Lost Pages of Taborea: Do-It-Yourself Combat Engine

When I first started playing Runes of Magic and other MMOs, I never used addons because they broke my perceived immersion. Fast forward to today and I have well over a dozen different addons to enhance my user interface and interaction with Taborea. There are quite a few addons that I'd now highly recommend. The collection has both evolved and stayed basically the same over the months. The collection does grow, but a lot of the new addons that come along don't see any love once uploaded. Some of the great classics -- like Advanced AuctionHouse -- are constantly being updated and are very useful. Many others that come along are variations on older popular addons or they aren't popular because they are small fluff addons. Basically, there's a core of great addons that are still being updated, but good new addons are coming at a slow pace.

One new addon in particular is the Do-It-Yourself Combat Engine. DIYCE is a robust combat engine that can allow players to pre-script entire combat encounters with the push of a button. There are some ethical questions about the ability to easily program what some would call a cheat code. Is this going too far and skirting the boundaries of hacking? Let's take a closer look at the pros and cons for this program.

What it does

DIYCE technically isn't an addon. It's a library of Lua code that players can use to create their own unique combat engine to function around a particular class' skills. It immediately limits the number of players who can use it, as everyone is not familiar with programming an addon. Sure, the programming-savvy could make templates for those without the skill to make their own, but I think the work involved keeps the daily download amount low. After all, there are 48 class combinations to choose from with a small ratio of programmers to gamers.

There is another combat engine that functions as a complete addon called UberFlex AutoCombat System. Through a series of checkboxes and blank spaces, players can customize a complete combat routine with the touch of one button. UberFlex hasn't seen an update in 11 months, but it's still downloaded more often than DIYCE -- probably because it's more accessible. Both sport a way to completely automate the game and potentially give an advantage to players in instances, PvP servers or battlefields. It does paint these programs in a somewhat unscrupulous light when viewed this way, but RoM's friendly approach to giving players such control and the ability for physically challenged players to enjoy RoM are also strong supporters of this power.

Early in my World of Warcraft career, a friend asked me about macros. I hadn't a clue how to make them and only knew what the term meant. We had never fully explored it all, but we came to the conclusion that WoW was pretty limited. It seemed like tying lines of text together was the only use for them. In comparison RoM had started not only with the ability to do this, but also with the ability to chain attacks together -- which I thought was pretty cool. To me it was an additional choice for players to utilize how and if they wanted. It's already allowed for many popular addons that chain specific skill rotations based on different circumstances.

Pros and cons

RoM has a lot of situational combat when you get into anything PvP. It's this area that could be troubling for some players who know addons like DIYCE are out there. I'm not sure that the addons are that effective against another player or group of players, though. I would think that most players who enjoyed PvP would actually not want to use such a system. Since the addon only regulates skills (and thus requires manual operation to move the character), it's not a strong contender for bot-exploitation, either. This leaves the best use for it in the persistent world -- outside of dungeons and PvP. For those most concerned with leveling efficiently, farming dailies, and farming drops, I see the ability to use the combat addons as a nice convenience. Very little is ever perfect in this world, and MMOs prove that more than I'd like, but the choices and convenience outweigh any annoyances or possible unfairness as far as I'm concerned. The other issue is allowing for a more accessible game to the physically challenged.

I definitely have a philanthropic side, and I love to read the stories about physically challenged WoW players. That's why it made me smile to read a post about an older RoM player who had used UberFlex because he no longer had the reflexes and hand-eye coordination he once had. Here's an addon that has helped one older person by letting him configure what he couldn't handle, but keep anything he still wanted control over. There's a lot of potential to give people access to an MMO that they otherwise wouldn't be able to play. That places the pros far above the cons of these addons, in my opinion.

Conclusion

I'm not knowledgeable enough about WoW, but I don't quite see why Blizzard couldn't add in the ability to put combat skills into macros. It is a much larger MMO and may be a future vision of the route RoM will have to take. The hazards are there, and the game is constantly evolving. Future expansions could change mechanics or add new features that amplify the negative aspects of having an addon with such widespread power. But until a day like that arrives, addons like DIYCE and UberFlex could be helping RoM a lot more than hurting it. Someone else must agree, because the DIYCE thread on the RoM forum was stickied.

There are many more experienced players out there than I, and you may know of some shortcomings or nefarious applications for these addons that I don't see. Is the potential to chain attacks worth keeping? Are addons of this complexity worth the risk? It may be a gray area that needs to be manually policed by Runewaker or Frogster. If you could, would you remove the addons or the ability to make skill-based macros?

Each Monday, Jeremy Stratton delivers Lost Pages of Taborea, a column filled with guides, news, and opinions for Runes of Magic. Whether it's a community roundup for new players or an in-depth look at the Rogue/Priest combo, you'll find it all here. Send your questions to jeremy@massively.com.
This article was originally published on Massively.