Balance recap

Discuss your favorite character builds and team compositions.
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LRM
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Balance recap

Postby LRM » 26 Apr 2016, 13:01

Okay so let’s do this. Since last patch, we have been extensively testing builds and gear, so we thought it would be nice to do a little recap.

Stats :

Regen : Actually it’s not a stat but its very important. Not sure if it would be interesting to add it as a stat on gear, but it could be with new armour sets coming out, maybe to increase diversity.
I think regen is rather balanced right now. Btw one thing that’s probably not working as intended is that receiving a heal stops your regen, and since the “fast regen” mode is higher than any heals I find it counter-intuitive.

Health : I think the health pool are nicely balanced, as well as the sliders on gear.

Mana : Same as health, everything good.

Determination : Determination is complicated. First of all I think it’s a great system, but currently it can be abused: robe will spam aether form, and splint can raise it with gear sliders so that it will be maxed out after two or three cc effect. One change I would consider would be to lower the DET cap to 950 so that you always take a bit of the effect: I find immunity a bit boring in terms of gameplay.

Run speed : Run speed is broken as far as gear goes. We did a few tests with naked leather scythe against robe totem, that's a 100 speed difference, you do gain ground on your target but its low, and will be countered by a single blink.
Now let’s say you build a full t8 movement speed gear, you will gain 35 speed, this will not change much, but it will cost you so much in other stats. I would recommend to make the slider 2x more effective: if you max it out on both weapon and amour you gain 70 speed.
Default value are fine though.

Ability speed : This stats isn’t very interesting, there are so little spell with cast time. There is no reason to consider it unless you go for some exotic build such as Robe scythe “Stun-earthquake- one shot build”. Problem is that this stats being of low interest you can slide it down and abuse other stats. One solution would be on some skills (basic attacks for example, snipe, mana bolt) to reduce CD and add a casting time.

CDR : Well, currently its very very strong, mostly because basic attacks take full effect of this. I like the way you can tweak long cooldown, but maybe it shouldn’t be as effective (or have no effect at all) on small CD, as it literally dictates your DPS output.

Resistances : Although you can get crazy resistances with T8, I believe that with a populated server, access to T8 will be so limited that it will some kind of nice to have a lot of tankyness if you go for T8.

Finally, I know you guys are considering implementing a GCD. Personally I dislike the use of GCD as it slows down games. Also the concepts of “Global” repels me: its blunt and lack subtlety. I you want to go toward a similar feel of a GCD, I’d love to see it on a skill by skills basis (use of cast time for example), but there would still be skill sequences that could be used in a very fast paced manner.
Last edited by LRM on 26 Apr 2016, 13:18, edited 4 times in total.

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LRM
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Re: Balance recap

Postby LRM » 26 Apr 2016, 13:01

Ability :

First of all I love what you guys are trying to achieve with the class system balance: if I’m not mistaking, some kind of perfect imbalance system (https://youtu.be/e31OSVZF77w ). I don’t think you should look for a perfect equilibrium between each class, as it would get the game stale and boring. In that sense , the game is currently very balanced, but still some skills are broken as they offer too much power (mostly utility skills), some offer no interest at all because they are very situational and they have to little impact for the few time u’ll use them (mostly support skills). Finnaly some skills are great, but you have too little interest in leveling them up.

The level of skills is generally the same for every skills: +25% increased effect at 10, +50% at 20. I think it shouldn't be a universal curve since it sometimes make it useless to invest points in some skills. Tweaking that curve a bit, in order to have more meaningful choices to make, more diversity, would be great.

Overall I think damage output between classes are fine, what needs tweaking are utility and support skills.

Weapon kits :

Scythe:
Overall I have the feeling that scythe works out well, once you figure out how to build your gear that is. Maybe it has a bit too much burst: a 15+ skill scythe with low CDR can stun lock and kill naked folks. But all of the scythe drawback, I think its fine.

The only issues with scythe are rather in the meta game: if you are a newbie and start out with scythe, you will have a very hard time imo. Especially if you go for something like leather scythe. Maybe a difficulty curve on char creation would be nice, like in mobas.
Also, there is some ping related issue with this class. I would not be able to tell you the specifics as I am very lucky with ping but I seems that its hard to play with above 40 ping. Something that’s as to do with range and player model not being where they are on the client.

Sweep : fine although a small increase in range (10%) could maybe solve those ping issues, and it wouldn’t be op.
Ravage : It’s fine I think, although I don’t run it. Maybe it build a little to much DET on target. Due to its bursty nature, scythe really needs that stun to stick, so building DET on target is generally a bad idea.
Handle Bash: no problems here.
Haemorrhaging chains : The only problem I see with this skill is that on a full DET target it does nothing. Since it doesn’t root after use, its not too much of a cc, it should take too much of DET’s effect: what would be interesting is for it to work at 50% even if target is maxxed out on DET.
Sacrifice : Main damage dealing tool if building a full CDR build, very nicely crafted skill.
Reap & Sow : currently this skill is not very useful, the only way I would use it would be if I lack another useful Scythe pattern, really…Its hard to land twice with its CD, and damage is not worth the trouble and the mana (although I would not recommend adding more damage as the scythe burst !). The solution could be to have a shorter CD from reap to sow than from sow to reap: reap to sow =x and sow to reap = xx .
Also making it a smart cast (no need to click the skill twice) would be nice.
Hurricane : an extremely situational skill, I think you can increase damage by 20%, even 40% and would not be OP at all.


Staff :

Such a nicely crafted skill set. We could say it has the lowest consistent dps of the game, even if totem supposedly has the lowest dps, the way Totem skills hit makes it far more reliable. The delay with which staff skills is nice, it takes some time to get used too but it feels like actually aiming.
So low dps, but great range, great utility, feels great, but still a few abuse here and there.
Also there is something that I love with staff : each points (pigments) are very “expensive” with staff, more than with other class since you need to level up all bolts to get consistent damage. It feels more like meaningful choices.

Magic Bolt : please tweak that CD and add a cast time : I don’t know if you have played a full CDR build but the sound effect every second is painful !
Heal Other : The skill works fine. But you have absolutely no interest in levelling it. I would love to see dedicated support builds : make it very interesting to levelling it. Currently it heals for 200 at level 1 and 300 at 20. I think with the max value at 400 and would make it worth investing points. Either that or reduce a bit the level 1 value. Maybe a bit of both.$
Stasis : Well you know about the stasis DET abuse. As you said, make it that the buff is the same duration as the debuff.
Fire Bolt : fine
Ice Bolt : fine
Incinerate : I think the mana cost may be a bit too high. From my experience, it rarely hits it’s target, but it act as a deterrent, and it does a great job at it. But with it’s cool down, high casting time its mana cost is maybe a wee bit too high.
Lightening Bolt : Currently it’s hit box is bugged so its really hard to hit. But it’s a good thinks since the spell is crazy strong. That 6s silence at level 20 with 4 sec CD ! And great damage too. Maybe removing some damage and giving it to fire bolt, and reducing that silence a bit would be nice. Basically I think the ability feels great at level 1 but OP at 20 so I would recommend scaling down its levelling curve.
Earth wall : great skill.


Bow :

I don’t play bow that much, so I will more experienced players detail it. But in my experience it’s a rather balanced and interesting kit.
Snipe: The way it takes full effect from CDR is broken. You can spam crazy which makes the bow/robe build extremely powerful, definitely too powerful in t8 at +300 CdR.
Puncture: Pretty sure it uses too much mana.


Totem:

There as been quite a few discussions among us on whether totem is OP or not. It’s very strong in 1v1, that’s for sure, but in group fights I feel like it’s a bit lower than other kits, which makes it balanced in my opinion.
Stat distribution has been the hot topic being given it’s high res values: I think small range makes it balanced, not all agree with me though ;) .
One big problem with this kit is that points are “less expensive” than with other kits (Cf. Staff intro). The only “must max” ability’s in my opinion are Poison, Burst and spray. So you usually have spare points. Don’t get me wrong you usually spend them in Muck, but it’s not like you have to make tough choices.

Muck : Very weak, but it balances out with the rest of the kit.
Poison and Burst Shot : Extremely powerful, but balanced by muck.
Revitalise: It would be nice to add an intermediate value for the damage reduction (currently at level 1 to 19 it’s 0.1 damage reduction, it would be nice to have it at 1.15 at level 10).
As for Heal Other, I would make it scale more with levelling.
Healing Totem : Same as Revitalise and heal other. Not as strong though as it is has much better synergy.
Gravity well: Not a usefull spell; I think lowering the cast time would make you consider to pick it, right now it’s like a weaker version of incinerate (and incinerate isn’t very good).
Toxic Spray : Very nice spell, love the new art work (and the new AoE is more interesting too).
Energy Drain : Maybe lower the max value by a small amount (like 10%) without modifying base valu. It could be nice as it can get ridiculously strong in small scale pvp.
Last edited by LRM on 26 Apr 2016, 13:24, edited 4 times in total.

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LRM
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Re: Balance recap

Postby LRM » 26 Apr 2016, 13:01

Armour kits :

Amour kits are very different from weapon kits.
Weapon kits are simple to discuss, we could say their balance is an equation that would look something like this :
DPS output = (DPS / range) + utility.

What I like in the armour system is the way it’s balanced. We could say in a weird metaphor that the weapon kits are balanced like in any other holly trinity game, but the armour kit resemble a bit more to Eve balancing, where you are filling specific role.

So armour skills, within those kits, are complexes: some of them are designed for combats, some for “roaming utility” and some both. So balancing them is really tough, because it’s not only about a few duels and raw theory crafting.



Robe :

Robe is currently considered as the strongest kit for several reason. It’s CdR focused, and currently CdR is strong. So in my opinion a CdR nerf to basic attack would lower the dps bonus of Robe. It shouldn’t affect too much other skills as it works well imo, and that’s kind of the point about glass cannon.

But also you have very good mobility and escape with blink and CC immunity with Aether. So even if its supposed to be a glass cannon, by picking the right skills and using them the right we become somehow impervious to cc and very mobile: you become tanky. I love OPness ! The problem is that other kit do not provide as many OP skills. Most of the robe skills are extremely useful: they aren’t situational, they can be used both around the map and in combat. Most of the armour kits have 1 or 2 OP skills, robe has 3.
Now some of these skills are broken let’s get into that:

Blink : OP skill number one (the good OP kind). Well it’s the bread and butter of robe. In combat it allow ofc to put some distance (bow) or close gap (scythe), but also to evade incoming attacks (such as burst shot, or and incinerate), and it’s a good chase tool. But also out of combat the skill is very strong out of combat as it allow you to bypass several “rock barrier” of the map (such as top and east of western donation, top western clay pit).
That being said I would thread very carefully with blink as it is the skill that allow the low hp pool robe user to stay alive. So not sure if change is needed, I’d rather see buff of other kits tbh.
Deflective Shield : Robe’s only “meh” skill. I think it’s rather weak. There is a bit of delay (don’t know if it’s casting related) but I I usually don’t get trapped by ppl using this spell.
Aura of healing : Have you considered that instead of increasing heal, levelling it up would reduce mana cost ?
Earthquake: very situational, working as intended.
Aether Form : Op skill number two (the not so good kind). Currently with AF, robe users can slide down Det on their gear as Aether can be kept perma up. A way to fixed it would be to remove the added DET at the end of buff duration. I know u had in mind to tweak it to some kind of effect remover, I think pre-emptive skills are always more interesting than reactive ones, but that’s me.
Swap : Great skill can be used in combat to mess up opponent’s aim, to catch an enemy during a chase. But also out of combat to tp over a “rock barrier” (cf. blink) a friend or foe.
Decoy : no problem here either (I imagine the barrel is placeholder ofc)
Ghost Form: OP skill number three (the weird kind). I don’t know where to start with this skill. I basically get you immune to a damage type. I personnaly don’t like these kinds of immunity. I will make 1 on 1 very complicated for the adversary depending on his dmg type. And last patch’s change, switching it to mental res, with robe already high mental res, I don’t get it.
I would either recommend removing it all together, or turning it into a 250 physical res buff with like a 100 vulnerability to mental and lower the mana cost. It would make it a “meh” skill, but hell, right now it’s such a awful skill…

Leather :

Its tricky to talk about leather, haven’t played it that much, but I’ve played a lot against it and… I’m pretty sure it needs a rework.
So before going into the current skill breakdown, I’ll let my imagination roam wild a bit ! I don’t really understand what role you want to fill with leather. Is it some kind of all around soldier ? A stealthy assassin ? A trapper (I know, I’ll get to that later) ? Being given that it’s the most picked by newbies, I’d recommend going for an all around soldier with a hint of stealth. Currently it’s a bit of everything, jack of all trade master of none. You have a trapper class coming up, loose those traps ! I know it’s very traditional but a dash would be nice*. Also a nice stealth and combat skill could be something like a chameleon skill : it would make you translucent and more importantly not appear on minimap, it would last for like 10 secs or more and attacking would not break it. Instant cast.

Captivating Sprint : I like the idea of a multi-effect skill, and that’s nice, problem is the pull effect is weird with such a skill, it doesn’t feel right.
Tumble : Its an awesome skil, very nice design. The only problem is that the most played combo is bow leather and tumble really doesn’t fit with it. Don’t really know how to solve this, but I’ve seen so many players using tumble with bow…
Traps: I’m willing to bet my alpha key that these skill will switch over to trapper. When they do, I’d suggest to drastically increase trigger radius and adding a very discreet visual cue for opponent to detect the trap. Damage is very high but it’s nice. Also limit it to one trap at the time, otherwise u can one-shot people with traps !
Freedom : (Leather OP skill) We have a whole thread for that one so I will keep it short: pretty sure the skill, once again a bit of over-power is nice.
Drain life : Well nice skill.
Prowl and Hide : They are redundant, I’d recommend replacing one of them by a combat or another utility skill.

Splint :

Well we’ve done the good, the bad let’s get to the ugly. Just kidding splint is fine. It fits its role as a tanky support very nicely, it dosen't have any out of combat skill which makes perfect sense since it's the most combat focus role. I would just recommend adding a little love to these support skills and incentive to invest pigments.

Ignore Pain : Great skill, but I actually recommend lowering min duration and increasing max duration as an incentive to invest point (something like 6 to 12 sec).
Barge : Maybe increasing upgraded speed value, while keeping same base value.
Transform Pain : Nice skill. Investing pigment should boost heal. It would be OP but OP is nice.
Meditation : Perfect skill for Splint, but the animation is weird, I’d recommend removing it for just a cast time.
Silencing field: Yeah well it’s situational. I would recommend that investing point in it increase the range even more.
Meat Shield : Well I only tested it a little, but I reckon the self debuff is a bit high, also I’m pretty sure it goes from 0.3 at level 1 to 0.2 at level 20 without any intermediary value.
Aggressive leap : perfectly balanced since last patch.
Juggernaut : A nice skill, where u actually want to invest points, but maybe when the buff expire you should only loose like 50% of gained health, not all of it.

Final word:
Okay, so after all of this is said I’d like to add something really weird: apart from weak leather, very few broken skills and cdr effect on basic attack your game is rather well balanced.
EDIT: fogot to add that all that testing was done with tmc and the findings on CDR are his ;) . The opinion is mine though, not sure he agree's with the whole viva la OPnesss
------

Also, this comes out of nowhere but still, in the long run I think it would be nice to see 2 additional spell per weapon kits: currently you have 10 skill to choose from a pool of 16, that’s too little diversity.

* In heroes of the storm, have a look at Tychus's level 20 ability “Bob and Weave” (you can try it out in the HoTS shop, no need to buy the character).
Last edited by LRM on 26 Apr 2016, 19:09, edited 3 times in total.

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dbltnk
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Re: Balance recap

Postby dbltnk » 26 Apr 2016, 13:39

Great post! Much useful! Wow!

Will wait for your armor analysis and then add my own thoughts. We just added "spend some time on core gameplay and combat balance" to our to-do list for May.

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Re: Balance recap

Postby tmc » 26 Apr 2016, 14:54

I agree with most of it. Although I would like to write my own recap later on.

Take a look at this. As LRM stated in his recap... The bow/robe Snipe DPS naked compared to T8 cooldown reduction.
As you can see DPS is boosted by cca 40% (naked build had to shoot 1 more arrow because of dummy's regeneration) while naked cooldown speed was 1250 and T8 1558.

naked.gif
naked.gif (19.66 MiB) Viewed 3278 times

cdr.gif
cdr.gif (14.08 MiB) Viewed 3278 times

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LRM
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Re: Balance recap

Postby LRM » 26 Apr 2016, 18:29

dbltnk wrote:Great post! Much useful! Wow!

Will wait for your armor analysis and then add my own thoughts. We just added "spend some time on core gameplay and combat balance" to our to-do list for May.


Hehe !
But like I said at the end, the game is pretty much well balanced, just a few broken stuff here and there imo. Don't waste too much time on balance :D
Also last patch is great. Really. Can't wait to see it in action durring next playtest event !

ManuKuma
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Re: Balance recap

Postby ManuKuma » 26 Apr 2016, 22:02

Great analysis!

LRM wrote:Finally, I know you guys are considering implementing a GCD. Personally I dislike the use of GCD as it slows down games. Also the concepts of “Global” repels me: its blunt and lack subtlety. I you want to go toward a similar feel of a GCD, I’d love to see it on a skill by skills basis (use of cast time for example), but there would still be skill sequences that could be used in a very fast paced manner.


I proposed a "post cast time" somewhere - do you mean something like this?

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Re: Balance recap

Postby ManuKuma » 26 Apr 2016, 22:37

Something that struck me in the gifs: it somehow looks wrong, that the grounded aiming line is not parallel to the arrow trajectory.

And: since most people naturally aim for the center of a target, maybe either the aiming lines and circles should move up to waist height or the floorpoint of the characters should get emphasized ...

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Re: Balance recap

Postby tmc » 27 Apr 2016, 12:19

ManuKuma wrote:Something that struck me in the gifs: it somehow looks wrong, that the grounded aiming line is not parallel to the arrow trajectory.

And: since most people naturally aim for the center of a target, maybe either the aiming lines and circles should move up to waist height or the floorpoint of the characters should get emphasized ...


They both end at the point where your cursor was. In the gifs I was aiming slightly behind the dummy so it might look odd there. However, I think it's fine, since every other projectiles (Magic Bolt, Muck, ...) have the same behavior and me personally got used to it. I believe most of people actually aim for the feet and not the center of target.

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dbltnk
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Re: Balance recap

Postby dbltnk » 27 Apr 2016, 14:23

Thanks everybody. I made a large number of balancing tweaks today based on what you wrote and what I have experienced over the last weeks. Chief of them is a reduction of the CDR spread between the different armors and the min/max values of the sliders. The DPS difference was just too high. For everything else please read the patch notes next week and tell me what you think. A number of tweaks have not yet been made since they require some bigger code changes and we are saving those for next month.


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