Discuss: What You Know: the Unforgiven

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Shadow Elusive
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Discuss: What You Know: the Unforgiven

This time, the faction is brand new: I don't believe any of you have heard anything about these guys before, and they are very interesting aren't they?

Read the update here: http://cityoftitans.com/forum/what-you-know-unforgiven

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That... is really bizarre!

That... is really bizarre!

Be Well!
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*cough*vampires*cough*

*cough*vampires*cough*

<.<

>.>

.
.
.
What? I didn't say nothin...
:)

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I've said it before, but it

I've said it before, but it bears repeating: I love this sort of update. Thank you!

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This sounds familiar but I

This sounds familiar but I can't put my finger on it.

Revenge is motivation enough. At least it's honest...

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Interesting gang....

Interesting gang....

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"The parts vary widely from

"The parts vary widely from member to member"

Is it possible that each instance of a foe actually has randomized attacks and defenses? This could make for some interesting combat ;)

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desviper wrote:
desviper wrote:

"The parts vary widely from member to member"
Is it possible that each instance of a foe actually has randomized attacks and defenses? This could make for some interesting combat ;)

Or instead of them being "mostly scrapperish" or "mostly tankish" it might be cool if they ended up using all sorts of chaotic powers so that no two groups of them would ever react quite the same way. That would keep things from getting boring with them.

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Lord Nightmare
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Lothic wrote:
Lothic wrote:

desviper wrote:
"The parts vary widely from member to member"
Is it possible that each instance of a foe actually has randomized attacks and defenses? This could make for some interesting combat ;)

Or instead of them being "mostly scrapperish" or "mostly tankish" it might be cool if they ended up using all sorts of chaotic powers so that no two groups of them would ever react quite the same way. That would keep things from getting boring with them.

What you're talking about Lothic is actually a thing in certain PnP games. Warhammer has the Chaos Sorcerer and its equivalents that can either use a point bought ability OR choose to cast a random spell and roll to see the effects. The list you roll from is based on which Chaos God you worship.

A way one could code this in to Enemy Types would be to create a template with a few set abilities and have the server, when it loads them in, randomly roll from a set list and choose 3-4 non repeating abilities. It might make load times take an extra few seconds or so, but the unpredictability of the encounters would make up for it.

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desviper wrote:
desviper wrote:

"The parts vary widely from member to member"
Is it possible that each instance of a foe actually has randomized attacks and defenses? This could make for some interesting combat ;)

Heck.. i'd be happy if i could choose alternate animations for a specific power. ;)

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Izzy wrote:
Izzy wrote:

desviper wrote:
"The parts vary widely from member to member"
Is it possible that each instance of a foe actually has randomized attacks and defenses? This could make for some interesting combat ;)

Heck.. i'd be happy if i could choose alternate animations for a specific power. ;)

That Brings up a good question actually. Does this mean hostiles will have a set of random different animations for their abilities or will they be locked down to maintain a theme?

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desviper wrote:
desviper wrote:

"The parts vary widely from member to member"
Is it possible that each instance of a foe actually has randomized attacks and defenses? This could make for some interesting combat ;)

Turns out the answer is yes. Get beat by an Unforgiven mob, respawn, and re-engage them, they'll be different. 'The roguelike faction' is how the Lore lead Robin has put it.

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I for one can't wait to see

I for one can't wait to see tough guys or gals in floppy hats

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Now this was an awesome

Now this was an awesome update. I really look forward to fighting this gang.

Heck, this would make a great movie.

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¡^_^!

¡^_^!

I really want to fight this gang, too!

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Shadow Elusive wrote:
Shadow Elusive wrote:

desviper wrote:
"The parts vary widely from member to member"
Is it possible that each instance of a foe actually has randomized attacks and defenses? This could make for some interesting combat ;)

Turns out the answer is yes. Get beat by an Unforgiven mob, respawn, and re-engage them, they'll be different. 'The roguelike faction' is how the Lore lead Robin has put it.

I like this idea...should be really interesting

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Shadow Elusive wrote:
Shadow Elusive wrote:

desviper wrote:
"The parts vary widely from member to member"
Is it possible that each instance of a foe actually has randomized attacks and defenses? This could make for some interesting combat ;)

Turns out the answer is yes. Get beat by an Unforgiven mob, respawn, and re-engage them, they'll be different. 'The roguelike faction' is how the Lore lead Robin has put it.

That should prove... "interesting". I'm curious whether it will fall victim to the main curse that plagues almost any such mechanic: the fact that it is effectively impossible to balance a game involving it.

Frankly, I would think that it would be an excellent excuse for taking advantage of the aesthetic decoupling notion that's been in the plans since forever, to give them a relatively normal set of mechanics (also meaning you don't have to break lots of assumptions in the engine) but semi-randomize the visuals.

Speaking from experience, even something as simple as a color change on a power can confuse the living heck out of people, even veteran players. At one point I had to set up a costume slot specifically so that I could leave powers the default colors because everyone kept trying to target my fire imps. And all I'd done was turn them a dark blue (hotter, after all). :P


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Lord Nightmare wrote:
Lord Nightmare wrote:

Lothic wrote:
desviper wrote:
"The parts vary widely from member to member"
Is it possible that each instance of a foe actually has randomized attacks and defenses? This could make for some interesting combat ;)

Or instead of them being "mostly scrapperish" or "mostly tankish" it might be cool if they ended up using all sorts of chaotic powers so that no two groups of them would ever react quite the same way. That would keep things from getting boring with them.

What you're talking about Lothic is actually a thing in certain PnP games. Warhammer has the Chaos Sorcerer and its equivalents that can either use a point bought ability OR choose to cast a random spell and roll to see the effects. The list you roll from is based on which Chaos God you worship.
A way one could code this in to Enemy Types would be to create a template with a few set abilities and have the server, when it loads them in, randomly roll from a set list and choose 3-4 non repeating abilities. It might make load times take an extra few seconds or so, but the unpredictability of the encounters would make up for it.

There are reasons it generally hasn't made the jump from P&P to online games. The primary one being that in a P&P game the GM can fudge the rolls.. or, short of that, choose to have the not-so-artificial-intelligence do things to "mix it up" like varying targets if one of them just took an unexpected beating.

By comparison, even child-level real intelligence has a nasty tendency to swarm unexpectedly and pile onto someone who doesn't have a prayer of surviving it... once in a blue moon. I can say this as a statement of fact, having watched half a dozen actual children "alpha strike" a LARP tank and drop him like a stone. Thankfully for him, there was a GM there to... mitigate... the consequences in a way that kept the fun but also kept (even improved) the existing story-line.

It is easy enough to get enough unintended consequences out of even *simple* content, even when that content is specifically set up to mitigate that problem with things like diminishing returns for stacked debuffs, that truly randomizing it to that level seems like a recipe for disaster.

Anyone who doesn't believe this should ask the trial team-of-eight who took on the first draft of my "Queen of Diamonds" mission in AE: I'd been through it half a dozen times as an MM at +1x3, making sure it had a decent challenge if you turned the difficulty up, but didn't get stupid-hard. However, a team of eight at +0x1 was enough to cause the spawns, which were ice powersets, to go over the tipping point and be able to stack speed debuffs on *everyone* so hard that the team had to slow to a crawl and barely survived even then. With a fully kitted Dark/Dark tank who regularly ran +4x8 Rikti missions to powerlevel new toons in the lead.

So, like I said: it is hard enough to manage to *minimize* the level of "screw that, this isn't fun at all" that can happen unintentionally even when the system is actually reasonably balanced already, very predictable, and has things built in specifically to try to mitigate exactly that sort of problem. Make it truly randomized and I predict that the only people who will even bother with them after the novelty factor wears off (my guess: five or six missions, tops) are folks who *do* have the equivalent of a DDT (effectively "no vulnerabilities to anything"). If them.

Whereas you can get all of the wacky fun for a fraction of the pain *and* a fraction of the development effort by just providing ways to "mix it up" in the animations. The main requirement would be that the system be able to tell whether any given proposed combination of visuals can actually work together, but that's no worse than costume pieces already are. Which means you already have a place to track it. :)

As a bonus? Unlike the random powerset, you can also *make it available to players*. Having stuff NPCs can do that players can't, while obviously required for things like specialized-mechanics fights, is really kind of obnoxious to do in a general-purpose group. :P


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DeathSheepFromHell wrote:
DeathSheepFromHell wrote:

That should prove... "interesting". I'm curious whether it will fall victim to the main curse that plagues almost any such mechanic: the fact that it is effectively impossible to balance a game involving it.
Frankly, I would think that it would be an excellent excuse for taking advantage of the aesthetic decoupling notion that's been in the plans since forever, to give them a relatively normal set of mechanics (also meaning you don't have to break lots of assumptions in the engine) but semi-randomize the visuals.
Speaking from experience, even something as simple as a color change on a power can confuse the living heck out of people, even veteran players. At one point I had to set up a costume slot specifically so that I could leave powers the default colors because everyone kept trying to target my fire imps. And all I'd done was turn them a dark blue (hotter, after all). :P

Thanks, I realize my previous question sounded somewhat redundant to what desviper said, this is what I was getting at, I'd be happy with just animation differences. It will feel more dynamic with just that. It would be interesting to have randomized abilities across a single mob type, but it would also make it difficult to "learn" from past mistakes. On top of that, if its difficult to balance, I think just the animation changes would be just fine. As long as there are no foot pistols of course xD.

Nothing means anything. This is the natural state of everything within our reality. It is only your existence, your relative position, and your perspective that can make something meaningful.

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"Their powers vary wildly,

"Their powers vary wildly, but many are as dangerous to the Unforgiven themselves as to their foes. Like most of Titan City’s gangs, the Unforgiven work together poorly. Many of their strange abilities endanger everyone around them, including their fellow gang members."

Will this be a basis for PC power sets as well, at least the self-damage part (not group damage), so we can have something like blood mages (hopefully with appropriate attack animations)?

Otherwise this gang sound to fight.

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Can you say, "Deal with the

Can you say, "Deal with the devil"?

It sounds to me like these guys make some kind of pact with a being (or a type of being) to get their powers. I wouldn't be surprised if criminals who find themselves in a tight spot are wooed by promises of power and protection, only to discover that they've become a pawn. I'd love to know what the Barons make of them.

The random powers thing sounds intriguing but difficult for the reasons DSFH pointed out. The more random their powers can be the greater the odds that they'll land on a combination that can flatten a player. 'course it may only be one or two of their powers that are random (e.g. their "main" curse, which they don't like to use except as a last resort), which would mitigate that problem.

And yeah, I'm totally going to have Metallica running through my head every time I see these guys.

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blacke4dawn wrote:
DeathSheepFromHell wrote:

It is easy enough to get enough unintended consequences out of even *simple* content, even when that content is specifically set up to mitigate that problem with things like diminishing returns for stacked debuffs, that truly randomizing it to that level seems like a recipe for disaster.
...
So, like I said: it is hard enough to manage to *minimize* the level of "screw that, this isn't fun at all" that can happen unintentionally even when the system is actually reasonably balanced already, very predictable, and has things built in specifically to try to mitigate exactly that sort of problem. Make it truly randomized and I predict that the only people who will even bother with them after the novelty factor wears off (my guess: five or six missions, tops) are folks who *do* have the equivalent of a DDT (effectively "no vulnerabilities to anything").

You've brought up some good points here. I could see where if a group were allowed to vary their combinations of powers so wildly that sometimes they might "randomly" come up with a mix of effects that would be very overpowered, or at least unexpectedly very challenging.

But one thing I don't think you've taken into account is this faction's unique tendency to self-damage themselves in the process. As blacke4dawn requoted:

Quote:

"Their powers vary wildly, but many are as dangerous to the Unforgiven themselves as to their foes. Like most of Titan City’s gangs, the Unforgiven work together poorly. Many of their strange abilities endanger everyone around them, including their fellow gang members."

If you take into account that maybe half the time (give or take) the Unforgiven will be doing as much damage to themselves as to any players around them then maybe the situations where they may otherwise be "overpowered" would be mitigated by their own chaos. Their ability to self-damage themselves could actually serve as the main way to ultimately keep the faction balanced overall.

blacke4dawn wrote:

Will this be a basis for PC power sets as well, at least the self-damage part (not group damage), so we can have something like blood mages (hopefully with appropriate attack animations)?

I suppose this could be reworked into a player powerset but the key would be whether the "self-damage" mechanic is limited to the player using the powerset or would the "chaos damage" spill over to any teammate that may be near him/her. The way this powerset "works" for the Unforgiven is that it can and does hurt their fellow members - the powerset might be considered overpowered for players if it were kept from hurting other players in the same way.

My guess is if they made it so that the damage would hurt other friendly teammates around them then most people would not really want to team with these guys. This powerset, were it to exist for players, would likely be avoided by almost everyone except hardcore soloers only - not really sure that would be workable or not.

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Two things. One, just to be

Two things. One, just to be clear, Sheep is on long term inactive status and doesn't reflect the current status of MWM.

Two: He's essentially if not entirely correct - this enemy group will not be entirely random, rather being an assemblage of animations and attacks and behaviors from a series of vetted lists. The same looking characters will probably have very different attacks, though of the same rough category. Still, that's a 'behind the curtain, they're not that different' statement. From a player perspective, two enemies with the same attack can wind up looking very different - one might fire bullets, and the other might summon ghosts that attack you, then fly off.

That being said, we do intend to use them as a test of 'how random can we get safely' so we may push a few limits.

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Essentially, for these guys,

Essentially, for these guys, we want to drag the 'random distinctive boss' generation system down to the minion level. We have fallback plans if that doesn't work right - list of ten powerset As and ten powerset Bs, mix and match, for example, plus animation variants, but we do want to try to have these specific guys be the 'how procedural can we get' testbed.

Most of our enemy groups have one unique thing about them that they do differently. Some of them may not work out. We're not always going to play things safe, but we know, generally, in our experiments, what specific areas can wind up being frustrating.

We're hoping this one works out on the fun side of things.

Only one way to find out!

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I should make it clear that

I should make it clear that Sheep is currently inactive and his opinion does not reflect the opinion of Tech.

That said, if the Unforgiven turn out to need more time to work out the kinks we can always just postpone in-game implementation a bit. Doesn't have to come out at launch. Also, lets remember that just because they are random does not mean they are drawing on the entire roster of possible powers - there are lots of ways to make it more limited while still being quite interesting. Lothic's point about self-damage balance is also a good one.

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Reading this, I had DSFH's

Reading this, I had DSFH's concerns as well. It then became a question of whether to go "truly" (pseudo)random or simply have a table chart of pre-made possibilities (Primary/Secondary/Tertiary) which are then "randomly" spliced together.

The follow up to that then becomes ... who tends to get the self-defeating/sacrificial Powers more often? Minions? Lieutenants? Bosses? Elite Bosses? My point being that the RARITY of such Powers ought to be adjusted at different rankings. Why? Simple ... Go Darwin Go factor.

In order to move up through the gang's organization, you have to survive. Survival means that the most self-destructive tendencies will (usually) get weeded out before promoting to the next rank up. Note that such considerations are SELF directed, as opposed to ALLY directed ... such that you could have a Boss that sacrifices their Minions in order to supercharge a Nuke Power (that doesn't self-immolate the caster).

So I'm thinking that the Minions would tend to have the most self directed destructive curses, while the Bosses would tend to have the most ally directed destructive curses. Furthermore, these would be TENDENCIES as opposed to RULES ... so, y'know ... "guidelines" ...

That way, there is still a measure of uncertainty when dealing with any member of the group. It's a matter of sliding scale bias in randomization, rather than outright "prevention" of unfortunate combinations detrimental to survival. That way, you can still wind up with "mad suicidal bomber" possibilities that just haven't been triggered yet in that NPC's career with the group.

Brings a whole new meaning to the term "Finishing Move" ... wouldn't you say?

And with that being the case ... I wouldn't be at all surprised if the gang operates on the "Klingon Promotion" system whereby moving up in the ranks involves the death defeat of your superiors so that you can replace them.


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Uh, you may need to tone it

I think my difficulty setting might be a tad too high.

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Sorry Sheep, didn't see

Sorry Sheep, didn't see Cabbit's post when I was making mine, didn't mean to dogpile on ya'

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Shadow Elusive wrote:
Shadow Elusive wrote:

if the Unforgiven turn out to need more time to work out the kinks we can always just postpone in-game implementation a bit. Doesn't have to come out at launch. Also, lets remember that just because they are random does not mean they are drawing on the entire roster of possible powers - there are lots of ways to make it more limited while still being quite interesting. Lothic's point about self-damage balance is also a good one.

Yeah I never assumed they were going to be "completely" random - I figured there would be like, hypothetically, 10 different predefined versions of them and that what would be "random" is which ones would appear in any given MOB and which animations they would use. As was said "behind the curtains" I always figured that they were going to be much less "chaotic" than they might appear on screen.

That said I still do like the unique idea that they are going to be so chaotic that they'll potentially do as much damage to themselves as they would do to players. As Redlynne said this would allow them to sort of do unpredictable "suicide bomber" like attacks which should keep things lively.

The only problem I see with this would be from people who love things to be very predictable in MMOs. There are people who want things to always be the same and those are the people who'll likely whine and/or avoid the Unforgiven because the faction will force them to actually have to pay attention and adapt to what's going on. I persoanlly wouldn't mind seeing some "unpredictablity" and it'll be interesting to see if CoT can make them workable without making them too annoying. ;)

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(Sees the picture and Laughs

(Sees the picture and Laughs like crazy)

You'd think? I felt that way when I had to deal with some black goo aliens in Champions Online. I really hate it when more than five bad guys gang up on me at the same time. I would literally Run like the wind if that many Bad guys in your picture ganged up on me in an MMO

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So, rather than respond to

So, rather than respond to the multiple replies in separate posts, I'm rolling them together.

  • As Cabbit and ShadowElusive both noted, I am not part of the project at this point. I do try to disclaim that regularly, but sometimes I forget. Apply it in full force to everything I say; heck, even when I *was* part of the project I wasn't an official public-facing speaker and much of what I wrote then was just personal opinion.
  • I did actually take into account the self-injury factor; the trick is that "balanced" really is the wrong word, as it implies that one is aiming only for the average to be in the middle. If you flip a coin every fight, and 10% of the time you die instantly, while 90% of the time you steamroll it, that's "balanced" against a 10% failure rate target, but it isn't really much *fun*. Some folks have expressed this as "balance is a false god", whereas I stick with just "'fair' is not the same as 'fun'" (there are contexts such as PvP where it may be a required *part* of fun, but then again, look at OGRE or CO's recent SuperVillain Onslaught expansion for examples of utterly unfair sometimes also being fun).
  • From the clarifications it sounds like it is closer to a case of being able to take a *somewhat* randomized selection of powers from within a general power set, plus a bunch of cosmetic randomization, which is definitely a saner approach than the initial response appeared to be describing. That's fine, it is shorthand, communication isn't perfect, etc.
  • From a system's perspective, you already have to deal with most of that range of variation (or even more, potentially) simply from the player side of the equation; after all, most powersets don't expect (or sometimes even permit) taking every power in the set, or applying the same boosts to them, etc.
  • Even "mixing it up' with different power sets in the group is no worse than the players, especially if you apply some of the same basic rules that someone putting together a PUG for a large-group run would, like "a group entirely of glass cannons is a high-risk, high-payoff scenario" (in this case, that's not a good thing for most NPCs).
  • That said, balancing PC levels of variation is still not especially easy — but it also isn't outside the range of "plausible to do", especially given some of the advances in game engine technology in the recent past, to allow for much more flexibility in things like "you can drop a spawn trigger into the mission but give it more or less arbitrary logic about deciding what it spawns".
  • My personal suggestion here would be to look to the folks already working through game balance issues and see if they can come up with something that can give you a heuristic (or probably a set of them) that can be applied. Generate a mostly-random set to start with and then nudge it this way or that until the numbers come up with a predicted difficulty that seems about right given the player team involved and their selected options.
  • One interesting consequence of the previous point: it opens up the possibility of getting to a target difficulty in more ways than just "spawn more/less", "promote/demote the boss" and/or "raise/lower the effective level".
  • In fact, if done right, it could actually reverse one of the possible effects I pointed out in my first post: if the system recognizes that throwing, say, a psionic boss at a party with a tank that has a gap in coverage there makes things plenty difficult without adding two medium and three mook class folks *also* throwing that, then people are likely to be *more* willing to play against a group that has this effect because they won't feel like they have to learn to avoid specific groups / missions when they don't have someone specifically good against those.

Granted, the last several points are all heavily dependent on finding an approach that really works so well that you can apply it safely across more or less the entire game, for adjustment purposes (most groups just wouldn't have quite the range of possible combinations that the Unforgiven would), which is a very iffy proposition. But the much narrower case of making it at least "as tolerable to deal with as any other group of similar frequency and power" (i.e. it doesn't stand out as "oh god not them again") is a much lower bar. It is also the place you'd want to have a good, solid footing to start from if you *did* attempt a broader application of the technique.

Follow-ups: the Garish (randomized costuming) and their opposing faction, the Fashion Police.


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Darth Fez wrote:
Darth Fez wrote:

I think my difficulty setting might be a tad too high.

Actually, looks just about right for me. Assuming that's a DDT, anyway. Or, heck, given it is all projectile weapons and squishy wielders, even a Stone/* Tank would probably be just fine…


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DeathSheepFromHell wrote:
DeathSheepFromHell wrote:

I did actually take into account the self-injury factor; the trick is that "balanced" really is the wrong word, as it implies that one is aiming only for the average to be in the middle. If you flip a coin every fight, and 10% of the time you die instantly, while 90% of the time you steamroll it, that's "balanced" against a 10% failure rate target, but it isn't really much *fun*. Some folks have expressed this as "balance is a false god", whereas I stick with just "'fair' is not the same as 'fun'" (there are contexts such as PvP where it may be a required *part* of fun, but then again, look at OGRE or CO's recent SuperVillain Onslaught expansion for examples of utterly unfair sometimes also being fun).

From the clarifications it sounds like it is closer to a case of being able to take a *somewhat* randomized selection of powers from within a general power set, plus a bunch of cosmetic randomization, which is definitely a saner approach than the initial response appeared to be describing. That's fine, it is shorthand, communication isn't perfect, etc.,

I'm glad to hear you did consider the self-injury factor as part of how these guys could work. But I think you're overblowing the premise that they're automatically doomed to be locked into some kind of "10% instant-death/90% steamroller" definition of "balance".

To me the concept of "game balance" is not absolute fairness or that every situation is exactly 50/50. But by the same token if during play tests it was proven that the Unforgiven were performing via your near-hyperbolic "10%/90%" prediction I'm quite sure the Devs responsible for this would not accept that as a reasonable version of "balance".

No one's assuming that making the Unforgiven work acceptably is going to be a trivial task. But I'm fairly certain there will be ways to tweak/adjust this faction in order to make it appear "random" to the average player while at the same time maintaining enough control over the situation so that from MOB to MOB they will never vary so much as to be automatic instant death or pathetic pushovers. Those extremes of the spectrum would naturally be ironed out during extensive playtesting.

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FOOTSTOMP!

FOOTSTOMP!

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Did Vahzi minions with the

Did Vahzi minions with the bomb packs do damage to other Vahzi's when it went off?

When i hear about a NPC Group, 1st thing that comes to mind:
- What kind of powers, Mostly Melee, Ranged, AoE's, etc... ?
- Are they organized? To what degree is the inherent AI difficulty at?
- Do they stay and fight when their HP is in the red, or do they run?
- etc...

From what i can tell, Unforgiven might be lvl's 8-13 enemy group..
Like in CoH/V, if a tank just leveled up and got a Shield with Fire/Cold/Etc defense, the enemy Groups also did Fire/Cold/etc Damage as well. ;)

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warcabbit wrote:
warcabbit wrote:

FOOTSTOMP!

FOOTDIVE!

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Lothic wrote:
Lothic wrote:

I'm glad to hear you did consider the self-injury factor as part of how these guys could work. But I think you're overblowing the premise that they're automatically doomed to be locked into some kind of "10% instant-death/90% steamroller" definition of "balance".
To me the concept of "game balance" is not absolute fairness or that every situation is exactly 50/50. But by the same token if during play tests it was proven that the Unforgiven were performing via your near-hyperbolic "10%/90%" prediction I'm quite sure the Devs responsible for this would not accept that as a reasonable version of "balance".
No one's assuming that making the Unforgiven work acceptably is going to be a trivial task. But I'm fairly certain there will be ways to tweak/adjust this faction in order to make it appear "random" to the average player while at the same time maintaining enough control over the situation so that from MOB to MOB they will never vary so much as to be automatic instant death or pathetic pushovers. Those extremes of the spectrum would naturally be ironed out during extensive playtesting.

Yes, I deliberately picked an absurdly stark extreme. I did so not as an accusation that they would end up there, but as a way of illustrating what the underlying concern is. Reduction to absurdity: take a thing and extend it to an extreme, showing that said extreme is bad. Which implies that somewhere along the way "good" switches to "bad" and thus it is worth being aware of that fact so that it can be watched for.

As for being certain that there are ways to tweak it so that it appears random to people while not being subject to issues, I think you may be missing either an important piece of psychology or an understanding of how scaling affects some of the statistics.

Confirmation bias in most games: people will not remember when it was pleasant, they will remember when it was painful. There's a reason I said 90/10 rather than 50/50 for my example: nobody would play a 50/50 PvE MMO no matter how un-extreme it was. Most people won't even play a 50/50 PvP one; instead there is usually an ongoing stream of new folks who tip that balance, and only a small number actually stay around, the "hardcore" folks.

People also generally don't understand the flip side of the gambler's fallacy: it is true that the chances of a fair 10% "hit" coming up at least once in a sequence of 20 draws is 1 in 8 (many people assume it should be "it should come up twice if you do 20 runs!"), the corollary is that the chances of having it hit more often than that aren't half bad either (I'm tired, it's been a long day, and I do not care enough to sit down and calculate the precise number just now).

As for scale: if the chance of something happening is one mob out of 10,000, let's look at the numbers:

  • 3 hours a day, on average
  • An average fight takes 30 seconds
  • Downtime between fights is roughly equal to fighting time
  • An average of 4 mobs per fight, per player ("per player" means we can avoid having to worry about party size, distribution, etc; it may be too simplistic, but oh well)

So you average 4 mobs per minute (30s fighting + 30s downtime), * 60m in an hour *3h = 720 mobs per day. An event with a chance of 1 in 10k will happen, on average, once every two weeks or so. *Per player*. Assuming that it does no *better* than Champions is currently (pessimistic would be ~300 concurrent users most evenings, which is a significant undershot for "over a day" but oh well), that means it will happen, on average, a bit over 20 times a day.

That's how often you would see someone get *4 hits in a row* on a 10% chance. Things that most people would toss around as numbers implying "I might see it once, ever" actually tend to be pretty damn common when you start scaling it, *before* you toss in any biases. Nor does that account for the bias that will happen when you have 8 people running something, and suddenly you *don't* have a situation where chances are evenly distributed: if something wiped the floor with one person in the party chances are actually pretty good they'll be able to do it to more than one. Especially given that the party is now down a person, and thus *less* able to handle the situation in most cases.

Add in global communication and confirmation bias and that 1-in-10k is going to have people breaking out the torches and pitchforks.

Why do I keep harping on 10%? Because people assume that playtesting can catch this sort of thing. While that's most often true, A) it doesn't account for the fact that playtesting happens VERY late in the development cycle and it is an incredibly regular thing to see something end up forced out the door when it shouldn't have been — even with companies that care *a lot* about such things. And B) the chances of that same one-in-10k chance happening on a public test server to the same group of folks at least twice (so that there is reason to believe it is more than a transient anomaly) are actually pretty low, given how few people actually tend to be on the PTS server *and* playing general content rather than focusing on some particular aspect of some upcoming change *and* how little time most folks in general spend on the PTS even when they care.

So no, I don't think trusting "we'll naturally catch those during playtesting" is a sane assumption at all. Playtesting is the beta, *after* QA has gone over it, and if you want to know how much gets past QA who are paid to do it full time, just take a look at the list of bug fixes for pretty much any game — they almost never bother to list things fixed before they ever made it out to the public.


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Lord Nightmare wrote:
Lord Nightmare wrote:

warcabbit wrote:
FOOTSTOMP!

FOOTDIVE!

This one even has "Stomp" in the name! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tDb4gwhltR4&t=1m16s


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DeathSheepFromHell wrote:
DeathSheepFromHell wrote:

People also generally don't understand the flip side of the gambler's fallacy: it is true that the chances of a fair 10% "hit" coming up at least once in a sequence of 20 draws is 1 in 8 (many people assume it should be "it should come up twice if you do 20 runs!"), the corollary is that the chances of having it hit more often than that aren't half bad either (I'm tired, it's been a long day, and I do not care enough to sit down and calculate the precise number just now).

*Not*. The chances of it *not* coming up at least once in 20 tries.


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From the plan and/or

From the plan and/or assumption perspective, does all this assume that a given Unforgiven's entire power set can and might change or only one or two powers?

The description of the faction leads me to believe that, for the most part, they'll have "common thug" type attacks (e.g. Skulls, Hellions, Mooks, etc.) with one or two special attacks in the vein of the Outcasts of Vahzilok. Furthermore, the strong implication that they typically use these powers as a last resort suggests that they're unlikely to use such abilities more than once or twice per combat. It occurs to me that "self-injurious" needn't necessarily mean damage. Any Unforgiven that inflicts a (de)buff on a player could well inflict that same status effect on themselves and any other allies who are close enough, so even if the players get hit with multiple slows the Unforgiven would also be slowed (even if to a lesser extent).

I wonder if the technology/AI could check to see that an Unforgiven group (especially if a player has the difficulty set to have more enemies spawn per group) doesn't stack too many of the same type of powers, specifically with a view to avoid the runaway stacking of (de)buffs?

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"quote-author"

"quote-author">DeathSheepFromHell wrote:
As long as there are no foot pistols of course xD.

My feet are killing me.

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Darth Fez wrote:
Darth Fez wrote:

The description of the faction leads me to believe that, for the most part, they'll have "common thug" type attacks (e.g. Skulls, Hellions, Mooks, etc.) with one or two special attacks in the vein of the Outcasts of Vahzilok.

Explosive Vomit in rainbow colors for the ... uh ... win ...?


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If they eat Lucky Charms that

If they eat Lucky Charms that's their own damned fault.

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I just reread this and

I just reread this and something else hit me. Gang wars. various gangs fighting for territory.
This means grinding up a level will be a LOT more entertaining.

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Darth Fez wrote:
Darth Fez wrote:

If they eat Lucky Charms that's their own damned fault.

Now I want to play a villain so I can beat the crap outa that little guy and sell his "Lucky Charms" on the black market.

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I just read this entire

I just read this entire thread with it's discussion ranging from the level of lore and storytelling to game mechanics and mathematics--PLUS a Blues Brother's reference from Darth?

You are my people. I want this game.

PS- Footstomp would have been AWESOME there, War ;P

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Darth Fez wrote:
Darth Fez wrote:

I wonder if the technology/AI could check to see that an Unforgiven group (especially if a player has the difficulty set to have more enemies spawn per group) doesn't stack too many of the same type of powers, specifically with a view to avoid the runaway stacking of (de)buffs?

In my mind that would only make sense if debuffs of one type *naturally* didn't stack, but you could instead be hit by a *wide range* of different debuffs instead.

This would mean that (for example) fighting DE, you wouldn't be able to debuffed to high heaven by them alone, but if it was DE and Malta (for example) you could get debuffed, if they hit a *wide enough* range of debuffs.

If debuffs did naturally stack (along with buffs) then I do not see a reason as to why this group would be penalised as much. I mean, the other groups didn't ....

What you could do though is use the difficulty slider to change some of the variables (ie on one difficulty you don't get a lot of variation in the powers, on another you will get more of the same powers being duplicated etc).

It then becomes a tuning problem at this point in time.

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I like the whole idea of

I like the whole idea of these Unforgiven folk, I just think the green apple with the flaming sword symbol just doesn't do it for me. I'd like to see a new symbol myself.

As for everything else, I love the idea that the powers will rotate through quite a large set. Be prepared...and run when you need to! :D

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To me, the Symbol sounds like

To me, the Symbol sounds like a reference to Eden and the Fruit of Knowledge.

From Wikipedia:

Quote:

According to the Bible, a cherub (or the archangel Uriel in some traditions) with a flaming sword was placed by God at the gates of Paradise after Adam and Eve were banished from it (Genesis 3:24).

Basically, the Apple signifies a cost. Potentially these Unforgiven did something to gain their power, maybe even gave up a bit of themselves. The sword is essentially a guard, barring their return to normal civilization and life because of their actions. They have literally taken the fruit and been banished from this world and instead of seeking redemption, are fighting to claim it for their own.

Of course, that's just my theory. I see them as our version of the Hellions or Skuls.

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Yup, I understand what they

Yup, I understand what they're trying to do, but it's an apple with a flaming sword through it. The symbol just don't jive with me is all I'm sayin'. Make it cool, not something that reminds me of Steve Jobs :P. Though, I suppose that could also be the reason for the apple lol

Apples don't make me afraid, they make me hungry.

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PaxImperium wrote:
PaxImperium wrote:

Make it cool, not something that reminds me of Steve Jobs :P.

I think it's a safe bet that the Unforgiven's apple motif will NOT look like this ...


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Then again, that could also

Then again, that could also explain the explosive vomit in rainbow colors...

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Finally got around to

Finally got around to checking on this, the one little bit of info we had on them before:

Deputy Chief Gherrenfur in update # 87 wrote:

“Then there’s the Unforgiven.” The hackles on his neck visibly rose for a second. “Creepy guys. I’ve heard stories about them sucking people through mirrors or drowning them on dry land.”

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Foradain wrote:
Foradain wrote:

Finally got around to checking on this, the one little bit of info we had on them before:
Deputy Chief Gherrenfur in update # 87 wrote:
“Then there’s the Unforgiven.” The hackles on his neck visibly rose for a second. “Creepy guys. I’ve heard stories about them sucking people through mirrors or drowning them on dry land.”

Real Elm Street style stuff..

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When I read the description

When I read the description of the powers being, more or less, as hazardous to them as to us players, the first comparison that came to mind was the Deuces and Jokers in the Wild Cards series.

As long as this is implemented well enough to where we're all having fun with these guys, then I'm looking forward to seeing how it turns out.

Cyclops wrote:

Darth Fez wrote:
If they eat Lucky Charms that's their own damned fault.

Now I want to play a villain so I can beat the crap outa that little guy and sell his "Lucky Charms" on the black market.

That villainous prospect sounds magically delicious.

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DeathSheepFromHell wrote:
DeathSheepFromHell wrote:

Lothic wrote:
I'm glad to hear you did consider the self-injury factor as part of how these guys could work. But I think you're overblowing the premise that they're automatically doomed to be locked into some kind of "10% instant-death/90% steamroller" definition of "balance".
To me the concept of "game balance" is not absolute fairness or that every situation is exactly 50/50. But by the same token if during play tests it was proven that the Unforgiven were performing via your near-hyperbolic "10%/90%" prediction I'm quite sure the Devs responsible for this would not accept that as a reasonable version of "balance".
No one's assuming that making the Unforgiven work acceptably is going to be a trivial task. But I'm fairly certain there will be ways to tweak/adjust this faction in order to make it appear "random" to the average player while at the same time maintaining enough control over the situation so that from MOB to MOB they will never vary so much as to be automatic instant death or pathetic pushovers. Those extremes of the spectrum would naturally be ironed out during extensive playtesting.

Why do I keep harping on 10%? Because people assume that playtesting can catch this sort of thing. While that's most often true, A) it doesn't account for the fact that playtesting happens VERY late in the development cycle and it is an incredibly regular thing to see something end up forced out the door when it shouldn't have been — even with companies that care *a lot* about such things. And B) the chances of that same one-in-10k chance happening on a public test server to the same group of folks at least twice (so that there is reason to believe it is more than a transient anomaly) are actually pretty low, given how few people actually tend to be on the PTS server *and* playing general content rather than focusing on some particular aspect of some upcoming change *and* how little time most folks in general spend on the PTS even when they care.
So no, I don't think trusting "we'll naturally catch those during playtesting" is a sane assumption at all. Playtesting is the beta, *after* QA has gone over it, and if you want to know how much gets past QA who are paid to do it full time, just take a look at the list of bug fixes for pretty much any game — they almost never bother to list things fixed before they ever made it out to the public.

The problem here is that your hypothetical is still so hyperbolically extreme that for it to even "slip through" the development process in the first place (before there's even any playtesting) you would have to assume the Devs involved had gone completely insane or were completely oblivious to what might "acceptably work well" in a game like this in the first place. I'll give them more credit than that by default and go from there.

And sure there could always be a chance that something as insane as your 10%/90% scenario would also be able to pass unnoticed during playtesting. But I'm willing to roll the dice that nothing even barely as extreme as you're worried about here would actually be able to accomplish that trick without challenge. The first time a scrapper gets toasted after scrapper-locking on one of the 10% instant-death groups you’ll hear people whining about it from here to the moon and back.

DISCLAIMER: Just as FYI I've been in professional software engineering for 20+ years so I'm very well aware of what QA efforts can and can't do and how bugs are typically handled/documented during various development/maintenance cycles. Also I'm relatively aware enough of logical reasoning to understand the "reduction to absurdity" argument and to see where someone is desperately clinging to it in an attempt maintain their position. I'll simply conclude that this "thing" with the Unforgiven won't be (and likely would never be) as bad as you're fearing. *shrugs*

CoH player from April 25, 2004 to November 30, 2012

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The Unforgiven sound like an

The Unforgiven sound like an interesting Gang, Can't wait for one of my Heroes to cross them.....Then the Sword will really be in the Apple. The Heroes Sword through the Rotten Apple of Crime

I accidently ate a bowl of radioactive soup....ok I guess that makes me a Soup-er Hero

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Lothic wrote:
Lothic wrote:

The problem here is that your hypothetical is still so hyperbolically extreme that for it to even "slip through" the development process in the first place (before there's even any playtesting) you would have to assume the Devs involved had gone completely insane or were completely oblivious to what might "acceptably work well" in a game like this in the first place. I'll give them more credit than that by default and go from there.
And sure there could always be a chance that something as insane as your 10%/90% scenario would also be able to pass unnoticed during playtesting. But I'm willing to roll the dice that nothing even barely as extreme as you're worried about here would actually be able to accomplish that trick without challenge. The first time a scrapper gets toasted after scrapper-locking on one of the 10% instant-death groups you’ll hear people whining about it from here to the moon and back.
DISCLAIMER: Just as FYI I've been in professional software engineering for 20+ years so I'm very well aware of what QA efforts can and can't do and how bugs are typically handled/documented during various development/maintenance cycles. Also I'm relatively aware enough of logical reasoning to understand the "reduction to absurdity" argument and to see where someone is desperately clinging to it in an attempt maintain their position. I'll simply conclude that this "thing" with the Unforgiven won't be (and likely would never be) as bad as you're fearing. *shrugs*

Still missing the point: expressing that extreme is not, and never was, a statement that I think it would be that bad. It is a statement that there is at least one state (such an extreme) that *is* that bad, and as a result, that there is somewhere *along the way* from "reasonable" to "extreme" where it crosses whatever line you choose to draw, blurry or otherwise. And that it is thus worth keeping in mind that the line is out there somewhere, when working on the feature.

You want a more realistic set of numbers? Look at how much difference there was between 40% defense and 45% defense in practice, then consider that that's only nominally a 5% difference "on paper." Really, that isn't the right way to calculate how different they were, I know — how different it was to get there was very non-linear in general, even before considering that it varied by class, etc, etc. Which should be a hint as to how complex even such a simple problem can easily become.

The potential problem is also not *just* that they might run up against something stupid-hard once in a while, it is that if the range of variation is *too* broad, things will be both stupid-hard and stupid-easy on a regular basis. And while wanting some variation is fine, there is also a reason for things like "difficulty sliders" — not everything has to be completely predictable, but the less predictable it is, *in effect*, the fewer people will want to bother playing around it. Some interesting data around this might be possible to mine out of records about how people played through AE missions that had differential spawning, but I doubt that anyone managed to capture that (or at least, anyone not bound by NDA regarding that information).

However, this whole question is effectively moot, as Warcabbit already said that it is currently intended that most of the variation come from cosmetics rather than from mechanics — not that he ruled out mechanic variations totally, just that those probably wouldn't be the "main driver" for the variation. Which means it shouldn't introduce any new headaches in terms of balancing than already come with content where there are random factors. Maybe additions, but not multipliers, if you will.


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Darth Fez wrote:
Darth Fez wrote:

I wonder if the technology/AI could check to see that an Unforgiven group (especially if a player has the difficulty set to have more enemies spawn per group) doesn't stack too many of the same type of powers, specifically with a view to avoid the runaway stacking of (de)buffs?

In theory even in the old city it was supposed to run into diminishing returns, or at least that was my strong impression. I'm really not sure what exactly happened from a mechanics perspective; I wasn't set up to capture and parse combat logs. Although in retrospect, I really should have been, and I'll point that having a mission editor that could show at least some basic analytics from a "test run" capture, even if that's stored client-side to save space. Or only holds the last run or last 2-3 runs (although even then it would be nice if you could then opt to save it off locally).

I'm not sure if the Cryptic-authored missions had alternative logic for spawning, they just never wrote missions that happened to use that setup, they did and I just never ran them with a group (entirely plausible, people would probably have avoided them for the most part), or I just managed to find an unexpected corner case.

That last one, for the record, is both the blessing and the curse of systems with a moderate number of rules, a fair amount of variety, and a broad range of interactions — you tend to get emergent behavior that is not readily predictable from any sort of statistical analysis that can be run in a sane amount of time / resources. In order to get something complex enough that players won't spot the patterns very rapidly, you're almost forced to go well beyond where simple simulations can tell you anything very interesting except *maybe* "about how often are we going past a worst case that is at least bad".

As a separate but also interesting point: the "Sad Team In S(n|l)ow" mission never actually threatened to outright kill the players, to the best of my recollection. That may have just been that they had a good balance of fairly well-built toons, or it may have been "being slow is not as deadly as it might seem", I couldn't tell you — but they were unanimous in the view that, deadly or not, it wasn't *fun* in any way, shape, or form. And it is a heck of a lot harder to write a fitness function for "fun", which rather limits how much any statistical analysis can help. :/

For the record, to the best of my recollection I ended up changing the faction involved so that only Boss and higher types were actually ice primary on whatever set they used; a lot more secondaries so that things had, say, ice armor and got the look of it, rather than *throwing* lots of stuff with the cold debuff. Seemed to work much better than straight up Ice/Ice did.

It wasn't that it was problematic to adjust, it was just really startling how easy it was to have the exact same mission behaving completely differently between "spawning for 4 people and spreading it over 6-7 targets" (due to running as an MM) and "spawning for 8 people and spreading it over 2-4 main targets" (due to having a solid tank and a couple of other aggro-pullers that far outdid anyone else most of the time). Very much the "law of unintended consequences" at work, and that was after *years* of play-testing and balancing in the live servers; ice powers hadn't just been updated, or anything odd like that. And most of them even had the holiday anti-slow slotted.


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DeathSheepFromHell
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DeathSheepFromHell wrote:
DeathSheepFromHell wrote:

In theory even in the old city it was supposed to run into diminishing returns, or at least that was my strong impression. I'm really not sure what exactly happened from a mechanics perspective; I wasn't set up to capture and parse combat logs. Although in retrospect, I really should have been, and I'll point that having a mission editor that could show at least some basic analytics from a "test run" capture, even if that's stored client-side to save space. Or only holds the last run or last 2-3 runs (although even then it would be nice if you could then opt to save it off locally).

Quoting because I can't edit. Sorry about that first paragraph, it was rewritten non-trivially and I appear to have made it rather incoherent as a result.

What I was trying to suggest was "it would be awesome to have some useful analytics" — or, failing that, even just a way to dump a *full* capture of an active mission, including stuff that might not normally appear in a combat log, like combat results from fighting that happens where you can't see it, or AI decision records that probably shouldn't be visible to players in normal play conditions.

Although even just starting with a combat log that is *intended* to be easily parsed out by simple tools without needing a ton of crazy "parse this thing this way and this other thing that other way, unless it is within three lines after a character going down, in which case…" would be a great start. Which is to say, "a combat log intended for consumption by non-developers" (as opposed to a combat *debugging* log).

Granted, almost all of this would be moot if there is sufficiently robust support for client-side mods, which I know Epic was talking about recently in terms of adding support to UE4, but I'm certain it would still require exposing the right set of hooks to the client-side mods so that they can monitor it (… but as with some things like the AI decisions, only do so when in a test run).


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I like this type of lore. And

I like this type of lore. And look forward to the next villain or hero group that comes next.

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ideas are free. its all words.

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