Tobold's Blog
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Are players more stupid than the AI?

This post evolved from yesterday's discussion about the weakness of melee dps in large scale PvP. I had observed that a mage or archer standing back and shooting at people isn't all that likely to get attacked in PvP, while a melee class sticking his head out by running to the frontline is getting targeted by everyone. But has anyone noticed that this is only true for PvP, while in PvE, as long as there are no taunts, mobs will run after the highest thread, wherever he stands? Are players more stupid than the AI in targeting only what is in front of their nose, instead of the ranged dps or healer in the background?
Remember, this is an MMO you're speaking about. As such, I'm afraid a "yes" might be appropriate...
You could call it stupid not to run directly to the randed dps/heal, but I think it's more instinct of self preservation... you don't want to be targetet by melee and randed and burned down in an instant.

AIs are the better soldiers, they are not afraid to die.
Partly yes, but it's not our fault sometimes. AIs can know everything going on around them. We humans on the other hand can't multitask like that.

Sometimes we can't see the healer or the ranged attacker, sometimes we see them, but there's so much going on that our minds can't put "Kill them! They are the threat here!" at the top of our focus, sometimes we see an ally near them and think they've got it handled.

Thankfully, if we're in a PvP situation this is all happening to the other guy too :x
AI doesn't have to take the environment in to account while we players do. A number of times I've charged into fight a melee character only to find a ranged hiding in some bushes or trees that is hard to see. At that point I can hope to kill my target accepting my fate, or switch targets and possibly kill nothing. The decision changes depending on whether I'm in a group or not. However I would generally say as players play more PvP they develop tactics, whereas the AI is static and doesn't learn.

So yes - some players don't play as well as the AI -however, quite a bit do. And with a mentoring those who don't hopefully will. Okay accept those alliance who won't play defense at towers in Alterac Valley :) j/k
In a RvR battle with zerg vs zerg I'd hardly call the players stupid. The main problem is lack of communication and organization, it's generally every man for themselves trying to pick off kills without risking themselves to the opposing group.

Eventually you will get bored melee types and tanks that get enough courage to charge into the opposing group bringing some support with them, but not often.

So the easiest route with the least risk and highest gain tends to be picking off the weak via ranged attacks while safe in the rear line.

MMO tactics are still stuck in the WWI Trench warfare times and I don't see them changing anytime soon.
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I disagree with the OP completely.

There's a reason you target the melee charging up at you (if you are ranged). When they are low on HP, they can't run away, even if they turn tails they are still going to be in your range.

If you target someone at the back, they will run away when they are low on HP, and you can't follow - otherwise it'll put you at risk.

What you probably didn't realize is how effective flanking the range/support guys from the side is. It disrupts their healing/dps chains, and their melee line breaks apart.
Try playing a healer in Lotro in the early levels and you see that behaviour quite clearly and hurtful: No one ever deals properly with the ranged mobs that will start to gank the Minstrel as soon as the first heal has to be cast. At least in most pickup groups that is the comnmon pattern.

But it improves significantly in higher levels. Most people actually learn while climbing the levels and become aware of their class, role in the group and their surroundings and know what to do and when.
Given the current way "running away" works in WAR, why on earth would a (non-stealthing) melee DPS target a squishy back behind enemy lines?

I can't really tell if this is to WAR's credit or not, but running away in RvR is really easy, assuming you're standing somewhere back from the front line. As an Archmage, I could easily get away from almost any melee DPS class who tried to come at me with a combination of hiding behind clusters of players and sprinting. Player collisions have a large role to play in this - a melee can't just walk up to me unimpeded, they have to trudge through all the people between me and him, and I try to keep as many people in such a position as possible. If somebody did manage to get through to me, usually some of my ranged buddies would switch to that target and drop him quickly.

No, in WAR right now, ranged is god - but only if you have tanks to keep up the front line. It's the meatshield effect that gives you that kind of breathing room.

To me, this seems to play out as one massive balance problem for melee DPS classes. Melee DPS is always most effective against squishies, but in WAR it's easy for squishies to avoid them. I'll be interested to see how this plays out among higher levels at release.
I haven't played WAR yet but from what I understand Tanks do their jobs well - provide a wall or meatshield between their Ranged DPS + Healers and the enemies.

Ranged DPS and Healers do their jobs well - dealing large amounts of damage/healing from the back of the battle.

Melee DPS seem to have the most problems, as they cannot get close to any ranged class, they get outlived by Tank classes and normally get nuked before doing any damage to other Melee DPS classes.
Order ranged line------------------

Melee Mixing it up-----------------

Destruction ranged line------------

If one sides ranged move up to hit the others ranged line, they aren't just going to get nuked by the ranged, every melee guy hungry for some action is going to zerg them.

Its not so much stupidity as a lack of communication between targets and a lack of trust in the rest of the PUG.

The behavior of an 50 AI mobs being targeted by 50 people in random fashion would look a lot dumber.

But I think the solution for the melee is to avoid the no mans land situation. Ride around back, find flanks, or even attack some other target to split the zerg. You could be fairly successful just picking off the stragglers if you wanted to.

Thirdly, with so many big aoe knockbacks, it shouldn't be so hard for people to provide the melee with enemies safely outside their ranged support.
The title to this post should be, "Are players stupider than the AI?".
I don't know this first hand, but many that are involved in the PvMP in LOTRO claim this is not the case. Going in as a Minstrel, the healing class, seems to make you a target. The Guardian, the tank, usually gets ignored or saved for last because of the low DPS. The classes that can CC also are targets. So, I think it just depends on who is playing. If they're thinking about what's hurting them the most, they'll go after that, but if not, sure, why not just kill the first thing that comes into their sights?
Yeah, but this situation reminds me of early wow PVP--massive battles where there is a huge line and melee getting creamed. When AV first came out it was nothing more than an instanced version of crossroads. If you ask serious PvPers now in wow I think most will agree that melee classes have an advantage. True they need to be close ranged, but most are a little more durable and at least they don't suffer from spell pushback.

All that is to suggest, that give WAR PvP some time to let players figure out what it is they have to do and how to best play their characters and I believe the roles will reverse.
The man in front dies first. If you want to run past the melee line and be that man in front, your team is probably happy to have you tank, whatever class you might be. Ranged attackers also work on the principle of "closest target dies first," and someone charging the back lines is the closest target for everyone on the opposing team.

Now flanking, as has been noted... People do fail to notice when you shoot them in the back of the head. Repeatedly.
I think there are two major things gonig on here. First, "target nearest" is an easy way for people to just start spamming attacks. Second, until we all become familiar with character classes and can identify immediately on sight, targetting a "squishy" either takes longer to identify and target or just too confusing (for those who hve never done large scale PvP before).

I think this affects people even with decent communication -- how do you tell someone to target the healer if you can't recognize which one is the healer in the first place?
I think its more of a problem with how much power individual classes can bring in mass pvp. If the fight were 4 v 4 like guildwars Random arena, then melees get right in the thick with no problem and are often more difficult to handle that some crowdcontrolling or squishy nuker. Now if you scale it to more participants then you have that much more firepower, and that much less reaction time to it. Pew Pew laz... dead. Fights that are long lasting and boring would be more detrimental to the pvp health imo, so a good way to balance out the chaos on the field is with some adjustable statistics for each individuals power lvl (how this is determined is take a value you want for the whole field and based on the ratio of players give them a stat boost or nerf based on that ratio).

I don't know about that, when I played a druid healer in WoW PvP i was always targeted by, erm, everyone in the other team. I even tried to heal discretely even changing back and fro bear form to see if i could fool anybody, but no dice. In BG's I spent most of my time as a ghost.

The title to this post should be, "Are players stupider than the AI?".

Well, apparently the word stupider is considered acceptable in some circles but to my ear, Tobold's usage of "more stupid" is preferred and also sounds better.

Unless of course you subscribe to tongue-in-cheek journalism where the use of "stupider" is to underscore the stupidness of players. In that case, you might be applauded for your clever wit.

As I warrior on WoW i'm always impressed in a BG when the opposing faction doesn't not target me - thus being rage starved and reduced to white attacks.

While at the same time my faction is constantly pew pew'ing the warriors up front and ignoring the healers in the back.
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