Wednesday night saw our group play Pathfinder with table-top miniatures for the first time. It was awesome. We didn’t have anything like the crazy 3D extravaganzas Penny-Arcade create, just a flat sheet of grid paper, white board markers, and figurines. Despite the simple setup, it was still awesome. There’s nothing like seeing the battlefield laid out to bring an event to life, and demonstrate the consequences of things like line of sight and proximity.
My cleric couldn’t bring any healing to the party (despite two members desperately needing some hit point love) because we started the fight spreadeagled all over the playing field. So I had to resort to bringing the big hammer down, which is more my style anyway :-) Our Sorcerer’s pseudo-dragon, who flew high above, could give him strategic advice, and his positioning on the steps meant he could better see where our enemies were coming from, but none of that could be conveyed to the rest of us due to the tyranny of distance.
Despite all these nub mistakes we got through it - helped by a friendly GM, some lucky dice rolls, and the fact that it wasn’t real time. That’s the difference between pen & paper and an MMO: we would have definitely wiped HoR style on the second wave of ravenous goblins, but the turn based nature of the fighting meant there was time to pause and consider our approach. We could focus fire, move closer together so I could heal the group, and generally adapt our strategy.
Which begs the question, could something similar be implemented in an MMO? Could you have a turn based mechanic in an MMO? What if you could pause a boss fight to discuss tactical approaches to the next phase, or to dissect what just happened? That would alleviate some of the need to research every fight before attempting it, and open up all sorts of learning opportunities. A learner mode. It would also break the ‘flow’ of a fight, but it could be an optional feature that you flip on and off depending on whether you are on your first attempt or a veteran.
Start new boss attempts by pausing and working out what is going on, then once you’ve got the fight down pat, start running it through end to end. During the pause attempts, no loot would drop to stop farming. Could this work? Would it mean not having to Wowhead the fight before you begin? Be nice if it did. If nothing else it might allow the tanks and melee DPS to see the boss mechanics, rather than the boss nether-regions 8-)
Well there’s Atlantica Online or whatever that is a turn-based Korean MMO thing, but I’ve not tried it. I wondered the same thing in a post on We Fly Spitfires a month ago or so. I’d love to see a system where there was a Commander or battle-leader/warlord type of role or class that allowed him to pause and issue orders/tactics to the group. Perhaps the group would get bonuses the better they followed his orders, and negatives for the reverse. Could also allow for tactics (have to be in a certain general battle formation or proximity to hear the orders, etc). As a huge fan of turn based CRPGs I would be interested in seeing a well done approach to a turn based MMO.
Hmm a Battlefield commander is a great idea. Someone who can change tactic and approach mid fight - so long as the mechanic was forgiving enough to allow such changes. I’m afk so can’t look it up, but didn’t one of the Battlefield games introduce that kind of role? Wonder how that went, I can imagine not so well as the groups in that kind of game tend to be pugs and hence could ignore the commander. But in an MMO Raid it could work really well.