– Understanding your own strengths and weaknesses as well as your opponent’s, and playing accordingly.
  • IntelligenceKnowing what will and will not help you. For example, running away generally doesn’t accomplish much because it tends to keep you from attacking but doesn’t stop the damage coming in.
  • Build– Let’s face it: you have to build your character to fight other characters. What works against computers does not generally work against player defenses.
  • Statistics– Knowing how to maximize the stats you need to fight different kinds of players.
  • Technique– Each player is unique, meaning no two players will play exactly the same. It is important to know your opponent’s technique and to be able to change your own.
  • Attitude– PvP can become very stressful. Unless both players keep a good attitude about it, it’s not going to be fun for either person.

As you can see, PvP combat is less about playing and more about the player. Any person can mash buttons, but when push comes to shove, fighting players involves matching a person’s mind.

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Back to Basics

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 19, 2011 by mikraken23

With so many different MMORPG games on the market today (and countless others on free browsers), there are bound to be some readers wondering what this information is based upon. How can this information apply universally to every game available? There’s no way I’ve played every single game, otherwise I would have something new to write about every single day!

No, I haven’t played every single game. That being said, this information may not apply to each game available to the public either. Also, with the release of games that are developing new gameplay dynamics (such as Rift, with its customizable soul system), some of this information may seem outdated. However, each individual needs to realize what applies and what does not apply to their game of choice.

The Prototype

So what is this information based upon? For the sake of discussing game mechanics, I am referring to the tabletop Dungeons and Dragons system. I choose to use this system for several reasons:

  • It is the basic form of all RPG gaming.Every RPG game that is played today can be traced back to Dungeons and Dragons because this game originally inspired the creation of online roleplaying. The mechanics are based upon this system, and each consecutive RPG bases their system upon their predecessor.
  • It is simplistic. The purpose of this blog, to the gamer, should be to get across the main point of how to play. Dungeons and Dragons allows for easy communication of universal concepts.
  • It is story-based. Granted, there are many players who just want to kill and kill and could care less about story (for those gamers, I would recommend hack-n-slash games). Sadly, the number of these players are rising to the point where storyline is no longer a determining factor of whether or not people remain with a game. I am a strong believer that storyline should be the main purpose of playing a game and not just mashing buttons.
  • It is strategic. Dungeons and Dragons covers strategy well in that it shows the players how to concentrate on key stats and how to play different tactics. A new player can play for months on an RPG game and never learn their role. But a new player in Dungeons and Dragons quickly finds their niche.
  • It is a personal favorite. I’m biased with this game, plain and simple. As the author I reserve that right too!
  • It is classic. There’s just no beating the classics, and that’s why a lot of the newer RPG games are just boring now. It’s more or less guiding the player through a wide tunnel- there’s wiggle room, but you’re basically going in one direction. With the classic RPG games there’s a myriad of choices and places to explore (which is why Everquest was so great before the Planes of Power expansion).

The 2010 Decade of Gaming

From 1994-1998, a new generation of gaming began as more dynamic RPG games began developing beyond the grid-based system of Dungeons and Dragons and Fallout 1 and 2. Game developers started to realize that it is possible to create a complete world for a player with a custom virtual character. Leading into the year 2000, dynamic RPGs began rising more and more with the advance of technology in this industry.

In our decade of 2010-2020, one can only imagine what the world can come up with. Every day, games are evolving, to the point where there is little similarity to the classic RPG games. As saddening as this is, it is an opportunity for every gamer to broaden their horizons.

With that in mind, know that I will do my best to keep the RPG information updated as the RPG games continue to evolve. The basic structure, however, will always fall back to Dungeons and Dragons, unless game developers are able to design a character system that is not based off of numbers, statistics, and is more accurate, dynamic, and customizable than our current system. Until that day comes, Dungeons and Dragons will be my prototype for communicating these concepts.

Playing Support Classes

Posted in For New Players with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 13, 2011 by mikraken23

The shadows seem to move with each quiet footstep of the assassin. As if he were one with the blade, he eagerly turns the grip over on his palm. This blade, so familiar, a very extension of the master’s lethality, has tasted much blood over the years. Now before him, this blade shall soon savor another meal. Slicing deep into the enemy’s soft flesh, the assassin offers a slight grin at his art. His companions gather around to admire the kill. Each played their role, but the assassin is satisfied, knowing that his own role is the most fulfilling.

This is the essence of the support class. The support classes provide physical damage to the team. These are the characters who are toe-to-toe with the enemies they face with high damage output.

Types of Support Classes

There are two kinds of support classes.

These are:

  • Fighter-type
  • Stealth-type

Fighter-type support classes deal larger amounts of damage at a time. Stealth-type classes deal slightly smaller amounts more quickly.

Each type has their own means of effectiveness. Often, the fighter-types are able to take more amounts of damage than the stealth-types, but the stealth-types tend to have damage over time on their side, which drops the enemy more quickly.

Roles

Deciding upon whether to play a fighter-type or stealth-type support is completely up to the discretion of the player. Here’s a simple list of preferences for players who can’t decide whether to choose one or the other.

     Fighter-type

  • Takes out large chunks of health from the enemy at a time.
  • Can double as a secondary tank in a pinch.
  • Able to lower enemy defense.
  • Has higher defense than stealth-type.
  • Uses more powerful weapons.

    Stealth-type

  • Deals slightly less damage at a faster rate.
  • Able to cause damage-over-time.
  • Able to bypass some enemy defenses.
  • Can often use multiple weapons.
  • Some games allow combos (such as Rift), and most allow stealth bonuses.

Tactics

For fighter-type classes, it’s generally most effective to place yourself near the tank. This leaves the back open for stealth-type classes, who usually gain bonuses for being directly behind the enemy. The enemy will turn their attention to the player dealing the most damage, so you have to stay nearby to pursue the enemy if it turns towards one of the spellcasters or a stealth-type support class.

Always target the enemy that the tank is attacking. There have been so many teams that have been torn apart by a scattered team. With no unit coherency, victory becomes difficult. Unless the entire team runs, DO NOT RUN AWAY FROM ENEMIES. The healer cannot heal a character that is not in their line of sight. If your character grabs the enemy’s attention, your best bet is to stay in place and use potions. Also carefully select which of your abilities you will use, since your time is limited. If you die, it happens, but the healer will do all they can to avoid that.

Selecting Equipment

Posted in For New Players with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 8, 2011 by mikraken23

There are many different reasons why players choose equipment. Some choose equipment based upon value. Others choose it based upon the bonuses it gives. Many choose equipment based solely upon how it looks. No matter the reason, equipment is an important part of advancing any character.

Stats

The most effective way to choose equipment is to choose the largest bonus unique to your class. For example, if you were a stealth-type class, you would select equipment that has the largest bonuses to dexterity. This increases your chance to hit. Tanks would look for bonuses to defense, resistance, and armor. Spellcasters would look for bonuses that increases their main stat (usually called wisdom or intelligence).

Weapons

When considering weapons, damage is not always the only thing to look for. As well as bonus stats, many weapons are also imbued with certain effects (known as procs). To illustrate what I mean, which weapon would you choose: a sword that deals 15 points of damage every 12 seconds, or a sword that deals 12 points of damage every 15 seconds, but with a 35% chance of dealing 24 points of electricity damage? The smart choice would be the second sword. This was a basic example, but not every choice is so simple. Many times a person must weigh the benefits before selecting a weapon.

Armor

With armor, the defense rating is not always the only thing to look for. Many pieces of armor offer special defenses against a certain type of enemy, or have certain procs that are beneficial. The player must consider what sort of enemies are being fought and how their characters are played before selecting what defenses and procs to use.

Weight is a key factor of selecting armor. Some classes use medium armor. Some use heavy. Some even use light. Games won’t often make certain pieces of equipment available to different classes, but it happens (in the tabletop Dungeons & Dragons, there are no restrictions). The general rule of thumb is that the spellcasters wear light armor, the support classes wear medium, and the tanks wear heavy.

Jewelry

Jewelry is often overlooked by the players, but they often give the most bonuses. Spellcasters rely heavily upon these because many times they are designed for them (offering large bonuses to intelligence and wisdom). Jewelry is a key investment into gear, and again, procs and stats must be considered. For players concerned with appearance, jewelry is an easy decision since it rarely shows up on the character.

Summary

Equipment can be selected many ways, but the most important method is analyzing statistics, weight, and procs. Without  these things, the character will fall behind and have little contribution to the team.

Playing Ranged Combat

Posted in For New Players with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 8, 2011 by mikraken23

The hunter surveys the valley below her. She spots the enemy camps, their fires piercing the darkness of the night. Beneath her, her team takes formation and springs into action. In the midst of the chaos, she picks out the leader, draws her bow string, and with great precision releases a single, deadly shot.

Role

The role of the ranged combatant is to deal physical (and sometimes magical) damage from a distance. The ranged combatant deals damage quickly while avoiding the possibility of getting hit. This character is usually the sniper of the team and provides support to the main tank and melee support classes. This role is not usually classified as an “essential” role, but regardless, it is one that is very fun and versatile to play.

Strengths

Being a support class, the main strength of the ranged combatant would be its damage output. Often, these characters are implemented with certain abilities which allow for damage to be released over time (essentially “bleeding out” the enemy) and abilities which slow movement. When used correctly, this distances the time it takes for the enemies to reach and maximizes the overall damage per second (which is abbreviated as dps in the gaming world). The faster the enemies lose their health, the better. On top of that, some games allow for “imbued ammunition”, meaning each shot has a special elemental damage (such as fire, electricity, spirit damage, etc.)

To add to this, ranged characters are often very fast. Some games implement bonuses to these classes which allow them to move faster naturally while others simply give them abilities that allow them to move about more quickly for a certain amount of time. Furthermore, many times these classes come with stealth abilities as well. This is convenient when looking for objectives or picking out vantage points within enemy camps (I can’t recount how many times I’ve used stealth when walking around in enemy ruins. I would back up into a wall and just start picking off enemies). These bonuses aren’t used much in combat I’ve found, but it makes travel rather convenient when you just want to get the job done.

Weaknesses

The biggest weakness of ranged characters are their low resistance for damage. Because these characters are designed to remain at a distance, they shouldn’t be facing toe-to-toe combat often. If you’re toe-to-toe, there’s a problem. Your main defense is not your armor or your resistances, but to avoid being hit altogether.

Ranged combatants often have a difficult time in player versus player combat as well. Being poorly defended against incoming melee attacks, the ranged character won’t survive long face-to-face with another player. When fighting spellcasters, spellcasters are almost always more powerful at ranged damage than the ranged combatant is. So regardless of which side you fight, you’re at a disadvantage unless you know your tactics.

Tactics

Ranged characters have one effective tactic that never fails to annoy players and enemies caught in it: kiting.

When a person flies a kite, they run against the wind with the kite tailing them in the air. The technique of kiting is aptly named since that is exactly what the player is doing. Kiting involves running an enemy or a group of enemies around while keeping a steady flow of damage on them. This continues until the opponent drops dead.

There are several stages to kiting:

  • Preparation
  • Slowing the enemy
  • Running
  • Damage Over Time (otherwise known as a DOT)
  • Repeat

Preparation- This involves setting out the battlefield before attracting the enemy. The player wants to clearly define their path, clear it of enemies, and set whatever traps they may have along the path (ranged characters often come with trap abilities). This also includes using any beneficial powers or equipment before the action starts (such as an ability that ignites your arrows).

Slowing the enemy- As soon as you grab the enemy’s attention, there’s no turning back. This is why the player needs to unload as many possible slowing abilities on the enemy as possible. This ensures that no matter how fast you run, the enemy will never catch you. This also gives you time to turn around and shoot them for good measure.

Running- Now that you’ve slowed the enemy, you want to lead them through the path you decided upon in the first stage. Lead the enemy into your first series of traps. These traps will buy you time to turn around and initiate the next phase before running again.

Damage Over Time- As a ranged combatant, you likely have abilities that cause the enemy to bleed out and take continual damage. Since you don’t have time to attack while you’re running around, unload these on your enemy (if you need to, refresh your slowing abilities as well). This way the enemies continue to be killed while you’re running away from them.

Repeat– Just keep running from your enemy. Keep turning to slow them and DOT them. If this is done right (meaning avoiding too many outside enemies and keeping your distance from your intended target), the enemy will soon bleed out without a hitch.

NOTE: if you’re facing an enemy with natural regeneration, be careful. Your overall DPS must be greater than the rate of their regeneration. Otherwise you’re just going to run the enemy around without accomplishing anything.

Summary

Although not always “necessary” within a team, the ranged combatant is a unique role to play. It is a role that takes consideration and skill behind each attack. Keeping distance from your enemy is not always easy, but necessary for survival. Early in the game, these characters may be among the strongest considering their fast attack rate and their range. But when mid-game comes around, the ranged character will be very dependent on their team.

Playing Tanks

Posted in For New Players with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 5, 2011 by mikraken23

The hordes gather in the distance. You and your companions exchange glances. Everybody knows the drill. This is the first time you’ve done this with them. With a surge of adrenaline, you rush forward ahead of the team in a seemingly suicidal stunt, aiming for the center of the horde. You know your team is behind you, and you have complete trust they will do their job. You are the tank.

Role

The tank is one of the key roles in the team. You have one simple job, and that is to keep the enemies off of your allies. The tank is the character that is designed to take the most punishment. Often, the tank has special abilities which entice the enemies to turn around to attack him. The tank is often built to wear the heaviest armor and wield the mightiest weapon, with his main stat being defense (or whatever melee stat the game offers within that category).  Here, you will learn how to play the role of the tank, and how to most effectively maximize your abilities for survival.

Strengths

The strength of the tank is pretty straightforward; survivability. Designed with defense in mind, the tank is the longest-lasting class in toe-to-toe combat. The tank absorbs large amounts of punishment before death even gets close. Since the tank plays a central role in the team, it isn’t often that you won’t be able to find a team (though many players don’t think to grab a tank at first).

Weaknesses

With the survivability factor of a tank comes a few drawbacks. The first drawback would be reduced speed. Since tanks often carry heavy equipment and armor, they often move a lot slower and attack a lot more slowly. This can make combat difficult when facing a magic-using enemy designed for range combat. Many times, the magic user will cast a spell which renders the player immobile. This window of opportunity is increased especially when the player is slow-moving, giving the spellcaster to increase the distance away from you and hit you with more spells.

Another weakness of the tank is its low damage output. As resilient is it is, the tank simply can’t output as much damage as other classes. Many times this makes leveling slower without a team. The tank is designed to rely on others for damage. The low damage output becomes a problem with regenerating enemies and in player versus player (though the tank can usually take the damage long enough to pummel the opponent into the ground).

Finally, your biggest weakness would be your slow regeneration. Since tanks are designed to resist damage, they are not designed necessarily to recover from it (although some games may implement that). This is why tanks rely most on their healers. If the tank and the healer were a k-9 unit, the tank would be the dog, and the healer would be the handler.

Key Stats

When building a tank, there are two key stats to focus on (the names will differ between games): defense and vitality.

Defense keeps the enemies from getting through to you. This is important because you want the enemy to attack you without actually hurting you. Your defensive stat determines how difficult it becomes for your opponent to hurt you, and if they do, how much. Defense reduces your chance of getting hurt and minimizes the damage that does come in.

Vitality is important because this is the number that determines how much total health your character has. Having a strong defense won’t mean much if you get knocked out on the first time an enemy slips past those defenses. Vitality keeps you alive when your armor fails you.

Tactics

At the start of combat, charging directly into the group of enemies is not always the best course of action (unless you are in a hallway, cave, or some other sort of narrow corridor). In fact, many times you want to let a ranged character bring the enemies to the team (known as pulling). This allows for the opportunity to pick off small groups of enemies instead of facing all of them at once. No matter how great of a tank you are, too many enemies will still lead to a quick demise.

As the tank, you want to be standing in whichever location the most enemies can hit you, whether it be in the center of the mob (the group of enemies) or in a corner near two or three separate groups. This allows for the most opportunity to attract enemy attention and reduces how much damage is being sent to your enemies, making life easier for the healer as well. The tank needs to be able to keep an eye on every enemy and know exactly who is attacking who.

When fighting a boss, a main character, or even an abnormally strong enemy, the tank must make sure that the boss is targeting him. This is the most important role for the tank, since the boss usually has the highest damage output. Even if that means allowing the smaller mobs to attack your team, make sure the head honcho is beating your ass, and hope the healer knows what he is doing. If the team fails two or three times, it’s time to discuss a new strategy.

Whenever possible, make sure the healer is not being attacked by any mobs. The healer is your life source. With the healer gone, you can kiss you and the rest of your team goodbye.

Summary

The crucial role of the tank is not for those who want to compete for damage. The tank is primarily defensive, and thus defense should be maximized. The tank needs to keep the enemies off of his allies, and make sure the bosses are preoccupied. As the tank (or any other role for that matter), the most important person to protect is the healer. When possible, avoid battles with spellcasters, allowing the other spellcasters in your party to engage them (although battles with those mages will be inevitable anyway). Know your strengths and weaknesses, and play to survive.

What Sort of Character Should I Make?

Posted in For New Players with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 4, 2011 by mikraken23

Whenever I log on to an MMORPG to find a healing class rushing ahead of the rest of the team, I immediately recognize that player as being mismatched. Rather than taking the time to carefully consider what sort of role he would like to play, he read how the game advertized his class. Many players read what each class does (many even choose based on how the character looks) and play it because of how strong it sounds. The class is only strong when each player plays it according to how it is intended to be played. Bearing that in mind, there are several things that the player must consider in choosing their class.

What do I envision from my character?

This is the very first step in designing your character. Before you even hit the creation button, a person needs to formulate in their minds how they envision playing. Do they want to be in the midst of combat? Or perhaps do you see yourself standing at a distance? Do you plan on using a bow and arrow? Or perhaps disintegrating your enemies with a powerful spell? Do you intend to be hit often? All of these are valid questions to ask before creating your character.

The problem with skipping this step is that your character will be made on a passing whim. Though many of my successful characters have been made on such a whim, I’ve had more characters thrown out and deleted halfway through gameplay because I simply got bored with the character. To avoid making that happen, it is important to plan your character long-term. This way you know exactly what to play when that passing whim returns, rather than starting over with yet another half-hearted effort.

Combat or Magic?

Some players envision themselves rushing forward ahead of the time, swords and axes swinging away. Others envision their character roasting their enemies with a well-directed fireball from a distance, or mending their allies’ wounds through clerical healing abilities. Which is the right form for you?

Combat (melee) characters I would recommend for players who would like to feel more involved in battles. Playing the role of a character who is engaging an enemy toe-to-toe makes the player simply feel like they are facing the challenge head on. Magic users I would recommend for players who are taken with the thought of power and domination. To stand from a distance and wield such power allows a player to feel powerful, playing a necessary, seemingly irreplaceable role.

Combat: Defense or Offense?

A defensive combatant’s main role is to take damage. This is a very essential role in a team. Without one main character in place to take the punishment from the enemies, everybody in the team will be taking damage, even though they aren’t built to take damage. The spellcasters are going to be struggling to cast each spell, slowing down heals and a large portion of damage per second (commonly known as dps). This crucial role is reserved for players who are less concerned with dealing damage and more interested in feeling “invincible”, meaning no amount of enemies are going to take down the character. These players are given abilities designed to increase defense and attract enemy attention.

An offensive combatant can’t take as much damage, but can certainly dish it out. Often, these are the warrior-type classes, or the stealth-type classes. The warrior-type classes can take some damage, but aren’t designed for it. These classes deal damage more slowly, but in larger amounts (for example, dealing 18 points of damage to an enemy every 8 seconds as opposed to 8 points of damage every 3 seconds). The stealth-type classes aren’t designed for getting hit, but can deal damage more quickly than warrior-type classes (8 points of damage every 3 seconds rather than 18 points of damage every 8 seconds).  This damage adds up quickly, and both warrior- and stealth-type combatants are often given abilities to disable enemies from attacks. The warrior-type class I would recommend for players who like to see large chunks of the enemy’s health taken out at a time, while I would recommend stealth-type classes for players who want to see the enemy’s health taken out quickly at a steady rate.

Combat: Ranged or Melee?

For offensive combatants, this is a very straightforward question. Do you want to be right in the midst of the action? Or would you rather be dealing damage from a distance? For fantasy games, this is the difference between using a sword and a bow. For Sci-Fi games, this is the difference between using a chainsword and a plasma gun. Players who want to be able to engage an enemy face-to-face should use melee combat, while players who are more interested in running their enemies in circles before taking them down (a tactic known as “kiting”) should opt to play the ranged combantant.

Magic: Defense, Offense, Healing, or Crowd Control?

Of all the different sorts of characters to play, magic users are definitely the most dynamic and most unique. All games have very unique types of spellcasters that differ from other games in some sense. However, from most games offer any combination of four types of spellcasters: defense, offense, healing, and crowd control.

Defense

The defensive spellcasters are focused primarily on adding beneficial effects to teammates, such as damage shields which harm enemies and increase defense, or haste effects which increases attack rates. The defensive spellcasters also boost player stats, making each person more powerful. This type of spellcaster is recommended for players who enjoy supporting others around them.

Offense

The offensive spellcaster is the powerful mage most people envision in their mind: calling forth lightning from the sky, throwing fireballs, drowning their enemies in oceans of water. In essence, the offensive spellcaster is designed to deal damage in large amounts. This is the type of spellcaster I would recommend for the power hungry players who want to compete for the most damage being dealt. Beware, however. If you deal damage too quickly, you could draw attention from the tank.

Healing

The healer, without a doubt, is the most crucial role of the team. Without the healer, each player will eventually succumb to their woulds. The healer’s primary job is to keep everybody alive. This person needs to be able to concentrate on the entire team at one time, and must know how to manage their resources to effectively keep everybody alive. This is the most demanding role of the team, but also takes the most blame out of any other character. This role is recommended for players who can handle pressure and concentrate on multiple objects at once.

Crowd Control

Finally, crowd control is the most overlooked class. In fact, most games aren’t even making crowd control classes anymore. But for gamers who play those games that offer it, crowd control is designed to remove effects from enemies (debuffing), putting negative effects on them, and rendering certain enemies unable to attack. Players who enjoy controlling their opponents and managing their effectiveness would greatly enjoy crowd control.

Summary

There are many different roles to play in a team. Most people fail to consider their own play styles and interests, and therefore become mismatched, creating character after character. When selecting what sort of character to play, the player must choose carefully a role they feel comfortable playing which they will enjoy. Next, we will discuss how to play each specific type of character.