Mana Bars: Good or Bad Game Design?


Mana bars are the long-standing resource implementation for casters in MMORPGs. In this article, we’ll look at the implications of mana bars on game balance and mechanics.

But first, let’s consider why mana bars were (probably) created. I’ll use the term “caster” to mean both healers and mages.

Old-School “Spell Memorization”

Before online games existed, the most popular pen & paper RPG was Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) in its various iterations (D&D, AD&D, AD&D 2nd edition, etc). Later, single-player computer RPGs were introduced (e.g. Pool of Radiance by EA, the superb Baldur’s Gate series by BioWare, etc) but they were built around D&D’s systems.

In D&D, there were two caster archetypes: clerics (armor-wearing healers) and magic users (cloth-wearing mages). They had access to physical weapons, but the most important part of their arsenal was their repetoire of spells. To be able to cast spells, the caster had to memorize them. Each character had a fixed number of memorizable spells at each accessible spell level, so you had to be selective about which spells you memorizabled. Once you cast a given memorizable spell, it was gone – essentially an infinite cooldown – until you memorized it again. While you could memorize a given spell multiple times (e.g. Cure Light Wounds x 3, Fireball x 2), that in itself was a tradeoff choice.

The obvious implication of a spell-memorization system is that once casters had burned through their spells, their combat capability nose-dived. The party would need to camp out while the casters memorized their spells again. I played Baldur’s Gate extremely anally (after multiple attempts, I made it through each game without my main character dying), and that meant resting the party after every major fight to re-load the casters’ quivers, so to speak.

Spell memorization is not a mechanic that would work in an MMORPG context, and developers have solved the problem different ways.

Solution Model “A”: Some Classes Have Mana Bars, Others Do Not

In many popular MMOs, Healers and DPS casters have mana bars, but other classes do not. Let’s call this selective mana-based classes (SMBC) for short. SMBC has been implemented in many mass-market games, including WoW and RIFT.

A class with a mana bar expends mana whenever they cast a spell, and different spells have differences in mana costs and possibly cooldowns. The spell cost is particularly important for games in which certain spells are spammable, e.g. Greater Heal vs Flash Heal.

SMBC is a vast improvement over spell-memorization systems, but consider key implications:

  • Casters are vulnerable to going OOM (out-of-mana), whereas other classes that do not have mana bars can fight indefinitely (e.g. Warriors, Rogues, etc)
  • Casters tend to have to chug more consumables to maintain their contribution in extended fights, particularly in PVE boss fights
  • Because a caster could blow through their mana quickly for high throughput, this can create imbalance in PVP. On the flip side, casters are vulnerable to mana drain and / or going OOM, which is a huge issue in extended PVP combat (e.g. arena)
  • Itemization is much more challenging when some classes of a given role (e.g. DPS) have some budget related to mana longevity (e.g. MP5)

I know that some gamers would defend SMBC by saying that it adds flavor to the game and requires more game knowledge and/or skill. E.g. managing your mana pool takes skill, building your spec and gear for sufficient mana regen takes knowledge of game mechanics, and differing mana costs enable a player to manage situations.

While I see that side of the argument, let’s consider how other games have implemented mana bars.

Solution Model “B”: Mana Bars for Everyone

The first mass-market MMORPG I played was Knight Online. Knight Online had a simple but elegant mana system: every class had a mana bar. Every time you used an ability there was an associated mana cost and possibly a cooldown, and every class had access to reasonably-affordable mana potions.

Warhammer Online (WAR) followed the same philosophy – every class had an Action Points (AP) bar which was essentially a (yellow) mana bar.

Solution Model “C”: No Mana Bars for Anyone

In this model, there is no associated resource cost for casting a spell, and spells tend to be balanced with one another by differences in cooldowns and cast times / animations.

Guild Wars 2 (GW2) implements this model. ArenaNet made the design decision to not have any abilities be spammable in GW2 except for the “1” auto-chain for a given weapon set. Combat as a caster in GW2 therefore has a distinctly different feel, as timing of abilities (i.e. when to use them) is what drives decisions in combat, not sequencing of abilities (for HPS or DPS) or mana management.

Which of the three models do you prefer and why? My opinion is that Model “B” or “C” offers the best foundation for class balance and game experience.

P.S. As greencactaur pointed out on Twitter, you can also cast on-the-move in GW2. That said, there is no reason in other models why casters can’t move while casting – the self-rooting aspect of casting is a design decision independent of the three models.

P.P.S. like Lethality on Twitter, I’m a fan of secondary and tertiary resource mechanics, e.g. Righteous Fury for WAR Warrior Priest and Holy Power for WoW Paladin, because they add more abilities to manage, once you have built up sufficient resource.

Follow Me

Twitter: @taugrim
YouTube: http://youtube.com/taugrimtv
Facebook: http://facebook.com/taugrim

About these ads
Posted in Cleric, Game Design, Guild Wars 2, Mage, PVE, PVP, RIFT, Warhammer Online, World of Warcraft
55 comments on “Mana Bars: Good or Bad Game Design?
  1. I have always been a fan of type “B.” Makes the most sense to me. Can only go so long before you get tired and need a break no matter what is going on. Do having all types of dps, cast/archer/melee, all have a “mana” bar makes sense to me.

  2. Aclaster says:

    Playing DnD as a grew up in the 90’s I hated the spell mem idea. Even final fantasy used it on the NES versions. Mana bars where a welcome sight, but now they seem limited. I used to think just timers was a bad thing, but after GW2, I am sold on them.

    I have to agree that B or C are better for balance, but I favor “C” personally. “C” seems to translate to more action in the combat and almost zero down time. solution C just feels more fun.

    Neverwinter seems to be going the route of GW2 with many ideas, so I am thinking maybe GW2 has started a change in the landscape of MMOs. No more “OOM” from the healer and a few seconds later tank dies, raid/group whipes and my rogue is doing corpse runs. Everquest 1 style.

    BTW did you pick up BGEE for ipad or pc? It brought me back to my late teens playing that game, and being punished for ever mistake. Dating myself with that I guess.

    • taugrim says:

      Aclaster :

      Playing DnD as a grew up in the 90′s I hated the spell mem idea. Even final fantasy used it on the NES versions. Mana bars where a welcome sight, but now they seem limited. I used to think just timers was a bad thing, but after GW2, I am sold on them.

      Mana bars were initially innovative, but they came with their share of issues.

      Aclaster :

      I have to agree that B or C are better for balance, but I favor “C” personally. “C” seems to translate to more action in the combat and almost zero down time. solution C just feels more fun.

      GW2 has also made me a believer in non-resource based systems. Granted Thief has Initiative, but for the most part you build up resources in GW2, not consume it.

      Aclaster :

      Neverwinter seems to be going the route of GW2 with many ideas, so I am thinking maybe GW2 has started a change in the landscape of MMOs. No more “OOM” from the healer and a few seconds later tank dies, raid/group whipes and my rogue is doing corpse runs. Everquest 1 style.

      Interesting to hear that re: Neverwinter. GW2 brought a lot of positive innovations that will helpfully carry over to other games.

      Aclaster :

      BTW did you pick up BGEE for ipad or pc? It brought me back to my late teens playing that game, and being punished for ever mistake. Dating myself with that I guess.

      No, haven’t heard of it before you mentioned it.

      • Alcaster says:

        Neverwinter is using the DnD 4e rules, and if you have played it any you realize it was made with MMO ideals in mind.
        BGEE, Baldur’s Gate Enhanced Edition, I should have maybe spell out the acronym before.

  3. Jeff says:

    Thieves have a mana bar, it’s called initiative. The biggest complaint about thieves early on was their ability to spam the “2” key, which is the flaw you pointed out.

    Necros have a variant with life force and their alternate form (which is a neat thing, IMO).

    You know, if you think about it, long cooldowns (like 2 mins or more) are actually a variant of the old D&D model. So it’s not daily, and you don’t have to rest, but it takes time to get the skill back.

    -Jeff

    • taugrim says:

      Jeff :

      You know, if you think about it, long cooldowns (like 2 mins or more) are actually a variant of the old D&D model. So it’s not daily, and you don’t have to rest, but it takes time to get the skill back.

      Long cooldowns come back without rest though, that’s the difference.

      • Jeff says:

        True that – I was reaching.

        but to my other point, thieves do have a mana bar. GW2 is not type ‘c’, it is mixed.

        • taugrim says:

          Jeff :

          True that – I was reaching.

          but to my other point, thieves do have a mana bar. GW2 is not type ‘c’, it is mixed.

          I would argue that Initiative is more akin to Energy bar for traditional rogue classes than a Mana bar. Here are reasons why:
          1. it regenerates fairly quickly in-combat
          2. it can’t be drained by opponents (significant difference)
          3. you can’t refill it via consumables

  4. TLoch14 says:

    It’s also interesting to note that spell memory still *kind of* exists in some games. GW1/2 and Everquest have limited hot bars. Even though you “learned” vastly more abilities and spells, you could only use so many at a time. This is another form of resource management not found in WAR, WoW, Aion, or most other MMOs that isn’t often considered.

    This makes a big difference for balance for what I think are obvious reasons. While this plays well (IMO) it doesn’t always seem right. At least, for spell memory (or weapon mastery, if applied to physical classes), higher intelligence would imply greater memory capacity. Having an adjustable memory bank size would be an interesting resource or an MMO. For instance going high Int could mean more spells, but higher willpower could mean more powerful spells, creating a trade off that allows players to cater to their own playstyle. I personally like being a little bit ready for anything, rather than all eggs in one basket, so high Int in this case would really work for me.

    • taugrim says:

      TLoch14 :

      It’s also interesting to note that spell memory still *kind of* exists in some games. GW1/2 and Everquest have limited hot bars. Even though you “learned” vastly more abilities and spells, you could only use so many at a time. This is another form of resource management not found in WAR, WoW, Aion, or most other MMOs that isn’t often considered.

      This kind of spell memory centers around available skills, not the number of times you can cast those spells. So it’s still different from D&D spell memorization.

      TLoch14 :
      This makes a big difference for balance for what I think are obvious reasons. While this plays well (IMO) it doesn’t always seem right. At least, for spell memory (or weapon mastery, if applied to physical classes), higher intelligence would imply greater memory capacity.

      Well you know what people tend to say about things like this, and you said it yourself:
      gameplay > realism

  5. PyrosGG says:

    I have played GW2, and I think the solution C is working fantastically for them. GW2 has some of the most enriching and fun PvP I have ever had in an MMO environment. That said, I think that this is a decision that can only really be made when a game releases. When wow changed hunters from focus to mana after the WoW friends and family ALPHA, no one cared. But when they changed them back after the release of CATA, the outrage and balancing act that ensued was a nightmare. So this is a decision that I think different games make work in their own rights, but it is also a solution that can’t really be changed after a certain point.

    P.S. Love the D&D throwback. 2nd addition FTW!

    • taugrim says:

      PyrosGG :

      I have played GW2, and I think the solution C is working fantastically for them. GW2 has some of the most enriching and fun PvP I have ever had in an MMO environment.

      Agreed.

      I have the impression that GW2 isn’t appreciated to the extent that I believe is merited, but IMO people tend to ding GW2 for not directly related to PVP, e.g. the lack of endgame content, lack of progression, etc.

      PyrosGG :

      That said, I think that this is a decision that can only really be made when a game releases.

      Agreed.

      Making a huge mechanics change for a class after release will make a lot of current players unhappy and frustrated.

  6. [...] Taugrim’s MMO blog — Mana Bars: Good or Bad Game Design? “Mana bars are the long-standing resource implementation for casters in MMORPGs. In this article, we’ll look at the implications of mana bars on game balance and mechanics. But first, let’s consider why mana bars were (probably) created. I’ll use the term “caster” to mean both healers and mages.” [...]

  7. [...] Mana Bars: Good or Bad Game Design? [...]

  8. Zederok says:

    I prefer the Mana Bars for everone but in the context that melee and physical based classes should rely on a Stamina Bar for resource management. Remove Cooldowns and balance D.P.S. within that context. My first MMO was Asheron’s Call and it used this resource management. One of the greatest features of AC was the ability to trade one resource for another i.e. Health to Stamina or Stamina to Mana.

    • taugrim says:

      Zederok :

      I prefer the Mana Bars for everone but in the context that melee and physical based classes should rely on a Stamina Bar for resource management. Remove Cooldowns and balance D.P.S. within that context.

      So does stamina for melee / physical classes act the same as mana for spell casters?

  9. Attic Lion says:

    I tend to like A and B better overall. I feel that they open up new strategies and opportunities whereas C limits them.

    Though that may be just some of my dissatisfaction with GW2s combat showing through.

    On the other hand, GW2s combat does have a resource that not many other games have: animation time. Without the GCD that games like WoW and WAR have animation timing issues become a very big deal, especially when combined with the dodge mechanic. Old City of Heroes players will understand what I’m talking about.

    • Bnol says:

      This. I think option C is just too boring and limiting, especially in a PVE setting.

      I think Option B with tertiary resource mechanics is the best, and with certain classes focusing more or less on the tertiary resource mechanics providing for more class distinction. This allows all classes to eventually tap out, but some have more of a focus on short-term resource management, and others more focused on mid-to-long term focus.

      This provides more gearing/talent options outside of just +power, and provides for shifting ability priorities based on resources providing more complexity and thus a higher skill-cap and skill-differentiation for both PVE and PVP.

      • Alcaster says:

        I used to think the same thing Bnol, and I do still enjoy tertiary resource mechanics. After playing GW2, I feel like you end up playing the UI, to borrow their philosophy, and I feel less like I am actually fighting my opponent than I am my class.

        • taugrim says:

          Alcaster :

          After playing GW2, I feel like you end up playing the UI, to borrow their philosophy, and I feel less like I am actually fighting my opponent than I am my class.

          I would argue the opposite.

          With other games, you watch your skill bars and addons to tell you when to use which ability. However with GW2 you have the additional complexity that landing and dodging blows requires more spacial / positional awareness.

          So in GW2 I feel more like I’m actually fighting, as opposed to pressing buttons that are lit up and therefore usable.

      • taugrim says:

        Bnol :

        This. I think option C is just too boring and limiting, especially in a PVE setting.

        Do you think Option C in general is too boring and limiting, or just GW2’s implementation of it?

        E.g. two of the most common criticisms about GW2 PVE is that the boss fights are mostly DPS-and-spank, and that there is no trinity of roles.

        The thing is, those are two design decisions not dependent on the Models listed above.

        Bnol :

        I think Option B with tertiary resource mechanics is the best, and with certain classes focusing more or less on the tertiary resource mechanics providing for more class distinction.

        Agreed.

        WAR really taught me to love secondary and tertiary resource mechanics. More flavor to the game and situational utility / control.

        Bnol :

        This provides more gearing/talent options outside of just +power, and provides for shifting ability priorities based on resources providing more complexity and thus a higher skill-cap and skill-differentiation for both PVE and PVP.

        I really love having ways to customize a class. GW2 provides many different upgrade components with various stats and bonuses, and they’re shared across classes which is good for balance IMO.

        • Bnol says:

          taugrim :
          Do you think Option C in general is too boring and limiting, or just GW2′s implementation of it?
          E.g. two of the most common criticisms about GW2 PVE is that the boss fights are mostly DPS-and-spank, and that there is no trinity of roles.
          The thing is, those are two design decisions not dependent on the Models listed above.

          Option C will not provide the same type of complexity as Option A or B outside of heavy use of proc/reactive mechanics (which then have their own issues with RNG). I think the best example is Ret and Prot Paladins in WoW during Wrath. This is before there was holy power and mana was limitless while doing damage. The class had a set rotation based on CDs, particularly the 6-9 protection rotation. I find that incredibly boring regardless of the trinity or not, and even with a larger amount of damage skills available to use.

          I found GW2 PVE boring because every class plays like this, just utilizing the best ability on CD and not having any sort of variation to this. Now certainly that simplicity is not solely because of the resource design, but also because of GW2s design of fewer abilities being available at one time and no proc/reactive mechanics.

          The design decisions make sense from a PVP perspective and I think they work there. Just is lacking in PVE (unless of course the mobs start moving more unpredictably and dodging).

    • taugrim says:

      Attic Lion :

      I tend to like A and B better overall. I feel that they open up new strategies and opportunities whereas C limits them.

      Though that may be just some of my dissatisfaction with GW2s combat showing through.

      Do you think you dislike Model C conceptually or GW2’s implementation of it? Which brings me to your next point…

      Attic Lion :

      On the other hand, GW2s combat does have a resource that not many other games have: animation time. Without the GCD that games like WoW and WAR have animation timing issues become a very big deal, especially when combined with the dodge mechanic. Old City of Heroes players will understand what I’m talking about.

      The GW2 animations, especially those that limit movement or self-root, are one of the more difficult things for a traditional MMORPG player to get used to.

      One of the biggest adjustments for me in GW2 Beta was trying to land attacks on opponents. In other games, if your target is in range, in LoS, and an ability is available, it lands. There is no skill involved in that per se, and the game is mostly about cooldown sequencing. In most games, you can’t even use an ability unless it is “usable”.

      With GW2, landing attacks takes more skill. On top of that, there is nothing from stopping you from using an ability, even if the target is out-of-range. The game mechanics are much more punitive, or rewarding, in that sense.

  10. Casey M. says:

    I see you didn’t mention SWTOR. It definitely fits in the Model B category, and while I quit the game because of glaring end-game grinding issues (getting Rakata+ gear became work instead of fun -_-), for the most part it had excellent class balance (though the ups and downs of the trooper/bounty hunter were many) and very rarely, if ever, did I ever think, “every other class has better resource management options than I do”, and I played 6 advanced classes to level 50 – Mercenary, Operative, Marauder, Guardian, Sorcerer, and Vanguard.

    I really like just having cooldowns in GW2 and no mana bars. Makes it WAY easier to stay alive that way. And you don’t have to wait BETWEEN combat sessions in instances like dungeons because your health automatically regenerates out-of-combat at a prodigious rate. And in large group battles such as elder dragon lieutenants or WvW zergs, your main survival management is your health, and not a secondary mechanic. Only exception is the thief, but if you spec right and don’t spam, initiative is never a problem. Not to mention thief has numerous stealth abilities which are like a second skin for when things go south for him.

    • Bnol says:

      I would disagree. I think SW:TOR fits more closely to model A, it is just that only 1 base class utilizes mana, 2 use variable energy, and 1 uses rage. It is the reverse of most MMORPGs that have mana, as usually the mana users equal or outnumber the non-mana users. It is even more unique in the fact that more of the healer ACs use energy than mana.

      I think it is an example that classes can be balanced with model A, as the class imbalance in SW:TOR came from other sources than resources (namely CDs both offensive and defensive).

    • taugrim says:

      Casey M. :

      I see you didn’t mention SWTOR. It definitely fits in the Model B category

      I intentionally left SWTOR out, because BioWare really introduced a lot of complex but elegant resource mechanics, and it would take a while to explain how they worked :)

      Casey M. :

      I really like just having cooldowns in GW2 and no mana bars. Makes it WAY easier to stay alive that way. And you don’t have to wait BETWEEN combat sessions in instances like dungeons because your health automatically regenerates out-of-combat at a prodigious rate.

      I really appreciate this too.

      One of the more annoying things having a blue mana bar, especially for Model A, is making others wait for you while you drink / regen mana.

  11. Richard Elliott says:

    I have played MMOs with every variant listed. I think one of the only differences between ‘B’ and ‘C’ is whether you prefer watching timers or watching a diminishing colored bar (yes ‘B’ can frontload more damage for certain playstyles, but considering everything balanced i.e. something that isn’t killed within 2 hits they are quite similar systems). The biggest problem when considering resource management comes down to balance between playstyles, so IMO simpler is better really.

    As a game developer I would imagine it quite difficult to balance players with a certain resource (variant “A”) that others can not use, or is fundamentally different . I think STWOR is a good example. When I began playing that game (about 2 months after launch) I found the system of different resource management tools actually quite balanced, but after a few updates it seemed to get more and more unbalanced, due to the complexity or so many resource systems. I have also played a few different games that fit into the “A” category where one player can exchange mana for health or stamina, where a class with no mana bar could not. Thus I conclude that “A” is a relic of the past sort of speak.

    Between “B” and “C” I would say I prefer “C” simply because some games idea of frontloaded damage means you are 1 or 2 shot with little or no ability to counter.

    • taugrim says:

      Richard Elliott :

      As a game developer I would imagine it quite difficult to balance players with a certain resource (variant “A”) that others can not use, or is fundamentally different . I think STWOR is a good example. When I began playing that game (about 2 months after launch) I found the system of different resource management tools actually quite balanced, but after a few updates it seemed to get more and more unbalanced, due to the complexity or so many resource systems

      Agreed.

      An issue with resource systems is that when you have some that deplete (e.g. mana) and others that build up (e.g. Focus for Jedi Knight), there is an imbalance in terms of some classes being “fast” starters but running out of gas whereas other classes start slow but end up having incredible fighting endurance.

      In multiple games I’ve seen developers implement changes to increase the rate of resource building specifically for melee class classes, typically to address player concerns.

      IIRC, this happened in SWTOR with Sith Warrior / Jedi Knight. And with Warrior Priest and Discipline of Kaine in WAR – initially managing the tertiary resource (Righteous Fury) used for healing required skill, but eventually Mythic boosted the rate at which it generated to the point where you could spam healing skills.

  12. Alcaster :
    I used to think the same thing Bnol, and I do still enjoy tertiary resource mechanics. After playing GW2, I feel like you end up playing the UI, to borrow their philosophy, and I feel less like I am actually fighting my opponent than I am my class.

    With the GW2 CD system I was waiting for the stuff I like to come back off CD more so then I would use other things.

    • Alcaster says:

      I would argue in every system I have waited on my best skills to recycle. Except when I am playing a class that gets most of its dmg from Auto attacks.

  13. EucridEucrow says:

    For too long now, MMORPG’s have been, to my mind, choked creatively by trying to emulate systems established or heavily influenced by the original Dungeons and Dragons rule set. Class systems, levels, vertical progression, hit points, etc all find their origins in D&D. While this worked fine in a malleable, “in your head” pen and paper system where the DM had absolute powers to ignore rules and mechanics to suit the problems that could arise, it just doesn’t hold water very well in MMO’s in my opinion. The huge influence of D&D on mainstream MMO gaming systems has stunted a lot of interesting potentialities in the MMO space.

    There was a pen and paper roleplaying game that came out not too long after D&D called Traveler that pretty much went contra to just about every system D&D established at the time and produced, to my mind, a much richer and interesting alternative that I wish could see more success in MMO’s. If D&D is the “godfather” of so-called “themepark” style MMO’s then Traveler is the godfather of so-called “sandbox” MMO’s.

    I find it very interesting that one of the biggest influences on the “D&D” style MMO’s, Everquest, is making noises about EQNext being a AAA sandbox game. I don’t know if it just Smedley blowing a lot of hot air or not but I would certainly love the see that kind of paradigm shift in MMO’s. They are certainly due for one.

    • EucridEucrow says:

      Edit: Misspelling…It’s Traveller, not Traveler.

      Reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Traveller_%28role-playing_game%29

    • taugrim says:

      EucridEucrow :

      For too long now, MMORPG’s have been, to my mind, choked creatively by trying to emulate systems established or heavily influenced by the original Dungeons and Dragons rule set. Class systems, levels, vertical progression, hit points, etc all find their origins in D&D. While this worked fine in a malleable, “in your head” pen and paper system where the DM had absolute powers to ignore rules and mechanics to suit the problems that could arise, it just doesn’t hold water very well in MMO’s in my opinion. The huge influence of D&D on mainstream MMO gaming systems has stunted a lot of interesting potentialities in the MMO space.

      I was really excited when computer-based D&D games first started to come out – they felt so familiar, and it was fun to be able to have the computer control AI and handle all the “rolls” and such.

      That being said, I agree that games have adopted a lot of D&D concepts that have been problematic for scaling, class balance, and playability.

      What would happen if there was a game where you designed your own class? Your weapons, the weight / thickness of your armor, your abilities, etc. Would that be too complex a product for gamers?

      EucridEucrow :

      There was a pen and paper roleplaying game that came out not too long after D&D called Traveler that pretty much went contra to just about every system D&D established at the time and produced, to my mind, a much richer and interesting alternative that I wish could see more success in MMO’s. If D&D is the “godfather” of so-called “themepark” style MMO’s then Traveler is the godfather of so-called “sandbox” MMO’s.

      It’s surprising to me that MMOs have not opted for more sandbox functionality. People love to build / create (Minecraft). It gives players a sense of ownership or influence over the world, and that is very sticky.

  14. EucridEucrow says:

    P.S: Did Gambreaker dump Buildcast? I haven’t checked it out in a while.

  15. Daetrin says:

    I’m a fan of GW2’s type C build for MMO. From the design side of things it makes it much more simple to balance across classes. The idea of mana bars and memorization worked fine for a table top game, but even those have been moving away from the older design and perceptions change.

    As for multiple resource management I see the boon management in GW2 acting as the another resource. Some builds use might stacking. The D/D Ele builds mentioned on Tag’s twitter feed is another great example about boon management by switching attunements. The way ANet implemented boons they are very different than typical class stat boost common in other MMOs.

    Thanks for all the commentary Tag. I am a long time viewer, first time poster. Always appreciated your posts.

    • taugrim says:

      Daetrin :

      As for multiple resource management I see the boon management in GW2 acting as the another resource. Some builds use might stacking. The D/D Ele builds mentioned on Tag’s twitter feed is another great example about boon management by switching attunements. The way ANet implemented boons they are very different than typical class stat boost common in other MMOs.

      That’s a very insightful take.

      A build that I am now playing (daphoenix’s D/D Tanky DPS Elementalist) centers around building up multiple rolling boons. Same with some of the popular Guardian builds that leverage Hammer and rolling boons.

      Boons and conditions play a much stronger role mechanically across classes than buffs and debuffs typically do in MMORPGs. I think it’s brilliant design.

      Daetrin :

      Thanks for all the commentary Tag. I am a long time viewer, first time poster. Always appreciated your posts.

      Thanks for taking the time the share your thoughts!

  16. Alcaster says:

    After some time reading over the post and comment, I realize one thing is missing. All these systems, except GW2, use an auto attack as primary dmg for some classes. Usually its only limited to melee, but in GW2 everyone has it.

    EQ2 also does have a ranged “wand” auto attack now, but its not part of the core game mech at launch. Auto attack accounts for heavy dmg in other games, but I like how GW2 has changed the idea of casters for got an auto attack sequence to get higher dmg in spells.

    Mind you I sound like a GW2 fanboy, but I really appreciate the changes they have tried to make. Until GW2 I was done with log and raid MMOs; however, I do think GW2 needs better end game. Running around in WvW gets old and dungeons feel like meeting raid times, and I have a few other complaints. In the context of this article, I think GW2 has the best solution to many of the old problems caused simply by computers not originally have the resources to handle a game as dynamic as today’s.

  17. theunwarshed says:

    as long as everyone’s on the same resource system, i’m okay with it. do i prefer one over the other, sure, i like b or c over a. i couldn’t stand the imbalance that Funcom’s AoC combat/resource management systems between casters and melee had, nor SWTOR’s many different class resource systems. imo, they all cause way too many headaches when it comes to balancing the classes. one system to rule them all i say! distinguish the classes in other ways if you’re worried about homogenization.

  18. Gothic90 says:

    The only thing I can say is that I like the idea of resource bar having nothing to do with itemization in a vertical progressing MMO (SWTOR did a decent job for Sage/Sorc having a fixed mana bar). Itemization with mana can create issues in a vertical system; in first patches of every expansion healers would have a hard time managing resources, while in late patches resource management becomes like a breeze. That, or the company have to tip the balance every patch, and it becomes a mess.

    In non-vertically progressed games I’d say any model is fine, and it depends on the game. After all having resource management just offers more character build options for a certain class, especially in a horizontally progressed game. You want more sustain for a build? You would have to give up some burst damage, durability or utility. It’s just a tradeoff.

    And…GW2 isn’t a completely resourceless game, thieves have initiatives, which is essentially a resource bar.

  19. Attic Lion says:

    taugrim :
    Do you think you dislike Model C conceptually or GW2′s implementation of it? Which brings me to your next point…

    Since I had no issues with it before I played GW2, I’d have to go with their implementation.
    Which goes into this next bit…

    taugrim :
    The GW2 animations, especially those that limit movement or self-root, are one of the more difficult things for a traditional MMORPG player to get used to.
    One of the biggest adjustments for me in GW2 Beta was trying to land attacks on opponents. In other games, if your target is in range, in LoS, and an ability is available, it lands. There is no skill involved in that per se, and the game is mostly about cooldown sequencing. In most games, you can’t even use an ability unless it is “usable”.
    With GW2, landing attacks takes more skill. On top of that, there is nothing from stopping you from using an ability, even if the target is out-of-range. The game mechanics are much more punitive, or rewarding, in that sense.

    I think one of the biggest flaws with how GW2 combat works, ignoring things like class balance & culling, is the inconsistency in abilities. Players have to learn all of the little quirks that damn near each sodding ability has in order to even play at a competent level. Extremely important mechanics and numbers are routinely not spelled out damn near anywhere.

    For example, the warrior’s hammer. I still can’t fathom why the 3rd skill used to root you and why the 4th skill still does. It’s so bloody counter-intuitive if you’ve ever touched another melee weapon in the game.

    In other games you know what you’re getting pretty much every time you look at an ability. If it’s a spell you have an associated casting animation that will get interrupted by movement. If it’s not a spell then you can use it on the fly. It’s far more simple and less case by case, more consistent if you will.

    That’s not even getting into the weird stuff like how interrupting Triple Chop on the warrior’s axe 1 is an increase in DPS. Or how the projectiles from Lich Form’s #1 don’t cleave despite having the exact same animation as necro staff #1 which DOES cleave. Or the weird rules that govern the various teleport abilities that vary by class, location, and the phase of the moon. Or the shared sigil proc ICDs. All apparently intended functions that are explained absolutely nowhere and run completely counter to how one would logically infer from playing the rest of the game.

    At least in other games such weirdness has usually been endemic to an entire system within the game. Like moving at the very end of a cast after it’s no longer interruptable but before the cast time has officially ended. Or DoT clipping.

    And for all that, to me, it doesn’t feel like a huge improvement over say, SWTOR combat.

  20. Alcaster says:

    A build that I am now playing (daphoenix’s D/D Tanky DPS Elementalist) centers around building up multiple rolling boons. Same with some of the popular Guardian builds that leverage Hammer and rolling boons.
    Boons and conditions play a much stronger role mechanically across classes than buffs and debuffs typically do in MMORPGs. I think it’s brilliant design.

    That is one of the best Ele builds out there, and is currently what I have been running. Elementalist is a great all around profession, and feeds my desire to play that “redmage” stye of “yup, i can do that. Just cannot do it great.”

  21. Alcaster says:

    Taugrim :
    A build that I am now playing (daphoenix’s D/D Tanky DPS Elementalist) centers around building up multiple rolling boons. Same with some of the popular Guardian builds that leverage Hammer and rolling boons.
    Boons and conditions play a much stronger role mechanically across classes than buffs and debuffs typically do in MMORPGs. I think it’s brilliant design.

    That is one of the best Ele builds out there, and is currently what I have been running. Elementalist is a great all around profession, and feeds my desire to play that “redmage” stye of “yup, i can do that. Just cannot do it great.” bah stripped too much HTML when I quoted you sorry.

  22. Dark says:

    I find the D&D reference funny:
    As a Tabletop RPG gamer, D&D with it’s 4th edition actually opted for Letter C as you described it.
    When text based games are conforming to Computer standards, it says something ^_~

  23. Dragon Nest says:

    I would prefer the Solution B since its more usual and common and its up to the players of how to make his/her characters more powerful and I think Solution B is quite equal to everybody no bias.

    Dragon Nest Blooger. ^_^

  24. daniel4ing says:

    “as everyone’s on the same resource system”

    I do like how in guild wars you still have different game mechanics, like steal and burst but you can tell that the whole game is going to be balanced out with thieves as a central point and that’s mainly because they are a class with a mana bar.

  25. Savlin says:

    I’m not sure if you played it much but The Secret World has a B system that uses two sets of resources. I would agree that I enjoy B and C options more but I think that is due to the the practice of constantly spamming the button until it casts…

  26. I would have to say that I really like Option C. I have played WoW, Rift, and GW2. I like how GW2 is not mana dependent. Like other MMOs.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Be featured in a Dynamic Duo video game trailer.
    mmodynamicduo.moonfruit.com
    http://www.youtube.com/mmodynamicduo

Comments are closed.

Follow
Taugrim on Twitter Taugrim on Facebook Taugrim on Google Plus Taugrim on YouTube Taugrim on RSS

Enter your email address to receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 675 other followers

Post Categories
Archived Posts
Copyright © 2009-2014 taugrim.com
All rights reserved
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 675 other followers