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Oh, and in other news, I just realized that you can stack Essences on gear to give pretty much everything you're wearing 25% resist-all. Or use a Ruby for 20% resist-all. This means two things:

1) For a properly built endgame character, even without Weather the Storm of full plate armour, you're going to be immune to every element. This is hideously overpowered and needs to be fixed.

2) Having every character functionally immune to everything but physical and Tenebrium damage makes Glass Cannon even more powerful than I first imagined. I imagine its power could be tuned down slightly by making it harder to stack resist-all, but the point is that it's an even bigger problem than stated in the OP.

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No thanks, i dont want to be forced to have my Perception show anything i dont want to see or that has some negative effect on the overal game features.

It would be a matter more fit for intelligence to handle, after all. Though not even that should be forced onto everyone by locking this meta feature to any of the core game stats.

You want the option to see some numbers - game menu toggle is perfectly reasonable compromise for that.
Or a mod.


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Originally Posted by ScrotieMcB
Originally Posted by Fellgnome
Originally Posted by ScrotieMcB
In other words, the level design in this game is great. It's consistently excellent, all of the way through, which is the really amazing part. From Cyseal's outskirts all the way to a foreboding hut in the swamp, a huge amount of effort was put into making each area visually impressive, distinctive, and real.
I agree aesthetically it's quite nice, but gameplay wise the pacing was off and there was an excessive amount of unnecessary and dull walking to return to places you'd already been. Even little things like the portals in Cyseal being poorly placed a distance away from the most frequently used places such as Aureus/Arhu and the marketplace. I also took some issue with the excessive placement of barrels of oil/poison/water which felt very gamey and marred the immersion for me.
I disagree. The only portion of the game where you get an "isn't that convenient?" feel for barrels during battles if one of the very first sections of the game, on the way to the lighthouse. I view that section as a "semi-tutorial section" so their inclusion is justified as a way to help new players get used to using the environment in their favor. The latter parts of Cyseal don't use barrels in this way nearly as much or as often.

In terms of Aureus/Arhu, I disagree there as well. It's a little unrealistic to expect the inhabitants of the things you want to visit for your convenience rather than their own. The waypoint is still rather close to the inn, another frequently visited destination, without being so close to the inn as to distract from the general ambiance of the town (waypoint portals aren't exactly part of the usual aesthetic). Apparently the devs just thought you'd make more frequent visits to the inn than you'd make frequent visits to Aureus/Arhu, and since they're about tied, I don't think it's an invalid choice.


There could be other solutions beside the giant waypoint portals, if they let you put a few marks on the map to quickly travel to for example that'd solve a lot of the excessive walking around without marring the atmosphere of the locations.

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I do agree I also got bored with Phantom Forest.

But I don't think the 'easy combat' was the cause... more the convo/combat-ratio.
In the earlier areas there was quite some talking. If you fought, there were some optional dungeons to test your wits, another little side-quest, heck, almost all uniquely named enemies started a discussion with you before you fought.

Phantom? Straight-down combat pretty much. Very few NPCs to talk, those who did had very little to say. A lot of uniquely-named foes, none of them up for a chat though... it just makes combat... draining, if it's in such high quantities after each other, doesn't matter if easy or hard. Actually, it might even be more draining if each fight lasted much longer and was harder...

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Hassat, I think what you're doing here is thinking two moves ahead. I think the combats in that area are not challenging enough -- by which I mean, epic enough -- but you're right that making those combats longer and more difficult would then cause this probably of too many combats in a row, which would be bad for pacing. I guess there's a little bit of this now, but it would likely be even more pronounced, perhaps unbearably so, once each of those fights was ramped up to a proper difficulty.

I don't think it would be impossible to change the pacing, however. Just a little bit of added conversations, maybe some Charisma options (maybe someone would be open to a bribe?), maybe just the typical villainous gloating about your forthcoming destruction. Something other than red exclamation marks and "Fight!" every single time.

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I honestly wondered if I had done something wrong in Phantom Forest, simply because there were so many named npcs that aggro'd instantly.

For the record, I think that 'large scale' fights are the worst, in this game. In particular, the battle royale at hunter's edge made me want to self-terminate. The combat works best when there's less than 8 enemies, in my opinion.

The problem with high level combat isn't the lack of enemies, it's the lack of danger. In my experience, it didn't particularly matter how many enemies there were. Unless they outnumbered me 10 to 1, there was no way for them to actually put me in danger. I don't think I had any of my people drop below half health, even during the final boss fight. On Hard, of course.

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Well the number of participants, while related to "messiness" of combat, isn't its only factor.

For example, if I have a character Teleported or Feather Falled by an enemy, things just got a lot more messy.

On the other hand, if you get 8 enemies, but you also give me 10 allies, and you place them next to each other at the beginning of the combat and you set their AI to attack each other, that's actually not very messy at all. That's very ordered, because what's going to happen isn't only predictable, it's also very safe for the player's characters. It just takes a long time to process.

Messiness has more to do with the amount of possible variations a fight can have. It's reloading after losing a fight and having a completely different set of things happen due to a relatively small difference in the opening moves. The War of the Stones isn't what I mean by messiness at all; that one goes like clockwork to the point you barely even have to be there yourself.

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I suppose the real problem is that Bodybuilding/Willpower are direct counters to 'messiness', 9 times out of 10. Once you realize that and start pumping them up, the game tends to become less challenging. If you don't pump them up, though, the game is simply frustrating.

Even if an enemy teleports one of my characters, I usually don't care. It's a fair chunk of damage, but it's not like I can't feather fall them right back with either of my 2 mages. Or turn invisible, or cast Become Air, or put an elemental shield on them.

The only thing that really screws with me is when the entire battlefield is covered in smoke - and that's more of a frustration than an actual danger.

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So I just noticed this little blog on the FUME concept by Swen Vincke.
http://www.lar.net/2013/10/28/fume/

So I thought I'd rate D:OS according to that rubric.

Universe - 95/100
In the blog, Swen says that motivation to develop your character doesn't have to be from story, it can be from "item fever," as Diablo does it. Well, in much the same way, having an interesting, diverse game world you care about doesn't have to be from story either, but can be from fantastically detailed level design which makes you love a setting for its beauty. D:OS uses this as its primary method, and backs it up with some significant story elements as well.

Motivation - 75/100
Despite the powerful impact of the universe, there were parts of the story - particularly those parts occurring at the End of Time - which actually demotivated me from wanting to continue the quest. I had a moment where I was thinking to myself "forget destiny! let's go fishing." Which would have been awesome, if the fishing rods actually let you fish. This, combined with the game starting off strong and finishing much weaker in comparison, leads to a wall of boredom in the mid-to-late-game, which is somewhat difficult for the player to overcome.

Freedom - 90/100
I think in terms of being a "good player" and progressing along the plot, D:OS does an excellent job with freedom, perhaps offering too much freedom for certain things like stealing stuff while invisible (breaking with realism). But in terms of just milling around and enjoying the universe in ways which do not progress the plot, it's pretty easy to get bored. Like I mentioned earlier: no fishing. There should be more pointless things to do in the game, simple timekillers, which is why the freedom score isn't higher. Otherwise, it's excellent.

Enemies - 80/100
I actually rather enjoyed the character of Leandra, don't get me wrong there. Some of her more personal minions, such as Death Knights, were also very cool additions to the game. Cassandra's also amazing. However, in terms of the general foes which you face, especially in the latter half of the game, things just aren't varied enough, the combat is too blah. There's not enough threat in a Dread Orc Shaman to make it feel like a boring rehash of the Orc Shamans you defeated easily much earlier in the game. So while you have some rather competently done main villains, everything in between feels like filler. I was actually rather astonished at how unimpressive it was to finally track down some demons for Jahan's benefit -- with the companion providing a buildup to demon-hunting, it should be a more epic fight when you actually face them.

Overall: 85.

I'm a pretty harsh grader, though. And whenever I find anything that scores a 95 in any area, even if it's a narrow one, it compels my attention. A single 95 subscore is more interesting than a 90 aggregate, because the 95 is harder to achieve -- and improving a 75 is easy. The "U score" is why I hang around here; it's why I'm a fan of this game.

Last edited by ScrotieMcB; 03/08/14 04:35 PM.
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Originally Posted by dirigible
I suppose the real problem is that Bodybuilding/Willpower are direct counters to 'messiness', 9 times out of 10. Once you realize that and start pumping them up, the game tends to become less challenging. If you don't pump them up, though, the game is simply frustrating.

Even if an enemy teleports one of my characters, I usually don't care. It's a fair chunk of damage, but it's not like I can't feather fall them right back with either of my 2 mages. Or turn invisible, or cast Become Air, or put an elemental shield on them.


Yeah, i think many status effects (stun, knockdown, freeze and petrify) are too strong, because the target is helpless for several turns. Status effects, that make the target helpless, should have a duration of 1 turn and the other status effects should have a duration of 2 turns. Bodybuilding and Willpower should be removed and a target should have a chance of (elemental resistance / 2) % to negate a status effect.

The elemental shields are too strong, too, because the additional vitality points make the target very resistant against all kinds of damage. The shields should reduce the resistance of the opposite element by 50% and they should have a cooldown of 10 turns.

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Originally Posted by Wizard1200
Originally Posted by dirigible
I suppose the real problem is that Bodybuilding/Willpower are direct counters to 'messiness', 9 times out of 10. Once you realize that and start pumping them up, the game tends to become less challenging. If you don't pump them up, though, the game is simply frustrating.

Even if an enemy teleports one of my characters, I usually don't care. It's a fair chunk of damage, but it's not like I can't feather fall them right back with either of my 2 mages. Or turn invisible, or cast Become Air, or put an elemental shield on them.


Yeah, i think many status effects (stun, knockdown, freeze and petrify) are too strong, because the target is helpless for several turns. Status effects, that make the target helpless, should have a duration of 1 turn and the other status effects should have a duration of 2 turns. Bodybuilding and Willpower should be removed and a target should have a chance of (elemental resistance / 2) % to negate a status effect.

The elemental shields are too strong, too, because the additional vitality points make the target very resistant against all kinds of damage. The shields should reduce the resistance of the opposite element by 50% and they should have a cooldown of 10 turns.


Status effect work both way. Since the party has most of the time the initiative with leadership, you have the opportunity to disable the monsters before they do.
If there is too many enemy to disable, there is still the option to deny them the opportunity to disable you by blocking line of sight (smokescreen, icewall) or by drawing agro on a third party via summoning/charming.
For most status effect, there is a counter: purifying fire, helping hand, cleansing water, first aid, doctor, haste etc.
In my playthrough, when I had the initiative, it was very rare when the enemy could retaliate, let alone disable several party member.

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Great review, thank you for posting it.

Originally Posted by ScrotieMcB
Oh, and in other news, I just realized that you can stack Essences on gear to give pretty much everything you're wearing 25% resist-all. Or use a Ruby for 20% resist-all. This means two things:

1) For a properly built endgame character, even without Weather the Storm of full plate armour, you're going to be immune to every element. This is hideously overpowered and needs to be fixed.

2) Having every character functionally immune to everything but physical and Tenebrium damage makes Glass Cannon even more powerful than I first imagined. I imagine its power could be tuned down slightly by making it harder to stack resist-all, but the point is that it's an even bigger problem than stated in the OP.


I'd like to argue against all but the most minute balance changes to what players can currently do, to include removing talents or what have you. In other words, if something is OP (e.g. GC and stacking resists) or UP, leave it. The reason being: since there is no metagame with which players must conform, players have the option of not using overpowered mechanics. This mindset, for the most part, applies to underpowered mechanics as well. What IS useful, is the reputation for something being overpowered or underpowered, but I don't think development changes should result from that information.

I think it all boils down to accessibility. The more options you give a player, the more they can customize their D:OS experience to their enjoyment or skills level (beyond simple difficulty settings).

Instead, I'd prefer the developers spend their time adding more and more content (and fixing bugs, of course). New monsters, new quests, new bosses, new talents, new spells.

This argument against player sided balancing does not apply to mechanics that are the ONLY way of achieving something. For example, lets say that Drain Willpower were the only way to accomplish the draining of willpower. In such a case, the developers should try to achieve balance. GC and maxed immunities, however, do not fall into this category since there are other (less overpowered) methods for achieving more AP recovery/minimizing vitality, and increasing your resists, respectively.

Best,
Arma

Last edited by Armakoir; 03/08/14 09:13 PM.
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Originally Posted by Armakoir
Great review, thank you for posting it.

Originally Posted by ScrotieMcB
Oh, and in other news, I just realized that you can stack Essences on gear to give pretty much everything you're wearing 25% resist-all. Or use a Ruby for 20% resist-all. This means two things:

1) For a properly built endgame character, even without Weather the Storm of full plate armour, you're going to be immune to every element. This is hideously overpowered and needs to be fixed.

2) Having every character functionally immune to everything but physical and Tenebrium damage makes Glass Cannon even more powerful than I first imagined. I imagine its power could be tuned down slightly by making it harder to stack resist-all, but the point is that it's an even bigger problem than stated in the OP.


I'd like to argue against all but the most minute balance changes to what players can currently do, to include removing talents or what have you. In other words, if something is OP (e.g. GC and stacking resists) or UP, leave it. The reason being: since there is no metagame with which players must conform, players have the option of not using overpowered mechanics. This mindset, for the most part, applies to underpowered mechanics as well. What IS useful, is the reputation for something being overpowered or underpowered, but I don't think development changes should result from that information.

I think it all boils down to accessibility. The more options you give a player, the more they can customize their D:OS experience to their enjoyment or skills level (beyond simple difficulty settings).

Instead, I'd prefer the developers spend their time adding more and more content (and fixing bugs, of course). New monsters, new quests, new bosses, new talents, new spells.
First off, thank you.

In regards to balancing, I agree with options. A lot of the problem with resistances, however, fall into a category other than options. By this I mean that they don't really have costs, or at least not sufficient costs, and thus instead of options they are more like methods.

When it comes to resistances, Weather the Storm is very powerful, but it is nowhere near as overpowered as crafting. By having a single character invest in Crafting and keeping an eye out at vendors over the course of the game, you can add +20% to ALL resistances on virtually EVERY piece of defensive gear for EVERY character. The Crafting character doesn't even need to be a permanent member of your party; you can hire them at the Hall of Heroes at the End of Time, then dismiss them after the item modifications are complete.

Now that is making a mockery of the elemental damage mechanics of the game. It's a mockery because it isn't really an option, because it doesn't really have a cost (outside of affordable ingredients, which wouldn't provide much benefit if used in another manner).

In terms of Weather the Storm, it's a far smaller balance concern in comparison. However, it's still a risk, and the reason is that it covers many bases simultaneously. For example, a talent with the same prerequisites which granted +100% to Fire resistance would be less of a concern in comparison; even though you'd have a fairly awesome heals-from-Fire character, that character would still have weaknesses. "Resist-all" mechanics in general tend to be problematic because they remove all weaknesses with their generality, not because they grant power through specificity. I agree with your general premise that players should be able to do "overpowered" things, but the game is most fun when these things are active and specific and "build-around-me," rather than methods to systematically prevent enemies from doing anything to you in retaliation.

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Originally Posted by Mugu
Status effect work both way. Since the party has most of the time the initiative with leadership, you have the opportunity to disable the monsters before they do.
In my playthrough, when I had the initiative, it was very rare when the enemy could retaliate, let alone disable several party member.


Yes and that is the problem, because if the status effects are too strong they make the combat less interesting for the player: If he has a higher initiative he can make many opponents helpless for several turns and if he has a lower initiative he will be helpless for several turns. Watching helpless enemies or player characters is not fun in my opinion and that is the reason why stronger status effects should have a shorter duration.

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That's true but most strong enemies has either very high willpower/bodybuilding or straight immunity. So you can't completely shut down every encounter but it's true the game kind of force you to try anyway. I agree this make the fight less interesting and tactical.

I feel this crowd control (cc) status design is too binary. Either you are completely helpless either you have nothing. Plus the immunity system to balance it is unfair because you have no way to predict who is immune. And, it trumps logic : void dragon can be knocked down, but random demon can't?
In addition, there is currently no use for the softer cc such as cripple or weaken when you can just completely shut down the opposition with blind/knockdown/stun.

I think it would have been better if the odd for hard cc were halved while adding a softer cc in case of "glancing blow". 100% hard cc changed to 50% hard cc + 100% soft cc. Assuming 100% success rate, On 0-50 roll you got the soft cc, on 51-100, you get the hard cc. All immunities are removed except the one that would make sense (ie: can't blind a bat). Willpower and bodybuilding apply normally, so high willpower/bodybuilding monster would still be de facto "immune" to strong cc unless these defences are lowered.

How it could translate:

100 % stun replaced by 50 % stun + 100 % to set dazed (character can't use complex ability that would cost more than 4 ap)

100 % blind replaced by 50 % blind + 100 % to halve sight range (effective on archer or mage who must come closer to cast or attack, but limited use on melee target)

100 % knocked down replaced by 50 % knockdown + 100 % to set staggered (last one turn, - 6 starting ap, - 6 turn ap)

100 % charm replaced by 50% charm + 100 % to set frenzy (character attack nearest target -friend or foe-; still considered as friendly by ai, so dont draw aggro)


Probably too complex, so maybe it's just better to reduce duration as you suggested.

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Great and accurate review Scrotie.

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Originally Posted by Mugu
I feel this crowd control (cc) status design is too binary. Either you are completely helpless either you have nothing. Plus the immunity system to balance it is unfair because you have no way to predict who is immune. And, it trumps logic : void dragon can be knocked down, but random demon can't?
In addition, there is currently no use for the softer cc such as cripple or weaken when you can just completely shut down the opposition with blind/knockdown/stun.

I think it would have been better if the odd for hard cc were halved while adding a softer cc in case of "glancing blow". 100% hard cc changed to 50% hard cc + 100% soft cc. Assuming 100% success rate, On 0-50 roll you got the soft cc, on 51-100, you get the hard cc. All immunities are removed except the one that would make sense (ie: can't blind a bat). Willpower and bodybuilding apply normally, so high willpower/bodybuilding monster would still be de facto "immune" to strong cc unless these defences are lowered.

Probably too complex, so maybe it's just better to reduce duration as you suggested.


This would be the perfect solution for status effects in a pc game and it is not too complex, because the pc keeps track of the mechanic and not a game master. It could look like this:

Stun (Willpower):
Stunned for 1 turn on a failed save and slowed for 1 turn on a successful save.

Knockdown (Bodybuilding):
Knocked down for 1 turn on a failed save and weakened for 1 turn on a successful save.

Freeze (Bodybuilding):
Freezed for 1 turn on a failed save and chilled (-25% water and fire resistance) for 1 turn on a successful save.

Petrify (Bodybuilding):
Pertrified for 1 turn on a failed save and slowed for 1 turn on a successful save.

Charm (Willpower):
Charmed for 1 turn on a failed save and frenzied (attacks nearest target (friend or foe)) for 1 turn on a successful save.

Blind (Bodybuilding):
Blinded for 1 turn on a failed save and staggered (halved sight range) for 1 turn on a successful save.

Mute (Willpower):
Muted for 1 turn on a failed save and dazed (the AP cost of a spell is increased by 50%) for 1 turn on a successful save.

Last edited by Wizard1200; 04/08/14 10:50 AM.
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Wizard1200, Way too far to the other end of the spectrum there. That's a way to make sure no-one uses 95% of the skills in the game and just uses auto-attacks/attacks with a CC tagged onto the end. If it lasted two turns and you got a second chance to save against the 'hard' effect, but not the 'soft' one, it would probably be okay.

The concept is great though Mugu.

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Originally Posted by Wizard1200
Originally Posted by Mugu
I feel this crowd control (cc) status design is too binary. Either you are completely helpless either you have nothing. Plus the immunity system to balance it is unfair because you have no way to predict who is immune. And, it trumps logic : void dragon can be knocked down, but random demon can't?
In addition, there is currently no use for the softer cc such as cripple or weaken when you can just completely shut down the opposition with blind/knockdown/stun.

I think it would have been better if the odd for hard cc were halved while adding a softer cc in case of "glancing blow". 100% hard cc changed to 50% hard cc + 100% soft cc. Assuming 100% success rate, On 0-50 roll you got the soft cc, on 51-100, you get the hard cc. All immunities are removed except the one that would make sense (ie: can't blind a bat). Willpower and bodybuilding apply normally, so high willpower/bodybuilding monster would still be de facto "immune" to strong cc unless these defences are lowered.

Probably too complex, so maybe it's just better to reduce duration as you suggested.


This would be the perfect solution for status effects in a pc game and it is not too complex, because the pc keeps track of the mechanic and not a game master. It could look like this:

Stun (Willpower):
Stunned for 1 turn on a failed save and slowed for 1 turn on a successful save.

Knockdown (Bodybuilding):
Knocked down for 1 turn on a failed save and weakened for 1 turn on a successful save.

Freeze (Bodybuilding):
Freezed for 1 turn on a failed save and chilled (-25% water and fire resistance) for 1 turn on a successful save.

Petrify (Bodybuilding):
Pertrified for 1 turn on a failed save and slowed for 1 turn on a successful save.

Charm (Willpower):
Charmed for 1 turn on a failed save and frenzied (attacks nearest target (friend or foe)) for 1 turn on a successful save.

Blind (Bodybuilding):
Blinded for 1 turn on a failed save and staggered (halved sight range) for 1 turn on a successful save.

Mute (Willpower):
Muted for 1 turn on a failed save and dazed (the AP cost of a spell is increased by 50%) for 1 turn on a successful save.


I like this solution. It's simpler and would introduce less new status in the game. Only grip is the automatic softer effect would probably means we need to keep immunities for special boss.

Originally Posted by Whysper
Wizard1200, Way too far to the other end of the spectrum there. That's a way to make sure no-one uses 95% of the skills in the game and just uses auto-attacks/attacks with a CC tagged onto the end. If it lasted two turns and you got a second chance to save against the 'hard' effect, but not the 'soft' one, it would probably be okay.

The concept is great though Mugu.


Well, numbers can be tuned. A 1 turn duration can work if the damage done by the skill is increased or if the cooldown is reduced or if the ap cost is adjusted. Your alternative is perfectly sound as well.

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Originally Posted by Whysper
Wizard1200, Way too far to the other end of the spectrum there. That's a way to make sure no-one uses 95% of the skills in the game and just uses auto-attacks/attacks with a CC tagged onto the end. If it lasted two turns and you got a second chance to save against the 'hard' effect, but not the 'soft' one, it would probably be okay.


Good point. A second save after 1 turn would make a high Willpower or Bodybuilding more useful, too, because it is more unlikely that you fail two saves in a row.

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