I’ve been reading through the comments posted on YouTube for my first TERA video, and Beta testers reported combat issues related to latency.
This morning I watched the last set of duels that I streamed on Saturday, and from the footage it looks like latency (or lag) impacts the quality of PVP combat.
Check out the following TwitchTV video for duels between Razer (level 5 Female Elin Slayer) and Kennedy (level 5 Female Elin Archer):
At several points in their duels, what Kennedy and I saw was the same: Razer was able to hit Kennedy even though it looked like Razer was clearly out of melee range. This prevented Kennedy from knowing where his opponent was, and therefore how to target and how to counter. Given that I saw the same thing that Kennedy was experiencing, we wondered whether the issue was Razer’s Internet connection. He checked and his ping time to our Vent server was low.
Keep in mind the latency occurred in 1v1 combat with very few players nearby. That said, the issue really isn’t whether the Beta server was tuned, how many people were nearby, etc – rather the issue is that given the importance of positioning in combat, TERA is by design more sensitive to latency (lag) compared to your typical non-action MMORPG. Games typically have higher “lag” as the number of combatants increases, so there is the risk that the quality of combat in TERA may drop in mass PVP.
Aside from the latency issue, in TERA the hitbox is based on character race, gender, and size. The benefits of being small (“it’s harder to hit me”) outweigh the downsides (“it’s harder to heal me”). I’d rather take less damage than be easier to heal, because that would mean there is less reason to heal me in the first place. In general, I believe that character race, gender, and size should not have any meaningful impact on game combat, to allow players the flexibility of creating a character that suits their personal preferences not game mechanics.
UPDATE (2012/02/13 noon PST): before you pull the “OMG NOOB TERA IS IN BETA” card, keep in mind TERA went live in Korea on January 25, 2011 – over a year ago. What is in Closed Beta is the version of the game that is being managed and operated by game publisher En Masse for NA.
Developers tend to localize games for new markets with via language (text and voiceovers), tweaks to XP, and content availability, not via changing core game mechanics. I observed this with Aion, which was live in Korea before going live in NA in 2009 and with Allods Online, which was live in Russia before going live in NA in 2010.
So what we can reasonably expect are fixes per Beta testing related to the localization process and changes to En Masse’s server environment and infrastructure, but probably not to the core game code itself.
UPDATE (2012/02/15): some folks are claiming that FPS games have lag too, and that it isn’t a big deal.
Let me frame a critical distinction between FPS combat and TERA combat.
In FPS games, you can run and gun – the action of firing a weapon does not cause you to move in a predefined path. Weapons in FPS games have a “reload” timer but they do not in themselves restrict mobility, unless the player chooses to do something like aim their weapon by using a scope.
However, in TERA, when you use an attack ability, you move in a fixed path for that ability. Keep in mind one’s ability to attack and defend are heavily dependent on positioning.
Therefore I expect lag in TERA to be more detrimental than lag in an FPS.