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How to Fix the Attribute Design in Pillars of Eternity

attributes paper

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#1
Sensuki

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Greetings, all. Today we’re going to talk about the Attribute system in Pillars of Eternity. Traditionally, CRPGs have suffered from certain issues with character attributes that PoE’s Lead Designer, Josh Sawyer, believes detract from the character creation and gameplay experience – namely, the problem of certain classes being pigeonholed into pumping certain attributes to function properly, and the existence of dump stats. To that end, the attribute system in Pillars of Eternity is designed with a few fundamental design goals in mind:

  1. All attributes should be useful (in some way) for every class.
  2. No dump stats – that is, no stat should be overwhelmingly better or worse than the others.

These design goals aim to fix some systemic problems with the traditional D&D-based attribute systems. These design goals are admirable and worthwhile, and we believe that if realized, they will make Pillars of Eternity a richer and more rewarding experience. Unfortunately, the current attribute system fails to meet these goals. In particular, Perception and Resolve are simultaneously not useful for all classes/character archetypes, and are also very widely considered to be dump stats in most cases. However, this can be fixed. I (Sensuki) came up with a solution about two weeks ago and after many days consulting with Matt516 on the mathematical, logical, and balance issues with this solution, we have produced this paper.

 

https://dl.dropboxus...bute_Rework.pdf

It contains an introduction (which the text above is an excerpt of) that outlines our proposed changes to the attribute system and three sections. The first section deals with the inherent issues with Perception and Resolve and examines why they are widely considered dump stats by many, and too confusing to bother with by others. The second and third section outline our proposed changes for improving the attribute system, backed by mathematical and logical arguments to declare their balance, in support of their implementation. We also include detailed suggestions for how the game can be rebalanced if these changes are implemented.

Matt516 and I co-wrote this paper, and it represents 10 straight days of work on various calculations, logical and balance issues, and argument structuring. It has been an absolute pleasure to work with Matt516 on this, and it would not have been possible without his help. The original idea was mine - but his math and Excel skills, combined with his adept academic writing talent, were paramount in producing the quality of work we have been able to produce here.

I'd like to ask you all, backers and developers alike, to carefully read our paper - not to make any pre-judgements about our solution before you have seen our arguments. We have striven to anticipate issues people may have with this design, and to provide our answers to them in advance.

After you have finished reading through the paper, I'd like to ask you these three questions:

  1. Would you enjoy creating and playing characters under our proposed attribute system?
  2. Do you think our solution succeeds in meeting the primary design goals of the attribute system?
  3. Do you think this solution is an improvement over the current attribute system?

 

Best Regards
Sensuki (and Matt516)


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#2
Matt516

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First! ;D
 
But seriously, everyone - this has been a passion project for the both of us for almost the last two weeks, and we're very excited to be able to share it with you. Thanks in advance for reading, and for your feedback. I'm Matt516 and I approve this paper. :)

Edited by Matt516, 12 September 2014 - 10:30 AM.

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#3
Zack Fair

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Hats off to Sensuki and Matt, you did a hell of a job. This is designer level stuff.


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#4
C2B

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:) Already said it, but great proposal. Will spark an interesting discussion at the veeeery least.

#5
BobbinThreadbare

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Very nice work.



#6
Gfted1

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Nice work Sensuki and Matt516. :thumbsup:



#7
Monocled Gamer

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Superb effort. I'm still wading through the details but what I've seen so far looks like an improvement on the current system. I hope Josh and his team aren't too proud to take a suggestion like this seriously and test it out.



#8
Infinitron

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Definitely check this out, Obsidian devs and everybody else. It is not just your everyday fan wank.


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#9
iampolo

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I don't even post in this forum. That shows how this **** is.



#10
Seari

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Amazing work you guys, really amazing. I like the changes a lot. Esp. the perception change, it makes sense.

 

I would just like to ask how does Deflection fit thematically to Resolve? It really does make more sense to me to have deflection on Dexterity, but I understand the reasons. Would having deflection and IAS on Dexterity be plausible or too overpowered/hard to balance?



#11
Sensuki

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Resolve is like your determination and stuff right? You have so much guts and determination that you are a boss at defending your body and your mind ... however this does not mean that your body can defend you from Fortitude and Reflex attacks that are beyond it's capability.

 

(Yes I had that answer pre-made for that exact question ;))

 

And to your second question, there really isn't anything else you can use without making up a new mechanic. We have just used the existing mechanics. IAS and Deflection would be OP as they are both major combat stats in the game.


Edited by Sensuki, 12 September 2014 - 10:41 AM.

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#12
Marceror

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Thanks Sensuki and Matt. I'm looking forward to giving this a read.



#13
Fearabbit

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Great job.  :thumbsup: 

I had some similar ideas for DEX and PER, and I think your solution makes sense. RES also sounds logical and intuitive, so that's great.

 

There's obviously still the Might issue, but yeah, I would imagine that making a character with this system is fun, and it seems like an improvement over the current system because it's overall more intuitive. 



#14
PrimeJunta

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This is absolutely brilliant. Not only is your proposal mechanically sounder, but it's also more intuitive and immediately understandable and makes better thematic sense -- yet the adjustments were really rather minor, not like a complete rewrite.

 

Plus the argumentation is rock solid.

 

If Obs doesn't take notice, I'll get my pitchfork ready. Or pollaxe, for the slash/crush damage, depending.

 

(Edit: yes to your three questions, duh.)


Edited by PrimeJunta, 12 September 2014 - 10:51 AM.

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#15
Infinitron

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Hmmm, I don't think it's that different in terms of intuitiveness. They've just shuffled things around a bit, and added Deflection and Speed into the mix. So, it's actually more complex now.


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#16
Mr. Magniloquent

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I've read through it, top to bottom. In general, I am supportive of the proposed changes. It is good that you spent much of the paper discussing Increased Attack Speed, because the changes it could present are monumental.

 

One significant thing about those changes, is that they will not be uniform among all classes because of the divergent resource mechanics that they use. IAS would only be marginally beneficial to a Wizard, Druid, or Sorcerer as they have very rationed resources. Ciphers and Chanters would benefit TREMENDOUSLY from increased IAS. 

 

While Resolve, in name, sounds ackward, the overall changes as explained seem well and good. I still think that abilities and spells would need critical rework in their activation/cooldown, but this is a step in the correct direction.


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#17
Sensuki

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Actually I think Priests and Druids would benefit more from IAS than Chanters and Ciphers because Chanters and Ciphers spend a lot of time attacking, and Might is *always* better damage wise. Intellect is *always* better durations wise.

What it does do is allow for different types of builds that focus on different things.

 

I think a lot of people will benefit from this paper's analysis of the game's systems too - now you know what most of the attributes give per point (relatively anyway).


Edited by Sensuki, 12 September 2014 - 10:58 AM.

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#18
PrimeJunta

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Hmmm, I don't think it's that different in terms of intuitiveness. They've just shuffled things around a bit, and added Deflection and Speed into the mix. So, it's actually more complex now.

 

I disagree. PER and RES are mushy and hard to understand under the current system. Sensuki's and Matt's proposal beefs them up. They immediately become more understandable. I can now better picture what a perceptive or resolute character is like.


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#19
Shadenuat

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I still find +damage for everything Might aesthetically poor, but ideas to increase speed of characters and pump per&res the way presented are better than what we have now.

I'd also add better health ratios somewhere into there, con or res maybe.


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#20
Mr. Magniloquent

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Actually I think Priests and Druids would benefit more from IAS than Chanters and Ciphers because Chanters and Ciphers spend a lot of time attacking, and Might is *always* better damage wise. Intellect is *always* better durations wise.

What it does do is allow for different types of builds that focus on different things.

 

Priests, Druids, and Wizards would only be able to burst more efficiently. They might even be able to interrupt something with a spell, but still unlikely. The overall benefit is marginal because of their resource limitations. They would burn more brightly, but briefly. With the frequency of combat, it is difficult to appreciate that distinction.

 

With respect to Chanters, they would be tossing out invocations much more quickly at no real cost. Ciphers would be the greatest beneficiaries, as it would allow them to both gain and expend resources more quickly.







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