Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Dr. Strangezoeller: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying And Love the Lack of Auto-attacks

Darth Zoeller was once again up to his usual shenanigans today, stopping by the forums to chime in on the forum post and poll regarding the lack of auto-attacks in SWTOR:

Georg states:
I think it is worth noting in this context that the game is relatively forgiving about the timing of your button presses / clicks, and therefore this particular concern about not having auto attack should be a non issue.

To ensure equal ability activation timing (and therefore DPS potential) between players with high and low latency, the game will, during the execution of an ability, allow you to 'queue up' the next activation (within a reasonable time window).

This ensures that your character is able to seamlessly move from one attack to the next without the player losing precious milliseconds by not exactly hitting the end of the previous ability/attack (something that would, in the end, force the player to spam buttons/clicks).

Naturally, moving/jumping etc will abort such queued up attacks/ability activations at any time.

Our testers have consistently lauded the absence of auto-attack as positive so far..
And when asked what he had meant about "queuing," Georg clarifies:
This is really a technical feature, not a gameplay mechanic. Basically, instead of requiring you to precisely mash a button to time the end of a cooldown of a previous ability, we give you a (small) window in which the game accepts button/click input while your previous ability is still executing. 
It actually removes the need to closely watch the cooldown bar/UI as you can instead time your button presses with what action you see your character perform on screen (e.g. I'm close to the end of my previous attack, I can now hit the next attack and it will seamlessly execute - I don't have to wait until my character has fully finished his current move). Again, more fluid, more action-y, less vulnerable to latency.
Personally, I enjoyed the combat in Age of Conan, for example.  One of the issues would be folks simply macroing all of their attacks out, but George stated that he could "see a number of solutions" this this problem.  How many of them involved Force Choking players into submission?  The two most important factors for this to be successful to me at least, are that the system must feel "fluid" (i.e., attacks flow into one another and don't feel jarring) and it should not penalize those who for whatever reason, have a higher-than-average latency.  Here's hoping we get a few peeks at combat in more detail next week during the PAX festivities!

Musco over at TOROcast has summarized this topic in a great blog post entitled "Attacking Is No Longer Automatic."  I definitely suggesting stopping by there and reading his thoughts on the matter.  Musco has actually played the game, and he seems satisfied with the combat system so far.

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