Overused is a new column where I will point out a device that has been overused in MMOs. These mechanics and gameplay features may be used as a crutch, the status quo, or just plain too much. Overall, they’re used when they don’t have to be, and often shouldn’t be.
Don’t bother trying to dodge that arrow. Zig-Zag all you want, you can’t avoid it. Taking cover from that fireball flying through the air won’t do anything. You’ve been targeted.
There are many reasons for using a targeting system like that, but that doesn’t make that physics-defying arrow any less aggravating. Escape from the sticky target is rarely a possibility once You’ve been clicked on, tabbed to, assisted to, or victimized by “/target”. One moment in line of sight is all that’s needed for projectiles to phase through matter and strike you or send a swarm of pets your way despite your best escape efforts.
It’s a lot easier to create a system that determines valid targets when you don’t have to consider the physics of projectiles in your code; easier and less strenuous to calculate. The alternatives include systems that are more resembling of a first person shooter, and are often considered to be more skill based in gameplay. Personally, I’m a fan of the way Fallen Earth seems to have done it. In a sort of hybrid of the two systems, targets are determined by checking what target is in the crosshairs when the attack is made.
This is all well and good for weapons whose projectiles cover their ground nearly immediately, but what about those slow moving arrows and fireballs? Are the only options for projectiles a sticky targeting system or heavily physics based collision system? I say no. It seems to me that you could determine if a projectile hits or not based on if a target intersects the projectile’s motion vector or arch at the time projectile reaches that same point. The projectile would just be animated along that path, and hit detection becomes a matter of a simple linear or quadratic equation rather than a more complicated physics reaction and collision. There you have accuracy of a shooter combined with the CPU usage of a typical sticky targeting system.
Let me know what you think. Do you like the common tab and sticky targeting in many MMOs? What are your favorite targeting systems used in MMOs?