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=Balance,Dev= Of (Weapon) Buffs and (Build) Balance

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4/21/2010 7:55:09   
Legendary Sidhe of Order

As I'm sure you've noticed Melee and Ranged weapons have received a considerable buff. Initially I'm going to be talking about what it was intended to achieve, and then Aelthai will be talking about some of the ongoing tweaks you can expect as well as some related changes that will be happening in the future.

The short answer of what it was intended to achieve is to move no (or low) intelligence builds closer in power to high Intelligence builds.

The long answer concerns how we're trying to balance the builds in the long term and as such numbers follows, I've tried to keep things simple but there's no way to not involve maths in this, so you've been warned.

[Begin Math]
What we're trying to do is set things up so that non-intelligence weapon using builds and intelligence using builds are equal over a set of encounters without healing either 2 standard encounters of 10 turns each or 1 boss encounter of 20 turns. In order to achieve this while keeping Intelligence builds different to play than weapon-based non-intelligence builds we decided to take a Melee weapon using character with Strength and Dexterity as our baseline for damage, the damage this person does with a standard weapon of their level, with standard stats for their level in a standard armor of their level is considered 1 Turn of Damage.

Working from this base line we needed a way to differentiate Intelligence using builds, so we decided that spells should do more damage, while their weapons should do less, for our baseline for this we picked a spell and magic using Intelligence and Dexterity character. Looking at pre-existing spells we decided that spells should do 2 Turns of Damage (since this avoided nerfing most existing spells), this means that we had 2 issues to deal with, 1) spells needed to be a finite resource, something you could run out of over the course of 2 standard encounters and 2) Magic weapons had to be weak enough that our Melee weapon using character would catch up over the course of 2 standard encounters. Since our Intelligence build had Dexterity we couldn't make magic weapons excessively weak, or we would either have to make Ranged weapons useless to non-Intelligence builds or our standard character would switch to Ranged weapons and the non-Intelligence build would then not being able to catchup.

We eventually decided that magic weapons should do 75% of Melee/Ranged weapon damage, and that the the damage from statistics that Ranged attack get should be changed so that they would be no better than a magic weapon for our Intelligence build while still being as good as Melee weapons for those with the appropriate build. After we had decided this we needed to work out how many spells an intelligence should be allowed, so what we had is 20 Turns of 1 Turn of Damage from our Melee Build verses X Turns of 2 Turns of Damage and Y Turns of 0.75 Turns of Damage, with X + Y = 20, so we solved the simple equations and found out that mages needed to be able to use 4 turns of spells over the 20 turns.

So what did this actually mean for existing weapons ? Since Magic and Melee and Ranged weapons were pretty much exactly the same at the time it meant we needed to find a way to make Magic weapons do only 75% of the damage of Melee.Ranged weapons, there are obviously 2 ways of ding this 1) nerfing magic weapons or 2) buffing melee/ranged weapons. For various reasons we decided that buffing Melee weapons was the way to go, so we had to change melee weapons to that magic weapons would be 75% as powerful, this means we had to increase Melee weapons by 33% (since 4/3 is the inverse of 3/4), and thus you have this boost to Ranged and Melee Weapons. However this still wasn't quite enough and we did have to nerf Intelligence a little bit to keep things easily understood, in order for spells to be twice as powerful as melee attacks they needed twice the bonus damage from stats, and so we had to reduce the magic damage from stats to 75% of the bonus from Melee weapons, in this case we couldn't just increase the Melee Stat bonus since it would throw of other formulas (for Pets, Guests, Ranged Weapons, etc) so we changed the Intelligence bonus.

If any of you are wondering about Lucky Strikes and why they behave so oddly, I'll go into that, Lucky Strikes essentially work as bonus stat damage so we couldn't have spells or weapon type effecting Lucky Strike bonus (since if we did a Mage build could switch to Ranged Weapons and gain the Ranged Weapon Lucky Strike Stat Bonus and the Spell Lucky Strike Stat Bonus, so what we did was decide that all players attacks get the same Lucky Strike bonus, whether they are Spells, Magic Weapons, Melee Weapons or Ranged Weapons , otherwise we'd be back with having to make Ranged weapons useless to non-Intelligence builds in order to not have Intelligence builds end run the system while using Ranged weapons, this is why we ended up with the Intelligence bonus to Magic Weapons and Spells being different so that we could keep all the Lucky Strikes the same.
[End Math]

Since Aelthai will very shortly be talking about future tweaks, I'm also going to introduce something that we're currently working on that will be needed to understand some of the upcoming tweaks. We've noticed that lately people have been talking about how unpredictable damage is since Random damage ends up being much higher than Base damage, so I got out the spreadsheets and looked at the formulas and decided that the best way to deal with this would come in 2 parts
1) Change things so that Base damage and Random Damage contributed equally to the average damage on weapons and spells, (this means that the base line weapon is more like 8-24 rather than 6-26

At low levels this makes things more predictable since there is very little stat damage but at high levels this makes things less predictable since previously we'd intended to make base more important than Random at high levels, so we needed to do something about that, and what we've decided on is making stat damage more predictable so we come to:

2) Change stat damage so that instead of getting Str/8 "Random" Stat Damage you instead get Str/32 "Base" Stat Damage and Str/16 "Random" Stat Damage , this means that while things work out the same on average you'll never get no bonus from your stats and it also reduces the maximum damage that can be done, this means that your damage will be consistently closer to the average.

Since stats are much more important at higher levels this means that damage will be more stable for everyone.

On this topic we've been talking about what to do with Lucky Strikes, so I'd like to hear some feedback, currently Lucky Strikes occur 10% of the time and add Luck/2 "Random" Stat Damage when they occur, even with the above change Lucky Strikes would still be very random happening 10% of the time and doing Luck/8 to 3Luck/8 damage, which is still a large range, so maybe you'd prefer to see Lucky Strikes more often but with a smaller multiple (such as 20% of the time and doing Luck/16 to 3Luck/16 damage), or on the other hand perhaps you like the Random heavy Lucky Strikes it does suit their "Lucky" nature well and would prefer they didn't get any base damage, let us know how you feel about this.

I've also attached a spreadsheet that spits out the stats for an Average Weapon/Spell of a given level, which should help explain some of the future tweaking.

I believe I've covered everything I wanted to, so I'll hand things over to Aelthai now and she'll be explaining about upcoming tweaks and future plans.

- Kalanyr
Head Knight of Order & AdventureQuest Coder

Attachment (1)

< Message edited by Kalanyr -- 4/21/2010 14:02:01 >
AQ DF  Post #: 1
4/21/2010 14:05:50   
Legendary Miss Fixit

I think Kalanyr covered why the Melee/Ranged Base/Random damage increase happened pretty well (read the [Math] section if you want to know), so I'm going to leave it at that. However, he didn't mention one thing that makes a rather noticeable difference - Specials!

You may have noticed that most of your specials do more damage than they used to - this is because they're based on weapon Base and Random. This doesn't mean they are right, however - they aren't.

[Begin Math]
We wanted to make Specials - well, special. This means that they have to do more damage than the weapon itself in an armor of the weapon's level - in fact, they really should do more damage than on offensive armor of their level; otherwise, they look rather pitiful. A Fully Offensive armor does 125% of the damage of an Average armor, so clearly a Special needs to do more than that. We selected 150% as something that would be clearly Special.

There are two ways that we could go on this - first, it could have been incorporated as part of the "1 turn" - lowering the damage dealt without a Special - or it could be on top, raising the ACTUAL damage done by a Warrior. We selected the second option. This increases actual damage done by the warrior to 110% of a Turn (at a 20% Special rate, which is the rate we selected - often enough you are likely to see it, rare enough to still be special, and constant so that it affects damage at all levels relative to starting damage consistently). A Mage is assumed to do the same Special BR, meaning that they do exactly 75% of the damage od a Warrior, including Specials. This costs Mages a little damage (the Special damage that they do not get for Spells), but Spells can be cast from Defensive armor - which means that the Mage takes less damage overall. This is one of the compensating factors for Spells not depending on the armor attack. We may tweak this if it appears necessary for build balance, but at this time it does not appear to be necessary.

Now, to talk about current specials. They change in frequency and power with level. They are - for most levels - better than "interim sweep" average armor offence (which is notably lower than Post-Sweep armor offence, but in general higher than armor offence was before the last couple of years). This means that Specials are - in most cases - needing a buff. Weapon Specials before were not specifically bassed off of armors, but the same sort of effect happened - they had to be SPECIAL, so they tended to be better than the armor attack ... of at least an average armor. There are some specific Specials that need to be nerfed, but not many, given how much Specials in general will be increasing.
[End Math]

Now, Kalanyr promised I'd talk about what's going to happen in the future, so I should probably do that. ;-)

The first - and most important - thing that I'm going to say is that future weapons that will be released will be statted using the Post-Sweep scale. This was not possible before the boost (they would have overpowered existing weaponry very badly), but it is possible now - more or less. They will not line up perfectly with existing weaponry, particularly at the very high and very low ends. This allows us to "draw a line in the sand" and stop releasing more equipment that will just have to be changed later. In general, the new weapons will usually (not always) be slightly more powerful.

This brings us to the second point that will be happening. I will be updating individual weapons and weapon series to the post-Sweep Base, Random, and BtH. This will happen slowly, not all at once. I plan to start at the high end and work my way down, but weapon series may sometimes be hit as a whole. I may well hit elements as they are released. This is an "as I have time" activity, not something coordinated - I simply don't have the time to get all of them at once.
Specials will usually not be updated when the rest of the weapon is. That takes more time, and is harder to coordinate - so we will likely have to come back and do them. Some weapons may have their Specials updated at the same time, but that will generally mean the Special was being updated and we got the Base/Random/BtH as long as we were touching the weapon.
The (few) weapons that are completely revised will line up with the new weapons; the ones that only have revised Base, Random, and BtH will usually not. They will be "close" but that's all.

One last thing I should mention is Z-Token weaponry. This always requires additional attention. As some of you know, we've been using a lower-cost system for Z-Token items recently. You may also know that we promised that when we updated Z-Token items, we would use the highest power level derived from {Level, Power, Price (on the scale used at the time of release)}. Some of you have been asking what that means for specific items for a long time.

Well, when I update Z-Token weapons, there's no reason to not go ahead and change their Level and Price appropriately. Once it is changed, they have been set to the correct power - we won't be going back and recalculating that power again, because it's already been fixed. The idea here is to remove the uncertainty about how powerful things are due to the widely varying levels and prices.
Note: When I say "the power has been fixed", I actually mean the Level and Price have been increased to match the Power (and Price/Level) if necessary - as on other weaponry, Special changes may lag the other changes.

Oh, one other thing. If the Z-Token price on an item changes, your sellback does not. Your sellback price is based on the price you paid when you bought the item. Don't buy items planning to sell them back for more later - you won't be able to.

< Message edited by Aelthai -- 4/21/2010 14:16:18 >
AQ DF MQ  Post #: 2
4/21/2010 15:17:02   
Legendary Miss Fixit

A shipment of weapons has arrived on Lore from the WarpForce. It is being distributed by Yulgar, Valencia, and the Guardian Tower.

This is the first example in AQ of what weapons will look like in the future.
AQ DF MQ  Post #: 3
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