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Sideways August 3, 2020 15:05

Quick review of game balance after 2 deep runs, ent blackguard and drúadan druid. Will cover the latter combination in more detail since it is the less balanced one, ent blackguard seemed to have better balance though I might have just been unlucky with the loot.

Druid is an interesting class. There's a lot of nice and quite unusual synergy between the various spells, and even between the spells and items (e.g. Rods of Light and the Lightning Strike spell). I would say, though, that it all works a bit too well; while I was very lucky with loot, and had the benefit of a strong race (drúadan), and eventually leveled up all the way to CL 50 (which is now quite rare in V), I do also think druids are OP. (I also feel that FA, with its large and sprawling map, likely shouldn't be balanced around skipping almost all of that map en route to a CL 38 win like V is; but that consideration aside, druids are OP compared to other classes.)

What makes druids OP isn't a mystery. Their toolkit is just too complete: mage-worthy offensive spells; great utility (haste self, mapping, detect life, stone to mud, slow, confuse, repositioning); restoration; good stealth; good melee... my guy even had good HP, and while that might have been because of the drúadan (and the luck) their HP's definitely not a problem. Druids have the upsides of every other class without the downsides of any, and on top of that, their spellset's almost perfect for loscheese. About the only things the druid toolkit is missing are Teleport Other, an emergency healing spell and a Leap-into-Battle-style rush attack, and the last one isn't something they need.

Most of the above likely goes for V as well, but the specialities available in FAA (like Channeling and Heighten Magic) also go together well with the druid kit, which calls for using cheap offensive spells over and over again. In addition, finding highly effective resistances is very easy in FAA.

Suggested remedies:

- Massive nerfs to loscheese, which is both easy and unexciting
- Druid being jack of all trades is likely fine, as long as they are also the master of none; increase the mana costs on the early offensive spells, reduce the power and/or dramatically increase the mana costs of the book 5 offensive spells (!restoremana is super-common, so high mana costs are easily coped with if the spell is worth it), and maybe nerf their armed melee a bit. Possibly chuck out a few spells; druids could very easily get by with 4 books, although this would bring them out of line with the 5-book classes. (These changes need to go together with nerfs to loscheese; otherwise they simply encourage even more loscheese, and increase the tedium without increasing the difficulty.)
- It is too easy to accumulate resists; random objects (randarts, random jewelry, egos with random attributes) just generate with so many of them so often. Encourage them to either generate with fewer resists, or generate with (much) lower resist percentages, or both
- Nerf randarts in general
- Nerf loot in general. FA's old-school stinginess with loot was part of its charm and flavor, and knowing you might find a truly horribly bad object was part of the fun

--

All that detail about druids and randarts aside, the biggest imbalance in the game right now is the brokenness of the economy. Item valuation needs to be thoroughly revisited before any official release.

Nick August 3, 2020 23:03

Quote:

Originally Posted by Sideways (Post 147608)
Quick review of game balance

Thanks, very helpful.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Sideways (Post 147608)
Massive nerfs to loscheese, which is both easy and unexciting

Any ideas how? I don't think it was OP in FA1.4, which has the same los rules. Is it the set if spells that druids have? Or do the monsters need to be smarter to deal with it?

Quote:

Originally Posted by Sideways (Post 147608)
the biggest imbalance in the game right now is the brokenness of the economy. Item valuation needs to be thoroughly revisited before any official release.

I know ego ammunition is totally broken - where else is this a problem?

Sideways August 4, 2020 00:39

Quote:

Originally Posted by Nick (Post 147610)
Any ideas how? I don't think it was OP in FA1.4, which has the same los rules. Is it the set if spells that druids have? Or do the monsters need to be smarter to deal with it?

The druid spellset really plays into it, but any class can exploit it, for some of them it's just a bit harder. Even on the blackguard my plan was to cheese Morgoth and I expected it to be very easy; but it's not something blackguards otherwise rely on, since they don't have as many ranged options as druids do and (even with Recharging) the charges on the best offensive devices are limited. But druids can rely on loscheese as a key tactic for most of the game; though they absolutely do not need to do so, I killed a lot of high-level uniques like Pazuzu and Sauron and the Tarrasque face-to-face.

Loscheese also trivializes some high-level uniques, like Wiruin and Qlzqqlzuup, in an extremely boring way; they're the special cases always best killed with loscheese, even on classes with limited ranged options.

My main suggestions for nerfing loscheese:
- Allow monsters to cast some types of spells without requiring LOS on the player if they've been hurt by the player since their last move. Obviously not all spells are suitable for this; suitable spells include summons, heal-self and possibly blink-self/tele-self (I'm somewhat unsure about the wisdom of allowing the latter two)
- Tweak monster AI so that monsters with breath/spell attacks will always try to get @ in their own LOS

Implementing both of these would massively nerf loscheese, and would seriously discourage attempts to kill any of the big bosses (Mîm, Glaurung, Ungoliant, Sauron or Morgoth) through an entirely cheese-based approach. It would not eliminate loscheese entirely, though; many high-level monsters, including summonless dragons and especially hand drujs, would remain highly cheeseable. (It would also allow partial cheese against healers and summoners, as well as other LOS-based tactics like using LOS to guarantee a safe teleother, which are not necessarily undesirable.)

Additional (less powerful, more coding-intensive) possible nerfs would be:

- Change LOS and/or projection mechanics to reduce asymmetry, perhaps allowing multiple paths between squares. Eliminating LOS asymmetry altogether isn't required (or even very helpful since loscheese doesn't necessarily require LOS asymmetry), but it would limit the power of hockeystick-based tactics
- Allow monsters to hit the player with splash damage from ball (and possibly breath) spells; this would also nerf hockeysticks by allowing a monster like Sauron (a frequent hockeystick target in V) to fire darkness storms and nether balls at the square next to you

There's no way to eliminate LOS exploits completely, but as long as they're not game-breaking or encourage unfun ways to play that's okay.

Quote:

I know ego ammunition is totally broken - where else is this a problem?
Ego ammo is the big one, just fixing that will go a long way. But there's a fair bit of other very weird stuff, like the Iron Helm of Gorlim selling for >130K even though it has -25 INT/WIS and aggravation on it.

The ego ammo issue, though, is symptomatic of a larger underlying problem; ego ammo's just the place where it's most noticeable and most easily exploited. The value of egos and ego attributes doesn't properly account for the item they're on; a whip of shocking is worth about the same as a lochaber axe of shocking, even though with O combat the former is worthless and the latter's potentially a Glaurung-killer. Valuation is also extremely arbitrary. Apart from the ammo thing it isn't too bad - especially with selling off as the default - because while it is deeply flawed, people will seldom either buy or sell any ego item, so their pricing barely matters. But solving the underlying problem and bringing items' nominal values closer to their practical values would be ideal, and doing so could also help elsewhere (like with the OP randarts problem) by allowing item-power sanity checks based on accurate valuation.

MITZE August 4, 2020 01:40

Shooter Egos
 
Was going through the code to check, and discovered that slings and crossbows don't get any special egos to them. Moreover, Extra Might looks like it used to be +1d2 multiplier in old FA whereas in new FA it looks like it's a straight +1--which really limits how useful slings can be in the current state.


EDIT: Apparently there aren't any sling standarts either :(

wobbly August 4, 2020 07:27

Just to add to Sideways comments, the AI for killwall actually approaches along the line of cheese. I tend to not really set up cheese. I'm just waiting at a sensible looking spot and... the target is just very cheesable, so I cheese it.

MITZE August 4, 2020 09:41

Weird History Bug
 
1 Attachment(s)
During character generation, sometimes when rerolling the history, ect. (by backing out twice when you reach the screen for modifying stats and then going back into it again) the history gets weird. Obviously avoidable and possibly harmless, but thought you'd want to know anyway.


Attachment 1881

MITZE August 4, 2020 10:15

Wrong Check for Shooting Bonuses?
 
Right, I half-suspect that I'm reading code wrong again, but while looking at the code to see the exact particulars of the various specialties, it looked to me like some cases for calculating shooting damage incorrectly checked for Armsman instead of Marksman; lines 370 and 411 of "player-attack.c" (sorry, would've made those proper links but I can't figure out how to get that to work :().

Sideways August 4, 2020 17:25

I'm supposed to have rLight from the Holy Light speciality, but it isn't reflected on the character sheet. It also isn't showing the rShard from steelskin curse, though it is showing the vElec and I've identified the rune for the curse itself. At first I thought it might have been because I was missing the rLight and rShard runes, but now I do know rLight and the resistance still isn't displayed; in any case, in these situations I feel these runes (and definitely the rLight) should be taken as given.

Found a Studded Leather Armour that was shown as (+0,+0) [12,+17]; the (+0,+0) disappeared when I sold-ID'd it (it was wolfhide). Probably related to studded leather armour normally having -1 to-hit.

backwardsEric August 5, 2020 02:52

Gaining a specialty takes zero energy (seems okay to me), but that means the status updates don't take place until after the next action that takes energy - leading to possible confusion if one immediately checks the stats on the left or in the character sheet. Should gaining a specialty call update_stuff() in addition to setting the update flags?

MITZE August 5, 2020 09:04

Report Batch #16
 
Torches: are "lit" and use up their fuel even when it is daylight in the wilderness and you don't actually need them (although IIRC they don't use up their fuel when it is daylight in town).


Wands of Magic Missile: have awkward phrasing in their flavor text. "casts a bolt or beam of a missile." Something like "fires a non-elemental bolt or beam" would be better, I think.



Misc. Weapons: Thrusting Spears, ect. still have flavor text implying that they give a minor AC bonus, when they don't actually do so.


Light/Darkness Devices/Scrolls: Scrolls of Darkness benefit from device skill; as Scrolls of Light do not, I can't tell whether that's supposed to be intentional. I think the situation is the same for the Staves. Wands of Darkness nominally have a damage aspect to them (I'm guessing because they're paralleling Wands of Light), but as far as I've seen nothing is susceptible to weak darkness, so there's no point to it.


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