Star Wars and the uncanny valley

I think The Secret World has spoiled me in ways I haven’t fully realized yet.  Ever since going back to SWTOR, I’ve had a lot of difficulty getting into the stories and quests the way I could last year, but didn’t put a finger on it until recently.  I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that while it was pretty good for what it was, TSW showed me how it could be a lot, lot better.

Here’s a quick and dirty list of what’s holding me back from reveling in SWTOR’s strongest suit.

Problem #1: Stupid facial hair and morbid obesity

I cannot stand cutscenes where the other person has one of the ridiculous cartoony moustaches or beards or mutton chops.  Just about all of them are butt-ugly, looking more like someone glued a slug to their face instead of giving any semblance of “hair.”

And the male morbidly obese model is incredibly distracting, because I simply cannot buy how this character is a soldier or mercenary or anything other than a Walmart shopper who needs an electric cart to scoot down the aisles on.  I mean, props to BioWare for acknowledging other body types, but there are stops along the way from “well built” to “Jabba the Hutt.”

Problem #2: There are far too many NPCs

This is why I think TSW does so well: It keeps its cast list to a manageable number, akin to what you’d find in a book or movie.  Over the course of several quests and investigations, we get to know these characters, and there’s always the chance we’ll be coming back to them when missions are added in the future.  I can probably tell you several aspects of each NPC questgiver in the game off the top of my head… and I really can’t do that for most of SWTOR.

SWTOR had a lot of voice acting and actors involved, but that’s the problem: There are way too many.  It’s a problem that many MMOs have, the disposable NPC who means little because they’re one among a legion and you won’t be speaking to them tomorrow.  They don’t have a chance to make an impression and you already know they won’t matter.  When you tack on expensive voice acting, it turns that disposability into a tragedy.  Sure, some of the story characters and companions are more fleshed out, but BioWare had to stick to the traditional MMO model of an enormous supporting cast.

It makes me wonder what if… what if the cast was far more limited, such as what we see in a standard Star Wars movie?  What if there was nothing else than the personal storylines and a much stronger emphasis on your interactions with a few NPCs and your companions?  I think I would’ve liked that a lot more.

Problem #3: The uncanny valley

This last problem wasn’t something I really acknowledged until recently, and again, only when compared to TSW.  I won’t argue that TSW’s characters are sometimes off-putting to behold, but the excellent writing, voice acting, and — this is important — facial and body gestures combine to form a believable personality.  I get as much from a shrug or a happy dance as I do from a line of heavy-handed exposition.

So going back to SWTOR feels like stepping way backwards.  These characters don’t really emote.  Sure, they have good voice acting, but their faces don’t really show emotion or match up to what’s being said.  “Angry” and “orgasmic” are basically the same expression.  And gestures?  Since BioWare apparently used some program to cinematically splice together cutscenes instead of doing them by hand, you’re going to see the same gestures over and over again — gestures that don’t have much to do with anything being said.  Just Theater 101 stuff.

Is it the uncanny valley?  I’m starting to think so.  They look like people, they talk like people, but they do so through Leatherface masks.

I’m wondering if all this combines to a subconscious unease, as if my brain can’t quite make that final step to accepting these characters as believable fiction.  The pieces are in place but something’s getting in the way.

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25 thoughts on “Star Wars and the uncanny valley

  1. Haha, Syp, you and I agree on many things, but I think we are at opposite ends of the spectrum on SWTOR and TSW. Here is a small novel of analysis for you, if you care to read.

    I think that you and I could probably agree that SWTOR has better mechanics (because it is like WoW, honestly), while TSW has a really clunky combat system (that honestly turned me off after three hours of playing it). Obviously, you agree with me based on your first problem that the hair and the body types look kind of ridiculous in SWTOR. I MUCH prefer LOTRO’s design system. Even better is STO. TSW didn’t do a whole lot better with char creation though, as it is really difficult to make a good-looking character. The NPCs don’t look bad though.

    On point number 2, I prefer more NPCs in the story actually. I like that I have to think about where I saw someone before in a story. I love when there are so many “named” characters that you aren’t sure what will happen next, because someone could fly under the radar for a while and shock you with a betrayal or something. It is more like what you would see in real life; you have a lot of acquaintances (random NPCs), your close friends (companions), and you (your player character, because obviously life is a play with you as the hero, as you are the only person in every scene).

    On point number 3, I can understand that there aren’t as many gestures as TSW, but I am not sure that the story is lessened. Though, I would give you one thing, you are stating an opinion and I realize that. It is mainly based on the player’s personal connection with a story, with whatever factors go into that. I personally didn’t get that far into TSW’s story (since I absolutely was miserable playing the combat), so I am not sure about this, but I think there are far more choices in SWTOR’s storytelling than there are in TSW’s storytelling. The fact that I can affect the outcome of the situation is really important to me. I like how all of the side quests have story and voiceover (though I know some people don’t like that). I hate reading in MMOs, and TSW was a drag after SWTOR in that regard.

    So all in all, tried TSW, didn’t like it. Too many issues with the combat, though the story was intriguing. However, it pales in comparison, for me anyway, to SWTOR’s dynamic story. Also, reroll factor is better in SWTOR, which for me is big as an altoholic, and for you as a player of many, many games, that is not as important.

    Anyway, I love your writing, Massively Speaking, Too Long; Didn’t Listen, etc. etc. Just had to pipe in, in defense of SWTOR. Cheers!

  2. ” It keeps its cast list to a manageable number, akin to what you’d find in a book or movie”

    Allow me to direct your attention towards Robert Jordan’s “Wheel of Time” series or anything written by James Michener…

    But I know what you mean. A big cast can be fine, but make sure you know where to focus.

  3. You have brought a few good points here. I have to agree that the body shapes are a bid off putting in many cases, the butt on some of the females in particular looks like the are wearing a bustle.May games do have more robust options for body types and I do feel the options are limited in bot SWTOR and TSW.
    As for NPCs, I can understand why there is such a large cast in SWTOR and a smaller on in TSW. If you look at the scope of territory, I can see why there is a difference. Although WoW does have a similarly large scope and there are very notable NPCs that every player know such as Varian Wynn, Thrall, Tyrande Wisperwind and Sylvanas. I have played both Imperial and Republic and tested out almost all classes. I see very few names that crop up on both sides or even on the same side for each class. Mind you, I only have a couple classes into the 30s but still I should be seeing more familiar names.

  4. I gotcha! It could have been attributed to lag too, but running felt weird, skill activations felt off, and every mob was a really long fight. I don’t remember all my reasons extraordinarily well, but I remember getting annoyed and logging off after a little while. It just wasn’t fun and dynamic. I could have been doing it wrong too.

    On another note, the skill system was interesting, but I like having a class too. I like the identity that comes with having a class. I also really enjoy class quests. The skill points allow for building a “deck” but that is just a round-about way of having a class without the fun that comes with having a class lol.

  5. OK, I wasn’t sure if you referred to the skill wheel or the actual combat. A lot of people say it’s “clunky,” but then don’t explain further. I personally didn’t find combat much different than other games I’ve played, and I love the skill wheel (though I agree about classes). The skill wheel and action bar makes TSW much more strategic, since you don’t have much room for “oh crap” buttons. And while I love the game for the reasons Syp mentions, I wish there were a lighter version of it. That is, a non-horror version. My bride and gaming partner was truly creeped out by many aspects, and I found the unrelenting grimdark too much to take for long.

    SWTOR, on the other hand, I grew to dislike because of the ham-handed way EA/BioWare has treated their customer base. The game itself is OK, but not great. I think Syp has a point about there being too many NPC questgivers to care about, all the while spending too much on the voice work. Even GW2 saves the serious voice work for the personal character stories, leaving the main world quests (hearts and events) with minimal extra voicing. It’s a good balance, I suppose, though the stories themselves are a bit thin.

  6. I just posted my own thoughts on voice acting and story over at my place so I won’t rehash that here.

    TSW definitely sets the bar for voice acting and I think for how to do cut-scenes, too. I agree with Rowan both on the combat (I liked it a lot – didn’t find it clunky at all) and on the grimdark. Unrelenting horror is just not an attractive setting for something you might come home and spend three or four hours after work with every day for weeks. If Funcom take what they learned here and apply it to a setting with broader appeal they might get the numbers they hoped for.

  7. While I can’t agree with you on #1 Syp, I loved making my BH look like Uncle Fester and got complemented on it fairly frequently, #2 & #3 are pretty spot on.

    I’ve been saying for months that SWTOR would have been a much better game if they’d took all the resources they used on all the little incidental NPCs and quests and spent them on the main class stories instead. Given us true choices to make and consequences to deal with. Hell, they could have dispensed with the whole LS/DS points thing and only given us LS/DS options at significant points in the plot that would affect the rest of the story. That would have been good. That way we wouldn’t have utterly stupid things like returning medical supplies to their rightful owners being evil.

  8. Points 2 and 3 are spot on! A much smaller number of NPCs makes me able to care, wonder and think about them individually. It also, in the case of voice acting, keeps things down to a potentially manageable number.

    Also – facial expression, and that’s big one. Even Blizzard has put some amazing work into this area… check out the emotiveness of the Pandaren. Amazing.

  9. I also mostly agree with Syp here. It just makes a difference, if you meet NPC#873 on planet#15, or if you talk with father Lucian and vampire general Hasdatean in the besieged farmlands. Even this one i picked at random, to stray away from the most commonly used example of Innsmouth Accademy, and they just like anybody else has a recognizeable agenda, feelings and intentions, character.

    And while this is just another example, i could name plenty in TSW, while in TOR i’d have problems even remembering the existance, far from the name, of more than my companions and general Garsa (probably written incorrectly), and even this general who i “reported to” all of the time, i mostly remember as “wearing a uniform” with a bit of “female, but not that it mattered”.

    @Geldarian: out of curiosity, you tested on the days of beta? If yes, i fully understand, that weekend really was beta, with huge lag, broken chat and stuff. And while the launch actually was smoother than of TOR or GW2, the first two weeks were still a mess. (Yea, i already hear the crowds of GW2 fanboys, along with the last dozen of TOR players, lifting their pitchforks and lighting their torches, but when not looking through fanboy glasses, both of them had really annoying problems at launch. )

    Another frequent reason of TSW for “choppy” gameplay is if you run on an outdated 32bit OS and thus can only access 4 GB of RAM. (64 bit Prozessors are in our PCs since 2004, if you bought your PC after let’s say 2008 and you still got a 32bit OS, you failed to inform yourself and were ripped off, the retailer saved 10 bucks on you not paying attention to the details of what you’re buying. )

    So, unless you run on very outdated hardware (or failed to get the proper OS for your hardware), TSW by now should run allright for you, despite of course being a ressource hog in comparison to TOR or GW2.

    Your other points, on the other hand, i can’t dismiss. They are very much a matter of personal preference and taste, and since there’s no “single game for every taste”, this is nothing which can easily be fixed.

    @Rowan:
    While i basically agree, it’s almost always possible to have at least one “oh shit” button in almost every setup, be it something like a “leap” which also can be used to run, be it some impair ability or some ability to temporarily push your defenses a lot. Hammer has an elite passive which heals you for a lot when close to death, which due to being a passive, can be included in any setup, no matter which weapons you use. The options are there, but of course they come at a price. (The more “emergency use” stuff you take along, the less “normal utility” you can have. )

    And on horror: hmm… zombies or my coworkers, i fail to see the difference, except that i am only allowed to shoot the first of the two. So, it’s the better szenario, right? :D

    Means, yes, i get your point, it’s a matter of taste and can’t really be argued. I guess knowing that later areas are (Egipt, Romania) are not in the “zombie apocalypse” mode any more doesn’t help, either, while the opposition changes, their general mood might even be more depressing. (Zombies which attack the town since a few days might still seem manageable but a szenario in which humanity is fighting against ancient evil since milennia and the best they can hope for is not too loose too much ground every day can be even worse for many players. )

    Alas, Stephenie Meyer sold more books than Lovecraft, and considering human nature, this is not that hard to explain. Which doesn’t lessen Lovecrafts work in any way, only limits his readership to people with a taste for his tales. I admit, i am one of the second kind, and while i am well aware that i might be a minority, i can only encourage everybody to also once give his novels a try.

  10. @Sylow: Yeah I mostly refer to action button #32 with obscure ability #53, which I never remember is there until three or four battles after I could have used it effectively. GW2 limits what you have available for any given fight, but has various means of flipping to a different set of abilities on the fly. TSW further limits you in the heat of battle, with no one set of abilities good for every situation. Sure there are save-the-day, turn-the-tide sorts of abilities, but you have to be prepared to use them, as you said. I often found myself tweaking my action bar and redoing a fight (some of which are, as Geldarian pointed out, a bit lengthy). I don’t have a problem doing so. I think TSW’s ability wheel is one of the best skill management systems in MMOs today, if not the best. But it takes a lot of thought out of battle, and many players aren’t interested in taking the time to fully explore the possibilities, for reasons related both to the system itself and more generally about the game setting, etc. Mores the pity, says I.

  11. Fight length in TSW comes down to your build. I’ve got an all-around solo build that mows through most things, whether AE or single-target, thought there are certain mobs that are a pain, so I tend to avoid them, and there’s one quest I had to make a spec specifically for to include hinders. Otherwise. . .meh. If you make a decent build the combat is perfectly fine.

    To me, Rift felt clunky when I started playing it again recently, after the smoothness that is TSW. And back when TOR came out, I compared its combat to Rift in the “clunkiness” dept, and TOR didn’t come out favorably in that comparison either. Of course, I’m used to Rift again, so it’s not feeling *as* clunky but there are still some animations that just don’t flow and times where it feels like combat’s kinda stutter-stepping along. I never have felt that in TSW.

    For TOR, I did launch it after it went F2P, but after getting my hotbars set up again, I simply logged out. I hadn’t yet received my cartel coin bonus as a former subscriber, so I was stuck with 2 hotbars and… not enough. I’ve got the email saying the coins should have been delivered now, though, so I’ll probably check it out again sometime this week. I have a much nicer computer now. The little I ran around fleet I was getting 80+ fps with graphics maxed, so that will be a nice difference. I’m used to getting 15-20 fps on fleet with graphics nearly at minimum. Maybe the nicer computer will make the combat feel better to me too. We’ll see, I guess.

  12. One last thing on SWTOR’s uncanny valley, and it has directly to do with the picture accompanying this post. I absolutely couldn’t stand the pretzals my companions contorted themselves into in order to keep an eye on me. Granted that most other games only have the PC and not a permanent humanoid companion, every other game I’ve played has little idle animations that make the avatars a bit more realistic. SWTOR really has none.

  13. I might be the strange cookie here, but I always look more at the stories I’m being asked to participate in via questing as well as what I’m actually being told to do rather than who’s giving them to me.

    Looking back, my most memorably “fun” moments spent in MMOs (setting aside moments spent RPing with other players) came from non-distinct NPCs and not part of any particularly central or personal character quest line whatsoever. So in that sense I don’t think I care much about the small cast/large cast discussion. Couldn’t really care less. I look more to the actual content rather than who’s giving it to me or if I’m hitting the uncanny valley or not.

    YMMV, I suppose.

  14. It’s funny; when I first played TSW, I had the strong impression that it was what SW:TOR tried, and failed, to be. Both tried to deliver a more story-driven MMO, but TSW has more memorable characters and leaner writing — voice acted cutscenes are reserved for important moments, rather than trotted out for every single “collect ten bear asses” quest. Both tried to deliver more action-packed combat without an auto-attack, but TSW offered faster and more exciting combat through its small hotbar and resource-based mechanics.

    I really don’t get why people complain about TSW’s combat. It’s easily the most fluid and enjoyable combat I’ve ever experienced in an MMO.


  15. I really don’t get why people complain about TSW’s combat. It’s easily the most fluid and enjoyable combat I’ve ever experienced in an MMO.

    If you are a number cruncher, I’m sure things turned out okay. By completely abandoning any form of structure in advancement it allowed people to create absolutely broken builds. Because they didn’t spend two(or ten!) hours crunching numbers AND reading ability descriptions before spending the VERY LIMITED amount of skill points people have when leveling. My focused march to Forged in Fire made my leveling tons easier. Also, unlike SWTOR, melee is another word for useless. Melee weapons are also 1/3 or all total weapons. And no, if you leveled using melee, you were not even approaching optimal speed. Not even close. MAYBE something clever with Hammer and Debilitated. Or maybe not. Having one third of available choices “Fail” is not good design. This should not even be debatable.

    If I seem mad about this, it is because I am absolutely sure someone(s) said this way before TSW release on the team. And at that point ape-level social dynamics shut him/them down.

  16. That said, TSW is an enjoyable game. More enjoyable than SW:TOR. WAY more enjoyable. The key, and I can’t emphasize this enough, is to use a cookie cutter build for your leveling. Decide on which of the six non-melee you want as a primary weapon and then google a build for that weapon from a good site. You don’t need “the lete” build with “the lete” weapon and you can pick up your raid weapon later. But you do need a non-melee weapon and a reasonably good build. Or you will suffer. Not kidding here.

  17. Good post.

    #1 reminds me of LoTRO, some of the ugliest and most ‘stuck on’ hair models in any game I’ve played! Also the ‘all hobbits are fat, all elves skinny’ bodies as well..

    #2 Rift has a smaller, recurrent cast of main NPCs you keep bumping into if that’s similar? It works if the game world is smaller but with SWTOR’s multiple worlds I’d say a large cast was needed.

    #3 Yep, I agree that the ‘algorithmic’ school of acting didn’t help SWTOR, quite often I’d find that NPCs were gesturing too much or just out of character with what they were saying.

  18. @whatever:
    > If you are a number cruncher, I’m sure things turned out okay.

    Interestingly enough, i find that TSW is among the games with the least numbercrunching.

    Extreme numbercrunching: Anarchy Online
    More numbercrunching than in TSW: WoW, WAR, GW1, TOR (And a huge list of others, i am sure. )
    Less nubercrunching than in TSW: GW2, DCU

    Thinking about it, i even do more “numbercrunching” in Borderlands than in TSW, and that’s a FPS.

    Your second notion that you need to spend time reading the descriptions of abilities, is true, though. Logical thinking and making sound decissions on which abilities to combine, go a long way in TSW, but that’s completely without any numbercrunching. (I don’t need numbers to know that i have to bring a way to afflict a target if i put in a passive which increases damage or boosts me in some way when i afflict a target. )

    Anyway, the problem with people being “lost” is being addressed by now. The decks presented at launch aimed way too high and really were no help for new players. Till you had the AP to get them, you learned everything you need to know the hard way already, so they are nothing but some achievements to aim for in the long run. By now, a set of “starter decks” was introduced. As they only use inner wheel abilities they are very cheap to get, are player submitted and work better than several of the official high-end decks and while i didn’t study all of them in detail, the designs of those i took a closer look at even gives pointers on how they might easily be upgraded by some outer wheel abilities.

    So, everybody still is free to make a terrible build and suffer from it, but some guiding rails are now im place.

    Also, i am very much amused by claiming that melee would be “fail”. I guess you are speaking of nightmare difficulty instance action? In this case, due to AoE effects and the necessity to move a lot, melee indeed has a harder time than ranged DPS. While they can dish out some more damage when on the target, their time on target is so much shorter that ranged DPS is significally more effective. (Just like in any other MMO where “do not stand in fire” mechanics are part of bossfights. ) Anywhere else, though, my hammer/fist setup (which could just as well be a sword/fist setup) beats any ranged setup in terms of damage output and damage mitigation. (I could even go for hammer/sword or sword/chaos for even a little more damage, at the price of somewhat reduced self-healing. )

    What i very much agree on your posting is: a good build makes hell of a difference. Either you set it up yourself, or you read one of the numerous guides out there. Plenty of them are a little outdated by now, but that’s the fate of many guides of other games, too. (Unless the games themselves are quite dead, of course. ) Still, the setups of older guides are not bad at all, nothing was nerfed, only some broken abilities got fixed, thus often granting a little more flexibility than the old setups use. Considering how many players in other games build their character according to guides, without ever just pondering why the writer of the guide went for +1% of this instead of +1% of that and never really understanding how and why their setup actually works, i don’t think that using such guides for a setup in TSW is an issue, either.

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  20. Also, i am very much amused by claiming that melee would be “fail”. I guess you are speaking of nightmare difficulty instance action? In this case, due to AoE effects and the necessity to move a lot, melee indeed has a harder time than ranged DPS. While they can dish out some more damage when on the target, their time on target is so much shorter that ranged DPS is significally more effective. (Just like in any other MMO where “do not stand in fire” mechanics are part of bossfights. ) Anywhere else, though, my hammer/fist setup (which could just as well be a sword/fist setup) beats any ranged setup in terms of damage output and damage mitigation. (I could even go for hammer/sword or sword/chaos for even a little more damage, at the price of somewhat reduced self-healing. )

    Is you Hammer/Fist build possible before Transylvania? No?

    That’s what I thought. I had wacky fun using Melee AOE to butcher vamps in my dungeon gear to. What about Blue Mountain? Or Egypt? Given the number of melee mobs and chalk circles/cones centered on mobs, melee is at an extreme disadvantage before endgame, and at endgame it has problems with being DPS.

    I can just imagine the wacky fun melee had with the huge mob of enemies at the entrance to the Black Pyramid.

    Remember the charging moths in Blue Mountain? They are lols with ranged if you can dodge. They RUN AWAY FROM YOU while you shoot them and then they have to RUN BACK while you shoot them. All the way you stand mostly still blasting them. I imagine that is somewhat more frustrating for melee players.

    It would be nice if Melee had not been made broken, but it was. They could have given melee more innate tankiness and that would have been great but the decision was made to pretend everything was okay when it definitely was not.

  21. So what you’re really saying is PURE melee is broken, which is debatable I suppose. I never saw the point in being pure melee myself. However, one of the melee abilities (including Chaos) combined with a ranged ability is the best mix I found for soloing. If you’re in a group you could probably go more melee or more ranged to reach a synergy with the other players.

  22. > Is you Hammer/Fist build possible before Transylvania? No?

    In the current, refined version: before Romania for sure, if you are dedicated to melee, you’ll probably reach it somewhere in Egipt. The most significant “improvement” being that the outer wheel elite ability i use gives 3.5 seconds of knockdown, instead of using the inner wheel equivalent which gives 3.0 seconds of knockdown. Also, my fine-tuned setup uses passives from sword, shotgun and pistol, too, but those are refinements and not essential for the build to work.

    The basic mechanic of my melee setup can be built with completing the inner wheel of fist, hammer and chaos and just very little invested in the outer wheel. One 9 AP active from fist and one 9 AP passive cover your costs out of hammer, only there you invest some more, mostly in the Brute Force and Excessive Damage path. (Use the combination of Shockwave, Beatdown and Piledriver to up your critical rating, which you exploit with passives from Hammer. )

    This basic concept is about as cost intensive as my shotgun/fist setup was when entering Blue Mountains. (And yes, based on previous posting i guess that if i don’t comment on it beforehand, you’re going to cheap-shot my by claiming that shotgun is a ranged weapon and thus i had an easy time there. Indeed, the shotgun cone attacks go for 7 meters in front of you, while my hammer attacks hit in a 5 meter circle around me. )

    A friend of mine stuck to blade/chaos till Romania and did quite well. (Inner wheel sword and fist passives for self healing, in Romania reinforced by a fist elite passive. )

    When he switched builds, it was not for he didn’t do well but since he just wanted to also experience ranged combat. (And my hammer/fist works well in Romania, so to prevent the next cheap-shot “but in Romania melee will fail” attempt. )

    The rest of the posting, yes, you quote some mobs where melee might be problematic, but the fixes are also there. Hammer and sword have charges, which take you to the enemy. Both also have stuff like “throw blade” and “stone throw” for a ranged attack, if you need a controled pull. Chaos, which might be classified as “magic”, but with a range of 5 meters and agro-tools, is also a melee path and has abilities to pull an enemy towards you. All four of them (hammer, sword, fist, chaos) can immobilize enemies. No matter if they get rooted, dazed or knocked to the ground, they won’t move for a little while.

    The tools are there, and also i wonder about your “more tankiness”. Fist is melee + healing, so don’t look for tankiness there. Blade, hammer and chaos have actives and passives which depending on your weapon increase your resists, block, defense and evasion and give further advantages (e.g. self-healing) when fending off an attack. It’s not the games fault if players choose not to use those.

    Next to that, i find this discussion quite amusing. I could also write a list of things which could need fixing in TSW, but none of those things you bring up. Instead, i now defend the game against accusations which are not actually mistakes of the game but are based on bad choices of the players.

    Up to some degree this could be blamed on WoW and the likes, where the basic lesson for a DPS is: put all and everything into damage. This is the builds you see a lot on newer players. All actives and passives set up for damage, using none of the inner wheel defense boosters. Those defense or healing abilities are on the inner wheel of each weapon, so all those “i am DPS” players have them available. It’s the players who need to dare to break free from the old WoW mindset. You’re not moved on rails (oki, actually you are, only to a lesser degree than most games), the game’s not your babysitter (actually again it is, only to a lesser degree than many other games), you shouldn’t stick to the guidelines imprinted on you by years of another MMO and preferably you should also avoid “guides” written by players who also have not adjusted their mindset yet. (There are good guides for TSw out there. But for every good one, there’s half a dozen of bad ones, it seems. )

    If you would claim that anything with healing inside the build is easier to play than without, i would agree. My hammer/sword setup or my shotgun/pistol setup are much harder (but far from impossible) to solo with than anything with fist included. Also there are plenty of mobs where ranged combat is “easier” to do than melee, albeit at the price that any ranged setup i can do will fall short to my melee setup.

    Only melee setups can expose the enemy for a flat +30% of damage. As this is on the target, and thus not additive to your own damage boosts but multiplicative to your damage total, this is big! In dungeons, on the other hand, where the tank is also used to expose the target, all DPS have this damage boost, so that’s where melee DPS are actually lacking. But this “you are speaking of dungeons” i asked before and you denied it. In solo play melee is more powerful if you know how to use it while ranged is more convenient. If convenience all by itself is better for you, i understand your position. If power also matters, i don’t.

  23. Pro people can do well with melee? Is this supposed to somehow prove your point?

    It’s interesting that you say “Hammer can pull”. In fact, no melee is given a low AP cost ranged pulling power. Which kinda proves my point not yours. Hammer needs 72 AP to get Stone’s Throw. Ignoring everything else. By then you are at QL4 weapons. Sword requires an huge 133 AP for Sling Blade and Claw doesn’t even have one. 133 AP is around QL5 weapons.

    It is clear that no thought was put into making melee workable in the starting zones, including Blue Mountain. If thought had been put in then a ranged pulling ability would be the FIRST power in one the outer rings for each weapon. Costing a mere 23 AP to access. It is clear their placement is essentially random(when and where they exist) and were placed for tanking use without consideration to players doing solo content.

  24. Man, you are so eager to prove your point. Yes, IF you want to pull going pure melee is probably not a good idea. Guess what? Paladins in WoW had no ranged abilities until hammer of judgement, which wasn’t available in Vanilla until the 40s. One of those trade-offs you have to make. On the other hand, I was picking up QL4s just as I was entering Savage Coast, hardly deep into the game. Also who goes pure melee? Magic has two 30 meter schools, as does Firearms, if you’re not counting shotguns. Newsflash, TSW doesn’t coddle you and guarantee you’ll have success with every build. They explicitly said there was no one catchall build. THey also said some bulds are less than optimal, Congratulations you’ve found a few. Play around; find something that works for you, instead of complaining about what doesn’t. I have three characters all with a mix of ranged and melee abilities. You’ve expressed you opinion, with facts that you think support it, even though you still shade them with your own opinion. You haven’t convinced anyone of anything other than that you are a troll.

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