Author Topic: Difficulty over Time  (Read 7093 times)

Offline Armanant

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Difficulty over Time
« on: October 04, 2011, 11:43:46 AM »
Got the beta of AVWW and have been really enjoying it, however I do have one issue I feel could do with some attention that I have not seen mentioned (may not have looked hard enough!), so, story time!

 I had played with my first civilization to level 31. At that point (and for about a dozen levels prior, when I had started doing this), I was quite comfortably clearing out underground areas 10 levels above me for high level gems - the bat bosses did less than 1/2 my hp in a swing, so I could take two hits, heal, rinse repeat. Conversely the bats died rather quickly to a combined assault of energy pulses, ball lightning and creeping death. I could often take a bat down before it reached me, or at least after only one pass. If anything, it felt like this baseline 'activity' of "collect gems from underground areas 10 levels above you" was getting consistently easier as I reached a higher civ level.

This wasn't tooo noticeable as it was a gradual change, however it came to my attention rather sharply when after an update after the session that took me from 29 to 31, I came back and found that it somehow the world did not save and I was back at 29 :-/ I got a bit irritated and just nuked the world from orbit, starting again (hey, it's beta. wanted to try the patch changes from a fresh start). I had my new budding civilization to level 3-4, and was intending to get some higher level spells from an area a few levels above me, as I had been doing for a dozen levels in my previous world. Before I set out into the area I wouldn't be too much of an issue, but on the way to an underground area I did notice that the espers seemed to be taking quite a pounding, taking at least 4 ball lighting to bring down.. and their attacks did do a reasonable proportion of my health. I trucked on however, and worked my way to a bat boss cave. I ventured out a bit to hunt down the first bat. I see it, blow everything I have as I try to kite it backwards for as long as I can before it gets a hit in. I deal... about a 20th of it's hp? nowhere near enough to overcome the lifesteal. Regardless, run out of dodge space aaand - 1 hit and my auto-potion triggers. Weeeelll shh I start running back for the entrance, second bat swoops in and instakills.

Sooo, I guess my question is, is the intention of the difficulty curve meant to have you starting off completely useless against things 6-7 levels above you initially ( new players, lets make sure they suffer!), and then progressing to being a god amongst mortals in (standard) areas 10+ levels above you (Huh, you seem to be playing this game a lot, lets see if we can make it boring!).

But yeah, the difficulty curve seems to be my main issue so far. Seems... backwards. Oh that and the whole world not saving losing 3 hours of exploring. that sucked too  :D

Offline tigersfan

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Re: Difficulty over Time
« Reply #1 on: October 04, 2011, 11:49:32 AM »
Balance is an issue, it's something that needs work. The problem with difficulty balance is that there are a TON of new spells and enemies coming, and it's easier to do a large portion of the rebalancing once more of that is in the game, rather than balance add, balance add, and so on.

That said, the intent (as I understand it, anyway) is to have the difficulty level fairly consistent. So, an area 5 levels above you early will always be roughly as difficult as an area 5 levels above you later. So that when you are 5, a 10 is as hard as a 325 will be when you are 320.

Offline Armanant

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Re: Difficulty over Time
« Reply #2 on: October 04, 2011, 12:01:52 PM »
That said, the intent (as I understand it, anyway) is to have the difficulty level fairly consistent. So, an area 5 levels above you early will always be roughly as difficult as an area 5 levels above you later. So that when you are 5, a 10 is as hard as a 325 will be when you are 320.

That's the kind of thing I was hoping for  :D I realize there are a lot of spells and enemies incoming, and I do understand if the preference is to not bother balancing until it is all in there.

However..... I don't see how new spells and enemies would have any effect on the scaling   :P If spell X does ~50% of an equal level  monster A's HP, making that somewhat consistent for levels 1 -> infinity is quite a separate issue to deciding if Spell Y should deal 10% more damage than spell X because it costs more mana, or monster B should have double the HP of monster A because it's slower. Once you add monster B with double monster A's HP, it would stand to reason that spell X will still consistently deal ~25% of an equal level Monster B's HP. Again though, I do understand if all that is just being ignored completely, prioritization and all.

Edit: Wait, unless.. the values for all the balancing stats aren't based on an equation, but are set values?  :o I would certainly hope not, otherwise I feel sorry for the poor sod entering values for Spell XYZ rank I through to XYZ Rank MMMDCXXVII..
« Last Edit: October 04, 2011, 12:05:10 PM by Armanant »

Offline Terraziel

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Re: Difficulty over Time
« Reply #3 on: October 04, 2011, 12:12:53 PM »
Because Armanant has already commented on everything i was going to i shall just add

Edit: Wait, unless.. the values for all the balancing stats aren't based on an equation, but are set values?  :o I would certainly hope not, otherwise I feel sorry for the poor sod entering values for Spell XYZ rank I through to XYZ Rank MMMDCXXVII..

Spells are hopefully for the hypothetical poor sod , just done on the entirely dubious equation of base stats times level. I'm not sure what health and mana are based off, but it seems slightly less simple, but still poorly done

Offline x4000

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Re: Difficulty over Time
« Reply #4 on: October 04, 2011, 12:21:53 PM »
Right now the equation is this for magical attack of the character:

Code: [Select]
CharacterMagicAttack = RateOfMagicalAttackIncrease * 3 * Level
Where RateOfMagicalAttackIncrease is a value between 1-10 on characters.

And this is the equation for the spells:

Code: [Select]
SpellMagicAttack = SpellPower * Tier
And the final damage formula:

Code: [Select]
Damage = SpellMagicAttack + CharacterMagicAttack
This results in something that gets progressively easier, unfortunately:

Code: [Select]
Power =>
Level 1 5 10
1 3 15 30
2 6 30 60
10 30 150 300
12 36 180 360
60 180 900 1800
100 300 1500 3000
1000 3000 15000 30000
1001 3003 15015 30030

The difference between levels 1 and 2 is immense, but the difference between levels 1000 and 1001 is incredibly miniscule.  This is our first attempt at getting stats to scale infinitely in this fashion; with AI War we only ever had five tiers, and the math doesn't hold up over a longer range because the differences shrink away, we're discovering.

The other problem is that the numbers are going to get larger than the screen can comfortably display to the player, which is really annoying.  If you get to level 1 million, the stats would be so high that they wouldn't fit in the health bars or similar.

What we really do need to do is probably take away the formula and instead make it all relative.  So make the amount of damage done based on the relative level of the attacker versus the defender, and just keep the base stats in the non-multiplied range.  So, for instance, if your attack power was 10 as a character, it would be 10 until the end of time.  Health and magic points would continue to increase as they do now, but possibly at a lower rate than they presently do.  For magic points that's important for costing reasons, but for HP it's just a feel-good for players and something that makes intuitive visual sense.  And then attacks would simply be converted into the appropriate percentage of health based on your level, the tier of your spell you're using, and the level of your target.  And vice-versa when the target attacks you.

Thoughts?  In terms of a larger difficulty curve, with monsters that are more inherently dangerous, that's something we've partly got in place right now with new bosses and such opening up over time, but more of that will be happening as we go.  That's the real source of the difficulty curve, versus just the numbers game with the base stats.
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Offline Armanant

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Re: Difficulty over Time
« Reply #5 on: October 04, 2011, 12:36:33 PM »
Yeah, more relative numbers sounds like it would help. Another issue with big numbers (for me anyway) is that it makes the game feel more like a skinner box (or make it more obvious the game is  a skinner box? depends on how cynical you are  :P)

Offline x4000

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Re: Difficulty over Time
« Reply #6 on: October 04, 2011, 12:40:11 PM »
To some extent games like this are always skinner boxes if you want to get really literal about it, but the idea here is to make it so that it's a game you can play perpetually if you find the world compelling enough on its own terms.  Rather than something to get your money through ongoing microtransactions or something simply because of that "push the button, get a pellet" effect.
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Offline KDR_11k

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Re: Difficulty over Time
« Reply #7 on: October 04, 2011, 12:45:50 PM »
Growing numbers would need to be exponential so it would get ugly no matter what (unless you use scientific notation). Adjusting numbers feel weird to the player though. Well, maybe the exponent could be disguised as a "hitpoint level" so you'd have e.g. 3000 level 25 hitpoints and attacks that deal e.g. 1000 level 24 hitpoints would only hurt you for 10 of your points. You could also round away anything that's too low to matter so you don't run into float precision issues...

Offline x4000

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Re: Difficulty over Time
« Reply #8 on: October 04, 2011, 12:48:21 PM »
I'm thinking we're just going to break all sorts of RPG conventions coming up here -- basically doing away with a linear number scale at all for anything but health/mp.  Working on the math in excel at the moment, and so far this is looking promising.  It's certainly far easier to balance
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Offline orzelek

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Re: Difficulty over Time
« Reply #9 on: October 04, 2011, 12:54:55 PM »
Just please make sure that there is some randomness added on top of that scaling.

Doing 1% damage at lvl 1 to lvl 1 monster every hit and then doing same 1% damage at lvl 10 to lvl 10 monster will look... boring. Especially if it's always 1% of hp.

Offline x4000

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Re: Difficulty over Time
« Reply #10 on: October 04, 2011, 12:59:37 PM »
I don't think randomness would be a good idea -- that just makes things frustratingly unpredictable.

And correct me if I'm wrong, but the goal of this thread is that we WANT "1% damage at lvl 1 to lvl 1 monster every hit and then doing same 1% damage at lvl 10 to lvl 10 monster," right?  Or at the very least we want a pretty slight monster health buff increase as these numbers go up, but even that causes problems when the civ level gets high past a certain point.

The trick is to not rely just on this, but rather to have it so that by the time you hit level 10 you're fighting so many newer and more difficult monsters that you don't notice the relative damage amounts either way.  I think the numbers game IS inherently boring to some extent, but it's also absolutely vital so that there can be an infinite progression and basically serial campaigns in a single world, etc.
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Offline eRe4s3r

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Re: Difficulty over Time
« Reply #11 on: October 04, 2011, 01:00:48 PM »
(RANDOM) Critical hits and critical spell effects (Stun/Slow/Freeze/Electrocute etc) should all make it more interesting ;p While retaining challenge. But to be honest, this is likely not something that can really be "decided" before the game is actually 1.0 (or at least very close to release) because until all the content and gameplay is in, we can't judge the difficulty

So randomness is not a bad idea per sé :p
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Offline x4000

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Re: Difficulty over Time
« Reply #12 on: October 04, 2011, 01:05:03 PM »
Okay, here's my first work on a new damage scaling formula:

Code: [Select]
((11-RelativeCivLevel)+( (AttackPowerLevel/5)*(11-$RelativeCivLevel)))*44
Where RelativeCivLevel is the target's level minus the civ level. So -10 means you're 10 levels higher than the monster, while 10 means you're 10 levels lower than the monster.

And where AttackPowerLevel is that same 1-10 value for players.

I get the result:

Code: [Select]
Power =>
Relative Level 1 5 10
-10 1109 1848 2772
-9 1056 1760 2640
-8 1003 1672 2508
-7 950 1584 2376
-6 898 1496 2244
-5 845 1408 2112
-4 792 1320 1980
-3 739 1232 1848
-2 686 1144 1716
-1 634 1056 1584
0 581 968 1452
1 528 880 1320
2 475 792 1188
3 422 704 1056
4 370 616 924
5 317 528 792
6 264 440 660
7 211 352 528
8 158 264 396
9 106 176 264
10 53 88 132

This is only just looking at the attack power in isolation, ignoring the spells themselves or health for the moment.  But I think that progression looks pretty good.  The best offensive magic user does almost 3x the amount of damage to enemies, and when you're attacking something 10 levels higher than you you're doing about 10% of the damage you would do to something that's same-level.  Paired with the enemy doing 10x its normal damage to you when they are 10 levels higher than you, that's basically meaning that the difficulty curve based on relative levels is somewhat exponential (just with a low potential cap), which I think makes sense.  And I say "somewhat," because it's also got other factors beyond just those two.
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Offline orzelek

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Re: Difficulty over Time
« Reply #13 on: October 04, 2011, 01:05:43 PM »
Main idea is that you are hitting mob for 1-2% per hit not always 1% per hit - thats the randomness I meant. Random critical hits with special effects would also work nicely.

And considering that some kind of hp increase is in order per level.. there will be always some level at which values will get out of hand. You can always go the way of Star Ruler and start adding SI suffixes to values if they exceed certain amounts. If mob has few billion hp you can always write it as 10000M or something.
« Last Edit: October 04, 2011, 01:07:32 PM by orzelek »

Offline x4000

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Re: Difficulty over Time
« Reply #14 on: October 04, 2011, 01:09:14 PM »
I see.  I'm still not sure about that randomness per hit, though.  If I'm expending a non-random amount of MP each hit in order to attack something, it seems like I should get a non-random benefit from that.


And in terms of health values... yeah, we'll have to see on that.  I'm wondering if I should just make those not scale, too, but just be relative values.  Because that's really what they ARE, it just depends on how we want to represent this to players.  Eh... probably that's not a good idea, it should go up a token amount per level at least.  That way to get to the millions of HP should really take a super long time, beyond what we really think anybody could play.
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