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Raid Mechanics in Star Wars

April 11, 2012

What follows is a re-post of feedback I gave to the SWTOR developers on the Public Test Server forum.

This is going to be a a bit of a wall of text so bear with me. I wanted to talk about the raid mechanics employed in general throughout the Explosive Conflict instance. Overall this instance is a step up from EV and KP, as it introduces some good tank coordination fights like Toth and Zorn, and it has some different mechanics like Double Destruction on the tanks fight.

What I really wanted to get into, however, is an overall feeling that the mechanics that are being employed are still just a bit too limited. What raid members have to do in these fights is in many ways very similar to what they had to do in EV/KP, and in general the ways that DPS/heals can fail in particular don’t feel very different.

So what mechanics am I talking about? Well, let’s look at each fight in turn.

Toth and Zorn

I have no complaints about this fight. You introduce the concept of keeping your distance from an enemy. You also have a fun mechanic with the Baradium Toss where someone has to move to Toth.

Other damage avoidance mechanics on the fight include staying out of red circles (which are used on many of the fights in EV/KP as well as here).

Firebrand and Stormcaller

This fight introduces two new mechanics that haven’t been seen in previous Operations fights. One is the idea of using two people to split damage. The second is the “Take Cover!” mechanic of getting underneath shields to avoid damage.

Besides that though, the damage avoidance mechanics are similar to what we’ve seen before, i.e. stay out of red circles, stay out of lightning spire circles, move with your yellow target away from folks if you’re “the bomb”, etc.

Vorgath

The one new mechanic here (which is similar to Toth and Zorn’s Baradium Toss) is the idea of getting the defusal kit and being the one who has to disarm the square.

Other than that, we have the “soak” mechanic of blowing up Assassin droids, and the “you are the bomb” mechanic with the red circles at the end.

Warlord Kephess

Again, the theme of “you got the item” comes up. Whoever gets the bomb goes over to the walker and blows it up. The concept of DPS targeting comes into play with hitting the guy who establishes the shield over the other mobs, but then everything else boils down to “Don’t stand in circles or fire.”

So overall, I do think this Operation is a step up, since it introduces some fights with actual tank coordination, it introduces DPS to the concept that they can be picked to do something “special” (Baradium Toss, Defusal, Bomb) on 3 of the 4 fights, and it teaches some basic new mechanics like “Take Cover!” (Firebrand/Stormcaller Shields) and “Keep your Distance!” (Toth and Zorn).

I think right now, though, you rely too heavily on two mechanics for making DPS move, and they are:

(1) Circles of Death – Get out of the circle or take huge damage.

(2) You are the Bomb! – Get away from other players and either eat unavoidable damage or move at the last minute to avoid taking it also.

I wanted to provide examples from other games that you will hopefully consider employing in future raids to create more varied challenges for DPS positioning/movement.

Chain Lightning

Make DPS spread out by having bosses hit with an attack that can chain between players. This forces players to stay spread out and to be thinking about their positioning relative to other players.

Plague

If an enemy inflicts a disease on a player, this could be something that spreads by proximity to other players, or perhaps deliberately leaps to another player when cleansed. You can have lots of fun with “plague” mechanics, e.g., making the plague into a game of Hot Potato by having it deal increasing damage until you shift it to another player via cleansing or proximity.

You can also simply use them in their most basic form as a way to ensure players are careful about where they are standing.

Run To Each Other

You can have two members of the raid forced to run to each other in order to prevent themselves from dying.

Run Away From Each Other

You can have members of the raid have to get away from each other in order to prevent themselves from dying.

Soak the Damage!

You guys have used the Soak mechanic in its most basic form, e.g., with the Soa lightning balls and now with the Vorgath Assassin Droids. However, there are other interesting soak mechanics you can employ.

Have an attack that will deal a certain amount of fixed damage that would kill any one player, but if a bunch of players all stand together, the damage will be split between them. This forces a dynamic clumping to occur in a fight. This can work both in the small scale (e.g., two tanks or two DPS) all the way up to large scale (e.g., most of the raid has to get into the area to spread the dmg around).

You could also have escalating soak damage based off proximity where players could trade off handling the soaking.

Giving players debuffs so they can’t soak twice in a row creates a coordination check that is good for Hard/Nightmare modes.

The Trail of Fire

DPS get a debuff that causes them to lay down fire underneath them. The only way to not die is to stop what you’re doing and run. This leaves a trail of fire behind the player. This is an interesting mechanic since it challenges the raider to notice the debuff, get out of the raid and then drop the trail in a place that won’t negatively impact the rest of the raid.

Another way you see this employed is with a big circle dropped when you have the debuff cleansed rather than a continuous trail. This challenges the player to get to a safe place and then call for a cleanse.

The Walls of Death

Movement to get away from bad things doesn’t have to be limited to circles. Make raiders avoid rotating walls of fire, lasers, ice, cutter beams, etc. WoW has employed this mechanic with great success, on the Lurker Below, Mimiron, Hagara, Sartharion, Halion, etc.

Slowing Effects

Having situations where DPS get slowed but still have to handle mechanics like getting out of fire or walls of death can be very interesting and create a good coordination check. You could have such debuffs be cleansable and/or simply based on moving out of an area that causes the slow.

Take Cover!

You have introduced the take cover mechanic with the shields on Firebrand and Stormcaller, but this is the mechanic in it simplest form. If you introduce a directional component, you can really create the need for some raid coordination.

For example imagine an enemy that sprays fire but getting behind an object on the playing field protects you.

Break me Out!

Another common mechanic is to trap a player and force other players to DPS something to free the player. This is a great pacing mechanic that you can use. If players fall behind, enough of the raid will be compromised that you won’t be able to win. You used this to great effect on Soa.

Ways to make it even more challenging can be to combine it with the plague mechanic, i.e., anyone standing near you at the time the trap hits also get trapped.

Dodge This!

Create obstacles that can be dodged. Waves of fire, spheres of death, spinning blades, etc. Rather than making the player move away from a stationary object, force the player to dodge a moving object.

Move the Boss!

Make circles that buff/help the boss go down underneath him, forcing the tank to pay attention and move the enemy out of those circles. You’ve employed this mechanic outside of Operations, e.g., with green circles, so consider using it in Operations as well.

Circles of Life

To follow up on the previous point, if the circles that buff the boss also buff the players, this creates an interesting positional mechanic for the tank where the boss needs to be kept out of it but positioned such that the players can stand in it.

In general, good circles that buff damage, etc., can be interesting, since they challenge the players to use them correctly to meet enrages, etc.

Split Up!

Consider splitting the raid up and forcing people to handle totally different tasks. You’ve made a good start with the first two boss fights in that DPS at least have to split between different targets, but consider fights that involve two completely separate arenas.

Examples from WoW include Thorim, Kalecgos, Bethtilac.

Basically it can be very fun to have fights that break the Operation up into two pieces, with each team having a totally different objective. Typically in such fights you come back together at the end for a final showdown with the boss, but doing something like this can make a boss fight feel really fun.

Kiting

Introduce the concept of kiting. For example you can have adds or enemies that can’t be killed and that chase someone but move kind of slowly. If they get to you, they’ll hit you for huge damage.

This can be interesting both for DPS and for tanks.

Run Out!

Have explosion attacks that involve everyone having to drop everything to get away from the radius of the explosion. This is a good mechanic for making sure everyone moves away in time.

You employed this on Soa. This exists to a minor degree on Kephess too I suppose.

Learning To Dance

Consider making areas of the floor dangerous. WoW has employed this on Heroic Ragnaros and Heigan for example. This teaches the whole raid to move in a coordinated pattern. This kind of mechanic is probably best reserved for Hard Modes.

Final Thoughts

These are just a few ideas for what you can do in future raids to challenge DPS further. I think it’s great that you are slowly introducing new mechanics to casual players with each Operation, since after all, not everybody has played WoW for seven years.

I think, though, with regards to challenging the DPS to move in more unique ways, you could be a bit less conservative and start mixing it up a little bit more. There is nothing wrong with circles of death, but it gets a little stale seeing them on every single fight.

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