Taugrim Daily #3: My Solution for Making Rogues Viable for Sustained PVP Combat


Today’s video contains my solution for re-designing Rogue classes in MMORPGs so that they are viable in sustained PVP combat.

Rogues across games tend to do well in 1v1 and small-scale combat, but where Rogues fall down from a mechanics perspective is in sustained or large-scale combat.

Why?

Rogues typically have many of their key damage and CC mechanics coupled with being in stealth, but their ability to sustainably re-enter stealth in combat is limited.

Watch the video for my simple solution for addressing these issues and creating a dynamic playstyle that scales from 1v1 combat up to raid-vs-raid.

It is amusing that I concepted the same solution that ArenaNet came up with for their Rogue “Thief” implementation in GW2. They grasp the issues common to the Rogue archetype in PVP and are addressing them with elegant game design.

To see me PVP’ing live, check out my TwitchTV channel. My stream features real-time commentary – and to the extent possible interaction with the Chat Room.

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Posted in Guild Wars 2, PVP, RIFT, Rogue, SWTOR, Warhammer Online, World of Warcraft
42 comments on “Taugrim Daily #3: My Solution for Making Rogues Viable for Sustained PVP Combat
  1. Trey says:

    I’ve always hated stealth. Hard to balance and generally it enables griefing behavior in games. That said, it’s become some a staple of the MMO genre that players expect and demand it.

    Witness GW2. The first Guild Wars did not even have stealth. Assassins had teleports and sprints to pair with their high DPS but low defense. But no stealth.

    GW2 does have stealth. I think its indicative that GW2 is going for a larger/broader audience than their first game.

    • taugrim says:

      Trey :

      I’ve always hated stealth. Hard to balance and generally it enables griefing behavior in games. That said, it’s become some a staple of the MMO genre that players expect and demand it.

      Stealth in most games is dumb because you can stunlock or bury someone so badly out of stealth that they’re screwed.

      I played a Feral Druid in WoW and it was easy for me to kill most classes in a 1v1 if I got the opener.

      Trey :

      Witness GW2. The first Guild Wars did not even have stealth. Assassins had teleports and sprints to pair with their high DPS but low defense. But no stealth.

      GW2 does have stealth. I think its indicative that GW2 is going for a larger/broader audience than their first game.

      From what Ryndar explained to me last night, ArenaNet is taking a very thoughtful approach to stealth and their philosophy on it aligns with mine.

      Stealth shouldn’t give you a massive mechanics advantage. It should give a tactical advantage. Most games focus on the former, GW2 is focusing on the latter.

      I think GW2 may provide the first really good gameplay for Rogues which is scalable in various situations from 1v1 to RvRvR without making it cheesy.

  2. Geta says:

    Its funny you used the word “ninja”. I had exactly the same word in mind while playing the sith marauder class. I thought I had a lot of success burning down enemies and than quickly disappearing after getting focus fired. Surprisingly this made the Huttball matches very enjoyable.

    I think its a pretty good concept for a class with high burst but with low survivability.

    Geta

    • taugrim says:

      Geta :

      Its funny you used the word “ninja”. I had exactly the same word in mind while playing the sith marauder class. I thought I had a lot of success burning down enemies and than quickly disappearing after getting focus fired. Surprisingly this made the Huttball matches very enjoyable.

      I think its a pretty good concept for a class with high burst but with low survivability.

      Geta

      Yes I think it’s better than having an in-combat perma-stealth on a long cooldown.

      More short-duration stealths on short-duration cooldowns would make for more sneaky gameplay. But the stealth openers would need to be balanced accordingly so that it’s not OP.

  3. PoIsOnMaN says:

    I tweeted you as well, but I can’t hear you talking in the video, the intro and outro are fine, but yea, your audio has like a audio buzz / screech like the mic is muted, and you can hear your voice but it is to low to make out what your saying..

    • PoIsOnMaN says:

      or I guess it was just me? I listened to a few of your other videos on this website with no issue, only this video, so it can’t be just me, its just this video out of the 6 I listened to while trying to test / figure out if it was a issue on my end, and all the other taugrim videos were fine…

      • taugrim says:

        PoIsOnMaN :

        or I guess it was just me? I listened to a few of your other videos on this website with no issue, only this video, so it can’t be just me, its just this video out of the 6 I listened to while trying to test / figure out if it was a issue on my end, and all the other taugrim videos were fine…

        Hey Swartz,

        This video has audio issues.

        I was experimenting with using XSplit to record webcam footage and then export from Twitch to YouTube.

        I’ll need to use a different mic, the Samson SE-10 used in the video doesn’t seem to work

        • Beatus says:

          as I said in my own comment about the same thing, I today tried to watch it again with a headset, and then noticed that the audio troubles only are in one channel :)

          So I just watch the whole clip with no issues only using my left earpice.

  4. Orkela says:

    Tweeted this out you but thought I’d post it here too since it might be tough to see with others.

    “Thoroughly enjoyed the rogue ideas video, I think it would be a great concept but with dot based specs might be too powerful.”

    • taugrim says:

      Orkela :

      “Thoroughly enjoyed the rogue ideas video, I think it would be a great concept but with dot based specs might be too powerful.”

      The main issue with DoTs is when you can apply them and stealth and let your opponent bleed to death. But that only works with stealth that last a long time or indefinitely.

      With my solution, in-combat stealths have a short duration, so bleed-out cheesiness wouldn’t be possible.

      • Orkela says:

        Even with a 4 second stealth on a short timer, 4 secs could be enough time to get behind a pillar or los someone, all the while dots would be ticking. I might just be over analyzing it but just came to mind.

  5. Funny how you bring this up because I myself found it ridiculous how so many of these popular MMOs have a class able to burn a player down without giving them much of a fighting chance. Like in Rift back when the Assassin was the OP PvP spec, it was so easy to keep a player stunlocked and kill them in 5 GCDs and to me such mechanics just don’t promote skill, but only 1v1 ganking. And catching a Rogue-type class, out of stealth, is always like catching a player with his pants down. With the only option being to a) Use the one 2min CD in-combat stealth they have or b) Die.

    So I’m glad that someone else who’s heavy into MMORPG PvP, also sees the problem with this poorly designed class archetype. Where characters spend the majority of the battle, in stealth and only pop out to pick off stragglers. Like you said, stealth should be used to give a brief tactical advantage, rather than revolving a class’ combat around the mechanic and like you said, ArenaNet seems to get this.

    An examples of this type of ninja rogue in PvE:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mRlFViMpewI

    3 examples of this type of ninja rogue in PvP:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1uUjX5j0XWs
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LyI7ea5zDCM
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z2p1aSax3to&feature=player_detailpage#t=143s

  6. Tchallawow@gmail.com says:

    Interesting concept. Putting your ‘tester hat’ on, where do you think this mighg fail or be exploitrd? In other words, list out thenpossible high risk exploits, then come up with a set of four mitigiation risk assumptions.

    Ex: Risk, temporary steatlh coukd be used as a pve deaggro taunt. Mitigation: 1. Assume this is acceptable and don’t change anything. 2. Assume is is not acceptable and cause this temprary stealth ability to cause high amounts of threat.

    Just some thoughts. Good ideas Ed

  7. The main problem that comes to mind right away with a tactic like this is vs big nuker classes with cast time abilities. A good rogue could just use their stealth like people used shadow meld on death coils. Just wait for the cast and pop the stealth. After stealthed you can get your opponents back. It would make you virtually unkitable. I also don’t see how this would make you more survivable against a typical problem for rogues, warrior classes. They can smash your face and wait out your small stealths, unless you were still given he huge escape abilities like current rogues have.

  8. Alan Bridgmon :

    The main problem that comes to mind right away with a tactic like this is vs big nuker classes with cast time abilities. A good rogue could just use their stealth like people used shadow meld on death coils. Just wait for the cast and pop the stealth. After stealthed you can get your opponents back. It would make you virtually unkitable. I also don’t see how this would make you more survivable against a typical problem for rogues, warrior classes. They can smash your face and wait out your small stealths, unless you were still given he huge escape abilities like current rogues have.

    Above I actually linked videos demonstrating how such combat situations would work in a PvP environment and the reason it works in GW2 and why it won’t work in a game like SW:TOR, is because the combat system doesn’t follow the MMORPG (WoW) standard. Just slapping a bunch of in-combat stealth abilities and removing some of the stealth co-dependency skills will likely cause some over issues, which is why GW2 does a good job in changing up the overall combat mechanics. Like not being able to see enemy’s cast-bars, how stealthers are susceptible to all forms of damage, how skills can be casted without a target and also being able to actively dodge most skills.

  9. Mr Contact says:

    Thanks for bringing this up Taugrim. A few days ago I made a post about it at my own blog: http://thecontactmmo.blogspot.com/2012/01/how-to-fix-scoundrels-ops-one-trick.html My own suggestion is a little bit more shorttermed, only able to fix the ‘rogue’ class in SWTOR however I definitely belive that the idea you suggested is the way to go to make the class more enjoyable in the long run.

    The problem with the rogue class is that it only belongs in an environment with a rock/paper/scissor type of balancing, which isn’t the balancing that belongs in modern day MMOs. However the game developers have been too afraid to get rid of the usual approach when it comes to designing the rogue class which is the problem in the MMOs you mentioned. They all share the same type of rogue class and the basic mechanics of that class has been the same since the launch of wow.

    What really makes me look forward for GW2 is the fact that ArenaNet are changing so many basic mechanics with that game. Most developers are stuck with the wow style making their game share the same game mechanics and same problems. Hopefully the launch of GW2 will make each companies move in their own directions, giving us a much more diverse market for MMOs.

    • taugrim says:

      Mr Contact :

      The problem with the rogue class is that it only belongs in an environment with a rock/paper/scissor type of balancing, which isn’t the balancing that belongs in modern day MMOs.

      Funny you should mention that :)

      I believe that the rock/paper/scissors concept for PVP is simply an outdated way of thinking. Most games have crappy PVP balance because they were originally designed for PVE.

      E.g. many PVE games have a ton of PVE abilities that have no relevance in PVP.

      WAR was the first game I played where “PVE” abilities such as taunt, detaunt, guard, etc had an application in PVE and in PVP.

  10. Lurthor says:

    In SWTOR the 2 “rogue classes” have a skill tree more focused on sustained pvp : balance tree for the shadow and dirty fighting for the scoundrel. It is true that ones out of stealth they lack of tools to get out of a focused fire, but their ranged and close combat skills enable them to manage which target to burn down.

    • taugrim says:

      Lurthor :

      In SWTOR the 2 “rogue classes” have a skill tree more focused on sustained pvp : balance tree for the shadow and dirty fighting for the scoundrel. It is true that ones out of stealth they lack of tools to get out of a focused fire, but their ranged and close combat skills enable them to manage which target to burn down.

      Understood.

      I’m not talking about that kind of implementation for a Rogue class. I’m talking about the very common kind that over-couples damage and CC to opening out of stealth, while making it hard to stealth.

  11. I really have high hopes for GW2. If Arena Net can deliver on changing the game-play mechanics that we have become accustomed to in a MMO into something unique, fun, and interesting, I will be thoroughly impressed. Their plans for pvp have probably gained my attention the most, and I’m hoping skill is more of a factor in determining the victor(s), rather than a gear advantage. If Area Net can wrap all of this together into a complete package that feels like a polished product and not charge a monthly fee to play the game, things will be mighty interesting in the MMO market soon.

    • taugrim says:

      Steven Gilder :

      I’m hoping skill is more of a factor in determining the victor(s), rather than a gear advantage. If Area Net can wrap all of this together into a complete package that feels like a polished product and not charge a monthly fee to play the game, things will be mighty interesting in the MMO market soon.

      I agree wholeheartedly.

      • Namaste says:

        Gear will all be equal. The most rare gear in the game will only look cosmetically different. Pretty much how the original guild wars was. I have been waiting for this game for a while!

        Namaste,

        • taugrim says:

          Namaste :

          Gear will all be equal. The most rare gear in the game will only look cosmetically different. Pretty much how the original guild wars was. I have been waiting for this game for a while!

          Namaste,

          Hey Nam!

          I’m pumped for this game as well.

          Which classes are you most interested in?

  12. Redkinn says:

    In some ways SW:TOR already took a lot of improvements towards stealth classes.

    Now arguably Operatives/Scoundrels are still the WoW-Style Rogues that have no sustained capability almost at all.

    Assassin however is different, their one stealth move is a 2 sec stun that does VERY minor damage even at 50.

    And their madness tree with its large depository of dots, minor self heals, roots and general control allows for some very interesting plays in both 1v1 and in mass fights.

    Overall though I do agree with Taugrim and most others about the fact that stealth has been detrimental to some classes due to either making them worthless long term, or totally OP, with no middle ground found by developers.

    Redkinn 50 Assasin Ajunta Pall Memento Mori

  13. Freddo says:

    Interesting thoughts. You could make being behind the target a criteria for restealth. Maybe you would’nt need a cooldown then, given that the rogue would not do a ton of damage everytime he exits stealth.

  14. rawker says:

    This idea is not new though. Having used much of my youth playing NWN 1 (another Bioware game) on a persistent world server (basically a MMO), I can only point the the shadow dancer prestige class. This prestige class allowed your Rouge get an ability which we called HIPS, short for hide in plain sight. This ability is pretty much what Taugrim describes and what Arenanet have implemented. My point being; that Bioware need not look further then their own catalog of games, to solve mystifying problem of how to make Rouges viable. So sorry Taug, neither you nor Arenanet solved this. It was solved back in the 90’ties with DnD 3th edition ruleset. Probably even before this.

    • taugrim says:

      rawker :

      This idea is not new though. Having used much of my youth playing NWN 1 (another Bioware game) on a persistent world server (basically a MMO),

      So sorry Taug, neither you nor Arenanet solved this. It was solved back in the 90′ties with DnD 3th edition ruleset. Probably even before this.

      It may have been in NWN1 but the market didn’t copy that as the archetype – they went the opposite route.

      What I am suggesting and what GW2 is delivering will certainly seem new to 99% of the players in the current market.

  15. Cosmic Osmo says:

    Taugrim, how would you address the problem of making rogues actually killable in 1v1 if you give them a 15s or 20s cooldown on in-combat stealth? Wouldn’t that give them nearly unlimited ability to escape from fights?

    For example, if a stealther was solo-defending a node in alderaan, they could stall a single attacker effectively forever by continually interrupting caps, throwing dots or cc, and re-stealthing. The attacking player would end up needing to kill the stealther in something ridiculous like 10 seconds in order to be able to cap the node.

    • taugrim says:

      Cosmic Osmo :

      Taugrim, how would you address the problem of making rogues actually killable in 1v1 if you give them a 15s or 20s cooldown on in-combat stealth? Wouldn’t that give them nearly unlimited ability to escape from fights?

      For example, if a stealther was solo-defending a node in alderaan, they could stall a single attacker effectively forever by continually interrupting caps, throwing dots or cc, and re-stealthing. The attacking player would end up needing to kill the stealther in something ridiculous like 10 seconds in order to be able to cap the node.

      I didn’t say give in-combat stealth every 15-20 seconds and leave everything else as-is.

      That’s exactly what I did not say :)

      To reiterate what I said in the video:
      1. in-combat stealth would be a short-term stealth buff, e.g. several seconds
      2. the damage and CC that is typically coupled with openers out of stealth would need to be de-coupled

  16. Beatus says:

    Hi!

    Is anyone else having sound problems on youtube on this video? the volume is really low and with a annoying sharp sound in the backgroung?

    • taugrim says:

      Beatus :

      Hi!

      Is anyone else having sound problems on youtube on this video? the volume is really low and with a annoying sharp sound in the backgroung?

      The audio quality is poor. I was trying a new setup but it doesn’t look like it works.

      • Beatus says:

        No problem, usually your videos have great production value, and in this case the sound artifacts actually seam to be more in the right channel then the left :)

        Thanks for all your hard work!

  17. Patrick says:

    In terms of balancing the class, perhaps making the rogue class have to build combo points or something similar in order to restealth would prevent the disappearing/reappearing act seem cheap to those of us with no stealth and constantly victims of the backstab.

  18. Kyntari says:

    Hey Ed

    Great video, I typically play stealthers in every MMO so I found this segment particularly interesting. I found your blog looking for tips on playing my vanguard alt, my main being a 50 op.

    You mentioned WAR in passing, but I feel like you kind of lumped it in with the WoW clones as far as stealth mechanic goes, when it’s actually very different, and in my opinion closer to the ‘right’ mechanic than the McWoW model

    A lot of what you talked about in this video actually holds true in WAR, specifically the ability to restealth in combat, and stealth more as a way to confuse / reposition / regain the initiative, as opposed to a pre-requisite for using your most damaging ability combinations. There is no in-combat stealth since your regular stealth is usable both in and out of combat. Restealthing can be tough, since it has a cast time requirement, but it seems very balanced.

    I thought this worked really well, and I don’t understand why the ‘perma-stealth + vanish on CD’ model is so popular.

    To me, making stealth usable in combat, limiting its duration, putting a short to medium cooldown on it (which starts upon leaving stealth), and having all openers be utility / self-buff type moves rather than damage / stuns is the right start. Which is very similar to what you’re saying.

    I think your commentary is right on, I only hope some future game designer can pick stuff up like this and run with it. We’ll see if GW2 gets it right.

  19. Doulos says:

    Hey, I watch your videos anonimously, usualy the recordings at my own pace, thanks for letting us post here without some kind of account.

    I just wanted to show you some support here, and leave a comment on this one.

    I did not have time to read through all the other ideas here, so sorry if I repeat.

    I think the issue is a double edge sword. You have to add some risk on the part of the rogue, you must make stealth openers matter, yet you cannot make them worthless in extended fights. The problem as I see it is that you cannot let a rogue have a get out of jail free card, not even as much as they already have; otherwise they have an unbeatable advantage of both picking their fights and the unkillable retreat of restealth if they use it wisely. This is a strategic problem that already makes rogues overpowered in world pvp. Any mechanics change to help them with viability needs to account for this.

    The best solution I have seen in the past was DAoC had tracker classes that could actively find stealthers. This could fit very well into Starwars. The bounty hunter / trooper tanks have good RP and PvP reasons to counter stealth. They could be given an ability or talent to allow them to track stealthers in some way. I would suggest something along the lines of actual tracking, with lines or footprints on the grond that fade away over time as opposed to seeing them or being able to target them. That would make it much more immersive and allow the stealthers a chance to lose them.

    This is what I feel needs to be addressed at the same time as making stealthers viable in long fights.

    My suggestion for long fights is very simple. I think that they should be able to use stealth in combat, all the time no cooldown at all. BUT, stealth should be a cast time ability that is 100% interruptable by any attack, and only work against people who do not have a line of sight and facing. and if you stealthed in someone’s line of sight, then leaving LoS should clear the stealther. In my opinion DoTs should not matter, but SWotR seems to want DoTs to break everything, like capping. My main point here is that stealth should be relative. As in, If i am looking the other direction you should be able to stealth from me, but if another person is looking at you, then you cannot stealth vs them. Stealth is much more real when LoS, enemy facing, and timing are involved. It would give good stealthers an advantage by making combat stealthing much more skill dependant instead of a button you push for insta-stealth ever few minutes on a CD.

    It would work much more like you described it. The toss dirt in someone’s eyes. Then use stealth cast time. Then gone.

  20. Cerephim says:

    My main addition to the ongoing dialogue is from my experience playing a Burglar in LOTRO, where stealth had very little utility except for scouting and running away – even the initial burst damage wasn’t that good.

    However, the interesting thing that balanced the burg for extended play was the utility belt they had for debuffing opponents. A number of skills that decreased dmg, hit chance or increased damage taken by the group. Not sure if it fits into SWTOR’s game mechanics, but it was an interesting way to provide a major support role for the stealth class in a large group.

    In terms of this short-term, easy-access stealth concept: I would love to see it coupled with other abilities to get a proc for your stealth, a %chance that the stealth doesn’t activate, and perhaps an ability (like a stealth) that makes you temporarily un-targetable, but still visible.

  21. Scott Johnson says:

    It was barely a nerf – top tier operatives/ scoundrels would not talent for the 3 second knockdown, the reason for this is an operative/scoundrel is all about control, once you give someone a full resolve bar that control is gone. I for one think they buffed my play style I actually can get more stun lock time then I could pre-patch, still very easy to burn someone down in a stun lock if I have vanish up a target will die locked up.

  22. Player says:

    This concept is what was done with UO. If you had hiding at GM+ you could stealth during combat very easily. Pop out do your dmg, jump back into stealth. You could also accomplish that with invis as a mage.

  23. […] Scrapper Scoundrels / Concealment Operatives could easily gib people in smaller-scale fights (although they faced the same issue that other Rogue classes have faced in longer-scale combat) […]

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