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Matt516

How to solve the AoE problem while making the INT stat more compelling (and INT characters smarter).

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Hello all. As you probably know, there is currently a problem with area-of-effect abilities and INT - namely that the inability to adjust the AoE of certain abilities can actually be a disadvantage instead of an advantage. With really high INT, you sometimes end up in situations where you are hitting yourself with a negative AoE spell. This disincentivizes INT as an attribute - and disincentivizing an attribute is never a good idea when building RPG systems.

 

Some have proposed a system in which AoE is adjustable. This is a great idea. And it seems obvious that they'll have to implement it at some point if they don't want to completely gimp certain INT builds (fireball that kills the entire party? anyone? :p).

 

But I'd like to go further. What's the point of an INT-based character, anyway? From both a thematic and a mechanical perspective, an INT focused character should be able to tactically control the battlefield through intelligent use of abilities. An adjustable AoE would support this goal from both a thematic and mechanical perspective - but why not give the character (and player) even more choice?

 

I propose a system in which the AoE of abilities is adjustable... but when you increase the AoE, the duration decreases (boo!).... and when you decrease the AoE, the duration increases (what? :o). Basically, there would be a discrete number of distributions (equal to your INT) that you could adjust on the fly (with mouse wheel while targeting, for example). At one end of the spectrum, you are applying your entire INT bonus to increasing the duration, and at the other end of the spectrum you are applying your entire INT bonus to increasing the AoE. Obviously if the ability has no AoE, the duration is just maximum and if the ability has no duration the AoE is still adjustable.

 

This would take the tactics of AoE control abilities to an entirely new level. With a merely adjustable AoE, you're just adjusting the AoE to get the maximum ability coverage without hitting your own people. But with a sliding scale of applying your INT bonus to either AoE OR duration, we've achieved the ultimate in INT character decision-making - a system in which the intelligent character is able to masterfully adjust their abilities to fit the tactical situation, weighing the pros and cons of a battlefield-blanketing minor stun vs an incredibly powerful small area stun (for example). 

 

I've attached a link to a spreadsheet with some more information and the ability to try out some different curves for bonus values (since obviously the numerical values of the bonuses would have to be adjusted if this were implemented). Unfortunately the forum wouldn't let me upload it. :/

 

Link here: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/29325716/Pillars%20of%20Eternity%20INT%20fix.xlsx

Older versions of Excel: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/29325716/Pillars%20of%20Eternity%20INT%20fix.xls

 

Thanks for reading! It would make my day to get a dev response on this (even if it's just "that would be cool but we don't want to do it").

Edited by Matt516
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That's a cool idea.

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"Good thing I don't heal my characters or they'd be really hurt." Is not something I should ever be thinking.

 

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That's a cool idea.

Seconded

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It would help with damaging spells but it really screws with buffs and healing. Right now INT is the best stat for over time area buffs and heals. Splitting those attributes would result into balancing problems. Every short but powerfull area buff would be overpowered if you lengthen its duration but only buff one of your characters. Same with area heals, increasing the radius would make them useless but the other way around makes them OP because you get healed for the whole battle duration. With that system you could buff one of your characters for the whole fight with powerfull buffs and let him single handedly slaughter the enemy group.

 

Yes you could balance it for high INT characters so they cant abuse the system in the way I descriped but it would also make the spells useless for someone with average INT. 

 

Edit: No it would not help with damaging spells because some damage over time spells, especially those that tick only for a short duration would be completly OP with a significant duration buff.

Edited by Mayama

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This is a great idea. It might need to be modified, but I still really like it. I feel like high intelligence should have some other effect other than aoe too...thematically, I think intelligence should have more to it, and should be useful in more contexts.

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This is a great idea. It might need to be modified, but I still really like it. I feel like high intelligence should have some other effect other than aoe too...thematically, I think intelligence should have more to it, and should be useful in more contexts.

It is MORE than AoE its duration. People seem to forget that INT is more powerfull than MIGHT on many spells with a duration.

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It would help with damaging spells but it really screws with buffs and healing. Right now INT is the best stat for over time area buffs and heals. Splitting those attributes would result into balancing problems. Every short but powerfull area buff would be overpowered if you lengthen its duration but only buff one of your characters. Same with area heals, increasing the radius would make them useless but the other way around makes them OP because you get healed for the whole battle duration. With that system you could buff one of your characters for the whole fight with powerfull buffs and let him single handedly slaughter the enemy group.

 

Yes you could balance it for high INT characters so they cant abuse the system in the way I descriped but it would also make the spells useless for someone with average INT. 

 

Edit: No it would not help with damaging spells because some damage over time spells, especially those that tick only for a short duration would be completly OP with a significant duration buff.

 

Not necessarily. The problem you've described is entirely a tuning problem. If the values were adjusted properly, you could still get the same utility out of an X INT character's spells as you do now - just with more options.

 

For example: Right now a 10 INT character gets a 50% increase to duration and AoE. Say you cast a buff with a base duration of 10 s and a base AoE that allows you to hit two (but not 3) of your characters with the 50% increased AoE. You now have buffed 2 characters for 15 s each.

 

Take my system. Say that the values are adjusted such that with 10 INT, you can have the exact same spell - enough AoE to buff 2 characters for 15 s each. But you can ALSO buff 3 characters for 10 s each or 1 character for 30 s. You can have the same spells the current system gives you, but with some additional options as well. More choice. More chances for you to make interesting (and intellectual) decisions about how you cast your spells.

 

Granted, I'm just making those values up - but I hope I've convinced you that your concern, while valid, is not inherently a problem with my system. Rather it's just a matter of tuning the values correctly (which is why I included that spreadsheet btw - so people can play with the bonus curves). Thanks for the feedback! :)

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To answer the questions about an increased duration being OP for DoT spells... if you were going to be able to affect multiple creatures with a DoT, and you increase the duration while decreasing the AoE so you can only hit a few, how is that OP? If the bonus values are tuned correctly, you shouldn't be doing all that much more overall damage (if any). Doubling the damage on a DoT while only hitting half the creatures isn't a net gain for the player, it's just a different tactical use of the same damage.

 

Granted, I am using "value tuning" as kind of a panacea for most concerns - but I wouldn't be doing so if I didn't believe proper tuning couldn't actually solve these problems. The point I was trying to make is that although the numbers would need some tuning, a system like this would be tactically deeper without (hopefully) requiring a whole lot of extra time (assuming they're already planning on an adjustable AoE, which I don't really see how they could do without it).

 

Another potential idea would be tying the duration to the number of characters affected. This could have the potential to make AoE spells really UP against tons of enemies - but again... tuning. There's no reason such a relationship would have to be linear. You could have a really powerful single-target spell, a reasonable power medium AoE spell, and a lowish power high AoE spell that then doesn't decrease further with increased characters affected. I think the concerns about overpoweredness (or underpoweredness, which haven't been raised that I've seen but are every bit as important) are good, but ultimately misplaced because with proper tuning of various values and curves, the power level of almost any system can be made to be balanced.

 

What would be more concerning to me is the increased development time it would take to tune a system like this. From what little I've looked at it and theorycrafted about it, I don't think it would be all that complex to get "right", but then again I'm not a professional game designer so my opinion is of limited value.

Edited by Matt516

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It would help with damaging spells but it really screws with buffs and healing. Right now INT is the best stat for over time area buffs and heals. Splitting those attributes would result into balancing problems. Every short but powerfull area buff would be overpowered if you lengthen its duration but only buff one of your characters. Same with area heals, increasing the radius would make them useless but the other way around makes them OP because you get healed for the whole battle duration. With that system you could buff one of your characters for the whole fight with powerfull buffs and let him single handedly slaughter the enemy group.

 

Yes you could balance it for high INT characters so they cant abuse the system in the way I descriped but it would also make the spells useless for someone with average INT. 

 

Edit: No it would not help with damaging spells because some damage over time spells, especially those that tick only for a short duration would be completly OP with a significant duration buff.

 

Not necessarily. The problem you've described is entirely a tuning problem. If the values were adjusted properly, you could still get the same utility out of an X INT character's spells as you do now - just with more options.

 

For example: Right now a 10 INT character gets a 50% increase to duration and AoE. Say you cast a buff with a base duration of 10 s and a base AoE that allows you to hit two (but not 3) of your characters with the 50% increased AoE. You now have buffed 2 characters for 15 s each.

 

Take my system. Say that the values are adjusted such that with 10 INT, you can have the exact same spell - enough AoE to buff 2 characters for 15 s each. But you can ALSO buff 3 characters for 10 s each or 1 character for 30 s. You can have the same spells the current system gives you, but with some additional options as well. More choice. More chances for you to make interesting (and intellectual) decisions about how you cast your spells.

 

Granted, I'm just making those values up - but I hope I've convinced you that your concern, while valid, is not inherently a problem with my system. Rather it's just a matter of tuning the values correctly (which is why I included that spreadsheet btw - so people can play with the bonus curves). Thanks for the feedback! :)

 

 

It doesnt work like that because you dont need your buffs on everyone in the first place. Lets assume you placed your party correctly, frontline fights the enemy and the backline is save and fires from a distance. In that scenario which is basicaly how every fight goes in the beta most of your area radius is wasted anyway because you only really want to buff your frontline. This means that you would always use a more concentrated form of the spell with a higher duration. 

 

The same applies to damage dealing spells, a small area of effect is actually beneficial in almost any scenario. You basicaly hit two birds with one stone, smaller area AND longer duration is all you want on those spells. The big area is the major balance factor for those spells because it makes them hard to use.

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There would need to be a limit to size or damage, otherwise a wizard could make a super powerful one-person tactical fireball.

 

In other words, single target spells should still be stronger than AoE when used on single targets.

 

 

To answer the questions about an increased duration being OP for DoT spells... if you were going to be able to affect multiple creatures with a DoT, and you increase the duration while decreasing the AoE so you can only hit a few, how is that OP? If the bonus values are tuned correctly, you shouldn't be doing all that much more overall damage. Doubling the damage on a DoT while only hitting half the creatures isn't a net gain for the player, it's just a different tactical use of the same damage.

 

Except that, at present, a huge fireball does exactly the same damage to a single person as it does to multiple persons. This proposed system would allow AoE effects to be great on both single and multiple targets.

 

There has to be some disadvantage (or at least no advantage) to reducing area, because the area itself is both a good and bad thing.

Edited by CatatonicMan
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Why not take a lesson from Dark Souls and make INT like Attunement, AKA higher INT = More casts per rest/encounter?

Edited by Longknife
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As an aside, it seems intuitive to me that Intelligence would naturally impact spells more than Might.  I don't see a lot of folks complaining that Might is currently too weak.  Maybe I'm misunderstanding the issue in this regard.


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I don't really see the problem with the way it is now, it just requires you to be a bit more careful with your AOE and positioning.

 

Secondly this would increase the complexity and require a fair bit of work to implement, at this point in time I think there are far more important things for developers to be working on than an new mechanism that primarily benefits Wizards. For non wizards the current system works well for a lot of their abilities so this would provide minimal benefit for them or a negative.

 

Adding an entire new mechanism into spell casting for no major benefit seems excessive to me.

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I don't really see the problem with the way it is now, it just requires you to be a bit more careful with your AOE and positioning.

 

Secondly this would increase the complexity and require a fair bit of work to implement, at this point in time I think there are far more important things for developers to be working on than an new mechanism that primarily benefits Wizards. For non wizards the current system works well for a lot of their abilities so this would provide minimal benefit for them or a negative.

 

Adding an entire new mechanism into spell casting for no major benefit seems excessive to me.

 

Wizards aren't the only characters with AoE abilities - I believe Barbarians also benefit from INT, and probably a few other classes as well, right?

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To answer the questions about an increased duration being OP for DoT spells... if you were going to be able to affect multiple creatures with a DoT, and you increase the duration while decreasing the AoE so you can only hit a few, how is that OP? If the bonus values are tuned correctly, you shouldn't be doing all that much more overall damage. Doubling the damage on a DoT while only hitting half the creatures isn't a net gain for the player, it's just a different tactical use of the same damage.

 

Because their are many spells that would, at least in the beta, one shot very dangerous creatures if you buff the duration. Hit the "boss monster" with the spell, run away and wait. It is not balanced because it allows you to kill specific very dangerous monsters with one hit. Fire and forget, you only need to "waste" one action on that monster. It also removes the major damage dealer on the enemy front making it way easier for you. You basical could stun, freezer whatever one boss AND dot him up til he dies.

 

Edit: Powerfull short duration buffs are a nastier can of worms if you could limit it to one character but buff its duration.

Edited by Mayama

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IMO adjusting the AoE every time you cast an area spell would just be too fiddly. Is it really that big a problem that it justifies the added complication? The difference between int 12 and int 20 which I'd think is the range you'd expect for casters is only 200%/160%=1.25 x increase in radius anyway and the wast majority of the time it's a boon, and Int also increased durations which is always good so I have a hard time seeing it really being disincentivised.

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IMO adjusting the AoE every time you cast an area spell would just be too fiddly. Is it really that big a problem that it justifies the added complication? The difference between int 12 and int 20 which I'd think is the range you'd expect for casters is only 200%/160%=1.25 x increase in radius anyway and the wast majority of the time it's a boon, and Int also increased durations which is always good so I have a hard time seeing it really being disincentivised.

 

It's not the only solution, of course, but, practically speaking, the larger the AoE is, the less tactically useful the ability will tend to become. After a certain point, the spells get so large that additional area becomes moot, if not detrimental.

 

As a side note, at 20 intelligence you start having spells that are so large that it's literally impossible to avoid hitting yourself with them.

 

That said, I think it could be done rather simply. When using an AoE ability, reassign the scroll wheel to adjust the spell area rather than the zoom level. That would be easy enough to handle on the fly.

Edited by CatatonicMan
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To answer the questions about an increased duration being OP for DoT spells... if you were going to be able to affect multiple creatures with a DoT, and you increase the duration while decreasing the AoE so you can only hit a few, how is that OP? If the bonus values are tuned correctly, you shouldn't be doing all that much more overall damage (if any). Doubling the damage on a DoT while only hitting half the creatures isn't a net gain for the player, it's just a different tactical use of the same damage.

 

Granted, I am using "value tuning" as kind of a panacea for most concerns - but I wouldn't be doing so if I didn't believe proper tuning couldn't actually solve these problems. The point I was trying to make is that although the numbers would need some tuning, a system like this would be tactically deeper without (hopefully) requiring a whole lot of extra time (assuming they're already planning on an adjustable AoE, which I don't really see how they could do without it).

 

Another potential idea would be tying the duration to the number of characters affected. This could have the potential to make AoE spells really UP against tons of enemies - but again... tuning. There's no reason such a relationship would have to be linear. You could have a really powerful single-target spell, a reasonable power medium AoE spell, and a lowish power high AoE spell that then doesn't decrease further with increased characters affected. I think the concerns about overpoweredness (or underpoweredness, which haven't been raised that I've seen but are every bit as important) are good, but ultimately misplaced because with proper tuning of various values and curves, the power level of almost any system can be made to be balanced.

 

What would be more concerning to me is the increased development time it would take to tune a system like this. From what little I've looked at it and theorycrafted about it, I don't think it would be all that complex to get "right", but then again I'm not a professional game designer so my opinion is of limited value.

 

Just quoting this here because it's basically my response to all the things that have been raised since I edited the original (very short) post that was in that spot.

 

There would need to be a limit to size or damage, otherwise a wizard could make a super powerful one-person tactical fireball.

 

In other words, single target spells should still be stronger than AoE when used on single targets.

 

(quoted post from me)
 
Except that, at present, a huge fireball does exactly the same damage to a single person as it does to multiple persons. This proposed system would allow AoE effects to be great on both single and multiple targets.

 

There has to be some disadvantage (or at least no advantage) to reducing area, because the area itself is both a good and bad thing.

 

Very good point. Some AoE spells are inherently supposed to be weaker against single enemies. I think this could be preserved, though it would make tuning the bonuses more difficult.

 

 

IMO adjusting the AoE every time you cast an area spell would just be too fiddly. Is it really that big a problem that it justifies the added complication? The difference between int 12 and int 20 which I'd think is the range you'd expect for casters is only 200%/160%=1.25 x increase in radius anyway and the wast majority of the time it's a boon, and Int also increased durations which is always good so I have a hard time seeing it really being disincentivised.

 

The disincentive lies when a wizard with extremely high INT is physically unable to cast an AoE spell without affecting at least himself due to the max casting range of the spell. The obvious fix to that is to make the range reference the outside of the circle instead of the center of course - but I think my idea has more tactical possibilities. :)

 

------------------------------------------------

 

In any case!

 

A lot of you are making some very good points - the bit about certain spells being able to kill bosses outright if duration is buffed is especially problematic. I don't know which spell you're referring to so I can't really suggest a specific solution.

 

All in all, I don't really have a whole lot else to say in response. Like I said - the post of mine that I quoted at the top of this one is pretty much the sum of my thoughts re: troubleshooting and OP-ness and UP-ness. I think it's a good system.. with some shortcomings. I certainly won't try to argue with every single person who points out a flaw - the proposed system would definitely have flaws. My goal here isn't ultimately to be right, but to get ideas out there for tweaking one of the currently problematic mechanics in an interesting way that also enhances the thematic appeal of the INT stat. :)

 

Thanks all for your feedback and interest so far! I won't be replying to specific concerns as much from this point on, thought I will certainly keep an eye on this thread.

Edited by Matt516

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I don't really see the problem with the way it is now, it just requires you to be a bit more careful with your AOE and positioning.

 

Secondly this would increase the complexity and require a fair bit of work to implement, at this point in time I think there are far more important things for developers to be working on than an new mechanism that primarily benefits Wizards. For non wizards the current system works well for a lot of their abilities so this would provide minimal benefit for them or a negative.

 

Adding an entire new mechanism into spell casting for no major benefit seems excessive to me.

 

Wizards aren't the only characters with AoE abilities - I believe Barbarians also benefit from INT, and probably a few other classes as well, right?

 

 

Priests are helped a lot with their AoE heals which are also duration based so they actually benefit more from Int than instant damage AoE wizard spells. I'm actually thinking that priests are the ones that benefit more from Int than wizards do.

 

Chanters benefit greatly because of the increased the duration of the effects of their chants allowing them to cycle through 3 chants instead of 2 and have all effects stack. Not sure if it increases the distance the chant affects people at though.

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Greater area and duration are desirable for buffs and allow you to be more mobile with out leaving the area of effect. While other classes barbs etc who have abilities that are effected by Int probably want the benefit of both.

 

Large AoE for things like fireballs just means if your building that type of high Int wizard, your just going to have to position your wizard more carefully and move them around rather than just having them sit at the back and stand still.

 

I can see this being a nightmare in combat as well, it will pretty much force you to pause every time you want to use the spell and results in there being no standard size for AoE meaning you can't just drop a spell based on memory of it's size you need to stop and check every time or never adjust it. In BG1/2 when I play for a bit I get to know the range and AoE of the various spells, and can easily position them as I know they'll be the same each time.

 

So in summary with this suggestion people couldn't memorise the AoE and effective range because they could change at any time either deliberately or by accident from flicking the mouse wheel at the wrong time. Secondly this is an entire additional mechanic that you would be adding over the top of an already complex combat system. Thirdly for non-wizard characters who have AoE abilities may not realise this applies and screw up those abilities or can adjust them by accident and not realise they've done so.

 

Additional complexity for small benefits does not = good.

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IMO adjusting the AoE every time you cast an area spell would just be too fiddly. Is it really that big a problem that it justifies the added complication? The difference between int 12 and int 20 which I'd think is the range you'd expect for casters is only 200%/160%=1.25 x increase in radius anyway and the wast majority of the time it's a boon, and Int also increased durations which is always good so I have a hard time seeing it really being disincentivised.

UI part could work like just scrolling your mouse wheel while AoE is on screen.

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UI part could work like just scrolling your mouse wheel while AoE is on screen.

 

Or dragging. Normally you click to target; instead, drag and release to set the AoE.


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I proposed previously that a workable solution to this problem is to allow the player to adjust AoE range so that having a high intelligence is never detrimental. I had an additional idea that would make an interesting mechanic:

 

Given the ability to scale the AoE effect, make Intelligence govern both the maximum and minimum AoE range.

 

Under this system, a highly intelligent character would be able to shape his AoE into a size that's more tactically relevant - maybe even small enough to hit a single target without hitting adjacent friendlies.

 

One advantage is that a single-target AoE would still be worse than a normal single-target ability, so we wouldn't need to worry about super dense doom fireballs.

 

 

I can see this being a nightmare in combat as well, it will pretty much force you to pause every time you want to use the spell and results in there being no standard size for AoE meaning you can't just drop a spell based on memory of it's size you need to stop and check every time or never adjust it. 

 

Or we could not be stupid about it and have a default starting size (your maximum size like it is now, say) that you can adjust as necessary. If no adjustments are necessary, then it defaults to exactly the system you're talking about.

 

We could even allow the player to set a default size if we wanted to get fancy. Or maybe we could allow the option to use the last-used size. Options are a good thing.

Edited by CatatonicMan
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