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Re: CF: Playbalance

On Mar 3,  2:13pm, David Sundqvist wrote:
> Subject: CF: Playbalance
> Hi all,
> Well, some questions as regards to playbalance. I'd like to get a
> discussion going on this subject, since I dont have a clear view myself of
> what would actually be a desireable playbalance.
> 1) Character evolution
> In my opinion, the early levels may go too fast. The starting character is
> a bit too easy to kill off, but it rises in power fairly quickly. Mainly,
> I think that the lower level monsters should still present some form of
> challange at a bit higher level. I dont think increasing the experience
> needed is a good way to extend this, but rather improve starting
> stats (mainly hp, sp and grace) and decrease the actual gains at each new
> experience level. The goal should be to extend the power gain over a
> larger range of levels rather than slow down the level gain.

 So more or less, the idea is that less is gained at each level, but you start
off with more?

 I don't know if this really make a difference.  To me, the critical test right
now is that I can start a new character, go into the newbie tower, and by the
time I clear it out I am third level with pretty decent equipment.  Clearing
out the newbie tower takes less than hour, perhaps considerable less depending
on what skill I want to work on.

  I don't know if the newbie map is really a problem map, as there are many
maps where you can find the low level monsters.  Perhaps what more needs to be
addressed is why can a character take on a bunch of orcs and goblins and
survive?  If the starting character could only go against kobolds, slimes,
mice, and the wimpiest of monsters, that slows down the progession some.  Sure,
that first level may not be especially interesting, but that may still be for
say 2 or 3 hours and now you move onto orcs.

 It should be brought up that you have to remember that most of us are very
experienced players so we don't need to make things overlow tough.  On the
other hand, a basic strategy in the newbie tower is to go in, kill some stuff,
when down some hp, leave, regain, go in, kill.  Nothing that complicated here.
 The most dangerous part in the newbie tower right now is finding out that one
of the doors is trapped and setting it off.

> 2) Character diffrentiation and abilities
> There is a problem in the gaining of ability scores. The penalty of
> ability loss at death, and the way abilities affect the total power of the
> character make the ability potions a necessity. However, this too could
> probably be finer grained. Again, the level at which you reach sufficient
> funding to accumulate potions quickly is fairly low, allowing characters
> to max out at pretty low levels. One way to improve it would be by
> extending the range of abilities and review the ways abilities affect the
> character (experience gains, bonuses, etc). Should this be more linear?

 Removing potions from shops may be a good idea.  Making the gains more linear
would probably help balance things (in some cases right now, that extra poing
means a major bonus, so you really go for it.)  I think the range of stats from
1-30 is plenty - increasing the range is not likely to make much difference and
would really mean a lot of changes.

 One thing that could be done is remove the experience bonus/penalty that is
based on stats.  For example, if a monster is with 20 exp, you get 20 exp no
matter if your stats are really good or bad (right now, if you have good stats
for that skill category, you get more).   this makes things simpler, and is
probaly more balancing - your high stats are likely already helping you kill
the monster (or do whatever task) - no big reason to also get more exp for
doing it.  But to go along with this, I would review the success calculations
for skills to make stats play a part in most all skills.

 It could also be done that the characters initial stats (what they were when
created) are stored away, and to regain to those levels is easier than stats
beyond that.  So in death, you may still take away a stat, but if it was a stat
gained via potion, it needs to be regained via potion, where as otherwise,
there is some mechanism to regain it.

> Increasing differentiation between characters by imposing limitations on
> abilities on both race and class would also be a good thing. The race
> would impose some limits/give some bonuses, and the class would further
> extend those. For example, a human would have a zero baseline in
> modifications, and only have limits and bonuses affected by class, while
> an elf would have, for example, a dexterity bonus, which would be further
> advanced for an elven thief. These should be hard limits, and in a range
> that would seriously affect performance, so a warrior will never become
> quite as good a spellcaster as a wizard.

 In some sense, the above may sort of be true, but can always be altered if the
character can find the correct items.  A mage character can greatly improve his
fighting skill by picking up a couple +2 str rings, girdle, gauntlets, etc.
 Now a fighter could pick those up and be an even better fighter, but as things
work out, either one could probably be equally good stat wise as the other is

> Ah, well, I'm rambling on. Anyway, it would be good to see a serious
> discussion on how to achieve good playbalance in crossfire.

 One thing that is part of this is what is the expected levels people will play
to (right now, you can go to 110, but that is purely arbitrary - I am sure
people get there, and you could make it level 250, and people would eventually
get there.)  The point is more at what level can the character do most all the
quests and explore most all the world?

 Right now, a character gets most spells at level 15-20.  If the answer to the
above question is 35, then the spells should probably be spread out more, and
maybe the hitpoints too (instead of d10 each level for the first 10, do a d3
for the first 35).  This would also slow down progression some (may be just as
powerful at level 35, but would not be quite as powerful at level 10).

 But I don't know if I like that.  Progession is fast for the first 5 levels or
so, where you only need a couple thousand (1/2/4/8/16/32) a pop.  A 20-50 exp
for some of the monsters, it is just a matter of killing enough of them.  It
could be argued that large hordes of them should not be available, but there
will always be generators out there, so what really changes if you remove some
maps is how difficult you try to make it on the players.

 One problem more with the orcs, goblines, and some of the other low level
monsters is the ease of killing large hordes, and the items you get for doing
so.  Taking out a 3-4 orcs should be a serious challenge for a level 2 or 3
charcter.  3-4 ogres should be a series challenge for a level 4 or 5 player.
 One thing to remember in the advancement is that players items also increases
at a rapid rate (after clearing ou the newbie tower, the player should easily
be able to afford plate mail, full helm, tower shield, decent helm, etc) if
they so desire, and some of that will certainly be magical).  Player now has a
-3 AC or something, making it pretty tough for monsters to hit.

 The players AC's have certainly gotten better through developement of the game
- there are several newer pieces of equipment which can give ac or other
protections that did not exist at one time (cloaks, boots, gloves, ...).  The
items have improved, but I don't think the monsters have kept up.  But
improving the monsters is pretty tough - if they get improved so they can hit
that -3 person with some regularity, that ac 5 person (mage, thief, whatever)
is pretty much toast.  So I think some items need to be scaled back.  Except
for the artifact boots, remove standard magic boots/shoes.  Perhaps similar for
some other items - get the players AC back to reasonable levels.

 Also, a nice touch would be some place to toss all your extra money.  As it is
now, you can easily acquire more money than you can ever spend (shops don't
tend to get artifacts in).  It would seem to me that the temples would be glad
to take it, and give something in return (some form of karma points perhaps, or
cast a very long term spell on the player, or something similar).  I could see
adding other items like parks - drop a pile of money in front of the park
superintendent, and a statue dedicated to you pops up in the park (the might
require some code changes, but something combined with object creating objects
should be able to do it pretty easily).  If all the spots in the park fills up,
perhaps you replace the statue from the person that paid the least or

 Some of these may have no logical meaning, but could certainly add some nice
flavor to the game.  Not everything in the game must have some real deep
meaning - in many games some of the more interesting bits have nothing to do
about improving the characters power or completing quests.


-- Mark Wedel

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