Thursday, November 10, 2011

Jack, the Renaissance Man

You don't know Jack? Everybody knows a little about Jack. I need to knock this [naming convention] off before I get punished...

This is the first in a two-part ending establishing the undeniable need for a trinity in any MMORPG combat mini-game. Through the previous three posts, we share the fundamental assertion with other roles that necessitate the possibility of combat.

This post will focus on the singularity part of combat application. The following will wrap things up with the collective considerations. Note that abstract thought is required as some concepts cannot be purely applied to graphical representations.


Desire to do everything, have no limitations, no weaknesses. What a dream! And games allow us to dream, to achieve or perceive that which isn't possible through life. Well, even in those dreams, our boy Mr. Kent didn't like green stones. Our boys the Lanterns didn't like anything that was yellow. In fact, we tend to disassociate with anything that doesn't have a weakness, of some sort, somewhere.

But let's say it was possible. In a singleplayer RPG for example, all the tools to perform any function are at the behest of the individual. This makes sense, because you can only rely on yourself. But it also makes sense because there are no other people at play, either on ones side or against. Just you and 10 for company.

Jackie Chan, You the Man! (also, Bruce Lee, but no respawns, GG)

Here is a singular concept of an individual performing all possible roles with no one to rely on: the martial artist. In a single 1on1 encounter, both sides of the mat seek to edge out their opposition. This is done through having assets where the other is weak, while simultaneously being strong where the opposition's assets are located. Enter the cycle of brawn vs speed vs brawn vs speed vs brawn... Hey! Even in non-combat we see this theme surface: a magician relies on one hand to distract while the other performs. It's normally something attributed to group-sized elements, but it is alive and well in the singular form, as well!

Tug o' War

We cannot assume one party to be overall more dominant at all facets than the other. Growth must be limited somewhere, otherwise combat becomes entirely trivial. There is no dance, no power struggle.

Recall two things:
1 equal power limits exist to establish a possibility for struggle
2. The struggle is 'won' when one side is successful at 'flanking' the other: pushing a weakness while not getting their own weakspots pushed

In these graphs, the fundamental three forms of combat are considered. Trying to represent these functions in anything more than 2D and the base 3 would be.. 'nightmarish' as a charitable statement. Consider that the areas covered represent abilities being performed at any point in time. Recall that, for consideration purposes, the entirety of all functions are at the call of the wielder. We are not addressing limits on functionality yet.

Clearly, this is indicative of what would end as a draw (AoIs are superimposed). He who initiates wins. It's like playing upper-hand with a baseball bat. There is no tactic involved, it is purely a race to resource depletion.

So to push for victory, one party must move to specialize, or perform in a way that they lean on one aspect of the trinity harder than the others, looking to push an opening. I use the obvious choice to illustrate this.

As a result, one of two things happen: the opponent does not react, and the opening is made. The struggle for power has now shifted left of center, and one side has momentum. At this point, the party having gained momentum can either:
1. push the advantage, like a sports game whereby the team just having scored exploits their momentum gain with another score (ends things quicker, but left wide open for counter-attack)
2. shift back into balance, putting pressure on the other camp to 'make a move' (prolongs encounters, but resistant to counter-attack)

Either immediately, or after the momentum has been gained, a reaction is made. The 2nd party must either shift left of center....

... or specialize themselves to push the advantage into their favor.

Hey, wait a second, that reminds me of something!

This Is the Song that Never Ends...

So back and forth both sides sway, each trying to disrupt the other's flow in rotation between the fundamentals. It is how symmetrical warfare gives birth to asymmetrical. But no matter how the asymmetry goes, it is always dancing around a central, balanced point. There is specialization, but only so far as it is beneficial to do so. However, as we just covered, it is always beneficial to have some sort of specialization ongoing.

It is worth noting that this actually occurs outside of just the base 3, and more akin to a sphere of influence operating in 6D space. If I have kiting capabilities (logistics), I might lean on those if it proves to be beneficial against an enemy with chosen melee focus. If I have interuption capabilities (utility), I might lean on those if it proves to be neneficial to an enemy with chosen casting focus. The examples go on..

Light At the End Of the Tunnel

Surely there is more to this. And yes, in fact, there is. There is a meta-game involved with this same dance. Why wait to enter the fray and make a move or have one made on you? Why not show up specialized, and push an advantage immediately, lest someone do the same to you. Aha! Well knowing that, I'll show up well balanced, it's the perfect counter! And so the dance spreads to the meta-game of specializing vs not, not just inside combat.

This is the perfect segway to the next topic: how this all applies to a group scenario.

Note about Efficiency vs Capability vs Flexibility (applied to next post)

I have attempted to represent areas of influence as ovals. It could have been rectangles. Both of which tie into the next point. When specialization occurs, and someone 'stretches' their area, it shrinks. Ovals and rectangles both have maximum areas when they are circles and squares, respectively (all other things being equal). This is a note on how one might model efficiency vs capability. If I want to be capable of performing at high efficiency, I want a 'general' looking circle. If I want to operate at high capability, my center-mass needs to be located on top of that of which I seek to be capable (ie thoroughbred tank, glass cannon, healbot). If I want to operate with flexibility and cover high points of specializations, I want a stretched oval. Note that at best one can claim 2 of 3. This is why the group mentality has the potential to be so strong. We'll go into this next post.

Previous posts in this series: combat fundamentals, combat derivatives, combat derivative derivatives
Upcoming posts in this series: comes together

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