Commentary: Crowd Control

How much is too much?

For our first community opinion sampling, Somnicide writes about crowd control:

"How much is too much?"

One of the biggest factors in a game’s PvP balance is crowd control. It is a notoriously controversial subject, and has spawned a horde of debates in various games. On one side, it is considered a skill-less or ‘faceroll’ tactic. And the other side sees it as a defining factor in high end PvP circles.

Here I’m going to discuss what CC (crowd control) is and what constitutes too much.

What is Crowd Control?
One problem that makes debating the topic difficult is that each side has different definitions for the term. Some consider CC to be any skill that hinders the targets movement or ability to fight. Others only consider CC to be a skill that completely shuts down it’s target (ie: Stun, polymorph). Because of the differing opinions it is hard to come up with a general consensus on the topic. My personal opinion on what crowd control is would be:

Any skill or effect that exerts direct control over the target by limiting or shutting down it’s ability to function.

By this definition, snares, roots, and silences fall under the term crowd control along with stuns, sleeps, knockdowns, and fears. Why? Because these simple effects alter the way the enemy would (or could) react and can solidify your grip on a battle.

When is Crowd Control too much?
I’m sure everyone has heard of the horror stories of too much crowd control in PvP. Paladins or Rogues dropping enemies in the span of a stunlock, or Spiritmasters keeping their target chain feared throughout an entire match. When such things are allowed it is easy to understand why CC is commonly referred to as ‘skill-less’. Of course, in an effort to balance CC in PvP many games would add counter CC skills such as the stun break skills in Aion or Hand of Freedom in WoW. In turn, this did little to help PvP balance and instead turned it into a game of ‘who’s cooldown is up?’ which is vastly unhealthy for a game. 

Having a class be balanced around CC is usually bad game design. A prime example is assassin-type classes that use stealth and stunlocks to open up on an enemy and do as much damage in their opener as possible. Usually these classes are useless if their opener goes wrong and end up dead if they themselves are caught in a stun. This creates a play style of ‘CC and kill, or get CCed and die’. When classes cannot win a fight without their CC then it is too much.

Crowd Control in TERA.
One of the biggest things about TERA’s PvP will be that each class is being balanced around aiming their attacks. CC in other games is considered skill-less because all you have to do is press the button and the target is shut down. Thats it. But what happens when you can manually dodge the CC? That warrior is rearing up his stun shout and you backstep out of its radius. A priest shoots a sleep spell at you but misses you. Is it still as ‘faceroll’ as it is widely considered to be?

Of the known skills currently implemented, each class has at least one way of controlling the flow of combat. Sorcerers have a stuntrap, Lancer’s have a pull ability, etc. But the effectiveness of these abilities are decided solely by player skill. A good player would be able to set up extensive CC chains to completely control an enemy’s movements from start to finish, but only if the enemy isnt skilled enough to avoid it.

Do you think Crowd Control is unhealthy for a game’s PvP? How do you think TERA should handle balancing CC in a non-targeting game?


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Misguided Article
# Jul 27 2010 at 7:25 AM Rating: Decent
PvP would require a lot less skill if there weren't CC abilities. It makes the game interesting and at higher level PvP scenarios, WoW included, diminishing returns and team composition help to balance who CC's what. PvP is one big game of CC chess, not an auto attack "I has more health so I win" fight. CC's in WoW are very balanced in WoW and in order to make one's CC effective at all, requires a great deal of skill. Saying performing a good job of CC only requires one to "mash a button to completely shut someone down" is obviously either being said by a person who either has not played high level PvP in other mmo's, or is using vastly misguided generalizations in order to promote this game. Either way, shame on you.
Re: Community: Crowd Control
# Jul 23 2010 at 11:57 PM Rating: Decent
I think CC should only last for a few seconds, enough to regain your bearings (Heal, Pot, etc.) in a battle or get in a few hits. It shouldn't be what makes a battle. CC should be supplementary, not necessary.

From what I've seen so far, CC seems pretty balanced. Warrior's shout has a 2 sec cast time (I think), and if noticed could easily be evaded, as well as the Priest's Sleep spell and the traps used by Ranger and Sorcerer are easy to evade if noticed. This also keeps with the developers motto to "keep your eyes in the center of the screen", so awareness is probably going to be the most important factor in TERA, especially in PvP.

Edit: Also, any word on the Warrior's 'Vortex' Skill?
Seen here:
And at 1:44 in the trailer:

Edited, Jul 24th 2010 2:00am by AirWolfe
Re: Community: Crowd Control
# Jul 24 2010 at 1:36 AM Rating: Decent
There's already a skill called 'Vortex' in the game and is a Berserker skill, so whatever that is it'd be named something else. BUT, I do think that would be an awesome addition to the game and hope it makes it through the testing phases.
Re: Community: Crowd Control
# Jul 24 2010 at 2:02 AM Rating: Excellent
137 posts
Do you remember that one post about CC suggestions involving things like blind, confuse, and target-based movement restriction binding?
Re: Community: Crowd Control
# Jul 24 2010 at 4:01 AM Rating: Decent
Yup, I remember that one. What about it?
Re: Community: Crowd Control
# Jul 24 2010 at 2:16 PM Rating: Excellent
137 posts
How do you feel about those? CCs which can be mitigated by player skill?
Re: Community: Crowd Control
# Jul 25 2010 at 3:30 AM Rating: Decent
Oh, well I was actually the person that suggested them a while back. I do think that crowd control should go that route instead of the total lockdown model that it currently encompasses and is associated with.

Its effective, it does it's job, and can be tempered down by a skilled player. I see no downsides to it to be honest.
Re: Community: Crowd Control
# Jul 25 2010 at 10:04 AM Rating: Excellent
137 posts
I actually initially thought you wrote it but thought otherwise since I was surprised it didn't get a mention in this article too lol. I do really like the idea though, I've liked it in every other game that I've played with those types of CC in them.
Re: Community: Crowd Control
# Jul 24 2010 at 1:59 AM Rating: Decent
So there is, didn't know that, or well, bother reading the entire Berserker skill list lol. I was just calling it what it looked like, now I'm going to have to think of something else to call it, thesaurus here I come.

I really do hope it gets finalized, seems like an awesome group skill for others to drop AoEs on when it's filled with mobs (or a few players).
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