Tobold's Blog
Monday, August 31, 2009
WoW combat thoughts

Over the last 10 days playing World of Warcraft again I did a lot of switching between characters. I played 5 different characters, from a level 1 paladin to a level 80 priest in full epics, with a druid in his mid-20s, a mage at level 72, and a badly equipped level 80 warrior in between. I didn't do any raiding, but did regular quests, daily quests, the Argent Tournament, and various dungeons on normal and heroic. And besides just having fun, I also took some time to reflect on what I was doing, and what gameplay was more fun, and what less so. In this post I'll just throw out some random thoughts on WoW combat, based on these observations.

What was striking in playing different characters in different situations was how different combat was in terms of interactivity. While I did find the paladin now much improved, a low-level paladin is still very little interactive. Most of the spells I have are buffs, like auras, seals, and blessings, which you cast before combat, not in it. Then I have healing and purification, which I don't cast much in solo combat either. The few remaining spells, like hammers, all have a relatively long cooldown. Thus at my low level (10 now), I quite frequently am in the situation that I have already pressed all the buttons I could possibly press in that combat, and until some slow cooldown finishes, I'm limited to auto-attacks. And of course the paladin starts with a slow 2-handed mace as initial weapon, and staying with 2-handed weapons is better in terms of maximizing dps. That means that in the combat not only do I have no buttons to press, but even the auto-attacks happen only every 3 seconds or so. 3 seconds can feel like an eternity when you watch you character and absolutely nothing happens. In fact I sometimes had the situation that I had killed 1 mob, a second mob was still hitting me, and I didn't even notice that my auto-attack wasn't turned on any more. I'm not giving up on the paladin yet, because I'm sure that with the levels he'll gain more and more buttons to press in combat, but right now low-level paladin combat isn't much fun.

The other extreme on the interactivity scale from my characters was the warrior tanking heroics (or Trial of Champions on normal). It used to be that warriors were limited by rage generation, but this is much less the case now. With the help of shockwave and glyphs that allow me to sunder armor on several mobs at once, I can effectively AoE tank, and the incoming attacks plus various rage generation talents mean my rage bar is never empty. That, plus being level 80, means I have dozens of possible buttons to press during combat. And not just some "rotation", but in a quite interactive way: I need to watch the mobs around me, and use taunt when I lose aggro on one. I need to be aware if an enemy starts casting spells, and reflect or interupt it. And I need quite a lot of positional and situational awareness to be a good tank. All that is *way* more interesting than paladin auto-attack soloing. But then I can't do it for hours on end. Not only is it difficult to always find a group, but also after a couple of hours I stress out on tanking, and need to do something more relaxing. The level 80 priest in heroics is similarly interactive, with me having to decide who to heal, and with what spells.

The druid and mage are leveling, thus often soloing, and less interactive. I must say the mage interactivity improved much since the introduction of more interactive talents. Up to Wrath of the Lich King I had gone for an extreme, but efficient, strategy of equipping my mage exclusively in gear than maximized his spellpower, which enabled him to reach level 70 using basically only the frostbolt spell. I simply had upgraded that single spell to an extent where any mob I had to kill for a typical quest dropped dead before it reached me, or at least before it could do much harm. That strategy still works, but now I have talents that randomly allow me to cast free fireballs, or randomly proc the frozen fingers effect, which makes that the instant ice lance is more effective than the frostbolt. Thus instead of casting the same spell over and over, I start with spamming frostbolt, and react to the procs of the talents which make other spells better. Thus while this is much less interactive than a tank or healer in a group, it is more interactive than the paladin, or the mage himself pre-patch 3.0.

The Argent Tournament introduced a new sort of gameplay into WoW, jousting, which is used for various daily quests, and the first part of the Trial of Champions instance. Now in principle I very much like the idea, because adding different modes of gameplay adds to the variety of World of Warcraft. In practice unfortunately I hate jousting, at least in its solo form. With the help of guild mates I did figure out an optimum strategy: Wait until the enemy rides away from you, charge him with button 3, during the charge hit button 1 to simultaneously strike him, then turn around immediately and hit button 2 to further reduce his shields. Works perfectly when I'm extremely fit and all this happens on a flat surface. As soon as I get slightly more tired, or there is some lag, or the stupid NPC decides to leave the arena and gets us tangled up in the decoration around it, jousting gets rather annoying. You get stuck somewhere, the NPC miraculously manages to launch 3 shield breakers in the time you need for one, or you lose the combat because you moved too far from the arena following the NPC. The whole thing is rather twitchy, with success more relying on you being able to turn fast and hit buttons fast, than on you making a right tactical decision.

And there is my preference in World of Warcraft combat in a nutshell: I do like being forced to make decisions, tactical decisions which need to be done inside of a second or two, but where making the right decision counts for more than being able to hit a button 100 milliseconds faster. I hate knowing that one reason I do badly in some forms of WoW combat is that I turn with the keyboard instead of with the mouse, because I think that the few milliseconds difference in turning speed should not make a difference in good MMORPG combat. But they do, far too often.

This penalizes people on slower connections, as well as middle-aged players like me, who move somewhat slower than teenagers. My wife, who plays WoW, but has a lot less practice with video games in general, already needs to call me every time a quest requires fast reaction time, like the Triage quest for first aid. I don't think she'd get far with jousting. And of course if you can't play Super Mario, you are also excluded from doing well in many modern raid encounters. Personally I don't think that this is what MMORPG combat should be about, there are enough other games for people to demonstrate their fast reflexes. I'd rather have that MMORPG combat evolved to become more and more tactical. Unfortunately that is not where the current trend is heading, a lot of new MMORPGs have much twitchier combat than World of Warcraft. But then, maybe the developers of these twitchier games should wonder whether they aren't shooting themselves in the foot by excluding a huge part of an aging demographic of video game players with slower reflexes. To be appealing to a mass market, MMORPG combat needs to be interactive, but not too twitchy.
If you've got slower reflexes than the kids (and that's OK, I'm older than most of them and I do too), you really shouldn't handicap yourself even further by keyboard-turning.
The problem is that I have a decade of keyboard-turning experience. I tried mouse-turning, and simply couldn't do it, not only losing orientation in the process, but ending up reacting even slower when turning with the mouse, because I'm simply not used to it. It would take a long time of "reeducation" before my mouse-turning was actually working better than my keyboard-turning.

And as I said, if those milliseconds of turning time make a difference, I'm bound to think of it as bad combat design anyway.
This isn't really even unique to MMO's, games in general have moved away from strategic slower more strategic games into faster more action orientated games.

I don't mind it in WoW, But I can tell you that as much as I love Real Time Strategy games, I am horrible at the vast majority of them. Having to micromanage 20 units and my base all at once in real-time is simply beyond me.

I prefer slower games that involve more thought, Civ 4, Empire Total War so on and so forth.

That being said, what you need to under stand is that the expectations on your reaction speed in WoW is minuscule compared to the majority of games out now a days that wow requires are minuscule compared to the majority of games now a days.

Example, your fighting Thaddius, he casts polarity shift. You have a good 5 to 6 seconds to decide if need to move, and then move if you do. By comparison in a FPS you might have a fraction of a second to notice your target, and shoot him before he kills you in 1 shot.

Older MMO's were aimed at the DnD crowd, we used to sit around and spend 5 minutes determining if our sword attack hit the goblin, and if so how much damage it did, all using an assortment of dice and a rulebook that you could bludgeon a man to death with. In EverQuest killing a mob on my warrior consisted of targeting it, turning on auto attack, and kicking every 4 or 5 seconds that it refreshed. That was it. No moving, no 20 ability to use Just me and kick and the mob for about 3 minutes before one of us died.

WoW aimed to deliver MMO's to people other then the hard-core RPGer and while on one hand many of the time consuming aspects of the old games where improved upon, in an effort to make the game more interesting for those Eleven year-olds with ADD who froth at the mouth playing halo, they had to speed up combat a great deal, and make it more twitchy.

We may just be the relics of a forgotten time, like the man on horseback angry that the newfangled automobiles go too fast and make to much sound.

On another note, it may be that society as a whole is simply more drawn to action. Consider the popularity of say Soccer compared to say Chess.
"which enabled him [my mage] to reach level 70 using basically only the frostbolt spell. I simply had upgraded that single spell to an extent where any mob I had to kill for a typical quest dropped dead before it reached me, or at least before it could do much harm" Hard to believe Tobold. I´m playing a mage for 8 months now (obviously in the wrong way) and the battles with mobs of the same level are usually tough one. And if there are 3 mobs I have to run, and run fast! Any chance to take a look of your mage talents tree and current gear? I have tested fire and ice, arcane too without any results. Actually the arcane flavour was very fun.

Most MMORPG's have more interactive combat than WoW. I have lately been playing Lotro and for most classes you need to keep pushing buttons continuously to have some decent dps.
But I think the main reason why WoW (solo) combat is so boring is that it's too easy.
In Lotro you often have to beat groups of mobs or "signature" mobs (between normal and elite) and you really have to think how you should handle the encounter.
In WoW you almost always fight single mobs and the only challenge is to fight quickly and avoid down-time for drinking or bandaging.
It's not just turning time. It's being able to turn and strafe in a coordinated fashion. Mouse turning gives you a far more readily available picture of what's going on around you.

My ex-gf had trouble with the mouse at the beginning, because she was not a gamer. Setting the mouse sensitivity down helped her a fair bit until she was comfortable enough to speed it up.

Given that targetting is not usually a frequently active task, the combat designed would have been one-handed, and worse, without it.

But please, try it again. It's going to be hard to suffer your complaints about movement-based boss fights seriously now that we know you're crippling yourself.
If the "lethargy" of Pally soloing is boring for you now, I'd switch to a different class - it doesn't get better until quite a bit later. One of my alts is a 30 pally, and other than judgments and exorcism, there still isn't too much to do during a fight (well, OK, consecrate if there are several mobs, but otherwise it's a waste of mana).

Regarding the keyboard turning - if you get disoriented when turning with the mouse, try turning its sensitivity down. When the sensitivity is too high it's really easy to get lost every time you move the mouse a centimeter to the left...
I'm afraid you're projecting your own preferences to the mass market and succumbing to the golden mean fallacy. The teens and young adults that the WoW advertisements and marketing tie-ins are aimed to don't share your problems with the more twitchy combat, and probably even asked for it. Blizzard is simply responding to jokes about frostbolt spamming and half-AFK hunters. ;-)
Reaction time in WoW is something I believe can be learned. Don't use age as an excuse. Reaction time in WoW is really quite different then FPS games. It isn't about aiming super fast, but it is more about using the right spell....quickly (not nano-second quickly as is required with FPS games).

My advise, if you wanted to improve your WoW reaction time would be to PvP more. Boss fights are all the same once you learned them. Mob fights, and jousting the same. PvP is different every time and you will learn to have almost an instinctual reaction time after being ganked a lot. Roll on PvP server. Once you hit 80 you should be ready to rip faces off.
Another thing I'd like to ad is enjoy your Paladin now. You can SoL and let you're auto-attack do it's work at this point. If you get to end game on your paladin and want to read you will be constantly hitting a button. I much more enjoyed raiding on my paladin in vanilla WoW when I got a few seconds to breath.
Do yourself a favour and try mouse-turning for three hours straight. You'll hate it but you will get used to it faster than you think. After that it's like riding a bicycle.

Re: tactics vs. speed... thing is pepople need something to get better and better at. Otherwise it's not fun. Theoretically one can improve speed, but not tactics.

Tactics that could be improved months after release would a) be expensive to design b)make it possible for players to get 'it' very wrong hundreds of time at the beginning, which is a lot of lost subscriptions..

I personally would put tactics like that into crafting, an optional part of the game, but one in need of more 'ummph' and relevance. In Eq2 for instance it was until recently possible to die from bad crafting techniques and good tactics still nets you better stats on the crafted result.
So why is there keyboard-turning in the game in the first place, if that is so "crippling"?

What use is first offering different control modes to your players, and then telling them: Ha, ha! Gotcha! Only one of these control modes is actually useable! If you chose the other one, you just gimped yourself and you'll have to start over!

As you said, mouse turning is more difficult for the average gamer, and you all know examples of people you know who had difficulties with it. All I'm saying is that designing gameplay which requires a control mode which only the better gamers are able to handle will limit the size of your customer base. Bad game design, and this isn't what MMO combat is supposed to be about.
Keyboard turning certainly limits you (guess you never did the hunter epic bow quest huh?), but like you said, if success or failure in combat comes down to that, it's a twitch system (Which I enjoy of course, given that I love DF's combat). I think Atlantica Online was nice in that regard, as it was still fast enough, but clearly tactics were superior to twitch. It would be nice if more games used a similar system outside of the F2P market.
I'd add my voice to the mass, I'm afraid. Mouse-turning is a LOT faster and more efficient. It's also a total pain in the ass to learn, but no more so than, say, a Dvorak keyboard. I'd really recommend you give it another lengthy go, either on WoW or on something like an FPS if you can stand that. It'll take a few hours, but you'll get there.

"So why is there keyboard-turning in the game in the first place, if that is so "crippling"?"

Same reason that you could play original Quake entirely with the keyboard - habituation for lower-expectation players. Playing Quake multiplayer using keyboard turning was instant death - however, for those people who just wanted to potter through the single-player game, and who had gotten used to it on Doom, for example, it was fine.

Likewise, soloing WoW and even doing Heroics with keyboard turning is doable - indeed, so is raiding, as you show. It's just that mouse turning offers some significant advantages. But if Blizzard had designed WoW so that you couldn't keyboard turn, anyone who wasn't willing to go through the learning curve of mouse turning (like you) wouldn't have played it. Which would have lost them a lot of money.

So keyboard turning is in there for the same reason that it's possible to build silly talent specs - because many players aren't trying to play as well as they possibly can, and want something they're comfortable with.

In other news - I'm levelling a Pallie at the moment too. Currently, at level 30, I have about 4 buttons to press, and normally have 4 second waits in combat. OTOH, with my girlfriend's similarly-levelled shammie, we can two-man dungeons of our level, so...
I think it's a lot of fun to continually reduce the difference between fast and slow reflexes to "middle-age" and "teenagers." The advantage of this system is that it: a) attacks someone's maturity based on their physical capabilities, b) leaves no room for the ~20-~35 age category, which makes up a significant proportion of the game's playerbase, and c) lumps me and my "sucks at pvp" skills in with the lot of you crotchety old folks. =D

That aside, I really like your analysis here. Why is it that soloing, and even DPS in general, is so often less interactive than tanking or healing?
I gave up on the argent tournament at the stage where you face the first champion (I think), I'm too slow and it's way too twitchy for my taste. Plus, I don't *want* to spend an entire day learning a new way to move which may, or may not, succeed.
As I've said before, the slowest MMO combat is still faster than I'd choose. While I do like to have some tactics to think about in arranging the fight, I do not share your desire to have buttons to press during it. My ideal combat is Press auto-attack, take hands away from keyboard and watch.

As for WoW combat (or any other MMO combat) being boring becasue its easy, that's entirely a personal opinion. Firstly, as Tobold points out with his description of jousting, what's easy for one person may be harder for another. Secondly, I like things to be easy, because I do not play for excitement or "challenge", but for relaxation and amusement.

As MMOs move closer to the video-game standard and further from their turn-based RPG roots, I find myself moving in turn to the margins, away from the perceived core of the game. I haven't raided for years, and now that raid mechanics are increasingly incorporated in group encounters I no longer group either.

My combat nowadays is limited to the minimum I need to do to level and the mobs i have to kill to get or get to gathering resources. I'd just as soon do away with the combat altogether, really. A game with a medieaval fantasy setting that consisted only of gathering, crafting and exploring would be very appealing right now, and I'm quite surprised no-one's made one yet.
I think it's a lot of fun to continually reduce the difference between fast and slow reflexes to "middle-age" and "teenagers."

I'm thinking of using the terms "keyboard-turners" and "mouse-turners" in the future instead. ;)
It's just that mouse turning offers some significant advantages.

Only to certain classes in certain situations. For example my raiding priest has no "significant advantage" from learning mouse turning, as he doesn't need to look in the direction into which he is casting. Many other classes would need mouse turning only for PvP and jousting.
To me a Frost mage is a good interactive spec for soloing. Very mana efficient, Ice Barrier and lots of escapes. The different Shatter combos for high burst is fun.

When your Water Elemental's Frost Nova is up, and your Deep Freeze is up, you can double Shatter a target killing it really fast. Once your WE dies, Cold Snap and start over. Its the lull between the WE and Cold Snap cooldown where it takes a little longer to kill things. Back to good old Frost Nova Shatter.
Tobold, persevere with the Pally, I know it sucks at bit at the start but once you get into mid-20s you'll become a one man killing machine. Run a few instances and pick up a good, slow 2-hander, you'll rock all the way to 80. The only caveat is, I can't promise the combat will be as varied or technical as some other classes.
"Only to certain classes in certain situations."

Very true. My main at the moment is a rogue, so I find mouse turning almost mandatory. It's pretty important for tanks too in my experience. However, you're right, for many classes it's just not an issue.

Which, I guess, gives another answer for why keyboard turning is still in the game. For many classes, it's just not an issue what you use.
I am both a keyboard-turner and a button-clicker, and I find jousting really easy. I haven't lost a joust with the AI in several months.

The trick is to go on the offensive, and the best way to do that is to gain distance by strafing, not backpedaling or turning. Typically your opponent won't catch up to you very quickly, so you have a second or two to re-orient yourself and then hit shield-breaker or Charge.

Remember, also, that the shields block a percent of damage, which means they scale based on the attack. You basically always want at least two stacks of it up, and you want to leave your opponent at one or zero. The AI is not GCD-locked, but it is affected by cooldowns, so this is very doable. This is why shield-breaker is more useful than Charge; you don't have to strafe quite as far to use it and it has no cooldown. It is similar to why you'd use Flash Heal instead of Greater Heal.

Once you've got a good offense going, jousting is easy. Typically these days I can finish one of them within a minute taking only 1k or so in the process.
I quite like the idea of jousting as a training ground for a PvPish control system (mouselook). It almost makes sense... :)

Should the minigames in an MMO be limited by the control mechanisms of their LCD activities? Is the odd excursion outside that core, for a bit of variety, not acceptible?

Cue pondering of Dust.
Personally I am a mouse-turning and have been since day one. Keyboarding, as I call it, has it's place in exploration games or turn-based tactical games, but in a 3-d world where situational awareness is key to success, mousing (another term) is teh win.

Take the Heigan dance for example. Keyboarders will struggle with turning about after each wave while mousers are spinning back and forth. I've say on the platform and watched a fair share of keyboards die on the first wave because of the "shuffle".
I have a WOW mage too, level 74 right now, 100% frost. Still i use a lot more spells then just frostbolt while questing! Nova, cone of cold (added slow), fireblast (instant), icelance of course, waterelemental (extra nova), blink, poly and even blizzard (added slow).

Pvp is even better. I know you dont like to pvp but there the mage is *very* interactive. I have this mage since launch, and I played a LOT of battlegrounds with this mage, maybe even more then half of the total time /played...I guess that after that much play, you pick up a lot of routine, in estimating situations and the correct response. Even at this low level (with mostly greens, a few blues and two pvp epics) and with low resilience (i boost it with a flask i can make) this character feels powerful (dont laugh:). I almost always end in the top 3-5, honorable kills-wise. Of course the style of combat is radically different. If i fire 3 frostbolts in a match it is a lot...A spell i actually use more in pvp then pve is slowfall (buff a few players and jump of the cliff in arathi basin to ambush the goldmine area is a nice trick).
In tactically shallow games like WoW, the game needs to move relatively quickly to stop it from being mind-rendingly boring for the majority of its players.

But the majority of WoW's content has to be mind-numbingly easy to suit the mass market.

So it is impossible for WoW to be good before you get to the stuff that is designed specifically to be challenging. PvP especially. I'm playing WoW with 3x XP from RAF and still bored out of my mind most of the time. With triple the XP, I still find leveling to be an unnecessarily long and boring task with few instances where I am challenged enough to pull me out of the malaise of way-too-easy gameplay.
Fast reactions are another way to gauge skill. Sure, you could make tactical decisions a huge part of it, and they try to, but being a real-time MMO with relatively low entry requirements they can't make everything be huge tactical decisions. That, and people will quickly make and share tactics which they repeat over and over, so the skill comes down to the execution.

If you're going to ask why keyboard turning is in the game if it's so inferior, you should ask the same of agility+spirit gear. It's there as an option. If it works for you, great. If it doesn't, you should probably switch instead of complaining.

I don't know about you, but I don't think there's a class that doesn't need to mouse look at least occasionally. For example, as a raid leader, I'm constantly looking around to observe what the rest of the group is doing. Even if I'm healing it helps to look around to know what's going on. It might not help on every fight, but it helps often enough that it gives me an advantage over pure keyboarders.

And don't even talk about PvP if you're going to insist on keyboarding.
Tobold, I'm your age and also heartily recommend learning to mouse-turn. I agree that the skill is more useful to some classes than others, but as people have pointed out, it there are situations and raid encounters where it's useful for every class.

I remember my first WoW character, a low-level paladin, watching two gnome rogues dueling in front of Ironforge. They were moving so fast, both in angular as well as linear velocity, I couldn't understand how they did it. Only much later did I learn about mouse turning and the Sprint skill. :) So now I understand that Blizzard makes WoW like all their games -- easy to learn (keyboard turning) and hard to master (mouse turning).

A good way to learn mouse turning is to play a hunter and practice kiting mobs by doing jump shots, hitting the mob with special attacks while you're in the air moving forward while facing backward (and then landing forward to continue your run).
The best advantage I can come up with for using a mouse as a tank or healer that doesn't need to turn is left-click panning to see what's going on. Awareness (to the point of seeing things happen before they hit the health bars) is the brunt of what makes a good tank or healer.
It sounds to me you'd like a turnbased MMORPG. Something where you'd have to plan your move carefully, otherwise you'd lose. Yeah most games today require little thought, but a lot of patience and fast reflexes. It would be cool to have a MMORPG that was turn-based and you'd have to plan your moves. Like the mob might be gearing up a heavy strike, so on your turn you'd want to raise your shield, etc.
Unfortunately, it takes awhile for paladin combat to get interesting and better at higher lvls. It's partially due to talents and also due the rate you get offensive spells.

At lvl 16, you'll get your first ranged taunt which is good for tagging a mob or as an opener as it hits pretty hard so long as a mob isn't targeting you.

At lvl 20 you get your class mount, Exorcism (second ranged ability on a long cd), Consecrate (expensive aoe) and Seal of Command (via talents).

After that you don't get new offensive abilities until lvl 40 when you can get your class epic mount and Crusader Strike through talents. Lvl 44 you get your ranged execute, Hammer of Wrath.

Lvl 50 you get your last offensive abilities from the 1-60 range via Holy Wrath (expensive undead/demon aoe attack) and Divine Storm if you're still going down the ret tree.
50% (heck maybe 80%) of raider deaths in WoW can be solved by stopping these two habits:

1) Keyboard turning/Backpeddaling
2) Clicking

A fingers of frost proc is just as "twitchy" as anything else, you just have more time to twitch. Tactics and twitch are virtually synonyms, for someone who doesn't watch their FoF proc the game is "too twitchy" for them too. Tactics/Twitch is one of the few ways to increase difficulty in an encounter once gear-grinding was discredited in Vanilla.

If you're not as brave as some people I've played with (who literally unbound their movement keys until they got used to mouse movement), at least use the strafe buttons more often instead of turning, you get a lot more speed from it. Myself, as a healer I use mouse movement and the keyboard, but I try really hard not to keyboard turn. But there is nothing more heart-breaking in a raid than to see someone get in fire, stay in fire, then slowly start to backup or turn to run out of it.
Well, for keyboard turners: go play some FPS games. And why can you keyboard turn? You can also click your buttons but that's about as bad an idea as keyboard turning.

Keyboard turning means you need to have a *faster* reaction time then using a mouse. If I can turn twice as fast, I have a bigger safety margin when I have to quickly turn.

I used to keyboard turn while levelling. But once I did some PVP I stopped. You can't compete. Try duelling someone while keyboad turning.

Personally, I like the playstyle where I have to think and react quickly. A combination of both is ideal.

And I've also noticed an overall trend to dumb down games. New RTS games don't even offer base building which is one of the things I prefer best. They just give you a few units and let you go own. There's room for these kind of games but I like a game with more depth from time to time.
By the same token you could argue that gamers who prefer slow, tactical combat are well catered for by turn-based strategy games (among others) and WoW should provide roleplaying for twitch-gamers.
@ periodic

"Fast reactions are another way to gauge skill."

No offense but that is a pretty stupid statement. Moving fast is not skill... it is A skill, but it is not the way in which to judge skill.

Look at any pro sport, or pro gamer... or even the top raiding guilds or PvP teams in WoW. It's not the young guys who typically dominate but the person who has played the most and knows the most about the game.

Speed matters, but to say it's another way to gauge skill is just plain wrong. It's is one of many things that make up a skilled player and depending on what you do in WoW it can be entirely unnessecary.
I grew up on a diet of first person games so the WASD+mouselook is my natural way of playing. This made the transition to playing WoW fairly easy for me.

As has been stated many of the big fights in WoW do not look favorably on people that use the keyboard to turn. In our guild these players tend to struggle with some of the more complex fights in Ulduar. We have one mage in particular that uses keyboard turning and he spends most boss fights flat on his back on the ground.
Tobold, I'm old, too. I keyboard turned for 9 months. Then I got a nice ergonomic gaming mouse and now I LOVE the joust. I can charge and spin around in a coordinated fashion, throw a shield block and move in for more melee. I can even retreat slowly & drag my opponent back into the arena without missing a cooldown.

It feels more like you're DRIVING your mount (and flying is great, too) instead of pushing it with one finger. The first time I flew with a mouse I was hooked.
I actually quite like the slower Paladin combat. I tried a higher level prot warrior (for just questing) and found every fight I was mashing devastate on the GCD and not very enjoyable.

More importantly, there should be variety. Players who want a more frantic melee character should choose a different class or spec. Boring players like me can watch auto attack and think about which piece of gear would make our auto attack strategy better.
Wait wait wait, you're a keyboard turner?? That's nuts. Mouselook turning has been standard in computer games since the mid-90s, you'd almost have to gone out of your way to avoid learning how to do it. And you can't use the age excuse -- I'm 40 and have never had any problem with twitchy gameplay in WoW.

You really really ought to apply yourself to actually learning how to control a modern (last 15 years!) computer game. It's worth your time and age is no excuse.
Mouselook turning has been standard for FPS games. I don't play those. And the day all MMORPGs turn into FPS-like twitch games, I'll stop playing those as well.

The point is not "which control scheme is faster", everybody agrees on that. The point is whether MMORPGs should be so twitchy as to that mouse turning makes a difference. It shouldn't.
"The point is not "which control scheme is faster", everybody agrees on that. The point is whether MMORPGs should be so twitchy as to that mouse turning makes a difference. It shouldn't."

So the whole genre needs to adjust itself to your reaction speed? What to you feels twitchy is just right for a teenager, while what suits you will seem awfully slow and boring to that same teenager (just like playing your pally).

If you want reaction time to not matter at all, maybe you should play more turn-based games, where it is about the strategizing and thinking rather than reaction time. The problem with those is that they don't lend themselves very well to multiplayer environments - it's generally not very interesting to just sit there while someone else is thinking.
I don't understand why mouse-movement is so unintuitive. You hold the right mouse button down and swivel your camera in the direction you want to go. You press the standard turning keys to sidestep in that direction relative to the direction the camera is facing.

I think I figured that out... within the first hour of playing WoW. I never remember not knowing it. Certainly after four years I have come to expect to be able to do it in every MMO I play. It's the best way to move.

I didn't even know that people tried to keyboard move as their only means of movement in WoW before reading this article, actually. It seemed like a skill you'd acquire quickly by necessity.

Tobold: What should be the action resolution of the game? Should it be on a scale of one second per action at most? Or slower?

To design a game effective at that scale, you'd have to change the mechanics a lot or risk severe boredom for most gamers.
So the whole genre needs to adjust itself to your reaction speed? What to you feels twitchy is just right for a teenager, while what suits you will seem awfully slow and boring to that same teenager (just like playing your pally).

That is exactly my point. MMORPGs obviously *can* be designed with twitchy teenagers as the target audience, but that excludes millions of other players, and is thus bad for business. Which is why lots of twitchy MMORPGs failed miserably.

Of course there is no way to measure that, but if I had to estimate it, I would say that 80% of WoW players are keyboard turners. Of course that is the same 80% who never got past Karazhan, and who either not play in the arena at all, or have sub-1500 scores there. You simply don't get to millions of players if you limit your audience to male teenagers, you do need bored house-wifes as well. And those won't mouse-turn.
As happens often, I'm totally with Tobold on this one.

I do play FPS's, I've actually finished a few of them on at least medium setting, if not at hard. I've had vehement discussions about whether a dual-stick game-controller is better than mouse and keyboard for FPS's (and no, mouse is the way to go there). I do not mind using the mouse for movement.

But, this is an RPG, not an FPS. I've been irritated by how PvP works in WoW (and others like AoC) where 'skill' equals being fast with the mouse. In an RPG I I prefer to have actual tactics being more important than sheer speed of execution. If I try, I can actually do average in PvP in AoC for instance, and I even enjoyed it in WAR, but usually I find PvP too tiring, I play to relax after work so the whole competitive leet I roxxored your ass kind of play simply doesn't interest me.

I repeat, it's an RPG. It's bad enough that actual role-playing is non-existent up to the point where even on role-playing servers, it's hard to find, but the typical gameplay of Role Playing Games where you think and execute is getting replaced more and more by speed and twitchy. Not just the MMO's, the Witcher and Mass Effect (great games actually) was a lot twitchier than I expected when I bought them too..

Anyway a lot of words that in the end, just mean that: I can use my mouse. It's just that for the type of game this is, I by far prefer to use the good old wasd.
You simply don't get to millions of players if you limit your audience to male teenagers, you do need bored house-wifes as well. And those won't mouse-turn.
Yes, that's why WoW will always remain a niche game. ;-)
Yes, that's why WoW will always remain a niche game.

98% of WoW can be played by keyboard-turners like myself. I can be sure of that, because I did it. It is the games that can't be played by keyboard turners that are niche, and WoW isn't one of those.
Tobold, it might make an interesting experiment for you to roll a new character and resolve only to use mouse look for turning. At level 1 and with only a few skills, you'll find the learning demands much more manageable than if you attempted it with an established character.

I did something similar when I first started playing LotRO, changing from a mouse looker/button clicker to a mouse looker/key presser. It was awkward to begin with, as these sorts of things always are, but it soon became completely intuitive.

I use WSAD for movement (AD to strafe), but I also have QE mapped to turning, as this allows me to resort to keyboard turning when my mouse hand is holding a cup of tea :)

Anyway, I think you owe it to yourself to at least try making the switch before condemning yourself to keyboard turning forever. At the very least, there should be a blog post in describing how it went.
Did some more research, and found this interesting post on mouse turning.

But then, as a commenter there says: Mouse turners always seem to overestimate their abilities. lrn2keyboard! I did a lot of the raid encounters of which people say you need mouse turning just fine with the keyboard.
98% of WoW can be played by keyboard-turners like myself. I can be sure of that, because I did it. It is the games that can't be played by keyboard turners that are niche, and WoW isn't one of those.
So, do you consider jousting, PvP and raiding to be just 2% of WoW?
So, do you consider jousting, PvP and raiding to be just 2% of WoW?

I say that you are wrong if you say that you NEED mouse-turning for these.

Jousting: I'm winning these without mouse-turning. Slower, probably, but still.

PvP: Are you earnestly trying to tell me that somebody who can't mouse-turn can't do Alterac Valley in WoW? As you can PvP in WoW while being AFK, I don't see how you'd need faster movement for that. The only place where mouse-turning would really help is the high-end of arena PvP, but that is a small part.

Raiding: I raided up to the end of BWL in vanilla WoW, up to Mount Hyjal in TBC, and up to Ulduar in WotLK. Never needed any mouse-turning. Thank you, I survive Helgan just fine with keyboard turning.

Maybe you should practice some keyboard turning if you can't do these things without mouse-turning? ;)
I say that you are wrong if you say that you NEED mouse-turning for these.
I'm just the Devil's Advocate, I'm not taking sides here. You, on the other hand..

My wife, who plays WoW, but has a lot less practice with video games in general, already needs to call me every time a quest requires fast reaction time, like the Triage quest for first aid. I don't think she'd get far with jousting. And of course if you can't play Super Mario, you are also excluded from doing well in many modern raid encounters.
Emphasis mine. You're arguing that WoW is too twitchy because mousing makes too much of a difference and as a result your wife is excluded from experiencing content.. then turn around and saying that it's not that bad because you are not excluded. I'm just pointing out the (perceived) inconsistency in your argument, and a clarification would be appreciated.
If you didn't understand what I was saying, it might have helped if you had asked, instead of commenting snarky one-liners like "Yes, that's why WoW will always remain a niche game." which completely turn what I said into its opposite. Games in which you NEED to mouse-turn to succeed will always remain niche games. But WoW is not such a game, because you can get quite far (my wife got to level 80) without twitching.

WoW has how many servers in Europe and the US? I think its about 200 on each side. Darkfall has 1 on each side of the Atlantic. Tabula Rasa is down to zero. Twitch games don't do well on the mass market.
But WoW is not such a game, because you can get quite far (my wife got to level 80) without twitching.
Ah, here's the fundamental disagreement. You say that WoW is fine because the leveling content, the 98% of the game, doesn't require twitching. I say that WoW is fine, because that remaining 2% is where a lot of players spend their time. So, can we agree to disagree on why WoW is fine?
You don't "need" addons to play WoW either, but using (certain) addons makes you a better player. Same for using the mouse, it's not required but it is _better_

That's the only point of the people mystified by your stubbornness.

As for the triage quest, just scroll the camera back a little further and strafe right or left, there's almost no movement needed for that quest (in fact the quest itself isn't needed anymore if it's too ... twitchy).
Now I have to ask a question. Repeatedly folk have suggested "mouse turning" as the way to be aware of what is going on. How close are people pan'd in? Are mouse turners really playing the game pan'd so close in they can't see the whole play field on their screen, all the time? I have trouble believing that.
Since im "older" too i certainly dont have the lightning reflexes of todays kids. I fail at fps games, although i do like them for short bursts of shooting things:) However mouse turning is something which has become so completely intuitive, its almost natural for me. I dont even consciously register what buttons i click to move around in a game anymore. When a new game hasnt got this mouse turn-move scheme implemented i simply cannot play it (thats old age for you, the decreased ability to adapt to new things :)

Also of note i think: some games have it really down to an art (WOW is one of them) others try but struggle (Fallout3 for example, it just doesnt feel fluid).
Yyidth: If you're, say, a tank, in a fight that requires people spreading out, you're still often going to have to pan around to see everyone even if you're zoomed out to the limit of 50 yards (which is often not feasible in instances because of room geometry).
Are mouse turners really playing the game pan'd so close in they can't see the whole play field on their screen, all the time? I have trouble believing that.
One good example of mouse turning giving better situational awareness is good old Onyxia, where you can look up to see where she is during the air phase and have a much easier time in avoiding the deep breath. And of course, the tank and melee dps have the problem of the boss obscuring most of their field of vision, even if they are zoomed out. Granted, in many situations one can assign someone as a spotter, but that introduces an unnecessary delay between the spotter announcing the danger and people reacting.
Tobold, I realize the whole "anti-twitch" theme has become your schtick, but I really think you're being unnecessarily stubborn...dare I say obstinate? Learning to use the mouselook option would certainly make you a better player and possibly soften your no-twitch stance. Unless a person is physically handicapped, I think anyone can do it with a little time and practice. Learning new skills and becoming a better player is something I would have thought you'd appreciate. As an intelligent person, I can't picture you being content with stagnation. Why all the resistance to this one issue?
You don't understand. This isn't about me at all. I might very well go an learn to mouse-turn this weekend or one of these days.

That doesn't change the fact that there are millions of WoW players who can't play the twitchy parts, will never learn to mouse-turn, and will never buy a MMORPG that requires twitchyness on a regular basis.

You're saying "I can mouse-turn, so it's okay". I'm saying "Not everybody can mouse-turn, so a game requiring it will do worse than a game that is not". That are two very different things, and the mouse-turners on this thread absolutely refused to even discuss that. So who is obstinate here?
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