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Hard Talk on Character Build Freedom, Attributes and Combat


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Good post with some very good criticism.

 

One little thing - Monks do not suffer from being unable to enchant their fists. By the end of the game, their fists have only 4 less Accuracy than a Superb weapon - but with a +8 integer damage bonus, which is WAY more than the 45% a Superb weapon gets (about 73% to be exact). Monk fists are very, very strong.

 

Monks aren't victims*. They victimize their enemies. ;P

 

 

* Except for Lightning Strikes, which is crap - but that's been acknowledged to have a fix coming.

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New and improved attributes.

 

Why not leave interrupt on Perception? You could make a squishy, ranged character focused on interrupts, so it has its uses. Or you could do increased ability range (for single target abilities) and interrupts, so it still applies to spell casters/units that don't care about interrupting.

 

I like the spread overall, just Resolve seems weird with the endurance tacked on. If it could be attached to your Athletics skill, then that would be cool; Resolve may become a dump stat for tanks but 5/6 isn't bad.

Edited by View619
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Good post with some very good criticism.

 

One little thing - Monks do not suffer from being unable to enchant their fists. By the end of the game, their fists have only 4 less Accuracy than a Superb weapon - but with a +8 integer damage bonus, which is WAY more than the 45% a Superb weapon gets (about 73% to be exact). Monk fists are very, very strong.

 

Monks aren't victims*. They victimize their enemies. ;P

 

 

* Except for Lightning Strikes, which is crap - but that's been acknowledged to have a fix coming.

for the last 1/3 o' the game, we have difficulty coming up with a rational reason to choose fists over equippable weapons. if Gromnir were comparing a monk fist to a superb ________, that would be a bit myopic, no?  chances are that our superb weapon has a couple more qualities added that our fists cannot have.  monk fists are great, and perhaps better than similar weapons the monk is likely to get for the first 2/3 of the game.  unfortunately, the ability to imbue or choose weapons with qualities particular useful to our monk build (tank, striker, hybrid,etc.) makes weapons, weapons that ain't fists, better.

 

"Doesn't really make sense that Intelligence would increase a defense called Will, but resolve wouldn't. So let's rename the defense without really changing it.
"INT: Logic"
 
yeah, well, the reverse is just as true.  have resolve modify logic is no less nonsensical than intellect modifying will.  leave name.

 

HA! Good Fun!

 

ps am not seeing a good reason to make fists a better choice for 2/3 and other stuff for end.  if that were the intentional evolution, we need an explanation.  

Edited by Gromnir

"If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence."Justice Louis Brandeis, Concurring, Whitney v. California, 274 U.S. 357 (1927)

"Im indifferent to almost any murder as long as it doesn't affect me or mine."--Gfted1 (September 30, 2019)

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I feel like Engagement and Flanked are sort of dealing with the same issue. In practice, you should only be applying your active defenses when engaged with an enemy in melee. So, "disengagement" attacks should maybe be less powerful, but applied whenever an opponent is doing anything other than melee combat -- casting a spell, shooting an arrow, fleeing in terror, facing the wrong way, or already engaged with too many enemies, etc.

 

Combine that with an overwatch mode for throwing a full-attack smackdown on enemies that run by, and you've solved half the problem. Even better if you use talents that cause such an attack to inflict Hobbled.

 

If facing becomes more clearly important, then weapon threat arc is probably going to be as important as reach in balancing things.

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We don't want a game where you are kiting around an enemy. I think disengagement is fine for the most part just pull your fighter off and knockdown the enemy. Or daze or paralyze them. There are so many options. I personally think that "prepping" is too important. They need better mechanics for pre-battle casting spells such as protection spells and such.

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Why not leave interrupt on Perception? You could make a squishy, ranged character focused on interrupts, so it has its uses. Or you could do increased ability range (for single target abilities) and interrupts, so it still applies to spell casters/units that don't care about interrupting.

 

I like the spread overall, just Resolve seems weird with the endurance tacked on. If it could be attached to your Athletics skill, then that would be cool; Resolve may become a dump stat for tanks but 5/6 isn't bad.

Easier question first: while Health represents how much damage your body can take before it dies, Endurance represents how much pain your mind can take before you lose consciousness. As such, it makes more sense thematically to tie it to a mental attribute than the current situation.

 

Regarding interrupt, it all ties into what I said earlier about the melee engagement system. I believe interrupt should be one of two possible specifications for disengagement attacks (the other being straight-up damage). I view Concentration primarily as a way for characters who want to disengage to worry less about being interrupted.

 

So while I'm not necessarily against more ways to boost Interrupt for players who want to invest in it, I want it to be a tank thing, not a squishy thing. Much like Sawyer I wouldn't want to see ranged builds kiting with interrupt stun, but I feel the best way to avoid that is to grant Interrupt bonuses to melee weapons and disengagement attack Talents, not to water down Interrupt by having to balance it for ranged.

 

So I don't feel Interrupt would be a good fit at all as a benefit for squishies in the Perception slot.

Edited by scrotiemcb
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I feel like Engagement and Flanked are sort of dealing with the same issue. In practice, you should only be applying your active defenses when engaged with an enemy in melee. So, "disengagement" attacks should maybe be less powerful, but applied whenever an opponent is doing anything other than melee combat -- casting a spell, shooting an arrow, fleeing in terror, facing the wrong way, or already engaged with too many enemies, etc.

 

Combine that with an overwatch mode for throwing a full-attack smackdown on enemies that run by, and you've solved half the problem. Even better if you use talents that cause such an attack to inflict Hobbled.

 

If facing becomes more clearly important, then weapon threat arc is probably going to be as important as reach in balancing things.

 

I would love to see facing become more important in both combat and stealth.  It could theoretically end the place of engagement if mobs got an attack speed and damage bonus for attacking the back of another character.  Even better you could build it with varying strength into certain classes and monsters, which would help differentiate tactics some more.

 

However, I don't think non-melee attacks really need a penalty.  The system already carves up characters not spec'd for frontline combat if they find themselves in unexpected melees, and the combat is relatively fast and brutal already for a rtwp.  Bonuses on top of the existing ones would basically lead to ranged characters getting chunked in 5 or 6 seconds after engaging.

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I feel like Engagement and Flanked are sort of dealing with the same issue. In practice, you should only be applying your active defenses when engaged with an enemy in melee. So, "disengagement" attacks should maybe be less powerful, but applied whenever an opponent is doing anything other than melee combat -- casting a spell, shooting an arrow, fleeing in terror, facing the wrong way, or already engaged with too many enemies, etc.

 

Combine that with an overwatch mode for throwing a full-attack smackdown on enemies that run by, and you've solved half the problem. Even better if you use talents that cause such an attack to inflict Hobbled.

 

If facing becomes more clearly important, then weapon threat arc is probably going to be as important as reach in balancing things.

 

I would love to see facing become more important in both combat and stealth.  It could theoretically end the place of engagement if mobs got an attack speed and damage bonus for attacking the back of another character.  Even better you could build it with varying strength into certain classes and monsters, which would help differentiate tactics some more.

 

However, I don't think non-melee attacks really need a penalty.  The system already carves up characters not spec'd for frontline combat if they find themselves in unexpected melees, and the combat is relatively fast and brutal already for a rtwp.  Bonuses on top of the existing ones would basically lead to ranged characters getting chunked in 5 or 6 seconds after engaging.

 

Why should facing matter, seems like unnecessary micromanagement. We have "engagement" number that takes the place of facing. My fighter can engage 4 enemies at one time with hold the line and defender. Why should he need to face a particular way.

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There are ways to discourage movement without taking a cane whip to the player's backside every time he tries.

I still don't understand why we want to discourage movement at all. I've been slowly replaying BGTutu over the past couple of weeks, and movement ends up being one of the more dynamic and interesting parts of combat (and the loss of movement or control of movement is a huge risk). Engagement strikes me as ever more pointless.

 

Ability to move free was the root of the problem for the old games and led to most of the known combat exploits.

 

@View619 is right on his statement that engagement is too punishing and his suggestions to remedy the issue strike the right note (i remember others and myself making similar suggestions during game development).

 

So far, our voices haven't been heard.

 

 

However, if I had to choose between punishing engagement or no engagement at all, i d prefer things stay as they are.

Matilda is a Natlan woman born and raised in Old Vailia. She managed to earn status as a mercenary for being a professional who gets the job done, more so when the job involves putting her excellent fighting abilities to good use.

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Thanks for all the great replies and suggestions, guys! :)

 

I just came to think of one thing that is far too underused in PoE, without any real reason for it, and that is ranged spells when you try to sneak up on a group of baddies. It happens at some very rare encounters, like those big dank spores using their charm ability and a certain boss or two, casting spells from afar, if you have escaped and try to get back into the fight. It would be a simple way (not requiring any real AI) to keep us players on our toes. Imagine sneaking into some Defiance Bay manor, only to be greeted by a panicky fireball from a distance (from the fog of war/shadows), just because your stealth was a bit sucky. :grin:

*** "The words of someone who feels ever more the ent among saplings when playing CRPGs" ***

 

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So,

 

Freedom to move and engage - the AI does not play the game at all well. This means that they invariably clump around your bait and take damage from your backline, never taking even completely ineffectual engagement attacks, which thus favours minmaxing and discourages the use of CC tactically, instead favouring CC spells being used as plain stacking debuffs. Similarly, the player having two ultra-tanks and four ultra-squishies in response to this means that they will be extremely affected on the occasions where an enemy manages to engage any of the backline.

The issue is not with engagement, the issue is that the AI does not use it. This is why tank/damage dealer is such a strong dichotomy, because if you build a brick wall the AI will just keep banging its head against it.

Attributes - are clearly somewhat important and I like the level of that a lot more than the IE games where it was either minmaxing or terrible; I like that the game doesn't have prerequisites, which are the ultimate way to restrict builds in this type of system.

Accuracy limitations - are completely essential to the game. More accuracy talents would undermine class balance (because casters benefit more from accuracy and have lower base accuracy), game difficulty and become regarded as essential in the meta anyway.

Item Groups - as with BG 1, the level of the game probably precludes really cool gamechanging items. I'm fine with some being more important than others atm.

Classes/Rangers - Rangers have the highest ranged accuracy in the game, some really good ranged talents and one of my favourite utilities in Binding Roots. There is a big problem with Animal Companions' interaction with fatigue, and I'd like to see some boosts to AC stats from the AC perks. I'm running a POTD CC/Tank wizard at the moment and it's definitely interesting. There are a few wizard spells that need a second look, I'll admit (Grimoire Imprint).

 

Builds - The problem, again, is that the AI's zergswarm tactics favour TANK and GLASS CANNON builds with absolutely no middle ground. So people aren't building anything in the middleground and aren't forced to work hard tactically to make their binary tank/spank groups beat POTD. The most effective way to buff the middle ground builds and to make PotD a more meaningful challenge would be fixing the AI to not sellotape itself to your 100 deflection Orlan when there's a druid in his skivvies just five yards away.

Edited by Blovski
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Blovski: Good feedback. :)

I agree on most of it, since I can see that you have a good grasp of the theoretical framework, as it were, of all the stuff the game tries to avoid and all the stuff it tries to enable.

However, in practice, there needs to be, IMO, a better flow to the movement, and all the disengagement penalties should still be there, but they should be slightly less taxing and there should be more talents and items etc that allow us to build slightly more fleet-feet characters.

And you are absolutely right about the Ai not using it. if it did, we would have a much, much harder time on Path of the Damned.

Like you, I like that the attributes are built around avoiding trap-builds etc, but they could have a slightly heavier weight to them, and one such way is to add accuracy into the mix, but very, very gently, mind you, like +1 Acc at 14 Perception and +2 at 18, and that's it, just as a bad example.

As for item groups, I feel that lighter armours should have more options, just to make the game slightly more accommodating for "glass cannons".

Lastly, I'd like to see a few more defensive, acc on self-enhancing spells for wizards built as spellswords, as it were. Some of their abilities should last longer as well, like that Arcane Veil and such - I'd rather have duration and slightly lowered abilities/spells, since re-casting a defensive thingie in combat is a big hassle/hazard.

Edited by IndiraLightfoot

*** "The words of someone who feels ever more the ent among saplings when playing CRPGs" ***

 

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Blovski: Good feedback. :)

I agree on most of it, since I can see that you have a good grasp of the theoretical framework, as it were, of all the stuff the game tries to avoid and all the stuff it tries to enable.

However, in practice, there needs to be, IMO, a better flow to the movement, and all the disengagement penalties should still be there, but they should be slightly less taxing and there should be more talents and items etc that allow us to build slightly more fleet-feet characters.

And you are absolutely right about the Ai not using it. if it did, we would have a much, much harder time on Path of the Damned.

Like you, I like that the attributes are built around avoiding trap-builds etc, but they could have a slightly heavier weight to them, and one such way is to add accuracy into the mix, but very, very gently, mind you, like +1 Acc at 14 Perception and +2 at 18, and that's it, just as a bad example.

As for item groups, I feel that lighter armours should have more options, just to make the game slightly more accommodating for "glass cannons".

Lastly, I'd like to see a few more defensive, acc on self-enhancing spells for wizards built as spellswords, as it were. Some of their abilities should last longer as well, like that Arcane Veil and such - I'd rather have duration and slightly lowered abilities/spells, since re-casting a defensive thingie in combat is a big hassle/hazard.

I sort of agree with you, since Engagement as it stands is basically paralysing for any character who would actually *want* to disengage but then it's also really the only serious punishment for a tank and spank party against the AI right now. Once you throw in a basic AI which engages your frontline then considers trying to hunt down the squishies I think more mobility, depth and options with engagement (reactiveness to reach, lower chance to hit or limitation of the number of disengagement attacks you can do per target in a time period) would be really nice.

 

Some interesting non-robe light armours that emphasised a different playstyle would be nice, I agree, (say, a suit of light armour with a movement bonus or a huge disengagement bonus or something). 

 

Arcane Veil is more parallel to the fighter's vigorous defence or something and is kinda meant to be a stopgap, or emergency thing, I think. It works OK for me atm. Llengrath's Displaced Image, which is your key tanking one, has good duration.

 

My theory is that a lot of the problems you highlight - builds, party layout, engagement, armour - are so exacerbated by the game's AI that balancing them independently of it is going to be very difficult. I'd love to see some future build where tank/spank involves luring the AI to chokepoints, a bigger tank proportion with an emphasis on having enemies actually engaged or using summons to beef up the frontline enough that you can whittle down your opponents, as opposed to a more mobile party opening with, say, a kiting Ectopsychic Echo and a hobbling AOE behind your tanks to mince enemies trying to chase down the glass cannons.

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We don't want a game where you are kiting around an enemy.

 

Who is this royal 'We' for whom you purport to speak? Like many mechanics in this game, it's caused a fairly large rift between pro and anti camps.

 

I am not opposed to the idea, but am mightily concerned about the implementation.

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Blovski: Good feedback. :)

I agree on most of it, since I can see that you have a good grasp of the theoretical framework, as it were, of all the stuff the game tries to avoid and all the stuff it tries to enable.

However, in practice, there needs to be, IMO, a better flow to the movement, and all the disengagement penalties should still be there, but they should be slightly less taxing and there should be more talents and items etc that allow us to build slightly more fleet-feet characters.

And you are absolutely right about the Ai not using it. if it did, we would have a much, much harder time on Path of the Damned.

Yes, that was obviously a deliberate decision by OE, which was probably forced by disabling pre-combat buffs. If all AIs bee-lined to your squishies, keeping the latter alive would be frustratingly hard. So mages would need to be pre-buffed to have a decent chance of surviving and actually using their skills instead of just trying to run away from mobs (which happened quite often in IE games - the running away part I mean - and it wasn't particularly fun). It looks like the engagement system was supposed to fix that. Perhaps the AIs should reasonably try to target your back-liners, but only if they aren't already engaged by your front-liners. Which would make talents that increase your engaged enemies limit extremely valuable. 

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Thanks for all the great replies and suggestions, guys! :)

 

I just came to think of one thing that is far too underused in PoE, without any real reason for it, and that is ranged spells when you try to sneak up on a group of baddies. It happens at some very rare encounters, like those big dank spores using their charm ability and a certain boss or two, casting spells from afar, if you have escaped and try to get back into the fight. It would be a simple way (not requiring any real AI) to keep us players on our toes. Imagine sneaking into some Defiance Bay manor, only to be greeted by a panicky fireball from a distance (from the fog of war/shadows), just because your stealth was a bit sucky. :grin:

 

The main thing I took away from your comment was a reminder of how ridiculous sight ranges are in this game, in broad daylight and unobstructed areas. I mean, given that the goal was a successor to Baldur's Gate, it makes sense, it's just a "feature" that was best left on the cutting room floor.

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Two thoughts on Rangers...

 

1. The Skill system sucks. I'd rather have Fatigue tied to percentage of Health remaining, so that as your tank slowly gets more and more worn away, the effects of their wounds start to become more and more apparent. (Perhaps all characters would have more Health under such a system.) I feel Stealth and Mechanics could be handled by attributes just fine, and I can't see why consumables aren't handled by Intelligence and Might under the current system. I'd much prefer if we got an occasional Attribute boost from levels instead of dealing with skills at all.

 

This would, incidentally, rub out the entire "companion athletics" problem.

 

2. Some people feel we have too much animal companion with the ranger. I feel we don't have enough. Being two characters instead of one character is a really cool class gimmick, but as implemented it feels totally lame. What I'd like to see is a Ranger which flat-out outDPSes a Rogue so long as both Ranger and companion are attacking the same target. Almost all of the Ranger's abilities would be about an increasingly powerful bond between man and animal, and increasingly powerful teamwork. Save the "pure archer" abilities for other classes to make room for abilities which focus on coordinated attacks.

 

Note that, under such a system, Bonded Grief wouldn't (or at least shouldn't) exist. A Ranger would already lose all kinds of goodies if their companion fell, so mucking the Ranger while they're down would be pointless.

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They should have allowed us to roll attributes. Who cares if someone sits around rerolling for amazing stats, most people would be okay with decent stats and move on.

But, but... degenerative gameplay! Must be killed with fire - or at least stuck in place with engagement. :p

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Isn't AI the counter to kiting, not engagement?

 

I never kited in the old IE games anyway, was it still powerful/exploitative with SCS?

 

If they hadn't made weapon switching so time-intensive, that would be reasonable counter to kiting it seems.  Running away? I'll start shooting at you with my gun until you stop (maybe some type of hobbling shot).

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I never kited in the old IE games anyway, was it still powerful/exploitative with SCS?

 

Enemies will intelligently switch targets if you start kiting in SCS, but it's still pretty exploitative since you can just dance out of range with each new character. I like the fact that engagement penalizes recklessly running out of melee range like that, it's just that the punishment is pretty heavy handed.

 

An increased accuracy, interrupting disengagement attack with a chance to Hobble would have been better, then the enemy could actually stick to you to prevent kiting. An instant, free, interrupting, increased accuracy and increased damage melee strike is way too steep.

 

Hell, variable enemy disengagement attacks would have been nice too. 

Edited by View619
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