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Ability Delay -- Character Responsiveness (This will make or break SW:TOR)

STAR WARS: The Old Republic > English > General Discussion
Ability Delay -- Character Responsiveness (This will make or break SW:TOR)
First BioWare Post First BioWare Post

Xcore's Avatar

12.25.2011 , 08:42 PM | #1

Updated: 01-25-12' (This is Continuing Thread 7)

Ability Delay -- Character Responsiveness (The Video)

- Preview: <-- Cinematic and Fun
- Video: <-- 50min full length... I hope you enjoy it and it gives definition to this issue

Original Thread: Thread 1 --
Thread 2 --
Thread 3 --
Thread 4 --
Thread 5 --
Thread 6 --

**Great Improvements have been made with patch 1.1.0b**

- More Detail Soon - (It is not 100% there yet but "great" improved and now very much "enjoyable")


Before you label me a Troll please read my Early Review here:

My Reflection of the entire Thread: 3000+ Replies (Read every single one), 120,000+ Views...

Other forums discussing this issue:

Incredible Post on Rift Forums:

ArenaNet's (Guild Wars 2) Combat Timing and Fine Tuning:

Video Examples of the Discussed Subject

Thank You - Baznasty (Thread 1, Page 87) -- WoW Example/Contrast:
Thank You - Sanchpanza (Thread 1, Page 123) -- TOR Example
Thank You - Samdbtto (Thread 1, Page 124) -- TOR Target Switch Responsiveness
Thank You - Badchx (Thread 1, Page 181) -- TOR Healing Issue:
Thank You - Devolution (Thread 1, Page 210) -- TOR Melee Ability Delay:
Thank You - Hulduet (Thread 2, Page 89) -- TOR Ability Activation Timer:
Thank You - Badchx (Thread 2, Page 148) -- WoW/TOR Cast-Moving Responsiveness:
Thank You - jtype_sw (Thread 3, Page 24) -- Kolto Injection Healing:
Thank You - Owarida (Thread 3, Page 27) -- Imperial Agent, Delay + Snipe Cancel etc.:
Thank You - jtype_sw (Thread 3, Page 83) -- Ability Trigger Fail:
Thank You - Nikita_Kilemal (Thread 4, Page 79) -- Bounty Hunter Delay:
Thank You - Mdrunx (Thread 5, Page 80) -- Sith Warrior Ability Fail:

Thank You - Allocator (Thread 4, Page 36) Diagram of Ability Delay Problem:

Note: Please, if you agree with these points and this subject, rate the thread. Perhaps this will raise Bioware's awareness. Anything we can do to make SW:TOR the best it can be because the truth is you and I are here because we want it to succeed and we see it's potential.

The game has been out long enough for the masses to finally realize the negatives. As people are getting out of the starting planets and the "new and shiny" feeling starts to subside, the cracks in this new wonderous world are becoming apparent.

Ability Delay and Character Responsiveness: -- It is not Latency or FPS Lag

I will attempt to discuss this issue and I will do so in a manner that I hope will make everyone understand it better. The "Character Responsiveness" for lack of a better term, is how "smooth" the game plays from your avatars perspective. I have played SWG and EQ to a lesser degree as well as Warhammer Online and several other MMOs and I must honestly say that Bioware has gotten this all too important aspect much better than any previous MMO that I have experienced (with the obvious exception, to which we will get soon).

You see, I really want you (The Reader) to understand the importance of this topic. To drive home "how" important this is. In fact I will say this: I am in no way shy to say that, the reason Warhammer Online, EQs, Rift, SWG etc. etc. could never "ever" get to anything near WoW subscriptions is the Character Responsiveness. All these games failed for many reasons, and a game "can" fail for many reasons and on many fronts but this single-one-category... is by "far" the #1 Reason why World of Warcraft is World of Warcraft.

Again, I must drive home the fact that no matter if you understand this issue or are new to the subject (and perhaps MMOs) or if you believe the game is fun and enjoyable and think that this is just a vocal minority piping up on something nonsensical. This is the undeniable truth and any game developer or serious gamer worth their salt will agree.

What is Character Responsiveness and Ability Delay? -- It is not Latency or FPS lag

It is the feeling of connection between the person behind the keyboard and the Avatar that is being controlled. Basically, the better the Character Responsiveness is, the smoother the Game Plays! You may HATE World of Warcraft and believe it is the worst abomination on the planet... that is fine. HOWEVER, you "must" objectively admit that it is the absolute, smoothest Character Responsiveness in a Western Available MMO ever.

If you are a WoW player, and have played WoW with any amount of skill, competitiveness, you cannot help but cringe when in a Warzone in SW:TOR. It feels unresponsive, frustrating... as if something is wrong with you! but there is nothing you can do about it!

If you have never played WoW, perhaps you come from SWG or EQ2 or Rift etc. that is fine! You are WELCOME in this thread, it is not WoW Players against the Rest! I just "need" you to understand that SW:TOR is "noticeably" and "objectively" bad in this crucial department. I am not writing this because I am trolling or because I love WoW, on the contrary. I am doing this because I want SW:TOR to be amazing, I love so many aspects of this great game... but if this is not addressed it "will" die like every other one.

Why is this "so" important?! -- It is not Latency or FPS lag

From here on I will say 0.5 for emphasis but reality is 0.2, 0.3 (ANY) Ability Delay is unacceptable.

And here is the real problem. It is so important because MMO gaming has become so "tight", so competitive and so smooth (through WoW), that it is completely and absolutely unacceptable for an ability or animation to be delayed by 0.5 seconds.

0.5 seconds is a lot of time, to our visual cortex. 0.5 seconds is the difference between interrupting a CC of the enemy player or not (and thus being disadvantaged/dying). 0.5 seconds is the difference between landing a Taunt on the "add" that just came into the room and thus having it come to you or it one-shotting your healer and thus wiping on the Boss you've just spent 3 Days wiping to.

Zero Point Five Seconds is a ******* Long Time

Bioware, I plead that you dedicate as many resources as required (all if needed) to address this. You cannot cram story/companions/new flashpoints - operations... Class Balance into patches and hope that is good enough.

I hate to be a crazed doomsayer but I must state: Mark my words, if SW:TOR's Character Responsiveness and Ability Delay is not on par with WoW's by March-June it will be just another Rift.

Bioware, please see the importance of Character Responsiveness and Visual Stimulation of Ability Animation Correctness. It should be impossible for me to have an ability's cooldown activated without seeing it animate.... this is unacceptable. I just truly hope that this isn't a core coding issue or engine issue, because then we're f'd.

Notable Mention:

Thread 1 -- Page 133 -- Poster: ajjw

"In a game like WoW, if your previous spell's animation is still playing when you use your next spell, the old animation immediately ends and that of the new spell beings. However in TOR, if an animation is still playing, the game will not let you cast another spell, even if the cast time and GCD have already finished.

In other words, if a spell has a 2s cast time but a 2.5s animation, you'll be sat there looking stupid for 0.5s unable to cast anything after the first spell, whereas in WoW the last 0.5s of the old animation will be "clipped" (ie cut off) and you'll be able to cast a new spell immediately, the animation of which will also begin to play immediately."

Thread 2 -- Page 109 -- Poster: Reedful (Professional Gaming Experience)

His Proven Credentials:

WC3 Tournament Player
WoW Tournament Player
CS:S Tournament Player

Attended regionals and most MLG events from 2008-2010

Xcore: On a personal note, I value input like this a lot as this is someone with a very high understand of the intricacies of "Competitive Combat Design". I realize that the view may be a little "Hardcore" but nonetheless it is invaluable and coming from an individual that is perceiving the "Gameworld" at a higher level.

"Speaking from a professional gamer's standpoint, the game is simply unplayable. It is barely possible to outplay your opponents with a 2 second median reaction time. Olympic is .4, I'd settle for .8. It is hilarious how they were bragging about taking subscriptions away from World of Warcraft when anything in this game after the single player parts might as well have been made in 2003... by Blizzard, and then discarded so their game would actually be successful.

I can interrupt my own instant casts. There's at least a 1 second delay on every single one of my abilities(even instants not on the global) with a professional gaming computer and 3 MS. I live right down the road. You should hire me, throw away the Hero Engine and maybe we can fix your issues.


Say I'm CC'd by the door in Voidstar and I want to trinket to interrupt the cap - here we have a perfect example of how you've ripped off World of Warcraft almost to the letter with everything from the battleground style in this, "Warzone," to "Tenacity" AND it's cooldown, et al, holy moly.

So anyway, here I am playing a WoW clone, stunned by the door. I trinket(I am not going to call it Tenacity because it is a blatant rip off of World of Warcraft and it hasn't established a real name for itself.) Nothing happens. Nothing happens for almost an entire global. I am spamming Concussion Charge. At this point I have only casted Tenacity, which does not use my global and I have waited for 1.5 seconds. Finally, the game registers that I have casted my PvP trinket, takes the cooldown 2 seconds late, frees me from my CC and allows my Concussion Charge spam to activate the ability except I get knocked back, the UI tells me my instant cast ability was interrupted and my Resolve bar has already decayed to 75%.

There is no saying, "hehehe don't spam your abilities." There is no saying, "well I still like the game anyway!" There is no saying, "well if everyone has the same lag, it's balanced!""

Thread 3 -- Page 13 -- Poster: Asabalana (Casual Gamer)

"I am an average player who will never be on the list of greats and I see the issue very clearly. Yesterday I ran Esseles on a Trooper alt. It was painful. Spells misfired, spells cast after the gcd was over and ability bar was lit had delays before they activated. At points trying to cast while straffing was an adventure. As bad as the problem is in solo play, you can work around it, but in group play it is really bad. You feel that you are letting the group down because you can't function and play your part.

Yes I have played WOW and the only thing that I liked about the game was the combat system. But I am a noob at heart. This is an issue that affects everyone. The only difference between the top tier well experienced players and noobs newbies and newcomers is that the top guys/gals can understand and verbalize why game play does not feel good. The rest just know that it does not feel good although they can't put their finger on why.

I can't speak to whether this will make or break swtor, but believe that it will cost the game a great many subs and result in a great deal of lost revenue for EA/BW. It will cost the loss of most of the top tier players who although small in number contribute a lot to the game and community.

The game still has a lot of bugs. LOL, yesterday a level 17 player asked for help with a boss in general. I responded with my 26 JC Shadow. We fought the boss and he was killed quickly but I got the boss to 0 health and the thing still kept fighting. That went on for ten minutes and the boss just kept on with 0 health and would not drop. I told the person that I was trying to help that the instance was bugged and that he should just move on. No big deal (one bugged quest out of thousands that will be fixed eventually). But the combat system problems are a prime big deal. They need to be given top priority with communication to the community and be fixed post haste. Otherwise people will start leaving the game. It will be a real shame because most of the people who end up leaving really like the game and want to play, but find it not playable because of the combat issue.

To the OP, I think that BW owes you big time. You have identified and described a problem and forced their attention to it. BW is much better off facing this right now than rather seeing subs drop and somewhere down the line when it is way to late identifying why."

Thread 6 -- Page 96 -- Poster: Starglide

I agree completely. I want to also mention a few other aspects where the system fails to be viable for a MMO (I say this because for a single player game this system may be acceptable).

It is currently possible when engaging your next ability that the que system in TOR is broken. Towards the end of a channel in WoW, if you cast your next ability towards the end (so it ques), the next ability will go off at the exact second the channel is complete. We have already covered that this is a perfect display of fluidity lacking in TOR, but lets look at the que system for a moment. Notice how the next ability goes off upon the end of the channel. Currently, in TOR, if you cast an ability while you are channeling, not matter if it is close to the end or not--it cancels the channel. It does not correctly que so that when the channel is complete, the next ability executes. This means that even the que system, although apparently adjustable *rolls eyes, is extraordinarily broken as it does not exist.

This is another location where fluidity is lacking since the que system purely functions off of the GCD and not off of abilities. This is where it seems as not only is the animation > application results in lack of fluidity, but BioWare also failed to keep some type of rotation in mind when linking the que system with animations and the GCD. It seems as if the very departments in which create these separate aspects that constitute the entire propriety failed to communicate with each other. It is ironic as these issues persist because of the communication that is occurring between these actions--or lackthereof.

WoW's system also has an input lag option in which you can toggle for users with lower end PCs. This displays somewhat how the system works as it removes input lag from your UI completely and lets it occur client side but the overall action still calculated via server side. If you toggle this option, no matter how bad the PC, when you press an ability you will see it light up immediately because it is reacting to input client side, tricking you into thinking it has been executed, showing the animation immediately and the numbers, but then reacting on the server a bit later. This gives the feeling of control even on the worst of PCs. But this is just to express the difference in 'feeling' is resulted in the way the client is communicating with everything else.

Currently, no matter how good the PC (I know since I play on a amazing gaming rig), the lack of control starts at the very core--the time the key is pressed. There is a small delay, because for whatever reason, the key input's first execution is not occurring client side which results in the que system not occurring client side and the GCD not occurring client side. Add all these hairline delays up and you have something that becomes clunky. Opposition would be the input being client side (instant), GCD beginning client side (instant), queing your next ability (client side) but then calculating all these on the server and internet speed being a result of how fast you SEE the numbers (absolute completion of executed abilities). When you have everything occurring on the server, even the simplest of inputs will have some sort of delay. Add animation being priority and you have one of the worst designed combat system for feeling of control (which is what an MMO is all about).

There are simply too many priorities over input at the moment. Obviously what I stated above is hypothesis as someone but Blizzard developers knows exactly how their system works, but I would bet it is something like that. Currently in TOR there are simply too many priorities over the users actual actions. Let me give another example:

If you miss in WoW, you basically don't know you do unless you see the text from the combat log or the numbers floating above the mobs head. Why? Because whatever you execute after the GCD is up goes through, including animations. Currently, if you miss a channel with TOR, such as ravage for a Sith Warrior, even if the GCD is up after 1.5 seconds, you still have to wait for the animation that would be on a 3 second channel to complete. This causes a 1.5 second delay before your next ability because the priority system in TOR is Animation > Application. The game literally does NOT know you casted another ability because the que system is basing when it should cast on when the previous animation completes. Not when the GCD ends on the client. This is why when you do not miss, it cancels the channel. Because after the GCD, the que is canceling the actual ability because it is functioning on the animation. You started a new animation therefore it decides to cancel the last. It is not subject to the application of said ability or channel.

Another example is when you cast an instant ability. Notice how when you cast an instant ability you have to be either standing still sometimes, or wait for the animation to complete from your last ability. Lets use Ravage again as a reference. You start to cast Ravage which is a 3 second channel, but as soon as you do you notice you're low and want to pop an instant defensive ability like Saber Ward. The GCD isn't quite complete, but you should be able to pop this ability as it is not on GCD to save your butt.... wrong. You will hit the ability but it will not go off because the system is confused as it is waiting for the Ravage animation to complete totally disregarding the application priority and proving that animations are more important to the system. It even seems as if the game becomes confused when you are using basic moving keys like WSAD because it is evident standing still will help execute said ability.

There are a million example where this system fails in more aspects than one. Doing simple tasks like mounting becomes a tedious unresponsive experience and completely tarnishes the much needed feeling of control necessary to the genre as a whole; proven by lack of extreme success from any other MMO besides WoW--the most responsive MMO to date.

It breaks down like this: it seems as if BioWare tried to fit the animation within the GCD as opposed to the action of the user's ability.

Thread 6 -- Page 95 -- Poster: Starglide

I'm with you on this one. I won't reiterate my past post, but it basically sums up why I am still a bit worried.

I would also like to touch on the fact that WoW's GCD does function client side as a 'preview' like someone mentioned before. It is a reason why fake GCD hacks are able to made. Keyword is fake here. The hack does not actually work because the GCD ultimately has to communicate server side, but the hack makes it seem like it works by removing the GCD from your client. But in realty the abilities do not go through.

Although, there have been reports that they think either currently, or at one time, the GCD functioned completely from the client. No one will know for sure, because then everyone would have the super smooth system WoW does. It is their secret recipe, if I may.

Thread 7 -- Page 24 -- Poster: Scaire

Xcore, I have been following this thread since the very first post. I think everyone appreciates what you have done here, you have an uncanny was of articulating things.

That being said, I was a multiglad (6 seasons) and raided in a top 25 world guild (Overrated, Korgath - the horde version of the guild Death and Taxes). This delay made the game unplayable for me. I came on today and I must say that many people in this thread are not giving them enough credit for how drastic this improvement is.

The actual DELAY is feeling about 90% better for me. I have been able to vanish instantly all but ONE time in about four hours of WZ's.

The animation problems, however, have not been addressed, nor has Bioware said they have been addressed, and I think people are lacking the intuition to realize the difference between the DELAY that was fixed today and the obvious and glaring problems with animations that has absolutely nothing to do with today's fix.

In fact, the entire game feels more fluid. When I click on an interractable object it works instantly, I do not have to wait half a second for me to interract with an object on the ground.

The next step for them is to fix the animations. The most glaring problem (as discussed) is twofold.

1. Animations are not matching cast times
2. Abilities that have conditionals (for example, "behind target" for backstab/maul or snipe which requires you to be in cover) needs to have their check from client to server on keypress, not in the middle of the animation. This is the reason why backstab does not work when you hit the ability if your enemy faces you immediately, or why sniping immediately after goign into cover doesnt work. The client and the server do not communicate until you are actually in cover or until right before you extend your arm for the stab.

Again, thanks for all the hard work on this.

Bioware Responses

Thread 2 -- Page 123 -- Georg Zoeller

"This issue is under active investigation.

The complication is that there are actually a number of different issues with very different causes and potential resolutions lumped together in this thread.

All we can say for now is 'we are actively working on the topic of character responsiveness'."

Georg "Observer" Zoeller
Principal Lead Combat Designer

Sticky Post -- Emmanuel Lusinchi

During the development of Star Wars: The Old Republic, weve been paying a lot of attention to the games responsiveness. As pointed out by some people on the Forum, a very responsive experience is one of the factors that separate the best MMOs from the others. This is something we are fully aware of and take extremely seriously.

Several of the issues brought forth by the community have already been dealt with and you should see the fixes integrated in coming patches, including those coming this month. Every lead mentioned on the forum is being investigated and I cannot stress enough how useful your feedback is especially when coupled with the level of details found in some of the posts.

So Id really like to thank the community for this very constructive feedback.

Thanks again and best regards,

Emmanuel Lusinchi
Technical Design Director
Star Wars: The Old Republic

Blog Post -- Georg Zoeller

Hi everyone; I wanted to give you all an update on the ability delay situation.

Thanks to constructive feedback from the community, including some great videos, we were able to identify an issue that could cause abilities on global cooldown to appear available to the player, resulting in unresponsive/ignored player input. A fix for the issue is currently scheduled to go to the public test server with our next update.

Additionally, we have located an issue that would cause player input for certain instant abilities to fail in frantic combat situations, resulting in unpredictable and frustrating gameplay issues for the affected player. A fix for the issue is currently scheduled to go to the public test server with our next update.

Finally, our engineers have identified an issue introducing a significant delay between player input and ability execution in certain game situations, most notably (but not limited to) fast paced PvP. The magnitude of the delay varies with a number of factors, including processor hardware, but can, especially on dual core CPUs, result in a very perceivable reduction in game responsiveness. We are in the later stages of testing a fix for the problem and hope to be able to roll it out to the servers very soon.

We're still investigating a number of additional issues, along with some usability and quality of life improvements for responsiveness regarding player input, but the above mentioned developments should provide a very measurable improvement in combat responsiveness.

Thanks again for your patience and support and we hope to see you on the public test server to help us validate these improvements before pushing them to the live servers.

Georg Zoeller
Principal Lead Combat Designer

P.S.: It is not Latency or FPS Lag... also very important to understand.

LexiCazam's Avatar

01.24.2012 , 06:44 AM | #2
Hello everyone!

We have recreated this thread because it has reached our post threshold of 1,000. Feel free to use this new thread to continue the discussion. We would also like to point out the following post from the Developer Tracker from Georg Zoeller regarding this issue.

Original Post
Quote: Originally Posted by GeorgZoeller View Post
This issue is under active investigation.

The complication is that there are actually a number of different issues with very different causes and potential resolutions lumped together in this thread.

All we can say for now is 'we are actively working on the topic of character responsiveness'.
Emmanuel Lusinchi has also created a pinned topic on this matter: A quick update on Ability Delay.

Also, please check out these Patch Notes (1.1.0b) under Classes and Combat.

A reminder that regardless of the topic, it is part of our Rules of Conduct that:
  • Never insult another member of the community.
  • Respect other community members, whether they agree with you or not.
  • Flag, don't fight. Use the "flag" feature to report posts to our Community Team if you see someone breaking the rules – don't respond to them!
  • Make constructive, on-topic posts that add to the discussion.
Thank you for understanding.

Jedikillar's Avatar

01.24.2012 , 07:22 AM | #3
First on the new version? Sweet. Anyways, hope to get to 10 on the public test to see how their fix is working
Ancient weapons and hokey religions are no match for a dagger in your back.
"The Sith grew past the use of lightsabers. But we continue to use them, if only to humiliate the Jedi."
―Darth Sidious

boomxi's Avatar

01.24.2012 , 07:24 AM | #4
Delay is still visible and mirrored classes are still not mirrored on PTS (compared trooper to BH)
Vanguard 50/VR57

Shuriko's Avatar

01.24.2012 , 07:28 AM | #5
another thread give us le fix naow
The Jedi goes with. "We serve the Force."
The Sith goes with. "The Force serves us."

Xcore's Avatar

01.24.2012 , 08:02 AM | #6

Lethality's Avatar

01.24.2012 , 08:10 AM | #7
Getting great reports from readers of AAJ... great work dev dudes
Interested in a Mac version of TOR? Show your support here:

Ragearo's Avatar

01.24.2012 , 08:17 AM | #8
Patch notes today:

Classes and Combat

Significantly improved the delay when activating player abilities, particularly when in lower framerate situations. This allows for improved ability responsiveness in hectic combat situations.
Will be logging in shortly, hopefully this fixes it at least somewhat. Sounds like progress nonetheless.

Mutica's Avatar

01.24.2012 , 08:34 AM | #9
I still see the issue after logging on... the mount thing is the easiest to test....
What I will say, is that it 'seems' or does feel like in some cases the pre-cast delay as Allocator diagramed it seems to have improved. But again I'll wait till more data has been gathered, but at least it seems to feel a bit better.

Allocator (Thread 4, Page 36) Diagram of Ability Delay Problem:

However, the larger issue of the execute animation and the damage being applied only after the animation is still there. So there are still no 'real' instant cast spells in this game. All spells have a cast time... and maybe the 'instant' cast spells can essentially just be cast while moving in some cases.

Fellthar's Avatar

01.24.2012 , 08:57 AM | #10
Quote: Originally Posted by Mutica View Post
I still see the issue after logging on... the mount thing is the easiest to test....
What I will say, is that it 'seems' or does feel like in some cases the pre-cast delay as Allocator diagramed it seems to have improved. But again I'll wait till more data has been gathered, but at least it seems to feel a bit better.

Allocator (Thread 4, Page 36) Diagram of Ability Delay Problem:

However, the larger issue of the execute animation and the damage being applied only after the animation is still there. So there are still no 'real' instant cast spells in this game. All spells have a cast time... and maybe the 'instant' cast spells can essentially just be cast while moving in some cases.
I noticed the mount problem still is there, but it is much harder to trigger. You have to move closer to the end of the cast bar, as before the delay before you could move was much longer. I have to work at it to get it to happen now.

As for instant spells having a cast time... I agree with this, they technically do. It's a different design philosophy as opposed to WoW that doesn't care what it looks like, it just applies the damage first, and plays the animation as a second. If Bioware wants to tie animations with the numbers game, that is fine (it certainly looks good), it just adds another layer of balancing as they have to ensure all animations are tweaked and tuned properly.

I don't think they fixed the issue completely yet, but they have begun the process of alleviating some of the strains today as already there is a noticeable benefit here to the "feeling" of combat being fluid. I am pleased they are trying.