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Why Shouldn’t Games Let You Move And Cast?

It seems that Syp has sparked off a bit of a blogstorm. You see, he suggested that all MMOs should let spellcasters move AND cast at the same time.

That suggestion has sparked off a furious debate in the comments – and today we have both Syp and Rowan Blaze defending the original point in a pair of fascinating posts.

First up – after Syp’s initial post, he expanded his points in a fuller article explaining his position -

“First of all, I’m not a developer but a gamer. I don’t care — nor do I have to care — about balance difficulties or whatnot when it comes to MMOs. I just report from my perspective, which is a gamer. And my perspective is that casting while moving is fun and freeing, while needing to come to a screeching halt and standing still like a redcoated British soldier during the Revolutionary war while I slooowly load my musket under withering enemy fire is annoying. Maybe that was the solution for “balancing” a long-range damage dealer a while back, but if devs can’t figure out other ways without breaking down into gibbering panic, then that’s on them, not me.”

Syp’s chief argument is that the “no moving whilst casting” limitation is an unnecessary crippling of spellcasting classes – and only caster classes. He points out that Hunters, for example, and equivalent classes, have many, many instant attacks, whilst fundementally playing very similarly to a mage or other caster.

Rowan Blaze writes on the same subject, looking at the history of moving and casting, and asking just when it became so sacred to not move? -

“The old-school arguments about things being correct the way they were—the “if it ain’t broke” argument—forget or ignore that almost everything in a game is a design decision. The choice to balance this or that class against another can be done a bunch of ways. Tell me this old-schoolers, was there ever a game where the casters dominated so thoroughly that the devs made the decision to nail their feet to the ground?”

Rowan makes a good point about unnecessarily penalising casters working with impatient tanks, in particular. I’ve suffered from this multiple times myself – although one could argue melee classes suffer as much.

What do you think? Should casters be able to move too?

arrow9 Responses

  1. 10 mos, 2 wks ago

    If melee and ranged can both attack on the move, why would anyone play melee, with the major disadvantage of being range limited? There has to be a balance for the benefit of being able to attack from a distance.

  2. 10 mos, 2 wks ago

    Worth noting here that in WoW as it stands, Hunters can (95%) move and cast. So it’s clearly possible to balance the two to a certain extent – although I also know that a lot of WoW meleers find the situation pretty irritating.

  3. 10 mos, 2 wks ago

    @Pliers As I pointed out in my post that is only a limitation of non-stealth classes. A guildie made the reasonable (if ridiculous IRL) point that ranged should do less damage than melee. He was referring to GW2 Dagger Thieves vs. Pistoleers. This is just one example of a way to find balance and still allow players to move. But you know what? Daggers are still the preferred weapon for Thieves because of the extra DPS, despite the alleged disadvantage of melee.

    I do believe the range disadvantage of melee classes to be greatly overstated.

  4. 10 mos, 2 wks ago

    The hunter change is pretty new. Historically, there’s at least a sizable penalty for trying to cast on the move for extended periods of time. The only edge melee has over ranged is the ability to do damage on the move. When a target is out of range, this is a penalty for melee. You have to move, it is a penalty for ranged. If you take away the penalty from ranged completely, you either face dramatic imbalance (especially in PvP), or need to make melee better dps, which will be a big problem when melee aren’t forced out of range. Melee also suffer more from damaging spells and AoE.

    It’s not realistic to balance ranged and melee if ranged have no downsides.

  5. 10 mos, 2 wks ago

    I don’t disagree that Range does need some sort of limitation to bring it in line with the innate limitations of being Melee, but why does it have to be this one penalty?

    Not being able to move while casting is blatantly anti-fun, and the number one reason why I rarely can play Ranged classes in Warcraft-style MMOs. How about instead we increase caste time or decrease damage when you move? Or use more variety than Instant cast or x second cast times with abilities that charge up as long as you are holding down the button? What if casting while moving just makes you move painfully slow?

    Either way, I am tired of casting a long spell only to have to stop mid-cast before the randomized boss attack hits the spot where I was glued to standing. It makes me feel like I am not actively playing a game as much as I am just hoping to react to it in time. Melee, on the other hand, often allows me to use cooldowns and snap reactions to augment the likelihood that I won’t get killed WHILE I continue to at least somewhat still play my character as they were intended.

  6. 10 mos, 2 wks ago

    I’m actually more with Bhagpuss on this one: if everyone’s expected to move and fight at the same time, all the time, what’s left to play for those of us who don’t like twitch-gaming? I see it more as a boon that there are classes that don’t have to move all the time.

  7. NetherLands
    10 mos, 2 wks ago

    Besides agreeing to the ‘twitch-for-all’ issue (which can get pretty ugly, financially, considering older demographics have more money yet less twitch skills, and vice-versa), people are forgetting a simple reason:

    tradition.

    Most PnP RPG’s had and have penalties for on-the-move casting, if it’s possible in the first place. This also has to do with realism/suspense-of-disbelief, you’re not going to succesfully aim an English Longbow while running.

    BTW: shot on the run for Hunters in WoW is a debatable example, Hunters became downright rediculous in PvP afterwards.

  8. 10 mos, 2 wks ago

    Tradition is a good point, but only so far as why we have the limitation in the first place not why we should keep it.

    As far as the realism factor, I completely agree. You would never expect to shoot off an English Longbow while running. But you also would never use ONE weapon for the entirety of a fight, especially when you can reasonably expect the fight to be in your face. That doesn’t mean I want casters and ranged weapon users to be balanced to do some meleeing as well though.

  9. Imakulata
    10 mos, 2 wks ago

    Personally, I like the choice between using weaker abilities but keeping on the move or using strong abilities but giving my enemy a gap closer for free. There are other people (Attic Lion, Bhagpuss, Shintar) who apparently prefer the stand-to-cast method too.

    I also think mentioning games where the character appears to stand but moves due to lack of sync between the client and the server is stacking arguments in favour of your opinion. I’ve seen more games which suffer from position lag (the character appears to be on a different place than it actually is) which impacts melee the most. Should we turn melee to ranged so they won’t be affected by position lags?

    I believe balance is an important argument that should not have been left. It’s like taxes – few people would mind lower taxes but most if not all people believe the state should provide few essential services (even though they may not agree on what services are essential) and those are paid mostly by taxes. Similar to this, I think most people may want ranged to be more mobile but they already are more powerful (in most games I know) than melee and further buffs to ranged would only increase the gap. Melee are also subject to strict movement requirements (they have to follow the movement of their target) so the easiest solution for ranged seems to be to subject them to movement requirements too.

    Of course, it’s not the only solution – it’s also possible to buff gap closers for melee, nerf/remove gap openers for ranged and increase melee PvE damage. Personally, I prefer the stand-to-cast method as I like the playstyle of choice but I admit there are other valid approaches (even though they seem to be more complicated). Not doing anything about the balance, however, is not.

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