Pages

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Galaxies Tuesday: IBTL

Ha ha, In before the lock!

Speaking of the Combat Upgrade, here from "The Mechanic" we have Combat Upgrade, The Leak


Combat Upgrade:  The Leak

By The Mechanic

 

PROFESSION ROLES:

 

Why are roles important?  Having a solid, well defined role serves many purposes.  It gives a player a clear understanding of how they are supposed to play the game and what strengths or weaknesses their character has.  In an MMO it also helps define group play.  Every distinct role that exists opens possibilities for more varied and interesting group gameplay dynamics.  Without roles every character is essentially the same with a different appearance, this leads to a shallow game experience.  On the other hand, well defined roles add strategic and tactical possibilities and allow for interesting and dynamic gameplay.

 

Ok, so roles are important, but doesn’t SWG already have well defined roles?  The profession roles are fairly well defined at a high, theoretical level but the actual implementation of those professions didn’t end up with the roles as well defined as we would truly desire.  Many professions share similar abilities confusing the concept of who would fill a specific role.  Additionally many profession abilities don’t complement each other correctly and in some specific instances actually work opposed to each other.  This results in unclear group roles and some cases creates situations where certain professions are unable to work together at all.

 

One of the strengths of Star Wars Galaxies is its skill based system.  This system allows players to customize their character to fit the exact gameplay role and style they prefer.  The very flexibility of this system led to many difficulties when creating and defining the professions.  It’s easy to look at a profession skill set and think of it in terms of a complete class, but this is not how the system works and would be an incorrect assumption.  In a skill based system each skill should give a clearly defined bonus or ability and these abilities should not be duplicated if at all possible and doing so only dilutes the skills and creates potential problems.

 

Professions were not intended to be complete character classes; they are only logical groups of similar skill sets with a common prerequisite.  Going back to this original philosophy made defining the profession roles a much easier task.  It also gave us the added benefit of allowing the bonuses from taking multiple professions to work together in a much more meaningful way.  The hard part was deciding how to adjust the professions so that each has a strong role and does not share key abilities with other professions.

 

To more easily map out the profession roles we decided to create a visual map that helped set up the broad role definitions and then set the profession within it where they best belonged.

 

But what exactly does this picture mean?  We started with the broad gameplay elements that would define a role, Tanking (defensive ability), Damage Dealing (offensive ability), Crowd Control (battle flow abilities) and Healing.  Then we decided what actual key abilities would exist in that core role.  For example we broke Damage Dealing up into 3 key abilities, long range damage ability, short range damage ability and utility damage ability (namely damage over time-DoT and area attacks).  By doing this we were able to give multiple professions the same core role but in different manners.  This also worked perfectly with our goal for profession stacking because no one profession had all abilities related to a core role.  If someone wanted to make a profession template that was the master of a specific role then they could take multiple key abilities in the same role to be the best at that specific role.  Conversely a player could take abilities from separate core roles for a better rounded character that is more versatile and less specialized.  We also knew that this design gave us enough key abilities that no one character could have them all and a truly well rounded group would need multiple players to cover all bases.

 

We realized as we were defining the new roles that we were going to need to come up with several new abilities.  We needed new abilities to allow the new roles to function as well as new abilities to counter and interact with those roles.  We realized that the counters were going to be critical to allow some of the more controversial role, like Crowd Control, to work properly in PvP.  These counters will also be critical to support the highly tactical combat interaction that we were aiming for. 

 

With the diagram in hand for the core roles and key abilities all we had left to do was fit the profession into the key roles.  We started fitting the professions that made the most sense or would need the least changes to fulfill a specific role.  Near the end we had to make some hard decisions about which professions would go into which roles and how that would impact the professions abilities.  Some professions didn’t fit anything well at all based on their current abilities and would require an entirely new set of abilities to fill their role while a couple of others required nearly a fundamental shift in their role for where the profession was currently at.

 

Using the balance diagram we began defining the strengths and weaknesses of each profession.  We decided on key abilities that would define that profession and would not belong to other professions, though access to that ability would always be available as long as the skill that gave the ability was know.

 

It’s important to keep in mind that we used the diagram as a guideline not a strict rule.  Professions that were closer to a secondary role got slight enhancements for that role.  No profession ever fit perfectly but this gives us a great starting point to work from.

 

Novice professions were not considered during this balance pass because they should not define a role in themselves.  Novice professions enable access to the elite professions which actually defined the roles.  For example, Marksman are not given a specific role since they are a novice profession, but Commandos and Bounty Hunters are.

 

Below is a summary of each elite profession followed by a brief description.  The primary and secondary role definitions are high level concept intended to carry the basic idea of the profession.  The core role rankings were decided on to give a guideline on where that profession fits in relation to the other professions for that specific core role.

 

Rifleman
Primary Role:  Long Range Damage Specialist

Secondary Role:  Long Range Crowd Control (Position Control)

 

Offense:  Very Strong  (5)

Defense:  Minimal  (1)

Crowd Control:  Moderate  (3)

 

The Rifleman is an expert at long distance damage (note that one objective of the Combat Upgrade is to raise the range of combat from the current 64 meter maximum). Riflemen have a few support abilities to help them in this role including abilities to conceal themselves and keep opponents at a distance for a short while.  Once an opponent has closed the distance however the Rifleman is extremely vulnerable.

 

The idea for the Rifleman is that they are the embodiment of long range damage dealing.  They should have abilities that allow them to maneuver at the edges of combat setting up devastating long range attacks and shots from hiding.  Other ranged profession abilities such as Carbineer or Pistoleer could be used to expand and enhance a Rifleman’s ranged combat options or melee profession skills like Teras Kasi may be desired to allow the Rifleman to better deal with opponents who would eventually close with them.

 

Swordsman
Primary Role:  Close Range Damage Specialist

Secondary Role:  Melee Tanking (Mitigation)

 

Offense:  Very Strong  (5)

Defense:  Moderate  (3)

Crowd Control:  Minimal  (1)

 

The Swordsman is the heavy hitting melee damage dealer.  Up close there is no one that can dish it out like a Swordsman.  The Swordsman has decent defensive abilities but is unable to hold out for the long haul.

 

The Swordsman is the close combat equivalent of the Rifleman.  They are much less about stealth and tactics though and more about raw brute force.  Swordsman abilities are all about increasing damage output and delivering powerful crippling strikes.  When combined with other close range offensive abilities (like the area attack abilities of a Pikeman) a Swordsman can become a truly frightening force to be reckoned with.  Alternatively a Swordsman may desire increased defensive abilities and take skills from some of the tanking professions like Teras Kasi or Bounty Hunter to make a well rounded template.

 

Fencer
Primary Role:  Close Range DoT Specialist (Bleeds)

Secondary Role:  Close Range Crowd Control (Position Control)

 

Offense:  Strong  (4)

Defense:  Weak  (2)

Crowd Control:  Moderate  (3)

 

The Fencer is a lighting fast attacker who specializes in hit and run combat.  Fencers have fairly weak defenses making them less than ideal for standing toe to toe with their opponent.  Fencers have various abilities that help them reduce their need to stay within range of their target.

 

Fencer was a very tricky profession to fit into the balance scheme.  Under the current system, Fencers have some of the highest defensive abilities.  Putting them where Teras Kasi Artists (TKA) ended up might seem to make sense but that opened the question of what to do with TKA.  That would also have meant giving up a significant amount of the Fencer offensive ability particularly their bleed attacks and we felt that this was a very interesting and defining ability of the Fencer.  Instead we decided to emphasize the offensive bleed abilities of the Fencer and make them the master of melee DoT attacks.  While this change wasn’t ideal it definitely felt right in the big picture and left the Fencer profession with a very interesting and unique role.

 

As a primary Damage Dealing profession Fencers will have damage output second only Rifleman and Swordsman however their attack style is very different and unique.  Their defensive abilities will end up being very weak ensuring they must rely on hit and run tactics.  Basic Crowd Control abilities support their role as a hit and run combatant making them a very potent combatant.

 

Because of their weak defensive skills Fencers will benefit greatly from additional defensive skills from Teras Kasi or Pikeman or a player could choose to widen their offensive arsenal by adding Swordsman abilities.

 

Teras Kasi Artist
Primary Role:  Melee Tanking Specialist (Avoidance)

Secondary Role:  Close Range Damage Dealer

 

Offense:  Moderate  (3)

Defense:  Very Strong  (5)

Crowd Control:  Minimal  (1)

 

Teras Kasi Artists are experts at avoiding damage.  TKAs have several utility abilities to further help them survive standing toe to toe with the most powerful opponents in the galaxy.  Their damage output is only moderate however making them less than ideal for taking opponents on their own.

 

Teras Kasi was another profession that needed more significant adjustments to fit in the profession role balance.  Currently Teras Kasi are fairly powerful in nearly every aspect of combat.  This was just unacceptable for creating a balanced role distribution so we had to settle on retaining only some of their current abilities and reducing or removing the rest.  First and foremost TKAs seemed to be about agility and avoiding damage which sets them up as being the primary Tanking profession.  When combined with other professions that have strong defensive abilities such as Pikeman and Bounty Hunters, a very powerful defensive template is possible.  We needed to reduce to the offensive ability of the TKA to preserve the balance however.  This is not to say that they don’t have any offensive ability but nothing like the primary Damage Dealing professions have.  Teras Kasi can take profession skills from some of the more offensive related professions to round out their combat abilities, such as Fencer or Swordsman.

 

Bounty Hunter

Primary Role:  One on One Combat Specialist

Secondary Role:  Medium Range Tanking (Mitigation)

 

Offense:  Strong  (4)

Defense:  Strong  (4)

Crowd Control:  Minimal  (1)

 

The Bounty Hunter excels at one on one combat.  They specialize in hunting and destroying their targets.  The Bounty Hunter’s arsenal includes a fairly well rounded set of abilities covering both offensive and defensive abilities.  Their only real weakness is that they have little in the way of crowd control abilities.

 

While the Bounty Hunter does excel at one on one combat their lack of diverse abilities does limit their tactical opportunities when facing a group of opponents.  The Bounty Hunter profession is a solid foundation for combining with nearly any other combat profession so that you have the ability to remove many of those tactical deficiencies depending on the player’s specific playstyle preferences.

 

Pikeman
Primary Role:  Melee Opponent Control (Attacker Mods)

Secondary Role:  Melee Crowd Control (Attacker Control)

 

Offense:  Weak  (2)

Defense:  Strong  (4)

Crowd Control:  Moderate  (3)

 

The Pikeman specializes in controlling and tanking groups of opponents.  In addition to a generally strong defensive ability the Pikeman has the ability significantly reduce their opponent’s combat ability.  These defensive abilities combined with some decent area attack capabilities makes for a strong combatant.

 

The Pikeman tanking ability is mostly based in their abilities reduce an opponents ability to deliver damage.  This abilities combines exceptionally well with other defensive profession abilities such as Teras Kasi.   A Pikeman who is not specialized in defensive skills is still extremely useful in a group situation as their ability add perfectly to the defensive skills of other players allowing them to stay alive longer than they ever could on their own.  While Pikeman are not by default powerful offensively they do get extremely useful utility abilities and area attacks that when combined with other offensive professions skill, like those from Swordsman, allowing for some devastating combinations.

 

Smuggler
Primary Role:  Crowd Control Specialist

Secondary Role:  Medium Range Damage Dealer

 

Offense:  Moderate  (3)

Defense:  Minimal  (1)

Crowd Control:  Very Strong  (5)

 

All’s fair in love and war is the motto most Smugglers live by.  Smugglers use what is generally perceived as dirty fighting to keep their targets off balance while they defeat them.  Smugglers have very low defensive ability and only moderate offensive ability, but when combined with their unique fighting style they can comfortably hold their own.

 

Smugglers are the preeminent Crowd Control profession.  No existing profession fit well into this combat role so we needed to decide on a profession that could fill the role with minimal adjustment.  The role concept seemed to fit well with the idea of Smuggler combat and added some additional depth to the profession.  Smugglers will be receiving a whole new line of abilities that allow them to temporarily remove an enemy combat threat so that it can be dealt with at a later time.  Smugglers abilities combine well with many other profession abilities and will be vital in dealing with high end group content.

 

Carbineer
Primary Role:  Medium Range Crowd Control (Position Control)

Secondary Role:  Medium Range AE Damage Specialist

 

Offense:  Strong  (4)

Defense:  Minimal  (1)

Crowd Control:  Strong  (4)

 

The Carbineer is a medium range control specialists.  He has potent abilities to keep targets at a distance and reduce their combat effectiveness.  The Carbineer also has powerful area cone attacks allowing them to effectively fight groups of targets.  Once an opponent is able to close with the Carbineer however they’re quite vulnerable.

Carbineer crowd control skills are specialized in controlling an opponent’s position.  Slowing an opponent’s movement speed and pushing them back away from the Carbineer are potent abilities for controlling the flow of combat.  These abilities combined with fairly strong offensive abilities, particularly when faced with a group of opponents leave the player with a very potent set of skills.  Adding additional ranged skills from other professions only increase a Carbineers power and options on the battlefield.  An alternative template combination may be to add one of the more defensive professions for a well rounded combat character.

 

Pistoleer
Primary Role:  Close Range Crowd Control (Attacker Control)

Secondary Role:  Opponent Damage Reduction (Attacker Mods)

 

Offense:  Weak  (2)

Defense:  Moderate  (3)

Crowd Control:  Strong  (4)

 

The Pistoleer is a lightweight combat specialist.  They move quickly around the field of battle softening up targets and reducing their effectiveness.  The damage output of the Pistoleer is fairly low but given time and careful tactical control they are still fully capable of taking out targets on their own.  The Pistoleer’s abilities truly shine though when combined with a well organized group.

 

Pistoleers are fairly similar in function as a Pikeman.  They are more potent in their ability to reduce a targets combat effectiveness and make them slightly weaker in defensive ability.  While Pistoleer skills may not create a significant power increase when added to many other professions skill abilities they do create a significant increase in tactical opportunity.

 

As a versatile close to medium ranged combatant Pistoleer can benefit greatly from other similar ranged professions.  For added defensive abilities a Pistoleer can add Teras Kasi or Bounty Hunter skills or for increased offensive and crowd control ability they may want to add Carbineer skills.

 

Commando
Primary Role:  Heavy Weapon Specialist

Secondary Role:  Medium Range Damage Specialist

 

Offense:  Very Strong  (5)

Defense:  Moderate  (3)

Crowd Control:  Minimal  (1)

 

The Commando is the specialist of Heavy Weapons.  An entire line of unique heavy weapons are available in the Commando’s arsenal.  The Commando also receives many bonuses making them more proficient with standard weapons when combined with other profession skills.  Whatever the damage dealing requirement the Commando has the answer.

 

Commandos are intended to be the weapon specialists and are the final heavy damage dealing profession along with Rifleman & Swordsman.  Commandos sacrifice a significant amount of utility and some defensive ability for their potent damage dealing capability.  Adding additional ranged profession skills to a Commando creates a very potent damage specialist.  Alternatively Commandos may decide to increase their tactical flexibility by learning skills from other professions.

 

Squad Leader
Primary Role:  Group Enhancement Specialist

Secondary Role:  Medium Range Combatant

 

Offense:  Moderate  (3)

Defense:  Moderate  (3)

Crowd Control:  Moderate  (3)

 

A Squad Leader’s power shows through the bonuses they are able to bring to their group members.  Squad Leaders have many various abilities to improve the coordination and effectiveness of their group.  Even outside of a group the Squad Leader is a decent combatant, but their offensive and defensive capabilities are only average with no special abilities setting them aside.

Squad Leaders did not receive any specific combat specialty as they’re true strengths only show when working in a group.  We wanted the base profession to still be a valid a balanced combat profession however so all Squad Leaders will have the default suite of combat modifiers.  Squad Leader can add any other profession abilities to fit their preferred playstyle.

 

Creature Handler
Primary Role: Pet Handler

Secondary Role: Versatility

 

Offense:  N/A (Defined by Pet)

Defense:  N/A (Defined by Pet)

Crowd Control:  N/A (Defined by Pet)

 

Creature Handlers are the ultimate in combat versatility.  While they have no innate combat capabilities of their own they are able to fulfill almost any needed role as long as they have a pet with the necessary abilities.

 

The Creature Handler was a very difficult profession to determine the proper role for.  Throughout the history of the game Creature Handlers roles and abilities have shifted quite a bit.  We will protect the role of Creature Handler and make sure that they are balanced and have a solid position, however historically we know that many people become upset when a “pet” is required for a key primary role like tanking.  Because of this reason we felt that it would be ideal to allow Creature Handlers to be the jack-of-all-trades and have their actual role in a group be defined by their pets.  Depending on the abilities of the pet called would determine the role that the Creature Handler can fulfill in the group.  We do recognize that right now only minimal specialization of pet abilities is possible through Bio-Engineer Cloning.  We plan on enhancing Creature Handler taming and training abilities so that a Creature Handler can shift a growing pet’s abilities to better fulfill a tank, damage dealing to crowd control role, however this task will not be able to fit within the scope of the initial Combat Upgrade publish.

 

Combat Medic
Primary Role: Medical Combatant

Secondary Role: Combat Healing

 

Offense:  Strong  (4)

Defense:  Weak  (2)

Crowd Control:  Moderate (3)

 

Combat Medics are the natural progression of Medics into the combat field.  Their medical expertise turned to the goal of eliminating the enemy culminated in the creation of powerful medical weaponry that can quickly leave opponents crippled and powerless.  They also have the ability to competently heal their allies while in the thick of battle.

 

Combat Medic was an interesting profession to define.  The initial design intent of the Combat Medic was to be the field healer.  Doctor’s healed in the hospital and CMs healed in the field.  The addition of DoTs to the CM medicine line near the end of Beta changed everything.  Over time Combat Medics have become more and more about their offensive abilities and less and less centered on their healing.  The concept of Doctors staying in the hospital never worked as expected either because they had several key abilities that required their presence on the field.  The split of medical duties on the field between Doctors and Combat Medics left some Doctors feeling underutilized.

 

We discussed several options and finally settled on emphasizing the combatant elements of the Combat Medic.  Combat Medics will retain their healing abilities but they will always be secondary to the capabilities of a Doctor.  Over time additional combat medicines that increase a Combat Medics tactical opportunities and power will be added however this will not be able to fit within the scope of the initial Combat Upgrade publish.

 

Doctor
Primary Role: Medical Support

Secondary Role: Single Target Healing

 

Offense:  N/A

Defense:  N/A

Crowd Control:  N/A

 

Technically Doctors are not a combat profession but have included them here because they are required to be in the field of combat fulfilling a support role.

 

Doctors are the primary healing profession with the widest range of healing abilities for both short-term and long-term ailments.  Damage healing abilities of the Doctor are specialized in single target heals while Combat Medics will remain the most versatile field healer with their wide range of area effect and ranged healing medicines.  Doctors are also vital in the long term support of combat units.  Large combat groups engaged in lengthy battles will find their effectiveness dwindles over time due to accumulation of wounds and loss of combatants without a Doctor in their rear bases to heal wounds and revive patients.

 

ARMOR REVAMP

 

Currently in SWG we have a situation in which the majority of the playerbase can be invulnerable to most content in the game.  A good portion of this invulnerability factor comes from the extreme defenses that players gain from their armor.  Most players find it very easy to equip themselves with a set of armor that reduces eighty to ninety percent of incoming damage.  There exists a few exceptions but this has become the standard for most players exploring in SWG.

 

Armor appearance is also an issue that irks many of the players.  We have a multitude of excellent artwork styles of armor available for use, unfortunately due to the extreme power levels of certain armor only one or two types of armor are ever used.   This is also a sore spot with many of the designers and artists.  We have come up with a system that will encourage players to use all of the armor appearances.   

 

For the combat upgrade to be successful we must change the way armor functions in SWG.  We will also upgrade some outstanding issues with the entire crafting process.  The goals driving the changes to armor in the combat upgrade are:

  • We want armor to protect players, while at the same time providing a series of tactical choices that can be made both prior to and during combat
  • We want to normalize the degree of protection that armor provides as well as add a heightened incorporation of factional armor into the field of play.  
  • We would like to distinguish profession roles through armor appearances by the use of various hindrances and profession skill modifiers that mitigate those hindrances. 

The new system provides a much more interactive series of choices than currently exists with armor.  These choices will begin with preparation, as players decide which armor to wear, and will end in quick, on the fly decisions on the battlefield over which weapon modes to use.  Dividing armor into new categories and normalizing the degree of protection offered when the armor is crafted will alter the past situation where there was a clear "always best" and clear "always worst" armor choice.

 

Defining Basic Weapons Changes:

 

In the combat upgrade we have decided to alter the interaction between weapons and armor to provide some interesting tactical choices. To accomplish this end we have added several new features to weapons and armor.  The primary change seen in weapons is the removal of the armor piercing system and addition of an energy level setting on a player’s weapon.  This energy level plays a very significant role when used against the various armor types.  Below is a new chart illustrating the new energy levels:

 

Energy Level Value
Ranged Mode Type
Melee Mode Type
Mode
 
Hand to Hand
Mode 1 - Standard Damage
Pulse-Wave
Standard
Mode 2 - Coherent Damage
Coherent Bolts
Vibration
Mode 3 - Focused Engergy
Focused Beam
High Intensity

 

Weapons all have an energy level value and we will enable the players the ability to change this value for certain weapons on the fly.  To provide different weapons with different utility certain weapons will have a mode switching option.  While some weapons will have mode options many will remain single mode of fire weapons.  The goal is to avoid a “one best type” of weapon or armor evolving.  The mechanism to change the value will be through a radial menu option while weapon is unequipped.  The terminology is slightly different on melee weapons yet the game play model will remain the same.  For example a focus beam which is designed to punch through assault type armors will share the same benefits as a melee vibro weapon set to high intensity versus assault type armor.  Both are designed to puncture assault armors.  Basic Hand to Hand damage when not wielding a weapon at all is slightly different from the other 3 modes in that it will have no inherent advantage or disadvantage versus armor. 

 

Armor Catagories:

 

Under the new system, armor will be divided into four new categories: None, Reconnaissance, Battle, and Assault.  Each category has its own set of unique appearances.  Currently there are three appearances for each category, but under this system we will be able to add as many as we would like later on.  Each category will mitigate damage to a greater or lesser degree based on the weapon mode of the attack it is currently defending against.  In all cases, however, the armor will reduce the damage received by some amount- there will be no situations in which wearing armor actually results in the wearer suffering more damage than an unarmored person would.

 

Armor Types:

None - Provides no additional damage mitigation

Reconnaissance - Designed to disperse focused energy (mode 3), but weak against standard damage types (mode 1).

Battle - A general purpose style of armor that is not as good as either of the extremes against specific damage types but which has a lesser weakness.

Assault - Hardened armor designed to protect against standard damage (mode 1).  Its drawback is that it is weak against focused energy damage types (mode 3).

 

Below is a chart that maps the way the different armor categories relate to the weapon modes being used against them.  The interaction between the armor categories and the different damage types provides an opportunity for very tactical combat.  For instance, if a player sees that his opponent is wearing a form of assault armor, they can change the energy setting of their weapon to the mode that will provide them with the highest damage potential (in this case, a focused beam or high intensity setting, if that option is available on the weapon they’re using).  This will add another facet to switching armor and weapons around in battle and encourage thinking on how to best defeat an opponent.

 

Energy Level Values vs Specific Armor Types
Damage Modifier
-50% Armor Value
-25% Armor Value
Standard Armor Effectiveness
+25% Armor Value
Armor Type
 
 
 
 
None
 
 
Pulse-Wave(m1), Focused Beam(m3), Coherent(m2)
 
Reconnaissance
Pulse-Wave(m1)
 
Coherent(m2), Hand to Hand(m0)
Focused Beam(m3)
Battle
 
Coherent(m2)
Pulse-Wave(m1), Focused Beam(m3)
 
Assault
Focused Beam(m3)
 
Coherent(m2),Hand to Hand(m0)
Pulse-Wave(m1)

 

 

Armor Stats:

 

The old armor system is comprised of Special Protections, Protections and Vulnerabilities.  We have altered the names and meaning of them in the combat upgrade.  We felt it was definitely necessary to rework the system based on knowledge gained from the old system.

 

The damage mitigation stats on armor are being changed completely in the combat upgrade.  While the names of the stats will remain the same, we have devised a new number range and backend meaning.  The new types are General Protection and Specific Protections.  General protection will range from 0 to 6,000. The general protection of armor will be the baseline stat that reflects how much absorption armor can take against all incoming damage.  The Specific Protections will be broken out into familiar damage types of kinetic, acid, heat and so on that ranges from -1200 to +1200.  The sum of the general protection and specific protection will provide final damage protection of your armor.  For an example, armor with 5320 general protection and 300 acid protection would have a total protection of 5620 vs. acid.

 

How exact amount of damage mitigation that provided at each protection amount is something that will be looked at very closely in our Combat Upgrade testing.  Based on these initial numbers, however, one can see that most of armor’s protective value will be made up by general protection, while the specific protection portion will provide about 20% of the armor's value.

 

Encumbrance, the second functional characteristic of armor, will continue to have an impact.  We have redefined how encumbrance works as we were not happy with the severe potential punishments that were possible by wearing armor.  Rather than reducing both drain and regeneration stats, it will now only reduce the relevant drain stat.  We have also added four new hindrance types that will be mitigated by various profession skills.  These hindrances will not be able to be altered during the crafting process and will remain a fixed value on the armor.  This will enable us to envision what level of armor we see everyone wearing at a specific stage of their advancement.  A player will take full set armor hindrances for wearing any piece of armor of a particular type and the highest hindrance stat will take precedence.  We wanted to ensure people do not try and beat the system by mix and matching high and low hindrance items, hence why we added the rule about the highest hindrance value determining your overall hindrance level.  Encumbrance to the drain stat however will remain cumulative for the total amount of pieces you actually wear.

 

Race Normalization:

 

Armor in SWG is also subject to a unique problem that is due to movie canon limitations.  According to movie canon, certain player races cannot wear certain pieces of armor.  For example, Trandoshans cannot wear gloves or boots, and Wookiees cannot wear boots.  This has led to a situation where these races can get one-shot killed in combat because they have a form of what is commonly known as an "armor hole."  This happens because; in the code the body was divided into multiple hit locations.  Once a target has been determined to have been hit by a weapon the engine determines what portion of the body has been hit, for example, the hands, bracer and biceps were all valid and separate hit locations      

 

The proposed system will remove the hands and feet as valid hit locations.  Since they are no longer valid hit locations, we can turn glove and boot armor into a special armor type that has no stats other than durability.  We will need a new type of armor clothing to prevent the additives of clothing enhancements and/or already disallowed bio components.  These pieces will still remain crafted by armorsmiths.  This should encourage the use of some of our least used races because they are no longer suffering a massive combat disadvantage.

 

HAM REVAMP:

 

The current HAM system was designed to allow variety in the combat styles and tactics of the various professions.  While it has a learning curve for the novice player it does provide a broad potential for tactical interactions.

The current HAM system has two key issues which lower its contribution to interesting combat.  The first problem has to do with the nature of special abilities doing damage to your character and the second is the unique nature of the Mind bar when it comes to damage and healing.

The primary current HAM system problem is that it is no fun to kill yourself through doing required combat actions.  To be most effective in combat special actions must be used.  These special actions essentially do damage to your character in the current system and if overused will guarantee the death of your character.  While most players can accept a certain amount of damage done in this manner the amount they are willing to accept is dramatically different per person.  Finding a common ground that is acceptable to all players is virtually impossible and makes balancing the special action costs extremely difficult.

The second current HAM system problem came about due to the evolution of implementation during late Beta.  Doctors have the unique ability to heal the damage they do to themselves through special action costs.  Their ability to heal is supposed to be limited by size and regeneration rate of their Mind pool, but this is completely negated by the ability to heal that pool.  During Beta, Doctor’s could use their healing ability (and any other ability for that matter) indefinitely.  For this reason Mind healing was removed.  This has created a situation where Mind damage combat tactics are completely unbalanced with any other tactic in the game.

The intention of the HAM revamp is to remove both of these current problems while remaining true to the initial vision of the HAM system.  It is important to reiterate that, we want to address the shortcomings of the current HAM system while remaining true to the initial vision of the HAM system.  There are many things that are good about the current HAM system especially the tactical complexity that it lends to.  We want to preserve the integrity of the HAM system and keep this deep tactical interaction and as such we are not willing to completely redesign the HAM system to some simplified or different system. 

Some amount of player discomfort will be unavoidable as they adjust to no longer being able to use their old combat tricks and have to learn new combat tactics.  Ideally this learning curve will be minimal with a resulting game dynamic that is much more challenging and fun to play.

Overview:

The basis of the HAM revamp is to add a Special Ability layer to each pool.  Each Health, Action and Mind pool will then have a Wound, Damage and Special Ability layer. 

The maximum value of the pool is what is available as both damage and ability points when a player is completely undamaged.  As the player takes wounds, the total amount of damage to be inflicted until incapacitation is reduced until they have those wounds healed.  As the player takes damage the total amount of ability points available for special actions decreases.  These special ability points will regenerate at a much faster rate than normal damage regenerates and will not healable in any manner.

This change keeps the core interaction of combat the same.  Damage done to a pool reduces the available tactical options used by that pool.  The key differences will be that use of ability points in a pool no longer risks death and healing damage done to a pool will not immediately allow a player to take more special actions.  Healing damage only increases the maximum potential ability points possibly giving access to more powerful special abilities.  The only way to regain ability points to perform a special action will be to wait for them regenerate naturally.

Issues:

Interface

Some way to display this new layer of the HAM bar will need to be implemented.  This interface needs to be easy to comprehend and quick to digest during a frantic battle.

Because the special ability layer will be draining and regenerating fairly quickly during combat it should not be necessary to display hard numbers.  A graphical method incorporated into the existing HAM Bar UI should be sufficient.

The following mockup was created for a how the new HAM system would look:


In the image above you can see the Health, Action and Mind bars in three separate states.  The Health bar currently displays some damage with full available ability points.  The Mind bar has received some damage and is still recovering ability points.  Finally you can see that the Action bar has damage as well as wounds and is recovering ability points.

Hopefully you can see in this mockup how the bottom portion of the Heath, Action and Mind bars will be depleting and filling back up during combat.  Clearly the maximum amount of ability can never go higher than the current damage level.  Damage a wounds readouts are virtually identical to the way they read in the game currently though effort has been taken to clean up the overall appearance to make it visually pleasing and easy to read.

Regeneration & Drain Attributes

With the change to the new HAM system the actual affects of the Drain and Regeneration Attributes should be evaluated.  Since these attributes primarily influence the cost and reuse time for special abilities they will need to be adjusted to be correctly balanced within the system.  The regen attribute for each pool will also directly influence natural healing rates but at an order of magnitude slower than ability point regeneration.  Total natural healing time should be comparable to the current Live game.

A secondary problem with the Regeneration & Draing attributes that can potentially be addressed is the progression of affect as the attribute gets larger and larger.  Currently it is possible to get the drain and regeneration stats so high through various buffs that players have essentially no special ability costs.  This should not be allowed in the new system.  A non-linear progression method will have to be defined so the ever increasing values provide smaller and smaller benefits.  This causes an effective soft cap where high numbers are increasingly ineffective while still allowing players to push they numbers high if they desire and rewarding them at least minimally for doing so.  However, these numbers will not be allowed to get to a state that invalidates the core tactical interaction of combat.  Ultimately this means that there will be a practical limit to the maximum reduction in HAM cost for an action and a maximum regeneration rate no matter how high the regeneration or drain attribute is taken.

Summary:

What exactly will the result of these changes be? 

The modified HAM system lays the groundwork to enable tactical situations where players need to monitor Health, Action & Mind levels in order to be most effective in combat.  The simple act of performing an action will never create a risk of death however the choices of actions taken could easily result in losing a battle. 

Taking damage to a specific HAM pool will still result in reduced tactical options.  Gauging ability regeneration rates and action costs and controlling the pacing of actions will give a skilled player the tactical control and opportunity to turn the battle in their favor.

Finally, the change to how the numbers work internally also creates a more stable system that is less likely to break down as the game continues to evolve and advance.

 

COMBAT REVAMP pt 2

 

End Armor Appearance – This final combine is to determine the appearance of the armor. At this point option enhancements can also be added to the armor if the Armorsmith so desires. At this stage of the process the crafter combines the Core with some specific appearance parts, tailor components, and various optional potential future loot items. Since the stats were already set in the previous step, a Core can be combined with any appearance allowed for that type of Core. This allows us to easily add factional and quest armors equal to any other armor type back into the game.

 

The following Types of armor will be eligible to match up with the appearances shown below.

 

Type
Appearance
 
 
 
 
 
 
Reconnaissance
Ubese, Tantel, Mabari, Kashyyykian Ceremonial, (Factional)
 
 
Battle
 
Padded, Maruader, Bone, Kashyyykian Black Mountain, (Factional), (Quest) RIS
 
Assault
 
Chitin, Composite, Kashyyykian Hunting, Mandalorian, (Factional)

 

 

SLICING:

 

In the existing armor system, it is possible for a Smuggler to increase the resistance of armor by as much as 35%. In addition, the higher the resistances on the pre-slice armor, the greater the effects of the slice. At the high ends this can result in armor that is nearly invulnerable, while at the low end the slice barely has any effect. This is highly undesirable from a balanced game play standpoint.

In the new armor system, we will drop the benefit provided by slicing armor down to a much more reasonable value and to institute a method by which lower end armors can get a higher slice percentage than higher end armors. We felt that it was similar to someone making a tweak to an older car would give you a big improvement whereas the same tweak to a sports car would not yield as big an improvement. In addition, remember that as a general rule of thumb, any time general protection is raised by any method, the hindrances will also rise by a corresponding amount.

ENCUMBRANCE:

The combat upgrade overview document describes the specific profession roles we are trying to achieve with the combat upgrade. In order to facilitate that goal, we have limited the types of armor that professions can use effectively. Note that the differences between armor categories have more to do with the hindrances associated with each type of armor than with the degree of protection offered by armor. Each category of armor can achieve the same level of protection as the other two. The differences come in the weaknesses of each category and the hindrances associated with wearing that category of armor without the relevant profession mitigation skills. The initial armor distribution is as follows:

Professions
Armor Max
TKA
None
Smuggler
Advanced Recon
Rifleman
Advanced Recon
Pistol
Advanced Recon
Fencer
Advanced Battle
Swordsman
Advanced Battle
Pikeman
Advanced Battle
Carbine
Advanced Battle
BH
Advanced Assault
Commando
Advanced Assault
SL
Advanced Assault
 
 
Ranger
Advanced Battle
CH
Advanced Battle
CM
Advanced Battle
Bio-Engineer
Basic Recon
Doctor
None
Crafters
None
Entertainers
None
Novices
None


In order to channel particular professions into particular types of armor, we have devised the following hindrance chart. Each armor category has three hindrances associated with it: movement, accuracy, and rate of fire. The degree of the hindrance depends on the type of armor- for instance; Assault has a very high movement hindrance but low rate of fire hindrance, while recon armor has a low movement hindrance but a high rate of fire hindrance. The hindrances will be hard coded into the armor and will not be able to be experimented on, except indirectly by adjusting the degree of protection provided by the armor segments and core. The TKA hindrances refer to the decrease in TKA defenses that will occur as a result of donning armor.

 
Basic Recon
Std Recon
Advan Recon
Basic Battle
Std Battle
Advan Battle
Basic Assault
Std Assault
Advan Assault
Movement Hindrance
0-10%
0-10%
0-20%
0-20%
0-30%
0-40%
0-30%
0-40%
0-60%
Accuracy Hindrance
0-20%
0-30%
0-40%
0-20%
0-30%
0-40%
0-20%
0-30%
0-40%
Rate of Fire Hindrance
0-30%
0-40%
0-60%
0-20%
0-30%
0-40%
0-10%
0-10%
0-20%
Defense Hindrance(TKA)
0-50%
0-75%
0-100%
0-50%
0-75%
0-100%
0-50%
0-75%
0-100%

 

To encourage various professions to wear the different armor types, new skill modifier reductions have been devised to reduce the affect hindrances. These hindrance reductions will be distributed at the appropriate boxes for each profession and will mitigate the hindrances that are hard written into the armors.

The following skill modifiers will be added throughout the specific professions where it is deemed necessary.

New Skill Mods
Basic Recon Armor Certification
Recon Movement Mitigation +20%
Recon Accuracy Mitigation +30%
Recon Accuracy Mitigation +40%
Recon Rate of Fire Mitigation +40%
Recon Rate of Fire Mitigation +60%
 
Basic Battle Armor Certification
Battle Movement Mitigation +30%
Battle Movement Mitigation +40%
Battle Accuracy Mitigation +30%
Battle Accuracy Mitigation +40%
Battle Rate of Fire Mitigation +30%
Battle Rate of Fire Mitigation +40%
 
Basic Assault Armor Certification
Assault Movement Mitigation +40%
Assault Movement Mitigation +60%
Assault Accuracy Mitigation +30%
Assault Accuracy Mitigation +40%
Assault Rate of Fire Mitigation +20%


Armor Hindrances will not be cumulative per piece like encumbrances are; the entire maximum hindrance will be assigned for even a single piece of armor being worn. This will remove any potential balance problems from min/maxing armor pieces. Additionally it should not be beneficial to mix and match armor pieces from different set types even when the player is certified to wear both types as the maximum hindrances from each individual piece will be applied potentially creating a hindrance that they can not mitigate.

 

FACTIONAL ARMOR:


 We could not revamp the entire armor process without taking into consideration for the Galactic Civil War factional armor sets. As one can see in the crafting process, a player Armorsmith will be able to insert a crafted core into an appearance schematic. We plan on adding these factional appearance schematics as limited use draft schematics to the factional vendors. The Armorsmith will be able to go and purchase for faction points from the faction recruiter the appearances he desires, and place armor cores within the specific appearance types. From this point he will place the completed factional armor onto an npc factional merchant from whom other players can come and purchase the armor from for credits and faction points. The credits will go the smith and the faction will be absorbed by the system. We felt this created a nice niche for the crafters within the GCW to support their factional side and was requested by the GCW correspondent.

With the addition of the three new armor classifications we of course need new appearances for the different varieties of armor. The three types of armor will each get a different appearance.

 

 

 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Leave a comment anytime. I love to talk games.