It’s so hard to walk and chew gum…

There’s a really common convention in MMOs that you can’t move around while casting a spell. It’s fine to have fireworks going off all around you, to be hit in the face with a giant hammer, to be tripping over your robes, standing knee deep in a river or watch your comrades being ripped limb from limb … but heaven forfend that you might take a sidestep to the right.

I’ve neverĀ  been really sure where this came from, I think it’s a relic from a more wargamey past where caster units had their movement penalised to give melee a chance to catch up and kill them.

On the odd occasion when I’ve played a character that could walk and chew gum at the same time (aka cast on the move, or use lots of instant cast spells) it was great fun to be more mobile. Although it does your head in getting used to playing a class which can cast on the move and has a casting time. If you play a caster, would you like to be more mobile?

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25 thoughts on “It’s so hard to walk and chew gum…

  1. Yes, I would like to be more mobile. In some MMOs the immobility of casters is even their bane in PvP.

    Which game and which class allow casting while moving? What did you play, tell me! :)

    In early single player RPGs like Eye of the Beholder there was no casting time either. I think it appeared with casting animations… which look cool but are not very good in a pvp environment where casting times above 1 second are usually problematic.

    There are already a few instant casts with cooldown in MMOs. Mostly DoTs.

    I wonder why the ideas of cooldown and global cooldown are not applied to allow a lot more instant cast spells without being too overpowering.

    I think a mix of short 0.5-1 second cast times, cooldowns and global cooldowns could give casters some more mobility.

    • I know I’ve played one recently where my character had an ability that did this but it took me ages to realise because … I didn’t think to try moving while a spell was casting. Just can’t remember where that was.

      I do know that my old minstrel in DaoC had the signature ability of being able to single-target mez on the run. It was a spell with a short range so while the pure casters would be standing (still) at the back, I’d be dancing around the mobs as they were pulled.

  2. Vanguard allows casting of at least some spells while moving, though your avatar slows to a walk while doing so. Quite a nice compromise.

    It’s a shame that for every cool idea in Vanguard there’s something equally annoying.

  3. I used to play an Affliction Warlock, mainly in Warsong Gulch specialising in instants. It felt incredibly over-powered.

    I don’t know what the best answer is. In a pvp game you need to strike a balance between the classes that run away and the classes that chase. It’s very frustrating to play a melee and reach the conclusion that you will never catch and damage a good kiter.

    Just in terms of my own gameplay yes I’d rather cast instants then have cast times. But who wouldn’t?

  4. WAR uses it as a balance feature. Zealots can cast a lot of their spells on the run, and Shamans have significantly less that can be cast on the run. I think this has to deal with AI limitations and PvE “balance” more than it being some MMO norm.

  5. I think it is a remnant of the DnD ruleset. You cannot cast while silenced, tied (or wearing restrictive armor), running or on a horse. IIRC when you were hit in battle in DnD you needed to roll a concentration check or the spell fizzled. In WoW its called spell pushback.

    In old ADnD magic was not as common as people tend to believe, the idea was that casting anything was a huge feat of strength with mages needing intense concentration and priests always needing to be on the good side of their Gods to channel their divine power. We had a DM who expected mages to have unique movement/chanting combinations for each spell, expected priests and palas to pray three times a day and once had an inteligent sword fry its owner for not talking to it more often… fun times! Try and min-max with this DM and you are going to be re-rolling a goblin in no time.

    Then Hack’N’Slash came along and everything changed.

  6. That is one thign that disappointed me a bit in Chronicles of Spellborn – the combat system was very much set up for you to keep moving and not just standing still – no die-roll type of combat.

    But yet casters had to stand still while casting.

    Non-fantasy games are a bit more forgiving in this regard; in City of Heroes/Villains you can generally move around all the time, although the character may stop to do the animation for the power you are invoking. Tabula Rasa did allow you to move around all the time as I recall, even when using Logos (the “magic” in that game).

  7. Mobility would be nice, but let me tell ya, when I was gettin the old proto drake and I hate to get the “Denyin’ the Scion” achievement, my mind was blown that I could cast and move on that disc at the same time. I just couldn’t wrap my fingers around the process to do it, haha.

  8. I agree it’s silly that we don’t see some spells castable while moving. I think it’d be cool if you could move while casting all spells with 1 or both of the following penalties.

    1) The cast time of your spell is immediately increased by 50% similar to spell pushback from getting damaged.
    2) Your movement speed was slowed.

    What would be cool is just like Spell Pushback, we could very well get talents that allow us to spec into less pushback from moving or increased speed while casting.

    How cool would it be if you actually moved FASTER while casting!? (or even just while casting/channeling certain spells)

  9. One of my alts on WoW is a destro warlock, and I hate not being able to move. It’s a particular pain in the rear in boss fights that require the boss to be kited, or that require you to continually move to avoid damage. I’m almost useless in those situations.

    I’m reminded of a scene in an old Woody Allen movie (I don’t recall which one) where he plays the cello… in a marching band. He picks up his chair, runs ten feet, sits down and plays furiously for five seconds, then repeats. It’s funny as hell to watch. And it’s exactly like playing a warlock in a mobile encounter.

    Warlocks need to be part of a symphony, not a marching band.

  10. this is why, as a mage, i remain arcane and stack the ever living crap out of haste.

    even though fire is bigger numbers and scales with the UNGODLY AMOUNTS OF CRIT available in ulduar, i’m down to nearly a 1.8 second cast on my main nuke, and have a big damage instant that has a 2 second cooldown :D

    my DPS remains competitive and i can cast, move, cast, move, cast move ..what i have to keep moving? spam instants.

    sure i’m OOM a lot, but have a 2 min evo cooldown – and on fights like auriya when there is absolutely NO good time to stand and evocate, i can fail mightily. (switching to fire wont help – another LB on her only brings down the bad kitty faster :( )

    there aren’t any patchwork-esque fights in ulduar – no standing and casting. i wish every caster class had a mobility spec :/ although, those that dont probably have good DOT specs – which we don’t really have :D

  11. To some extend it’s founded in D&D (you can cast while riding a horse, btw), but really it goes back to Tolkien. When do you ever see any spells being cast there where the wizard isn’t standing still to do it? The elves healing Frodo are all standing around him. The crafting of the One Ring was done standing before the forge, Gandalf’s stand against the Balrog(sp?) was done standing still, etc. Nearly every example you ever see of spell casting is done without movement.

    The part that isn’t realized quite so often is that those wizards are never moving while casting because they never have any reason to move. There aren’t any melee units attacking them, and when they are the scene usually involves melee combat rather than spells being cast. You attack with your sword, I defend with my staff, and so on.

  12. I have a bad habit of rotating while I’m casting. Not being able to do that was one of the things that irritated me most about Aion… if I rotated at all in midcast, I’d stop casting.

    In WoW, the jumping, behind-the-back prayer of mending just never got old.

  13. The kiting problem isn’t limited to tabletop strategy games. During the TBC beta, a bug accidentally took the channeling requirement off of Arcane Missles, effectively making the spell a DOT. Until the bug was fixed, mages could solo anyone and anything by casting Slow on them and strafing away, spamming full damage missiles.

    Blizzard has actually taken a crack at a more balanced form of this in the Wrath era Arcane tree. You can cast Arcane Barrage on the run, but it only does full damage when you’ve got Arcane blast stacks. I’ve found it much more fun than the other mage specs.

  14. As was mentioned — you can cast while moving in Vanguard, you just move at a walk while doing so. Makes it so you can kite at a spellcaster, not just as a ranger, so it works pretty well.

    In EQ2 the 2 bard classes are “hybrid” melee/casters and for a long time it was kinda weird. You could always moves while doing the casting moves, but with the spells you could move while casting some, but not others. There were enough complaints made that moving while casting was rather recently enabled for all the bard spells as well. But they can’t move while using their special bow attacks — those get interrupted by movement. Go figure.

    For all the other EQ2 classes any spell that doesn’t have a duration was recently enabled to be cast on the move. Those spells are buffs and it was always a pain after a wipe to have to stand around the respawn point buffing, so now you can cast them while on the run back to where you wiped. That’s kinda nice.

    You still can’t cast any combat or heal spells while moving on any class other than a bard, though :(

  15. I messed up in prior post — should read bards could always move while doing the melee combat arts, not “casting moves.” Sorry.

  16. I think it was originally designed to stop players from just kiting mobs and nuking them as they run without ever being attacked. I guess the convention stuck. Still, I could imagine caster classes being incredibly overpowered if they could cast whilst they run. Imagine being a melee class trying to cast someone running away and hurling fireballs at you! Ouch.

  17. Great point! I too have long wondered about why this rule exists. At least in WoW most casters have at least one insta-cast spell that they can cast while moving.

  18. Vanguard lets casters move, and it makes a huge difference. As another poster mentioned, movement is slowed while casting, which limits the ability to kite.

    It’s too bad Vanguard doesn’t get more attention, because it has some really nice features.

  19. I play a witch hunter in WAR, which is not really a caster but still I like use the pistol shot on the run. RvR fight would really suck if I had to stand still in order to use the gun.

  20. It’s mostly to prevent glass cannons from kiting, often ranged attack classes like ranger in FFXI suffer the same penalty. Also it balances out the ability for those classes usually to escape aoe range, and makes positioning important.

    There are a lot of conventions, my most hated is dual wield. It’s not like ambidexterity is a common trait or you can pickup easy, and I remember some games using offhand penalties to make it more realistic.

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