I've tried dozens of MMOs, and still nothing comes close to capture the experience, spirit, and atmosphere of Asheron's Call 2. Open, seamless world, dropping items onto the environment, unique races and classes, etc.
But the crucial difference for me why those other games don't hook me: lack of suspense in combat. So many games' combat is based on trite, mindless, repetitive action. But action by itself doesn't connect deeply with the player.
What is missing from these games is suspense, which AC 2 somehow was able to evoke. Kind of hard to explain--it has to be experienced personally: a real sense of dread, of impending failure, of "oh so close, please don't die!". It's an experience that cannot be emerged by endless action and quick reflexes. There has to be more than just action; memorable experience (in games, books, movies alike) has to bring about a sequence of strong emotions, like peril, fear, belief, celebration.
Alas, it's apparently almost impossible to find the same feelings in other MMOs (the many that I've tried) as I did in AC2. An essence of human experience that is absent, forgotten; something that cannot be implemented, replicated or replaced with better technology, skill, and flash.
RPG Combat -- Additional Victory Conditions
It seems just about every RPG combat feels the same and one-dimensional. It's all about damage, damage, damage. That also means support and non-damage abilities and roles are underplayed and unappreciated. You can see this problem in MMOs where high damage classes can level faster and solo better than support classes.
My suggestion is to provide an additional victory condition besides reducing the enemy's HP to 0. Let's call this willpower (WP). You can win a battle by reducing all the enemies' HP and/or WP to 0.
WP is mainly interacted with typically "support" and non-lethal actions. One method to reduce enemy's WP is with debuffs (e.g. sleep, stun, charm) and to raise (heal) your WP with buffs. When a character's WP is reduced to 0, it is removed from combat.
HP and WP can coexist to provide two different paths to victory and to balance the play styles. Whether you like to hack and slash, or you prefer to demoralize and paralyze your enemies.
What do you think about non-damage win condition? Can this work? How do hybrid classes fit in all this?
Design doc is a work in progress. I will post the date for the latest version of the design doc.
Design doc last updated: August 21, 2015
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