Simple Graphics for Simple Minds

Setting things on fire in-game is satisfying to a degree that is psychologically worrisome. The implementation, however, is important.

One thing I really enjoy in Team Fortress 2 is playing a Pyro. When you light someone up, they really are on fire, and it covers the entire character model. They yell for help, announcing that they are on fire. If there is water on the map, they may go diving off the edge. If you get a kill, the body will smolder on the ground. Nothing messes up an enemy charge like lighting up a few people, who instinctively go looking for health in a way that simple bullets cannot cause.

Contrast this with your MMO. What happens when you hit an enemy with an elemental effect? Most of the time, it seems, you can have an animation during the casting time and for a second or so later. You can have someone on fire from a half-dozen sources, and they just have a string of debuff/DoT icons. Stacking DoTs is still a good thing, but is a far cry from the panicked shouts of ogres.

Some do this a bit better, or do for certain effects. Some of the City of Heroes control graphics are great. Lock your enemy in a block of ice, boulder, or sphere of electricity. Have little ice cubes fall off a slowed target. Great. The Lord of the Rings Online™’s Red Maid gets a great graphic on her immobilize, with red specters rising from the bloodied waters to hold you in place. Does your game do anything like this well, where an ongoing effect has a highly satisfying ongoing visual? Let us know.

It would be nice to see them scale, from a low-level singe to a high-level pyre. I am not sure how well that works for all energy attacks. I can see frost scaling from a blue tint from a low-level slow to a giant ice cube. I would need to think about some of the others.

: Zubon

8 thoughts on “Simple Graphics for Simple Minds”

  1. but is a far cry from the panicked shouts of ogres.

    Man, it’s been ages since I put a snake in the college football team locker room.

    Good times.

  2. It would be nice to see them scale, from a low-level singe to a high-level pyre.
    Of course, visual effect scaling can also go horribly wrong. Try watching a Balance druid in a WoW raid. While others throw normal-sized fireballs and shadowbolts at the boss, the druid hits them with an Ion Cannon blast from orbit. ;-)

  3. It’s one of the reasons I enjoyed Age of Conan – the fighting mechanics had real impact to them. Nothing quite as satisfying as slicing the throat of the person who tried to gank you earlier :) Fatalities should be in every MMO..

  4. Hirvox, don’t forget entangling them with the roots of the world tree.

    I assume Zubon’s talking about scaling the magnitude of the effect with level rather than scaling to the opponent’s size. In the case of physical attacks I would prefer scaling based on the difference in power levels between the two parties. A sword-fight between equally matched opponents, where both are checking each other’s moves, is not nearly as action-movie-ish as one where one guy trounces the other.

  5. Oh man, Red Maid, been a looong time since I’ve seen that battle. Good ol’ days.

    Used to love Pack Hunter (think that was it) late in my MP career…it’d stick a huge, goofy-looking flag on the freep’s back. Applied it mostly for the comedy value.

    Engineer’s Land Mine in Warhammer was fun, esp. in a crowded area, amusing to watch 5-6 people suddenly flop over on their backs at the same time.

  6. I assume Zubon’s talking about scaling the magnitude of the effect with level rather than scaling to the opponent’s size.
    Yes, but I think that the problem is not on which game mechanic the scaling is tied to and rather on the scale itself. In a run-of-the-mill fantasy MMO, the power level of the player character ranges from getting killed by rats to curbstomping gods. That Ion Cannon blast and the roots of the World Tree are even more ridiculous when used on that rat.

    On a more positive note, Fable 2 had a nice scaling system. Each spell had five levels. For example, the lightning attack at level 1 is a small zap while the level 5 one was a huge thunderbolt. The trick was that if you wanted to cast that level 5 one, you had to charge the spell through levels 1-4, and you could stop casting at any time to launch a low-powered version of the spell. Learning a new rank of a spell made the earlier ones faster to cast, which made your character stronger versus weaker enemies without running into that Ion Cannon vs rat-problem.

  7. Gameplay is essential, Content is king, but Visuals are the gateway. Graphics sell it, Animation keeps selling it.

    Visuals do matter.

Comments are closed.