Massively: Can you explain why the component combat system and player design of combat abilities doesn't render the concept of classes moot?
CSE's Mark Jacobs: Absolutely! Think of the combat system in the same way you would magic. As a member of a certain Realm, you might not have access to particular components, whether for magic or melee combat. Further, your class might have further restrictions in terms of combinations of components. For example, the HelBound will be able to use some healing components that pure fighter classes can't, but they won't have access to the vast majority of magical components.
This system does not give all classes all the components; rather, it allows you to create your own combinations using the ones your class can work with. Again, all classes will not have access to all components, so mages can't use all of them, nor can any other class, even hybrids.
A lot of MMO players prefer hotkey-based push-combat specifically because it requires no twitch skills. How will CU avoid the trap of making action combat too much about manual dexterity rather than mental acuity?
Well, we have already said that our mages won't be bunny-hopping their way to success, and the same applies to archers. We have also stated we will have few or no insta-cast abilities, which will further limit the amount of twitchiness in the game. Now, we have said as well that we won't have any limited action sets, so you are going to have to deal with a lot of options. However, I don't think that kind of manual dexterity will be a problem for our players. Plus, while we have said there will be no global cooldown, we have also stated that abilities will have individual cooldowns/recovery times, so you will not just be able to spam powerful ones.
How will latency affect the realistic attack-and-defend action-combat of the game?
I hope not much, within a certain tolerance. That is one of the things Andrew has been spending a lot of his mindshare on, improving network usage and tolerance for delayed and lost packets. Now, will I say something stupid like, "Latency will never affect your gameplay!"? No, because nobody can say this realistically because sometimes it does; it is simply a fact in these games. If you fire off a packet that says you attacked something and it never arrives or does so 30 seconds after it was sent, you can't rewind time. But you can design a system that is reasonably fault tolerant, with checks, resends, and verifications so the game can compensate. But given current technology plus what's reasonably foreseeable over the next couple of years, there's no chance of perfection. Frankly, if I had a solution so that latency, packet loss, etc. would never, ever affect players in an MMORPG (or other online game), I'd bottle it and sell it for mad FB bucks! :)
Thanks for explaining! Readers, don't miss our past interviews with Mark Jacobs from BSC week!
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When readers want the scoop on a launch or a patch (or even a brewing fiasco), Massively goes right to the source to interview the developers themselves. Be they John Smedley or Chris Roberts or anyone in between, we ask the devs the hard questions. Of course, whether they tell us the truth or not is up to them!