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=AQ= On Balance

 
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5/15/2022 10:56:21   
  Lorekeeper
And Pun-isher

 

I'd like to take the chance to clarify a few things, as some points keep coming up regardless of how many times they are addressed -- Which is understandable! We can't expect every user to feverishly keep track of our every post when the evolving nature of balance standards can't be conveniently explained in-game.

I'd like to provide reassurance for concerns about item nerfs to counter some spreading misconceptions. If you're concerned by any notion of excessive nerfing, or have read posts to that effect and have not yet seen a counterpoint, please read the following in detail. I'll provide both a bullet point summary and detailed explanations.






  • There is no design policy for pursuing perfect mathematical balance at the expense of fun.

  • There is no such thing as a design policy for nerfing items into uselessness, or making something cease to be fun as a requirement for coming up with other fun items.

  • Balance and fun are not mutually exclusive.




    Balance


    Balance is often brought up as a dirty word describing the pursuit of a perfect mathematical standard with no regard for fun. I'd like to dispel this misconception definitively, as discussions can't go anywhere constructive when different users are using the same word with different definitions.

    This notion is completely incorrect. Balance is a dynamic model for the mechanics of the game, encompassing time/resource economies and mathematical variables, and the standards with which this model weighs the importance of skill and chance to achieve fairness. It's a set of rules to keep things fair for everyone and keep us able to make fun content in the future.

    We are not trying to achieve perfect balance. We know it's impossible, and we wouldn't want to do it in the first place. Balance isn't some state of perfect mathematical compliance, it's a tool used to keep the game sustainable and fun for our entire player base, without deliberately excluding anyone. Consider Tier 3 classes: The amount of skills alone is a huge, calculated exception to mathematical balance, made purely for the sake of fun. T3 class armors are essentially on their own set of compression rules.

    As a set of rules for design, Balance is a creative tool, and fun is the goal of its use. They're two sides of one coin. Using this tool is a tricky tightrope, because no RPG can sustain itself only on mathematical balance, or by chasing any idea that sounds fun with no regard for balance.

    If we abandon balance for the sake of fun, we'll quickly run out of design space(We'll come back to this term later) for fun concepts, and we'll also be abandoning players who want a challenge in order to exclusively cater to one small subset of our playerbase (Players who specifically want broken gear). If we abandon fun for the sake of balance, we wouldn't have time to come up with interesting items as we get bogged down in the backlog of fixes ó Which would abandon the interests of all casual players. Either alternative would run AQ into the ground.

    Making items not fun is never our goal. This has never been a reason behind any design change, and it's not a matter of not having ideas for fun items unless we take away other fun things. Fun is the very reason why we work on keeping items compliant to balance.

    The question stands, then: How exactly does balance lead to fun?. After all, even with the above explanations being given often in various mediums, the two are still treated as antithetical. It's a fair question! We don't often elaborate on the exact reason, and the absence of answers can quickly turn into a narrative.

    Balance governs more than a power budget for items.

  • It helps to keep the idea of each build alive, and keep items from stepping on each other's toes: As is often the case, if two items do the same thing but one does it slightly better, you'll obviously prefer the better one -- And if the worse item isn't a step in progression towards the better one, well, one of the two has an issue.

  • Balance also gives us some boundaries for how many features an item can have, which helps with having time for other items.

  • Having a set of balance standards massively speeds up item design. Developers don't have to figure out how to apply a given mechanic from scratch every time an item uses it.

  • Balance standards give us the means to update old items. When an item is old enough, it can't just have its numbers tweaked. It might even be dependent on features that have been updated, and generally has to be remade from the ground up. Balance gives us a reference on the closest manageable equivalent to its old mechanics.





    Single Player


    A frequently brought up notion is that we should let overpowered items sit because this is a single player game. While it's an understandable notion, it's also fundamentally incomplete. A single player game is experienced by a single player at a time, not by a single player ever. A player doesn't interact with the experiences of others, but there is, in fact, more than one experience being catered to.

    That the gameplay choices of any given player do not directly impact the gameplay experiences of others does not alter the fact that development choices affect the experience of all players. Consistent balance is essential to the continuation of the game, for reasons including, but far from limited to:

  • The value of all player experiences. Arbitrary choices and exceptions made for the sake of the preferences of a few detract from the experiences of the others and curtail future development.

  • The integrity of our word as developers. Contradictory standards and arbitrary exceptions invalidate all reasons we may give for future adjustments. Players could (And rightly would) point at any decisions we take and consider them moot on the grounds of inconsistency with other arbitrary choices. Balance is not something one takes piecemeal, especially only where it's easy or non-controversial to implement.

  • The range of possibilities for future development. The existence of overpowered items inherently curtails the development of all future items that may be measured against them. In contrast, underpowered items are inherently unsatisfying, especially when not every individual item can be so elaborate as to have appeal beyond its primary use. %melee costs for effects increase the more than an item has going for it, making hedging the value of items that would measure up to arbitrary exceptions an exercise in spending additional effort for something that players are likely to be turned away by the drawbacks of.

    Therefore: Single player games aren't games with one singular player perspective. Balance remains important because our choices affect every player, our integrity depends on consistency, and both underpowered and overpowered items hurt everyone's fun. We can't design for any individual player; we have to design for the sum of our audience. That means that we can't simply say that players should avoid using overpowered items, as we'd be damaging the sum of experiences (And the game as a whole) in order to temporarily cater to a small subset of individual ones.





    Broken Items


    While "Broken" is typically used as jargon for "Good", a broken item is one that's clearly weaker or stronger than it should be. This result is underpowered and overpowered items respectively. This is where the notion of perfect mathematical balance goes out the window: Just as an item doesn't need to be broken to be any good, an item can be mathematically balanced and still come out overpowered or underpowered.

    Both overpowered and underpowered items tangibly hurt the health of the game, in the short and long term. How do they happen? Sometimes standards change to improve the game as a whole, and an item gets left behind. Sometimes an unforeseen combination makes an old item break battles. Sometimes, honest human error is the cause. Whichever the cause, they have a different impact on the game. Let's go over that effect:

    Underpowered Items: Believe it or not, these are brought up more often than any requests for nerfs, only beat in that regard by requests for timetables on Essence Orb changes. We know that they're a problem because they're disappointing, reduce engagement, and most importantly of all: They're not fun. They're frankly what we most look forward to tackling, since it means making something fun again.

    Why do buffs seem like such a low priority compared to nerfs, then? Part of it is that they get less traction in discussion. Gaining power results in short discussions, and satisfaction is expressed less frequently and intensely than dissatisfaction. Part of it is the distribution of releases: Our highest profile releases of recent years are huge buffs in the form of class revamps, and this is an ongoing design direction. Buffs are one of our highest priorities, then, but revamping entire classes and tweaking individual broken items make for disparate discussions at first glance.

    Overpowered Items: While they seem like a simple opposite of underpowered items, they pose a different kind of problem. An underpowered item is largely an isolated problem: The problem boils down to the item itself, what it could have done better, and how to improve it. An overpowered item or broken combination affects other items and battles. When it IS practical to deal with them, they're a higher priority because the more overpowered something is, and the more overpowered items there are, the fewer fun ideas we can design in the future, as early as the week after such an item comes out. This includes buffing items.

    We've established, then, that an underpowered item damages the release it was in (Like any missed opportunity to provide a fun item for a given build), while an overpowered item is an ongoing source of problems. Buffing individual items can suffer as a priority when we have several weeks entirely dedicated to the time consuming endeavor of buffing entire outdated classes. Nerfs, due to happening when the time can be spared to fix a problem, are often scattered throughout the year -- And therefore, so are their discussions.

    But what about the concrete damage being alluded to when it comes to overpowered items? How DO they hurt the game?






    Design Space



    We've gone over the damage that unbalanced items cause in the present. Design Space is the specific part of the game's future that is damaged by overpowered items. Now, contrary to the above misconceptions, this is not a matter of being out of ideas for fun items unless we take away other fun things, be it to draw your attention or repeat the removed idea.

    Design space is essentially the imaginary collection of every idea we could reasonably, successfully implement. Every possible item, build, or feature that could stem from these ideas. When a game developer talks about an occurrence of opening design space, they mean that implementing a feature or fixing a problem has created new possibilities. When design space is closed, it means that an issue is making it so that a group of these possibilities can't be implemented or wouldn't succeed no matter how well it was executed.

    In the context of AQ, this applies to fresh ideas, revamps of old items, and buffing underpowered items alike: The space for any given one of these is hindered if it'd fall flat because of a broken item's existence -- Either because it doesn't synergize with it, or because it competes for the same niche and can't compete with an unfair example of it.

    Here are four major examples of clearing design space in AQ:

  • Revamped classes notably rely on both weapon-based and spell-like skills. The latter could never compete in general when Chieftain's Ironthorn was still extremely overpowered, and design space for Paladin would have been low to nonexistent. CIT was blocking out the design space for all spell-like skills because they could never compare with a flat +50% to the damage of anything that could be affected by its broken boost. By extension, it was ruining design space for all class revamps, especially in tandem with resource loops -- Not to mention that no shield could hope to compare with it.

  • Quick-cast resource loops make it very difficult to craft assumptions about costs, and so tackling those over time makes a variety of resource costs much more reasonable to implement. The sole functionality lost by Purple Rain is being able to instantly, retroactively remove any cost that the player could manage. Not only does losing that not make the spell useless, as there are multiple distinct use cases for the new version, but the fact that rewinds are no longer outside of balance has a huge benefit. Namely, now that there's an established value for them, we have the design space for future rewinding items.

  • Resource converters with no limits were unbalanced in a number of ways. They were broken both mathematically (Outdated values) and practically (It's poor design to be able to dump an entire resource into another). On top of being broken by themselves, they were part of the above issue with Purple Rain. We can't reasonably make new resource converters until this issue is tackled, but exploring new rules for them means that we could have a variety of items that convert resources and have other features in the future.

  • Creating a set of restrictions for the new challenge area in the Void has opened a vast range of design space for encounters. By separating the broken combinations that invalidate any boss mechanics not specifically and intricately designed to counter them, it's now possible to provide a higher tier of challenge. Notably, there will be a lot more room for creativity in the task of creating said challenges. There's a whole niche of players that we weren't able to answer the requests of before, and now we can do it without it getting in the way of casual play. There aren't many clearer examples of how balance directly enables fun ó It's certainly the most exciting example!






    That covers it! The importance of balance in general, what balance and design space are and aren't, the reason nerfs are more noticeable than buffs, and the reasons that these happen in the first place.

    One last clarification: We're a small team of human beings*. It's always possible for a buff or nerf to go too far, and take us right back to the start. That is, of course, a problem, and never the goal. When that happens, it's just as important to fix as the original issue. The goal is keeping AQ fun for as long as possible.





    *:Any rumors of me being an eldritch horror are partially unfounded.
  • Post #: 1
    5/15/2022 11:20:22   
    CH4OT1C!
    Member

    This post perfectly encapsulates the concept of balance, as well as why it's so incredibly important. I could not have said it better myself. The content of this post represents the foundations upon which any suggested nerf/buff to an item or monster should be discussed.
    AQ  Post #: 2
    5/15/2022 13:25:44   
    Korriban Gaming
    Member

    First off, I would like to say thank you for creating this post so that we finally have a proper place to discuss these issues.

    At first glance, this post is very reassuring but my personal belief is that at the end of the day, it doesn't matter what I say, what he/she says, what the staff says. The things that matter is what actually gets implemented into the game i.e actions speak louder than words. So I'm going to be using examples of changes that have already happened but doesn't mean I'm trying to derail by discussing those items rather than balance issues in general, I'm just hoping it helps me better bring my points across.

    quote:

    As is often the case, if two items do the same thing but one does it slightly better, you'll obviously prefer the better one -- And if the worse item isn't a step in progression towards the better one, well, one of the two has an issue.

    This is true but if 2 items do the same thing and now you want them to have the same power level, wouldn't that just make the items nothing but reskins of each other?

    quote:

    Balance also gives us some boundaries for how many features an item can have, which helps with having time for other items.

    Having a set of balance standards massively speeds up item design. Developers don't have to figure out how to apply a given mechanic from scratch every time an item uses it.

    Balance standards give us the means to update old items. When an item is old enough, it can't just have its numbers tweaked. It might even be dependent on features that have been updated, and generally has to be remade from the ground up. Balance gives us a reference on the closest manageable equivalent to its old mechanics.

    AQ is a small team, if one of the key reasons for everything having to fit a cookie-cutter set of standards first is in the interest of time even if it means certain items will be UP or OP, I guess there's not much we can do about it.

    quote:

    Underpowered Items: Believe it or not, these are brought up more often than any requests for nerfs, only beat in that regard by requests for timetables on Essence Orb changes. We know that they're a problem because they're disappointing, reduce engagement, and most importantly of all: They're not fun. They're frankly what we most look forward to tackling, since it means making something fun again.

    Why do buffs seem like such a low priority compared to nerfs, then? Part of it is that they get less traction in discussion. Gaining power results in short discussions, and satisfaction is expressed less frequently and intensely than dissatisfaction. Part of it is the distribution of releases: Our highest profile releases of recent years are huge buffs in the form of class revamps, and this is an ongoing design direction. Buffs are one of our highest priorities, then, but revamping entire classes and tweaking individual broken items make for disparate discussions at first glance.

    Overpowered Items: While they seem like a simple opposite of underpowered items, they pose a different kind of problem. An underpowered item is largely an isolated problem: The problem boils down to the item itself, what it could have done better, and how to improve it. An overpowered item or broken combination affects other items and battles. When it IS practical to deal with them, they're a higher priority because the more overpowered something is, and the more overpowered items there are, the fewer fun ideas we can design in the future, as early as the week after such an item comes out. This includes buffing items.

    We've established, then, that an underpowered item damages the release it was in (Like any missed opportunity to provide a fun item for a given build), while an overpowered item is an ongoing source of problems. Buffing individual items can suffer as a priority when we have several weeks entirely dedicated to the time consuming endeavor of buffing entire outdated classes. Nerfs, due to happening when the time can be spared to fix a problem, are often scattered throughout the year -- And therefore, so are their discussions.

    Interesting point, I do agree that buffs get less traction in terms of discussion but imo it should be equally important to buff UP items especially if they are premium items. Imagine you are a casual player who is unaware of the community and the resources available and mistakenly waste your money on something like Gambler's Blade or Neko Doll. In fact, there was a very recent case of a returning player on AEO who bought Gambler's Blade because they weren't aware of how bad it was. That would most certainly hurt the gameplay experience far more than any OP item could.

    Let's talk about an example of a buff that was implemented recently:
    Fowl Play spell. I gave it high praise for being a unique mechanic upon its release but it's simply too weak to be worth using considering how situational it is. The buff did nothing to make it a viable spell. But I am not here to complain without giving suggestions, I would suggest giving it a substantial damage boost considering how situational it is. Situational items should be stronger than general-use items for them to be worth using.

    I fully agree that UP items damages the release it was in because first impressions are important.

    quote:

    Revamped classes notably rely on both weapon-based and spell-like skills. The latter could never compete in general when Chieftain's Ironthorn was still extremely overpowered, and design space for Paladin would have been low to nonexistent. CIT was blocking out the design space for all spell-like skills because they could never compare with a flat +50% to the damage of anything that could be affected by its broken boost. By extension, it was ruining design space for all class revamps, especially in tandem with resource loops -- Not to mention that no shield could hope to compare with it.

    The CIT change/nerf is a prime example of what I would like to see. It is no longer OP but still retaining its place as a top-spot shield for Warriors.

    Now let's talk about nerfs.
    quote:

    Quick-cast resource loops make it very difficult to craft assumptions about costs, and so tackling those over time makes a variety of resource costs much more reasonable to implement. The sole functionality lost by Purple Rain is being able to instantly, retroactively remove any cost that the player could manage. Not only does losing that not make the spell useless, as there are multiple distinct use cases for the new version, but the fact that rewinds are no longer outside of balance has a huge benefit. Namely, now that there's an established value for them, we have the design space for future rewinding items.

    My initial thoughts were the same as your current thoughts. The spell is nowhere near useless. But now that the change has been out for a while, we have time to see how the meta shifted. What I see is limited compared to the database that the staff has for all the players in the game but from what I have seen so far, PR is no longer worth using in any active inventory and I haven't seen anyone use it after the change. Is it because other, slightly better forms of rewind like Doray Shield and Father Time exist? I don't think so either as I don't really see those being used as well. Was this the goal of the change? If no, when will this be reopened again? (considering it's still a relatively recent change) Now, I don't think PR should ever go back to the way it was but surely making the most used item in the game become something that isn't even used at all nowadays isn't an example of a healthy change and this is why players are worried about whatever is to come next. Ditto for the DL shields.

    Everything else I generally agree with. These thoughts are my own.



    < Message edited by Korriban Gaming -- 5/15/2022 13:47:26 >
    AQ DF MQ AQW  Post #: 3
    5/15/2022 14:06:12   
      Lorekeeper
    And Pun-isher

     

    While the answers to every expressed concern are in the post it replies to, I'd like to address specific ones for the sake of reader convenience.

    quote:

    This is true but if 2 items do the same thing and now you want them to have the same power level, wouldn't that just make the items nothing but reskins of each other?


    If two items do the exact same thing, yes. Provided the element is different, this isn't a problem in isolation. Clones with different art are still a way to cater to different aesthetic preferences, though they're more likely to emerge over the daunting task of avoiding overlap with the sheer size of the item backlog than they are due to active direction. Variants of the hypothetical example don't detract from the main point, mind.

    quote:

    AQ is a small team, if one of the key reasons for everything having to fit a cookie-cutter set of standards first is in the interest of time even if it means certain items will be UP or OP, I guess there's not much we can do about it.


    There are two erroneous assumptions at play here. One is that balance itself is a problem, which relies on a definition that the entire first post explains the inherent error in. Another is that a bigger team wouldn't need balance standards: The need for a central set of standards increases exponentially with team size, as it's an inescapable need of any form of teamwork that different members operate based on the same standards and definitions. There's nothing to do about it because balance isn't any more of a flaw in designing a game than syntax itself is an inherent flaw when writing. There can be problems pertaining to balance, but the notion that balance itself is a problem is a non-starter. Please refer to the section subtitled Balance for the reason for this.

    quote:

    Interesting point, I do agree that buffs get less traction in terms of discussion but imo it should be equally important to buff UP items especially if they are premium items.


    They are equally important, but one affects the workload, feasibility, and release impact of the other. When you have two high priority tasks, but one impacts your ability to succeed at the other, a precedence is established regardless of your intent -- Since, at best, ignoring the first task will lead to having to redo the second one after you finally acknowledge it. Please refer to the third quoted paragraph in this section for an explanation with context. As an aside, we've absolutely heard folks that outdated premium sets need a buff! While the quoted example isn't related to the points raised here, not being precluded by a severely overpowered competitor, it is a good example of one we've noticed.

    quote:

    The spell is nowhere near useless.

    quote:

    PR is no longer worth using in any active inventory


    These premises are mutually exclusive, but as the latter is the one actually carried through the rest of the point, I'll respond to that. Following initial hasty reactions, Purple Rain use resumed without a significant deterrent, primarily because of the fact that the rewind is guaranteed. That alone invalidates the notion of not being worthwhile in any inventory. Rewinding resources is still very viable, requiring only that one actually experience the action economy of a battle. The risks are the same as for any other strategy: Not having defenses of the right element during setup can be punishing. This leaves Purple Rain with the distinct use cases of either using it exclusively for the rewind, which is an inherent gamble on being able to win the battle with its debuff cost, or taking a different kind of risk and using it as a backup measure while relying on the buff. You either take a calculated risk, or a broader one that lets you get back on your feet at a slight disadvantage if your tactic didn't pay off.

    quote:

    Ditto for the DL shields.


    The shields are still very powerful without the unbalanceable ability to be stacked with resource loops, and were fixed to use the correct stat for their Warrior set. This one I can once again personally vouch for, both due to seeing player accomplishments using them shared on several servers and due to using them as part of testing challenges that I suggest.
    Post #: 4
    5/15/2022 14:18:28   
    Korriban Gaming
    Member

    quote:

    There are two erroneous assumptions at play here. One is that balance itself is a problem, which relies on a definition that the entire first post explains the inherent error in. Another is that a bigger team wouldn't need balance standards: The need for a central set of standards increases exponentially with team size, as it's an inescapable need of any form of teamwork that different members operate based on the same standards and definitions. There's nothing to do about it because balance isn't any more of a flaw in designing a game than syntax itself is an inherent flaw when writing. There can be problems pertaining to balance, but the notion that balance itself is a problem is a non-starter. Please refer to the section subtitled Balance for the reason for this.

    Oh I think you misunderstood me here, maybe I didn't bring my point across in the best way. I'm not saying balance is a problem, I'm saying if certain items on release are UP or OP due to time constraints and needing to fit them in the standards first, I would absolutely be fine with it as long as it gets relooked at and adjusted sooner rather than later. Like you said, just because it fits the standards doesn't mean it can't be OP or UP. I understand not everything can hit the mark on the first try by making it according to the standards that are set but as we've both agreed on, first impressions are important and bad items can damage a good release.

    quote:

    Rewinding resources is still very viable

    How many players are actively using it? If there's not many then is it considered viable? Are there examples of players actively using it nowadays similar to the DL shields? If yes, then I apologize for my ignorance

    quote:

    This one I can once again personally vouch for, both due to seeing player accomplishments using them shared on several servers and due to using them as part of testing challenges that I suggest.

    Right then, I guess I just wasn't aware

    < Message edited by Korriban Gaming -- 5/15/2022 14:22:43 >
    AQ DF MQ AQW  Post #: 5
    5/15/2022 14:25:59   
    gavers
    Member
     

    One important distinction that I'd like to bring up:
    Balance is about adhering to the framework the developers set up. This framework is ever-changing, and the numbers are only meant to represent said framework, meaning "perfect mathematical balance" is practically impossible to achieve as it requires the admission that the framework is perfect, and the work-hours to retroactively change all existing pieces of gear to adhere to said framework.
    The reason this distinction is important, is because it emphasizes how in the end, what dictates balance is not numbers, but rather ambiguous decisions that are then, in an effort to make them more grounded are given formulas for the game to adhere to, with said formulas changing when the framework changes.
    This should also explain why statements like "blood cost is limited at +20% melee per turn" for example are inside the game's framework and balance, even if there isn't a formula that directly supports it.
    Post #: 6
    5/15/2022 14:39:00   
      Lorekeeper
    And Pun-isher

     

    It's not the need to fit standards that makes items underpowered or overpowered. As explained above, it's a product of occasional human error or unforeseen circumstances in the application of said standards in the manner elaborated by gavers, as well as the evolution of standards leaving some items behind over time. Please ignore the Neko Doll under the carpet.
    Post #: 7
    5/15/2022 20:00:39   
    PD
    Member

    I stopped myself from talking about the last few discussions on standards and balance because admittingly these are topics I'm not knowledgeable in so I steer clear whenever it does get raised. I put a great deal of faith in staff and the very few knowledgeable players (and players whom seem to raise them) that they are on face value correct on topics that I myself do not have a lot of knowledge in. That being said, and maybe this is touching a different subject, but I find a lot of balance discussion, especially when they start involving numbers and standards to be inaccessible. Even for someone like me who has been playing for a very long time I still don't understand these things, and the resources available are either unhelpful because those in of themselves are extremely complicated and technical, or they are just not explained. For example, and this is something that I just know off the top of my head due to memory, the game's design is centered around several pillars which more or less are the "glues" of design in AQ:

  • 20-Turn Model
  • Melee Power
  • Elemental Compensation
  • Mastercraft
  • "Flavor Effects"
  • Slot Power (Pets/Guests factored into the 20-turn model, etc)
  • Leans

    None of these topics are explained very well in any of the available resources. Not the forum guides, nor the Master Formula Index (which itself is now outdated in a number of sections), nor even the player adventurequestwiki explains these topics. So when these things are even brought up, I along with many others either just scratches their heads in confusion or we're being told either implicitly or explicitly that we're not educated enough and don't deserve to talk about something because we're spouting misinformation and harming the community through said misinformation. For me I just have to trust what's being said is correct according to said established rules though I know enough math to know it generally "checks out" which more or less reinforces my faith to something that still to this day remains a mystery to me. On this point, it's been even something of an inside joke about how inaccessible these things are. It has become so esoteric that even the Staff seems to at times make mistakes (not willingly but these things are complicated enough that players have had to correct the staff on their own system). For example, in this post which is now gone but saved through the Wayback Machine, you find techno-babble like:

    quote:


    OK! Now it's time to plug everything in to find average DPT for a post-sweep player!

    WarriorDPT = (1.3*(0.85*(1-0.2)*((round(100 + 3*Level))*round(((((2*(0.5))*(((0.00375*Level^2+(0.5625*Level))+5.25))/2)/(1+(0.03*Level)))) + 0.5*(round(100 + 3*Level))*round(((((2*0.5)*(((0.0075*Level^2)+(1.125*Level))+10.5))/2)/(1+(0.03*Level)))) + 0.5*(round(100+6.6*Level))*(IF(Level*5>200,200,Level*5)/8+IF(Level*5>600,200,Level*5-Major-Minor))))/20))+0.2*(1.3*(1*0.85*(((0.01*round((((((0.8*((((WeaponBase+(WeaponRandom/2))*(100+(3*Level)))+((((mround(min(((2.1462*Level)+10.399),200),5))/8)*(100+(6.6*Level)))/2))/100))+(0.2*(round(((((-0.00000349*(Level^3))+(0.000552*(Level^2)))+(0.0801*Level))+1.67),2)*(WeaponBase+(WeaponRandom/2)))))-((1-(20/100))*((((WeaponBase+(WeaponRandom/2))*(100+(3*Level)))+((((mround(min(((2.1462*Level)+10.399),200),5))/8)*(100+(6.6*Level)))/2))/100)))*100)/((20/100)*(WeaponBase+(0.5*WeaponRandom)))),0)*100)*WeaponBase)+0.5*WeaponRandom*(0.01*round((((((0.8*((((WeaponBase+(WeaponRandom/2))*(100+(3*Level)))+((((mround(min(((2.1462*Level)+10.399),200),5))/8)*(100+(6.6*Level)))/2))/100))+(0.2*(round(((((-0.00000349*(Level^3))+(0.000552*(Level^2)))+(0.0801*Level))+1.67),2)*(WeaponBase+(WeaponRandom/2)))))-((1-(20/100))*((((WeaponBase+(WeaponRandom/2))*(100+(3*Level)))+((((mround(min(((2.1462*Level)+10.399),200),5))/8)*(100+(6.6*Level)))/2))/100)))*100)/((20/100)*(WeaponBase+(0.5*WeaponRandom)))),0)*100)+(0.01*round((100+(Level*6.6)))*100)*(1*0.5*IF(Level*5>600,200,Level*5-Major-Minor))))))


    What in the holy name of...

    But that aside, there really should be a single place which compiles all of these, and makes it easy for people to understand these topics. This thread is a good start in that regards of "why" things are done the way they are, but this is going to remain an inaccessible topic until it's compiled in a single place, and then explained in human-readable language. To that end this post should probably be archived after its appropriate window of discussion, and the community needs to work on making this topic and other related topics easily knowable and easy to access. I have talked a lot about QoL / Anti-Annoyance and how it should really be about "making the hard, easy". This is yet another area where we have an opportunity to do that. And it would not only be a helpful reference to us, the players, but also the staff I imagine as well if it's done properly.

    EDIT: after checking again the player-maintained adventurequestwiki, Mr. Chaotic actually started an excellent series of posts on this exact topic not too long that I am just beginning to comb over now. Which is a good start on my point. I will await to see what more is elaborated but my point remains that it's still inaccessible and unknown to a lot of people who generally aren't *that* invested but still have a stake in it through their gameplay. For all the activity that is on Discord, it's a terrible place to discuss topics that need to be referenced again after their immediate context, and the player-maintained wiki also relies on the charity of its community to maintain its relevance.

    < Message edited by PD -- 5/15/2022 20:22:21 >
  • AQ MQ  Post #: 8
    5/15/2022 20:38:47   
    CH4OT1C!
    Member

    @PD I'll be covering a lot more yet too!

    Since this thread is all about making things clear for everyone:

    20-Turn Model: I discuss this in detail with the link you provided. The 20-turn model defines the amount of damage the player should expect to deal per turn and from which sources (e.g. standard attack damage, SP etc.). It's called the 20-turn model because it assumes the player is able to kill 2 monsters in 20 turns without needing to regenerate resources (i.e. receive a full heal from Twilly/Friendly Ninjas/etc.).
    Melee Power: This is a metric, a unit that we use for the purposes of balance. Instead of having to work out the exact damage of an attack (which is complicated), we simply state that a Standard melee attack deals... 100% melee. This harks back to the 20-turn model. Magic weapons deal only 3/4 as much as Melee weapons, so 75% melee and so on
    Elemental Compensation: The player is normally expected to use opposing elements for attack and defence. For example, they're expected to use ice weapons when using a fire armour/shield (because most fire monsters aren't going to be weak to fire too). But, what if you have a fire skill that's attached to a fire armour? Surely, in that case, the assumption will be undermined to the player's detriment (i.e. they won't do as much damage or they'll take an awful lot more!). Elemental compensation is basically compensation for that lock. The compensation takes into account player resists across the board, and its calculation can be best described as a lot of internal screaming.
    Mastercraft: Some items are a bit more expensive than others. In exchange, they're a little bit more powerful than your standard item. 5%, to be exact. This varies depending on the relative amount of damage it's expected to deal. So a pet, which is expected to be worth 40% melee, is only going to be getting 40 * 1.05 - 40 = 2% Melee extra. A skill meanwhile, worth 200% melee, is going to be getting 200 * 1.05 - 200 = 10% extra.
    "Flavor Effects": Flavour effects are effects on items to make them interesting. Like bloodblades spending HP to deal 20% extra damage. The difference here is that, unlike mastercraft effects, you don't get any extra power. It still balances out as equal. A mastercraft can be used to strengthen the effect.
    Slot Power (Pets/Guests factored into the 20-turn model, etc): Pets are worth 40% Melee (but 20% in the player turn formula. I really recommend you read that post), Guests 60% Melee (the way guests are balanced is mad!). Slots in general are worth 5% melee.
    Leans: There are multiple different types of leans and so I need a bit of clarification to explain these!

    Hopefully that clears up some of this. If you let me know what "lean" means in this context, I'm happy to clarify!
    AQ  Post #: 9
    5/16/2022 16:45:25   
    Plushie Nugget
    Member

    I think it'd be important to know if there's a priotity list with regards to items pending buffs and nerfs, and if that's the case, I'm sure many players would be grateful to know about it.
    For example, are Plushie Mort, Shieldcakes and Jellys on the nerf watchlist?
    What about buffs to items such as Naga's Staff ("outclassed" (from a mage perspective) by the perma-rare Adventurer Figure, Legion Cryo Cannoneer (which is overpaying) and SFP (which went from one of the most used items to collect dust in most inventories), etc?
    Post #: 10
    5/16/2022 17:52:55   
      Lorekeeper
    And Pun-isher

     

    It's often a matter of opportunity cost rather than a list we can go through in order. This is because of the size of the team, the nature of weekly release production schedules, and the above mentioned reasons. Hollow could provide a more detailed answer, as I have no authority over the schedule or liberty to disclose it, so consider my answer more of a general game design analysis.

    One theoretical way to accelerate this could be to focus quest reward ideas on concepts that can be retrofit to older items, but it would come at the cost of a major slowdown in new ideas and the filling of elemental/mechanical gaps.

    Edit: As a side note, Shadowfeeder Pendant went from being merely broadly used to one of the most commonly used misc items, broadly regarded as a must-have, when a status system update had the collateral effect of allowing quick-cast status items such as it and Love Potion to stack their applications with themselves. It made Celerity utterly trivial in tandem with resource loops, and can still be used to such an end for the time being -- It just requires more setup.

    < Message edited by Cray -- 5/16/2022 19:39:38 >
    Post #: 11
    5/16/2022 20:24:14   
    dizzle
    Member
     

    Since this is a thread on Balance in AQ I feel like this should be addressed -

    @Plushie Nugget there seems to be some misconception that regen pets like Jelly and Mort are extremely OP and need nerfed immediately. The reason these pets are able to heal so much is because the player is quite literally dumping everything in their kit to boost the heal for that turn. Just like everything else in this game, obviously theyíre going to shine if you have a bunch of boosts, elevuln, and hypercrit. Player attacks, spells, skills etc are no different.

    Mort is perfectly fine itís just a standard healing pet with no special gimmicks or effects other than the fact that it heals sp instead of hp/mp. Jelly you could argue is slightly OP but not for the reason you might think. The ceiling for Mort is actually higher than Jellyís because of Jellyís / by resist effect.

    The real culprits - which have been discussed multiple times - are Dragonguard and the Shieldcakes. Being able to achieve a 100% LS rate is extremely problematic and this issue does not only apply to pets.

    Hope this cleared some things up!
    AQ  Post #: 12
    5/17/2022 8:05:10   
    Plushie Nugget
    Member

    @dizzle I am intrigued by the "cleared things up" part. In order to clear something up there must be a confusion, and I am not confused. I was mainly saying that many players would like 1) a list for the items to be prioritised with regards to buffs/nerfs and 2) attention given to the mentioned items (mort, jelly, etc)
    Why do you assume my reason for saying Jelly is OP (by saying "its not for the reason you might think") when I have not even given it in the first place?
    What is your basis for saying "slightly" OP and not very OP or medium OP? What defines the treshold between those definitions to you? It seems like a subjective definition from your end, so if you could support it itd be great.

    Hope this explained things better,
    Post #: 13
    5/17/2022 15:47:10   
    dizzle
    Member
     

    I guess I just assumed you were confused because youíre calling for Plush Mort to be nerfed when thereís absolutely nothing wrong with the pet? Same with jelly, both pets are functioning exactly as they were designed to function. Outside factors and interactions with other items are what make jelly and mort ridiculous. The point Iím trying to make here is that if the staff nerfs Mort, for example, before dragonguard gets fixed, then theyíve just made Mort worse than every other standard healing pet for no reason. Fix dragonguard first, and then weíll see how OP these pets are.

    Regarding your snarky comment: Sure my opinion on jelly is subjective, as is yours. Itís not my job to determine the thresholds between slightly OP and not very OP or medium OP. I was just giving my opinion since Iíve used both mort and jelly extensively (something Iím not sure you have done tbh)

    I seem to have touched a nerve so Iíll respectfully leave the conversation with this: All I was trying to do was help you understand brotha lol when people keep spewing this rhetoric that regen pets like jelly and mort are OP and need to be on the nerf list, the only thing it does is spreads misinformation and detracts peoples attention from the real problem - hypercrit gained from Dragonguard and shieldcakes.

    < Message edited by dizzle -- 5/17/2022 20:40:36 >
    AQ  Post #: 14
    5/17/2022 18:28:18   
    Deaf of Destiny
    Member

    I still didnt hear about CHA nerf
    Post #: 15
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