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=DF= August 5th Design Notes: Arena at the Edge of Time: Everlasting Night

 
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8/5/2022 20:25:06   
Chaosweaver Amon
Friendly!


quote:


Verlyrus:
Arena at the Edge of Time: Everlasting Night

This month's new Arena at the Edge of Time challenge has arrived!



From the Darkness shrouded land of Doomwood emerges the eternal sentinels: Safiria, the Vampire Queen, and Amaris, the Lover's Moon. Defeat both of these Doomwood legends to earn a pair of new helms: The Blood Mantle, that changes appearance when you're low on health, and the cosmetic Moonstruck Visage!

If you think you have what it takes, head over to the Arena at the Edge of Time to face the Everlasting Night!

The August seasonal specials are here!



It's time for change! The Conflux Seeker cosmetic scythe has arrived! This ornate pick can be clicked to change its shape and reveal its true form! Gear of Change and Demnra's Deception have also returned.

Also this week, a couple of small updates to the build system.
  • A new option has been added: Include Pets in Builds
    • When set, pets will be loaded and saved in your builds.
    • When unchecked, pets will not be loaded and saved in your builds. Existing builds will not change, but pets will not load when you change builds.
  • Selecting a build with your dragon equipped will now show a notification indicating your dragon is included in the build. This will only show up if Include Pets in Builds is checked on.
There may have been other changes I've missed or forgotten!

Have feedback about recent releases? Have any crazy theories or ideas? Want to discuss all things DragonFable?

Join the discussion on the official forums!

Want to play DragonFable without using an internet browser?

Check out the Artix Games Launcher!

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Tagged! ~Peachii

< Message edited by Peachii -- 8/5/2022 20:39:21 >
DF  Post #: 1
8/5/2022 23:47:58   
TFS
Helpful!


I feel like I have this opinion of all the recent inn releases, but I'm really not a fan of these Stat Check And Nothing Else fights. I feel like it's a waste of effort saying this, because I've ranted about it way too many times already, but number vomit like 300 MPM/Bonus just simply isn't resolvable without the p2w classes that have enough Bonus / MPM+Blind to actually resolve these stat checks, or enough DPT to not have to deal with the mechanics altogether (or just being DoomKnight with autostun + enough damage to simply prevent the bosses from being bosses).
I am aware that the developer doesn't deliberately intend for these fights to be played with the equally-tuned DC and calendar classes, but despite being made aware of this issue several times nothing has been done to change or address it. Stat Check And Nothing Else has consistently been the design philosophy for bosses for the better part of a year ( example example example example example example also amaris). Nor has the more fundamental source of this problem - looking at Bonus / MPM / shield uptime values present across the game's classes in relation to their DPT and accounting which cost vbucks and which don't - been addressed but I understand that that's probably too much of a balance overhaul to be really plausible.
I'm also aware of at least one QA staff who exclusively plays with DoomKnight & Friends and privately claims to believe bigger number = harder = better when Aing Q, and I don't think this an entirely unrelated observation.
My understanding is that these concerns have been voiced on other platforms as well for several months - so it's not just me ranting on this forum like a nutcase and people are therefore aware of them - but, again, nothing has been done to address them.

I'm not exactly a fan of this fight and don't believe number vomit makes for a fun and interactive experience, and am especially not a fan of how mtx classes conveniently are the only ones that have stats high enough to resolve these checks. In the interest of fairness I waited for 6 months of inn releases before making this post again and it doesn't look like there's any intent to address this issue, which I think is really unfortunate.

(Yes, I'm aware this particular fight does Light/Darkness and can just be cheesed with res stack and/or Crogen Amulet, but that doesn't really make the boss design less unfun / uninteractive.)




Also, completely unrelated side note, here's a really clever detail - Amaris's design is based on association between rabbits and the moon found in Japanese folkore. This is a pretty neat callback to Eulin's fascination with the moon (Doomwood's moon, even, so Amaris herself!) as he's also based on a rabbit.

< Message edited by TFS -- 8/5/2022 23:51:49 >
DF  Post #: 2
8/6/2022 1:05:45   
Korriban Gaming
Member

Another pretty difficult fight. An early clear with 2 food, 5 hp pots and 4 mp pots
AQ DF MQ AQW  Post #: 3
8/6/2022 8:26:05   
Flabagast
Member

quote:

This is a pretty neat callback to Eulin's fascination with the moon (Doomwood's moon, even, so Amaris herself!) as he's also based on a rabbit.


Dang, beat me to it! Her design made me think of Eulin and then the realisation hit me harder than her nuke. That folklore inspiration is really neat too!
AQ DF MQ  Post #: 4
8/6/2022 9:39:26   
Lukrecia
Member

Not big into Dragonfable but I am into Safiria, so I'm absolutely overjoyed to see such important character to her lore finally having her true form shown, and a real beautiful one at that. Apparently designed by Darkon too, so got to add another one to the list, I suppose.
AQW  Post #: 5
8/6/2022 11:28:33   
Caesaris
Void Walker


man I really loved Amaris design (thanks Darkon) and the new scythe looks rad!
AQ DF AQW  Post #: 6
8/6/2022 11:38:51   
Rubioalto
Member

Glad to see Demnra's Deception finally came back.
DF  Post #: 7
8/7/2022 12:35:38   
  Verlyrus
DragonFable Boxcat


I think the "stat check and nothing else" issue comes from the basics of DragonFable being about stats, and manipulating those numbers.
Of course there's going to be a point where if you have enough of a stat, you can bypass a mechanic.
quote:

number vomit like 300 MPM/Bonus just simply isn't resolvable without the p2w classes that have enough Bonus / MPM+Blind to actually resolve these stat checks, or enough DPT to not have to deal with the mechanics altogether

It's not intended to be easily resolvable, or resolvable at all through simple skill stacking. If things have enough bonus to break through that, then they need adjustment. Eternal Epoch, Underworld Epoch, and Archivist for example will have their Bonus buffs reduced in the future.
I think another issue is that many of these challenges have been Light/Dark, which naturally tends toward having to have high numbers in order to be remotely threatening.
quote:

it doesn't look like there's any intent to address this issue

I thought I made an effort with this challenge in particular, actually. You can manipulate Safiria's -Darkness res debuff with shields and blinds to give yourself an advantage, and Amaris starts with big stats but those can be reduced to more managable levels by hitting her with Darkness, and then trying to defeat her while you can before she refreshes her buffs.
Of course, there are classes that are overtuned to the point that they do just bypass the mechanics and it's like welp whatever. And that's a problem to be addressed.
quote:

to believe bigger number = harder = better when Aing Q

I'll try something then. Next time I have the urge to make a "stat fight" so to speak, I'll go with my pre-testing numbers. For example, pre-testing, Safiria stacked her darkness debuff by half as much, and Amaris started with 200 Bonus/Avd (which it has since been returned to). It is very possible that I am being influenced by QA toward overtuning, so this is a valid concern, and I appreciate it being brought up.

I need more feedback, and I need it detailed, not just rants on discord that I may never see, or such. I'm only one boxcat with a head full of mechanics, qol, story, and much much more.
What I might understand as the fundamental problem may very well be incorrect.

So, what kind of mechanics would you like to see? What kinds of mechanics or fights did you enjoy in the past that I should look to emulate the feeling of?


< Message edited by Verlyrus -- 8/7/2022 12:42:14 >
AQ MQ  Post #: 8
8/7/2022 15:33:44   
Fire alandry
Member

@Verlyrus
Since I haven't posted here in a while, I'll use this opportunity to thank you, before anything else. The recent stories are fascinating, the animation and writing are excellent, and the QoL/mechanics/challenges never disappoint. You manage to keep the game relevant and interesting although I was about half my current age when I've started.

Now, about the Inn. What would I like to see?
1. Non-boss challenges: my favourite challenge was the Exaltia tower, but there are other options: a maze (the timetorn matrix was great, IMO), a fear-maze: the black screen with orders (a super hard one, of course), mines (Lymcrest mines' style, or Sill ruins), Sailing, etc.
Now, I acknowledge that some of them are hard to make, which kind of goes against the purpose of the Inn. So.. yeah.
2. Many bosses have mechanic against -res, to negate the effectiveness of Ice Scythe (or the new -light). I would like to suggest a new option: boss with high hp and -100(or more) all, which makes the -res less game-changing.
3. In my experience, one of my favourite type of challenges were the easy* ones. To be accurate, the ones that required preparation, but afterwards were simple. Minimize your crit, then fight Wrath. Build Nature res, then fight punch bear and leorilla. The mechanic effects how I enter, not how I play.
4. On the other hand, I did like many of the more complicated challenges. Usually I join the party after some tweaks and changes are made, and so I enjoy almost every fight (Drakth was the last exception). Yes, maybe you can improve here and there, but I think that in the big picture- your ideas are intelligent and creative.
DF  Post #: 9
8/7/2022 17:04:34   
wer
Member

ah finally after like 7 years, the Safiria challenge is finally here!
AQ DF MQ AQW  Post #: 10
8/7/2022 17:30:56   
Dratomos
Helpful!


Hi Verly! Appreciate how well you receive our criticism, even if sometimes some of it can be too negative, or just not helpful in general.

Getting answers to questions about Inn fights can be hard as we so many players who prefer different classes and their viewpoints can depend on how those classes perform. Epoch cannot do it easily? Too hard. Technomancer requires extra potions or food? Too hard. Or just opposite: Doom Knight does this in 5 turns, too easy, or something like that. And in general too, one's favourite fight might be something other despises and both can be vocal in forums or discord

Maybe overall this year has been ramping up difficulty wise a lot. And that sometimes is a bit annoying, as their difficulty don't need to do so. I think it's very fine if it's based on the reward we are getting. Ice and Dragons being a more difficult fight, while also granting us the best Ice weapon in the game? Makes complete sense. Same with Swan Song in it's current state, granting us Darkon's Debris the best ??? weapon in the game currently. But if the reward is say cosmetic, no need to make it even harder by upping the numbers to make it feel more threatening.

And sometimes simplicity is also nice. I liked how Safiria had only 4 attacks and not 20 with 3 different phases.

But there are still many interesting mechanics that can make the fight more challenging. Taking away our pet or inflicting -200 CHA were very interesting choices I do like to see more in the future. Having different rotations isn't also something I am against, Wargoth having either boost or defensive was something I liked and especially Noxus was great, as his rotation was something the player could directly influence. Same was with Achilles from Never Apart.

There has been a lot of negativity towards RNG, but it's something that can be very annoying when all we can do is hope for the best and then lose the fight or severly weaken our chances to win it if it fails. That was maybe shown with Amaris having very high MPM for non-Epoch classes and playing roulette on if we hit her or not was not something many enjoyed, since it could affect if the match was even doable at that point. In my opinion, the effect of RNG in a fight should be to force us switch strategy at that point, not just "you survive if you win or die if you lose". Especially since getting to that part of the fight can be difficult when trying again, if it's only based "do I hit" or "does the boss hit me", etc... This can be even more annoying for some, if some premium classes can just outright ignore this completely.

But this doesn't mean those mechanics shouldn't exist. Safiria lowering our darkness resistance and basing it on how much she hits was an interesting concept (and I especially liked you informing us about it in effects!)

Best example of this RNG for me i Drahr'Hatir, where the good dragon having two healing rotations in a row is not something I want to happen, but it doesn't mean I automatically lose the fight, as it only forced me to switch my strategy or choose different skills.

Another one could be a move where we cannot do anything against it can also feel unfair. Suki dropping our health to 1 on her first move without player having no chance to block it, change it etc... is not something I look forward to. The switch it to depending how high your health and leaving the former one to Extreme version was a good move in my opinion.

So in short, my viewpoint on the Inn (if my rambling makes any sense):

* not every fight have to be harder than the previous one
* not every fight needs to be complex and have multiple different rotations (they are good add-ons, but I personally don't want them to become the norm for every fight)
* RNG mechanics that make it or break it for the player aren't good, they should more force us to change the strategy mid-fight, not just make us feel we have automatically lost
* same goes with mechanics that the player just have to suffer without anything to prevent it, like Suki's first attack dropping us to 1 regardless what we do is not my cup of tea

This years fights have been maybe a bit more mixed, but not outright terrible for me or anything like that. They are still enjoyable to do every month.

< Message edited by Dratomos -- 8/7/2022 17:32:13 >
DF AQW  Post #: 11
8/7/2022 18:12:05   
TFS
Helpful!


quote:

I think the "stat check and nothing else" issue comes from the basics of DragonFable being about stats, and manipulating those numbers.
Of course there's going to be a point where if you have enough of a stat, you can bypass a mechanic.


I think discounting the relevance of knowledge and decision-making is selling some of DragonFable’s boss design short (see below). It’s when an entire boss is just win/lose depending on whether you have enough Bonus/MPM (or enough damage/burst to just ignore the fight) that paid classes have disproportionately higher stats and may not notice how uninteractive some aspects of a fight are.

quote:

It's not intended to be easily resolvable, or resolvable at all through simple skill stacking. If things have enough bonus to break through that, then they need adjustment. Eternal Epoch, Underworld Epoch, and Archivist for example will have their Bonus buffs reduced in the future.


This is fair, and if this was the design intention then I apologize for misinterpreting it. But, being completely unable to interact with Amaris for half of the fight didn’t seem like intended design, especially considering that 300 MPM is resolvable by numerous classes just using their normal rotations (Epoch x 3, Archivist, Kathool Adept), so I don’t think this was an entirely unreasonable conclusion to draw.

quote:

I think another issue is that many of these challenges have been Light/Dark, which naturally tends toward having to have high numbers in order to be remotely threatening.


I don’t think their damage is bad, nor do I have issue with gear-based stat checks (such as resistance). It’s not like there’s a huge (if any) power gap between the resistances of mtx and non-mtx gear, and players should be expected to adjust reasonably adjustable parameters in order to prepare for a challenge boss.

quote:

I thought I made an effort with this challenge in particular, actually. You can manipulate Safiria's -Darkness res debuff with shields and blinds to give yourself an advantage, and Amaris starts with big stats but those can be reduced to more managable levels by hitting her with Darkness, and then trying to defeat her while you can before she refreshes her buffs.


I noticed this mechanic with Safiria and thought it was very well-designed – same with the nuke mechanic only requiring some hits to miss and therefore utilizing blinds/hit rolls instead of just ‘does it miss y/n’. Same with stacking damage on the nuke so you can’t just reduce her to a stat check with Darkness resist. I thought Safiria was excellent on her own, which is why I didn’t mention her in the earlier post, but in retrospect probably should have.
Amaris’s mechanic here was a complete misfire on release. Hitting her with Darkness in order to make her hittable does absolutely nothing when you can’t hit her in the first place, and changing that is the entire reason you’d be trying to use this mechanic. Again, only paid classes would have been able to utilize this – which again makes it look like that’s how the fight was meant to be played. The mechanic and by extension Amaris are much more interactive now that she starts at 200 MPM – more skillsets can buff up and temporarily hit her through +200, therefore snowballing to a point where she can be hit normally – and this vast improvement via just stat reduction is a pretty good example of how number vomit / overturning cannibalized the fight design. (Having a strong blind with high bonus while under a strong shield during her second cycle still is a really steep MPM/Bonus check that’s still going to skew players towards paid options, but this is a nitpick and the fight is still vastly improved from its release night state.)

quote:

I'll try something then. Next time I have the urge to make a "stat fight" so to speak, I'll go with my pre-testing numbers. For example, pre-testing, Safiria stacked her darkness debuff by half as much, and Amaris started with 200 Bonus/Avd (which it has since been returned to). It is very possible that I am being influenced by QA toward overtuning, so this is a valid concern, and I appreciate it being brought up.


Please don’t take this to mean that I think any feedback should be universally rejected or accepted based on source. In this case, Safiria’s -res in its current state is a good way to keep up pressure without being either ignorable or overbearing, and I think if it were lower that would detract from the fight.

quote:

So, what kind of mechanics would you like to see? What kinds of mechanics or fights did you enjoy in the past that I should look to emulate the feeling of?


Here’s the part where I nerd out, because I really do believe DragonFable harbors some of the best boss design of any turn-based game I’ve played.

In my personal opinion, I think the two best thing DragonFable does with its bosses is encourage contextually relevant strategies that are manipulated via stats rather than directly using them, and forces splits that the player chooses between or responds to depending on context. This is kind of word salad-y so I’ll try to give examples of what I mean.

A recent example of a boss that exemplifies the former design philosophy would be Noxus. Because Noxus adjusts his own stats depending on the player’s HP in relation to his own, there are many situations in this fight where you’ll want to hurt yourself in order to prevent him from healing, or allow him to heal in order to protect yourself, and the thresholds at which you’ll want to choose between these two actions will change as the fight progresses. Because hurting yourself isn’t something you’re going to want to do in most fights, nor is refraining from piling up damage when you’re able to do so, the fight requires a unique approach – and therefore a contextually relevant strategy you’ll optimally manipulate with various combinations of gear and skill sequences. Rather than just simply checking for stats and expecting the player to directly respond, there’s a middleman mechanic that the player can manipulate in multiple ways, and the result is an extremely fun and interactive boss that’s satisfying to outsmart.
(Yes, I’m aware this particular boss has undertuned -res and can just be cheesed that way, but the actual fight design is sterling and you can just opt to not stack Darkness if you want to enjoy the fight).

Going back a little further, another more basic example of this principle is Escherion. Because of his inversion mechanic, there are many points in the fight where you’ll want to keep lowering your HP without dying to ensure optimal use of the mechanic, or just simply staying at low HP and shielding instead of healing. Again, this is a contextually relevant strategy that would be strictly harmful against most bosses or in a vacuum, but it’s an extra layer of interactivity that makes the boss more fun to fight.

Further than that, Pandora EX. You have to use the least relevant-for-her-current-phase debuffs you can on her in order to prevent her healing, which in turn buffs her and makes her more difficult to face depending on what you’ve used (ex: -Res is fine on Lust, Greed, or Wrath depending on class because nothing is going to be attacking all three of those, while -Boost is fine on Pride if cube isn't primed, because you're shielding that anyway). Again, this is a unique approach that wouldn’t be helpful against other bosses or present in a class’s default rotation – you’re manipulating a middleman mechanic between your skills and how the boss responds.

Another really good, albeit old, example is the Simulacrum of Uthuluc. Players have a lot more tools now than they did back when this challenge released, so it may seem pretty detached from the current game, but the design philosophy is still there. Because Uthuluc only becomes vulnerable to damage after being struck with a critical hit on enough successive turns, optimal strategies for many classes back when he released involved stacking +crit gear even if it wasn’t otherwise optimal (he’s not taking damage anyway) and prioritizing high hitcount skills for more crit rolls regardless of effects (again, he’s not taking damage anyway). Same principle – the boss required a unique approach that wasn’t part of the kind of rotation you’d default to, and players were rewarded for manipulating the mediating mechanic. A boss that’s invulnerable because you have to crit it first – an action you can accomplish in multiple ways – is way more fun and interactive than a boss that’s invulnerable because you have to stack 300 bonus first, IMO.

TLDR: It’s fun when you have to approach a fight in a unique way that may seem counterintuitive or sub-optimal in the context of another fight - usually accomplished by having an intermediate mechanic in between asking what your stats are and getting a successful result – especially if the condition can be satisfied in multiple ways rather than just looking at what your Bonus/MPM is on that turn. Things like this play to DragonFable’s strengths a lot, as the sheer number of different niche gear sets, weapon specials, unique class skills, etc are really satisfying to put together. Examples of this would be pulling out the Unlucky Dark Sword vs Noxus, using the Midas weapons vs Pandora EX, using Fragmented Blade vs Simulacrum of Uthuluc, etc. Having to change your approach instead of just picking a class with higher stats is much more satisfying.
(There are also some, albeit much fewer, examples of this principle that just ask you to do some arbitrary action and then you’ve just won the fight because there’s nothing else to it, such as Tibicenas or Iadoa, but I’m not really a huge fan of these.)

The latter design philosophy – choosing between splits – hasn’t been done as much as the former but it’s really cool when it does happen.

A recent example of this principle is Khasaanda, who has to be hit several times in order to prevent either a nuke or a heal, but reflects damage when hit. This leaves the player with a choice – is it better to take the reflect damage and prevent her nuke/heal, or just allow it to happen and skip the reflect damage? The correct answer depends on the context of the fight – how much resistance the player has, how much HP Khasaanda has remaining (though in this instance the nuke damage is super undertuned so the answer is usually to just take it). This is an example of a mechanic forced by the boss in which the player has to make an evaluation and choose between two outcomes – which, again, makes for very interactive gameplay.

Another example would be the several duo bosses with complimentary abilities that become powered up when the other is defeated, such as the Archdryad and Vath. Because each of the two individual enemies has distinct abilities, which version of the second phase the player chooses to fight is an informed choice specific to their strategy (ex: INT classes may want to kill Skywatcher first because in his second phase he inflicts -crit, while Archdryad only gains BPD in her second phase. More defensive classes may prefer to kill Archdryad first instead, since her bonus+damage+elements can't be stalled against while Skywatcher can). Again, this requires the player to evaluate the fight and make a decision that influences how the boss plays.

It’d be remiss to not also mention Drahr’Hatir and Drahr’Dolaas, which many players would (rightfully) consider to be the best fight in the game. These two bosses cycle between several different attack rotations, which the player has to recognize and manipulate in their favor. They aren’t quite the same as the aforementioned examples, as the player responds to ALL possible split outcomes rather than just choosing the most beneficial one – and therein lies their difficulty. Their rotation changes are clearly telegraphed and the player is given the opportunity to influence when changes occur (ex: if a player recognizes that Dolaas has entered his Null rotation, they’ll forgo healing and defensive play in order to hit his damage threshold with one fewer turn and switch him to a recovery rotation before the nuke attack – they may even reduce their resistances by swapping to the DragonKnight items. In his recovery rotation he may then use a roar attack, which will telegraph a resistance steal and a larger attack, at which point the player has to decide if Hatir’s damage is enough of an issue to either swap to lower resistance gear or use a shield – or simply prepare an attack sequence that just ends with a stun, which should be met with racking up damage). Again, the player’s ability to force changes in the boss behavior and choose a response to each change is what makes the boss fight fun.

TLDR: I think boss mechanics with split outcomes that require players to make a decision influenced by the context of the fight are a really fun design tenet that it’d be nice to see more of. Testing players’ decision-making skills in how well they understand both the boss and their own class/strategy is extremely rewarding and requires a bit more player input than just beating a stat check.
(This is NOT the same thing as RNG splits that aren’t evenly weighted, telegraphed, or cannot be influenced or responded to by the player. There are many bosses such as Uaanta, the geese, and Exalted Chickencow that attempt to do this but ascribe all outcomes to RNG, don’t make each outcome evenly weighted upon the fight, and do not give the player influence upon how and when these outcomes occur – I believe these are the worst fights in the game).

I think what these have in common is that there’s some way for the player to influence or mitigate what a boss does, usually with some sort of intermediary mechanic that encourages one strategy without forcing it to be the only option. These sort of things use stats to test the player's understanding of the fight and the game's mechanics, as well as their own strategizing skills thereof. That’s a long-winded way of saying that I think better bosses expect the player to do more than just have really high stats.
I also hope this post isn’t construed as me speaking for anyone besides myself, or asserting “this is what should happen,” as that’s definitely not the case. This is just what I personally like in bosses and what I think DragonFable has excelled at over the years.

Sorry for the textwall, hope this is constructive.

< Message edited by TFS -- 8/7/2022 22:55:49 >
DF  Post #: 12
8/7/2022 19:43:21   
Baron Dante
Member

quote:

I noticed this mechanic with Safiria and thought it was very well-designed – same with the nuke mechanic only requiring some hits to miss and therefore utilizing blinds/hit rolls instead of just ‘does it miss y/n’. Same with stacking damage on the nuke so you can’t just reduce her to a stat check with Darkness resist. I thought Safiria was excellent on her own, which is why I didn’t mention her in the earlier post, but in retrospect probably should have.

While I would say that I agree with the entire text-wall on display, I specifically want to point at this part, since it's relevant to the current fight at hand.

A lot of bosses recently have had this endlessly ramping difficulty to them. This inherently punishes slower play, and while that shouldn't always be a viable strategy, just like anything else really shouldn't be, it has been a fairly consistent issue.
However, while Safiria has multiple mechanics that ramp up, you're given tools to stop, or slow them down.
The darkness resistance decrease can be stopped by either simply blocking the move to stop her from renewing it, or by allowing her to slip into the hitcheck nuke loop.
The hitcheck nuke loop itself can be stopped with defensive plays, but leads you back to the previous point.
There's also the increasing Bonus/Boost in Vampiric Frenzy, which is permanent, but it can again be slowed down by allowing the loop to occur. It does mean that sooner or later you can't consistently, or at all, stop her, but it takes a while to get there, especially if you slow her down.

Contrast this to, say, Achilles from Never Apart, which is a fun fight from a mechanics standpoint.
You're given the option to either allow him build defenses or damage, or any sort of combination of the two. This is all well and good, but after enough time has passed, the choice is stripped away from you and he just does both. Eventually he'll reach a point where you just can't beat him any more. Your only course of action is to beat him down before that happens, and that's not really an interaction, that's just playing the game.

Basically, one is a "damage check" while the other one rewards smart play.

These grow even larger with the duo fights: A "damage check" is made that much more difficult because you may be hit by further debuffs from the other enemy, or the extra damage forces you to play more defensively. However, because something like Safiria doesn't hugely reward fastplay by itself, the second enemy can add more layers of micromanagement and decision making instead.


While I'm at it, I heard Scout being proposed as a solution to high-defense enemies, but to me, that feels like a somewhat of a flawed idea. If you turn the idea upside down and say that because Scout exists, defenses need to be higher, then Scout itself is the issue. I'm not saying that's the case here, but y'know.
But having to make use of Scout comes with some caveats. This logic ends up inadvertently hurting these more defensive strategies again. Classes with lower damage output have a tendency to rely on the dragon to do the damage, but Scout doesn't allow the dragon itself to hit through these massive shields.

This doesn't apply to Amaris at this point, because with the lowered values on the shield, it funnily promotes smart play. You could either manually wait for the shield to lower, or to speed the process up with the use of Scout. (Assuming you're playing a class that needs Scout to do that, of course) To use Scout, you have to give up something, be it defensive power or damage. If you need the defenses, you're left with the question of is it better to burst, or to focus on making Amaris consistently hittable with your dragon.

I haven't had the chance to check out the fight after the changes, mind, but I know that previously it would've been a very hard sell, and writing this out made me appreciate the changes more ahead of time.

Does all that make sense? Probably, maybe, it's late. I know I tend to talk things from a perspective most people don't find appealing (slower, defensive play) but I also don't expect everything to be catered for that kind of play. There's just been a lot of stuff that specifically screws over that sort of play, and it sometimes doesn't even feel like it serves a purpose.
Why does Exalted Chickencow insta-kill you after X turns? The answer "it's a joke" or "for the lore" is, imo, not a good justification. The Inn is primarily a place for gameplay to occur, and therefore the focus should be on making fights fun first and foremost. "you lose on t26" is nothing but the worst sort of damage check that does nothing to improve the fight.
AQ DF MQ AQW Epic  Post #: 13
8/8/2022 0:18:44   
Korriban Gaming
Member

I don't have super concise points here so I'll make a few general suggestions based off my observations.

- This year we've had pretty difficult Inn fights. The next Inn fight doesn't have to be tougher than the previous one for it to be fun. Not that they should be a cakewalk either
- I think a good example at least for me, of fun Inn fights are the chaos lords. They have unique mechanics and are moderately challenging if you don't know what their mechanics are. But this being said, they become a lot more manageable with a good understanding of what they do. This doesn't seem to be the case for the rest of the fights this year. Even if you fully understood what their mechanics are, it doesn't really make the fight easier, presumably because of the super high numbers as mentioned above
AQ DF MQ AQW  Post #: 14
8/8/2022 4:25:45   
Cryomancer
Member

quote:

So, what kind of mechanics would you like to see? What kinds of mechanics or fights did you enjoy in the past that I should look to emulate the feeling of?

There are a few aspects of DragonFable's boss design which I really enjoy, and a few other aspects which I'm a lot colder on - and I apologize if this ends up being a massive wall of text.

In particular, probably the best aspect of DragonFable's boss design, and one that is often present in the best fights, is the ability to manipulate a boss' attack rotation or other stats by the player to their advantage depending on the context of the fight in question.

Since other standout fights have already been mentioned by the posters above, I'll try to illustrate this by contrasting two similar fights: Swan Song (the normal version) and Ice and Dragons - one of which I think is the best recent Inn fight, and another which I think misses the mark.

Regarding Swan Song, the second phase of Darkon on his own is not threatening on his own. While his ability to increase a player's cooldowns is disruptive, Darkon's attacks in this phase simply aren't damaging enough to really take advantage of this mechanic - and as such, Darkon's second phase instead acts as a breather for players to replenish their resources and stall out the cooldowns on their defensive skills such that they can survive the much more threatening third phase when they are ready to do so.

This, however, changes completely in the context of the duo. Whilst Darkon isn't any stronger in the duo, Suki's mechanics are designed in just a way to make Darkon's second phase significantly more threatening. For instance, if Darkon increases a player's cooldowns in the 5 turns where Suki has no or only 30 All resistance, then a player may have just lost a valuable turn to damage Suki where she is at her most vulnerable. If Darkon increases a player's cooldowns right before Suki inflicts -50 All, then a player cannot use their shield and will take a massive amount of damage in the subsequent turns. If Darkon increases a player's cooldowns before Suki uses her phoenix to inflict +100 Health, then a player cannot respond by healing and if they are at low health, will almost certainly be defeated in the subsequent few turns where Suki's damage output is at her highest. Conversely, if Darkon uses his 5-hit attack on the same turn that Suki uses her nuke, then a player cannot effectively stack resistances against both attacks and as such, will take the full brunt of one if not both attacks. And because Darkon uses his Realm of Arcana attack every three turns, a player cannot defend against every use of this attack - and as such, with the exception of DoomKnight, a player will have to deal with their cooldowns being increased at some point in the fight.

The effect of this is to create a fight where it is incredibly easy for the bosses to back a player into a corner where there is very little they can do in response.

However, this sort of design, whilst being a major issue in some other fights, works in Swan Song for one reason: Darkon's attack rotation and effects in his second phase (where Darkon and Suki is at their most threatening) can be manipulated by the player to some extent. Because Darkon's attack rotation resets between phases, clearing Darkon's first phase on a certain turn can mean that Darkon will use his Realm of Arcana attack (his least damaging attack in this phase) on the same turn where Suki uses her nuke, rendering said nuke much easier to defend against, or cause Darkon's attack rotation to align with that of Suki's in such a way that a player can defend against both a debuff of Suki's and Darkon's Realm of Arcana attack on the same turn. (For instance, the strategy with Pyromancer deliberately delays clearing Darkon's first phase by 1 turn so that his Realm of Arcana attack lines up with both Suki's nuke and her -50 All debuff in the second phase.)

Conversely, since Darkon's Realm of Arcana attack must hit the player to increase their cooldowns and occurs on a predictable rotation, a player can also delay Darkon's cooldown increase through the use of shields to a turn where they wouldn't be drastically crippled by said cooldown increase (i.e. classes whose damage output aren't drastically affected by the cooldown increase can delay said cooldown increase to a turn where Suki has no All resistance and focus on defending against Suki's nuke, or classes who need every bit of damage they can get can delay said cooldown increase to the turn where Suki has 90 All resistance) or otherwise play around the mechanics of the fight (i.e. using potions early to ensure that they won't need to heal when Suki inflicts her +Health debuff).

The reason why I brought up Swan Song's design is to contrast this with the fight against Ice and Dragons - and to see why that fight falls short in my opinion by relying on RNG instead of manipulating mechanics. Ice and Dragons shares similarities with Swan Song in that it involves a boss that whilst in isolation isn't particularly threatening, but can be extremely dangerous when paired with a boss that can take advantage of the boss' debuffs. The major differences, however, is that unlike with Darkon, Frostscythe's rotation not only cannot feasibly be manipulated by the player at all, but Frostscythe's debuffs are randomly selected. This is particularly problematic when Frostscythe attempts to reduce a player's defenses, because a player will not be able to react to said debuff until after the attack has been used - and if they weren't lucky enough to have already been behind a shield already, said player will already be backed into a corner with little they can do as this debuff will make it very difficult if not impossible to dodge Glaisaurus's and Cryozen's devastating -Ice debuffs.

As such, in Swan Song, a player who understands Darkon's mechanics can manipulate the fight or otherwise play in a way such that they will never be a situation where they can be backed into a corner - which in turn rewards players who take the time to plan their decisions in advance. Conversely, Ice and Dragons is a lot less satisfying because no matter what a player does, they can still feasibly be placed in an unwinnable or near-unwinnable situation - and I think that implementing a mechanic where a player could manipulate Frostscythe's debuffs in some way would have vastly improved that fight.

This segues into an aspect of DragonFable which I think needs to be handled very carefully and can backfire spectacularly if not done well: RNG.

On paper, RNG is not a bad mechanic in of itself - and part of the reason why I think Inevitable Equilibrium is the best-designed fight in the game is because the presence of RNG in both dragons' rotations requires players to react to the bosses and adapt their strategy accordingly. Whilst relying on one rotation that is planned out in advance works in Swan Song or Pandora EX, two similarly demanding fights, doing so will leave a player in an extremely poor position if Drahr'Dolaas or Drahr'Hatir uses an unfavorable rotation - and as such, a player has to consider every possible rotation that the dragons can use when taking their turn. However, whilst the dragons' rotations are random, the punishment for receiving bad RNG is not particularly severe (i.e. Hatir healing 10% on its nuke rotation merely drags the fight on for a few more turns) - which is why the presence of RNG adds to this fight's complexity whilst not leading to frustration.

Conversely, many other fights with RNG can be extremely frustrating as unlike the dragons in Inevitable Equilibrium, getting bad RNG can either lead to an instant defeat or place a player in an unwinnable situation. The aforementioned Ice and Dragons is one example of such RNG leading to frustration. Another particularly notorious example is Uaanta - who can chain Earth to Energy or Energy to the Good nuke to Energy and leave a player with no defense against an attack that is functionally instant death - and it is easy to imagine just how a player will feel when they die to this on turn 30 or even 40 of the fight. A third example is the Eggsalted Chickencow - in which given how the requirement of defeating it within 28 turns leaves almost no room for error, if the Chickencow rolls the unfavorable status on the second turn of its rotation, then a player may as well click the flee button because they can no longer deal enough damage to defeat the Chickencow before it uses its instant death nuke. A final example is Illumina, which I'll get to below.

There are two other mechanics which I also think needs to be handled with significant care: boss shields and timer mechanics.

I've stated this on Discord before, but in general, outside of a scenario where a boss has a decaying shield that a player can stall against until their defenses hit a reasonable level, I think boss MPM and BPD should be limited to 180 at most - as this is the amount of Bonus a player gets with endgame gear and either Scout or a +Bonus buff. Any amount of MPM or BPD above that would require players to either accept a degree of RNG in the fight which is difficult to play around or to stack Bonus buffs, which in turn drastically reduces their uptime.

In particular, I consider Illumina to not only be the worst offender of excessive boss MPM, but also the worst-designed Inn boss of them all - as she eventually stacks so much MPM (around 250 by the end of the fight) coupled with a blind which a player cannot always defend against that means that even with Scout and a +Bonus skill, players cannot consistently hit her through her shield, adding a significant degree of the RNG to the fight - and the fact that she either heals and stacks All resistance or does increased damage upon a player missing means that the punishment for being on the wrong end of the RNG here is severe - and the fact that this RNG occurs at the end of the fight, which against the duo can be 40 or even more turns into the fight, can be especially frustrating.

The final aspect which I'd like to touch upon are what I like to call timer mechanics, in which a player must defeat a boss with a certain number of turns before either a boss will instantly defeat said player, or said boss' damage output becomes impossible to deal with. Whilst said mechanics, if executed properly, can add a degree of tension and urgency to the fight in question, if executed improperly, they can lead to a fight's design feeling excessively restrictive where only a few powerful offensive classes can reasonably do the fight - which in turn exacerbates the disparity between free and premium classes given the fact that the good premium classes tend to be offensive in nature.

One example of a timer mechanic being executed well is Groundhog Dave (even if Dave has long since been powercrept). Dave's timer mechanic is fairly reasonable on its own, as many classes can deal 10k damage in the 15 turns players have to defeat him. In addition, Groundhog Dave also compliments this mechanic by utilizing -Boost and -Bonus debuffs - both of which will hinder a player's ability to deal sufficient damage on Dave, but both of which can be shielded. Furthermore, the timer mechanic on Groundhog Dave I feel also works because Dave could be stunned if a player really needs a few extra turns - which I think would help against the much stricter timer mechanics introduced in recent fights.

This is contrasted with the Eggsalted Chickencow - in which the fact that a player only has 28 turns to defeat a boss with 21k HP plus up to 4k more HP from the Chickencow's heals leads to a boss which is not only exceedingly restrictive in terms of what classes can defeat it even when the RNG goes the player's way, but also causes the Chickencow's coinflip between its Unbound and Unwound status to go from what would otherwise be a mild inconvenience into something that is potentially game-ending if the RNG is not in the player's favor.

Another instance of a timer mechanic detracting from the fight would be Suki's sword rain attack in Swan Song EX - in which the fact that you have to defeat both Darkon's first phase and Suki in just 38 turns is not only similarly restrictive, but also decreases the fight's interactivity as it removes the ability of most classes to delay clearing Darkon's first phase for a turn or two to ensure that Darkon's rotation in his second phase lines up with Suki's rotation, which was one of the best aspects of the normal version - as the one or two turns that is lost with such a strategy could mean the difference between defeating Suki just in time, or being instantly defeated by her sword rain attack - and I do think this is the reason why I feel that the EX version of the fight is significantly less enjoyable than the normal version.

TLDR: Bosses which allow the player some influence on their attack rotation or stats are very often some of the best fights in the game. Conversely, RNG, boss MPM and BPD and damage race mechanics should be handled with care.

I apologize if this was really long, and I do hope that these pointers will help with designing Inn fights in the future.

< Message edited by Cryomancer -- 8/8/2022 4:46:17 >
Post #: 15
8/8/2022 12:26:13   
  Verlyrus
DragonFable Boxcat


I appreciate the incredibly well thought out and well written feedbacks. As silly as it may sound, it really is truly touching to me how much the players care. Thank you.

Things I've taken away from your feedback:

-Bosses are better when things the player can affect (statuses, stats, equipment, hits, crits, misses, etc) can change how the boss reacts- whether this is choosing between different rotations/effects/whatever, or using these mechanics to neutralize an upcoming threat.
-This in turn creates more decision making and challenge in duos where you may have to deal with multiple threats at once and figure out how best to turn things into your favor.
-I need to spend more time gauging the power and difficulty of fights and try to make rewards more comparable. This one I still think is relatively minor, but it's something I can work on.
-"DPS check" mechanics, high scaling/enrages, etc, while interesting, should be more tempered (obviously can change depending on the fight).
-While dragon pet is powerful, I have been overvaluing its power recently.
-Boss stats should not reach "impossible" (i.e. > 200) levels outside of enrages or punishments or branches, or simply as part of a general rotation.
-I should not shy away from "gimmicks". As silly as it may be to go into a boss and be like "what's this boss's 'thing'", it's fun, and adds a lot of depth to duos.
-Phases are good! in themselves they are a layer of depth as they can either be predicted or forced.
-No one likes pad mechanics. ;-; I'm kidding. I'll still see how I can use them in new and creative ways. Maybe get the timer working properly.

I apologize that I did not respond in as well thought out and example filled (which I am extremely grateful for) wording, but I must get to work on this week's release as well.

Please let me know if you agree with my takeaways, or if there's anything you think I misinterpreted, or would like to clarify/warn against.

Again, thank you so much for the very clear time and effort put into this. I hope I can repay it with awesome inn fights in the future.
AQ MQ  Post #: 16
8/8/2022 14:04:13   
TFS
Helpful!


Thanks for taking the time to read it over, and for doing what you do.
DF  Post #: 17
8/8/2022 14:53:33   
The ErosionSeeker
*insert cheesy pun here*


quote:

-No one likes pad mechanics. ;-; I'm kidding. I'll still see how I can use them in new and creative ways. Maybe get the timer working properly.

The problem with pads is that they are all pass/fail and have no opportunity cost. The timer only forces people to get faster at reacting, instead of creating more meaningful decisions. This is also because every* instance of failing a pad check has basically resulted in a lost fight. Something like Safiria's Nightblade where failing to deal with the mechanic multiple times is what makes it threatening.
Examples of ways to make pads decision space instead of an extra chore:
-Can't move between spaces freely: either top and bottom can't directly go to each other (meaning that you have to go to middle first, requiring 2+ decision turns)
-Moving between spaces costs some other resource
-Multiple monsters ask for different pads at the same time, forcing the player to weigh which consequence is less harmful
DF AQW  Post #: 18
8/8/2022 14:58:37   
Baron Dante
Member

quote:

-No one likes pad mechanics. ;-; I'm kidding. I'll still see how I can use them in new and creative ways. Maybe get the timer working properly.

I do think there is potential with pads honestly, like, say, for improving decision-making. Obv I'm not sure if the system can work like this, but here's some thoughts.

A simple example that may or may not be actually good, you'd have two pads, one where you gain defenses and one where you get more damage, while being defensive also has a negative effect on the fight like the boss healing so you can't just turtle for free. This can give you more breathing room if you need it, or if you think you'd rather lose tempo in exchange of not taking a particularly nasty hit.

Or maybe, you could have the pads affect the bosses themselves. For example, you'd have the pads correspond to the bosses, and you can only hurt that boss while on the pad, but conversely, the other boss can't attack you either. (Or the damage and/or effects are greatly diminished) Learning the patterns of the bosses can again help you avoid the worst effects, and if you end up killing one of the bosses early, you'd now be locked to deal with just one of them, which may not be desirable.

I'm not saying that's the only way to make use of them, of course, but I do understand why people might not be fond of the micromanagement aspect of it, where in addition to trying to play the game, you also need to play simon says or something. I think the best way to phrase this is that as a rule of thumb, if something is disruptive to the core gameplay, it better have a good reason to be there.

Never say never, of course, changing up the "rules" occasionally isn't all bad. When the pads were originally introduced, I vaguely remember players not hating it, and instead showing cautious optimism at what the mechanic could do in the future.
Like, it was fairly simple, and the added gimmick of having to pay attention to the pop-ups was, as a one-off thing, perfectly fine. Not every gimmick is gonna be a winner, but it's something different.
But then we got more pad fights, and it was largely the same thing with a slightly different coat of paint.
AQ DF MQ AQW Epic  Post #: 19
8/8/2022 21:58:50   
Cryomancer
Member

quote:

-No one likes pad mechanics. ;-; I'm kidding. I'll still see how I can use them in new and creative ways. Maybe get the timer working properly.

Firstly, thanks for taking the time to go over our feedback.

I think the reason why pad mechanics haven't been liked is that with the exception of Sek-Duat, none of the pad mechanics adds any meaningful degree of strategy or planning to their respective fights - to the point where you could probably take out the pads from most of the respective fights and little would change.

Sek-Duat is an exception, and is probably the best executed example of pad mechanics due to the fact that there is a timer to the pads. While this doesn't add anything to the fight intrinsically, the fact that there is a timer forces players to either make quick decisions on what move to do next, adding a degree of tension to the fight, or encourages them to plan out the fight in advance so that they do not need to make quick decisions - which in turn alters the way players interact with the fight in question.

Alternatively, the use of pad mechanics can also add a degree of decision making to fights in question by having each pad lead to evenly weighted outcomes which a player must decide which outcome, and by extension, which pad, is the best choice for them given the context of the fight (for instance, one pad can apply +25 Boost and -25 All, another pad can apply +50 MPM and -25 Boost, and a third pad can lead to no outcome).

quote:

-Boss stats should not reach "impossible" (i.e. > 200) levels outside of enrages or punishments or branches, or simply as part of a general rotation.

In my opinion, the two potentially problematic boss stats are Bonus, which limits counterplay to a boss' attacks if too high, and MPM/BPD, which adds a significant degree of RNG with limited counterplay if too high. In general, boss Bonus and MPM should be limited to a level where the use of a skill can reliably counteract said stats (so 130 at most for Bonus, and 180 at most for MPM/BPD, provided that there is no other sort of counterplay to the boss' stats).

I forgot to state this in my previous post, but IMO, without any external source of counterplay (i.e. not triggering punishment mechanics, using Noxus' evaluation mechanic to deny him +75 Bonus), any attack that does massive damage (at least 1/4 of a player's max health after resistance stacking, so around 700-800 or more damage) or that inflicts a crippling debuff should have its Bonus limited to 130 at most, as such moves are dangerous enough that players should avoid it entirely and players get around 280 MPM with a standard 180 MPM shield and MPM stack gear. Whilst I do think that unavoidable attacks have their place in the game to punish reckless use of shields, such attacks should have their power reduced to compensate - Suki's nuke and Drahr'Hatir's stun breath are good examples, as whilst it is impractical to avoid these attacks with a shield, their damage is low enough to reasonably facetank with the appropriate res stack gear.
Post #: 20
8/9/2022 6:03:18   
Fire alandry
Member

A few more notes.
1. Junipurr was a great challenge. Why? Because you could deal with its gimmick by different approaches: shield the root, shield the heal, cleanse the root, inflict +health. Each one results in a different play style, classes, etc. It's a chain which you can break in every link, and every choice comes with a price of DPT.
2. Personally, I prefer solos. Sure, they are easier, but if the due are together 'by accident'- meaning, their skills/rotation/gimmicks have no connection whatsoever, you are forced to find the best strategy, or you'll lose. When you have but one enemy, you can try to deal with its gimmick in non-optimal ways. Instead of using Techno/Pyro/Kathool, you are free to choose new ways.
3. There is a line between hard gimmicks and 'unfair' ones. For example, the opening move of Suki in itself is fine. I even tried to use it to my advantage: with WDL death res and +boost from eDark, you can inflict a lot of damage. Not enough, as I found out, but anyway... There are lot of ways to handle gimmicks. Thay aren't necessarily bad thing.
4. I do want to emphasize again the option of non-bosses challenges. Although battle should remain the default, DF has so many more fun and fascinating quest types/ mini-games. I would like to see them get an Inn-level version.
5. Stun is OP, and therefore- almost every boss has 300 immo, and those who aren't can prove supereasy. The outcome of this: stun skills become useless.
Here's my suggestion: 1. In the Inn, every stun will only last 1 turn. 2. Instead of making stun impossible, make it just harder: like in Unending Empires, where you can stun only once. 100 immo is fine too- you can't just stun, you need to lower the res first. Good luck.
DF  Post #: 21
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