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Fixing the armor min/maxing: an interesting new gameplay mechanic?


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#1
Zwiebelchen

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Armor penalties.

 

The current concept has been proven not to work as intended: people min-max either to plate or cloth; there isn't any middle-ground. You equip your tank with plate, everything else wears cloth.

 

So, what could be possible solutions to this problem? Obviously, we don't want DnD 2nd edition chance to spell failure, because do-or-die dice rolls suck. DnD 3rd edition max dex modifiers didn't work well either, with leather armors getting the same armor scores as plate if you accumulated enough +dex and no incentive to go lighter when you haven't reach max dex yet. And we definitely don't want to limit armor choices based on class choices alone, as that's incredibly boring and basicly defeats the idea of hybrid builds or battle mages.

 

 

I think a good approach should not affect DPS or speed at all, but instead limit the flexibility of the class. So, my idea would be to limit spellcasters in their spell choices depending on the type of armor.

Spells are divided into "difficulty"-tiers. This is not to be confused with the spell levels.

Each spell gets a certain difficulty tier applied to them:

1) can be cast with all types of armor

2) can be cast with chainmail and below

3) can be cast with leather and below

4) can be cast with light armor and below

5) can only be cast in cloth armor

 

If you wear plate as a wizard, you can only cast a selection of defensive or utility spells; if you wear leather, you unlock a selection of offensive spells of difficulty level 3 aswell. If you wear cloth, you get full access to all spells (difficulty level 5).

 

The beauty about this approach is that it balances the armor choices and the spell repertoire in the same process and allows for a powerful tool for the developers to fine-tune the power of spellcaster hybrids. You can play your wizard or druid as a glass cannon with the full spell potential or you could play them more as battle mages, using weapons as DPS and otherwise are limited to enhancing spells and some CC.

This way, you can basicly select your armor choice based on the spells you want to use for your playstyle. Or you can select your spell choices based on the armor choice. So your favorite spells are all available on leather armor? Great! But damn, you definitely want that powerful highlevel-CC that only gets unlocked when using light armor..., so yeah, downgrade to light armor then. But wait, maybe I can make up for the lack of CC with that defensive spell on the same level that can be used with leather?

 

The beauty about this idea is, that it even brings a logical explanation as to why you can or can't cast that particular spell: as you are encumbered, you simply can not perform the moves that are required to shape the magic into the right form.

It also allows for new cool spells that play with this mechanic: for example, a once-per-day spell that unlocks the next difficulty-tier of spells for a limited duration.

 

Again, this is not to be confused with the spell levels themselves. There should be spells on every level that can be cast on plate difficulty, so that when you reach a new spell level, you definitely have *something* to use. You just don't have the full repertoire at your disposal.

 

This system can also easily be applied to all non-magic classes aswell: certain moves and abilities are just impossible to do in plate armor.


Edited by Zwiebelchen, 18 March 2015 - 01:09 AM.


#2
Sensuki

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Limiting what the player can do in a set of armor JUST to get them to use it is a very bad idea IMO, and goes against the general design principles of this game.

Yes I agree that armor could be done a bit better, but I don't believe this is the way to go.
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#3
Shdy314

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I fail to see how your suggestion fixes anything. Putting the wizard in plate doesn't make him worthwhile because now he can only cast his self buffs. It just makes plate even worse for the wizard.


Edited by Shdy314, 18 March 2015 - 01:08 AM.


#4
Zwiebelchen

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The idea behind this is that your raw spell power and number of spell uses is completely unaffected by your choice of armor. So, given proper balancing of abilities (in a way that spell choices are basicly incomparables that are not clearly superior to other choices), a wizard would never be "worse" just because he wears plate armor. He would just play differently, with a smaller set of abilities at his disposal (he can still cast the same amount of spells, just has less options).

 

It also fixes a major balancing flaw in that developers can not add super-powerful defensive spells, as it might cause cookie-cutter builds optimized to use that particular spell to steamroll everything. With a system like that, you could create such spells, but make them only available for cloth wearers, effectively balancing out any kind of "OP potential".

 

I was one of those guys that made heavy use of the spell in Baldurs Gate 2 that turned your mage into a warrior of equal level, disabling all spells. Combined with buffs and utility spells like stone skin and magic armor, you could build an interesting battlemage hybrid in the IE games. Stuff like this is just not possible (or simply not viable) in the current implementation of armor penalty. Which is a shame, as the general idea behind armors not being class-locked was exactly that: encouraging unique hybrid-playstyles.


Edited by Zwiebelchen, 18 March 2015 - 01:31 AM.


#5
Luckmann

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I fail to see how your suggestion fixes anything. Putting the wizard in plate doesn't make him worthwhile because now he can only cast his self buffs. It just makes plate even worse for the wizard.

 

And it's already pretty damn terrible.



#6
Zwiebelchen

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Limiting what the player can do in a set of armor JUST to get them to use it is a very bad idea IMO, and goes against the general design principles of this game.

Yes I agree that armor could be done a bit better, but I don't believe this is the way to go.

 

To be honest; I don't see how it would go "against the general design principles of this game". Higher defensive potential must come at a loss in offensive potential. However, if that cost is raw effectivity through numbers, you choice becomes a no-brainer.

 

The idea proposed supports the idea of incomparables in balancing. You just can't say that a druid or wizard that doesn't have access to his potent offensive spells is "worse" if he can use a powerful stun or defensive spell instead.

 

It would definitely make wearing light or medium armor more attractive for spellcasters without gimping your character. Because you don't have any penalties other than your spell choices themselves. It's basicly how Sorcerers and Mages and spell schools were in the IE games: You could have full spell potential or you could limit yourself and get a benefit elsewhere. I don't see how this goes against any design principle of this game.


Edited by Zwiebelchen, 18 March 2015 - 01:39 AM.


#7
Sensuki

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It's quite simple really. You are limiting what things can be done in certain armors - they designed this system so that you could wear any armor you liked and not be restricted from doing anything. You act slower, sure - but you can perform any action. There's no way they're going to consider it IMO.
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#8
Bazy

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To be honest; I don't see how it would go "against the general design principles of this game". Higher defensive potential must come at a loss in offensive potential. However, if that cost is raw effectivity through numbers, you choice becomes a no-brainer.

Because under your system if a player wants to play a certain way they have to wear a certain armor. 

 

And as other people have said your system just makes it more likely for a caster to wear no armor instead of having to deal with a bunch of restrictions. 



#9
Namutree

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What should be done then?



#10
Zwiebelchen

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It's quite simple really. You are limiting what things can be done in certain armors - they designed this system so that you could wear any armor you liked and not be restricted from doing anything. You act slower, sure - but you can perform any action. There's no way they're going to consider it IMO.

 

Then again, the system they designed doesn't work. Nobody uses light or medium armors. In fact, nobody ever uses anything but cloth except for the main tank.

 

And the best point of this proposal: it wouldn't even change the status quo for min/maxers: you can still cast everything with no penalty on cloth. As you guys already said: wearing plate on a wizard is terrible. Removing the penalty and limiting spell choices will not make it more terrible. Instead, it allows for new opportunities like a "tank wizard", as it allows for new spells that weren't possible in the current system.



#11
Bazy

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What should be done then?

Better AI. Give casters a reason to wear armor. Not a total solution, but would help. 

 

 

Then again, the system they designed doesn't work. Nobody uses light or medium armors. In fact, nobody ever uses anything but cloth except for the main tank.

Nobody disagrees with you there. 


Edited by Bazy, 18 March 2015 - 01:47 AM.


#12
Luckmann

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While definitely a flaw, I find it funny that no-one uses Medium Armour, because no-one did in the IE games either. You stuck to whatever highest the characters could actually wear. :p


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#13
Veevoir

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It's quite simple really. You are limiting what things can be done in certain armors - they designed this system so that you could wear any armor you liked and not be restricted from doing anything. You act slower, sure - but you can perform any action. There's no way they're going to consider it IMO.

 

Then again, the system they designed doesn't work. Nobody uses light or medium armors. In fact, nobody ever uses anything but cloth except for the main tank.

 

And the best point of this proposal: it wouldn't even change the status quo for min/maxers: you can still cast everything with no penalty on cloth. As you guys already said: wearing plate on a wizard is terrible. Removing the penalty and limiting spell choices will not make it more terrible. Instead, it allows for new opportunities like a "tank wizard", as it allows for new spells that weren't possible in the current system.

 

Your proposal, as written, carries even further penalties for wearing heavy armors.

Currently people run in clothes because recovery penalty with heavy armors is really punishing - so heavy armors have to be avoided unless you really need them.
With this proposal - heavy armors will never be used by magic casters (limited spell selection?! no thanks). And all other classes will rock a plate.
Unless their skills will be limited too.. which brings us right back to beginning.

It doesn't fix anything, what it does is to make system even more exclusive, aka. worse.


Edited by Veevoir, 18 March 2015 - 01:54 AM.


#14
Zwiebelchen

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To be honest; I don't see how it would go "against the general design principles of this game". Higher defensive potential must come at a loss in offensive potential. However, if that cost is raw effectivity through numbers, you choice becomes a no-brainer.

 

Because under your system if a player wants to play a certain way they have to wear a certain armor. 

 

And as other people have said your system just makes it more likely for a caster to wear no armor instead of having to deal with a bunch of restrictions. 

 

 

And why exactly is being bound to a certain type of armor for a certain playstyle a problem? After all, your tank will suck without plate, no matter what. I see nobody complaining about that?

 

Having to deal with some restrictions is a non-issue if your numbers aren't affected by your choice through proper balancing: So what if I can't use 3 fireballs when I can use 3 stuns instead?

 

 

What this does is shifting the choice between survivability and DPS - which basicly are two sides of the same coin (If you can kill your enemy faster than he can kill you, you win) towards a choice between survivability <---> flexibility. Which are incomparables by default, making it a way tougher choice, as you can not fix the problem via numbercrunching anymore.

 

 

 

Currently people run in clothes because recovery penalty with heavy armors is really punishing - so heavy armors have to be avoided unless you really need them.
With this proposal - heavy armors will never be used by magic casters (limited spell selection?! no thanks).

It doesn't fix anything, what it does is to make system even more exclusive, aka. worse.

 

 

Wait, then you understood the idea wrong: the idea is to get rid of the recovery time penalty and instead apply limited spell choices.


Edited by Zwiebelchen, 18 March 2015 - 01:56 AM.


#15
Sensuki

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We need to play the full game because the beta doesn't have many creatures that deal AoE damage. AI is another issue.

#16
Odd Hermit

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Then again, the system they designed doesn't work. Nobody uses light or medium armors. In fact, nobody ever uses anything but cloth except for the main tank.

 

And the best point of this proposal: it wouldn't even change the status quo for min/maxers: you can still cast everything with no penalty on cloth. As you guys already said: wearing plate on a wizard is terrible. Removing the penalty and limiting spell choices will not make it more terrible. Instead, it allows for new opportunities like a "tank wizard", as it allows for new spells that weren't possible in the current system.

 

 

 

I understand what you're going for but the lore doesn't support it(spells aren't split up as vocal/somatic and so on, they're drawn from different sources for different casters that aren't limited like that), and their general design philosophy(which I have my occasional disagreements with as well TBH) goes against this.

 

Also I like Padded Armor. I wear it on my casters. It's a 20% penalty for 6 DR, but 8 Piercing and Crushing. Most ranged damage is piercing and that's a decent amount of mitigation. Plus I'm not always chain casting, you only get so many spells/rest so time constraint often doesn't play into it except on the occasional bigger battles.


Edited by Odd Hermit, 18 March 2015 - 02:04 AM.

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#17
Veevoir

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Wait, then you understood the idea wrong: the idea is to get rid of the recovery time penalty and instead apply limited spell choices.

But it still doesn't solve the problem. It still makes it worse - everyone will wear clothing only not to lose spells (especially damage spells) which are the very basis of the class. Especially considering buff/support spells are reacitonary thing.
Already in PoE if someone is hitting your spellcaster you are doing it wrong. Viability of "combat" mages in plate is already in question. With that suggestion - it won;t make much sense.

As for other classes - there will be no reason not to wear plate. Unless abilities also get limited by armor. Which would mean congratulations! You've managed to create D&D armor limitations, even if it is a soft cap (you can use any armor, but it will gimp you so much nobody will do it).

BTW - Currently the armor penalty can be counteracted with dexterity.


Edited by Veevoir, 18 March 2015 - 02:02 AM.


#18
axedice

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DnD 3rd edition max dex modifiers didn't work well either, with leather armors getting the same armor scores as plate if you accumulated enough +dex and no incentive to go lighter when you haven't reach max dex yet.


Disagree with you here, D&D made you wear the amor that suited your dex bonus.

But the main point is, heavy armors need some other penalty that makes sense within the system (banning spells would be terrible I agree), like a deflection penalty.

Plate : -8 def
Mail : -6 def
leather : -4 def

etc. Or maybe a percentage based penalty for your deflection bonuses total, rather than flat values, since -8 is too much on lvl 1, but too little on lvl 10...

I like this second idea better, it's consistent with the game world too. I was also thinking of adding an accuracy penalty, but the moment you reduce dps output, armors are a no-go for most non tanks. While "dodge tanks" aren't preferred by healers in MMO's (spike damage kills healing efficiency heh), it could be an intresting mechanic here.
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#19
Zwiebelchen

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Wait, then you understood the idea wrong: the idea is to get rid of the recovery time penalty and instead apply limited spell choices.

But it still doesn't solve the problem. It still makes it worse - everyone will wear clothing only not to lose spells (especially damage spells) which are the very basis of the class. Especially considering buff/support spells are reacitonary thing.
Already in PoE if someone is hitting your spellcaster you are doing it wrong. Viability of "combat" mages in plate is already in question. With that suggestion - it won;t make much sense.

As for other classes - there will be no reason not to wear plate. Unless abilities also get limited by armor. Which would mean congratulations! You've managed to create D&D armor limitations, even if it is a soft cap (you can use any armor, but it will gimp you so much nobody will do it).

BTW - Currently the armor penalty can be counteracted with dexterity.

 

 

I think you have a very traditional look on spellcasters then (glass cannons with pure DPS). Which is fine, but it's not like others have no different oppinions on that. What if I want to build my spellcaster around buffing and utility and not raw DPS? Currently, this will just mean that I suck either way. I can't compensate for my dropped offensive potential as I'm still stuck with the recovery time penalty.

The system as I proposed offers me to build a character with more survivability at the cost of flexibility. The lack of good non-reactionary buff spells is not really a system flaw, just a flaw in spell design (which can be easily fixed with new spells).

 

But yes, this idea only works with better AI; because why would I limit my spell choices if my spellcasters won't get attacked anyway?

 

 

 

 

DnD 3rd edition max dex modifiers didn't work well either, with leather armors getting the same armor scores as plate if you accumulated enough +dex and no incentive to go lighter when you haven't reach max dex yet.

Disagree with you here, D&D made you wear the amor that suited your dex bonus.

But the main point is, heavy armors need some other penalty that makes sense within the system (banning spells would be terrible I agree), like a deflection penalty.

Plate : -8 def
Mail : -6 def
leather : -4 def

etc. Or maybe a percentage based penalty for your deflection bonuses total, rather than flat values, since -8 is too much on lvl 1, but too little on lvl 10...

I like this second idea better, it's consistent with the game world too. I was also thinking of adding an accuracy penalty, but the moment you reduce dps output, armors are a no-go for most non tanks. While "dodge tanks" aren't preferred by healers in MMO's (spike damage kills healing efficiency heh), it could be an intresting mechanic here.

 

 

The problem with a number-based solution is, again, that players would go for extremes only: either take no penalty or get max benefits at maximum penalty. Number-based solutions will never encourage hybrids because specialized builds are always superior to jack-of-all-trades builds in RPGs. If you can do the maths, you will always find an optimum somewhere.


Edited by Zwiebelchen, 18 March 2015 - 02:13 AM.


#20
PrimeJunta

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Yeah, bad idea. Agree with most people pointing out why so won't repeat it here.

 

As to how to fix it? Now that's a tough one. I can't think of many cRPG's where anything between "none" and "heaviest possible" was attractive, unless they used brute-force solutions like (A)D&D, simply making it impossible or as-good-as for some classes to wear some types of armor. The black dragon scale armor in BG2 is only interesting if you have a character who can only wear leather armor in your party, in which case it's rather nice really.

 

And no, I can't think of an easy way to solve it using the P:E mechanics.

 

If I was designing a system with specifically this as a design goal, I'd probably include a fairly strong fatigue mechanic, and have armor affect that. Doing anything in combat carries a fatigue cost. Standing still lowers fatigue. Armor raises the fatigue cost of all actions. As fatigue goes up, it gives you penalties to your actions. If the meter hits the cap, you keel over in a quivering heap. There would be a stat representing your stamina, so characters with lots of it would have more staying power in combat and could get away with wearing heavier armor. 

 

In this system, the optimal choice of armor would be largely determined by your stamina and your combat role: if you have high stamina or expect to take mostly low-stamina-cost actions in combat, wear heavy armor; if you have low stamina or expect to take high-stamina-cost actions in combat, pick lighter armor. By tuning the costs e.g. for movement, you could get a system where it would make sense to be a "heavy" who mostly stays put deflecting blows and jabbing at people attacking him, or a "striker" who moves around a lot dealing damage and wears medium/light armor to be able to keep doing it, or a low-stamina "glass cannon."

 

(FWIW this isn't particularly original: this is more or less how it works in Total War. You do not want an army consisting exclusively of heavies as you won't be able to maneuver with them all that much before they get fatigued. It's usually just not possible to execute a flanking movement with heavy infantry; they're too slow and tire too quickly. You want them to get into position and stay put, and ideally get the enemy to break itself against their lines.)


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