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Secret World Legends devs explain how to design great MMO combat

"You need to put the player in the toolbox,�let them come across unique challenges, and figure out the encounter was made and how to solve the challenge in real-time combat."

In a recent Gamasutra Twitch stream, the Funcom team explained how to create engaging combat encounters in massively-multiplayer online games (MMOs). 

Pointing to Secret World Legends -- the studio's recently rebooted version of The Secret World -- as an example, developers Scott Junior and Romain Amiel suggested the key to compelling MMO combat is flexibility. 

Although the pair claim that fun should be at the heart of every skirmish, keeping players engaged for the long-haul means giving them a toolkit overflowing with combat abilities, weapons, and powers. 

"Ultimately, we want it to be fun. I think one of the main things we wanted to keep with the reboot was the idea that it's this modern game where you get to build a class of your own, and play the way you want to play," they explain.

"So you get to try out several weapons, and you get to find two that feel good together and synergize well. Its all about how they feel and how they play."

Players, they say, are only going to stick around if they can design a character (or class) they truly connect with. That's why it's critical developers take feedback onboard and devise testing encounters that can be tackled in a variety of ways. 

"I want the player to have to figure out [how to take down an enemy]. So when they run up and hit somebody with their hammer, and he starts growling, and then explodes and kills them, they're like 'maybe I should attack from range instead, or maybe I should use something to interrupt that growl ability.'

"You need to put the player in the toolbox, let them come across unique challenges, and figure out the encounter was made and how to solve the challenge in real-time combat. So it's sort of like a puzzle.

"It's about giving players ways to overcome challenges in ways that feel good to them. They need to be able to identify with their character, and that's why a diverse toolbox is so important."

You can hear more from the Funcom team by checking out the full stream right here. After that, why not follow the Gamasutra Twitch channel for even more developer insights and gameplay commentary.

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