Note: This is only not a final draft. I'll need corrections, feedback, and additional useful notes. Remember, this is not the final version!
The Stat Inflation Problem
(I preferably (perhaps even exclusively) go by the last 3 aliases now)
Table of Contents
To make this easier, I've made a Table of Contents for this post, so people can instantly goto a part they feel like reading. Use the search function of your browser (CTRL + F) and type in the section bracket. Example: Type [SIP1] into the search bar and press enter. You will be taken to that section immediately. This is useful because when I update this post, It will save much more time as you can get to the updated stuff instead of searching this post for it.
1. Introduction [SIP1]
2. Back to the Basics [SIP2]
3. How the Problem Works [SIP3]
4. The High Level Factor [SIP4]
5. Frostbane: the Pestilent Disease that should never have existed [SIP5]
6. The Problem of Equipment enhancements [SIP6]
7. How many branches can a tree have? [SIP7]
8. The Root of Un-Sportly Behavior [SIP8]
9. To Every problem, there is a solution [SIP9]
10. End Notes [SIP10]
11. Credits [SIP11]
Hey all, it’s me. Some of you guys might know me, others may not. Although it’s highly un-likely that I’ll ever catch the staff’s attention with this post, I at least will make it my goal to inform the general public of this issue. Today I’d like to address a most serious problem to battle balance. I would like to call it Stat inflation. For those of you who are un-familiar to this iniquity, I will explain and inform to you what this is. Please give me a moment of your time, and in exchange, you will receive one heck of enlightenment. Time to begin this journey.
Well, before I get to my explanation of things, I’d just like to say this: Where do most problems of game balance come from? The answer; In many cases, it’s caused from an over-abundance or a scarcity of any gameplay element, whether it’d be from stats, to inflation. Now, what does this have to do with Stat inflation you ask? The answer is right in front of your face: Stat inflation is the process where weapons of the same level increase in stat value. Base Damage, Base Stats, and modifiers included. Now, I know some of you did not get that right off the bat. I’ll give you guys a visual example of what I mean…
Back to the Basics…
I bet many if not most people use Thylek’s most handy Epicduel Compendium. (If not, you can get to it and download it here.)
What I will do here is a comparison of weapons within the same level. First, go to any one (I’ll use swords) of the WEAPON Categories (Staff, Clubs, Claws, ect..), and then, click on the Stat Modifiers option. This allows people to view weapons from top to bottom, from best stat modifiers, to worst. The untrained person will think “Oh… well, I don’t see a problem with that, as long as it goes from highest to lowest level. Minor discrepancies don’t really matter all that much”. Look again sonny boy, there are a LOT more than “minor” discrepancies. Pay VERY close attention to the items on the top of the list. They’re the most recent released weapons, as most weapons are released at the current level cap. They have the most stat yield, no doubt. Now, click the option to sort it by LEVEL. This time, you’ll notice that level 1 is on top of the list, followed by increasing level down. You can also think of this as a sort of time travel, since the lower levels were also Epicduel’s past level caps. With this, you will see yet another trend, or at least a scramble the way I look at it. Look at the stat modifiers of the weapons as the levels progress. They are ANYTHING but organized! No standards, no organization, no balance! NOTHING! Absolutely NO standards! The levels that you were playing from levels 1-29 HAD NO STANDARD AT ALL, AND IT NEVER DID EITHER. NO STANDARDS SINCE DAY 1! But what does this mean to your confused self? This is where it gets tricky… You’re in a rock and a hard place as some might say. Since Epicduel never had a standard from day 1, the lower levels was a free for all. Example: A level 9 weapon (Bio Blade) had better stats than a level 27 Weapon! (Scrap Cleaver). In addition Bio Blade was a 86-94% CHEAPER OPTION, AND WAS A FREE PLAYER WEAPON! What does this mean? Epicduel needs a set standard for lower level weapons yes. What does this also mean? This means that because most of the low level players have the “newbie factor” which makes them ignorant to the best weapons, strategies, builds, ect, but THE LEVEL DIFFERENCE FROM 1-26 DIDN’T REALLY MATTER! Because there was no standard, which means that there’s absolutely no guarantee a level 26 player would have any advantage over a level 22 player, the level difference factor does not take its place. Yet.
How the problem works
As you may know, I explained the problem a bit in the last sentence. However, I should really explain what it is more in-depth. Here’s how it’s inner working are done. Let’s say you have a weapon. All the weapons are made for use in the same level. We’ll call it weapon A. Weapon A’s pretty good for a time, until Weapon B is created. Weapon B just happens to be more powerful than was Weapon A. As a result, Weapon B is the new good weapon. Weapon A is still around, but nobody’s gonna buy it. Why you ask? Because WHY would you buy a less powerful item? Why would you make your character worse? And that is where the problem lies. Where this takes off, Weapon B is great, then Weapon C is made and is more powerful than B was. Now nobody will bother to buy neither A or B because C is better than both of them. And since nobody will be buying less powerful weapons than the ones in their stock, then the people who create the weapons will have no choice BUT to make more powerful weapons, causing each weapon to be perpetually and predictably more powerful than the last. One could only imagine the problems that arise from there. So there you have it. For those of you who didn’t bare to even take a few minutes to read that, I’ll use visual representation.
Weapon A Made -> Weapon B Made, better than A -> Nobody Buys A because B is better -> Weapon C is made, which is better than A and B -> Nobody buys A or B anymore because C is nwo better than both of them -> Repetitive and predictable cycle of one weapon becoming better than the other -> Stat Inflation
Now, this affect Epicduel in a bad way. If Epicduel could be a game where it could be run and processed without money, then it would. But we need not to forget that Epicduel is a business, and they still need to make money in order to pay for the costs of the game. To keep the game alive, they need people to purchase in-game items for varium. However, if nobody buys anything, then Epicduel cannot live. This is what happens when you make a weapon more powerful than all the rest. Nobody buys anything that's less powerful than what you already got, and to keep payed players paying, they need to make something MORE powerful to keep them buying, forcing them to upset the balance of the game, or else they will go out of Business. I'll show you guys how Frostbane made this problem happen, but that's for a later section.
The High Level Factor
Let me get into more depth into the subject of the paragraph before the one made above. As you may been informed by now, The level difference from 1 to 25 doesn’t really matter. However, once you get to level 26, the game really does start to turn on you for multiple reasons. This is where stat modifiers from weapons actually becomes important to a win or loss. In fact, most of the builds from high levels are only possibly BECAUSE of the stat modifiers. Had you not had the incredible stat modifiers that the weapons at higher levels give you, you would never be able to have high Strength and Dex, or any other combination of high stats.
Let’s go back to our handy little compendium from earlier. Click on the Stat Modifiers button to see the items with the highest stat yields. There is the occasional “Super Weapon” (Omega Blades, Mjolnir, Caden’s Wrath, Betas), but besides that, the weapons with the highest stat yields are the weapons that are only available from level 30 and above. Now that you look at this, look at the stat modifiers of these weapons. They’re all above +20 Stat mods. Never was there a consistent climb. It just happened like that. If you look from the previous levels, there’s no steady climb to get to this many stats. In fact, excluding “Super Weapons”, the highest stat yield was barely 18 at best for a primary (Rune Cleaver). Now look at the jump from level 29-30 alone. It’s a jump of 6 stats from the primary alone. All I can say, is that FROSTBANE IS THE WORST WEAPON TO HAVE EVER HAVE EXISTED IN EPICDUEL.
Frostbane: the Pestilent Disease that should never have existed
To all you Frostbane Owners who may be offended, I’ll just start with this quote. As Neil Armstrong once said, “One small step man, one Giant leap for mankind”. I’ll apply that quote to this, by saying, “One big step in stat totals, one giant leap for future stat totals”. What does Frostbane have to do with this? Easy. Remember back in December 2009 when Frostbane was released? Yeah, it was THE weapon of it’s day. Not only did it have the best base damage of it day, it also had 6 more stats than any weapon in the game. Now that may not seem like much, but think of it like this. Have you noticed that every weapon after Frostbane had more than the actual max of it’s category? This applies to Wrist Blades, Swords, Guns, Clubs, AND Staves that succeeded Frostbane had much higher stats than the best weapons of it’s level before Frostbane.
Now think of it like this. Frostbane when released was THE most powerful weapon in the game. Therefore, the people who bought Frostbane the first time would probably not buy anything else unless it was comparable or surpassed Frostbane. With this, 95% of players won’t buy anything that was not more powerful than the things they ALREADY had. To them, it just doesn't make sense to buy less powerful weapons. What does this mean? That means unless anything was equal or more powerful than it, they wouldn’t be buying varium weapons, and that would lead Epicduel to lose serious revenue. To solve this, they gave birth to the modern Stat Inflation Problem. From that point on, in order to satisfy the paying players, they had to push the boundaries of what was supposed to be. Weapons at the old rate shouldn’t have had that many stats by level 30. In fact, if things went the way they should’ve gone, then Level 32 weapons would barely have 20 stats without enhancements. But then, Frostbane made the unthinkable happen. More Stats; more problems. With stat totals rising at a higher rate than ever before, this caused builds and stats to become inflated. Extreme builds then became possible. How else was someone going to make a good strength builds without a decent amount of stat points? Very easily, we all know a STR Build that has 96 Stat points will do better than one with only 48. How was it possible to get 96 Stat points? Easy, after Frostbane, weapons had unbelievable stats. A few examples are undoubtably our favorites: Frostbane, Cupid’s Bane, BunnyZookas, Rixties, and more. These are the weapons you know that you love because of their great stat modifiers. Without them, I bet it’d be WAY harder to make Extreme Support or Strength builds, and you yourself know it. Without these huge modifiers, they probably would be VERY rare or un-conventional as they’d never work or not work very often.
The Problem of Equipment Enhancements
Now, what also stacks to this problem is the Equipment enhancements. Think of it as an extending Flicker Jab (Special Kind of Jab that HOF Boxer Thomas Hearns used to dominate 6 weight classes). Basically what I mean is that it gives you that extra boost. 24 Stats on that Frostbane might seem deadly, but if you add 10 enhancements to that, then that’s 34 stats from the primary alone. Now that Armors are now enhancable, that gives them yet another boost that gives them the advantage. Let’s use the 2 most stat yielding equipment as an Example; Frostbane and Founder armor. Now, add the totals from their un-enhanced states. That’s a total of 40 points just from the armor and primary. Now, fully enhanced from the both of these, and that’s an extra 20 points. That’s 20 points that the person with these two things will be able allocate to any stat to any given time. Now, that said, that boosts your stat modifiers from 40, to 60. Add that in with a Zooka and gun, and that’s gonna no doubt hit 80-96 stat modifiers. Now, ask yourself this, if the weapons right now at the highest levels didn’t have such great stats, how would extreme builds fare? Probably not so great. Extreme builds NEED the stats to cover their weaknesses. Without a decent amount of stats, it’s not possible to make a high support or high strength build. They’d just be totally wasteful, and probably would not even exist. Without the extra help of Stat enhancements, you probably at best would have like 76 stat modifiers (At level 32 assuming you have all rare equips and varium), and that’s with these series of overinflated weapons.
No doubt this problem was created as the by-product of players that seek to fuel the wants and best interests of the community’s temporary desires, not for the favor of it’s general continuity. Hence the statement, “What’s popular isn’t always right, and what’s right isn’t always popular. To this, I say we probably have to downsize our wants and desires a bit in order to help maintain the game’s continuity and it’s future. We’re not the only generation of ED Duelists, what our ambitions are will undoubtedly cause the very demise of future ED prospects. This current generation (to even my own chagrin) unfortunately won’t last forever, nor will they stay with Epicduel forever. It’s only natural that great people and great generations come and go. Thinking about our own personal wants will make it harder for the generations to come. I think in order to help Epicduel, we need to change our mindset a bit by going a few steps back.
How many Branches can a tree have?
Yes, I know it’s an odd title.I don’t expect you to answer this one in the literal sense, and in fact, you’ll never know how the title makes sense unless you try to get off the rational thinking and go a bit into theoreticals; Think how this connects to epicduel and this topic. Still confused? Think of it like this; Stat Inflation problem is the Tree. From the tree, comes the branches. The Branches in this case would be the problems that existed because of this problem. Have you ever been angry by all the “Extreme” builds? You know, High Strength Builds, High Support Builds, or even High Health builds? Chances are, you’ve been angry at one of the 3 builds at least once in your entire time of playing Epicduel. These are only the branches of the “tree”. Metaphorically, Stat Inflation made “Extreme” builds viable, and extremely effective. Let’s analyze how the “tree” made the “branches”.
High Health builds. This made Xendran extremely famous no doubt, and I myself am a disciple, and loyal follower. However, I must point out that without the great stats of the weapons he (and everyone else who made High health builds) used to make this build, it would’ve never worked. You wouldn’t have enough stats to have a viable build. Unless you have great stat modifiers nor a skill that saves points, it’s just not possible to have 162 Health, decent defenses, and a strong offense. (Deadly aim and mid-high support), though I can also say that this problem made the problem of agility because the team needed to do away with this build. They made agility, which was extremely unpopular to the general populace.
High Strength Builds. Ah… We’ve all seen this. No matter what the class, Mercenary, Bounty Hunter, or Mage (Not to the same extent for mages, but still), they’re extremely powerful. And if I’m not mistaken, Strength builds are now extremely common in One on One mode. Now think what this has to do with this thread. The reason these builds work is because of the same reason of High health builds. There’s enough Stat modifiers to make this work. Thanks to stat inflation, it’s now possible to have high health AND high Strength. Take stat inflation out of the equation, and you’ve got a pretty in-effective build. You would not have enough stat points to have enough health to onslaught the heighten damage of your low defenses. Your attack would only be considered average, and easily be countered with a simple shield or Intimidate. In summary, this build wouldn’t be possible without stat inflation either.
High Support Builds. This one without stat inflation fares even worse than the last two. High support usually comes at a price: Low Defenses, and low attacks, but in compensation, luck has a higher chance to be on your side. However… Let’s once again take stat inflation out of the equation. You’ve only got a middle amount of support, and your Defense and offense is even worse off, and you must rely on an attack that can be mitigated to 50% and can only be used once every 4 turns. Your luck factors won’t favor your either. Your support’s only average, so no luck factors for you sonny boy. Let’s now add stat inflation back into the equation. Now you’ve got decent stats all around. You’ve got ungodly support benefits on your side, your defenses are decently, and your attack is as good as necessary, maybe a bit more if you decide to chip off some of that high support to go into your attack. See how much stat inflation just made high support builds become? Just like the other two “extreme” type builds, High support is only possible through stat inflation.
By now, you’re probably seeing the link between it. Stat inflation really is the Tree of all balance problems! Without this problem, we probably wouldn’t even HAVE balance problems. It’s really a necessary sacrifice: Sacrifice the stats of our weapons, to get rid of all balance problems and to pave a comfortable way for the generations of the future. After all, the generations of the future are really going to become something of a lifeline to a stable and safe future.
The Root of Un-Sportly Behavior
Now, if I've noticed to glance at one thing, it's that the great and Friendly Sundance made a visit to Epicduel. This is great for all who knew him, but he made a thread recently that really touched my heart. It was about the bad sportsmanship about Epicduel. Recently, as his thread pointed out, it's really a shame that the people of Epicduel have become less friendly and their hospitality reduced. Unfortunately, I too agree this is a problem of the masses as well. I don't have any wise Bible Quotes to share with you guys, but this is also a problem that was born from Stat inflation. I'll explain how. You see, very recently in the shadows, unknown to the public, the ammount of people with reduced sportsmanship has undoubtedly decreased. There can be many valid reasons why this problem ever happened in the first place. However, I think the problem of Stat inflation is really the biggest one of them all.
I really believe this is a direct effect of this problem because now that more than 1/2 of the active population has the most powerful weapons to access, the average of stat points in a build has increased by an exponential ammount. Now, believe me, it gives the person a feeling of supremacy and power. And with that, it's not that hard for pride to get in the way sometimes. And with pride, comes the danger of low sportsmanship; you isolate yourself from the viewpoints of people who aren't able to attain the same status nor power as you have. With this stat inflation, it's only fueled our undying want for power, and our attitude unfortunately has gone out the window because of that. The weeks that led up to my quitting, I noticed a major trend of rude people. This was even worse to people who were a higher level than me when I play on my alternate character! They had higher levels, slightly better weapons, but no strategy. I on the other hand had the advantage of a strategy that worked +90% of the time. Still, with my opponents who had better everything that me (except for strategy), remorselessly taunted me with rude comments such as "noob" or "nerd" or other 4 letter words I shouldn't say here.
Stat inflation really has ruined our attitudes; We become greedy through the demands and demands of buffing weapons which only made epicduel worse in the long run, which I believe we should do the opposite of. We need to STANDARDIZE, NOT INFLATE. We don't need more powerful weapons now. We don't need to have weapons that push the limits of what our wallets, our patience, the game's little remaining island of balance, nor anything our tolerance can't handle. We just can't. It's total economical suicide from my point of view. And with how atrocious Epicduel's critical reception is, which is pretty obvious from the dis-satisfaction of the General populance of the AE Forums, why DO we wish to further ruin the game? I thought we all wanted to attain balance, not make it worse. Epicduel's already in a pretty bad heap because of it. We belittle players with records and equipment that aren't ideal. Players who can't get these super inflated rares in time can't keep up due to many valid and unfortunate reasons, and are even hurt by rude comments that were listed above. I can't fathom this atrocity. When Founder Armor was powered up, I, one of the FEW Founders who DIDN'T get the founder armor, was buffeted by the barrage of players who ridiculed me for not using nor having the armor. And I bet, neither can you right now. So think about it, every battle, try to be nice and respect the person, even if they win because of their varium or their luck. It's a start for respect to the masses.
To Every problem, there is a solution
Of course I wouldn’t make this thread without making solutions. For one, I believe that to fix this problem, several things must happen first…
Does anyone remember Xendran's Stat Values Post? I bet not many do. If you don't remember, it was a post that Xendran made that displayed the value of all the stats. First off, balancing the stat values is absolutely pivotal to balancing Epicduel. Why? This way, all builds would have equal power. There won't be better builds than everyone else. Every build will be of equal power to everything else. The only thing that would determine the victor is the person who happens to have better skill. I know a lot of people would like to win based on skill. This is the first step to doing so. Equal builds, equal gameplay. A game where SKILL makes you the winner, not luck. Currently, The Stats aren't equal in Value; For example, a Support Build would be better than a Strength build, because support has more stat yield. However, if we take that, and equalize the stats, then the two builds would be equally powerful, and the person with the better sense of skill would win, although, there's still the occasional luck factor. However, luck factors ARE needed, or else the person who goes first, or the person who goes first would most likely win, which I don't believe should be the case at all.
A Standard must become a reality. As I pointed out earlier, Epicduel is a huge mess at lower levels. No standards and prices are just random. By implementing a standard, inflation will become something of the past. However, I can also acknowledge that making a standard will make it harder at lower levels to win against an opponent that is a higher level than yourself. To solve this, it would be a good idea to bring in the question of Stats Vs. Primary Damage. This is seen in Zookas quite often. For example, Bunnyzookas have the highest stat yield of all Bazookas, but newer Zookas have much higher base damage, but lower stats and high stat requirements. This is just my personal ideal of how to balance epicduel so it’s easier to win against people who are a higher level than yourself, but still making it a fairly challenging. Point is, Standardization is a must to do away with this problem.
After Balancing the Stats, and implementing a standard, the Staff can safely take out Agility and Focus, as well as lower, or remove stat requirements on Skills/Passives. As of now, Without standardization and stat equalizing, Removing Focus and Agility would do nothing. Absolutely nothing. Why you ask? Contrary to Popular belief, removing these won't do any major effect. Talking to Xendran in many conversations, we discussed what would happen if there the team DID remove Focus and agility. What did we come to the consensus of? Simple; Nothing good would happen. Due to all the new stat requirements, I doubt many of us would feel that change. In fact, it'd probably make the game worse. The order to come by this is really that of being careful which update happens first. Here's how it should go...
1. Equalize Stats
2. Standardize Weapon Stat Modifiers
3. Remove Focus and Agility
If it's not taken with this order, Epicduel will be in quite the heap of chaos until all three of those are in Existance. And it's been argued that this would take too much work on them. True, it will take a lot of work. But that's only an excuse. If we dealt with the problem now, then we wouldn't need to deal with the problem ever again. That's the truth. Deal with the problem now, do the hard work now, and there will be less complaints, and Epicduel will be saved. It's so easy. I've practically put the answer to balancing the game right in your nose. So why not fix the problem now?
We need to be more Future oriented. When we demand items to be powerful, we are being what is called “Present-Past Hedonistic”; you seek knowledge and pleasure, while avoiding pain and only thinking of short term effects. To think in a Future Oriented mindset is like trying to predict the future in a metaphorical sense. A good thing to do in every release is to try to connect it with elements in the past, and think of the future long term effects of a release, hence the term, “Future Oriented”. I think by changing out mindsets to be future oriented we could better prepare ourselves and know the potential benefits/dangers of a release/releases to come. It’s not that hard really, just think of how something might make something in the future, like predicting the future.
We should take an effort to unify the community against the common enemy of concern. So far, we’ve been only fragmenting the community. Examples: “Oh you’re a bounty and therefore your overpowered” or “You’re OP” or “This is UP” or “Mercenaries suck” Note: None of the things are actually implied, only used as examples. Now this practically undermines the effort to destroy this common enemy. Every cycle of power change (Or one Class becoming better than the other two) only represents the isolation that the community has. However, whether we are Mercenaries, Tech Mages, or Bounty Hunters, we are all Duelists, whom are all effected by the problem of Stat inflation. In fact, if we actually worked together for once to defeat stat inflation to get rid of overpowered builds forever, the cycle of power changing would’ve been extinct and everything equal again “just like good ole times” as the Past-Present Hedonistic people would say.
My goal is not one of ulterior motives nor of one to financially ruin epicduel by fixing a problem that no doubt encourages people to buy varium. What I am trying to is satisfy the people who play epicduel. I believe happier people produce more. This is something that is repeated in history. People who are happy and content are more likely to produce more, like “Happy cows make more milk” or “Positively motivated workers work more productively”. Same could be applied to epicduel. I believe that if the people were more satisfied with the very center of what Epicduel’s all about, they are more likely to support epicduel in its future. As I said before, the chaos that we can make when we fight each other is bad, but if we unified against the common enemy/problem, we would accomplish something that would make this generation a legendary generation among legendary generations.
Ah... the credits. I guess people want their credits. Here's the group of people who helped me make this post. I really couldn't have done this post, nor taken the time to put the effort, research, nor testing without the help of these great people. They are the true Heros of Epicduel, and I'll never forget them for their help in assisting me with this project.
Ashari, Polander, Xendran, Aere, Master Volcon, and Illuminator
Thank you. Thank you all. Your foresight is a wise one.
< Message edited by PD -- 1/24/2011 14:26:56 >