Raph Koster would put action combat in Star Wars Galaxies if made today

    
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Recently, one of game designer Raph Koster’s fans wrote in to pose him an interesting hypothetical question. If he were to remake Star Wars Galaxies today, the fan asked, which combat format would Koster choose?

His answer? Action combat all the way, baby.

Koster said that the environment right now is more conducive to action combat, even within RPGs. He cites a larger audience for such gameplay, far better technology than back in 2003, and different player expectations. “It would feel pretty alien to the average player to be in first person and not have FPS combat,” he writes. “This was one of the things that drove having overhead views in SWG.”

He does note that RPG elements can be used to make action combat more stat- than twitch-based, which has been used in many MMOs and other video games.

Source: Raph Koster
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Totakeke

They probably didn’t even need to go that far. Even if it had something closer to Tabula Rasa’s combat, it’d be pretty neat.

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Paul

+1 for the people saying they are not fans of action combat in MMOs. Quite aside from the major issues it causes with a little latency, I prefer to think rather than twitch my way through a fight….

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Giannis Papadopoulos

very few so far managed to make a good action Combat though… Tera, BnS and GW2 (semi action) is those who succeed at it imo.

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Space Captain Zor

A remake would please my midichlorians.

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Anstalt

This is a very interesting point of view from Raph, but I’m glad he explained his reasoning fully.

His reasons seemed to be “we’ll make more money because the audience expects it” and “shooting guns will work better”.

I agree with both those reasons, can’t really fault them. However, I have yet to see an action combat game where the combat had any depth. This may just be due to typical implementations which involve a very limited number of character skills. I personally prefer deep combat systems and so far I’ve only seen that delivered through games where your character has loads of skills.

Loads of skills is no guarantee of depth of course, just look at SW:TOR which is extremely shallow (and, to be fair, SWG was also extremely shallow in it’s combat system, all the depth lay in the meta game).

I would probably play SWG with an action combat system, but I imagine I would get bored very quickly and leave. However, I know I’m not the target market.

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Paragon Lost

Do you feel that? That’s millions of voices screaming out into the night if that happened.

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Fenna

action combat imho is fine for some games, but not really for mmorpg. if you look most game that fail these day are action combat oriented. Want it or not it’s niche. Most mmorpg players don’t like these type of games just look at most fo the really successful one are tab targetted. IE: WoW, FFXIV, ESO and so forth.

Take a look at Black Desert, it’s really popular action oriented one right now but it doesn’t have 1/5th of the population of the less populated tab targeted games.

Why is that, imho action oriented really only target young gamer, older ones like me are disadvantaged too much due to slower reaction time and we just tend to stay away or play casually at best. And want it or not if a MMORPG developer was intelligent he shouldn’t be targeting your player as they are broke or don’t want to pay to support games. Older games one with money for that type of things do.

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Paragon Lost

Many of us simply can’t play them without getting nauseous. :/ On top of that I feel action combat controls are unacceptably awkward. Good points btw.

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Vunak

You are wrong in your assumption. BDO has a massive population and i’d say gives the top Tab Target games like FFXIV a run for its money for concurrent users.

Stats for June show FFXIV at around 500k active users worldwide across all platforms. BDO has 200k active users just from Steam alone.

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Fenna

can’t compare BDO numbers. 60% of population is AFK fishing and not playiung the game

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Nathaniel Downes

Note, one of the games you list, ESO, is action combat.

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Melissa McDonald

I think it’s pretty good as-is. It’s just an older game with an old graphic engine at this point, that’s about the only bad thing I can say about it. Would love to see a Battlefront-engine based MMO, myself.

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MesaSage

Shouldn’t that be “New Action Combat Experience“? *rimshot*

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Dividion

Or, New Interactive Combat Experience, aka NICE!
(New & Improved also works for that acronym)

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J

I’m still a fan of tab target because I prefer to have more skill choices vs less skill choices that require twitch/aiming. For example I have 30 hotkeyed skills on SWTOR. I have a fraction of that in any action based MMO. I like my combat to be more tactical, instead of twitchy.

However, I can deal with either combat type as long as the game does a good job with it. As kjempff pointed out below I do not like it when it removes roles (looking at you GW2).

Its also obvious that there is a desire for both of these types of combat. WOW is still king and WOW is classic tab targeting. Several of the other top MMOs in NA are also tab targeting. Like FF14 and SWTOR. ESO and GW2 are likely the top action based MMOs and ESO draws much of its subscriber base from the console market.

We also have Pantheon coming up and its classic tab targeting as well. By all current measures it looks to draw in a fair number of players.

SWG never had good combat and they tried to make it “action” combat at one point with their shitastic NGE. SWG was not popular because of its combat. It was popular (initially) because of the world and its sandbox features. It was popular because you could live in the Star Wars universe in a variety of ways. From bounty hunter, to crafter, to cantina dancer. Its entire economy was player driven and ALL of the best items were player crafted. It was broke, happy little accident. Until their changes drove 50% of their player base away overnight.

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Vunak

I had over 30 abilities on my bar as a Sorcerer in TERA. So limited Action sets are an excuse games like GW2, ESO and Wildstar made to reduce the amount of skills they had to create. But games like BDO and TERA used the old format and they are better for it.

I’d say you are wrong in considering GW2 and ESO the top action based games (I don’t even really consider either to be true action combat since its soft targeting).

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J

I’m making my assumptions strictly off popularity (people playing). Not personal preference. If we use your examples then it looks even more grim for action titles imho. BDO is still in its “new” phase and TERA certainly does NOT have a higher population than either GW2 or ESO. In fact, ESO is massively popular with an estimated 8.5 million players (back in Feb). BDO is certainly not sporting those numbers.

So if we go with what you consider to be “true” action combat. Then its coming in third place after tab targeting and soft targeting.

Some of these games (like TERA) forget that there is more to the MMORPG equation than just mindless grinding and combat. Thats were some of these action titles fall flat. They really hit the mark for the “killer” mentality/segment, but many fail to provide a total package.

Edit – Now if we both want to backtrack and lump everything back into a single pile. ESO is hugely successful and popular on multiple platforms. Probably in the top 3 MMORPGs for the NA market right now. While putting out consistent content. I don’t play it, but I won’t deny its success.

Edit – You seem to have removed some of your comments. So this reply doesn’t exactly reflect your current comment.

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Vunak

The problem with ESO is its retention rate isn’t all that great, where as TERA and BDO retains well. GW2 I’m sure doesn’t have a population close to BDO when you consider its worldwide presence. I think you would be hard pressed to see if ESO or BDO has a higher population right now. BDO last year sold over 1 million copies (just in the western market) and stays on top of steams list of top selling games with over 500k just on steam (and it only released on steam a few months ago). With nearly 200k of that 500k shown playing. Where as ESO has sold over 1million on steam in its past 2 years on it and it barely shows 100k.

Yes its not 8.5million, but again retention rates. I was one of those 8.5million and I know a bunch of friends and guildmates are as well and some of us haven’t even played the new expansion and the rest of us have all quit.

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J

I would be interested to see where you are pulling the retention rate stats from. Also be wary when using pure Steam metrics when trying to evaluate a game that has a stronger presence in the console segment than it does the PC segment.

The simple fact is. We don’t have hard numbers on active accounts, but looking at Steam is only giving small sliver of the picture and totally neglecting the console market.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/stevenbertoni/2017/07/18/podcast-richard-branson-on-entrepreneurship-mentorship-and-risk-taking/#1e4874247ed9

https://www.polygon.com/2016/10/14/13283030/elder-scrolls-online-player-numbers-console-pc-split-matt-firor-bethesda

Its pretty much a three way split between all three platforms. So consoles make up 66% (give or take) of the total sales.

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Vunak

It was said by the ESO team themselves that they had in June after the Expansion release that they had 1 million concurrent players for that month across all platforms worldwide. To have sold 8.5million and only have 1million of those players if all of them even bought the Expansion is a fairly low retention rate. That’s when the Expansion was brand new as well. They are into the launch a bit now so those numbers will have gone down even more.

Like I said BDO is reporting 200k concurrent users just through steam alone in only the western market.

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J
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Vunak

Concurrent was the wrong word to use, Monthly players is what I meant. As that is how most games measure their playerbase (when they report numbers), not on a day by day basis.

https://steamspy.com/app/582660

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J

These additional sources and you correction only reinforce what I already know. That both games are extremely popular right now, but ESO has sold more copies and has more players across its combined platforms. These purely Steam metrics are also for lack of a better description. FUCKING TERRIBLE. As they give the wrong picture for games that had non-steam releases, retail releases, cross platform releases, etc, etc, etc. Now that that’s out of the way. I am going to bow out from this mess. Its entirely to off track from where it all started and I really can’t stomach either of them for long term enjoyment.

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Vunak

I never said only steam I said in addition to their already million+ sales before they even put the game on steam.

In addition to the ESO team saying they had a million unique logins in June which is way short of 8.5million. BDO is showing 200k unique logins just from steam alone, that was the point. Nobody knows outside of steam what activity looks like, but showing that steam sold 500k and 200k of them logged in this month is pretty concrete on there retention compared to ESO who sold a global 8.5million and only a million of them logged in. In your article they admitted that after 200k people they hit queues. I don’t remember any queues with the Morrowind launch. Which means their servers likely didn’t hit peak at any time. Where as BDO shuts their channels off constantly because they are full. Like I said you would be hard pressed to prove which one has a more active player base currently. Nobody is disputing that ESO has sold way more copies of the game.

Yes both are popular. They both cater to a different audience. The only point of this whole discussion was to say that action combat games like GW2 and ESO aren’t the only examples of action combat games and the LAS isn’t always the case with them. TERA and BDO are a testament to that as I have more abilities on my Sorcerer in TERA than I have in just about every other MMO I have played. Difference being that every single ability in TERA, on my sorcerer at least, is very useful even the right and left click auto attack style abilities.