Thursday, July 11, 2013

DevSpeak: Aiming!


This week has seen a few interesting developments on the WildStar front!

For one we have had it confirmed that not only will WildStar be at the San Diego ComicCon, but they will be holding a panel and sharing with us the two unconfirmed races!!! Definitely keep your eyes on this one folks! (You can read up a few details on ZAM here!)

Pay It Forwards folks should keep their eyes open tomorrow!

Yesterday a number of the UK community were able to meet with “The Gaffer” for lunch and some Q&A. An extra congrats to WSRP's very own Renaise! Hope you all had a lot of fun! (KaeyiDream has recorded much of the lunch if you would like to see it on her YouTube channel here!)

Hope you guys all had fun!
Team WildStar has been making a “Meet the Crew” with Vine, showcasing who they can in brief and amusing blips. You can see the first two in the links below!

This past WildStar Wednesday featured a series of screenshots from various houses built by Beta testers, showing off the scope of the Housing system! Congrats to all the beta testers who won!

Last night Jon Wiesman ( WildStar UI architect and lead client engineer) pursued his own personal challenge to create Tetris using the WildStar Addon systems. Please welcome Loftis!

Check out this beautiful cover of the Character Creator (by Jeff Kurtenacker <3) by @Sarys! Give them a round of applause for this gorgeous piece!

Also note: Corgis are a cure for everything! (Team WildStar said it, it MUST be true ;) )

So welcome back once again to another glorious edition of DevSpeak. Voiced by the talented Design Producer Stephen Frost, this particular episode has given us the ultimate in-depth review on one of the most overlooked aspects of MMO gaming: Aiming!

If you haven't had a chance to check it out, here's the video!

And once again I have a frame-by-frame of the whole disclaimer. ARG, WHY YOU KEEP MAKING IT BIGGER CARBINE!?

The jokes here almost make the Devs look like real people!....almost

Alright, now that that is out of the way, let's talk about this critical aspect of MMO gaming: Aiming.

So important, you barely realize it's there.

Aiming is so integrated into our gameplay that it is easy to overlook, and yet it is very important to how we function within the world provided to us. This changes how we interact with enemies, raids, dungeons and even with each other in PvP (player versus player) instances. There are many different ways one could approach the issue of Aiming in an MMO. You could approach it like World of Warcraft and Star Wars: The Old Republic, where you tab target enemies and so long as you are in range (and facing the right direction), any attack hits. Or you could go the route of Guild Wars 2, in which I would designate it “soft tab targetting” where you still have the ability to actually dodge some attacks. Or you could go the route of WildStar and try something completely different.

As showcased in the video, WildStar went through a few renditions of targeting before it settled on the Aiming system it uses today. They tried the traditional MMO tab-targetting (As seen in WoW, SW:ToR, Rift, etc). They tried cross-hair aiming (as seen in TERA), cross-hair soft targetting and MOBA-style skill shots (as seen in League of Legends) before finally ending up on the style they liked best. While considering the pros and cons of the other systems, Carbine Studios came up with and designed their very own Freeform Targeting system!

          Tab Targeting            Cross-Hair Aiming    and Cross-Hair Soft Targeting

The video comments on how it takes over the core of MMO targeting completely, allowing easy visuals of friends and foes while still allowing the player solid control of the aiming of their abilities. This, I imagine would be quite important considering the number of monster/ally telegraphs you might see.

Keep in mind that awhile ago, WildStar told us all about their telegraph system, which was a system that would broadcast enemy and ally abilities on the open world as an active part of the combat system. Being able to actively control the aiming of your abilities, as well as what we have seen thus far in the videos, showcases a mostly mobile system, allowing you to place your shots where you think they will be the most effective.

This is an interesting feature. Think back to some traditional action games such as God of War and Darksiders. Part of the reason combat was so fun was because you felt so much a part of it. By actively engaging in where your character moved and when and where their attacks would hit, you felt more immersed, more in control of the action around you. From the looks of it, WildStar is attempting much of the same. By allowing the player an active hand in their own combat, you not only get a very immersive style of gameplay, but also a system that really promotes player skill!

While Carbine found that traditional aiming style, combined with their telegraph system, made active aiming feel lackluster; leaving little room for skill, they found that their freeform targeting system is much more powerful and is a system that rewards skilled players.

With Freeform Targeting we find that our “everyday actions” suddenly become more complicated. Take, for instance, tanking. With WoW we had a general concept of what you would do as a tank: you would rotate through most of your high-threat abilities, drag the mob to the nearest wall to protect your back, then taunt only when necessary. Now what if these core abilities could miss? What if you had to aim at the boss, while simultaneously moving out of “bad” telegraphs. Suddenly, turning and taunting, or actively tracking down a fellow player to protect them, seems far more difficult,

Those who are very skilled tanks will be much more apparent.

Is this a good thing? I think so! I, personally, am a huge fan of getting the most out of my class! I like to find my particular niche in a game and expend as much effort as possible to guarantee myself as a clever (insert-name-of-class-here *Druid, Paladin, Imperial Agent, etc) and part of the challenge is getting to know that class intimately and figuring out how to best utilize them. With an action set that relies on your own choosing you can really pick your favorite ability and apply it how it best suits you. As we have seen in the video, you have many different shapes in your own telegraphs from cones to lines and even arcs!

As explained, while enemies can can you! This means players are going to have to spend a good amount of time learning their abilities and making sure they know how to utilize them properly. Nothing would be more embarrassing than a healer who can't hit their party or a tank who cannot taunt the enemy. My only concern would be some sort of internal compensation for machines that will not be running this game flawlessly. When your success depends on such time-sensitive actions, you would want to be able to do your best even if your computer isn't completely up to par.

Every class will need to learn how best to utilize their own skills. Tanks will need to learn how to avoid big damage abilities, while also being able to taunt, protect allies and pull mobs for fights. Healers will need to keep conscious of enemy fire while also making sure to heal their own companions. DPS, obviously, will need to learn how to deal the most damage while also avoiding taking large sums of enemy fire themselves.

This is a long ways from healers being able to cast with their back facing you, like in WoW. Also check out this GORGEOUS ability! They look like little paper lanterns of energy.
One nice bit of this system is the mouse-over targeting decal. When you mouse over one of your abilities, you should be able to see where that ability will hit as a blue decal on the ground around you. ( i.e. is the attack conal, in a line or something else? ) If you want to drag this ability to where you want it, you can always hold the ability trigger button until you are able to line it up with the enemy. From here, releasing the button starts (or continues) the fight.

Start up your attack by hovering over to show your telegraph, turn and release to attack your targets and walla!
One of the aspects I like best about this system is that you will really be able to see skilled players. Now anyone who does their best will definitely show, but in a system that relies on the skill of its players, you will find those giving their 110% will really stand out. It would be nice to be recognized for your own heroic efforts!

The video showed that this is really only the tip of the iceberg. As we've seen, effects such as Blind are about to get an overhaul. No longer just a debuff, they now appear to effect your screen in new and interesting ways! I wonder what else we will see along these line in the future!

Blind actually creates a very real visual impairment on the player's end!

There will be more to come, though the video ends with another tasty tidbit, although perhaps unintentional. Just get a look at Brofessional here! Even with the impressive rain of Rowsdower chunks all around him, he displays some fantastic animation here! See this evil grin? This pompous bow? This is a man who is enjoying every minute of this rowsdowser kill fest.

Just check out that creepy maniacal smile...actually I think I will be going now...

"An' so, in conclusion, if'n you're wantin' t'hit what you're aimin' at, you best be aimin' at what you wanna hit! Oh, an' don't be aimin' at any'f us Exiles, that just ain't polite. Oh shi-! Th'Cassian's back! Gotta run-!"

Wait, what!? Who let the Exile in this house!? Lock down the premise! Check all the rooms! Check the video footage...FIND ME THE EXILE!

((Also. Omg. These birds. Please tell me there will be a mount of these! I LOVE THEM! <3 <3 <3))

Introducing Hawken's killsquad: Fattums, Fluffers and WuvMuffin ;)

Thank you once again, my dear readers for all your support and encouragement. You guys help make the Scowling Cassian possible! As always, I love hearing fan suggestions on article topics or feel free to send questions to harrass our dear Agent Hawkens!



  1. Great article! I'm incredibly excited for a more action-oriented combat system in an mmo. I've always been a fan of player-skill over stat matching, and I'm so ready to kill some things on Nexus right now!

    1. I definitely agree with the promotion of player skill. You are really going to see those that put their effort into the game and having awesome gear isn't necessarily going to be the end-all to determine how cool you are ;P I cannot wait to get my hands on this system!