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Gentler RPA Suggestion

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Gentler RPA Suggestion

Postby Songweaver » Sun Sep 28, 2014 2:03 pm

I'll keep this simple and super polite. Note that I'm not admonishing anyone. I'm just trying to explain how I (and I think others, if not all) feel in regards to the numerous staff NPCs.

Good things:

- I love super-hero/villain NPCs. I think that they should exist. I have no issues with their complexity or how they are played. As someone mentioned in another thread, I had one such NPC in Atonement (Vladimir) who was a major part of the overall story.

- NPCs add depth to the lore of the gameworld and its connections to Tolkien (such as a new Guard NPC, and a big-bad-orc NPC).

- NPCs are being used to subtly connect to old SOI (though I'd definitely like to see more of this.)

- I don't have an issue with the content of the plots so far. They're fun.



Things that could be better:

- I don't think that super-hero/villain NPCs should have stats/skills that are higher than what can be obtained by PCs. In Atonement, skillcaps were significantly higher, and higher-level combatants existed than can ever exist in the SOI adaptation of this engine. Heroic/Legendary combat skill levels were possible, and indeed, obtained by numerous PCs. That's just not the case here. In Northlands, Wulfhere was my strongest NPC, and his skill levels were bottom of the cap of master and adroit, because that's what was obtainable there. It's the same here, really. Combat caps are very similar to old SOI here. Even my "super-hero/villain" NPC in Atonement was capable of losing (because PCs were comparably stronger), and lost several times without needing a group of 20 to take him on. I'd definitely suggest lowering the caps to something comparable to what PCs can accomplish, and being hyper-aware of what armor does to effective combat balance.

- I don't think that every NPC needs to be a super-hero with better-than-possible stats/skills/gear, and what I've seen so far suggests that most really are. It does make me feel like my character, no matter what they accomplish in-game, will never be able to be as "important" as all of the NPCs around him. It's okay to have NPCs that could die in events, and are comparably strong to above-average PCs (say, talented skill levels and craftable gear).

- Some NPC-related plots have felt like there was no way that I could possibly affect the outcome, both because NPCs were untouchable (meaning I could neither have as large of an impact, or stand a chance against them), or because it felt like there was perhaps some predetermined conclusion that must be reached by the plot - and so driven there by the NPCs. When I write plot, I like to create a cause/effect/consequence tree with variables at the start, in the middle, and as the conclusion. This, I feel, makes PCs feel more capable of affecting the outcome of the gameworld.


Summary:

Again, I think that the content of the plots has been great, and that the NPCs are well-developed and interesting (for the most part), but I do feel like balance is an issue, and that the plots could be even better with more variability and willingness to let players affect the gameworld in ways that, perhaps, even the RPAs haven't considered.

I know that this is hard. It's all hard work. I'm not unappreciative of the plots/NPCs. But I do think that these things are worth considering, because I feel like you guys could do even better.
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Re: Gentler RPA Suggestion

Postby Holmes » Sun Sep 28, 2014 7:46 pm

- I don't think that super-hero/villain NPCs should have stats/skills that are higher than what can be obtained by PCs. In Atonement, skillcaps were significantly higher, and higher-level combatants existed than can ever exist in the SOI adaptation of this engine. Heroic/Legendary combat skill levels were possible, and indeed, obtained by numerous PCs. That's just not the case here. In Northlands, Wulfhere was my strongest NPC, and his skill levels were bottom of the cap of master and adroit, because that's what was obtainable there. It's the same here, really. Combat caps are very similar to old SOI here. Even my "super-hero/villain" NPC in Atonement was capable of losing (because PCs were comparably stronger), and lost several times without needing a group of 20 to take him on. I'd definitely suggest lowering the caps to something comparable to what PCs can accomplish, and being hyper-aware of what armor does to effective combat balance.


VNUM: 33002, a Male [PROTOTYPE] [Loaded Instances: 0] [id 0]
Keys: Vladimir Rasputin tall grizzled cyborg black-eyed Russian
SDesc: a grizzled, black-eyed cyborg of tall stature
LDesc: A tall, grizzled cyborg is here, metal plates covering much of his face.

Str: 18/18 MaxHP: 112 Moves: N/A
Dex: 18/18 Race: Survivor Speak: Common
Con: 18/18 Age: 179Y 7M 4D 54H Ht/Wt: N/A
Int: 16/16 Fight: Frantic RmPos: 0
Wil: 16/16 Hrnss: 0 MHrnss: 0
Aur: 16/16 Armor: 4 Speed: walk
Agi: 16/16 Room: 0 Spwn: 0
Sum: 118 Carc: 0 Skin: 0


Offense: 054/054 Brawling: 080/100 Small-Bl: 070/098 Long-Bla: 090/100
Polearm: 070/100 Dodge: 080/090 Deflect: 090/100 Sole-Wie: 090/100
Dual-Wie: 070/100 Aim: 090/098 Handgun: 080/096 Rifle: 090/096
Machineg: 070/096 Sneak: 096/096 Hide: 096/096 Hunting: 060/079
First-Ai: 070/091 Handicra: 060/095 Voodoo: 060/079 Common: 050/050
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Re: Gentler RPA Suggestion

Postby tehkory » Sun Sep 28, 2014 7:55 pm

Holmes wrote:
- I don't think that super-hero/villain NPCs should have stats/skills that are higher than what can be obtained by PCs. In Atonement, skillcaps were significantly higher, and higher-level combatants existed than can ever exist in the SOI adaptation of this engine. Heroic/Legendary combat skill levels were possible, and indeed, obtained by numerous PCs. That's just not the case here. In Northlands, Wulfhere was my strongest NPC, and his skill levels were bottom of the cap of master and adroit, because that's what was obtainable there. It's the same here, really. Combat caps are very similar to old SOI here. Even my "super-hero/villain" NPC in Atonement was capable of losing (because PCs were comparably stronger), and lost several times without needing a group of 20 to take him on. I'd definitely suggest lowering the caps to something comparable to what PCs can accomplish, and being hyper-aware of what armor does to effective combat balance.


VNUM: 33002, a Male [PROTOTYPE] [Loaded Instances: 0] [id 0]
Keys: Vladimir Rasputin tall grizzled cyborg black-eyed Russian
SDesc: a grizzled, black-eyed cyborg of tall stature
LDesc: A tall, grizzled cyborg is here, metal plates covering much of his face.

Str: 18/18 MaxHP: 112 Moves: N/A
Dex: 18/18 Race: Survivor Speak: Common
Con: 18/18 Age: 179Y 7M 4D 54H Ht/Wt: N/A
Int: 16/16 Fight: Frantic RmPos: 0
Wil: 16/16 Hrnss: 0 MHrnss: 0
Aur: 16/16 Armor: 4 Speed: walk
Agi: 16/16 Room: 0 Spwn: 0
Sum: 118 Carc: 0 Skin: 0


Offense: 054/054 Brawling: 080/100 Small-Bl: 070/098 Long-Bla: 090/100
Polearm: 070/100 Dodge: 080/090 Deflect: 090/100 Sole-Wie: 090/100
Dual-Wie: 070/100 Aim: 090/098 Handgun: 080/096 Rifle: 090/096
Machineg: 070/096 Sneak: 096/096 Hide: 096/096 Hunting: 060/079
First-Ai: 070/091 Handicra: 060/095 Voodoo: 060/079 Common: 050/050


Please don't close this thread. This is actually incredibly useful. Oft-times we talk about what's overpowered, yada yada yada.

Over on Atonement, -this- was overpowered. This was overpowered when I had a PC with adroit firearms and a 45. caliber rifle, when I had a PC with master deflect, and adroit longblade/solewield, and talented(or familiar) dual-wield. When I had a 92 sum PC(the highest possible), this was 16 points about what I had in stats. My PC cost 5RPP, and this was miles above it in both equipment(and I was the only one to have either ceramics or gquality equipment, much less both). I'm going to ask Crayon to post another example of an incredibly overpowered NPC. When I had played for 140 hours, most days spending 2-3 hours in combat situations on patrols, surviving the most extended and incredible combat situations since Atonement's Alpha(which had an armor bug, granting more armor and easier skillboosts), I was unable to achieve what this NPC could. I wasn't even close.

If you've got anything like this on SoI, where PCs are weaker than they were on Atonement, across the board? It's probably time to go back to the drawing board. This is what not to do. This is way above what not to do.
Last edited by tehkory on Sun Sep 28, 2014 7:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Gentler RPA Suggestion

Postby tehkory » Sun Sep 28, 2014 7:56 pm

Saved for a post comparing/contrasting Vlad/an incredibly high-level combatant PC.

Elias:
Str[good] Dex[average] Con[peak] Int[average] Wil[average] Agi[average]
Long-Blade: (Adroit)
Dodge: (Talented)
Deflect: (Master)
Sole-Wield: (Adroit)
Dual-Wield: (Novice)
Aim: (Familiar)
Rifle: (Adroit)
Hunting: [Talented]

This ended up being 92 total stat points. He was about the highest effective combatant in Atonement, though with a strictly defensive bend to his style. The relevant physical stats for combat were 18(con), 15(strength), 13(willpower), and 11(agility).

Compared to this, Vlad was at least 90 in every combat skill(putting him at legendary), as well at a flat 18 points for half his stats, and 16 for the other half. In Atonement terms, that would've made him at Peak for three stats, and great for three others.

Ontop of that, Vlad had 4 base armor, and was wearing gquality armor ontop of that. Gquality armor was unable to be produced by PCs, and the fact that his were ceramics meant he was resistant to slash, piece, AND gunfire. No PC could ever match his level of damage resistance.

Vlad was essentially able to outclass any PC combatant even in their specialty, and was further able to be equally good at most every form of combat. This is how -not- to build an NPC if you want a PC to -ever- be anywhere near their capabilities.
Last edited by tehkory on Sun Sep 28, 2014 8:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Gentler RPA Suggestion

Postby tehkory » Sun Sep 28, 2014 8:03 pm

Code: Select all
VNUM:   25, a Female [PROTOTYPE] [Loaded Instances: 0] [id 0]
Keys:   Hilda scarred young woman metal-patch disheveled ringlets xxSouthsideplot
SDesc:  a scarred young woman with a metal-patch and disheveled ringlets
LDesc:  A scarred young woman with a metal-patch and disheveled ringlets haunts the area

Str: 22/22           MaxHP: 128              Moves:  N/A
Dex: 20/20           Race:  Cybernetic       Speak:  Common
Con: 22/22           Age:   179Y 7M 4D 55H   Ht/Wt:  N/A
Int: 20/20           Fight: Frantic          RmPos:  0
Wil: 22/22           Hrnss: 0                MHrnss: 0
Aur: 16/16           Armor: 11               Speed:  walk
Agi: 20/20           Room:  0                Spwn:   0
Sum: 142             Carc:  0                Skin:   0
                     Att:   punch            NDam:   1d2 + 0
                     Fallback:   0           NNatDelay:   30

Clans:  ['commander' barker 'leader' bandits 'member' rustclan]
States: [Standing]
Flags:  [ Sentinel IsNPC NoVNPC ]
Affect: [ Invisible ]

 Offense: 054/054  Brawling: 090/100  Small-Bl: 090/100  Long-Bla: 090/100 
 Polearm: 090/100  Bludgeon: 090/100     Dodge: 090/100   Deflect: 090/100 
Sole-Wie: 090/100  Dual-Wie: 090/100       Aim: 090/100   Handgun: 090/100 
   Rifle: 090/100  Machineg: 090/100   Gunnery: 090/100    Common: 100/050


I'm 'spamming' this thread, and I'm sorry. Here's another example of an NPC, one that's incredibly overpowered as well. This NPC was functionally unbeatable, as well, and was created over on Parallel by a well-meaning Admin, but was very poorly designed.

This is an example of how plots, despite being amazing and beautifully run from an artistic perspective, can be poorly run and constructed from a MECHANICAL perspective. This is another example of 'what not to do.' If anything short of a dragon or a balrog ever looks anything like this, it's time to set fire to everything and start over.

Of particularly egregious note is that Hilda's natural armor is so high: she also wore armor ontop of that, making her essentially near-immune to damage.

Code: Select all
Name:   Bonaventure, a Male PC, registered to account crayon [id 939]
Keys:   Bonaventure inky-locked inky locked man gray-green gray green eyes
SDesc:  an inky-locked man with gray-green eyes
LDesc:  An inky-locked man  with gray-green eyes lingers with a cavalier air.

Str: 11/11           MaxHP: 88               Moves:  80/80
Dex: 18/18           Race:  Terran           Speak:  Common
Con: 12/12           Age:   27Y 8M 4D 30H    Ht/Wt:  68/137
Int: 14/14           Fight: Normal           RmPos:  0
Wil: 10/10           Hrnss: 0                MHrnss: 0
Aur: 10/10           Armor: 0                Speed:  walk
Agi: 13/13           Room:  701              Cond:   0,6,186
Sum: 88              Skillcap: 723/710       Level: 0

Clans:  ['captain' newguardshop1 'captain' newguardshop2 'captain' newguardshop3 'captain' newguard 'member' rustclan]
States: [Standing, DIED]
Flags:  [ Hints Mentor IsAdminPC ANSI SOUND ]
Scents: [sweat (id: 125), non-permanent at 294 power and level 2, 599 potency and 10 ratio.]

 3261   Unknown affects you by 0 for -1 hours (permanently).
 6203   Focusing upon Long-Blade skill.
 6208   Focusing upon Sole-Wield skill.
 6207   Focusing upon Deflect skill.
 6212   Focusing upon Rifle skill.
 6827   Ignoring advancement of Butchery skill.
 6816   Ignoring advancement of Sneak skill.
 6817   Ignoring advancement of Hide skill.
 6825   Ignoring advancement of Scavenge skill.
 6806   Ignoring advancement of Dodge skill.
 6210   Focusing upon Aim skill.
 6222   Focusing upon Hunting skill.

 Offense: 040/040    Unused: 001/100  Brawling: 045/097  Small-Bl: 039/098 
Long-Bla: 070/098  Bludgeon: 002/098     Dodge: 042/077   Deflect: 059/100 
Sole-Wie: 071/092  Dual-Wie: 008/092       Aim: 040/098     Rifle: 058/096 
   Sneak: 076/076      Hide: 076/076     Steal: 001/073  Picklock: 001/070 
 Hunting: 058/063  Scavenge: 080/080  Eavesdro: 009/075  Butchery: 048/083 
Weaponcr: 003/095  Armorcra: 010/095  Handicra: 002/095    Common: 050/050 

Compare this to a high-end combat PC(if a poorly designed 'physical' combatant, this one had above-average skill-levels). Around 51d 9h of playtime.
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Re: Gentler RPA Suggestion

Postby Matt » Sun Sep 28, 2014 8:17 pm

A dragon shouldn't even have 11 natural armor.
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Re: Gentler RPA Suggestion

Postby Songweaver » Sun Sep 28, 2014 8:19 pm

Despite that I smell troll, my points are still valid. There's a vast difference between Vlad (who I would certainly class at 'super'/boss level) and the top Atonement combatant differential, and the difference between PCs vs NPCs in current SOI. The armor/weapon-damage system is very different, to start with, and higher quality gear makes a larger impact here than it did on Atonement when compared to lower quality gear (which is all that we've got). Additionally, like I've said before, the skillcaps here are significantly lower than on Atonement - and it makes a big difference when coupled with different armor/weapon balancing.

There's value in superbly powerful NPCs used in plot (Hilde from PRPI looks pretty extreme though), but as key as NPCs are proving in the meta-plots so far, I do think it'd be an improvement to reign it in a little and create more plot variability for outcomes (which is partially a separate issue as mentioned in the original post).

Example: I saw an orc grunt NPC (no-name part of a larger NPC group that had an aggro flag on and pulled out of a scene that it was in on accident) completely trash an alpha warg (the second scariest spawned mob in the game) in melee. Considering that there could be many of these grunts, all of which out-class PCs, the prospect of confrontation with said army of grunts is entirely hopeless.
Last edited by Songweaver on Sun Sep 28, 2014 8:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Gentler RPA Suggestion

Postby tehkory » Sun Sep 28, 2014 8:25 pm

Songweaver wrote:Despite that I smell troll, my points are still valid. There's a vast difference between Vlad (who I would certainly class at 'super'/boss level) and the top Atonement combatant differential, and the difference between PCs vs NPCs in current SOI. The armor/weapon-damage system is very different, to start with, and higher quality gear makes a larger impact here than it did on Atonement when compared to lower quality gear (which is all that we've got). Additionally, like I've said before, the skillcaps here are significantly lower than on Atonement - and it makes a big difference when coupled with different armor/weapon balancing.

There's value in superbly powerful NPCs used in plot (Hilde from PRPI looks pretty extreme though), but as key as NPCs are proving in the meta-plots so far, I do think it'd be an improvement to reign it in a little and create more plot variability.

Example: I saw an orc grunt NPC (no-name part of a larger NPC group that had an aggro flag on and pulled out of a scene that it was in on accident) completely trash an alpha warg (the second scariest spawned mob in the game) in melee. Considering that there could be many of these grunts, all of which out-class PCs, the prospect of confrontation with said army of grunts is entirely hopeless.

No, I'm absolutely not trolling. I know this issue is contentious, and I firmly believe that numbers(for example, an NPC being 30 points higher than a base PC and 26 points higher than the highest, 5RPP PC in game) is the best way to represent it. No, I'm not being a troll: I'm working with the numbers I've got access to.

Remember that 'seeing one guy one time doing X' is never a good example. It's a poor example, because it is literally a sample size of one.

I don't intend to argue. I'm pretty done with this thread, honestly: I've produced numbers, facts, and an opinion. These are what NPCs that outdo PCs in every way look like. These are how they are constructed, and it isn't hard for Admins(if they want to) to look at these, then look at SoI and re-do their own work if need be.

That's all I've brought to this thread: basic facts compared to other facts.

We won't be served by our one-off stories with a sample size of one time. Nor even five times. Numbers are what makes something overpowered, and unbeatable. Whether they're armor numbers, or stat numbers, or skill numbers.

ETA:
If somebody thinks I'm disagreeing with Songweaver, let me be clear: there is no Songweaver. I don't give a darn. I have a kitty, and that thing is hilarious, and it murderer the snarfagle out of a toy and my living room is covered with beautiful tropical feathers. I'm happy. I just think there's a valid point to be made, and that he's made one, and that I hope Admins look at these numbers, look at their own NPCs, and CONSIDER.
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Re: Gentler RPA Suggestion

Postby Songweaver » Sun Sep 28, 2014 8:47 pm

Nah, Holmes is trolling. It's what he does. It's awesome and always pertinent.
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Re: Gentler RPA Suggestion

Postby Alcarin » Sun Sep 28, 2014 8:53 pm

I'm watching this new thread with much greater interest than the old one, so kudos to everyone for remaining primarily constructive this time around.

A comment, on the design note: PC skill caps are actually quite high, still. They aren't at the "Everyone will be legendary" level, but you can definitely get well into Mastery and close to Legendary, with most common builds.

That said, can anyone more knowledgeable of the code tell me: Exactly how does AC operate?

For instance, if a damage roll is a 7, and an AC level is 3, does the damage roll become 4 and then multiply its damage according to the hit location? From watching fights, I suspect it's a little more involved than that, but maybe not.
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Re: Gentler RPA Suggestion

Postby Holmes » Sun Sep 28, 2014 8:55 pm

Alcarin wrote:I'm watching this new thread with much greater interest than the old one, so kudos to everyone for remaining primarily constructive this time around.

A comment, on the design note: PC skill caps are actually quite high, still. They aren't at the "Everyone will be legendary" level, but you can definitely get well into Mastery and close to Legendary, with most common builds.

That said, can anyone more knowledgeable of the code tell me: Exactly how does AC operate?

For instance, if a damage roll is a 7, and an AC level is 3, does the damage roll become 4 and then multiply its damage according to the hit location? From watching fights, I suspect it's a little more involved than that, but maybe not.


You're forgetting how hard it is to raise skills above 70.

To the other question: pretty much.
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Re: Gentler RPA Suggestion

Postby Fulgrim » Sun Sep 28, 2014 9:13 pm

No NPCs (discounting maybe one or two monster mobs that players didn't have too much trouble with?) in game are anything PCs couldn't handle. Though I'm not really of a mind PCs should always, 100% be in a situation where tactically speaking, or even fundamentally talking mathematics, should be in a position to out-do/out-class or terminate an NPC. But then I classify situations where combat is appropriate and where combat is avoidable, and where combat doesn't happen at all in any significant degree when writing plots.

Anyway, the fact that a person making claims like "X Person presented Y evidence against my argument that I'm making in support of Z, must be trolling" comes down to nothing more than ad hominem attacks. Yes, Holmes doesn't like you Songweaver. I appreciate the anecdote stemming from it provided by Kory though. It was useful and pertinent to the very topic you started.

Number one way for me to stop taking you guys seriously is acting "above-thou" when you're guilty of the same things you're trying to combat.
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Re: Gentler RPA Suggestion

Postby crayon » Sun Sep 28, 2014 9:17 pm

Okay. I don't think that the comparison of Vlad versus PCs, or Vlad versus other NPCs, is really useful information for this subject. I'm pretty confident that debating that is ineffectual, and that nothing good is going to come from it. Whether it be hubris, experience, or a mixture of both, however, I happen to feel like I have some potentially useful advice where it comes to the subject of building mobiles that are mechanically suitable and interesting from a game design perspective-- which is something that I'm afraid the overwhelming majority of RPAs will always find to be a stumbling block. The statistical and coded elements of the game, and the way they interact with combat, are pretty heavily shrouded in mystery and hoaxes to the vast majority of players, to be sure; but historically they've been foggy to a fair share of RPAs and staffers as well. It's hard to use a tool to its greatest potential, if you don't know what it does.

So here are some bullet point tips and tricks for making plot mobiles (or even spawning mobiles) that don't suck. From a purely mechanical standpoint.

1) Armor is Evil. This is obviously going to bear some explanation. Armor in this code base provides damage reduction. Depending on the armor, this reduction can vary against different damage sources. But regardless, across the board, it's a simple process of subtraction (outside of a couple of exceptional cases that aren't worth talking about). So why is armor evil? Because flat, high armor values against weapon dice leads to an increasingly large percentage of hits being for 1 damage (or less). Sometimes, depending on the weapon, ALL hits will be for 1 damage or less. Criticals and high-strength are a bizarre exception that I'm not really going to explain. Why else is this bad? Because it's pretty flagrantly unbalancing. Weapon types that deal smaller damage dice, in exchange for the trade off of higher swing speeds, suffer more from armor than other weapons. This may make sense thematically (or it would if there was a trade-off to wearing armor in the first place), but from a game design perspective it makes armor decidedly unfun. As such, I highly recommend never giving a mobile more than 5-7 natural armor, depending on the quality of weapons you guys have available. I would never give a mobile that uses its own armor more than 2-3 natural armor. If you want your mobile to be tougher, inflate its HP instead. PCs will still feel like they're having an impact, balance will be less skewed, and you'll achieve the desired effect (at the cost of making it take an awfully long time to kill after it's been downed, which is hysterical).

2) Damage is More Fun. Despite buffing HP being a distinct alternative to using broken armor, I feel as though using higher damage values is more fun than making a mob particularly tanky. Granted, mobiles that use weapons will always be using their weapon's damage dice. Why? Because by making a mobile hit particularly hard, while still being flimsy enough for PCs to take down, you create a sense of stakes. The players may just be able to beat it (they probably will!) but the likelihood of some of them taking some serious injuries in the process, or possibly even dying, goes up. This creates a sense of stakes and stakes are important. It also enhances realism and honestly higher damage helps deal with armor being ridiculously unfun even if it can make crits do stupid things and create an environment in which not having armor is suicide. But unfortunately, balancing around armor will always be a part of the game, so long as armor does what armor does.

3) Skills Don't Matter That Much. They don't matter nearly as much as people think they do. Which is why the example of Vlad isn't quite so broken as people are assuming he is (but he's still kind of broken, given that's probably intentional given he was a metaplot PC that people weren't intended to just gank to death? I don't know, wasn't there.). While 90 is almost certainly overkill, values from 50-80 should be viable depending on the intended power of the plot NPC, as far as offensive skills go.

4) Except Deflect, That Matters a Little. Oh, yeah. So, Deflect does kind of matter. Albeit not nearly so much as armor. If deflect is higher than 70 you're probably doing it wrong. If it's over 60 there's still a decent chance you're doing it wrong.

5) Stats Don't Matter That Much. Stats don't matter nearly as much as people seem to believe they do, either. At least, not as far as combat is concerned. Agility, in particular, is not very meaningful on PCs past a certain point because of innate caps to swing speed. Granted, if those caps didn't exist, swing speed with the right weapons would get ridiculous. Constitution is not very meaningful for NPCs because HP is set manually anyhow. For PCs, it makes a difference of 20-30 HP, tops. Will, however, matters for NPCs, so I recommend setting that reasonably high, to account for the possibility of trauma (or low, in some cases!).

6) Except Strength. Yeah. Except for strength. Which does some ridiculous things at certain values. I would personally advise using some serious discretion with mobiles strength values, even if it's not quite as important as armor, damage, and HP.

7) This Code Base is Not Good for 'Fun' Combat. It's not. Combat is rarely interesting. In the vast majority of situations it's a question of whether PC numbers meet the challenge or not. The zone within which the outcome of combat is uncertain and the stakes are high is extremely narrow, even when you've taken steps to widen it, and the other two sides of that precariously narrow belt are 'overwhelming PC numbers' and 'untouchable NPC'.

8) Unless You Know How To Prog, And Set Fun Mcues. On the other hand, if you know how to set progs on your mobiles, and mcues, there's a whole lot more potential. Tons of potential. For all kinds of fun combat, and interesting NPCs that don't rely on raw power. Because the unfortunate fact is that raw power, regardless of whether it's too much raw power, or too little, or even just enough, isn't very interesting or fun.
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Re: Gentler RPA Suggestion

Postby Songweaver » Sun Sep 28, 2014 9:38 pm

Alcarin wrote:I'm watching this new thread with much greater interest than the old one, so kudos to everyone for remaining primarily constructive this time around.

A comment, on the design note: PC skill caps are actually quite high, still. They aren't at the "Everyone will be legendary" level, but you can definitely get well into Mastery and close to Legendary, with most common builds.

That said, can anyone more knowledgeable of the code tell me: Exactly how does AC operate?

For instance, if a damage roll is a 7, and an AC level is 3, does the damage roll become 4 and then multiply its damage according to the hit location? From watching fights, I suspect it's a little more involved than that, but maybe not.


Returned to edit: Crayon's on this in his post below. There are a lot of weird things, like crits, bodyloc multipliers, armor table, strength bonuses working differently than other bonuses (thankfully, here, PCs aren't allowed to reach the super-human levels of stats where strength bonuses begin to get broken). But, because multipliers are applied after AC reduction, AC is the ultimate combat God on this engine.

The mob balancing that I did for SOI a few months back came with a tier guide and some rules for variability -- the AC rules for "wildlife" want to be followed for armored NPCs too. The weapon damdice and the armor design here is not what it was for ARPI/PRPI, and this is a good thing! I was never happy with the balance before, because I never felt like it properly tiered upwards in a meaningful way. But, because it does now, armor (or weapons) that are jumping multiple tiers beyond what PCs have at their disposal are significantly more powerful than what PCs can generally handle; they're meant to match up against really powerful mobs/enemies that don't exist yet.

crayon wrote: Lots of good stuff.

1) Armor is Evil.


Agreed. Armor is evil. The weapons on this engine are capable of dealing more damage than the weapons on the old version of the engine, but armor is still evil. I have something I like to call the "-1 rule". Categorize your mob in a "tier" of difficulty that relates to a "tier" of armor. For instance, perhaps you want to set a standard wolf as a tier 1 difficulty mob, and compare it to trash quality (newb) cloth armor. I set the wolf's minimum damage on its damdice to this equation: Trash Quality Cloth AC - Wolf Min Dam = -1. This means that the two weakest damage rolls from a mob versus PCs armored to take it (and likely more than one of them) on in a fair fight will generally deal no damage. I will say that the wildlife NPCs on SOI do not have broken armor, currently, which is good.

2) Damage is More Fun.


Agreed. And I do think SOI's set up well for this. Melee damage here is generally higher than it was in the ARPI/PRPI design, because the scaling and balance is more geared towards DPS. The downside to this, of course, is that skillgains don't come quite so easily, which is somewhat offset by skillcaps being generally lower.

I don't know if you've been playing Crayon, but I'd bet that you'd like the balance changes to combat overall after reading your responses. Armored plot NPCs do move away from the good trends, which I think is fine, if to be used perhaps more sparingly and with a greater awareness of the even greater-than-before importance of high end armor in this current system.

3) Skills Don't Matter That Much.


Armor/Weapons certainly matter more. Agreed there. Skill rolls are still pretty random, and small sample-sizes aren't likely to show much of a difference when there's less than 20 points differential. But, when coupled with untouchable AC (thus increasing length of combat and the sample size), it begins to matter more.

4) Except Deflect, That Matters a Little.


Same as above.

5) Stats Don't Matter That Much.


Agility is used for a million different small combat things on SOI beyond just attack speed. IMO, it's one of the two most important combat stats to many builds. I call it the luck stat under the new design, because most of the things that seem like good/bad luck in combat are checking agility in the code's backend. That said, mobs have something called NatDelay that can be modified to increase, or decrease attack speed. Like you said, Will is important to consider for mobs because of Trauma, and I'd also suggest that Int is important to consider for mobs because of sneak/hide/ambush.

6) Except Strength.


Of course, strength matters as well; for humanoids, you really don't want to set this above 18 on NPCs.

7) This Code Base is Not Good for 'Fun' Combat.


The combat on this engine is generally accessible, which is good. Not all folks playing RPIs are hack+slash kings, but may still want to play relevant combatant characters. That said, I definitely agree. I would envision a completely different sort of system were I to build a new RPI engine from the ground up.

8) Unless You Know How To Prog, And Set Fun Mcues.


Always agree with this. The scripting engine for RPI+ is actually pretty powerful. I know that Alcarin's been doing some great work and having great fun with this, with some of his mobs. I think that that's great.

Really nice post, Crayon. Again, I bet that you'd find that (generally), SOI's re-balance of mobs/weapons/armor compared to the three previous games using this engine (PRPI, ARPI, Lost Tales of Beleriand) is a significant improvement and a lot of what you are saying that you want out of design.

Plot NPCs aside, at least.


Number one way for me to stop taking you guys seriously is acting "above-thou" when you're guilty of the same things you're trying to combat.


I'll never claim to be innocent of having made design mistakes in the past. That doesn't make my want to make helpful suggestions based on my personal experiences any less valid or useful to you. I'm not judging folks for making mistakes. It's inevitable. I think that we can step aside from the egos and have a good conversation here about two major points:

1) Combat balance in the current SOI system with NPCs and PCs.
2) Creating more variables in plots to allow PCs to have a greater affect on the gameworld.

Those are positive things. I wanna be positive here.
Last edited by Songweaver on Mon Sep 29, 2014 12:09 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Gentler RPA Suggestion

Postby crayon » Sun Sep 28, 2014 9:52 pm

Songweaver wrote:
Alcarin wrote:I'm watching this new thread with much greater interest than the old one, so kudos to everyone for remaining primarily constructive this time around.

A comment, on the design note: PC skill caps are actually quite high, still. They aren't at the "Everyone will be legendary" level, but you can definitely get well into Mastery and close to Legendary, with most common builds.

That said, can anyone more knowledgeable of the code tell me: Exactly how does AC operate?

For instance, if a damage roll is a 7, and an AC level is 3, does the damage roll become 4 and then multiply its damage according to the hit location? From watching fights, I suspect it's a little more involved than that, but maybe not.


That's a basic understanding, but it is more involved than that. I'm on the run right now, but will explain better when I get back later.


That's pretty much exactly what it does, with some complicating factors that make the actual determination of what the AC is vary (layering, armor types/tables, the damtype being dealt with).

The exception is where it determines whether an attack does zero damage or one damage when armor negates it completely.

The other exception is from certain strength levels having an additive or multiplicative effect on damage that's calculated after armor reduction, for some reason.

Or at least, this was more or less the case when Chazz and I dug into armor months back, on the pre-SOI3 codebase. Songweaver can probably explain it better. :)
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Re: Gentler RPA Suggestion

Postby TrixieM » Sun Sep 28, 2014 11:07 pm

This may seem off-topic but while I understand that staff can't have pcs on this game, I would encourage them to be allowed to have moderately set test pcs in an arena for testing purposes (build themselves a little arena) to play with their newly designed creations so they can feel how the combat may go before they send them out into the gameworld. Give their little dudes normal people armor and average skills or whatever and live the combat experience to see what works and what doesn't. I think anythimg you can do that keeps a fresh understanding of what it means to be a player -while- you are an admin is just great. Oh, and if they already do this, well forget me being silly.

I also want to say there were a few mobs during ARPI that literally weren't meant to be fought and yes they were built crazy but it was like my avatar being a moogle, if someone saw me then yes they would go wtf but I was almost always invisible so it didn't matter. ZombieSally wasn't meant to be fought against, for example. He was designed by Tiamat as a fun project and then described so we could freak people out by suddenly appearing in the corner of the room and then disappearing. Vlad, afaik, was initially an rp pc, wasn't he? In contrast, does anyone remember the giant turtle? That thing was weak as a kitten because no one was ever supposed to get near enough to figure out, it was just supposed to scare people into running away. <.< And I didn't bother to change it because who wouldn't run away from a turtle the size of a bus... (spoiler) Players managed to kill the turtle from bloodless after they got safe and I moved the turtle to my room. I watched it bleed to death and ate chips and it was awesome. Then I loaded up another one because I get lonely.

I want you all to cut SW a little slack. He's a player for the first time in years and he's adjusting, just like some of our newbmins up top are adjusting and if he's pointing out things that he did in the past, they could still need improvement now and pointing out his failings in the past doesn't do anything about now. I do think the comparisons and the armor explanations were great things that came from that, though, so kudos. Just everybody be gentle because we're all nerds just trying to find a home. Everybody cut everybody some slack, except Holmes cause Holmes is just gonna do Holmes and that's cool too. I love you all. What are cheesebuns? Is this a cheesebun moment? It looks like an orange poop. =\ :nom:
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Re: Gentler RPA Suggestion

Postby Songweaver » Mon Sep 29, 2014 12:16 pm

My above post edited.

I want you all to cut SW a little slack.


I don't need slack. Again, RPAs always make mistakes. I could list a dozen that I've made, some more than once, in the past. It doesn't invalidate their work. Running a game is a constant opportunity for learning how to better run a game.

I have some unique perspective from knowing well and being a large part of developing the engine that SOI uses, being responsible for balancing all of the armor/weapons/wildlife for this version of SOI, and having stepped away from being an RPA to experience the game as a player again. I've learned things since SOI opened that I feel would be invaluable to me (if I were to ever RPA again), and I feel like they're worth sharing or talking about sometimes.

I'm on the staff's side. I wanna see them succeed, and I love to celebrate their successes when they do.

And, as negative and nasty as the community can get sometimes, I still believe that we should be capable of having thoughtful, progressive conversations about what can be done to create the best experience possible for everyone (both staff and player) who puts their heart and soul and free-time into this game.
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