Topic-icon Pantheon: We want details and specifics! Brad McQauid Explains

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2 months 1 week ago #46015 by Kazara
Kazara created the topic: Pantheon: We want details and specifics! Brad McQauid Explains

(Note: this was posted in response to members of the community wanting more concrete and specific detail behind spells/abilities memorization, slots, re-memming, etc. I'm posting it here as well because a lot of the philosophy and logic I try to convey in response to questions regarding this specific area of the game are also applicable to many other systems where, as of right now (July 2017), it makes more sense to discuss the high-level vision and the philosophy and goals regarding these systems than the specific details and mechanics. In other words, at this stage of development, it seems more prudent and to be more productive and helpful if we discuss what we're trying to accomplish should we limit the number of abilities you can mem (again, just one example of many) as opposed to exactly how this system works in detail, how many slots there might be, etc. Having a dialog with the community at this point regarding what we're trying to accomplish at the high level, what our goals are, and what we'd like to see happen is something we love to do. On the other hand, setting in stone how many ability slots there will be, or the exact group size we're shooting for, or any other similar specifics seems pre-mature. We'd like to maintain being open about the big picture and the vision behind Pantheon now, and then later, in alpha and beta, when we have a significant number of people playing all of the time and providing consistent hands-on feedback and the commercial launch of the game coming sooner than later... it's then that we feel it makes much more sense to dig as deep as we need to and to debate the details as necessary.

Lastly, as mentioned in conclusion, we really appreciate all that the community does to spread the word about Pantheon. Helping us also by explaining the vision behind the game as opposed to getting mired down in details that won't be worked out until alpha/beta anyway would be fantastic. Lastly and specifically, any help you guys can render in regards to explaining to people new to a game like Pantheon why the combat is actually very deep, tactical in nature, much more challenging then how it might at this point appear, and quite simply, a bunch of fun, is also hugely appreciated!)

Aradune said:

Hey guys, I have to be kind of vague here, apologies in advance, because this is the sort of thing we're implementing and tweaking as we speak. But I can speak to it in a general, more philosophical manner.

Pantheon has several types of what we internally call Abilities. Abilities can be prayers, spells, actions, stances, etc. Some Abilities will require you to 'mem' them, some requiring re-memming them after you use them, e.g. more like EQ or even MUDs. We like this because it requires thought and preparation prior to battle. And, honestly, we're not super keen on wall of buttons for people to just be mashing (e.g. the screenshot that was posted). BUT, some abilities, like stances and certain actions, will not require memorization.

What you are seeing in the screenshots with the UI is work-in-progress, but I can generally explain it: The side bar of icons are spells/prayers that have been memorized. The bottom bar is a general purpose bar where you can place memmed spells, other abilities, simple macros, etc. So it could conceivably grow large even though memorized spells/prayers are limited.

Let me know if that was helpful or if I just added to the confusion :)

Silvanoshi said in response (btw, *not* picking on Silvanoshi -- we get asked for details and specifics all of the time):

I love the variety. Old EQ1 style of memorization.. and something new (memorization after use).

Perhaps this is something you can't answer yet ---- But will we be able to rememorize spells in combat?

Aradune said in resposne:

I can reveal what we are generally trying to accomplish and the vision and thinking behind it, but it's too early to set number of slots or anything else in stone, specifics and the like.

Fundamentally, what we're shooting for here is needing to plan for that next encounter, especially significant encounters (boss mobs and the like). There should be a noticeable reward for prepping for an encounter properly vs. just running into combat without any forethought or tactics.

There ideally shouldn't be a set of abilities that is always optimal. It should change depending on where you are and what you are going up against.

We don't want it to be so key that you are messing with your character's configuration all of the time (needlessly tedious). Also any type of reconfiguration of your character, or anything really that you may end up doing relatively frequently needs to be supported by an intuitive and easy to use UI and interface. But on the opposite extreme we do want people to learn about encounters, figure out tactics, etc. again the more so the more significant the mob. As you learn a dungeon and master its significant or special encounters a big part of that process should be learning what kind of defensive and offensive capabilities these mobs have. Also, their disposition and behaviors. Running in blind or with minimal planning should put you at a disadvantage vs. the party that *did* plan.

Of course, this extends beyond spells that you mem. Situational gear should play a part as well. Relics and artifacts should play an important role in the big fights. Your group composition and how you work with others and not just individually should matter too. The buffs you apply to yourself and party should matter. Group positioning (both initial positioning and then re-positioning either based on a plan or in reaction to something the mob did or is about to do), depending on class, DPS, ability to tank or off-tank, etc. should be very important. What we're trying to implement and reward are real tactics that give you an advantage over the party who just rushes in blindly with little to no thoughtful preparation. In MMOs your characters abilities, items, etc. generally matter a lot. Then comes buffs. Then eventually actual tactics.

I personally don't see one necessarily always being more important than the other. Certainly, the items you are using, how you are buffed, etc. should matter a *lot*. Pantheon will always be an item-centric and 'ability important' game. But that by no means is a scenario where, at any given level, there's one optimal configuration and as long as you adhere to it, you'll be in good shape. Items, stats, buffs, etc. will always be extremely important. Having that optimal configuration vary depending on who you are, where you are, who you are with, etc. is very important to us -- no 'one size fits all'.

But then there's actually how you play the game once you start the encounter battle. The last thing we want is just button mashing... auto-attack and rescue if you're a tank. Hold back and then mana dump a bunch of damage spells at the right time if you're a caster.... All of this is fine to a degree, but I think it's devolved over time and the optimal use of tactics once in the battle seems to have had less and less importance over the years. It's hard to see all of this in a text description of it, or by watching a twitch stream, but a lot of it is there already, at least the genesis of it. Ideally as these systems mature and as we get more people into the game, we'll figure out clear and obvious ways to communicate that to the viewer. Especially the younger gamer who many not have ever experienced this style of MMO combat done right. Somehow we need to convey this visually -- we need to make it apparent in a video or stream that our combat is not brainless button mashing -- unfortunately, unless your combat system is all action-oriented (say, for example, Destiny) people who've never experienced such a system watch the video and conclude (wrongly) that the combat is simplistic or brainless. Quite the opposite is true, of course. In fact I'd say that both the preparation and execution of combat, both doing what you were planning as well as responding to your allies *and* your enemies decisions creates a situation that is much more complex and involved than what we've often seen as of late. Our intent is to take the 'tab targeting' combat system rarely seen anymore and to turn it up to 11, so to speak. You need to be paying attention. You need to have counterspells and defensive reactions and you need to use them at the optimal times. As mentioned, you need to correctly prep for the next encounter and then execute upon your plan during that encounter. What we're assembling here is about as far away from, and as different and distinct from, the excessively frequent and mindless button mashing and triple jumping all over the map in an MMO as you can get.

I'd also like to see Mana and other resource management mean more in Pantheon than what we've experienced in recent times. I remember in MUDs and MMOs I used to play that this resource management was very important. Some systems made you take up a slot with the spell/ability you were memming. Sometimes you'd mem both your best healing spell (just as an example) but you'd also fill up a slot with a lesser powerful healing spell as well. Why? Because often times it wasn't simply true that using your latest and greatest spell was always the best strategy. Sometimes it was more mana efficient to use your lesser heals and you'd hold back and only use your latest and greatest when the situation truly called for it.

At this point, as I mentioned right away at the beginning, it's still too early to commit to specifics. Pre-alpha, alpha, and even the earlier phases of beta is where not only you guys but the dev team too will learn sooo much about Pantheon (if I've learned anything, it's that how your MMO plays with the dev team and a few testers in-game vs. how it plays when properly populated couldn't be more fundamentally different). Right now exactly how spells are memmed, number of slots, re-memorizing, etc. is still something we're tweaking as needed... but, fair warning, once we have enough people regularly playing we will zero in on the details. The precise implementation depends not just on our grand ideas but on how all of you react to different variations on the theme we will experiment with during our very important closed and then later open testing. Until then instead of explaining exactly how it does work today and then posting an update if we change anything, etc. doesn't really make a lot of sense -- too early for quite a few things, especially when it comes to specific areas that we will undoubtedly tweak, alter and change. And this is one of those areas where I foresee a lot of 'back and forth' -- in fact it's because of the importance of issues like this that we do purposely hold back on the details until it makes sense to 'dig deep', instead focusing now on and having a dialog with you all about the vision, the high-level goals, and the philosophy behind what we're trying to accomplish. Waiting until the timing is right to dig deeper and have these conversations with our testers is definitely the right call -- it's not putting anything off by any means; rather it's waiting until putting time and energy into something is both productive and healthy.

Much better at this point to try to effectively communicate to you all our ideas, our intent, what we'd like aspects of the game to feel like and play through. Listing our goals and vision for the game I think serves us both a lot better than to try to nail something down now, this area and the specifics of how it works. Plenty of time to get into specifics later -- far better to get dialogs going between the devs and the community about higher level goals and the feel and experience we're trying to capture.

Let me know if that made any sense :) And in the meantime, if it did make sense, help spread the word. Not just in general, although you know we always appreciate that, but specifically regarding this issue: just about every time we show off combat in a stream or video there are always some comments asserting that, from what they could see anyway, combat looks simple or boring or both. If from what I’ve written here and the countless other times we’ve either shown combat, described it, or both, you can figure out how to convey that quite the opposite is in reality true… if you can help us in this area, we would all be tremendously grateful. As always, thanks for listening and we look forward to hearing from you.


If Brad McQuaid's name remains attached to this game, I am not interested.

Racist: [rey-sist] noun; 1. Someone who wins an argument against a Liberal. 2. Anyone who doesn't completely share Liberal ideology.

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