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MMO Macros

Obviously given that I consider a programmable UI as a Massively Forgotten Feature I am not opposed to Macros. However, in a recent discussion with fellow OTGers I pointed out that Macros are really just covering up something that the devs should be doing. Here is that post.

I am of a mixed mind on this. On the one hand I’m ambivalent about macros after having reduced one class in Rift to a single button. There was no case where I would want to cast one power over another if they were available. The end result was to place the powers in order of preference and spam 1 constantly. I even top-ranked PvP matches with that setup. *shudder*

On the other hand I think that they should provide some mechanic whereby a skill which modifies another can be overloaded onto the same key. For example there are three pairs of this in the Gunslinger tree alone. There’s Charged Shot and a power which makes the charged shot hit for 100% crit on the next shot. Then there’s Speed Shot and the associated modifier which instantly clears it’s cooldown and makes it so the next use has no cooldown, either. Finally there’s Nut Shot, er, Dirty Kick and Cheap Shot. Nut Shot incapacitates, Cheap Shot is only available against incapacitated enemies.

In the first two cases the second power modifies the first and chances are there is no time, at all, which I would not want the power so modified! In the third case you can’t use the second power without the first nor would there be a time when you would do the first and not follow up with the second. I like modifier skills like this. I like 1-2 combos like this. I don’t like that MMO developers require us to use up 2 slots when overloading one would do.

I know macros cover this. In fact, as a programmer, I’ve got no problems whipping up macros on a whim. But for most people macros are DEEEEEP MAGIC. What needs happen is the devs should make a simple UI mechanic to allow the non-programmers in the crowd (Hi, honey!) to overload keys. Something visual instead of the DEEEEEP MAGIC of stringing things together. Like being able to click a button and have a stack appear where you can drag & drop your powers into that stack.

Alternatively they should do what the developers of Aion did. Just make the stack already! Aion’s combat system was slick. Some of the powers you got were explicitly chained off of other powers. Some stacks would go 5 deep. In other MMOs that means for one stack you would have to do something like, 1,2,3,4,5. However in Aion they realized this would get cumbersome really quick. So instead of requiring each power have a separate button they made it so the next power in the chain appeared on the same button. So that 5 chain power resulted in pressing 1,1,1,1,1. Of course they also had branching chains, but I digress.

Point being while macros address the problem I think that they are not the resolution to the problem. It is time for the industry to stop relying on the community to band-aid over these issues when it is simple for them to resolve. If the power modifies another power, make it a pre-fab chain. If it is a 1-2 combo off another power, make it a pre-fab chain. Don’t make the end user have to jump through a hoop to get the intended result. Leave macros for the truly odd combos players come up with (Sabotage Charge into Speed Shot being my current favorite!).

P.S. the corollary to the above is that if you have more than 15 powers then anything above that should be a modifier or chain of an existing power. Finding binds for more than 15 keys is tough for most players. More powers doesn’t mean more depth. MOBAs get by with four standard and one or two optional.

Yay, Kill 10 Rats! Yay!?

The Kill Ten Rats (KTR) quest is a staple of MMOs.  Well, actually, most games when you get right down to it.  It is so named because early MMOs had newbie players tasked with something trivial, like killing 10 rats.  The format doesn’t change as you level up, either, only the rats are now goblins, or orcs, or whatever nasty critter is nearby.

TOR has a near perfect implementation of the KTR.  Almost all of TORs KTR quests are offered in the form of bonus quests.  They are completely optional.  Furthermore, most of them get completed as you work on the main objective.  So 90% of the time you complete the quest before you’re really aware you had it.  As for the other 10% of the time you’re either so close to completing that it’s hardly a hardship to hunt down the last group or two of mobs or, if you’re not close to completing it, you can just blow it off.

2011 – L.A.G.

Another quasi-revolution around the sun down, another started.  This blog is named for 3 main topics but actually has for.  Libertarian, Atheist, Gamer/Geek, Ferrets.  What did 2011 bring for each of those to my door?  Let’s just say it hasn’t been kind.

Libertarian – Ron Paul.  This past year has seen his star ascend like no other year before.  He’s one of the few politicians who I don’t only not hold in contempt, but actually respect.  So much so that the first time in my life I have contributed directly to a political candidate.  Not only that, but the media focus on him shows how biased and contemptible every major media outlet is.  He is the only voice of dissent on many major policy issues with any voice at the national level.  That it not something to be dismissed, laughed at, or treated with scorn.

Atheist – This one has been low-key.  As much as fellow Atheists may grouse about transgressions by the government, local to national, most of it has been small potatoes.  I can respect the work that several Atheist organizations have engaged in over the past year, but I can’t really get interested in it when I see otherwise rational Atheists become irrational ideologues over the small shit when we have much bigger issues facing us.  Refer to the paragraph above to get my meaning.

Gamer – Many great games were purchased and played this year.  My Steam account is closing in on 300 titles and I’ve recently become a fan of Gamer’s Gate.  But the year goes to TOR.  It was released the 13th of last month.  In the 20 days since Raptr has me at just shy of 200 hours.  I haven’t clocked that much time in any other game since such a short time since Aion.  Difference is, I’m not utterly pissed off at TOR as I was with Aion.

Geek – I still work in the tech sector.  It still sucks balls.  Linux still doesn’t get it’s just due.  I have become Google’s bitch.  My tablet computer now has a detachable keyboard which adds 8 hours of battery life.  So, win some, lose some.

Ferret – Worst year ever.  Ever.

Samson left us back in May.  He was quite old for a ferret.  Even though we knew he wouldn’t be with us long his passing was quite sudden.  But I could deal with it after a few days time.

Aesa followed her friend for life in August.  She too was old and I think she was tired of taking the medication that was helping her live day-by-day.  We fought to keep her going for two weeks but in the end did what was best for her.  Even though I held her as she passed away I think having faced up to the fact it was her time over those weeks helped ease the weight in my heart.

Come September Fex, our first ferret and youngest of our business, suddenly took ill.  He was gone less than 48 hours later.  It was completely unexpected.  For some reason it just hit me hard.  He wasn’t, isn’t, supposed to be gone yet I still find myself missing him, even now, far more than I missed Samson or Aesa.  I loved them no less.  I can only think it was that he was still appeared quite healthy for a ferret.  I never thought for an instant that he would be gone this year, or the next, or even the one after that.  Certainly not without us seeing it coming like we did with Aesa and to a lesser extent Samson.

We now have two cute-as-a-button girls, Xena and Xara.  At least they had some time with Aesa and Fex.  They never fail to put a grin on my face when I need it most.

Finally, one last event from 2012.  My wife’s mother, Ruthann, passed away back in October.  We lived in different states and my work schedule rarely gave me time to visit as often as my wife did.  But she accepted me into her home and her life.  She accepted my marriage to her daughter.  In a world where I hear of far too much strife between parents and their children’s spouse I was lucky to have had her as my mother-in-law.  She was taken from us too soon.

I know Ruthann would not approve of my words but I think she’d understand the sentiment.  Fuck you, 2011, you took more than your due.  I’m glad you’re gone.