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Author Topic: AoD March update  (Read 7730 times)
Vince
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« on: March 30, 2012, 09:53:23 AM »

We’ve finally released the demo, fully expecting it to be proclaimed the best thing that happened to mankind since Jesus took the bullet for us and died for us sins like a true bro. Instead, much to our surprise, it turned out some people loved it and wanted the full game NOW, whereas other people (we’re making a list) hated it and wanted to kill it with fire. Many other people were left unsure whether they were supposed to like it for what it is and hate it for what it isn't. Decisions, decisions…

While the game was never perfect (or even meant to be perfect), we didn’t realize just how imperfect it was. So, instead of moving on, we have to go back unto the breach once more. Thus, I dedicate this update to issues and changes.

1. MORTAL COMBAT

It has come to our attention that combat is way too difficult for the masses. And not the "I cried when Aeris died" masses but the allegedly hardcore masses (probably the very same people who whined that Shadow of the Horned Rat was too difficult).

It goes without saying that we want people to play our game instead of reloading in frustration. Frustration is bad for your cholesterol and we don’t want to see kids suffer, but unfortunately – or fortunately – it's not universal. We have 2 camps now:

- “the difficulty is great, please don't change a thing!”
- “combat is impossible; rage-quitting is my only option!”

… which makes it very hard to decide what to do. I don't think the difficulty slider is the answer. So, first, we'll try a few things and see if the work.

We gave you 5 (five!) extra points at chargen. You can either put them in combat, which should make it easier or, if you're happy with combat's difficulty, put them in a secondary skill.

The main issue, in my opinion, is that you were stuck with default equipment in the vignette fights. Now you can hit the store first and buy yourself something nice.

Defense is king at the moment, which is what makes the difficulty so brutal, and, coincidentally, makes CON a dump stat. You either get hit a lot and 10-20 extra hit points won't make a difference, or get hit rarely and don't need extra HP. So…

  • We changed the THC formula. Now the focus is on offensive and balanced builds.
  • CON affects the chance of stat damage.
  • Increased STR and decreased PER bonuses, as PER was a bit too useful and STR a bit useless. Best builds until now were high DEX, high PER, although some people did well with high STR and crafting.
  • Different STR bonuses for different weapons: two-handers get more, daggers get less.
  • THC bonus from lighter weapons reduced.
  • Defense penalty for heavy armor - each subsequent attack IN A SINGLE TURN is harder to block than the one before. We're trying to tie it to your STR and CON now.
  • Tweaked crafting. Lowered the damage techniques, improved masterwork for armors to help dodgers, and added hardened technique for leather armors.
  • Intelligence bonus only applies to SP gained through quests.

Most of these changes are done and we're testing it now. Here is some feedback:

Quote
"Alright. Long and rambling description first, followed by my superficial thoughts on the new system.

I made 4 mercenaries to test this (so far):

Gaius: Str 8 Dex 8 Con 8 Per 6 Int 5 Cha 5. Dividing points equally into spear and block.
This is intended to be the newbie-like character. Stats are the initial ones and division is what the average beginner might do.

Secundus: Str 10 Dex 8 Con 6 Per 8 Int 4 Cha 4. All points in axe and (after the intro vignette) crafting.
Attack! Attack! Attack!

Tercius: Str 7 Dex 7 Con 4 Per 8 Int 10 Cha 4. All points in block and (after the intro vignette) crafting.
High intelligence champion build, or at least it used to be in the previous system.

MinMaximus: Str 10 Dex 7 Con 6 Per 6 Int 7 Cha 4. Points divided into axe, block and  (after the intro vignette) crafting. Slight emphasis on axe in character creation.
This is a new build I made after the previous three characters, trying to make the best combat character I could.

TEST 1

Results of the intro Vignette (assassin + two thugs). I did three attempts per character.

Gaius: Survived twice. Was killed once by the assassin, thanks to a lucky dex crit right on the first round.

Secundus: Survived twice, was killed once by the assassin again, but not due to criticals this time. Vardanis lived once (although not for long).

Tercius: Miserably murdered by the assassin all three times. I skipped the assassin once and beat the thugs just to let him continue. He still had more trouble than in the previous combat system.

MinMaximus: Survived twice, was killed once. I forgot who killed him, I think it was the last living thug, after a nasty fight with the assassin, but I might be confusing it with another character. Nevertheless, he did ok.

TEST 2
After the intro vignette I joined the thieves (by paying back the money I got from Vardanis), paid Feng, got the eye of Thor-Agoth, killed Cassius for him, paid Aemolas' entrance, received his armor and completed the first TG quest by paying the guards a pile of dosh. I did the same procedure with all characters. This gave me 28~35 of SP and allowed those characters with high Int to get their bonuses. Then I had all four characters try the Miltiades encounter, three times each. (If all my shields were broken it didn't count as a try. I went into the encounter with two bucklers.)

Gaius: Survived once, but died two other times to the second fight. Still did well for a newbie character.

Secundus: I put 50 points in crafting, 52 in axe and was expecting this character to die, but... GOOD GOD. I won all three fights, although they were less fights and more like massacres. I had high chance to hit and with crafted iron Steggox+10 Str  was easily doing 20-30 damage per round. Killing enemies in two rounds was the norm, and between the DR 5 and the occasional block they could not damage me enough before I killed them.

Tercius: After getting a nice SP boost from his Int as well as crafting better armor, Tercius came into his own. Survived two times and was killed once after putting a decent struggle. Focusing on defense is still a viable strategy, although not as uber as it once was.

MinMaximus: Killed everyone all three times, as expected. Once while losing only 2 points of life (although that was a bit of a fluke) and once with 7 of hp left, after the noble got two lucky Con criticals of 8 damage each. Still went through enemies like a hot knife through butter, but defended and blocked better as well.

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS:

I know I haven't played far enough into the game to say too much, but here's what I feel after these four characters and their first fights.

- High Str is godly for a fighter. Especially Str 10 and especially when combined with a well-crafted weapon. While I hesitate to say this so early, high Str might be a tad unbalanced. Especially for fast attacks (I was doing 10-14 of fast attack damage with a vs DR 3 axe. That was brutal.) (NOTE: he played before changes to STR bonus on different weapons were introduced – Vince)

- High defense is less useful than before, but still useful. Mediocre defense is more useful than it used to be, but still no life-saver all by itself. Overall defense has become less of an "all or nothing" skill. You can put lots of points or few points and you get rewarded proportionally to your investment.

- Attack skills have also become more useful, and quite a decent investment, although a character needs high Str to make high weapon skills (and resulting low defense skills) be really worth their while.

- Constitution has become more important. Enemies tend to get the occasional hit/critical in more often, and low con is more dangerous because of that. I haven't checked to see if high Con is worth it though, but it might with the right build. One thing is for certain, it's harder to get away with a low Con combat build.

Sorry if I rambled, wanted to give a more detailed look at my experience, and how I came to my conclusions. Overall I like this combat formula better. Might still need a few tweaks with the stats though."

2. Exploration

This too is a tough one. In most RPGs exploration means walking around and looking for chests to pillage or look for a cat in need of rescuing. I wouldn't call that exploring, but maybe that's just me.

However, it wouldn't hurt to add a few things to do in Teron. So, we're adding two "breaking and entering" opportunities for thieves and we're adding some combat unrelated to quests. It won't be forced on you, but if you like the combat system and playing a fighter, you can now "explore" the town and look for trouble.

3. Min-Maxing & Meta-gaming & not enough options

  • We changed the multiple skills checks. Now the sum and min value are checked, which should eliminate situations where the checks were asking for 52 in persuasion and 37 in streetwise, for example, and you had 55 in persuasion and only 36 in streetwise. We're adding more of these "synergy checks" now, which allows us to check the general investment in groups of checks (speech checks, for example), instead of a particular number for a particular skill.
  • We’re rounding up the single skill checks to 5 points increments, to make them more intuitive. Intermediate points still matter since they are useful for synergy checks.
  • Stats affect the skill checks require in many checks, specially the single ones. So a high charisma thief will have a lower check compared to a low charisma one.
  • We are adding more intermediate outcomes to the checks. For example, the majority of the Critical strikes checks now have more outcomes than "kill or be killed".
  • We're removing the tags; I believe they contributed to “metagaming” a lot.
  • The biggest problem, however, was the way checks are presented. Most checks are always shown. You always "say" the same line, but if you're short a single point, you fail and sometimes die. Thus the focus is not on the line, but on the points. Now, we're considering something like this:
    on appear:
    aod.etiquette < 32 - "I'm sure he can testify..."
    aod.etiquette >= 32 - "My Lord, I don’t presume to advise you, but perhaps, my perspective on the situation, no matter how flawed, could be of value to you?"

  • We're adding more options to leave the dialogue and not to be teleported. Thus, people who like it will be able to use it, people who don't will be able to walk around.
  • The praetor didn't get enough love (skill point), so now we're adding a quest related to Feng/Cassius.
  • The praetor gets a diplomatic way to handle the mine quest with an interesting condition/consequence.
  • For weaker, but clever fighters who dabble in speech, we're adding a way to soften up the Aurelian legionaries.
  • Tweaked many questlines. For example, in TG2 stealing the ring lowers disguise requirement significantly, so now a thief who specializes in sneaking and stealing can do this quest. Or in the IG2 quest, you can convince a soldier to distract the guards if he respects your fighting reputation (combat and body count). Also, the charisma check is higher there.

More changes are being tested and considered as we go through the feedback. As you can see, we are not changing the core, but there is a lot that can be done to improve it.
« Last Edit: March 31, 2012, 02:16:24 PM by Oscar » Logged
John Yossarian
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« Reply #1 on: March 30, 2012, 11:02:56 AM »

Extra sp, meh.
Deciding starting gear, Approve
Changes to combat, sounds good from tester experience, other than str being op.
Extra content, always welcome, justbhope the rest of the game wont seem emptier than Teron.
 Salute
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Julius
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« Reply #2 on: March 30, 2012, 11:08:54 AM »

Glorious
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GAME MUST BE RELEASED
Vince
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« Reply #3 on: March 30, 2012, 11:09:20 AM »

All changes will be applied to the rest of the game. So, the other cities will have equal number of non-faction quests, things to do and explore.

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Kival
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« Reply #4 on: March 30, 2012, 11:18:55 AM »

I can't wait to get a grip on the new build. It sound's very interesting! If we have new suggestions or made some but did not get a reaction to it (perhaps because they've not been seen at all): where shall we post them? Perhaps it would be helpful to have things a little bit more organized in response? At the moment the threads/discussions in the beta forum are a little bit chaotic.
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Casaubon
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« Reply #5 on: March 30, 2012, 11:27:38 AM »

I didn't have time to participate in the beta discussion but I want to note that you are addressing practically everything that I didn't like in the demo, and the solutions seem pretty good (at least on paper). Great response to the feedback, not that I would expect anything less from true patriots  Salute
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Vince
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« Reply #6 on: March 30, 2012, 11:28:50 AM »

@ Kival:

We read all threads, but some order wouldn't hurt.

I don't think we missed anything, but commenting on each idea is impossible. Some are being considered and discussed internally, some don't fit the system or cause too many "ripples" as everything is interconnected, some would take too much time or can't be done at all.

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Niektory
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« Reply #7 on: March 30, 2012, 11:33:57 AM »

Oh god, the new bugs, I can already see them! Panic

Aside from that, sounds awesome!
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Qtone
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« Reply #8 on: March 30, 2012, 11:41:56 AM »

That's an impressive list of changes. Sounds good.

So will you be releasing future public versions or is it a closed beta from now on?
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Kival
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« Reply #9 on: March 30, 2012, 11:47:33 AM »

@ Kival:

We read all threads, but some order wouldn't hurt.

I don't think we missed anything, but commenting on each idea is impossible. Some are being considered and discussed internally, some don't fit the system or cause too many "ripples" as everything is interconnected, some would take too much time or can't be done at all.



I see.  Salute

The new infos let me hesitate a bit to play the build we have further.  Sad
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callehe
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« Reply #10 on: March 30, 2012, 11:48:17 AM »

Exactly the issues I am having - perfect !
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Vince
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« Reply #11 on: March 30, 2012, 11:49:43 AM »

That's an impressive list of changes. Sounds good.

So will you be releasing future public versions or is it a closed beta from now on?
Will be released, of course.
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evilhyde
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« Reply #12 on: March 30, 2012, 12:27:10 PM »

The changes sound excellent! Seems like you got a good fix for every major issue.  Damn, you guys work fast!

1)  Creating a combat build seems much more intiuitive for new players now. I just hope combat isn't too easy, especially the power of strength. Wonder if extra points were needed on top of other changes, but will have to play too see. Honestly, might make hybrids easier to create, and in game bonuses to options could balance out.  I.E., pure combat build makes combat easy, but you lose out on all other options.

2)  Sound like just enough exploration additions to satisfy. Like the extra options to not teleport as well. Only thing I could ask for at this point would be either a north indicator or a player indicator on the map.  (That, and having the escape button close the map!)

3)  Wonderful! This was a hard thing to fix, but sounds like we have something that tweaks it enough without changing your core design. Synergy sounds great, like that Charisma stat matters more, love the 'fail' dialogue example. Really great. I wonder, would Dexterity lower skill check for thief type skills also?

Great work guys, can't wait to try the new build!   Approve
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VonVentrue
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« Reply #13 on: March 30, 2012, 12:28:59 PM »

Skimming through the changes, these are some fine and well thought out improvements to the already solid foundation which, contrary to some claims, was never "broken" in the first place. Hats off to your dedication and commitment.

All changes will be applied to the rest of the game. So, the other cities will have equal number of non-faction quests, things to do and explore.

Music to my ears.  Salute

Edit: the removal of tags feels completely unnecessary though, it might only lead to confusion - there are too many skills utilized in dialogue to warrant such a change.
« Last Edit: March 30, 2012, 02:00:30 PM by VonVentrue » Logged
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« Reply #14 on: March 30, 2012, 12:29:41 PM »

That is an impressive list of changes!
I agree that it makes sense for STR to be the most useful stat for a "pure fighter" since STR likely has the least usefulness for a non-fighter.

Quote
We're removing the tags; I believe they contributed to “metagaming” a lot."

I am not sure about this one, personally I would side towards keeping the tags since it serves as a more direct feedback to the character regarding the positive consequences they reap from investment in different skills.  Feedback is good.  In my opinion, there is a misunderstanding about what "metagaming" is and what the negative consequences are.  I don't think that allowing for metagaming in a system is a bad thing, I think the complaints are more that REQUIRING metagaming to proceed (not hit a dead end) is a bad thing.  So the problem would be more that there are not enough "sub-optimal" ways to complete quests (especially ones that are central to a characters progression).  Currently players are getting stuck, then realizing through trial and error: "Ok, I need to get 35 streetwise by this point in order to not die, then spend my next 10 skill points on persuasion to not die."  This is frustrating to players, since it is basically requiring them to reload, reallocate points, and try again repeatedly until they have the particular mix you are looking for.  If their original attempts led them to a non-death, just "less cool/beneficial" resolution to the quest, they would be free to merrily continue on without ever knowing or caring that if they had 35 streetwise followed by 40 persuasion then they could have convinced the character to do xyz.  This also makes it even more rewarding on the playthroughs where you DO happen to have that combination of skills, because it results in things like "wow I didn't expect that, this quest can be resolved in a different way!"  If you HAVE to pass the check in the first place (or if failing it leads you to an incredibly difficult combat that many builds could not survive), then instead of discovering it on a subsequent playthrough you will be forced to reload & reallocate 10 times to discover it immediately.
So what does this have to do with tags?  Well, imagine if nothing was changed, except tags were removed.  Now players are still hitting dead ends, they just now have EVEN LESS feedback as to why (before at least they may be able to identify exactly what skill needs to be raised in order to overcome the obstacle).  So now they have to do even more experimentation attempts of reloading & reallocating skills since they may not be sure exactly what they failed (it is not always going to be totally clear by the text if something is a persuasion check, streetwise check, charisma check, reputation check, body count, etc).

I do understand that you are making tweaks to a lot of the issues that are causing these roadblocks, and that is great.  I just think that in the case of tags, it will actually benefit the player experience rather than detract from it once the other issues are resolved.  On the other hand, it did work fine in games like Fallout that did not have the tags, but I do still think they are a good thing to have.  It may sound silly, but it is good for the player to directly be able to see "Hey look!  All these points I put in persuasion are doing something!" -- much like when they put points in Axe they can see their THC increase.  That is actually a good analogy, to me removing tags is essentially the same as not showing the player their chance to hit in combat.  A game can certainly work fine without tags, or without showing the player his chance to hit, but I think both serve as useful feedback to improve the players experience and help alleviate frustration.
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