Author Topic: How to adjust game balance for new and old players?  (Read 3152 times)

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Dweller admin

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How to adjust game balance for new and old players?
« on: October 02, 2012, 08:13:29 AM »
As I posted in the "I won thread" I have received two victory posts by e-mail, both of which featured melee wizards with no focus on spellcasting. Winning with a wizard become a warrior should be much harder than it is. Here's my design goals for the three classes:

WARRIOR
The Warrior should be the choice for a new player. You rarely need to bother with ranged combat and can thus stay away from the targeting mode. The Warrior should also be about brute force and reward full on melee combat.

RANGER
I want the Ranger to be about swift attacks from a distance, possibly combined with hit and run poisoning attacks using light melee weapons.

WIZARD
The Wizard should be a glass cannon with devastating magic attacks and a big fear of being caught in melee range of a monster.

It should not be harder for an experienced player to win with the Ranger and Wizard than with the Warrior. Choosing the Ranger or Wizard should be about choosing a more varied and challenging playstyle than the full on melee of the Warrior.


So where's Dweller now if we compare with my design goals?

WARRIOR
I feel that this class is closest to my goal. I'm not sure if the class needs to be changed much. I do like the "Special abilities for Warriors" discussion but it should maybe not be included in the basic warrior. I could envision an Advanced Mode during character creation that reveals either specialized subclasses (Barbarian, Blade Master etc for the Warrior, Archer, Trapper, Marksman etc for the Ranger and finally Elementalist, Necromance etc for thew Wizard) or simply gives the three basic classes more on-use and passive abilities.
Possible adjustments: None

RANGER
I'm not sure here. Maybe the Speed stat's effect on how long an action takes to perform need to be reduced slightly? I think the Ranger becomes overpowered with high speed.
Possible adjustments: Reduce effectiveness of high speed. Reduce effectiveness of bows and crossbows. Increase time it takes to use missile weapons (maybe 50% more than it takes to move). Adjust how often stats (specifically speed) can be increase on level-up

WIZARD
This class is overpowered. You have a lot of choices to deal with both single enemies and packs. Spells do a lot of damage.
Possible adjustments: Increase cost of spell casting. Increase time it takes to regain mana (now it increases by one each turn). Increase spellcasting time. Decrease damage done by spells. Adjust how often stats (specifically magic) can be increase on level-up. Reduce starting HP. Do not increase HP by one on every level-up.


I'm eager to hear your thoughts on all of this. Do you agree with what I've written or do you have another view on the difficulty of the game and the three classes?

Mateusz P-G

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Re: How to adjust game balance for new and old players?
« Reply #1 on: October 02, 2012, 12:38:55 PM »
The best fixes for me:

- Descrease the impact of Speed stat on actions' "time cost".
This will make Ranger far less overpowered. Right now I fell
like there's no penalty for using a Crossbow, because with 50+
Speed I can shoot it like a machine gun, and since it deals 2
damage rolls and applies stun, this is naturally the best basic
weapon possible. Only thing that could beat a crossbow is
a Recurve Bow of Concussion, because it would have better
attack speed while keeping all the extra stuff for a mere cost
of 2-3 less damage.
This should also rule out melee Rangers.

- Improve the scaling of Defence.
Warrior's best asset is his ability to use heavy armor and easily
breach 50 Defence, while other classes will be about 20 points
lower. This difference should be more "visible" when it comes
to receiving damage.
This should make melee more scary for both ranged classes.

- Improve the scaling of Attack on weapons.
Make damage less reliant on Attack of a character and more on
Attack of a weapon in use, this way one would really notice the
difference between a Staff and a Great Axe or Shortbow and
Recurve Bow, etc.

- Significantly lower the spells' damage scaling but introduce
more variety in spells' base damage.
Right now, a simple firebolt can sometimes deal 50 damage and
easily do around 30 on average for high level Wizard. This is a
bit too much. I guess, instead of tweaking the costs, more varied
base damage should be introduced for different spells. Say a
Book of Flames is basicly a much more mana-expensive version
of Charred Book of Fire with a negligibly small chance to hit some
other target. Instead of this, make it deal twice the damage and
introduce a cap of say 15 damage for the basic fire spell.
Right now a Wizard can keep his first book for entire game and
suffer no consequences as the damage scales too well.
« Last Edit: October 02, 2012, 10:12:54 PM by Mateusz P-G »
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Dweller admin

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Re: How to adjust game balance for new and old players?
« Reply #2 on: October 03, 2012, 12:53:32 AM »
Thank you for the great feedback. Some of the suggestions have been included in 1.22.8. Spell damage is mostly left unchanged. I'll get to that in the next version.

gelgonen

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Re: How to adjust game balance for new and old players?
« Reply #3 on: October 03, 2012, 02:04:03 AM »
first off, i like your class design plans. gameplay should be different with different classes.

but its not about melee mages. i would recommend not to concentrate on nerfing wrong class use. its besides the point. if the difficulty was higher in general, using wrong equipment just wouldnt work out, but regular gameplay would be more of a challenge. if you just prevent melee mages the game itself hasnt changed one bit. not that your plans neccesarily sound so, just sayin.

what makes melee mages so easy is that after the first few levels youre swimming in epics and hitpoints. playing a melee mage was hard at start, i died a few times, then it was just right for a few levels, and in the last half it was just easy. i stood there with the goblin king in a horde of mobs, slightly annoyed that i didnt move forward very fast because he spawns em, and i didnt have a scratch. the meaning of this is that the game difficulty doesnt scale to the level. instead of going hard to pisseasy a better curve would be medium -> hard -> medium (munchkinned).

so id say
- higher overall difficulty
- less possible munchkining
- a higher variance in enemy difficulty (elites?) to teach players a bit of fear now and then
- nerf hitpoints per level a bit or make high health necessary? (my mage ended up with 100 hitpoints, i couldve run around naked)

and that would stretch the content as well, which is important because the last half of the levels just flies by when youre overequipped. and thats a shame as the new design of the levels is good.

JimmyMike

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Re: How to adjust game balance for new and old players?
« Reply #4 on: October 03, 2012, 08:53:07 PM »
Here are a few thoughts:

I'm not sure whether or not this is really true, but it seems to me that potions are a bit too easy to come by; It's very possible to stock up on potions and never have to return to the surface except to sell excess items, which then give you loads more money to buy more potions. I don't think I ever used the services of the healer once in my ranger runthrough. Whether the solution is to make money harder to come by, potions more expensive, or even limit the amount of potions a player can hold in their inventory, I'm not certain.

I also think that named enemies could be much tougher, echoing gelgonen's thought that they would really make a player sweat. Then scrolls of teleportation and recall become truly essential and not just convenient. Minibosses could be notched up as well.

Extending the branches to more levels that significantly increased in difficulty might be interesting as well, and make the branches seem like more of a proper excursion, rather than a momentary diversion. Two levels was about the time I was really getting into each of them and their uniqueness, and then they were done.

I've always been glad that you didn't include food or torches, as they seemed like "built-in fake difficulty" and were more annoying than anything else; at the same time, there's something to be said about making it difficult to just wander around and endlessly kill enemies without having to manage some sort of resource. Breakable/deteriorating weapons is another commonly used vehicle but is also potentially frustrating. Grinding should always be enticing for the fact that it would make further levels more manageable, but never easy. I do wonder if it would be a good idea to make monsters that are a certain number of levels beneath the player's level not give experience, or just 1 point; this is admittedly a dangerous idea, because it has the possibility to really be annoying, but that's almost what scrolls of recall are for (to avoid having to wade through hordes of enemies that don't give enough experience to make killing them feel worthwhile).

Certainly going deeper than ten levels and having the dungeon increase further in difficulty would be effective.

As far as the classes, I don't think I ever once died as a Ranger because I could always pick enemies off before they had a chance to do me any significant damage. I think that the endless arrows is fun, but is really to blame for this. I like having to manage my consumption of spell points as a wizard, and wonder if a similar concept can be applied to the ranger; perhaps you can only get off so many shots at a time before having to walk around "scrounging for arrows" (similar to having to walk around/pass turns to regenerate mana points). Then you can attack from far away, but not constantly and will then be forced to sneak around between enemies, avoiding large groups, and balance softening up enemies with ranged attacks and finishing them with melee attacks. This also makes the stronger arrows much more attractive/precious, because they offer the benefit of higher damage and status effects and the player can't simply fire away with the weaker arrows forever.

Sewerdweller

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Re: How to adjust game balance for new and old players?
« Reply #5 on: October 03, 2012, 09:42:29 PM »
Make all "bottomless" quivers have a recharge rate (like Mana)  - 1 arrow every 2 - 3 turns. higher your level the more arrows in your quiver say start with 5 -max out at 15-20 -if you play smart and use the occasional melee/wand attack you should not run out very often -just enough to keep an eye on it. just make sure there is a "last arrow" warning before you fire the last arrow in the quiver. -Warrior should also get tired of bashing -maybe as he runs low he "is slowed" and must rest (moving should count as a partial rest (50% of normal recovery per turn)  compared to true rest (100%) or taking a potion, opening door, opening chest, picking up item (75%).

Mateusz P-G

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Re: How to adjust game balance for new and old players?
« Reply #6 on: October 03, 2012, 09:43:37 PM »
I was doing a breakdown of "why are ranged classes so OP" and wanted
to share one of the major thoughts:

What makes them so OP is that they can freely invest into their most desired
stat (Attack whenether possible, otherwise Speed for Ranger and Speed plus
Magic for a Wizard) without fear of getting owned in melee because they will
always have nice HP pool anyway! Average level of players when finishing
the game is constantly incrreasing (new branches, summoning mobs), and so
is the amount of HPs from level-ups.

How about removing those? This will quickly teach all glass-cannons respect.
A nice side-effect is how the demand for +HP Artifacts should then increase.

This might be also coupled with tweaking the starting HPs like say:
- 25 for Warrior
- 18 for Ranger
- 15 for Wizard
so that they "feel" fragile.
« Last Edit: October 03, 2012, 09:46:50 PM by Mateusz P-G »
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Dweller admin

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Re: How to adjust game balance for new and old players?
« Reply #7 on: October 07, 2012, 08:55:19 PM »
I'm currently experimenting with a version with no HP and Mana gain on level up. HP levels of the three classes are adjusted according to Mateusz suggestion and Energy/Mana (+3) is given as an option on level up. I like the challenge, but I'm afraid it's too hard for new players.

Mateusz P-G

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Re: How to adjust game balance for new and old players?
« Reply #8 on: October 07, 2012, 09:21:34 PM »
Perhaps change it to +4  Energy/HP per level so that the player doesn't
suffer such a big loss on other stats if he decides to upgrade these less
frequently?

With 30-40 levels of +1 HPs with the current system, it only means losing
about 10-13 character points allocated elswhere than the HP ith the new
one. That's not really anyhow close to "hard" considering how much more
points will be gained thru Potions (of Change in particular) and +stat items'
bonuses.

Wizards and Rangers will at last have to actually choose what to upgrade.
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