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.


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