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Uplink Analysis: Telegraphs

Written by Loic "Atreid" Claveau on September 21, 2012

WildStar Uplink is a weekly conversation we hold with our fans about MMO design, philosophy, and news. The main goal of these conversations is to gauge how important certain issues are to the WildStar community. More than just a simple conversation, we ask questions about topics that are important, and we share your responses with the development team directly. Want to participate? Follow @Team_WildStar on Twitter for the weekly question, participate using #WSuplink, and keep an eye on the community team (CRB_Atreid, CRB_Aether, and CRB_Scooter) to interact with us throughout the discussions.

Since we've been on the subject lately regarding Telegraphs, this week we opened up a conversation about them:

Combat telegraphs are a divisive topic in modern MMOs. Why do you love or hate them? What is the best way to implement them?

Some of you feel that telegraphs are great and help to contribute to making combat feel more lively:

Xintia12: I like them as they allow devs freedom to create more interesting mechanics without players relying on third-party mods.

OniOnidra: Love it : it looks very dynamic. It's a nice to see telegraphs directly implemented by the game and not with addons

mmo_pinion: I think combat telegraphs are great! They're more natural than "cast bars" and what you'd do in a real fight anyway! The only real downside to telegraphs is other things on the screen (particle storm!) or the size of enemies taking it out of view.

EvionFox: I like the way they look in the preview videos we've seen! It rewards more movement and creates interesting area control.

hotshot25120: Dynamic combat system like Wildstar or Tera are the future, nobody will never go back to Static combat after 1 try

mykindoftwit: I think a lot of folks have a misconception that telegraphs will make the game simple rather than making combat more dynamic. Instead of of just a dice roll to dodge an attack you can actually dodge by MOVING out of the way. Which is very cool IMO

grieger: CTG (new acronym!) are great, to be honest, though it might be better if it's more of a physical cue by the mob than an overlay... I say that more as a person who wants to learn them and use them. The terrain overlay is a good way to learn them as a noob tho...

Others worry that it makes the game too easy and won't provide a challenge:

GundamKyle: Perhaps only use them after defeating a certain number of trash mobs? Or under 50% health? Maybe not 100% of the time...

alienfirst: I'm on the fence. I would rather observe the enemies animations over having a telegraph, but the purpose is the same, so ok?

BLTank: As long as there are lots of variations and complications, I'm game. I think people are just afraid of easy mode.

AgentNardz: I like the idea, to start at least, but seems like the visual queues should get more subtle over time so its more of a challenge.

Finally, some of you had suggestions for other games that utilized telegraphs, as well as ways to improve a telegraph system:

hotshot25120: I would like to see the telegraph system apply to healer too so healer can "miss" a heal if they target the wrong area

b_1st: I love them! Most recently in GW2. Downside there is using up my 2 'dodges' and then being helpless to avoid atks. I thought Belial boss in Diablo 3 telegraphed well. You had less time to react, but dodging didn't need a cooldown.

mmo_pinion: It might be cool to have a slider that lets the player set their transparency on the ground.

Spiritunicorn: @mmo_pinion The transparency slider sounds like a good idea.

This week, we asked Lead Combat Systems Designer Chris Lynch to respond to your praises and concerns:

One of the main reasons we all love telegraphs is because of the simple, yet clear messaging it provides to the player. Everytime the creature is going to cast an impactful ability, a red decal is placed on the ground, and the player has been taught to get out of the red area. This means that we can create a wide variety of attacks using just about any size/shape you can think of and the player will instantly know what to do -- get out of that area!

I also wanted to pick out some comments and answer them directly!

mykindoftwit: I think a lot of folks have a misconception that telegraphs will make the game simple rather than making combat more dynamic. Instead of of just a dice roll to dodge an attack you can actually dodge by MOVING out of the way. Which is very cool IMO

Our combat has a LOT of movement in it. Once you start playing, you'll find that moving around to aim your Freeform Attacks works very smoothly with the Telegraph attacks that creatures are doing.

BLTank: As long as there are lots of variations and complications, I'm game. I think people are just afraid of easy mode.

We actually just finished doing a major update to the Telegraph System that allows us to create even more variety in telegraphs. On top of that, the update has made it much easier for designers to implement the telegraphs, which means our library of these attacks should be growing much, much larger.

AgentNardz: I like the idea, to start at least, but seems like the visual queues should get more subtle over time so its more of a challenge.

One of the additional perks we got out of the telegraph update I just mentioned is the ability to modify these visual queues. Now we can control how they fade in/out, how long they are displayed, how intense we want the decal to be, if we want the decal to grow/shrink before the cast goes off, etc.

Using this, and a variety of other variables such as size, shape, reaction window, damage, and combat systems at our disposal we should be able to ramp up the challenge appropriately as you venture into higher and higher level areas.

We'll be playing around with all of these variables until we get the best 'feel' for Wildstar.

hotshot25120: I would like to see the telegraph system apply to healer too so healer can "miss" a heal if they target the wrong area

We've actually already started doing this! Instead of a red decal, it puts down a green decal. The same simple clear messaging that works for enemy telegraphs will also work for friendly telegraphs. As a player, if you see a green decal, you'll want to hop into it to get the beneficial effect!

mmo_pinion: It might be cool to have a slider that lets the player set their transparency on the ground.

We can look into this, but no promises it'll end up working that way! Right now we are playing around with the intensity of the decal to show how hard the ability would hit.

Keep all the feedback and comments coming. I love reading what you guys have to say!

Something to add on Chris' feedback? Let us know on Twitter at @Team_WildStar and keep an eye on the #WSuplink hashtag for a heads up when we begin a new topic on Monday. Thanks to everyone who participated in this week's discussion, and have a great weekend!

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