I wrote this piece when I found out BW is not intending to ship ToR with the ability to track damage/dps. Do we have anyone here that are interesting in this kind topics?
I wrote it here justjimmy.ca/articles/why-the-old-republic-needs-recount/
But I'll copy and paste it here too so people don't leave the site:
When I first heard the news that ToR will not be incorporating any kind of addons, I was surprised at the decision. I am a strong proponent that addons should be part of all online games, allowing users to customize their own interface and layout. You may argue that it can sometimes be advantageous to have certain addons installed, but most if not all addons are available freely on the internet. And people still have the option to not use addons if they so choose.
An add-on like recount for World of Warcraft should be mandatory for all MMOs that revolves around combat. It shouldn’t be even be an add-on at this point, but a feature. I will not delve into the social pro vs con list of a recount feature, but rather why it’s necessary from a user experience perspective.
Progress & Feedback
Everything we do have a goal, whether it’s a construction project or sports. The progress is measured, tracked and displayed. Like the experience bar of your character, you always know where you stand, how close you are to your next level. It’s a visual feedback loop to the user, so they know they are progressing towards their goal. If there is no progress tracking, users will be confused and disoriented, not understanding what they have to do and what is expected. Open the user interface of the game you are currently playing and you’d be surprised at how much ‘tracking’ is going on.
If there is no tracking to your character’s damage, how will a user learn or understand if they are making the best choices? It is very frustrating for users to carry out actions that produces result that they can not assimilate. To illustrate this point, an example:
We are keeping it very simple. You have two abilities:
Ability A does instant damage.
Ability B does damage over time.
Now an experienced gamer would immediately recognize that the usual best course of action is to use ability B before A, so that B can continue ‘ticking’ while A is used.
Let’s say you levelled up and gained a new ability;
Ability C increases the damage of A. Can not be used if ability B is on target.
You now have to decide between either using A+C or A+B. Without a feedback or tracking system, you have no way to tell which combination to use short of manually calculating everything. A game designer should provide the tools for the user to use to make tasks less frustrating and needlessly complicated, to ensure accessibility. You want to provide your users with options and feedback so they will understand and learn the results/consequences of their actions. This will engage your users and ensure that they continue playing.
An excellent balanced game of well timed executions or a frenzy-button-mashing whack-a-mole game? I can say this with confidence, all of us out there have experienced or know someone where their younger brother/sister/niece/nephew/person-who-hasn’t-learned-to-walk, manage to beat them at a side scrolling fighting game by mashing random buttons, really fast. HUH. Have you ever begged your friend or your older brother to reveal their ‘secret’ moves, or how to unleash that super fireball that they just decimated your character with? Have you ever randomly mashed buttons hoping to reproduce a move you saw? Did you notice the fighting games in the arcade, all the game maker publish the special moves of all the characters and stick them to the machines? They notice that their games are preventing new players from joining in, who would leave, frustrated, felt like they were cheated out of a quarter, because there’s no feedback system. They wanted to lower the barrier of entry and improve accessibility. They would explain how the game is played, what the players can expect and anticipate from the results of their actions.
Pinball machines are another great example. Pinball machines are bound to the rules of physics. There’s no chance involved. But if you are like me, I see pinball machines as an enigma. I often scratch my head and wonder in confusion of how did the ball end up right between my flippers, beyond their reach, and watch helplessly as it falls into the pit. I have no way of knowing what went wrong and what went right, how hard I should hit my flippers, or even tilt the table. The only choice I have to get a bundle of quarters and pay dearly for the lessons so I can learn by trial and error. To me, it’s frustrating, time wasting and I have better things to do. Don’t get me wrong though. I’m not refusing to learn the game, I’m refusing to learn something that has no feedback system in place. Everything we do in the real world, or the virtual world, whether it’s positive or negative feedback, engages us more than little or no feedback. We thrive on feedback.
Just incase you still do not get it, one more example:
You bake a cake for your friend, your friend says it sucks.
You take the same cake to your mum, your mum says it’s not sweet enough.
So who would you rather to listen to? Who’s opinion is more useful? What would you differently on your next cake? (Hopefully, you will do something different!)
Users can not have fun if they are not engaged.
With a recount feature in The Old Republic, the players can see their progress and watch their damage output go up as they level up and get better equipment. They are able to make educated choices between wearing certain gear that offer different statistic boots to their avatars. With the feature, it ensures the players are not in the dark about how their characters are doing, if they are performing the optimal ability rotations or how they compare with other players (which is another huge point in a gamer’s engagement, but not the focus of this article).
By providing a feedback or progress feature, the users will be engaged. They will learn about the game, their characters and the consequences of their actions. Users can not have fun if they are not engaged. An engaging system makes a more enjoyable gaming experience. It’s not about making the game easy, it’s about making the game engaging and accessible. And for the reasons above, it is why I feel a feature that tracks DPS or HPS (in a combat, rotation oriented game) is essential for the user’s continuous engagement and enjoyment of The Old Republic.
Let's hear your thoughts on this!
PS: Yes yes, Bioware can always implement a meter of some kind, but no reason not to launch with it.
Let me know what you think!