Friday, August 23, 2013

Devspeak: Crowd Control


Gamescom is currently in full swing and from the sounds of it, everyone is having a fun time. If you're out there, don't forget to take part in the Dev scavenger hunt and pick up some awesome swag.

While you are waiting on more news from Gamescom, be sure to stop by mmorpg and check out their most recent articles.

Today is the closing day of the WSRP story challenge "Once Upon a Contest"  Be sure to check out or submit these adorable WildStar themed children's stories and be sure to keep your eyes peeled for future contests!

And let's not forget the announcements of both the Payment Plan and the new release projection for Spring 2014!

Another excellent Devspeak this week which displays a very interesting take on an old MMO staple: Crowd Control.

First of all, here's the video:

The Disclaimer for this Devspeak was a short story with a potential cliffhanger ending that we will most likely need to wait until the next Devspeak to finish. Since it is quite lengthy, I won't be posting all the screenshots here. Instead, here is a link to a thread on WSC where someone has compiled the story thus far! If you haven't read it yet, I'll give you a hint: It has to do with one of my most favorite topics in WildStar. (And no, not stemdragons this time)

Hmph. Well, at least it portrays the ICI in the proper light and shows the extensive and undeniably awe-inspiring power of our network.

Yes, I am certain any Exiles who read that are now trembling in fear, Hawkens.

As they should be. where were we? Ah yes. Crowd Control. As stated on Wikipedia:
Crowd control (also called CC) is a term used in MMORPGs (Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games) and MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) games to refer to the ability to limit the number of mobs actively fighting during an encounter.[1] It can also refer to abilities that influence or prevent the abilities or actions of other character(s).

As described, Crowd Control can be an aspect of both PVE (player versus environment) and PVP (player versus player) gameplay. By either limiting or nullifying your enemies, an entirely new dynamic is added to the combat system.

Nothing looks quite as satisfying as the awesome power of the Warrior's kick!

If you have played other MMORPGs or MOBAs, you have probably already encountered the concept of crowd control and have an idea of how it works. Stuns, fears, snares, knockbacks, pulls and polymorphs are some of the most commonly seen and are fairly self-explainable. Having crowd controls is nothing quite that exciting, rather, it is mostly an expected part of these types of games. What is really unique with WildStar's system is /how/ these are implemented.

A variety of CCs for any situation

Already, we have seen that WildStar has a very mobile combat system. As I discussed in my blog on the Devspeak: Aiming video, we saw that Carbine has implemented a freeform targeting system. Just like many popular action games, WildStar lets you really get behind the wheel of your character. Utilizing enemy and ally telegraphs in the world as well as a mouse-over targeting display, this combat system allows you to dodge, sprint and double jump your way around your enemies, letting you pull off some sick moves.

Keeping in the spirit of such fluidity, the WildStar Crowd Control system takes this concept to a whole new level while simultaneously addressing one of the most frustrating aspects of CC : losing control of one's character.

See, using CC on an enemy creature or player can be fun. Maybe your paladin in WoW cracks down with their hammer, stunning their foe in place. or your Anivia in LoL chills and slows her enemies or summons jutting spires of ice to force her enemies on a particular path to reach her. Yanking a spellcaster within your range as a Death Knight can be just as fun as polymorphing an annoying mob into a tiny sheep on your mage. These unique abilities lend something a little different from the usual arsenal of damage and healing abilities, forcing players to think on their feet and plan ahead. They can be very rewarding to use, even empowering when you yank that Huttball player back just inches from their goal, only to hack them to pieces and run off with the prize.

Any good agent worth their salt always has a trick up their sleeve and the knowhow to manipulate each fight in favor of himself.

And then, the CC happens to you. Very few things are more frustrating than suddenly losing complete control of your character, watching them getting mauled while you are helpless to stop them. And let's not forget how irritating it felt to be "Stunlocked" or caught up in a chained series of crowd control effects that kept your character completely unable to do anything until their inevitable demise. I know, I personally have said plenty of choice words at my monitor over such things before.

Taking all of these things into consideration, WildStar has created what they call "breakout gameplay." Keeping in the style of their actioned packed combat system, each form of crowd control has a means to break free or at least allow you limited control of your character while giving each one a very unique and immersive feel. Going in order with the video, I will be giving a brief description and solution for each of the thus far mentioned Crowd Controls.


When disarmed, your weapon physically appears on the field (left). Run through the image to retrieve it and get back into the fray (right)

I remember the first time I was disarmed in WoW. I was really confused why my weapon had disappeared and I was suddenly punching the monster I was fighting. After a while I understood it a bit better, but I don't think I ever really came to appreciate it as more than something that occasionally happened to me and was really irritating.

In WildStar, disarming is a bit more intense. You still lose your weapon and start punching the enemy, but there is a whole new aspect added that fits the very freeform combat system. Your weapon actually "flies out onto the field" and you can physically go pick it up. From what I understand here, there is still a time set on the disarm, so eventually you will get your weapon back. But thanks to the "Breakout gameplay" you can 'break out' of the disarm by physically chasing down your weapon to get back into the fray. Of course, as they mentioned in the video, this also adds another level of risk and reward. With potential enemy telegraphs all over, it could also just simply be more prudent to make a run for it, or simply punch away and let your weapon come back over time.


Stun: (ing good looks)
...Hawkens...did you just try to make a joke?

...Now why would I go and do that?

By mashing your "F" prompt key, you can break free of your stun and get back into the action!

Right. Stuns. Fun to use on others, absolutely horrendous when it is used on you. A well executed stun makes you feel like a tactical genius while those precious few seconds used against you are nothing more than hair-pulling aggravation as you stare helplessly at the screen. In WildStar, stuns are more interactive. Rather than being forced to stand and howl in rage, a prompt will appear. By rapidly pressing the 'F' key, you can build up a small bar and...wait for it..."Break out" of your stun ;) Do nothing and you will remain locked as normal. Rapidly mash your key and gain the chance for some revenge!

You don't have to end up like this!


Don't just sit around waiting for him to crush you! Get back on your feet!
Throwing down your enemy is always satisfying. That'll teach them to mess with you, right? But being tossed on your own backside is hardly dignified. Come back in style by double tapping or CTRL-WASD to roll to your feet and leave the competition behind.

Nuuuuu poor stemdragon! D:

Disorient and ledges do not work well together!
Being smashed by a giant hammer alongside the head can leave a person reeling, so what better way to show this then by changing up the very core of the movement system. Whether the directions of WASD always change the same way, or randomize on each disorient, even this simple switch up could be extremely deadly. A swift retreat would be recommended...that is, if you can figure out which way to stumble.

Oh Sh----!

Yeah...good luck!
I remember the first time I saw the blind effect while playing Final Fantasy. It drastically lowered the accuracy rating of my characters while appearing as a dark cloud over their face. Now, no longer just a graphical image, WildStar puts you right in the thick of it, with an entire screen effect. While you still remain in full control of your character, good luck trying to pull anything off when you cannot see!

Well done tree healer...those Dominion soldiers are /really/ impressed

Hawkens...stop cackling...I can hear you from here!

Perish the thought...

Just when you think you are about to escape...
A new type of CC that utilizes a stationary anchor which leashes or "tethers" another target to itself. Use it to keep an enemy from running or tear it apart quickly before the owner reaches you and exacts their fury!

CC and bosses:

Teamwork and Synergy can help take down even the biggest of the badies!

Few things are more frustrating than having a cool ability that is completely and utterly useless against an enemy because it is considered a "boss". In WoW, it was irritating, but not the end of the world as there were many other skills at one's disposal that you could use for a fight. Here in WildStar you have a limited action set that you create from a pool of abilities. Mind you, you can change the abilities on the fly, but it is really nice to have abilities that are useful at all times, if not necessarily the most efficient to use. Here WildStar introduces interrupt armor to their boss mobs. If I understood the implication correctly, I imagine this being an armor that needs to be "broken" so perhaps each CC interrupt or stun acts as a partial CC, and multiple CC attempts stacked together will successfully break through the barrier and stun the boss.

I personally love these interesting and fresh new takes on an old MMO staple. They will probably take a bit of getting used to, but I really like the idea that you can actually DO something about Crowd Control. To me, this really fits the fluidity of their combat style. In a game where I can dash across a field, double jump over a rock and land in a whirlwind of claws amongst my enemies, it only fits the style to roll to my feet from a knockdown, rather than writhe pathetically on the ground QQing.

If you would like to listen to a bit more on these topics, check out Stephen Frost's commentary version here! Also hmmm....wonder what this "secret sauce" of the action based combat will be...

It just wouldn't be a Devspeak without some form of humor. Wonder what this means? Check it out here.


1 comment:

  1. It means... John Wiesman is in the game duh, Great read. It expressed my feeling alike good sir. Cheers *clink*