Monday 9 August 2010

None, uhm.. sorry.. SOME shall pass!

As you’ve no doubt already noticed, the big topic for debate at the moment is Mythic’s decision to remove friendly collision detection in patch 1.3.6. It’s been tested a couple of times on the PTS (Public Test Server) and appears to have been generally well received, particularly as people are quoting a 15% improvement in WAR client performance. 15% may not sound like much, but it is. Seriously folks, that’s a dramatic improvement for software and should not be underestimated. However, it comes at a price, a price that is not yet known.
It’s important to note that enemy collision detection is NOT being removed; it’s only friendly targets you’ll be able to walk through. Which would at first seem fine, after all it is enemy collision detection that allows us to form up shield walls and do the whole “none shall pass!” thing. And we’ve all been annoyed trying to push through a doorway that’s blocked by a blob of idiot/AFK players from our own realm, so combined with the performance improvement you might think that this all sounds great and that it won’t change anything really.
Hmmmm. I’m not so sure, in fact I’m a little worried. Not just because it’s a step towards WoW PvP, which is utter turd, no sir, because this isn’t some small tweak. This is a serious, core gameplay changing, “OMG THEY DID WHAT?” type change.
First off I’m going to on a little tangent. Shield walls, or tank walls as we call them in WAR, haven’t actually worked for a looooooooong time. All a tank wall does at present is provide easy targets for burning down and applying AoE on. I hear on some servers they still do tank walls, but they wouldn’t last 20 seconds on mine. Karak Norn is all about using terrain to create a funnel that the attacking players get, er… funnelled into and AoE melted to death instantly. That’s no ego or server pride statement; I’m not saying our server is better, just that it does work differently here. A friend of mine who was involved recently in a long discussion on Mythic’s vent with people from other servers told me that it came out in discussion that they’re just not using the same amount of AoE as we do. They have much more varied warband set ups, with like only 3 Bright Wizards or Sorcs in a warband (interested to hear comments on this), whereas many warbands on Karak Norn will have 6-8, backed up with guarding tanks, healers and maybe a token other DPS or two... A tank wall can not stand up to that (the stacked PBAoE instant kills), plus even if you’re not running a bomb spec warband/zerg, you can still easily crush tank walls, there’s rift/magnet, etc for one and the easiest thing is you just do a coordinated offensive morale bomb on them. Since morale damage is not mitigated by anything that makes a tank, a... uhm... tank… BOOM! Instantly dead tank wall, job done.
The reason I went on that tangent is people are quoting the use of tank walls in the testing and how they will still work and give outnumbered defenders a chance of holding out. Unfortunately for me this just doesn’t mean anything at all, since tank walls simply do not work. The only defence that gives any protection against a vaguely coordinated zerg is a funnel defence. Funnelling defences work not so much by using enemy collision detection, but more by using a combination of terrain and your enemy’s friendly collision detection. You use a choke point to set up and the enemy can’t all rush through the funnel at once, the friendly detection slows them down and as a result the defenders have time to melt them all with monstrous AoE.
So with friendly collision detection removed, is there any way that an outnumbered defender can stand up to a larger enemy force? Tank walls will continue not to work and with nothing to slow the attackers down, funnels will not work either. It sounds like it will become purely about the numbers you bring and nothing else. You may say that the underdog shouldn’t be able to win, that they should not have any advantages, well sorry but that is utter bollocks. For a start look at history (or just watching 300 will do for history-lite) and secondly the whole point of things like keeps is to provide a defensive advantage when facing larger numbers. An outnumbered, but organised defence should be allowed to make use of terrain to their advantage, but with friendly collision detection removed, what does terrain actually do? That’s the problem, because right now friendly collision detection is just as, if not more, important than enemy.
Against all odds is meant to encourage us to fight when outnumbered, but if there’s zero chance of standing up to larger numbers, will people bother? What about in smaller scale situations and scenarios where enemy players can now at all times freely kite you into their allies? How is that going to work out?
Having said all of this, you may be surprised to hear that I do actually think it should go onto the live servers, albeit with a proviso.
It is a huge performance improvement and with the other changes in 1.3.6 combined with the tricky to predict live environment, maybe things like tank walls will work again. We can all theorycraft to our hearts content about how it will work out, but this is a major change to a core component of the gameplay and as such its hard to reliably predict the outcome. There is a chance that everything will be ok, better even. Alas testing it on the PTS just doesn’t prove anything about the real impact of this change. The only way to know is to test it on the live servers and see how it works out. So I think it should be put onto the live servers, but it is absolutely critical that Mythic are ready to hotfix it out if it does turn the game into an even bigger zerg fest.
You can say what you like, be it for or against, but it boils down to this being a major change to the core of WAR’s combat system. Mythic need to be extremely cautious and must react very, very quickly should the risk versus reward prove not worth it.


  1. I dont see what would change to funnels? now all bw's can stand inside the tanks.... would be even better...??

  2. I agree that there might be some problems with turning off the friendly collision..
    I'm not sure if the benefit is enough to compensate the possible abuses or other effects on gameplay.

    Even in small scale fights it will change the fighting style. You can be now kited, because the enemy can run through a tank, but you can't. So no more chasing targets, because you will be blocked and you target can run freely (as long as it evades your team mates ;) ).

    The funneling you wrote is another case and I think that there are some more situations.
    Seems like WAR is losing some of its tactical gameplay for gaining performance.

    It's a big change..on many levels of gameplay.

  3. Because of the speed that all the attackers can get in and behind the defenders now. There is nothing to stop them ALL rushing in and morale dumping at once. Imagine that with the 100-250 keep attackers that you and I regularly face.

  4. Ah yeah... i get it now.... wow thats game changing indeed.... no way to stop zergs more bombing and no more funneling....

    in scenarios and cities the fights can still be good and even better because of no bombing... but orvr wil be..... worse then pve if this will get in

  5. The guys in 300 died. They didn't stop the whole army. They presented a hiccup of maybe a day or two. And armies back in the day were just zergfests. Shit happens. You guys will find another way to min/max, welcome to being human.


    I left the game because it was unplayable due to lag. It was also wildly frustrating to come back from that lag stuck on a friendly. Frustrating != fun. I'm coming back, It's good to know it won't be as terrible as before, because I had a blast when it was working.

  6. Agreed that they really need to not rush into this.

    I have said it before and I will say it again. UO had collision detection done right way back in 1995. You could not simply just walk through someone, but if you pushed you could get by.

    So I am hoping for tweaks on this new "feature" instead of the broad brush that Mythic has shown they like to paint with in the past. (Ex-DAoC player here.)

  7. "They have much more varied warband set ups, with like only 3 Bright Wizards or Sorcs in a warband (interested to hear comments on this)"

    Thought I'd chip in the apparent warband make-ups from Iron Rock.

    On Order, we tend run with few tanks (at least in cities) and a fair number of healers, MDPS and other squishies. Of course, we don't stand up too well against bomb groups.

    Destro appears to run with a good number of tanks, some AOE classes and a few healers; but they do well with few healers as we can't get to them due to the massive AOE!

    Both sides, however, regularly use tank walls to defend keeps and it seems to work pretty welL.

  8. Okay I just wrote some massive wall of text citing loads of historical battles and military figure-heads almost pointlessly for I went on such a tangent by the end of my comment that I just deleted all of what I had written! My bad!

    Long story short please don't mention historical and 300 in any combination however tongue in cheek... It would save me a lot of time!

    - Funkeh

  9. prarydoginit - Regardless of what happens with this, it's good time to return. The game is vastly improved from launch. TBH I only lag in the really huge fights now.

    Gina - As a fellow ex-UO player (nearly time for my annual reactivation...), I know exactly what you mean. I've never really understood why MMOs don't always have it for PvP.

    Bursh - Thanks for the reply, that interesting to here that confirmed. In KF we run with less bomb sorcs than most Norn guilds (we only have 3 regularly active I believe), we've always been very melee heavy, but that doesn't seem to the norm on Norn ;) Plus we still bomb ofc at times. At the extreme end of things, I've on multiple occasions faced a warband with 8 warrior priests, 8 bright wizards and 8 tanks...

    Anon - I totally understand where you're coming from, in my first draft post I had written Thermopylae, but then figured I'd just quote 300 as everyone and their wife knows the film and will get the reference ;)

  10. Yeah I understand, I just wanted to bust out some otherwise fairly pointless knowledge and wow everyone, but in the end it was pointless and I stepped off my pedestal :D

    btw Boots, do you often get pm'd ideas for posts or themes for discussion etc?

  11. I couldn't find any stats for the euro servers but maybe you have more bw/sorcs.

    Gorfang has always been more sc focused than rvr so both side's 6-mans have always outperformed the bomb groups.

  12. Get the odd email request yeah, feel free to drop me a line at or PMing me on WHA or the Mythic forums. ;)

  13. Well on Drakenwald when the Order zerg is rolling we use mostly funneling tactics for keeps/chokepoints too, at least if we run our "serious" alliance wb setup, wich usualy is 1 "bomb" wb with all groups having 2 healers, 2 tanks and for dps we usualy go with 4-6 sorcs, 2 rift magi, And a 2nd wb that runs with the rest of whats left in the alliance, but usualy also has 2 healers and at least 1 tank per group.

  14. If they decide to go through with this change it can be potentially devastating for the game.

    It needs to be tested much much more than it has already, from all different angles, this is not something you'd want Mythic to rush through.


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