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Raz's Perspective: A Dissertation on Engagement mechanics


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Poll: Engagement Mechanics (57 member(s) have cast votes)

Do you believe this engagement system should be implemented into Pillars of Eternity?

  1. Yes (26 votes [45.61%])

    Percentage of vote: 45.61%

  2. No (31 votes [54.39%])

    Percentage of vote: 54.39%

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#41
Shevek

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The need for trash encounters is indeed debatable. I like them but I understand why you dont. They were, however, prolific in 90s/early 2000s era rpgs (both the IE games and even the Fallouts, etc). Even ToEE had trash random encounters.

#42
Captain Shrek

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Did you like them?

 

Also, if at all someone feels obliged to have them, can't there be a dedicated dungeon crawl area in the game? Like there is one in the PoE game, this 13 level thing. So anyone two bloodthirsty can make a bee line for that place. 



#43
Shevek

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I prefer the dungeon crawl spaces to have less trash and more tier 2/tier 3 encounters like Durlag's Tower and Watcher's Keep. Those all had a few trash fights but were mostly harder than the bears, gibberlings, bandits and gnolls populating the world outside. That makes them were you go for the tough set piece stuff and insures people of all skill levels can happily follow the critical path while wading through many tier 1 encounters (and occaisonal tier 2/3). Thats pretty much how the IE games did it anyways. You wanted a challenge, you went to go butcher a dragon or whatever.

 

Edit: That isn't to say that the percentage of tier 1 encounters shouldn't drastically be reduced as the difficulty level increases, btw. This is what PoE is trying to do with the adding of difficult enemies by difficulty I think.

 

Edit 2: If I am missing some of what you are saying, my apologies. I am ninja posting from work. So I am only quickly reading through forum posts.


Edited by Shevek, 02 December 2014 - 01:57 PM.


#44
Captain Shrek

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I am really surprised that people don't get tired of this.

 

I mean really, think about it. In the IE games the toughest battles *were* set pieces where enemies had specific tactical advantages. Unfortunately these were limited to spellcasting. So the most interesting battles were against mages who would hide behind summons or guards and cast devastating spells from their vantage points. Would you not rather have more of these set pieces?

 

I am also highly disturbed by the assertion that the 'tier 1'  as you call it is somehow essential in the critical path. Can you elaborate on that? or am I getting you wrong? 

 

I have also objected in the past to the idea, that ALL builds need to succeed. Why? If you really screw up a particular class concept, i.e. give the fighters in PoE ranged weapons and send the chanter in melee, should that not be discouraged? Or is it necessary to still make it succeed?

 

If you really want an unfettered class, why have a class at all? Class-less systems are so much fun! Just go for them! But this insistence that all skill levels should be able to finish the critical path is sure to be the biggest spanner in the works for getting a good encounter design. Such a criterion will practically ensure that the critical path encounters are basically NOT set pieces but rather just a bunch of enemies thrown together so that they can be defeated by anybody.  

 

There are alternatives to this: During character creation itself the game can emphasize that certain classes need certain skills. And then still provide a variety by allowing alternative skills, all of which are good. 


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#45
Shevek

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Well, lol, this would be a separate discussion and I would hate to derail the thread over it. I can see what you are saying but, honestly, even old PnP modules have trash encounters in them. We can argue over their value, I guess. I enjoy them but I totally respect that you don't.


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#46
Sensuki

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I think both the Icewind Dale games proved that you can make good encounters from 'trash' enemies.
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#47
Shevek

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Thats true. The other day I played up through the Vale of Shadows up to the temple of the Forgotten God in IWD:EE just to remember the early game a bit more (on highest difficulty). I had an Inquistor, an un-nerfed Cleric/Ranger, a Gnomish Fighter/Thief (Helm of Trusted Defender!), an Archer and a Cleric/Illusionist. It was pretty much select all attack but I did get into some dicey situations early on. I single pulled once in a while and at others I just went in. The game loved to throw numbers at you. Many many skeletons, goblins, etc. Still, they still felt like trash encounters to me. I like them though.



#48
ISC

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Isn't there also a function of trash mobs in terms of differentiating the power of different enemies as well as of different player levels? What I mean is that if you dispatch 3 heaps of orcs before you get to that difficult mage, the mage will feel more powerful and special, and perhaps meeting 4 mages along a random corridor would get tiresome as well? The other point is that players may feel increasingly powerful as the mobs they struggled with at level 1 are easily crushed at level 5, and so on. This does of course not say anything about a good amount or ratio of trash mobs, but still, its a somewhat meaningful function with them.


Edited by ISC, 02 December 2014 - 03:24 PM.

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#49
Astraeus

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I feel that trash mobs play an important role in a number of ways, one of the most important of which is in demonstrating character power progression.

 

At the start of the game, one or two low level monsters should pose a challenge to your character, yet a few levels in, after significant character and story development, the PC will be facing tougher, higher level foes yet should be given plenty of opportunities to massacre the same low level mooks who once posed such a threat and let the PC's progression in the world be demonstrably real. If trash mobs are removed, then progression becomes an illusion, a treadmill, where all that changes are the names and graphics of the PCs opponents and the relative challenge of PCs vs foe remains constant.

 

The fact is, I want my PC to be a badarse who can slaughter swathes of lesser opponents even as he remains challenged by higher level enemies. It all depends on how intelligently encounters are designed though (and I feel Obsidian is brilliant at encounter design, eprsonally). If all you're doing is engaging in intermittent meaningless slaughters or randomly placed trash mobs, that's simply a chore, and lazy design to try and add something into an otherwise uninteresting or empty, low gameplay density, most likely wilderness area. I know some people loved it, but that's one of the reasons I disliked much of BG1, where I found myself simply clearing fog of war out of my completionist instincts and barely noticing the trash mobs sprinkled through them, as I hoped to find something that was actually significant or interesting...

 

I also feel that trash mobs can contribute positively to encounter design that includes higher level opponents. They can enhance the apparent scale of a battle in a way that multiplying non-trash mobs can't (you'd simply make the battle impossible for the PC if you fill the screen with tough enemies), and add a tactical element in that in numbers, even trash mobs should pose some minor threat, if not to the PCs health then at least tactically in terms of blocking the path to ranged enemies and the like, and the PC needs to decide whether to spend any effort to clear them from the battlefield, or to ignore them and focus on the more significant threats.



#50
Shevek

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I want to respond to this:

"a tanking Fighter being absolutely mandatory at this point"

No its not. I ran with a dps fighter, paladin, melee chanter, ranged rogue, cipher and a priest. I did not need a single shield or defender stance to kill everything in the beta.

Edited by Shevek, 02 December 2014 - 10:41 PM.


#51
Sensuki

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It was mandatory up until v301, which was an easy patch. In v333 you could do multiple Chanters very well. Now that Paladins have been fixed they are viable too.

Fighters are the best at it, but you can run a Chanter and a Paladin pretty well. They can take some hits, INT (+Deflection and AoE) is perfect for them and their auras are very very strong, and provide a lot of offensive capability.

Monks can also do it, but I feel that since the advancement change, they don't have enough abilities to spend wounds and thus aren't as good at tanking, but rather good at single-target DPS. I use my abilities as soon as I have enough Wounds, but there's always more Wounds coming in than what I'm putting out, even in armor.

Barbarians though, they are NOT good at tanking.

Edited by Sensuki, 02 December 2014 - 10:53 PM.

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#52
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If you call this a dissertation you're probably not a real doctor. shifty.gif
-snip-

 
My engagement limit section is indeed proposed in order to allow the player a little more freedom of movement to do things but it does not completely nullify the engagement system entirely.  Both you the player and enemies mobs do not necessarily have to have an engagement limit of only 1.  It might be a limit of 2 or 3 hell it might even be 4 but it does allow you to "tie up" and interact with a set of mobs.  The neat thing is it gave would give the engagement limit system a little more "meat" to it.  Things like Hold the Line might actually be a viable talent for your off tank (pardon the mmo expression) to pick up.  Being able to hold off 5 units in melee between a fighter in defender mode and an off tank with Hold the line between the pair might be a good example to providing a safe or safer melee environment for otherwise squishy characters.  Sometimes it might only hold off a total of 2 enemies it really depends.  It does however, give the player more options.  I might be alone here but talents being more useful and more player options is something I will always consider a good thing.
 
If you notice the 2 examples I gave involving null-engage were both hobble abilities.  Currently, hobble abilities function as a relatively minor defense debuff, something that can proc a sneak attack and a movement penalty that doesn't matter after engagement.  Null-engage would make hobble abilities movement penalty actually matter.  If there was a big nasty spider all over your wizard eating his face off hitting it with a Crippling Strike would do the equivalent of almost nothing.  I mean sure yea now it moves slower but the minute your wizard moved it would basically be over for him due to the incoming disengagement attack.  So what then is the functional purpose of a hobble?  Is it a debuff only useful during the alpha strike phase of combat?  Even I consider that a little unforgiving and i'm certainly no casual player.  As above, it would change some of the landscape of abilities and spells.  For example, it would make the Wizard movement speed spell much better without adding a disengagement break on the spell itself.
 
 
 

 

Doppelschwert: In part, you misunderstand his idea. There will never be any cycling going on in any easy manner. Also, with such a system in this pretty quick RTwP-CRPG with a full party, all members doing their stuff (some may even be blocked out, knocked out or wiped out), good luck even trying to achieve such easy shifts. In fact, even pulling them off would be more or less fringe behaviour, worthy of an achievement, almost (perhaps on some boss, it could work). original.gif

 
I neither see why cycling through wouldn't be an easy manner in fights with less enemies than party members nor which part of the idea I misunderstood. Care to elaborate whats preventing me from doing this when I go all out with a party of 4 melee characters on a single enemy like the ogre?

 

 
Does the ogre have an engagement limit of 1?  Does he have other abilities he can kill you with?  Does he have friends?  Is it bad that you can use 4 melee characters to do a damn good job of "holding a line"?  I thought people wanted more reasons to use melee characters wink.png.

 

Regarding the first quote, I agree that it wouldn't be pointless to add the denial of engagement to already existing abilities. Making new abilities that can only deny engagement still seems kind of pointless to me, however.

 

Regarding the second quote, I was assuming that the ogre has an engagement limit of 3 or 4 and that he is alone, so I think what I have proposed is viable. Especially if there is an additional chanter with summons, which should have their own nonzero engagement limit as well. I wasn't judging whether it's a good thing or not that you are able to hold the line in this context, but I am remarking that this plays totally different from the way it works now, and that it may work contrary to what is intended.

The way it is now, if the near death guy retreats, the ogre attacks him with an disengagement attack and he probably dies, like he should because every human player would play this way if given the chance. The way your proposal goes, the ogre just spreads the damage around, never killing anyone, and eventually dies, which makes for rather bad AI in my opinion.

 

Even without the change to engagement limit, you could just hobble the ogre with your other suggestion or make some crowd control spells or just heal up your guy and so on and so on. However, I think it is intended that there are not many abilities to ignore the mechanic, so I'm arguing that your proposal is contrary to how the game is supposed to work.

I'm all for player agency and stuff, but if you have so many abilities and ways to ignore the disengagement mechanic, that you basically never have to suffer it if you don't want to, then IMO you might as well just remove it alltogether.


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#53
Rumsteak

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As well intentioned as they are, I usually ignore threads like this and mark them as read, because tl;dr. However it has been recommended on the Casual Gamers Redux thread so I made an exception and gave it a try. Finally finished reading it after falling asleep once in between. :)

 

These are good suggestions Razsius, kudos. My opinion is either engagement should feel very good and natural (thanks to better visual and mechanics such as the ones proposed in this thread) or it should just die. No compromise, because it is an important part of combat.

 

I am also concerned by how engagement should feel good visually. I understand that visual cooldowns would be useful but it may add to visual clutter of combat, so these will need to be added very carefully in order to avoid mass rejection from the players (putting aside the fact that combat is already cluttered with high/low contrast fights on grass and over-the-top VFX, because some of these will be fixed).

 

This is going to be tricky but this is a nice challenge for the devs. As the saying goes, go big or go home. Good luck!


Edited by Rumsteak, 03 December 2014 - 03:14 AM.





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