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Difficulty after 1.1 - Game is still too easy

Balance PoTD

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#81
Takkik

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I think that they should implement more radical level scaling as game progress.

 

Easier Port Maje is not big deal. Player has no gear, no abillities, no synergy yet. First island could be easy. Challenge is for late game.

But with levels player  gain: Legendary Gear, Build comes together, Party synergy, consumables

 

Maybe every 4 levels enemies should get bonus level.

Or each enemy level should grant a bit more health, acc, defense than normally.

 

 

 

 

In Baldur's Gate 2, the devs give enemy some undroppable gears, that's dramatically increase their power. Like an undroppable +5 longbow which shot dispeling/slaying arrows. These undroppable equipment is a smart and easy-to-implement method to increase enemy power. Don't need to code an extra monster template, just give some elite enemy some strong gears to make them special and powerful.

 

And the tactics mod make the 'cheat' even further, all mages are prebuffed before battle to prevent them from being killed by alpha-strikes. Some health lock to prevent instant death and etc. Even it's a cheat, it was very fun and challenging mod.

 

Personnaly I hate undroppable gears. I prefer the you get what you see. The problem is when they nerf abilities and items, that nerf enemies too. But if enemies where smart enough they could use all the abilities at their disposal (I don't know if enemies use bombs, scrolls etc... could be a way to give them more power.) When you see the party AI, they need to design some specific group AI for each encounter (or template) with the same tool. Time consuming but it would give you the feeling of enemies using team tactics. You could create groups with a personnality.

 

About prebuff, that an issue with the spell system that could perhaps be fixed. You've already have the lifeguard spell you can use out of combat. They could design/redesign some spells that don't have a duration, can be casted out of combat and fire up with certain condition (blooded, hit etc...), they just need to make it these spells 'reserve' a spell slot that can't be recuperated until the spell is used/dispelled. So your casters and enemies caster could get some precast spells before combat start.

 

 

I mean yeah I agree with you, a good AI is better, but a smarter AI need a better AI programmer, which might be hard to get :)

 

 

Like evilcat said, the problem is the player optimise his party, use combo/synergies vs encounter that rely on brute force. As you progress you need to face encounters that use 'dirty' tactics, synergies etc... When you design a group of bandits, mercenaries etc... you need to design it as a group that work together, that will use some tactics and try to react to player own tactics.

 

All the tools are here, design NPC/monsters with interesting set of abilities/equipments, design AI scripts (they must have something similar to the ai party system for NPC) and brute force: use their telemetry data and all the builds players create and design their encounter (composition & AI) to counter them instead of nerfing player buffind enemies.

 

Of course it's easier to say and it's a processus that need time.

 

But I hate artificial difficulty : give enemies buffs like armor/defense/accuracy. You can't make all encounters balanced for every build



#82
Shadenuat

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Personnaly I hate undroppable gears. I prefer the you get what you see.

Doesn't matter what you hate; full drops destroy any economy developer would ever try to make; hence your 25 superb naga bows selling for 100k.

 

Now replace these superb bows with bows with extra fire damage/fire aoe and naga loot with some scales, and enemies are instantly better (you already can't cluster party against them) and economy doesn't collapse.

 

As for prebuffs, that would require more expansive magic system and removal of 3d level "supress all" spell. I am pretty sure that both layers of magic defences and prebuffs are things Josh was always adamantly against though. And giving them to only enemies would mean very asymmetric and less "fair" gameplay; IE games had that for everyone (party had upper hand when it came to buffs of course, although modders fixed it somewhat).


Edited by Shadenuat, 11 June 2018 - 04:33 AM.

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#83
Gregorovitch

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In Baldur's Gate 2, the devs give enemy some undroppable gears, that's dramatically increase their power. Like an undroppable +5 longbow which shot dispeling/slaying arrows. These undroppable equipment is a smart and easy-to-implement method to increase enemy power. Don't need to code an extra monster template, just give some elite enemy some strong gears to make them special and powerful.

 

And the tactics mod make the 'cheat' even further, all mages are prebuffed before battle to prevent them from being killed by alpha-strikes. Some health lock to prevent instant death and etc. Even it's a cheat, it was very fun and challenging mod.

 

Personnaly I hate undroppable gears. I prefer the you get what you see. The problem is when they nerf abilities and items, that nerf enemies too. But if enemies where smart enough they could use all the abilities at their disposal (I don't know if enemies use bombs, scrolls etc... could be a way to give them more power.) When you see the party AI, they need to design some specific group AI for each encounter (or template) with the same tool. Time consuming but it would give you the feeling of enemies using team tactics. You could create groups with a personnality.

 

About prebuff, that an issue with the spell system that could perhaps be fixed. You've already have the lifeguard spell you can use out of combat. They could design/redesign some spells that don't have a duration, can be casted out of combat and fire up with certain condition (blooded, hit etc...), they just need to make it these spells 'reserve' a spell slot that can't be recuperated until the spell is used/dispelled. So your casters and enemies caster could get some precast spells before combat start.

 

 

I mean yeah I agree with you, a good AI is better, but a smarter AI need a better AI programmer, which might be hard to get :)

 

 

I think the fundamental problem with traditional game AI (more accurately called Programmed Opponent really) programming is that you have to program all the moves and conditions in advance. So good players can always observe what you've programmed the AI to do and develop unassailable counters to it. The AI can't counter the counter. This is a gigantic advantage to the player.

 

Now Google/Deep Mind Alpha Zero (the Go/Chess champion AI) could undoubtedly learn to make short work of even the very best players in the world and would be able to adapt on the fly to whatever they tried to do to beat it. The weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth of bruised and bloodied veteran players on the boards would be something to behold for sure. There'd still be penty of threads complaining about difficulty, just not the same sort of complaints.

 

The problem is nueral networks (of the sort that can adapt on the fly, not just repeat a set task) need a lot of machine resources to run. They run much better on GPUs than CPUs (because they use many simple calculations in parallel so a math matrix is ideal). But of course our GPUs are busy running the graphics, so....

 

If everybody had a second GPU installed (possibly even a cheap fairly low powered one) then an Alpha Zero style AI might be a runner. But we should be carefull perhaps what we wish for.


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#84
Shadenuat

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You can create a fairly believable AI by creating multiple scripts. That's what SCS mod did I believe - it created a reasonably effective script for enchanter wizard, evoker wizard, conjurer; and they would prefer spells these types of casters you think would use.

 

In PoE you often see 3 similar rogues rushing to your lowest hp member to do the ability>finishing strike combo. I mean, it is a reasonable tactic and players also do things like that, but there can be more rogue types I think - brawlers, rogues/illusionists etc. Not to mention that enemy AI probably should shuffle some of it's scripts to get a level of unpredictability.


Edited by Shadenuat, 11 June 2018 - 06:14 AM.


#85
OrpheusM

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I thought people were reporting that the game is difficult enough now in POTD with scaling turned on? I'm finding it pretty challenging. The op says it's all about leveling being too quick and accuracy, but if the enemies are scaling along with you, surely that makes up for it?

 

So far this is my experience. Not sure what other people are doing, but I've been playing with level scaling: all, up only, and 1.1 PotD is a decent challenge.

 

[....]

 

I'm on the same boat. It seems what if you exploit/cheese tough encounters and buy 4 min/maxed mercs at the start the game is "still to easy". I'd rather have the game balanced for the rest of the players tbh, than spend developer time for an ultra masochist mode where you have to break the game in order to progress. 

 

Oh and btw modding in difficulty doesn't count, it has to be in the vanilla game. Rules are rules.



#86
evilcat

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I dont want smarter AI. I think it would be waste of resources, and nobody will really spot the difference. Too much complexity, and asymetry.

AI does legal moves. Do not loop on pathway. Brute difficulty (HP 200%) works just fine.

Maybe OE could somehow access player AI scripts. "Drop fireball upon bunch of enemies" is nto AlphaGo brainchild, but it works well enought.

Some enemies could have Assasin script, like jumping to our casters and doing bad things to them.

Some enemies could be stupid on purpose, or be very specific in their choices. Like boars just run in charge. Or some wizards really liking cold spells.


Edited by evilcat, 11 June 2018 - 07:05 AM.


#87
Shadenuat

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I'm on the same boat. It seems what if you exploit/cheese tough encounters and buy 4 min/maxed mercs at the start the game is "still to easy".

pick 1

- poe stats don't matter

- min maxed mercs

 

Also, everyone said that prologue is most difficult part of the game, multiple times. My whole op post is basically dedicated to the issue of game being difficult in the beginning and then getting easier and easier.


Edited by Shadenuat, 11 June 2018 - 06:42 AM.


#88
Fardragon

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I'm pretty sure the enemies in Deadfire could be made more effective without having to hook up a supercomputer...


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#89
Verde

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Veteran feels just about right. I'm happy with the changes.

#90
Takkik

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I'm pretty sure the enemies in Deadfire could be made more effective without having to hook up a supercomputer...

 

Yeah, it's not a question of 'smarter' AI, but more challenging scripts. Get the feeling each enemy have a generic AI and nothing more. With all the selection of abilities, gears etc... you could create lot of behavior variations. If the enemy was using same tactics players use, and similar builds (that you can automate), you'll have a different difficulty.

 

It's not complexe AI programming, it's just obsidian need to put someone behind each encounter, tweaking/designing the enemies and their AI to create an interesting challenge like if they were tweeking a player party.



#91
Tigranes

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I'm on the same boat. It seems what if you exploit/cheese tough encounters and buy 4 min/maxed mercs at the start the game is "still to easy". I'd rather have the game balanced for the rest of the players tbh, than spend developer time for an ultra masochist mode where you have to break the game in order to progress. 

 

Oh and btw modding in difficulty doesn't count, it has to be in the vanilla game. Rules are rules.

 

 

Of course. When we're talking about POTD being too easy, we're talking about (1) no cheats, including that berath stuff, (2) no mercs, (3) no painstaking cheesing. You can just play with story NPCs without any grand minmax plan for items or abilities, and the game will still experience a massive drop in difficulty after level 12. You seem to be assuming stuff that isn't true.

 

Ironically, early game is now hard enough, and can even be brutal for, say, solo playthroughs. So some people play up to level 6 and think this is good or this is too hard. The real issue is how challenge disappears after ~12.


Edited by Tigranes, 11 June 2018 - 07:28 AM.

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#92
tonpix

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I've finished poe1+wm few days ago, and I've realized that despite long time patching over years, to 3.7 version (!), it still had easy potd endgame, I was mostly autoattacking + sometimes few buff spells. This has made me thinking that it likely will happen similiar to deadfire, even more likely due to open world nature of sequel, which makes balancing more difficult.

 

So I've came to conclusion I need to use difficulty tweak mod, probably few mods and possibly some tweaks to keep midgame/endgame somewhat clicky.

 

Luckily there are some good mods for that on Nexus.



#93
kingmilkbags

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What type of character can solo 8 enemies

You don't have to fight them all at once. As for elaborating, there's more text to thread than the thread title.

 

 

 

I see. What about the drake fight at the digsite entrance, can you solo that also? Or you found that easy with 3 player party at lvl 2-5 in PotD and all upwards scaling?

 

Not being passive aggressive btw, genuinely interested because people talk like you have to barely try when it takes me hours of reloading only to end up disabling scaling in the end.

 

 

Ciphers - Whisper of Treason, helps tremendously on the Gorecci Street fight and all many-mob encounters early on

 

Druids - Charm Beast, makes the fights at the dig site much easier

 

Wizards - Chill Fog, targeted AOE that constantly tries to reapply Blind, best early lvl spell hands down

 

All Classes - Explosives, chain a few stun bombs to keep the damage manageable until you can pick off a few



#94
Shadenuat

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For beginning of the game and that street in particular, you can also just use old IE trick and arm your whole party with longbows. Low level enemies have less health than higher level ones, so killing 1-2 enemies like wizard and dude with arquebus before AI can do anything is quite easy.



#95
whiskiz

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Saw this coming.

 

That's why im waiting a good 6 months after release before even thinking about buying this, when it's actually balanced and finished properly.

 

One patch changes nothing, you need to wait months.

 

Think of the patch as a "start" on the difficulty/balancing, not as a magical "entire game perfectly balanced a couple weeks after release" as that is just wishful thinking sadly, in this day and age.

 

Not only is it wishful thinking to get a properly balanced, properly finished game on release in this day and age, but for months afterward.

 

Give it another couple months at least.


Edited by whiskiz, 11 June 2018 - 07:13 PM.


#96
Crucis

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For what it's worth, I think that this (lack of) difficulty issue is also related to the open world nature of the game.  I don't think that this is in dispute.

 

While I think that it's fairly obvious that an overly linear game (like IWD2) is less appealing for replayability, even if it is easier for programmers to control enemy difficulty, I wonder if it would be possible to come up with a middle ground between completely open and totally linear.

 

Think of it this way.  Say that the story took place in 3 different large areas, each in succession.  Once you completed area A and moved to area B, you could not return to area A.  And so on.  But when I say "area", don't think of a single little map.  Think of it as a large area like Deadfire, then go to Valia, and then to Rauatai (just to use 3 examples).  And within each of those large areas, the developers could have an easier time of scaling the difficulty, because they'd know that you couldn't be in "Valia" until you'd reached a certain range of levels.  And you couldn't reach "Rauatai" until you've reached an even higher range of levels.  And so on.

 

Do you think that this model would make the setting of difficulty easier for the developers, knowing that you couldn't reach each region until a certain point, a certain range of class levels?



#97
cokane

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For what it's worth, I think that this (lack of) difficulty issue is also related to the open world nature of the game.  I don't think that this is in dispute.

 

While I think that it's fairly obvious that an overly linear game (like IWD2) is less appealing for replayability, even if it is easier for programmers to control enemy difficulty, I wonder if it would be possible to come up with a middle ground between completely open and totally linear.

 

Think of it this way.  Say that the story took place in 3 different large areas, each in succession.  Once you completed area A and moved to area B, you could not return to area A.  And so on.  But when I say "area", don't think of a single little map.  Think of it as a large area like Deadfire, then go to Valia, and then to Rauatai (just to use 3 examples).  And within each of those large areas, the developers could have an easier time of scaling the difficulty, because they'd know that you couldn't be in "Valia" until you'd reached a certain range of levels.  And you couldn't reach "Rauatai" until you've reached an even higher range of levels.  And so on.

 

Do you think that this model would make the setting of difficulty easier for the developers, knowing that you couldn't reach each region until a certain point, a certain range of class levels?

 

You essentially just described the original game, for the most part, with Gilded Vale, Defiance Bay + Dyrford, and then Twin Elms.



#98
Zoso der Goldene

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For what it's worth, I think that this (lack of) difficulty issue is also related to the open world nature of the game.  I don't think that this is in dispute.

 

While I think that it's fairly obvious that an overly linear game (like IWD2) is less appealing for replayability, even if it is easier for programmers to control enemy difficulty, I wonder if it would be possible to come up with a middle ground between completely open and totally linear.

 

Think of it this way.  Say that the story took place in 3 different large areas, each in succession.  Once you completed area A and moved to area B, you could not return to area A.  And so on.  But when I say "area", don't think of a single little map.  Think of it as a large area like Deadfire, then go to Valia, and then to Rauatai (just to use 3 examples).  And within each of those large areas, the developers could have an easier time of scaling the difficulty, because they'd know that you couldn't be in "Valia" until you'd reached a certain range of levels.  And you couldn't reach "Rauatai" until you've reached an even higher range of levels.  And so on.

 

Do you think that this model would make the setting of difficulty easier for the developers, knowing that you couldn't reach each region until a certain point, a certain range of class levels?

 

You essentially just described the original game, for the most part, with Gilded Vale, Defiance Bay + Dyrford, and then Twin Elms.

 

And still, the range of levels in the middle or end sections are huge. E.g. you could get to Dyrford as early as level 4 (maybe even 3, haven't really tried yet, but it's not inconceivable), or you could get there after doing all of Defiance Bay, basically level 7 or 8. DLCs further complicate matters, especially when they can be played in parallel with the OC.

 

The only real solution I see involves level scaling to some extent, but that's a lot trickier to get right than statically designed encounters.


Edited by Zoso der Goldene, 12 June 2018 - 01:31 AM.


#99
KDubya

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To get past the potential level differences of 4 or 8 you'd need to revamp what levels get you. Make the boost from gaining  a level to half of what it currently is as a good start and then tune as needed.

 

The downfall of PoE and DeadFire is that the best way to overcome any challenging fight is to come back with another level under you belt. Getting most of your accuracy, defense and health from leveling is just bad and trivialized your actual build.



#100
DozingDragon

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High level scaling still needs some work, but I also think we might get some more tweaks to increase difficulty via the upcoming “Magran’s Fires” setting.

Things I would like to eventually see when all is said and done:

(1) Major buffs to the “unique” encounters in the game via increased attributes, tweaks to AI to highlight special abilities, and either equipping enemies with more nondroppable equipment or custom bonuses to bring some parity with a fully equipped party. In particular, I still think certain unique spellcasters need a boost, as well as some of the large unique creatures you may optionally fight. Peeling back multiple layers of concentration should probably be a must for some of the unique bosses scattered through the game.

(2) Tuning select encounters (bounties?) to have NPCs deploy novel tactics built around usage of consumables, resting bonuses, and/or synergies between abilities. I.e., enemy party lead by a drug using cipher, who has consumed a captain’s banquet, and who has at least two melee supporters that are using the club modal to lower the will defenses of the party while another NPC throws stun bombs.

(3) General AI adjustments, such as programming the default enemy AI packages to prioritize actions that cause inflictions and to use abilities to nullify engagement to focus fire on a character suffering from an affliction or other malus. Deadfire has some great systems, but right now it feels like the AI just doesn’t take full advantage of them.

Of course, these are just my hopes based on my subjective experience with Deadfire. After all, it is very possible the game is already doing some of these things and I simply did not notice.





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