Sunday, March 02, 2008

Concentration as a Resource

Last time, I mentioned that getting hit could temporarily reduce your concentration. One is in their right to ask; what, exactly, does concentration do?

In the Real Life MMORPG, concentration is what allows you to keep track of what's in your head. Better concentration will allow you to solve more complicated problems, avoid distractions and ignore annoying people. In an MMORPG trying to emulated this all-time favorite, concentration would be a resource, which gets filled with what you do.

Say, you're a sword fighter; a barbarian. You don't have much to think about... The foe is over there, try to hit him while he doesn't hit you. If you start fighting defensively, you start concentrating on your opponent's moves, trying to find an opening. Your concentration is fully taken by your opponent. But what if some idiot starts throwing rocks at you? You can either ignore them, or try to avoid them; either way, it's going to start eating at your concentration. Fighting more opponents means you have less time to dedicate to beating them to a pulp.

What if your barbarian is also a tamer? You can send your pet panther at the village idiot, but that would mean you have to give orders, and you have to make sure the pet isn't doing anything bad. Overseeing minions does take away from your concentration.

What if you also have a friend with you? Your trusty mage sidekick is behind you, tossing pain and destruction at your mutual opponent, while relying on you to defend him. You have to keep between the friends and the foes, lest the friends start looking for a new meat shield. Concentration is taken away, once again, by having to worry about something. A tank you may be, but you're a tank with lots on his mind. Now you really wish you had paid more attention in those meditation lessons.

The concept would be the same for a magic-user. The spells you cast will take away at your concentration, and gosh forbid you should cast a continuous spell; simply keeping into effect would take parts of your concentration away, not to be recuperated until the spell is gone. Of course, you can always customize the spells you use to fill exactly as much concentration as you need them to, but that doesn't mean the system is any easier on you.

Keeping track of every effect affecting concentration may be more complicated than what the average gamer is used to, and with today's attention spans at an all-time low, one would be better off picking one role, and sticking to it. Sure, you can learn all the skills you want, but don't expect to marsh in the middle of armies, completely invincible. Sooner or later, your concentration will be overwhelmed, and you will fall. Hard.

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