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Disengaging a tank is so simple


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I don't see the problem with engagement and dis-engagement attacks.

 

I've always viewed kiting as an exploit of the AI. If kiting is to be allowed by the players have the AI do it back. That would make for some pissed off gamers when any intelligent enemy drops a tangle foot to slow you down and then proceeds to shoot you as you try to close the distance. Maybe a magic wand can recharge while you are running but it makes little sense that you can reload a crossbow or a firearm while running away.

 

If you are in a melee fight, turning to run away should get you killed or at least hit hard, which is what the system is set up to simulate. Can you exploit it as shown in the video with multiple team members engaging a single enemy who is then manipulated into moving and triggering multiple dis-engagement attacks? Sure you can, lots of things can be exploited. It doesn't mean that you need to exploit them. If you feel the need to exploit everything that can be exploited then this is probably not a good game for you.

 

Better AI would have every intelligent enemy have a ranged weapon on switch, preferably a hard hitting firearm. The opening move would be to focus fire on one of your team, preferably the weakest or most threatening, or in other words your Wizard. This is what my team does, "shoot the guy in the dress holding a Grimoire" is a winning tactic. Implementing this would make gameplay much less enjoyable as every battle would start with your Casters getting focus fired and killed.

 

If you had a 'running endurance' pool it'd either force you to pump it up to be able to chase down kiters or you'd just be able to be kited that much more effectively when you get tired.

 

This is not a RTS game but a team RPG. In Warhammer 40K having your guys kite (think it was called dancing or something like that, been a few years) melee or shorter ranged/slower enemies was part of the skill set. Here they assume that players will self regulate based upon whatever they feel is in character. The game lets me have unlimited rests without any real consequences. I can choose to cast every single spell I have every single fight and then rest and do it again. The game is not balanced for this as it assumes that I am not role playing a narcoleptic who needs to sleep 20+ hours per day.

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Sensuki, I do believe you are associating engagement to issues which aren't actually a problem of engagement at all. All right, let's put kiting aside for the moment, as 4ward correctly pointed out, it's very much an issue of "Don't want it - don't use it." I didn't really want to elaborate too much originally, but I guess I will now, and I'm sure I'll bring entirely new arguments to a discussion which totally has not been exhausted to death even during the game's beta. So let's begin
Fenixp's theme song plays *

* It's not actually my theme song at all :( I want my own theme song *

 

Do we need more Infinity Engine combat?

So, I touched upon this point a few posts back. I liked Infinity Engine games. I never was their biggest fan, aside from Planescape Torment, but I played them for many an hour anyway. And, quite frankly, their implementation of real time with pause combat always felt clunky to me. That's mostly caused by it not actually being a real time with pause system at all - it's more of a simultaneous turn system, but I digress, let's just stop at "Not a huge fan of how IE games handled things". And Pillars of Eternity, while inspired by IE games, was never supposed to be their replica, which gave me a lot of hope when it comes to combat system improvements. I was originally just hoping for an order queue, which we did not get (God damnit, Obsidian), but what we did get impressed me regardless - it's a combat system which puts a lot more focus on pre-fight planning and positioning. Yea, yea, you can't use buff spells before combat, but that just makes priest's abilities more important after the combat starts and makes you improvise more, which is another thing I loved - you criticize the game for limiting your improvisation, whereas I found it made me improvise a lot more than IE games ever did, due to, amongst other things, *drumroll* engagements.

 

In IE games, once an enemy got close to my caster, I pretty much had the automatic reaction of clicking away from the enemy 'cause ... Well, that's what you do when somebody gets in melee range, you run away. I could literally show them my back and they would just shrug and start following me around. When an enemy gets in meele range with my wizard now, I immediately pause and start thinking "What is the best way to defuse this situation with minimal amount of wasted resources?" I found engagement system lead to a huge amount of situations I was unfamiliar with while playing Infinity Engine games - and that I really appreciate, I got fed up with their combat quite some time ago. And yeah, you are absolutely correct, this makes movement around the battlefield more difficult - but from where I stand, that just makes combat different, not necessarily worse, and introduces situations which I never encountered in Infinity Engine games, while removing some approaches which worked there. I'm having a hard time seeing how this is a downgrade - if anything, it's up to your taste and expectations of combat system.

 

I feel like Pillars evokes Infinity Engine games too much and the biggest downside of that is that people have expectations based on Infinity Engine games, which may easily undermine interesting mechanics not because they're bad or dysfunctional, but quite simply because they're not Infinity Engine mechanics.

 

But it's tots not realistic!

Yeah, it's extra attacks while a character is doing something else. I'm not sure if this is due to me increasingly liking board games, but I vastly prefer an interesting abstract mechanic to a realistic one. Now I'm not saying the current implementation is perfect - Obsidian has already decided to make pre-combat positioning important, so let's take it to another level. Let's do a Dragon Age and have front and back to a selection circle. Let's give characters a cone in which they may engage instead of a circle. And let's make disengagement attacks more destructive, but give them a cooldown period. And let's have every hit to the back of a character force him to disengage all enemies. I mean, there's a lot you can do with this, and my suggestions might be as broken as Obsidian's ideas - but the basis of the mechanic is sound and makes this particular real time with pause RPG play differently to a lot of other real time with pause RPGs. If I just wanted to play more Baldur's Gate, I would do just that.

 

It feels unnatural

Well, turning your back on guy with a sword also feels unnatural, yet people have no trouble doing this :-P Nah, disengagement mechanics themselves felt perfectly natural the moment I understood how exactly do they work. The main issue here is that the game makes a rather poor job of explaining them properly. We need an arena-based tutorial in which tutor would go "We're fighting now. Do try to leave" and the game would go *SMACK* as you did and people would suddenly understand. The real reason as to why people don't pick up on it organically is quite simply based on the fact that most real time with pause games tend to ape Baldur's Gate and people are not used to this approach and due to lack of animation on disengagement, which would make it a lot more readable. Yeah, sure, NWN had its attacks of opportunity, but they never felt nearly as dangerous.

 

Engagements are the root of all evil

I do believe you attribute a lot of issues actually related to poor AI and encounter design to engagement mechanics. AI which actually cooperated on disabling a tank would go a long way in alleviating this. Encounter design which would put you in positions unfamiliar to you would also help tremendously - White March actually did a lot of work in this area. Engagement mechanic in itself is fine, what's the main issue with it right now is that instead of making enemies smarter, Obsidian has decided to make them more numerous, which is not the greatest way of solving this issue - nonetheless, the constant zerg rush is again another thing somewhat differentiating Pillars of Eternity, so who am I to complain.

 

* That was a damn fine theme song. And I still don't want to play Awesomenauts. Hm. *

Edited by Fenixp
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Kiting is mostly an AI and encounter design problem. Kiting will exist in all real-time games where there are different movement speeds and/or ranged combat. It is a core part of multiplayer RTS gameplay.

Kiting exists in turn based as well. I kited a group of goblins in DnD in turn based combat with a elf archer using a longbow easily. Edited by archangel979
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I don't have the time to properly reply to the posts in this thread at the moment, but quickly

 

This is not a RTS game but a team RPG.

 

I believe there is no such thing as "RPG combat". RPGs take their combat style from another genre whether it be turn-based strategy, action game combat or real-time strategy combat (among other things). I mention RTS-style because the Infinity Engine games use an RTS engine. The Infinity Engine was originally developed for a prototype RTS called Battleground Infinity and was later re-purposed for Baldur's Gate. I say that combat in Pillars of Eternity is RTS-style because it's an isometric real-time (with pause) game with RTS-style camera and controls, unit movement and mechanics where the player controls potentially a group of units - just like the Infinity Engine games. Aarklash Legacy, another RTWP game also has RTS-style combat.

 

I've always viewed kiting as an exploit of the AI.

 

It doesn't matter whether you view kiting as an exploit or legitimate gameplay because Melee Engagement does not prevent kiting. 

 

If you are in a melee fight, turning to run away should get you killed or at least hit hard, which is what the system is set up to simulate.

I honestly don't know where people get this notion from - especially for a real-time game. Let me use a real life example because that's what you seem to be implying here. If you swing a weapon at somebody and they move away while you're swinging, for the time it takes from the attack backswing for you to recover the weapon that person is getting away from you. You do not suddenly get an invisible automatic attack at them, or any other person you are "engaging", they simply get away and it is up to you to follow them.

 

If you have a dagger or a two handed axe and you are not ready to perform your attack ("in recovery") and I run away from you, you are not going to be able to hit me. You will have to chase me and hit me. You'd possibly be able to hit me with a longer weapon though.

 

Combat in games is an abstraction, and just because the in game animation depicts your character making an instant turn and walking away, it does not mean that the character has dropped their guard or makes them 'vulnerable' like you and others depict. The animations are such because that's how they were implemented in the Infinity Engine games and Obsidian went for depicting the Infinity Engine feel with encouragement from backers (such as myself). It's also cheaper to do them that way rather than to try and animate them so that their movements feel realistic. 

 

For some reason, you and others (including some of the developers too, most likely) are willing to give disengagement attacks a pass, chalking them off as abstraction but yet you are unwilling to consider that the character running away from melee combat did so skillfully rather than exposing himself. The guy above - Fenixp also seems to be unable to make this distinction. You cannot use the realism argument. Feel free to argue that you enjoy the gameplay it creates, but don't try and claim realism here.

 

So, I touched upon this point a few posts back. I liked Infinity Engine games. I never was their biggest fan, aside from Planescape Torment, but I played them for many an hour anyway. And, quite frankly, their implementation of real time with pause combat always felt clunky to me. That's mostly caused by it not actually being a real time with pause system at all - it's more of a simultaneous turn system

 

The quoted line is absolutely incorrect.

 

The Infinity Engine games ARE real-time with pause, and they are currently the best implementation of real-time with pause out there in my opinion.

 

The fact that they are real-time with pause is not debatable, and here is why.

 

For the IE games to be a 'simultaneous turn system' that would imply that player input is limited, the Infinity Engine games have a constant input stream and you can override the actions of any character at any time. Not only can you do this, but if you issue a movement command, that character will respond instantly, overriding their currently queued action.

 

The other reason that it is blatantly not turn-based is because the game does not stop to wait for input. The game continues in real-time unless you pause the game. Turn-based games dictate the structure of player input. Real-time games have a constant input stream where the player may change the commands to any unit at any time.

 

What I believe you are referring to is the "attacks per round" system. I am not sure if you completely understand how it works either, so I will explain it to you.

 

Each character operates on their own individual 'round timer', and that timer begins when they begin playing an animation of a non-movement action. This may be performing an attack animation, drinking a potion or using a door. These rounds are NOT turns, they simply designate how many non-movement actions this character can perform in a period of in-game time, which is I believe six seconds at 30 FPS animation speed. They function very similarly to Pillars of Eternity's recovery system in that the system dictates the amount of time a character has to wait in between actions, except in the Infinity Engine games, the system is unified for all characters and actions. Every non-movement action uses up "one attack". It doesn't matter what it is. Whereas in Pillars of Eternity, they've chosen to go with a system where different actions have different animation speeds and recovery speeds.

 

In fact, the Infinity Engine system is simple, unified and effective and is easier to understand than the Pillars of Eternity system. People get hung up on the fact that it's an RTWP implementation of D&D, but don't look at how the system actually works. I honestly do not feel that the system is clunky at all. I find that combat has better pace, feel and visibility in the Infinity Engine games.

 

It seems that you guys have not considered what I said about real-time with pause gameplay either. What is combat in games if we break it down? It involves decision making and the execution of decisions. Turn-based games dictate to the player when they may have their input and technically how many decisions they need to make. Real-time games do not dictate the player input and it is up to the player to realize when and if they need to make decisions, and it is up to them to perform their actions in the space of the game's time (which you can pause in RTWP). A passive system to 'punish' players (and AI) for making good and logical decisions in combat does not really involve much active decision making at all. All it does is take away an inherent aspect of the game. Would it not be better to instead reward the player for active decision making? Would not that be more fun? That is why I believe that the game would be better off where units (player and AI) should have to actively respond to actions taken by other units, which is why I think no engagement system is needed and the use of crowd control abilities to control movement in combat would create much better and much more rewarding gameplay. There is no sense of accomplishment when you score a disengagement attack on an enemy unit but when you knock them down or stun then through use of an ability, there is.

 

That's all I've got time to say at the moment, and most of that wasn't about Engagement but I'll come back and post some more, addressing some of the other things people have said later.

Edited by Sensuki
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character running away from melee combat did so skillfully rather than exposing himself.

I'll just take this one bit over here because it perfectly illustrates my point. You said it yourself - you can't just turn around and leave, leaving meele engagement needs to be a deliberate action which is either timed correctly or for which you have created an opportunity. To me, that is what meele engagement system is supposed to simulate - the skill needed to avoid an attack and escape the engagement. There are several talents for every class which allow for disabling a target and there are several talents which allow for breaking the engagement straight away. Breaking the engagement is an action which requires skill and planning to pull off. But yes, you are correct, of course - everything I say in my posts in my opinion and my position, I didn't really think that needs pointing out.

 

Also, thank you for explaining details of Infinity Engine combat. I was always under the impression that the game was strictly divided into turns - as in, all characters do their per turn action at once and then a new turn begins as opposed to all characters executing their turns independently of each other. I won't of course take your word for it and do some of my own research, but I guess you spent more time with it than I did. Naturally, this won't make me love Infinity Engine combat, I still feel it's quite clunky, slow and am not its biggest fan. And naturally, even if that were the case and combat was strictly divided into turns, Infinity Engine combat is a real time with pause system, there's not even a real argument there - I was exaggerating because it never felt like a good RTwP system to me.

 

 

It seems that you guys have not considered what I said about real-time with pause gameplay either. What is combat in games if we break it down? It involves decision making and the execution of decisions. Turn-based games dictate to the player when they may have their input and technically how many decisions they need to make. Real-time games do not dictate the player input and it is up to the player to realize when and if they need to make decisions, and it is up to them to perform their actions in the space of the game's time (which you can pause in RTWP). A passive system to 'punish' players (and AI) for making good and logical decisions in combat does not really involve much active decision making at all. All it does is take away an inherent aspect of the game.

I'll start off with a little anectode: Currently, I am replaying the original Baldur's Gate. I really just want to replay Pillars again, but I decided to wait until patch 3.99 is out (the one in which Obsidian resolves the bugs introduced in 3.02 (that's the patch in which Obsidian resolves the crippling bug introduced in hotfix for patch 3.0)) Anyway, Baldur's Gate. My current party composition is my female Cleric Cler (original, eh?), Khalid, Jaheira and Imoen. My Jaheira was severely hurt and I wanted to retreat to Bereghost (spelling?), but encountered a brown bear on my way. Since I sport a lvl2 party, a bear is no joke, and the arsehole instantly homed in on Jaheira. This was undesirable and so, before he approached, I hid her behind Cler and Khalid. The bear was really determined tho, and started running in circles after Jaheira, completely ignoring incoming attacks. As far as I'm concerned, he should absolutely be penalized for ignoring my fighters and just casually walking around them in close proximity while they are swinging their swords in his general direction.

 

Anyway, I absolutely consider what you say about real-time with pause gameplay, I just disagree with it, clearly. You keep making the argument that real time with pause combat is centred about situational action and reaction, and I absolutely agree with that. The kicker is, that's no different in Pillars of Eternity, you just need to react differently to different actions, that's all. Actually, the system allows for mere change in your positioning to be a powerful reaction. It doesn't reduce tactical decisionmaking or anything of the sort - in fact I find myself thinking of my next step a lot more in Pillars with engagement system than I ever did in Infinity Engine games, and that's purely because an enemy character standing next to my character already is an action which requires my attention and my reaction and when I opt to select a character and send this character next to enemy character, the same applies - this was my action, and it's up to the enemy to react. It doesn't restrict your possibilities, it just makes positioning a lot more important and act of repositioning to be a part of your overal tactical considerations as opposed to a thing you just do.

Edited by Fenixp
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It actually makes repositioning something you don't do, lest you get an invisible auto-hit (used to be auto-crit in the beta days) attack. Why would you call that upon yourself? Decisions I make in combat are geared toward dealing damage and avoid taking it. Moving in combat with a melee engagement system means taking damage (more like, it means giving my enemy a free auto-hit attack against me that doesn't incur any recovery time but can positively interrupt my character, so they get to keep maiming me immediately thereafter), so of course I'll never do that. Deliberately calling damage on yourself is bad.

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sensuki mentioned how it would only be feasible for this imaginary melee scenario to play out in a similar way to a disengagement attack only if the attacker was using a reach weapon and thus could "catch" the evader on a backswing/etc.

so, uh, that actually sounds p. much perfect to me. make disengagement attacks apply only to reach weapons, and make them more useful in the process.

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AndreaColombo: Process for repositioning:
a) Evaluate the situation. Is your character engaged by an opponent with low damage output? Just move him, doesn't really matter. Is your character engaged by an opponent with significant damage output? Proceed to b.

b) Check talents and positioning. Does the engaged character have an ability which will allow for him to freely disengage and is also applicable on this particular enemy type? Good, use it. Is that not the case? Check other nearby characters which are not tied up or have ranged abilities which might accomplish this effect. If you desperately need a character to disengage, use more than a single disengagement ability from more than a single character.

c) If disengagement was successful, move your character to safety or more advantageous position. If not, go back to b and/or weep.

 

Edit: Every time I needed a character to reposition, I always found a way to do it, all that was required of me was not to waste all disabing per encounter attacks at the start of a combat.

Edited by Fenixp
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Disengagement attacks can't be analyzed in a vacuum; if they were intended to control the flow of battle alone they would effectively just be fool-proof taunts.

 

If anything, the AI seems overly cautious about breaking engagements - it seems much less likely to break an engagement than if a human was controlling the unit .  Which is why defender is pretty powerful imo even on POTD.  

 

When enemies do start peeling for your backline, that's the time to start summoning melee units, and having your tanks switch to their 2 hand weapons.  Not only do enemies have to run around the summoned units, but they'll be suffering extra disengagement attacks along the way.   

 

Combine this with movement speed reduction or other CC.  A lot of powerful enemies you see at lvl 5 there, can't even move when blinded.  E.g. forest trolls, flame blights; normal trolls/ogres barely move.  You should space your front line as wide as possible without allowing the enemy to run between them.  This means a long circular run if they are going to get to your back line.

 

The backline should be able to handle mobs ocassionally getting in melee range.  Some mobs teleport for instance, some encounters are ambushes where you are start surrounded.  For example, each of my wizards can tank with buffs (better than a fighter) for limited periods of time.   My ranger is the only class in my party that absolutely dreads being stuck in melee with an enemy. You should probably only have 1-2 pure glass cannon builds  in your group.

 

 

There's really no reason for this to be the case.  Rangers are perfectly capable of being solid in melee.  I suspect the problem your ranger is having is that you've got him wearing the least amount of armor possible (perhaps even no armor) to enhance his RoF.  If so, you might want to reconsider how much armor you have your Ranger wear, and consider accepting a reduction in his RoF to provide him with at least some protection for those times when he can't avoid melee.

 

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Why are you always came up with an "animation" argument? Animation is absolutely schematic in this game. It's here just to give us an illusion of real combat. Even the games with much more powerful graphics engines have to be designed around the fact that what you see is not what is actually going on. Means there are lots of simplifications because of this. Just use your imagination to fill the gaps and you won't be needed to think about weirdness of "invisible" disengagement attacks that are taking place at the same time as some other action. The issue is within the combat simulation mechanics, it is not the visualization that have be fixed.

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I'll just take this one bit over here because it perfectly illustrates my point. You said it yourself - you can't just turn around and leave, leaving meele engagement needs to be a deliberate action which is either timed correctly or for which you have created an opportunity. To me, that is what meele engagement system is supposed to simulate - the skill needed to avoid an attack and escape the engagement.

I've followed this game since Day 1 of the Kickstarter and I religiously poured over every update and developer post that was made. You say that "to me, this is what the melee engagement system is supposed to simulate" and that's fair enough if you want to make up your own interpretation of what the system simulates to you, however the 'empirical evidence' that I am aware of that expresses the reasons why the developers created the system is as follows (I can't be bothered finding quotes and links, but I can on request).

 

A while ago - in 2012 actually, Josh Sawyer posted a thread on this forum called "What moulds should be broken" and many people replied to this thread. One of the posters that replied to it was a user named Tamerlane who asked for "punishing movement in melee combat". I cannot remember his reasons but I'm fairly certain they were because he hated it when enemy units did not stop to attack his characters in the Infinity Engine games when he attacked them in melee.

 

And so, we end up with the Melee Engagement system which is basically Attacks of Opportunity implemented a little bit differently from the NWN1&2 implementation. There was no "this is what it's supposed to simulate" consideration, it's simply an implementationof AoOs to punish movement in melee combat.

 

I actually disagree with the very notion that movement in combat needs to be punished. And I have argued since August or September last year about the reasons why, many times - which leads me to the following where you speak of your Baldur's Gate experience:

 

As far as I'm concerned, he should absolutely be penalized for ignoring my fighters and just casually walking around them in close proximity while they are swinging their swords in his general direction.

Why? Your Fighter is standing there attacking the bear.

 

And besides, if you would like a guide on how to make enemies acquire new targets in Baldur's Gate, here you go:

 

 

It seems like in your anecdote, you did not run Jaheira far enough away. Enemies in the Infinity Engine games have a loop that runs every round that checks for the 'best' target (I think Pillars of Eternity also has something similar now, I haven't played it with the new AI updates). If you moved Jaheira far enough away, and perhaps blocked the path of the bear with your Fighter to slow him down, he would lose Jaheira as a target, and re-acquire a new one.

 

I'm not home at the moment, but I can make a video especially for you showing you how to do it against a bear in the wilderness. It's really easy original.gif

 

The No Engagement mod for Pillars of Eternity actually keeps the AI side of the Melee Engagement system, it just removes the disengagement attacks. So if that example you gave was in Pillars of Eternity with the No Engagement mod - the bear would have started to attack your Fighter, but there would have been no disengagement attack.

 

I feel like Pillars evokes Infinity Engine games too much and the biggest downside of that is that people have expectations based on Infinity Engine games which may easily undermine interesting mechanics not because they're bad or dysfunctional, but quite simply because they're not Infinity Engine mechanics.

You can blame Obsidian and their Kickstarter campaign for that. They banked on the nostalgia of the Infinity Engine games and the 'grogs' of the world gave richly to help them make a game aimed at pleasing the 'goons'. I don't agree with your statement about invoking the IE games undermining interesting mechanics but that's just because the way you worded it - instead I would say that because Obsidian pitched this game as an Infinity Engine successor while not really liking Infinity Engine mechanics themselves (not speaking for everyone on the team but the key designers) we've ended up in this weird middle ground in a lot of cases where a mechanic is different for the sake of being different. In a GDC talk Josh Sawyer talked about how the aim for Pillars of Eternity's systems was to have a classic "system feel" and on the "character building choice" side of things I believe they somewhat succeeded there but the "gameplay feel" is definitely way off. I think in many ways they've tried to implement something that 'feels like' the IE games but is different (for the sake of it?) that just ends up being flat out worse.

 

I believe that Pillars of Eternity better targets people like yourself that may have kinda liked the Infinity Engine games but don't really enjoy the combat (for one reason or another). It also seems to appeal more to fans of turn-based than other real-time games - I think largely because the devs themselves cannot help but be heavily influenced from their tabletop and turn-based backgrounds.

 

It doesn't restrict your possibilities, it just makes positioning a lot more important and act of repositioning to be a part of your overal tactical considerations as opposed to a thing you just do.

I did not say that it restricts your possibilities, but it punishes moving in combat. If you are moving in combat while you are in recovery, your recovery is slowed down by a movement recovery penalty (another thing I hate about this game and also another part of the IE mod that I designed - "Movement Recovery Fix") and if you move while engaged you suffer a disengagement attack.

 

AndreaColombo is right. Moving in combat is something that you want to minimize completely due to the penalties against it so playing optimally requires setting it up so that you only move when you need to, not when you want to. It makes tactical movements a bad option.

 

I don't pick options that allow me to escape engagement because I am good at controlling the battlefield and I don't like having to pay character advancement points to be able to do something that I should be able to do anyway. It's the reverse of fun. Those options are for people who are bad at combat or who are doing TCS kiting builds and stuff like that.

 

The reason that I am still fervently arguing about this issue long after the game's release, when I don't intend to play the game again is that I morally oppose the notion that movement in melee combat needs to be punished. This notion is just plain wrong, and it creates poor gameplay. The more games that do this, the worse off the industry is. Designers need to think about tactical reactivity, not punishing players for tactical movement and discouraging it as a tactical response to a situation in combat.

Edited by Sensuki
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I've never been an expert in the IE games or their combat system. I was in my teens and was playing for fun. My conclusion after well over 100 hours with PoE and about 70 hours with the backer beta is that the game has nothing to lose if its combat system could be replaced by an exact replica of the IE games' combat.

 

This may be attributed to nostalgia by some, but I doubt it, or at least I doubt nostalgia has a decisive stake in forming my view. Still not a definitive proof, but I've exposed a friend of mine to PoE and then to BGII combat. He had not played IE games before, and he was in favor of BGII as more intuitive and easier to read and tell what's going on.

 

Those games are about 13 years apart.

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 I've exposed a friend of mine to PoE and then to BGII combat. He had not played IE games before, and he was in favor of BGII as more intuitive and easier to read and tell what's going on.

 

Those games are about 13 years apart.

 

The fact that you had to describe it as "exposing someone" to these games pretty much gives a way the fact that this friend of yours (assuming they really exist) is not a seasoned RPG gamer. Which makes perfect sense that your friend found a 13 year old game "easier" than something more modern.

 

In other news, the Atari 2600 has proven easier for 2 year olds than the Xbox.

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i've played this game to party level 7 and so far, as far as i'm concerned the engagement system doesn't add any kind of challenge. The disengaging is a non-decision, because disengaging is a risk that is not for me calculable. Even if i have defense vs AoOs, they are a matter of rolls. Even if i use a disengaging ability it takes time (if it is even succesfull). Disengaging to make sense though has to be instant otherwise for me it's a non-option. So, then there's that flanking thing i'm left with. But why should i bother if i can counter that with a guy in my party who summons allies all night long? And why should i rotate my chars in melee with that flanking stuff in the first place, i already can have up to 6 chars (without summoning), why should i flank and free a character anyway? And there's that convenient use of AoE spells to eliminate enemies in the cluster. The knockdown thing from the fighter for me does only make sense to use right in the opening to give me an advantage at the start of the battle which is espcially important since i'm outnumbered and want to focus on reducing the amount of enemies right from the get-go.

 

Dunno, but it feels strange that the melee system according to that KS update was introduced to make fighter type chars stronger yet what it does is it reduces my choice of what to do during combat.

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The fact that you had to describe it as "exposing someone" to these games pretty much gives a way the fact that this friend of yours (assuming they really exist) is not a seasoned RPG gamer. Which makes perfect sense that your friend found a 13 year old game "easier" than something more modern.

 

In other news, the Atari 2600 has proven easier for 2 year olds than the Xbox.

Lol, yes, she exists, beyond any doubt laughing.gif No, not a seasoned RPG player, no previous knowledge, and no prejudice to either game.

 

I said "easier to read", not "finds the game easier", and the text stands there. Whoever wants to read it can read it, and whoever, like you, wants to twist words can, well, twist words. Nothing I can do about it.

 

I used the verb "expose" to give a mildly ironic connotation to the story of me making such an experiment. Of course, it's not a real experiment, because it lacks the methodology - using control groups, etc. I conceded this in the very same post - "Still, not a definitive proof, but...".

 

In case you decide to reply to this post too, make sure you read all of it first.

Edited by Gairnulf

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Assuming the situation:

 

Eder (with an active Defender skill) is tanking 3 foes in close-combat. Eder has really strong defenses, so mobs can't even scratch him. At some point mobs' AI decides that Eder is not so attractive target for them, therefore it is time to disengage Eder. Following is my guessing: there is some sort of internal damage threshold value, which has to be applied to the target for every X seconds in order to continue engaging this target. Thus, because mobs can't do this - they are switching to the easier prey. You may already know what should happen next: short-lasting Benny Hill style chasing, when Eder will unsuccessfully try to re-engage at least some of the foes, then mobs are getting to chosen party-member and effectively one- two-shot him/her because it is Death March.

 

Well, it is actually not very usual situation for Eder because fighters hasn't got such superb defenses like paladins, but anyway - it may happen even with a fighter.

 

The problem is: it's basically too painless to get free from a tank's engagement. Tank can't really punish for this, because usually she is an worst damage-dealer in your party. Which leads to the question: doesn't tank need an instrument to prevent/resolve such situations in some way? For example, allow tank to apply a brief Hobbled effect on the disengaging targets (by choosing a separate talent if it's needed).

 

What do you think?

 

From my experience in RPG games, I simply refer to his as Aggro. Holding Aggro traditionally comes from doing enough damage to hold the mobs attention. Therefore, a good way to pull aggro away from your Tank is to either out-damage the Tank too quickly, or cast a powerful Heal spell (which is treated as out-damaging the Tank). The whole idea was to let Tanks use skills like Taunt, which are on a Timer. Then, the Healers and DPS characters simply perform their actions within the boundaries of the Tanks damage output combined with the Taunt intervals.

 

With that in mind, I have had no problems with combat in PoE. I know when certain characters are doing too much damage to an engaged enemy. I plan ahead and make choices accordingly. Whether intentional or not, PoE combat seems to respond very well to Aggro management.

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The fact that you had to describe it as "exposing someone" to these games pretty much gives a way the fact that this friend of yours (assuming they really exist) is not a seasoned RPG gamer. Which makes perfect sense that your friend found a 13 year old game "easier" than something more modern.

 

In other news, the Atari 2600 has proven easier for 2 year olds than the Xbox.

I said "easier to read", not "finds the game easier", and the text stands there. Whoever wants to read it can read it, and whoever, like you, wants to twist words can, well, twist words. Nothing I can do about it.

 

 

Your short term memory could likely use some exercise, since this is what you said, "and he was in favor of BGII as more intuitive and easier to read and tell what's going on."

 

More intuitive and "easier to tell whats going on" sounds like "finds the game easier" to anyone with basic knowledge of the English language. You even listed those out separately from "easier to read." Surely if you only meant the one thing you wouldn't have listed 3 different factors.

 

Also, your imaginary friend seems to have undergone a sex change during your story lol. First you said HE was in favor of BGII, and now you said, "Lol, yes, she exists, beyond any doubt"

 

So is it a She or a He? Is it only reading text, or is it: reading text, more intuitive, and easier to tell what's going on?

 

Maybe write your fiction out separately first, and then post it.

Edited by Zenbane
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I've never been an expert in the IE games or their combat system. I was in my teens and was playing for fun. My conclusion after well over 100 hours with PoE and about 70 hours with the backer beta is that the game has nothing to lose if its combat system could be replaced by an exact replica of the IE games' combat.

 

This may be attributed to nostalgia by some, but I doubt it, or at least I doubt nostalgia has a decisive stake in forming my view. Still not a definitive proof, but I've exposed a friend of mine to PoE and then to BGII combat. He had not played IE games before, and he was in favor of BGII as more intuitive and easier to read and tell what's going on.

 

Those games are about 13 years apart.

I know for a fact I'd like the game less if it just implemented Infinity Engine combat :-P Anyway, all you have really managed to prove is that Infinity Engine combat is easier to pick up, which doesn't really mean much aside from that and is a fairly logical conclusion - if you asked me what happens if you let a bunch of players play IE combat and PoE combat, I would instantly reply with "Surely, they would pick up the IE combat a lot sooner", yet I'm going to prefer combat in Pillars of Eternity more. It's faster, it has a bit more going on and puts more information which you don't really need as a beginner on display.

 

The fact that you had to describe it as "exposing someone" to these games pretty much gives a way the fact that this friend of yours (assuming they really exist) is not a seasoned RPG gamer. Which makes perfect sense that your friend found a 13 year old game "easier" than something more modern.

 

In other news, the Atari 2600 has proven easier for 2 year olds than the Xbox.

A game which is easy to understand does not suggest a game which is either easy or not complex. It just means a game which communicates its concept in a natural and intuitive fashion. Hell, Dark Souls is fairly easy to understand, my wife figured out the controls and basics of fighting mechanics quickly enough - it's the meat of the game which is pretty damn difficult and requires a lot of planning and understanding of its core mechanics. But on its surface, it's easy enough to pick up.

 

Your short term memory ... Maybe write your fiction out separately first, and then post it.

rolleyes.gif What exactly is it that you believe you have just brought into the discussion aside from absolutely pointless negativity?

 

 

 

Sensuki, I have read and re-read your post and found that all I'll do is to repeat things I have already said with different wording, so in order to not get into a bit of a loop, I'm going to ignore parts I feel like I have sufficinetly explained previously. We can throw our reasoning for liking and disliking these systems around all day and it won't really accomplish much, so thank you for reading my arguments and responding in a coherent and eloquent manner, I will think on what you have said next time I'll play Pillars of Eternity and see how it changes my view of the game. I would ask you to do the same, but you have been invested in the issue for much longer than I and have most likely given it a lot more thought than I did. Oh and thank you for the offer, but I think the video you have posted explains how does the AI work well enough (not that it's particularly intuitive mind you) With that said...

 

You can blame Obsidian and their Kickstarter campaign for that. They banked on the nostalgia of the Infinity Engine games and the 'grogs' of the world gave richly to help them make a game aimed at pleasing the 'goons'.

Well, Obsidian was quite clear that they're not going to use DnD ruleset, massive mechanical changes were kind of to be expected, and Pillars of Eternity really is the closest a game has ever gotten to the original Baldur's Gate in its presentation of exploration and often enough storytelling (altho Obsidian has taken a good bit of Planescape there. And then there's Icewind Dale) - anyway, my point is that Obsidian has most certainly delivered on their promise. Of course, the counterpoint to that would be that different people valued different parts of those games differently. Ever since I've seen Obsidian claiming Pillars of Eternity is going to be a spiritual successor to Infinity Engine games, I thought it'll be a disaster - too far from the originals to please fans of those and too old-school to capture a new audience. I mean, there's a reason as to why you don't see a backer badge beneath my avatar. What do you know, when I tried it at my friend's place I found I quite like it and then, buying it for the full price, it quickly became my GOTY of 2015. I think it turned out quite well considering :-P Still, you can't ever please everybody, and you seem to be one of the unfortunate people who ended up on the "displeased" pile, which I do understand is even more jarring since you're one of the people who made the game possible.

 

The reason that I am still fervently arguing about this issue long after the game's release, when I don't intend to play the game again is that I morally oppose the notion that movement in melee combat needs to be punished. This notion is just plain wrong, and it creates poor gameplay. The more games that do this, the worse off the industry is. Designers need to think about tactical reactivity, not punishing players for tactical movement and discouraging it as a tactical response to a situation in combat.

Please, do not tilt at windmills. What you are describing is not an issue, and is something I would be quite displeased about as well, for very simple reason that I like my games to be as varied as possible. I always loved real time with pause combat, and I felt that implementation in some games was better, in others it was worse (Re-reading the post, I was going somewhere with this and then forgot. So yes, some things are better than others is a powerful argument now!). Still, Pillars of Eternity brings yet another take on it, and while it's not exactly my favourite implementation, it's definitely amongst those I liked the best. Still, saying that you don't want a game which sold 500 000 copies to significantly influence industry would be to vastly overestimate its importance - and even when mechanic of a game is a big success it doesn't necessarily become a norm, let alone a mechanic on which people are as torn as engagement system. It might appear in some games in the future, but that's about it - do you see attacks of opportunity from Neverwinter Nights being used everywhere?

Edited by Fenixp
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More intuitive and "easier to tell whats going on" sounds like "finds the game easier" to anyone with basic knowledge of the English language.

Gairnulf is Bulgarian. English is not his first language.

 

The way I read his post I thought that his friend may have been talking about combat being *visually* easier to read, which I find is also the case for me. The attacks per round system of the IE games means that units act at a consistent pace throughout combat and there are no UI elements like Engagement arrows or Unit Combat HUDs or flashy 3D spells that light up the screen like a Christmas tree obscuring characters in the process.

 

Some of the rules in Pillars of Eternity are also unintuitive such as the use of percentages for pretty much everything and complicated additive multiplication maths for attack speed and damage (among other things). In contrast 1D6+1 and the like are pretty simple to understand.

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More intuitive and "easier to tell whats going on" sounds like "finds the game easier" to anyone with basic knowledge of the English language.

Gairnulf is Bulgarian. English is not his first language.

 

The way I read his post I thought that his friend may have been talking about combat being *visually* easier to read, which I find is also the case for me. The attacks per round system of the IE games means that units act at a consistent pace throughout combat and there are no UI elements like Engagement arrows or Unit Combat HUDs or flashy 3D spells that light up the screen like a Christmas tree obscuring characters in the process.

 

Some of the rules in Pillars of Eternity are also unintuitive such as the use of percentages for pretty much everything and complicated additive multiplication maths for attack speed and damage (among other things). In contrast 1D6+1 and the like are pretty simple to understand.

 

 

Hovering over characters and enemies in PoE combat gives a great deal of information (resists, weaknesses, dmg, def, buffs, debuffs) in a very easy to digest manner. My opinion here of course, but I found this to be a very welcome experience compared to many group-combat-based RPG's, even beyond the IE genre.

 

Plus, there are so many skills and abilities that go beyond what most RPG's deliver, that I can't really imagine any other way to implement combat messaging. The character class system is just so intricate, and often reminds me of playing the card game, Magic: The Gathering.

 

More importantly, just look at all of the intense character class build breakdowns available on the Web. Most of them have a huge dependency on effectively understanding whats happening in combat; yet there they are shining through just fine, with gamers constantly playtesting and striving to make the builds better. Each game patch begins this process anew.

 

If the combat system were not as intuitive as some make it out to be, then the overwhelming dedication to complex class builds would likely not exist. Simply put: the community dedication to character builds is a testimony to the ease and intuitiveness of the PoE combat system - including its messaging.

 

As a side note: the messaging system is customizable and mimics the same group-based messaging found in popular MMORPG's (Dark Age of Camelot, World of WarCraft, etc). This form of messaging works just fine for a 100+ person dungeon raid (which usually last hours), so I can't see how it is problematic in a single player game with 6 NPC's lol

Edited by Zenbane
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Hovering over characters and enemies in PoE combat gives a great deal of information (resists, weaknesses, dmg, def, buffs, debuffs) in a very easy to digest manner. My opinion here of course, but I found this to be a very welcome experience compared to many group-combat-based RPG's, even beyond the IE genre.

This type of transparency has been present in RPGs before Pillars of Eternity, in fact their implemntation is pretty much a straight copy of what Aarklash: Legacy did. Personally I prefer less information. This information also has nothing to do with the visuals of combat. It used to, but the tooltips were moved from above the units to the top left of the screen because they obscured what was happening in combat. Combat visual clarity is something that this game has always struggled with.

 

Plus, there are so many skills and abilities that go beyond what most RPG's deliver

 

Like what? There is no skill or ability in this game that stands out to me. What does stand out to me is the design of the Monk, Chanter and Cipher with their different class resources. , Despite being a far cry from "IE style" their wound, chant and focus mechanics are good ideas even if not excellent implementations. Even if focus is technically mana.

 

More importantly, just look at all of the intense character class build breakdowns available on the Web. Most of them have a huge dependency on effectively understanding whats happening in combat; yet there they are shining through just fine, with gamers constantly playtesting and striving to make the builds better. Each game patch begins this process anew.

I have already acknowledged in this thread that when it comes to character building choice that Pillars of Eternity provides a wide range of options, however I think the actual gameplay and the things that the player does in combat is much more rote, limited and boring compared to the Infinity Engine games. What the player does in combat is far more important to me than having a wide array of choice at character creation and level up.

 

If the combat system were not as intuitive as some make it out to be, then the overwhelming dedication to complex class builds would likely not exist. Simply put: the community dedication to character builds is a testimony to the ease and intuitiveness of the PoE combat system - including its messaging.

I vehemently disagree. Obsidian ... particularly Josh Sawyer have been fairly open regarding the mechanics of this game, moreso than most, if not all Kickstarter games and definitely moreso than what you would expect from a non-crowdfunded RPG. It is because of the crowdfunding and developer openness and the fact that there have been very dedicated backers following the game since the Kickstarter that have compiled every piece of information from the developers (including many of us asking questions about unknown things) before the game was even released. The game also benefitted from a closed public beta, and pre-release modding and game code reverse engineering where the community was able to figure out what we didn't already know through our own investigation.

 

I made the *very first* guides for Pillars of Eternity the full version because I had access to the press copy of the game through the RPG Codex. I made my guides to share my knowledge with the community because the mechanics of this game are complicated and often unintuitive and I believe that without the sharing of such community knowledge, the game would not have been as well received by fans. On release, we were able to share EVERYTHING we knew about the game and through use of the wiki, internet forums and social media, this information has now become widespread and improved upon/maintained by others post-release.

 

*THAT* is why there is such a wealth of information about the game. Developers willing to share info prior to the game's release and dedicated fans keeping track of the information and contributing their own research. When a developer is not open about game mechanics (which happens very often) it can take the community years and years to find out how things work.

 

There are a lot of different systems in this game and a lot of them are somewhat complex, but I believe that some of these systems contribute to some of the game's core combat issues, such as the sheer amount of per-encounter abilities making combat a rote exercise of spamming them every encounter.

 

I do like a lot of the mechanics in this game, but IMO the most fun part is making a character. Combat itself I find quite boring - it's all stacked towards encounter strategy and alpha striking. After that, it just becomes going through the motions of spamming the same things every encounter.

 

The IE games had more reactive combat. You actually had to react to what enemies do. For 98% of Pillars of Eternity, you do not have to react to enemy actions very often. There is no counter-spelling. There is no dispelling. No quaffing potions to remove poisons. Tactical retreating and aggro switching is often a bad choice. You follow through with your sequence almost no matter what. You spend the majority of your time in combat using the same per-encounter abilities in virtually the same order every encounter.

Edited by Sensuki
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I vehemently disagree. Obsidian ... particularly Josh Sawyer have been fairly open regarding the mechanics of this game, moreso than most, if not all Kickstarter games and definitely moreso than what you would expect from a non-crowdfunded RPG. It is because of the crowdfunding and developer openness and the fact that there have been very dedicated backers following the game since the Kickstarter that have compiled every piece of information from the developers (including many of us asking questions about unknown things) before the game was even released. The game also benefitted from a closed public beta, and pre-release modding and game code reverse engineering where the community was able to figure out what we didn't already know through our own investigation.

The character builds are based on publicly available information; things you can see in-game, and things everyone can read via patch notes. Everything you just typed has absolutely nothing to do with what I said, nor the reality of the present day character builds.

 

Your entire response misses the mark completely. For example...

 

This information also has nothing to do with the visuals of combat.

We are talking about the parts of the game that involve being, and I quote, "easier to read"

 

You topic shift with every one of your responses to just about every person you respond to. You certainly know how to type well, now if you only you can focus on the actual issue lol

Edited by Zenbane
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I am interested in discussion, there are no forum rules here saying that posters have to stay on topic.

 

Your entire response misses the mark completely. For example...

No it doesn't. Without the effort that we put in to compile the mechanical information about the game, the community would not be in it's current state.

 

We are talking about the parts of the game that involve being, and I quote, "easier to read"

You're taking the word read as a literal expression implying "reading words" when I was referring to "reading the play". If you're not familiar it means to visually look at and understand what is going on in the game. IE combat is much easier to comprehend simply by looking at the screen and the combat log ... which is also in the middle bottom of the UI which is the most comfortable position on the screen for on the fly reading.

 

In Pillars of Eternity, you have to constantly pause the game if you want to find out some information because the game is a visual cluster****, there's so much crap that pastes into the combat log and it's in an uncomfortable spot to read while the game is unpaused. Not once have I ever looked at the unit tooltips in the top of the screen. In fact, I'm fairly sure I disable them with the IE mod when I played. They tell me nothing because at least when I played, any information that I needed I could look up in the combat log. If I saw a low damage score in the log, I would just collapse the entry and read the line in there.

 

To do that though, I had to pause the game and look that information up, whereas in the Infinity Engine games, which have great visual clarity and make excellent use of distinct animations and FX, and are not cluttered with extra UI elements, you can tell what's happening simply by looking at the screen, or glancing down at the lines in the combat log. Due to the nature of Pillars of Eternity's complicated mechanics, the game often requires you to pause the game and then further inspect a UI element to understand some problems.

 

You did not need to display immunities in the IE games because every time a character attacked a monster, they would bark "THIS ONE IS IMMUNE" or something like that and a line would paste into the combat log (positioned in the bottom middle of the screen which is the easiest spot to read) and you would see the *this monster was immune to my damage* line. I imagine that the implementation of affliction immunities in Pillars is less graceful than that.

Edited by Sensuki
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In Pillars of Eternity, you have to constantly pause the game if you want to find out some information because the game is a visual cluster****, there's so much crap that pastes into the combat log and it's in an uncomfortable spot to read while the game is unpaused.

Yup, that's by far one of my favourite parts of combat in Pillars of Eternity - the speed. It's fast, it's chaotic, you need to pause constantly to be able to play the game properly. As far as I'm concerned, that just means it uses real time with pause principles properly - there's no way to accelerate combat in Infinity Engine games, yet all you really need to do in Pillars of Eternity is unpause and have autopause options set up properly. You need to pause, analyze, react - you can't hope to succeed by just clicking fast enough, on higher difficulties anyway.

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sensuki, i pretty much agree with everything you've said but i just want to point out very quickly some points:

there IS "dispelling" in PoE; setpieces like the dragon fights, the vithrack bounty, the xaurip hordes with paralyzing spear thrusts and most notably the fish-people from hell from TWM with their paralyzing ranged dart-guns. The "dispel" is having your priest cast Prayer against Imprisonment in order to decrease the duration of these status effects while also providing defense against it at the same time. There is another form of "dispelling" coming from the chanter with a particular invocation that decreases the duration of Frightened/Terrified by half, another popular affliction in other setpieces, like fighting undead raedric or fampyrs inside caed nua, or, again the dragon fights.

the main problem is these examples i'm giving are extremely few and easily 80% of the combat doesn't require PoE's different style of dispelling afflictions since none of the afflictions are mortal (nothing like a Disintegration) and they vanish on end of combat.

Oh, ciphers can also utilize spells that strip enemy buffs and give them to themselves. 

Counter-spelling is a legitimate point, and even Final Fantasy has a basic form of counter-spelling (casting Reflect on yourself or the enemy, hell, you can even do double-reflects in pre-FF7 games). Contingencies, sequences and counter-spelling are sorely missing. There ARE contingencies sprinkled throughout the class abilities but are mostly boring; fighter auto-rez ability or, probably the closest thing to a BG-style contingency llhengrad's something something image spell which triggers a shockwave and raises defenses when the caster's endurances dips. unfortunately, just like with the dispelling examples i mentioned these contingency examples are once again too few and exceptions to the rule.

as for quaffing potions; this DOES exist in PoE mainly the potion of recovery (IIRC) which decreases any affliction's duration by half or some such. basically a universal antidote potion. the main differences here being that the afflictions themselves are less-than-lethal and afflictions aren't cured only shortened in duration.

It's all rather needlessly convoluted IMO, most players would rather cure something and have a visible and immediate effect rather than halve a timer.

Edited by aweigh0101
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