It is my belief that, while the combat system in Entropia Universe is functional, it falls short of being as engaging as systems that currently exist within competing Massively Multiplayer Online RPG's. I believe that some attention and revisions to this system focusing on combat engagement, and rewarding players with higher skills for their effort, will both add appeal to the platform and increase value to player skills.
The system I am proposing focuses on combat mechanics. My reasons are simple.
I play a combat oriented character. This is what I know about the game. Experts in other professions are welcome to contribute expansions to this idea for their own profession.
I feel engaging combat is the core of any game. Its how many players get involved with the product and get to know it.
I feel a combat revision would add depth and complexity to economic calculations on the part of the players, and open new analytical discussions. Mentors in combat will have kill strategies they can impart, as well as strategies on how to armor up, choose a weapon, and choose prey effectively.
The New Combat UI
Pictured above is a sample of what my revised combat screen may look like.
The biggest difference from the current setup is the hotbar. This hotbar is meant to be configured by the user within their settings to be mappable to any key on the keyboard. This can be done via a dropdown menu, or a keypress and confirmation window.
Once this is configured any skill or item that the player drops into the designated key will show up in the hotbar, as long as that keyboard set is selected as active. Different keyboard sets would have the same hotkey configuration, but may have different items or skills associated with them.
As you can see if you expand the image, the key the hotbar slot is associated with is listed on the icon. An empty slot would show as a blank icon box (semi-transparent black), with the associated key displayed.
Six keys are used, putting the player in a position where they have to choose what skills are displayed. Since this is intended for combat, it makes sense to limit the amount of hotkeys on the hotbar. Some players may find this annoying in that the visible hotkeys are too few. Others may find the hotbar annoying completely, and want to dismiss it. The hotbar can be removed via a key press on the action set, just like any other UI element. For those who want more hotkeys, remember you can drag any item onto the screen you wish, and place it anywhere. The intention of this bar is for combat.
Skill use is displayed on the hotbar in the form of an active skill. A skill currently being used will highlight blue. A black overlay is used to show any timer present.
Combat itself has two skill use types, class 1 and class 2.
A class 1 skill is used immediately, and is unavailable for use again until the timer wears off. Another class 1 skill may be used during this period. These are standard combat motions, such as stab, thrust, spin, kick, etc.
A class 2 skill is used immediately, and is unavailable for use again until the timer wears off, just like a class 1 skill. However no other class 2 skill may be used until the timer wears off on the first skill. These are combat stances, skills that remain in effect for a long period of time and have an effect on the outcome of either skills used by the player, defensive capabilities of the player, or mob aggression towards the player.
In the image above, the class 1 skill highlights as blue, and is the left hand most skill on the bar. For the purposes of the image, let's call that skill "Bleed." The player has attacked the mob, causing a small bleed effect on the creature in addition to their own regular combat damage.
A class 2 skill is also present, this is highlighted in grey, and also has a timer. It is the right hand most skill on the bar. In this case, the skill used is "Defensive Stance." The players Evade and Dodge capabilities are increased by a small percentage and in trade their attack rate is slightly reduced to compensate for this bonus. After 10 minutes the stance use expires and the player may return to the default Entropia Universe combat state. They may then change the stance, continue to remain in the current stance, or switch to the default state, depending on how they feel the combat is going.
Class 1 Skills: Combat Skills
A Class 1 skill is meant to add strategic decision making to each individual combat situation, on a case-by-case basis. The goal is to provide potential slight efficiency advantages toward a player who has taken the time to develop their skills over time, promoting character growth and rewarding the player with a richer and more efficient game experience.
Many players have concerns over the expense of hunting at high levels. This system is intended to provide some relief from that, if properly utilized.
Each Class 1 skill is associated with a parent weapon type. Parent weapon types would include Longblades, Shortblades, Handgun, Rifle, Cryogenics, etc. Accumulating class 1 skills in this system is determined by raw professional level for each of these weapon types. Every 10 levels in a profession a new class 1 skill associated with that profession becomes available, or an old class 1 skill can be trained up to become more efficient. In theory, if a character were to achieve professional level 200, they would have gained 20 potential increases towards class 1 skills in that profession.
The system is designed to not have 20 skills available under any profession. Instead a player has a finite number of skills they may choose from, for example 10 skills. The rest of the increases are designed to be used to improve those 10 skills. Each skill may be improved up to 3 times beyond the original skill, increasing its efficiency from the original base values slightly each time.
10 points spent to gain 10 skills at base levels.
(10 total skills) * (3 improvements per skill) = 30 improvement points.
10 base level skills + 30 improvements = 40 total improvements possible.
1 skill improvement per 10 levels / 200 levels = 20 skill improvements available.
In this way, even at the final stages of professional development, no character may master all skills, and each avatar will be potentially unique. Avatars can create specialties for themselves which may be useful in a given combat situation, or may promote their effectiveness vs a certain mob type. A player may achieve total mastery of only 5 class 1 skills, training the skill over the avatars available progression period for 5 large advantages. Or they may mix and match skill types for different situations, giving numerous smaller advantages.
Possible Class 1 Skills and Examples
To see how this works I will pick on the Longblades profession and flesh out 10 possible Class 1 skills, and their improvements.
*unless otherwise stated, an attack is assumed to be available for use 3 seconds after its last use.
Please see the main website here to view all the charts and the complete post, as tables dont translate well onto the forum.
Feedback is welcome.
I'd go with any sort of combat revision. This one to me just seems the simplest way to do things, utilizing common elements already in the game and not needing to do things like code in additional hitboxes on avatars and mobs, taking latency into account for each strike on each region, and what the effects might be of different combat techniques... then code in those techniques!
Unfortunately a true shooter would be unplayable for people on the other side of the globe from the servers. With latency times in excess of 400 ms, the mob hitbox would move to a new location long before the player was able to react, virtually guaranteeing a called shot scenario to be ineffective.