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Let's talk: Vancian systems

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Says you, but you offer very little support for your claim. So either by "role-playing community" you mean the general population of cRPG gamers, in which case it is on you to prove that at least a large majority of them hold to this supposed rather definite concept of a wizard (I'm part of that population and I don't, for one; neither, presumably, are others in this thread arguing for changes). Or, you mean a much more specific subset of this general cRPG population, in which case it is hardly evident that they are the core audience.

 

I want balance among classes because that's what a well-designed game needs: balance between its various elements. That ensures that there is a large number of different viable playing styles. Without such balance, you will either have underpowered classes (relative to the difficulty level) that are frustrating to play because they can't contribute to the party and/or overpowered classes (relative to the difficulty) that take all the challenge out of it. And the same applies to balance among items, stats, spells, etc. I mean, they could give wizard a first level Disintegrate spell that does 1000 raw Foe AOE damage at +100 Accuracy; it would be hideously unbalanced and essentially makes all other spells irrelevant. It would be incredibly bad design, but following your logic it wouldn't matter in a single player game.

 

First of all, you know well enough that a dissatisfied customer is times more likely to voice his opinion than a satisfied one, thus we may view you and others asking for change as 'vocal minority'. Also, let's have a constructive argument here instead of a 'popular terminology-slinging', trying to point out the lack of 'evidence', shifting the 'burden of proof' and so on.

 

Second, balance. As I understand you consider that casters are wastly more powerful in PoE than non-casters (which is debatable by itself, any class can solo the game) and want to bring their power level down. But why don't you want to bring non-caster power level UP? If the balance among classes is the thing a well designed game needs why not make every possible build of every class OP? Besides, none of the classes in this game is underpowered relative to difficulty, there are only varying degrees of overpowerness (the game is pretty easy after all).

 

My main point is - if every class is balanced around the idea that they should be able to overcome the same obstacles with the same resourses and time investment then there's no point in having diferrent classes at all. The only thing that diferrentiates them is the VFX and color of the abilities. Like in DA2. I advocate for classes to be asymetrically balanced, with having power spikes at diferrnt levels, diferrent strenghts and weaknesses etc. And with asymetrical balance there are always classes that perform better at any given time. I see nothing wrong with casters performing slightly better by the endgame. In this matter, PoE is better balanced than most RPGs IMO.

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I actually do want my Splattery Hammer +10 now, though. Like, a giant two-handed (for non-Ogres) Ogre hammer; hits like a truck, Push and AOE damage on hit, +100% recovery penalty... 

 

I have just the thing for you!  http://www.gamebanshee.com/cgi-bin/search/banshee_search.pl?_layout=Pillars_Items_Page&_cgifunction=search&Pillars_Items.id=963

 

It is Mythic! Which is surely better than +10!  And it is the only two handed hammer in the game.  If you put it on a Barb it'll even be AoE!  Sure maybe you've basically beat the game by the time you get it... but what better reward could there be?!

 

If only there was a way to make it push/prone on hit...

 

 

Might be able to add that and the slow down into it, actually... It would take some fairly extensive manual asset editing (not sure there are any item modding tools, anyway), but it's possible. I already know how to get the game to accept a new asset file as an item I can Console in, so I could probably strip down Abydon's Hammer to just the parts I need and add in the rest. Though I'd still have to find the string tables to alter descriptions and edit a map to actually put the item in somewhere. Could be a fun project though :grin:

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​​

There's a massive cloud of nostalgia and rose-tinted glasses that shrouded Baldur's Gate games throughout the years to the point of people unquestioningly rating it highly as the "best game ever" purely based on nostalgic memories alone

 

Probably fair to say, but on the other hand, does that not still mean that someone likes the old game, albeit for their own reasons?

I ​agree with your take on PoE vs BG2, that PoE has improved on BG2 in some ways, and improved on BG1 in many ways.​  I suppose one might consider a game in absolute terms, or relative to its own era.  Some games that were legitimately great in their day end up far surpassed later on, due to UI improvements or what have you.  Others that were great in their day manage to hold up as enjoyable much later on.  I feel BG2 is in that category: although it's been surpassed in various ways, it's still a fun experience.  I'd say the same about Dungeon Master (the 1987 game from FTL), and some others: they show their age, but are by no means unplayable today.  (In fact, Almost Human's Grimrock series is to Dungeon Master what PoE is to BG.  They both modernize an old but quite solid formula).

​Also agreed with you about the BG2 writing.

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First of all, you know well enough that a dissatisfied customer is times more likely to voice his opinion than a satisfied one, thus we may view you and others asking for change as 'vocal minority'. Also, let's have a constructive argument here instead of a 'popular terminology-slinging', trying to point out the lack of 'evidence', shifting the 'burden of proof' and so on.

 

Whereas you represent the silent majority? You still have provided nothing to support that claim. You can try to weasel around that with an appeal to 'constructive argument', but the 'constructive' part of that generally does entail substantiating what you say. 

 

 

 

Second, balance. As I understand you consider that casters are wastly more powerful in PoE than non-casters (which is debatable by itself, any class can solo the game) and want to bring their power level down. But why don't you want to bring non-caster power level UP? If the balance among classes is the thing a well designed game needs why not make every possible build of every class OP? Besides, none of the classes in this game is underpowered relative to difficulty, there are only varying degrees of overpowerness (the game is pretty easy after all).

 

My main point is - if every class is balanced around the idea that they should be able to overcome the same obstacles with the same resourses and time investment then there's no point in having diferrent classes at all. The only thing that diferrentiates them is the VFX and color of the abilities. Like in DA2. I advocate for classes to be asymetrically balanced, with having power spikes at diferrnt levels, diferrent strenghts and weaknesses etc. And with asymetrical balance there are always classes that perform better at any given time. I see nothing wrong with casters performing slightly better by the endgame. In this matter, PoE is better balanced than most RPGs IMO.

 

Power is relative to a level of difficulty, there is little point in powering all the other classes up if this subsequently requires all sorts of other changes to attain the desired level of difficulty. Given an existing situation, it is therefore a priori more efficient to reduce the power of the three Vancian classes, rather than increase the power of all the others and rebalance the difficulty level around that. 

 

But more fundamentally, the whole Vancian system in my view just doesn't work very well. It may work fine in the P&P setting it originates from, but lacking a DM it just doesn't translate properly to cRPGs. The power of the Vancian spells is supposed to be balanced against the fact that they can't use them as often, which is managed by the need to rest. But neither PoE nor its predecessors have really succeeded in making resting a genuine cost, and by its very nature that's unlikely to happen at all; resting is simply to binary and coarse-grained a thing to be able to do that properly. Hence the argument for changing it up more, to innovate a bit and go for a system better suited to cRPG. This would also allow for more differentiation of Wizards, Priests and Druids at a more fundamental level, rather than (mostly) just in terms of the spells they get.

 

And by the way, nowhere am I advocating for making all classes identical, far from it. So kindly keep your straw men at bay. I want classes (and any other aspects of the game) to be varied, complex and interesting. At the same time, I want them to be balanced (against each other, against the rest of the game) and mechanically well designed as well. PoE is certainly a big improvement in this regard, but the Vancian casting system is an aspect that is still in need of being thoroughly overhauled. 

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And by the way, nowhere am I advocating for making all classes identical, far from it. So kindly keep your straw men at bay. I want classes (and any other aspects of the game) to be varied, complex and interesting. At the same time, I want them to be balanced (against each other, against the rest of the game) and mechanically well designed as well. PoE is certainly a big improvement in this regard, but the Vancian casting system is an aspect that is still in need of being thoroughly overhauled. 

 

Examples, pls.

 

I undestand what you don't want, but still have no idea what you actually want. The passage I quoted seems unrealistc a bit, like 'peace in the whole world'. What exactly you want  ex-vancian wizard, priest and druid to be and not to be capable of? It is 'magic' after all, it does 'magical' stuff that is impossible to reproduce in non-magical ways. Should wizard be capable of flinging fireballs, teleporting around and creating layered magical defenses? Or should a priest be able to ask his diety to grant him power to smite the hordes of undead?

 

Explain your vision of magic and it's place in cRPGs. I have a subtle feeling that behind your arguments about balance and mechanics hides the eternal 'magic vs mundane' dispute.

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And by the way, nowhere am I advocating for making all classes identical, far from it. So kindly keep your straw men at bay. I want classes (and any other aspects of the game) to be varied, complex and interesting. At the same time, I want them to be balanced (against each other, against the rest of the game) and mechanically well designed as well. PoE is certainly a big improvement in this regard, but the Vancian casting system is an aspect that is still in need of being thoroughly overhauled. 

 

Examples, pls.

 

I undestand what you don't want, but still have no idea what you actually want. The passage I quoted seems unrealistc a bit, like 'peace in the whole world'. What exactly you want  ex-vancian wizard, priest and druid to be and not to be capable of? It is 'magic' after all, it does 'magical' stuff that is impossible to reproduce in non-magical ways. Should wizard be capable of flinging fireballs, teleporting around and creating layered magical defenses? Or should a priest be able to ask his diety to grant him power to smite the hordes of undead?

 

Explain your vision of magic and it's place in cRPGs. I have a subtle feeling that behind your arguments about balance and mechanics hides the eternal 'magic vs mundane' dispute.

 

 

Seriously, WTF? I'm not sure where you're getting that from, but it's certainly not from what I'm actually saying. Nor is there anything particularly unrealistic about it, in my view the non-Vancian classes in PoE are quite well-balanced (as are many other aspects of the game), it's mainly the Vancian casters that are a bit of a sore thumb (though even there in PoE not nearly as much as in other games). I believe the problem is inherent in the whole Vancian/per-rest system, which is why I have been arguing for changing the mechanics of the Vancian casters. How you got from there to "magic vs mundane", I have no clue. 

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Another idea would simply to change the "level design". If there were more areas with limited or no resting (like act 4), or Quests limited in time (like in PnP) vancian casters would be more limited. You'll still appreciate having a few ones, but you'll need other characters.

 

Time limit for quest could even be a mode like expert mode that could be removed for more casual gaming.

 

Limited rest could be an issue for health too. But if food restored a bit of health, that could solve the problem.

Edited by Elric Galad
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Be as it may, it seems Tyranny is doing away with this. Custom spell creation(if I understood properly), cooldowns, manouvres(combo skills)...actually fun and exciting stuff. Whether this is the future of Obsidian design, nobody can really tell.

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