Aggro Radius

I’m not really coming up with anything original, so I’m going to piggyback off Cameron’s post once more; this time on his post regarding aggro radius. While I do agree that the idea of an aggro circle can be a bit of an immersion-breaker, I think it all depends on the way the game is built.

If you want an MMO where creatures attack when they spot you, this means that:
a) the game needs to have far fewer creatures running around, or
b) the game will have a stronger emphasis on grouping to deal with the far greater number of mobs that will attack, or
c) players will need to be able to easily slay four or five monsters at a time. I played Asheron’s Call for four years, so I’m all for muliple mob fights (remember tusker dens where your screen was literally covered in mobs and you lived?)

If there are fewer creatures, the landmass of the game is going to have to be much larger so that mobs have room to spread out and not all aggro on players at the same time. The experience gained from mobs would also have to be increased as there would be more time spent going from mob to mob, and likely more strategy involved in positioning to attack them. I personally would be a big fan of this, but I know a lot of players would not. Many players enjoy the fact that they can jump right in front of a mob, slay it, then turn and face the next mob to do the same thing. It all depends on your preference.

Also, if the mobs are more spread out, again, the landmass will need to be quite a bit bigger. Otherwise, mobs will be crammed too closely together and you’ll aggro the whole zone. On the other side of this, if mobs are too close together it this will force players to group up much moreso than they do now in case they do aggro too many mobs. This runs the risk of not being a “solo friendly” game, which seems to be the only way to build a game anymore.

It really just depends on how you build the game from the ground up. If you want a more realistic AI, you run the risk of frustrating your players in that it might be much harder to spot a creature before it attacks you, or they feel as though they are always being attacked. If this is the approach taken and is done right, you will have a much more immersive game and (at least I think) will make the world feel much more alive, strengthening its verisimilitude.

There are so many sides and angles to this topic, but I’m going to leave it at that for now. I’ll probably add on to this soon, but I’ve got some errands to run. đŸ™‚

Hope you all have a nice weekend.



3 comments so far

  1. Aaron on

    It’s a classic example of the butterfly effect in game design. Abandoning the aggro rings system only works if one makes more than a few other changes. That’s why it’s better to start from your goals and consider past methods than to start with past methods and try to tweak them to reach different goals.

    The aggro system, like other MMO systems, isn’t all that bad, really. It’s just archaic — designed in a time of different limitations and player expectations.

  2. Lars on

    Some variety to the aggro mechanic would be nice, such as mobs that had a ‘reverse aggro’ (they run away when you come near, such as wildlife), or mobs that are only aggro when certain conditions apply (so you could do certain things like use racial illusions to sneak through an enemy camp).

    Simply increasing the aggro radius so it matches the player’s line of sight might make more sense, but I don’t think that would be fun – you’d just end up with the same thing we have today, only conflict couldn’t be avoided (since there would be no range at which you could see a mob and move without being detected should it turn in your direction) and travel times would probably be inflated (as everything would have to be spread out). No thanks.

  3. Garumoo on

    As well as different aggro responses, it would be interesting if mobs also had a reaction circle outside of the usual aggro circle. Breaching that outer circle could prompt some basic non-lethal response, perhaps as simple as an emote, or casually moving away from you, or maybe even lazily wandering over to satisfy some basic curiosity on the mob’s part. Only once you breach the inner aggro circle would it then commit to a fight-or-flight response.

    It would also be more “realistic” if the aggro circle wasn’t such a binary affair, as Cameron describes on his blog (cross an invisible line and move from happy safety to certain death). A simple mechanic such as aggro being a chance per time unit while within the circle would be enough – you could quickly skirt past the predatory big cat, but if you linger in his territory for too long your luck will eventually run out and it will aggro.

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