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Re: CF: Playbalance

On Wed, 3 Mar 1999, Mark Wedel wrote:

> On Mar 3,  2:13pm, David Sundqvist wrote:
> > Subject: CF: Playbalance
>  So more or less, the idea is that less is gained at each level, but you start
> off with more?

A bit less gain yes, and a bit better starting. 
>  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.

As you say, it's pretty easy to clear out the newbie tower and gain
levels. Or, for the average spellcaster, read your starting books
and you'll be second level with twice the HP you just had. These things
are, of course, necessary but easy for the first level character, who is
otherwise beset with a rather random death problem, since with a bit of
bad luck they may get whacked enough to die on one blow from a rather
lowlevel monster.

So, I'd like to avoid the rapid jump from extremely easy random kill to
pretty invulnerable to lowlevel monsters. Since the first levels are 
pretty much done on routine for experienced players as soon as they learn
a few easy tricks, and it can be rather frustrating for total newbies
since they get wacked in a rather random fashion, improving the basic
stats (say, basics somewhere between 12-20 HP, 12-16 SP, 12-16 grace, for 
example (any numbers I throw out here is just off the top of my head, if
we redesign anything, it should be seriously thought through)) a bit 
wouldn't detract from the gameplay. The rate of beginner gain could then
be slowed down a bit without causing serious frustration for newbies.

>   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.

This is another factor in the gameplay too. With crossfire roots being
partly in Gauntlet, the legacy of high numbers of monsters and rapid
monster generation has, I think, resulted in the necessity for characters
to be able to deal easily with those numbers. This is a question of where
we would like Crossfire to go. Personally, I would like it to go more
towards rpg style gaming, rather than hack'n'slash, but I dont know what
other people are envisioning.

Changes to this, gearing monsters to be more difficult to deal with in
large amounts (hmmm... would increasing their HP do? Oh, by the way, why
is there such a serious difference between monster and player stats? Is
it the rate of hitting/damage causing of the player?), would probably have
to be accompanied with map revisions.

Lowering the amounts of monsters would also result in a slower
accumulation of treasure in lower levels. Either way, we should probably
review treasures at the same time since better weapons and armour has
affected balance.

>  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.

Well, that's another good way to double your HP before going in :) Just
run around checking doors for traps and you'll be second level in a minute

> >
> > 2) Character diffrentiation and abilities
>  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.

Well, the range is probably enough, the problem is mainly in the
accumulation/loss rate. While death should be painful, the effects of it
shouldnt be really permanently bad or extremely difficult to overcome, so
as long as statloss is an inevitability, the potions need to stay with
reasonable availability. Either the statloss could be made to not happen
everytime, or something else could happen, or we could just have
experience loss, but with another way of calculating, so it is more
painful for lowerlevel characters.
>  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.

Yep. And if we review monster difficulty too, we should probably review
the experience level comparison with monsters too. 

>  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.

That would be another alternative, yes. Or just have a semi-rare
expensive potion that will restore death-lost stats either way, rather
than general increase stat potions.

>  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
> naturally.

Yep, but not without sacrificing their own abilities seriously. The mage
would probably want a ring of high magic or something. The goal isnt to
prevent people from being a mediocre both, but rather to allow them to be
either a darn good fighter or a darn good mage, but not really good at
both. The possibility of larger modifiers would work both limiting and
increasing in max stats (and initial bonus). A linear scale in the
modifiers would probably make that easier to work too.
> >
> > 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).

Well, I'd probably say around a d4 for the first 30 levels. :)

>  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.

Yep, there's a difference between just making it annoying for the players
and creating a better balance. I'd say the goal is to make it challanging,
yet not suicidally dangerous, and stretching the gains out by decreasing
the steps, not by introducing longer intervals between the steps.

The large hordes are in a way some form of problem, but more because
they're a bit too common and a lazy way to make challanges, that end up
not being so challanging (the good 'ole
dont-stand-still-and-they-wont-hit-you way of playing). 

>  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.

Part of the reason, I think, is that they're not fast enough. Even hill
giants can be reasonably easy to take out with a fast character at pretty
low levels. I'm not sure how the speed works for monsters, but if it's
like players, increasing weapon speed while retaining movement speed and
decreasing damage would be a possibility. 

>  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.

There is also a class balance thing here; mages are severely challanged in
the AC and armour parts if they play pure mage (no armour to regenerate SP
fast enough (which reminds me, we should probably have some way to see the
various regeneration rates and what affects them, I didnt even know
armour affected also SP as hard as it did until a few months ago)). That
means a 20th level mage is still vulnerable to, for example, skeletons if
playing pure mage, and has few ways to protect (I'd suggest better
armour/ac/protection spells, both priest and magic), while even a
relatively lowlevel warrior would be pretty invulnerable due to armour.

>  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.

Exactly. Either the items get scaled back, or there have to be alternate
ways for the other classes to improve their armour. I'd prefer extending
for the other classes rather than removing things :).

>  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
> something.

Both very nice ideas :).

>  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.

Yep :).

Best regards,

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