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Bluddy
02-23-2011, 03:15 PM
Again, this thread is copied over from the other forum.

This is in response to points that were mentioned in the armor absorption thread by Crisses, and elsewhere as well.

It seems like the mage classes are still weak, even after having monster resistances lowered. It's not a huge surprise: fighting chars have stronger weapons, stronger armor, their attacks go up in with their stats, and they then have their skill points free to complement their fighting as they choose.

Mage characters, in contrast, need to use every skill point to upgrade their powers, just to keep up with the monster HP. They can rarely afford to diversify their skills. And they have no way to defend themselves.

That's not all bad. I think mage characters are supposed to be tougher to play with. In full RPG games, they're support characters, after all. Still, I think they deserve some affirmative action.

Here are my ideas, in order of easiest to least easy to implement:

1. More skill points per level. They deserve them since skill points are the only way they really fight. I suggest, for starters, a 'Gifted' passive skill for each magic tree giving 33% more skill points. A full mage class will therefore gain 2x the normal skill points (from 3 trees * 1/3), while a hybrid mage class (e.g. ice mage/necromancer) will get 166% of the normal skill points etc. Not sure it's enough, but it's a start.

2. Crisses suggested making cloth armor have more enchantments as compensation for its weaker armor. I think this is a good idea.

3. Buff up defense spells. They don't seem substantial enough.

4. Make spells go up with intelligence. This should be done only after option 1 is used since a) it's harder to do and b) option 1 will already affect mages' power quite a bit.

I'd really like to see at least option 1 implemented.

Baki:

i do not think mages generally need help. all my strongest chars have been mages. Beeing ranged is a huge advantage.

stuns and slows help a mage to defend.

but i would agree that there are only a few efficient ways to play a mage. for Example try this built: Shatter, Cold Mastery, Permaforst. Those are all the skills you will need. Shatter has good single target dps and good aoe. Permaforst to slow nasty monsters. As 2nd Class get a class with +0.8 HP / Vit like Gladiator or Conjurer for Thunderbolt vs bosses (even if it isnt as reliable as it was).

get a staff with crit and casttime and all is fine. get enough int to reach 100% crit and put the rest of your points into vit.

Crisses:

Right there you made our point though. No diversity in that build. Why would this ice Mage need the fire Mage and magician skill trees? The wizard class simply doesn't work! Is there sufficient reason to toss points into Teleport with that build to justify the whole magician tree? So your ice Mage build could as easily hybrid with another tree for armor and/or weapon bonuses because you sure aren't going to focus enough points in teleport to bring the cool down to the point that it helps your character as a defense skill.

To have an effective Mage class you MUST pour all your points into a very narrow niche of skills, effectively making 2 skill trees nearly worthless when skill tree choices are so important (due to cumulative stat bonuses and the importance of which items one can arm in the game).

Even if the build you describe is great there should be more than one working build from 3 skill trees.

Baki:

But that is the same for nearly every efficient built. You focus on the few good things the classes have to offer and ignore the rest.

take a look at the warrior class: it offers so many active attack skills, but only 1 is without doubt the best: cleave. put a few points in that, 1 point in berserk and exploit the animation of cleave.

let me explain this exploit further, hopefully it will get fixed some day...

you are wielding a weapon with 1 second attack speed and 100 damage per swing, no other dmg modifiers from str or skills. -> 100 dps
if you use cleave you will do 150 dmg because cleave has a time value of 1.5 seconds.
but the dmg is alrdy done after ~0.5 seconds. after the dmg is done you quickly do a berserk and the cleave animation will be aborted but the dmg is already done. immediatly cast cleave again -> repeat (you can use programs like autohotkey which help with the timing to optimize it)

that way you can do 150% dps in 0.5 seconds to 2 targets with the best melee range possible. that means cleave with 0% damage bonus is as good vs a single target as a normal attack with 300% dps bonus.

Bluddy:

What you're pointing out is an imbalance in 1 skill, that probably needs to be nerfed/fixed. There shouldn't be one way to a class, and the warrior class in particular offers many different paths. That's the point of having multiple skills.

Valgor:

I'm all for Intelligence increasing the damage of magic skills; similar to how Strength affects a melee character's base damage.

Baki:
every class offers different paths. i am only saying that some paths are better than others and some classes are better than others. having so many possible classes and skills in dins curse comes at a price: horible balancing. dins curse has so many inferior / superior skills that if your target is effiency you will always bring it down to a few skills. sad but true.

Bluddy:

Fair enough. We can try to get it to be as balanced as possible, though. At least that's what we're trying to do. Since you clearly know many of the best/worst paths, you can help out too.

Stardusts
02-24-2011, 10:45 AM
Mage is my favorite class and I have been playing it for a long time in DC. Although I haven't been playing since 1.022 I don't think it affects much with what I have to say about this topic.

First the difference between mage and melee/archer: we do not receive bonus dmg from stat or a huge dmg boost from weapons like you guys so concentrating in one skill is our only way to raise dmg. Splitting skill points in diff spells meaning less damage and we'll struggle just to kill a regular monster.

There is no need for any buff for mages in my opinion, the overall dmg for all spells is substantial to kill things if invested heavily in (which you should do). Above dungeon lv24 you should have at least one equipment with -cast time to survive, its a must for mages (a little set back, but worth it). There are many defensive spells from each skill tree that offers partial/complete protection from harm ( maelstrom, fire maelstrom, teleport, permafrost, etc...). As for armors, we are called glass cannons for a reason. At lv100 my mage constantly faces death (only 19% absorb and like 300 defense) however its the combining use of defensive spells that will get you out of trouble. My mage averages 900kills/death and he has over 100,000 kills (yeah I know I farm too much :D).

Now with all that said, as Baki stated before, going Shatter is the ONLY way to play mage at this moment. Why? Because Shatter initial dmg is PHYSICAL dmg which monsters don't have much unlike their elemental resistances. However the most important part that makes all other mage's offensive spells worthless is the resistance buff modifier. +100%, 300% and even 500%??? If you are a fire mage and you face a fire elemental its gg, you won't even scratch it-even if your dmg is doubled- and left with 2 options: switch to something else (which costs time, money and causes frustration) or abandon that town and run into the problem again before you know it.

IMO to make mages playable all the resistance modifier should be removed. Elementals and boss buffs should only be around 50-100%.

Bluddy
02-24-2011, 11:09 AM
Wow great feedback Stardust!

First question: could you please post a couple of mage chars to the repository (either in the old beta forum or just a new thread in this forum)? I'm missing mage characters of all levels for my armor analysis.

Would you agree with my suggestion that mages could benefit from extra skill points? All their power is concentrated there, so more skill points would allow for diversification as well.

I think mages do need to get stronger, because they're dragging warriors down. What I mean is that warriors' DPS gets very high very fast. But in order for mages to be able to kill monsters at all, monsters' HP needs to be limited. If mages were stronger, monsters' HP could also be raised, catching up with warriors' DPS.

Is shatter the only physical damage spell? There should probably be some physical damage component added to other spells then.

Finally, I didn't know elementals were already so hard for mages to defeat. Is that all elementals, or just bosses (if there are any)?

Crisses
02-24-2011, 11:51 AM
Stardust: Can you give examples of a "Why bother" for having a pure-caster i.e. a Wizard or a Conjurer. Are your spellcasters hybrid with Rogue/Warrior classes?

I'm playing around with a pure-class Priest as well, which seems much more rounded because you have the Paladin mixed in there giving you plenty of armor/weapon/attack possibilities, passives, buffs + the Shaman's super-buffs. I'm able to improve aim, Champion & add fire to a weapon (empty vials + oil) and carve through critters like butter (appx level 12 in a level 18-20 dungeon on steroids in multiplayer last night). So I'm not too worried about the Priest pure class, but of course time will tell as the character improves.



Forgive a whole lot of opinionated "Shoulding" below.... Everyone has an opinion, I'm flaunting mine. Everyone's welcome to disagree.

The average joe-shmo flesh-n-bone monster should have no better average resistances than an average character of about the same level. Elementals should have more resistance, as should ghosts and other non-corporeals. Bosses should be similar to a truly decked out tank character (or high-class decked out wizard if the boss is a spellcaster), no more no less -- and Boss elementals & non-corporeals should make elementally-based mages run in horror and be a relative cakewalk for your average damage-inflicting decked out brute. These should be the bane of a mage's existence.

It should be as easy for a high level gun-toting mage to clear the average room as it is for a warrior with haste items or whirlwind. Why not? They're ADVENTURERS. Heroes. People sing songs about them. Or given a former life of unrepentant banality, perhaps people feared them. A high level wizard is NOT a 2nd class support character citizen (i.e. comic relief as in the Discworld series LOL). It should be feared as much as a 2-handed-axe toting Conan.

I'm happy to support the Mage Liberation Movement. I think they deserve equal rights to laying waste to the armies of darkness. Are you with me? :)

Bluddy
02-24-2011, 12:23 PM
Here here! I support the movement! Down with those elitist warriors!

The average joe-shmo flesh-n-bone monster should have no better average resistances than an average character of about the same level.

I would modify that to, they should have worse resistance than your average character. Because critters have measly armor (20% or about the same as cloth throughout the game), resistance to the elements must be lower to be worthwhile in comparison. Currently it's at about 12%, or 1 resistance unit per level, and climbs slowly with levels. I think it should be even lower to be attractive.

Crisses
02-24-2011, 12:43 PM
Here here! I support the movement! Down with those elitist warriors!



I would modify that to, they should have worse resistance than your average character. Because critters have measly armor (20% or about the same as cloth throughout the game), resistance to the elements must be lower to be worthwhile in comparison. Currently it's at about 12%, or 1 resistance unit per level, and climbs slowly with levels. I think it should be even lower to be attractive.


Mmm I smell the crispy burning cannon fodder already.

alstein
02-24-2011, 02:53 PM
One reason I like the sorcerer so much is that he has multiple attack types, and great stunning (even with the thunderbolt nerf)

ValdainTheKing
02-24-2011, 07:26 PM
The King thinks that the long sleeve spellweavers are good as is. I was in my first game last night with a wizard named: valynd. He merely touched his hands with red for a second and any creature he hit lost 1/3 of his life. I cant do that!! I may be the king but there's only so much power a king can have.

There was another guy there who could make my life and his triple. The best spell i can do is make me heal for a little while. That sucks!!

If the king has to brave the beasts of below up close and not complain, why should the spellweavers when they shoot from afar.

Consider this proposition.

Crisses
02-24-2011, 08:59 PM
The King thinks that the long sleeve spellweavers are good as is. I was in my first game last night with a wizard named: valynd. He merely touched his hands with red for a second and any creature he hit lost 1/3 of his life. I cant do that!! I may be the king but there's only so much power a king can have.

There was another guy there who could make my life and his triple. The best spell i can do is make me heal for a little while. That sucks!!

If the king has to brave the beasts of below up close and not complain, why should the spellweavers when they shoot from afar.

Consider this proposition.

The one that makes your life triple is a priest spell (Shaman tree, Hardiness), not a mage spell. Unfortunately big difference, and not what we're talking about.

My big complaint is that there seems to be absolutely no benefit to a pure Wizard. I can see a pure Conjurer so you could build up a massive diversified army of lackeys, although your points get so spread out that I'm not sure that works either. But on the Wizard trees (Ice Mage, Fire Mage, Magician) you have no reason for 3 trees of magy-goodness. To be viable you need to pull your points into perhaps 3 skills and pump them as high as you can, so why would one bother being a pure Wizard class?

And what level was that mage at, and the dungeon you were in? Was that the game with me? :) In which case I was the priest (and the buff was Champion) and the "fire" hands was a necromancer with a dark bolt I think, the dungeon was about level 18, and you and I were both well under the dungeon level. We're trying to figure out whether ANYONE has taken a Wizard or Conjurer to higher level gameplay, or if they're all abandoned in their 20s as essentially unplayable.

Stardusts
02-24-2011, 09:47 PM
The King... blah blah blah
Maybe the king should try to play a little more to find out about the harshness of deeper dungeons instead of bragging in forum like he knows everything. Oh and try to read some posts first too.

Bluddy:
Right now my lv100 mage is my main with stuff that I don't feel comfortable posting. Plus Id like to keep him unique. I'll level my other one to 100 and post him, along with all armor sets in game (only missing 3 as far as I can tell).
For the extra skill points, Im not sure how it gonna work if someone create a hybrid mage/warrior. It might help beginners but I think its kind of imbalance. Mage is the strongest class actually, sure we can die from 1 hit but we can kill 10 before they can even reach us. Its a fair trade and I would challenge anyone to compete with my mage in killing power (not the max dmg but the ability to clear a dungeon).
There is another physical spell- Bone Shatter which is almost identical to Shatter but no support from Ice Mastery (thus making it inferior in high lv).
The reason why they are hard because they have Incredible Resistance (fire, cold, poison, lighting, etc...) that adds a wooping +500% to their resistance. Hence its impossible to kill a fire ele with fire spells. Mobs (champion and elite) and bosses sometimes have this modifier and you're out of luck if they do.

Crisses:
My mage is Ice Mage/Sorcerer hybrid. I picked the hybrid for the sole purpose of using Thunderbolt. Now it is nerfed I wish I could switch to a full Wizard class. I enjoy mages for the strong and weak points that they have, the satisfaction after you evade death and their destructive capabilities (pure spells) are what I seek. Surely a mage with plate armors have little to fear and there's nothing wrong with that but its just not my type. I might try mage with a leather-wearing class but definitely not mail/plate. Also pure Wizard is very powerful with fire maelstrom, slow from ice spells and teleport. You will be near invisible with the right combining of these spells.
The bane of mage's existence is exactly what I'm against in this post :). As a melee/ranged class you can damage anything, now imagine you have to fight a ghost with 99% physical dmg reduction what would you do? Thats the kind of situation mages are in right now.
(btw there is a player named Nobear in this forum who has a lv100 in all classes, haven't seen him for a while though)

ValdainTheKing
02-24-2011, 09:53 PM
http://www.soldak.com/forums/showthread.php?t=3150&highlight=show+your&page=2

Nobear-Middle page. Single class mage. Uses a variety of spells from all 3 spell schools of wizard.

Crisses
02-24-2011, 11:42 PM
Ok, so one example so far of a pure mage who made it to end-game.

Skills

Fire Maelstrom lvl 1
Frost Nova lvl 1
Permafrost lvl 1
Shatter lvl 28
Cold Mastery lvl 30
Evasion lvl 2
Teleport lvl 6

Still basically a 1-tree character -- but was able to pour enough points into Teleport to make it a defensive possibility. So everyone's saying there's one spell on the 3 trees that's very effective.

I tried several games in a row (and abandoned them all) with my Conjurer character and I'm really getting tired of dying. I went from Level 36 Very Fast to trying a Level 32 (same as character) Low Stress Normal Pace -- even summoned a champion chaos lord (and raised only champion critters) and it's painful trying to get through the dungeon. The XP debt started rivaling the US National Debt. (support spells are Tornado and Blight to knock the hitpoints out of the masses to help my pets, and good DPS on my own weapon). I'm calling it a night. If I'm working that hard to just get to level 2 of a dungeon, something's up.

Bluddy
02-27-2011, 03:25 AM
I posted this in another thread but it really belongs here, as warlocks and necromancers are also mage types.

The reason raise dead is so powerful is that you raise a monster of the exact level of one you kill, as opposed to all the other create pet spells, where you create monsters whose level corresponds to a fraction of your level + a bonus based on however many spell levels you have. I'd say this is a pretty serious imbalance. A necromancer needs only to invest once in raise dead. He'll then have a monster that keeps up with the dungeon level. All other pet spells require constant investment or as they go up in level, their monsters will be less and less effective. Thus, the other spells fall into the category of 'spells you need to put all your points into if you want to keep up'.

Let's take a peek at the fury spell. To keep a fury at the level of your character, you would have to invest in the fury spell every 4 levels. You get around a total of 1124 skill points in the game, of which about 674 need to be used to take the fury all the way to level 30. Half of your skill point would have to be used just on the fury. If we account for the fact that you get 1/4 of a fury every skill level, you would need to upgrade the fury skill every 5 levels to keep up. This would cost you about 1/3 of your skill points.

The necromancer's raise dead spell is more along the lines of what the stronger classes have. Other classes generally don't need to keep investing in specific skills unless they want to, to boost their damage output.

I would change it so that, rather than getting monster levels per spell level, you get a percentage of the player's level count. Thus, monster would start out at 50% of a player's level and would gradually get more and more percentage points per level. If you keep investing, they'd surpass the player's level. Also, to balance out the necromancer, raised monsters should get a % level drop when you raise them. Keep investing in the skill and that level drop would disappear.

Bluddy
02-27-2011, 04:00 AM
I proceeded to do the same analysis for shadow bolt. Assuming that I would feel a need to upgrade my bolt once monsters require more than 3 hits to die, I need to upgrade it about once every 4 levels. This is actually a conservative estimate, because it doesn't account for monsters' elemental resistance (which is around 10%, or 5% in my formula) or for the monsters' damage curve which accelerates. 3 hits to kill a monster may not be fast enough for a mage when the monsters can kill you with 1 hit. In any case, once every 4 levels means that 40% of the skill points in the game (my calculation in the post above was a little off) must go towards shadow bolt alone -- otherwise it'll be useless.

I don't know if more skill points could even fix this. I think what's needed is a non-linear curve for all offensive skills that don't base themselves on your current DPS. Instead of gaining a set amount every level, shadow bolt should gain more and more with every level. Of course the amounts have to be balanced, but I think this is the only way the mage classes will become balanced. Also, what has to be accounted for is area effects. Area effects are non-linear by their nature (you hit multiple enemies for the same amount) so they need to accelerate much more slowly.

I'll start working on what I think are proper, accelerating values for the skills.

Crisses
02-27-2011, 09:06 AM
I proceeded to do the same analysis for shadow bolt.

Yes see my thread on "scales per level"--this in what I'm talking about.

I looked at my Hunter/Trickster character last night and on those trees there are few skills that don't scale to level.

Immolation Trap she has to lvl 6. It doesn't scale-- but it still is useful to explode things, and open doors. Monsters just laugh at it. She could just have it at lvl 1 to do what it does for her except the HPs of barrels and doors go up too. Freezing trap has the same problem without the benefit of catching things on fire...

ALL the spells on the Trickster tree seem to scale. Either they scale through DPS escalations as one acquires better weapons, or they don't really seem to need to scale, like slight of hand which just makes monsters MORE angry with one another when you raise it.

Hunter traps need to scale to level, a damage &/or duration increase. However, Lure for example already does (though I think it needs to act like an immobile pet so you can walk through it and it's immune to your own spells--but don't fix one without fixing the other!).

I don't have trees in front of me, but a fire bolt purchased at lvl 100 still does a measly 15ish damage. That shouldn't even get the monsters attention at that point.

I've been thinking about it and this is by far the worst problem. Its not how many skill points...this is why some skills just aren't worth keeping in the endgame, and why spell casters are so narrowly specialized that 1-2 trees seem wasted. You actually can't throw enough skill points at this problem to fix it, since prices escalate so quickly. There should be the ability to spread your points out a little, and more than 1 or 2 spells that are effective at endgame per tree.

Perhaps for most skills SOMETHING should scale to level. For many the change could be gradual and subtle unless you pour a few levels into it, and there are exceptions like Teleport which are just fine as they are, but say Hardiness duration increased, the healing spells heal a little more depending both on the spell level and the level of the caster, cooldown decreases or duration increases on some spells by a percentage depending on the level of the caster, etc.

Most importantly, if the spell affects something that scales to the level of the dungeon, then it should scale to the level of the character. Monster hit points scale, so anything that does direct damage needs to scale. And that goes for every tree, because there are Rogue & warrior skills that also suffer from this problem. Assassins poison for example.

Bluddy
02-27-2011, 09:24 AM
Yes see my thread on "scales per level"--this in what I'm talking about.

I looked at my Hunter/Trickster character last night and on those trees there are few skills that don't scale to level.

Immolation Trap she has to lvl 6. It doesn't scale-- but it still is useful to explode things, and open doors. Monsters just laugh at it. She could just have it at lvl 1 to do what it does for her except the HPs of barrels and doors go up too. Freezing trap has the same problem without the benefit of catching things on fire...

ALL the spells on the Trickster tree seem to scale. Either they scale through DPS escalations as one acquires better weapons, or they don't really seem to need to scale, like slight of hand which just makes monsters MORE angry with one another when you raise it.

Hunter traps need to scale to level, a damage &/or duration increase. However, Lure for example already does (though I think it needs to act like an immobile pet so you can walk through it and it's immune to your own spells--but don't fix one without fixing the other!).

I don't have trees in front of me, but a fire bolt purchased at lvl 100 still does a measly 15ish damage. That shouldn't even get the monsters attention at that point.

I've been thinking about it and this is by far the worst problem. Its not how many skill points...this is why some skills just aren't worth keeping in the endgame, and why spell casters are so narrowly specialized that 1-2 trees seem wasted. You actually can't throw enough skill points at this problem to fix it, since prices escalate so quickly. There should be the ability to spread your points out a little, and more than 1 or 2 spells that are effective at endgame per tree.

Perhaps for most skills SOMETHING should scale to level. For many the change could be gradual and subtle unless you pour a few levels into it, and there are exceptions like Teleport which are just fine as they are, but say Hardiness duration increased, the healing spells heal a little more depending both on the spell level and the level of the caster, cooldown decreases or duration increases on some spells by a percentage depending on the level of the caster, etc.

Most importantly, if the spell affects something that scales to the level of the dungeon, then it should scale to the level of the character. Monster hit points scale, so anything that does direct damage needs to scale. And that goes for every tree, because there are Rogue & warrior skills that also suffer from this problem. Assassins poison for example.

Right. I think I remember reading that thread, but until now I hadn't realized how serious the problem is. You can pretty much say that all mage spells are broken as they are right now.

There are 2 ways I can think of to fix this: either do as you say, and link the spell damage to something in the character, like intelligence. But that would be a complete reworking of the system.

The other option is just to make the spells go up non-linearly ie quadratically: every spell level, you get more bang for your buck than you did last time you upgraded. The down side to upgrading would be quadratic mana costs. Essentially what happens with skills is that while the monster HP constantly increases in a straight line, spells are like stairs: you get jumps in power every time you upgrade. Those jumps can't be linear, because you're not constantly upgrading the same skills. They have to be big jumps relative to monster HP increase.

The reason I hadn't noticed this problem in my own character (necromancer) is that raise dead does scale, as I explained above.

I'm trying to work on the proper fixes to make this option work. The nice thing about a quadratic function is that it should be possible to make only small modifications per spell to fix the situation.

Crisses
02-27-2011, 10:01 AM
I'm trying to work on the proper fixes to make this option work. The nice thing about a quadratic function is that it should be possible to make only small modifications per spell to fix the situation.

(I have the skill trees in front of me now)

I don't think that 100% of the change should be dependent on the number of skill points you spend. It should be a balance of both. 1 point in Firey Blast does 5-15. I think if I were level 90 and decided "Hey, I want this spell" it should NOT start at 5-15. Perhaps even just 50-150 (though potentially 500-1500 at that level! It would take several of them to kill a monster at your own level -- I'm not sure what the immolation effect is so it should be buffered with that in mind). It's a difference that matters because a level 90 warrior can take Power Strike at level 1 and it does a HECK of a lot more than that (+20% physical damage).

Call it the "No more mosquito bites" campaign for fair skill effectiveness. :)

Some durations could increase by as little as 1% per level -- by level 100 they're just twice the duration. Something that lasted 30 seconds now lasts 60. It's a nod to the fact that you've become a world-class Warrior/Rogue/Wizard etc. Your capacity to control magic has simply increased, period -- aside from the actual spells you've practiced and acquired.

I'm trying to picture what the current system would look like in real life. A level 100 fire mage with a level 20 fireball and a level 1 firey blast: Cast one spell and everything's a little hurt. Cast the other and you can barely light a cigar. Hardly warrants the name "Firey Blast" right? If I were a monster, I'd be thinking "Did someone say lunch?" Definitely not the awe-inspiring all-mighty-powerful-wizard.

An Assassin with Viper Venom 1 does 2.0 poison dps (effectively 16 damage over 8 seconds). I think a level 100 Assassin with Viper Venom 1 should perhaps do 100.0 poison dps (and consider a duration shift per level too -- but this would be 800 damage total -- it's a dent but not deadly at level 100, and takes its time to do it). It's not that it shouldn't scale significantly if it becomes VV2 -- I think that adding in new skills even late in the game should have SOME level of effectiveness against your level of creature.

And if a level 100 ANYCLASS goes slumming with level 20 characters, they're going to wipe the place quickly, even with poorly chosen skills or as a spellcaster "jack of all trades". And I think they should! Right now a warrior has that privilege. I'd like to enjoy playing any class -- and I think it would make the game far more re-playable. Otherwise just grab a warrior, finish the game -- maybe play a rogue a couple times for variety, then retire the game. Those of us hashing this out in the forums are the ones who want more replayability from it, I think.

Crisses
02-27-2011, 10:10 AM
I'm taking a quick glance at Din's Additionals -- just to see an example of skill modifications.

Yeah, what can be modified is hard-coded :( It's not formulas in the game that we can simply modify on our own. Not that I can tell -- Shadow would have to confirm.

Skellys have one of the stats that's a "Per User Level" stat:

MonsterLevelPerUserLevel 0.5

I'm trying to think whether anything other than things that are summoned have a "scale per user level" effect....so I can look at that skill in the files to see what is done about it -- but I can't think of any.

Crisses
02-27-2011, 10:28 AM
Skill-adjustment wishlist:

I would want the ability to modify the following on a PerUserLevel basis:

Duration
ReuseTime
ProjMinDamage
ProjMaxDamage
Power (?)
TotalTime
ProjRadiusMinDamage
ProjRadiusMaxDamage
HateChange
MinDamage
MaxDamage

Can we add floating-point "PerUserLevel" modifiers to each of these formulas on the back-end so that we can play with skill/spell balance?

Such that a FieryBlast on a Level 10 character and

MinDamagePerUserLevel 0.5
MaxDamagePerUserLevel 2

Would do 10-35 damage.

And on a Level 100 character would do 55-215 damage.

It's still linear, but it helps. I think it will help a lot.

Is this something that can be added to the formulas on the back-end so that we can adjust skills and report back on them?

Bluddy
02-27-2011, 10:29 AM
I also initially thought that it was necessary to relate spells to user level -- but I don't really think so. Why?

Suppose you're a level 100 wizard and you invest in 1 level of lightning. If it were related to your level, you'd get a tiny burst of static electricity to do tricks with your opponents' hairs. This is the equivalent of one level of lightning. A level of a more powerful spell would be a little better. Because the spells are cheap, and you're high level so you get many spell points at this point, you can use your many spell points to quickly get the lightning spell up to a level where you can smell burning scree. To get it to the point where you can fry chaos lords might take more points than you have, but scree meat you can do.

This is how the system is supposed to work. Unfortunately, because of the linearity of the spell strengths/level, you can't really do it. But if the jumps per skill level got bigger and bigger, you'd need a relatively small amount of points to get the skill up to speed.

Bluddy
02-27-2011, 10:36 AM
It's still linear, but it helps. I think it will help a lot.

It's not linear -- the part chained to user level is, but you're then also boosting it with skills.

Here's why I don't think it should be connected to user level: warrior characters get their strength from a stat. If they invest in the stat, their attacks go up. If they invest in another stat, that goes up. It's a choice. Plus, their power is affected by the luck of finding the right weapons and armor. Their skills are a further choice that modifies their stats, making their damage non-linear among other things.

Chaining magic to user level makes it a uniform experience. It's less of a choice. I'd rather have it connected to a stat like intelligence. If you choose to put all your points in vitality, you'll have less offense.

The thing is, I also like the concept of mages working differently to warriors. Their skills make them who they are. I'm ok with the idea of the original design, I just think the linearity needs to be fixed or they just can't keep up. And intelligence needs to be important. If it means raising mana requirements for high level spells, so be it.

Bluddy
02-27-2011, 10:57 AM
BTW another effect of leaving mages dependent on skills is that they'll be really powerful. Why? Assuming we keep the current point system, the most that you can upgrade a skill is around 30 levels. Even if the skill cost starts at 1, it quickly gets to be more than the points you have. Even 30 levels uses up around 50% of your points, which is unacceptable. It looks like around 20 levels is the most that's reasonable, taking up about 19% of your skill points. That means that 20 levels of a weak spell need to cover 100 levels of monsters' HP. Even a weak spell (like bolt of gloom) should be able to be boosted to high enough power to take out a monster if that's what you want. That means than when you upgrade your skill level, you'll get a real, palpable boost in spell performance.

If, instead, we tie spell power to user level/attribute, we're attaching it to 2 variables: a level/attribute and a skill level. By necessity, each skill level will have a much smaller impact (as it does for warriors and others). This has both good and bad sides, but it's important to realize.

What I would like on the backend to experiment with fixing the spells is something like Max and Min DmgMultFactor, as well as Max and Min ProjDmgMultFactor. This would be placed in the perLevel data instead of adding a constant each level with ProjMinDamage and ProjMaxDamage.

Crisses
02-27-2011, 11:18 AM
I basically disagree. Bolt of Gloom is spammable. At skill level 20 it does not NEED to 1-shot a critter, it can take 1/3 their HPs and be a very viable spell. Besides on a Necromancer, Bolt of Gloom helps your pets take out the bigger baddies that they have trouble handling -- or is a last resort if your pets are either dead or incapacitated and something is coming after you. It needs to scale to level so that it can be a viable spell, but it does not need to take out all 2500+ HPs in one shot.

I THINK the optimal formula would be something like

MinDamage + ((Increase-per-skill-level + ((Factor-per-user-level * user level) * factor-per-skill-level)) * Skill Level). Errr -- I think. :)

In other words, not only would the base SKILL be more powerful the higher level of the character, but the levels you put INTO the skill would be more powerful per level of your character. So the jump from Skill 1 to Skill 2 would be larger at Level 100 than at Level 1. This makes the skill points more precious yet, AND it means that the jump from Level 20 to Level 21 should be bigger than Level 19 to Level 20 even at the same character level. i.e. this is the non-linear progression you're looking for.


But you're the number-crunching mathematician. I was asking for even a linear PerUserLevel progression because it still would improve things tremendously, without (I hope) being a programming nightmare.

Crisses
02-27-2011, 11:25 AM
By the way -- I have no real preference for the modifier being INT or UserLevel. INT gives more per-character variation especially for hybrids who might also pour precious stat points into STR/DEX to arm weapons, and VIT to be able to take a hit --- i.e. if INT based, pure casters get the advantage because they don't need as much STR/DEX/VIT. That could be a good thing, and it gives us a factor of up to 250 rather than 100 to play with.... but the peak of this factor can be hit as low as Level 50 or so.

Crisses
02-27-2011, 11:30 AM
Oh, and the nice thing about it being INT is that it won't matter if people want to actively add/remove stat points (as opposed to my Achievement idea) -- because it will actively change either their melee damage, hit points, or spell damage -- ie. you can move your stat points at will because it will have a real effect.

Healing & priest spell factors should be based on Spirit instead/too, depending on the skill. In fact, I might argue that Necromancers/Conjurers should be based on SPIRIT, and some Rogue/Ranger skills on INT as well as DEX.

I think the stat affecting a specific skill should be listed in the description. Right now it's such a mystery what affects skills especially when you want to spend your 1st point in them. If Lesser Heal power is affected by Spirit it should be listed in the description or stats of the skill.

Crisses
02-27-2011, 11:56 AM
I think we get way too much mana in the game. I hear tell that critters get way too much mana drain TOO at the endgame.

There's a factor in business that I like to think of as the Frequent Flyer Mile factor. You save up your reward points and all your rewards are 2500 points and higher. 200000 points and get a trip. 5000 points get a gift card. Nothing costs 25 points. So why are we dealing with these inflated high numbers??? There's actually absolutely no good reason. Make it that 50 points buys a $50 gift card, for crying out loud. Have people earn their points in decimals. Adding 0's to a number just for the sake of making it look big is bad game design.

I have no very high level characters but already the number of mana points is into the ridiculous with nothing in particular to warrant it. I can't tell that I have a faster mana regen rate because there's a 2-3 inch bar on the screen representing 600+ mana points. We need zillions of levels of mana potions & beverages to help us regenerate an overinflated number of mana points. Our natural regen rate is meaningless because even if we regen 6+ points a second it would take a couple minutes to refresh our mana bar -- which is FOREVER in game time.

Bluddy, you keep saying "raise mana costs". I say "Lower the mana pool". If anything, raise mana regn a tad, crimp the mana pool, keep the current mana costs, cut the mana-sucking monsters off at the knees, slash the number of levels of mana regen pots & drinks in half, and simplify the game a WHOLE LOT while making the mana bar actually budge per-second in an almost satisfying way.

I can say similar about the life bars & the DPS in the game etc. Eventually the big number doesn't mean anything. I look at HPs in the thousands and just don't comprehend the big deal difference between 1000 HPs and 2000HPs. Barbarian counting system: "One. Two. Many. Many-Many. Lots. Run away." The HPs have overreached my capacity for understanding. Mind balks, numbers fall away into meaninglessness. It still just takes an opponent 1 hit to kill me. So really: 2000 or 20,000 HPs? Doesn't matter. Take my 50*10^25 Frequent Flyer Miles, and give me my $50 Amazon gift card already so I can get another game ;)

Please don't encourage the number inflation game. Bigger numbers just make this feel like a Monty Hall campaign! :) If the monster HPs are going to stay in the thousands, then mage spells need to scale to meet that challenge -- and I know the warriors would whine if we wanted to take their over-inflated DPS down a notch. If the big numbers make them feel good, so be it, but please don't play that game with the mana pool too.

Bluddy
02-27-2011, 02:01 PM
Regarding mana, I haven't done the math yet, but the way I picture it is this (still using the current system, which just uses skills and not any stats):

You get skill points. The game would like you to diversify your skills -- let's say 3 good spells and 2 very good spells would be good. But what if I want to put all of my skill points into 1 spell? OK right now with the values as they are, I can only invest in 1 or 2 spells. But ideally I should have some choice. Well I can do it, and my single fireball spell will be insanely powerful. But the mana cost will get higher and higher. Eventually I'd be able to fire this gigantic fireball maybe once before it empties my entire mana pool. If I diversify and choose more spells at my level, I'd be able to fire off spells properly. That's the way I'm picturing the mana pool situation.

And I agree that bolt of gloom should be a weak, fast spell. But what if I want to take it to level 30, ignoring all my other spells? I should be able to. The limit to using that effectively would then be my mana at my particular level.

Crisses
02-27-2011, 04:21 PM
The limit to using that effectively would then be my mana at my particular level.

I disagree -- Bolt of Gloom is fast & cheap -- even if at Level 30 (max) it 1-shots lvl 100 champion monsters, you'll still occasionally get mobbed because it has no Area of Effect or splash damage (think breeding deaths and their babies of doom, or Liches and their raised dead armies...). No matter what, you'll only kill as quickly as you can point & click (as opposed to Shatter, which I'm finally actually trying out. If you kill 1 critter, it becomes a grenade -- and everything each grenade kills gets the same grenade effect....it has to be 1 of the most powerful spells in the game and I didn't realize it. Being able to 1-shot with Shatter is a big deal.... even whacking the critter with your staff until it's low then casting shatter so it takes out its friends works....if other spells worked half as well as Shatter, we would not be having this conversation.)

By lowering the available pool of mana in the first place, you can regulate the spamming of said spell without playing the exponential mana game. If the person has aced their INT & Spirit (and applicable items), their mana regen probably will respectably keep up with spamming Bolt of Gloom. The wizard is nearly level 100. I don't personally think that spell will EVER be so powerful that casting it a couple times should completely drain the greatest wizard who walks the land. It's a cheap parlor trick in the land of spell use. If the wizard really wants to be a 1-trick-pony with Bolt of Gloom to the neglect of the 1-2 other skill trees and all the other much more delectable delights on the necromancer menu, so be it. They'll be DARNED GOOD at Bolt of Gloom. Heck, they might even survive for a long while on it. Why not? High-level warriors can spam crush and other skills. I think it would be fair if every spell COULD be a "Level 30 Standalone" skill. Even if most of that headway was made between skill level 20 or 25 and 30. Let people specialize, or combine skills, or balance trade-offs between skill trees.

I would need to fire up an excel (actually Numbers) spreadsheet to determine how many skill points we get vs. how much each level of skill/spell costs depending on its starting cost. i.e. How many level 20 skills CAN you get? When CAN a character achieve their first level 20 skill, assuming it's a 1-trick pony? I'm not able to think in terms of !20 right now.

Why aren't we using Google Docs? :P I'll have a google docs spreadsheet up shortly.

Crisses
02-27-2011, 04:33 PM
This might be a mistake, but I've made a spreadsheet and given access to anyone with the link.

https://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=0Aqtah-sa6-jSdDFnYzdnRGhuT1ZrenRZSnIwTU1fcVE&hl=en&authkey=CO7V-4sO

I'm going to add a spreadsheet to figure out skill costs & skill points available at player levels.

Crisses
02-27-2011, 05:19 PM
Ok -- now I have numbers in front of me. At level 61 a player CAN achieve their first Level 30 skill -- if the initial cost was 1 for that skill. Level 78 to achieve Skill 30 if the initial cost is 10. Anything cost more than 10 to start?

Base 1 Skills cost 465 points to achieve Level 30. Base 10 Skills cost 735 to achieve Level 30. The spreadsheet has the details. Anyone is welcome to pour all their points into one thing, but that's pretty darn long to wait, and it's VERY expensive. You CAN have 2 level 30 skills....but you can't have 3. A character only gets 1171 skill points by Level 100.

I wouldn't worry too much about "game balance at skill level 30". I think if someone wants to go whole hog and pour all their points into 1-2 aces up their sleeve and have just a few points left for anything else, so be it. Perhaps there can be a "diminishing returns" between levels 20-30 OR, conversely, let them have the bazooka. It worked in Robocop on the ED209. :)

That said, you can easily have 3 level 25 skills, or 4-5 level 20 skills by endgame. That's pretty important to know, but I think it's ok if they make the game "not so fun" anymore at that level -- the point is they made it to level 100 in the first place. Not many people here seem to have done that, perhaps due to the game imbalances.

Bluddy
02-28-2011, 05:02 AM
Made some corrections to the skill point count -- for some reason both you and I got it wrong initially. Also added a sheet to compare the offensive spells.

The nice thing about a linear spell system is that it's easier to do the math. 20 levels mean you should need to upgrade about every 5 levels, 15 levels mean every 6.66 levels. The chart looks at monster HP every 5 levels ie. it assumes 20 levels is the max you should need to get your spell ready for the end game, and compares it to the spell power at that level (more or less). For more expensive spells, 16-17 would probably be a more reasonable max. Notice that the table is split into max and min values (which are at the bottom). Some spells have extra effects which are harder to take account of but need to be considered when balancing.

What you can see in the table is that if we consider 20 to be more or less the maximum spell level, with anything beyond that being real dedication to a spell ('overload' level), the max values are pretty decent compared to a generic monster's HP. The problem is the low min values, which drag the average values down (should probably make another table for those).

The shatter and bone shatter spells are insanely powerful as you've noticed. They should probably be toned down a little, or nobody would want to use the other spells even if they're boosted.

BTW I've come to your side of seeing things on this spell topic. Essentially, with the current system, if I'm a mage at level 50 and I want to put just 8 points into something, I have no choices whatsoever. If I'm level 50 and I put 1 point in holy bolt, I should have about 10-15% of monster HP in damage, which I could slowly improve with skill level if I so desire. Instead I get about 5%, which is completely ineffective. Of course it gets worse as I go up in level. To try any spell when my character is at a high level, I need to invest a serious sum of points into it -- otherwise I shouldn't bother. A quadratic function may make things somewhat better, but using intelligence/spirit as a base level for the spell would probably be best.

Because of this weakness of the current mage spell system, maybe we should compensate by making the optimal maximum spell level (ie one that can kill monsters of level 100 with 1 or a few hits) to be even lower than 20. 20 levels for a skill that starts at 1 is around 18% of total points. For a skill that start at 8 it's 30%. A skill that requires only 18 levels to be optimal and starts at 1 takes 15%, and if it starts at a cost of 8 it's 25%. A 16 level skill takes 12% of total points, or 22% if it starts at 8.

Crisses
02-28-2011, 08:42 AM
Too early in the morning for me to wrap my brain around the numbers, but if we're thinking of basing the power of the spells on INT or SPR, perhaps we should also figure out how stat points would build.

There's 2 possibilities to consider: pour all your points into the stat vs. pour part of them into the stat. :) heh i.e. putting all 5 points into INT until it's completely pumped for those whack folks who want their mage maxed out vs. putting 1/5 to 4/5 into it (average 2.5?) -- for hybrids, or characters who want to actually get dressed in the morning and carry a big stick, for example. I personally think the game is painful without dropping at least a few points into STR/DEX/VIT, but +stat items can help a lot.

Bak
02-28-2011, 03:01 PM
Going to toss in my two cents.

- If mages need help (not necessarily agreeing with the "if"), that's probably due to Depths of Peril, with the many threads about how spellcasters had a huge advantage over the fighters. And the recent change of immobilizing spellcasters when they use spells was an attempt to balance the advantage they had on fighters.

- INT increases the chance of criticals, so any damage comparison using the STR bonuses for fighters also has to also account for spell criticals.

- Spell attacks should *never* have their damage match the fighters (IMO). Reasons? Spell casters have many AOE. Pets/summons allow more attacks and draw away attackers. Most spells are auto-hit (so weapon attacks should be multiplied by 70-90% to account for misses). And a spell caster will get several attacks before most enemies get a single swing (except for those %#$%& dark elf priests :D ).

Crisses
02-28-2011, 03:39 PM
We're really playing a numbers game here.

SOME of the spells are area of effect, or have splash effects. Not all.

Shatter is a great spell to use as an example: That's a mage to be feared. Ok, so not ALL mage spells have to be quite that good, but they shouldn't be so bad that every mage that succeeds has to use Shatter.

For one, when a warrior picks up a new attack skill at level 80, it actually still DOES something. If it doesn't then it should ALSO be tweaked.

If a mage picks up a new attack spell at level 80, it actually does nothing. A level 80 mage needs skills at about 16 to keep up with the monsters -- an investment of 136-280 skill points. How many warrior attack skills need to be at level 16 to keep up with the monsters? Oh, 16 is definitely nice, but once you hit 200-300% crit chances it's not really NECESSARY to keep raising it, right? So a warrior can throw their skill points around more, actually diversify their portfolio. A spell-caster has to very narrowly specialize. Has to. To remain a viable character at those levels, the spellcaster has no choice.

Role play is about choices. About trying on the shoes of some fantasy-land character and taking them for a spin. I want to know why my Wizard can't specialize in fire attacks and ice defense & have teleport even at 1 point and survive. Why bother having 3 trees if I can't take 3 skills on the Fire tree, 2 on the Ice tree and 1 level-1-skill on the Magician tree? And that's only 6 skills! It's not asking too much. But I can only get away with 3 skills that keep up with the monsters, because by level 100 you can only have 3 skills at level 20+, and that's what you need to have for them to even feel it.

Bluddy
02-28-2011, 04:12 PM
Going to toss in my two cents.

- If mages need help (not necessarily agreeing with the "if"), that's probably due to Depths of Peril, with the many threads about how spellcasters had a huge advantage over the fighters. And the recent change of immobilizing spellcasters when they use spells was an attempt to balance the advantage they had on fighters.

Depths of Peril didn't need any proper character balancing, because you always had a buddy with you to help you out. Also, the huge variety of spells per class made it even harder to balance.

Immobilizing spellcasters was a fine idea in my opinion. Also, the problems with spellcasters don't reveal themselves until later levels. The fact is, very few mages have made it to the end game, and almost all chose shatter as their main spell. Why? Because it's the most powerful spell (one of the few truly quadratic damage spells), and the only one not affected by the bad slope that affects mage spells with level. Even those mages that use shatter, can barely afford any other spell.

- INT increases the chance of criticals, so any damage comparison using the STR bonuses for fighters also has to also account for spell criticals.

It's true. However, notice the difference: as STR goes up, your damage keeps climbing and climbing, and every hit is affected. To simplify just a tad, you can get to 250 * 0.6% = 150% EXTRA damage (ie. 250% damage) for the mage classes, if you packed all your attributes into strength. If you have a thief or hunter and use only strength, you can get to 250 * 0.8% = 200% EXTRA damage (300% damage total). If you have a warrior class, you can get to 250 * 1.2% = 300% damage (400% damage total)! This doesn't account for strength raising items or warrior skills that increase damage. Remember that out of the classes listed above, warriors will have the most strength to exploit this bonus. They'll also have the weapons with the highest DPS -- and the top weapons get VERY high DPS. Basically, STR is a super stat, that creates a near-exponential damage output. Let's not forget that strength ALSO gives crushing blows, so that has to be added in as well.

Compare that to INT, which at most, can increase the likelihood of doubling the output of weapons. That's it. That's the most damage it can do. It can increase the chance of doubling of DPS. Much weaker than STR.

- Spell attacks should *never* have their damage match the fighters (IMO). Reasons? Spell casters have many AOE. Pets/summons allow more attacks and draw away attackers. Most spells are auto-hit (so weapon attacks should be multiplied by 70-90% to account for misses). And a spell caster will get several attacks before most enemies get a single swing (except for those %#$%& dark elf priests :D ).

The point about AOE is correct, and AOE spells need to be improved with great care.

Pets -- not all mage classes have them. The ones that have them, have a formula that is very punishing, except for the necromancer who has raise dead and can therefore pick his exact creature level. As I mentioned elsewhere, the summoning formula needs to be improved. To keep summoned pets at my level, I have to keep investing in the skill every 3-4 levels. The fact that the pets multiply doesn't help much because they keep getting weaker and weaker relative to the player and the dungeon. A level 37 pet is completely useless in a level 60 dungeon, but unless you invest 20 levels in the skill, that's what you'll get. The warlock has an even worse deal, as his demons can't even co-exist with each other. I have ideas how to improve this -- creatures should be at most a couple of levels below the player's, and slowly make their way up.

I agree with the spells auto-hitting part. Still, even if you say spells should hit for 70-90% of fighter DPS at high levels, spell damage should be much higher than it is. DPS at high levels can easily reach 2000. Almost all spells can't reach 700 even at spell level 40, which would essentially means putting every skill point you have into 1 skill!

I'm not saying the spell trees are completely broken, like I did before. Having played with it a little, I just think that if the adjustments aren't made to the spells, mages will have an impossible time reaching the end game without using the shatter spell, which is the one really powerful spell they have. Fighters, in comparison, have many ways of reaching the end game and when they get to it, are overly powerful (that's a different balancing story).

Bak
02-28-2011, 04:46 PM
Part of Shatter's advantage is that it is instant damage. If the usual "cast time" (like other spells) were applied, something like half a second between when the spell is started to when it does damage, then shatter will not be so overpowered (compared to other spells).

Edit: Shatter is only quadratic if each "grenade" can 1-hit its neighbors, otherwise it is linear (with normal AoE). If that is the case, then the character would have enough skill points to make almost any single spell "1-hit".

Bluddy, you still are not accounting for the advantage of getting in several shots (from a distance) before the creature gets its first swing at the wizard. That's most of what I meant by the wizard damage output should not be equal to a fighter, who is more likely to get stunned or critical-ed while in close quarters.

For one, when a warrior picks up a new attack skill at level 80, it actually still DOES something. If it doesn't then it should ALSO be tweaked.

Rupture Armor, Enrage, Gut, Parry, Block... Level 1 skill for level 80 fighter does nothing.

I think you need to refine your argument. It is not "fighter versus spellcaster", at least not directly. It is "fixed amount per level" skills compared to "% increase per level". Wizards happen to have a lot of the former, fighters get more of the latter. Similar to the argument being made about pet summons being underpowered compared to raise dead. It's also true that at low levels, spell casters have a huge advantage over fighters, when their "fixed amount" is better than a % increase for low level weapons.

Maybe this will work: all skills that have a fixed increase per level (like fire or frost bolt) should have that amount reduced, but then add back an amount that scales with skill level *and* character level. This would not be limited to the wizard class, but any skill that currently scales linearly with skill level.

As an example, frost bolt does (1-3)+(4-12)S, where S is the skill level. So a level 5 frost bolt does 21-63, and a level 10 frost bolt does 41-123. Now replace that with (1-3)+(3-8)S+(0.1-0.2)SL, where L is the character level. A 10th level mage with 5th level frost bolt does 21-53 (less damage), but a 40 level mage with 5th level frost bolt does 36-83, a respectable power bump. And a 40 mage with 10th level frost bolt would do 71-143. (Pet summons would need some work, the increase in number of pets, with the increase in pet level per character level.)

Obviously there would need to be balancing, as I pulled these numbers out of a hat, but it would be a way to scale damage as levels go up.

Crisses
02-28-2011, 05:18 PM
I think you need to refine your argument. It is not "fighter versus spellcaster", at least not directly. It is "fixed amount per level" skills compared to "% increase per level".

Hi, yeah, I'm the person that started the thread here:
http://www.soldak.com/forums/showthread.php?t=3500

about ALL skills needing to "Scale to level". Across the board. Things like Teleport work as expected no matter what level you pick them up at, and thus don't need changes. However there's a lot of spells AND skills that don't scale to level. Already said elsewhere. I tried to drag conversation into a less spellcaster-oriented thread. Because ALL the trees have this issue on at least a few of their items.

Hunter's Lure scales but has the same lagging behind the character that other summoned creatures do. Hunter's Immolation Trap, Freezing Trap -- they're near-useless unless pumped. Etc. I know there's problems on the warrior trees. But there's still more stuff not broken than broken. On the mage tree, there's more broken than not, so that's where we first saw the issue. The issues started in DoP -- but got so much more complicated in DC it was hard to tell what the issue was. People chose hybrids with trees that had skills that work, and other trees fall by the wayside.



It's also true that at low levels, spell casters have a huge advantage over fighters, when their "fixed amount" is better than a % increase for low level weapons.

That advantage quells in the 20s and by the 30s it's really easy to tell there's a problem.

Maybe this will work: all skills that have a fixed increase per level (like fire or frost bolt) should have that amount reduced, but then add back an amount that scales with skill level *and* character level. This would not be limited to the wizard class, but any skill that currently scales linearly with skill level.

As an example, frost bolt does (1-3)+(4-12)S, where S is the skill level. So a level 5 frost bolt does 21-63, and a level 10 frost bolt does 41-123. Now replace that with (1-3)+(3-8)S+(0.1-0.2)SL, where L is the character level. A 10th level mage with 5th level frost bolt does 21-53 (less damage), but a 40 level mage with 5th level frost bolt does 36-83, a respectable power bump. And a 40 mage with 10th level frost bolt would do 71-143. (Pet summons would need some work, the increase in number of pets, with the increase in pet level per character level.)

Obviously there would need to be balancing, as I pulled these numbers out of a hat, but it would be a way to scale damage as levels go up.

Ok, so now 2 people are with me on the stuff I was saying in the other threads on the subject.... heh.

Before you start citing numbers, take a look at the spreadsheet with real numbers on it. For example, how many times should you have to hit something with a Level 5 frost bolt before it dies? The chart helps us out because at Dungeon level 40 the monster has about 200-250 HPs if I read the chart that Bluddy made correctly. So a 10th lvl mage with a 5th lvl frost bolt would have to hit about 10 times to kill a critter. That could be acceptable. We figure that -- at optimal -- you want to improve a spell every 5 levels, so a "good" level for the frost bolt would be 8 at level 40 mage.

Here's the spreadsheet (https://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=0Aqtah-sa6-jSdDFnYzdnRGhuT1ZrenRZSnIwTU1fcVE&hl=en&authkey=CO7V-4sO)


Here's the thread where I pointed out this Scaling to Level issue:
http://www.soldak.com/forums/showthread.php?t=3500

Bluddy
02-28-2011, 05:34 PM
EDIT: while I was writing this, Crisses submitted a post with very similar points. My post may help people visualize the problem better so hopefully I'm not just repeating what she said. Plus I think we can make non-scaling skills work if we adjust them properly, though the full solution is probably to make them scale.

I'd like to try and make by point by images. All these graphs are in my dropbox excel file, which can be found here (http://dl.dropbox.com/u/22120175/Din%27s%20Curse/dins%20curse%20armor%20absorption.xls).

The first graph asks, is it possible for a mage's skills to keep up with monster HP until the end of the game, if we upgrade the skill to level 16, or once every 6 levels or so. The graph shows the average damage of a couple of spells. To get the character level, multiply the spell level by 6. The purple line at the top is monster HP (it was red before being converted to JPEG). The other lines are various spells. Notice how, if we try to keep up our spell power by upgrading only to level 16, we just won't keep up. Initially it might seem ok, but as we keep going, our spells will get relatively weaker and weaker. Upgrading a regular spell to level 16 costs 12% of our total points. Even spells that cost 8 skill points initially won't scale properly, even though they'll cost 22% of our skill points! Interestingly, volcano, which is the strongest spell on paper (shatter is really the strongest), manages to almost keep up with monster HP.

The 2nd graph asks, what if we try to upgrade our skills to 20th level by the end of the game? Will they be able to keep up (ie. not get weaker and weaker) if we upgrade this skill every 5 player levels? The answer can be seen in the graph. Aside from volcano, the slope of each spell is such that with every level they get weaker and weaker relative to the monsters. Not that it's cheap to upgrade every 5 levels: upgrading a skill that starts at a cost of 1 will cost us 19%, while a skill that starts at a cost of 8 will take 30% of our skill points, and still won't keep us in the fight up to the end game.

The 3rd graph tries to answer the question: what if I upgrade my skills to level 30? Will I then be able to fight in the end game? The answer is in the graph. Volcano keeps up again, but other spells still get weaker and weaker relative to the monsters. The cost of our spells, however, is now very significant: upgrading to level 30 costs 40% of my skill points for skills that cost 1 to begin with, and 59% of my skill points for skills that cost 8 points. And I STILL can't really keep up with the monsters! (Except for volcano).

This is why mages can't keep up. The slope of their lines is such that they keep getting weaker relative to the monsters. And that's just the regular monsters -- elite/champion monsters are much harder, not to mention bosses. So mages do fine around level 10 (as you can see in the graphs -- just multiply the spell level numbers by the 6, 5, or 3 for 16, 20, or 30 respectively). It gets really challenging around level 25 as the monsters start opening a gap, and then the monsters just wallop wizards for the rest of the game. Plus, just to try keep up, mages have to invest 1/3 of their skill points or more per skill! No wonder everybody runs to shatter, which is the strongest spell. Shatter's curve is more similar to fighers' curves, which, just for comparison, don't look like straight lines, but like a parabola going up. They easily exceed and trounce the monsters.

What should be done? One problem is that mages can't put only a few skill points into a skill for it to be effective (as other classes can). Mages have to fully invest in any skill. They therefore need to be given more skills to play with: skills should reach end game level by the 20th skill level. Even this costs 20% of skill points, which means by the end game they'll have only 5 skills that can keep up.

Secondly, the skills need to follow a slope that more closely matches that of the monsters' HP. It's fine if the skills diverge from the monsters' HP line, so long as they don't diverge too far away from it. Proper lines for the skills would actually be a lot easier to build if they weren't linear but slightly curved upwards (ie. they multiplied by a certain amount each skill level, say 1.1 or something.)

Finally, as a bonus, check out the last graph. If you thought you were just imagining that fire got deadlier and deadlier with level, you were wrong. Look at how the fire's damage slope (which is what matters) completely dominates the monsters' HP slope with increasing dungeon levels. If we don't want monsters (and pets) to die instantaneously when touching fire, we need the slopes to match almost perfectly.

Bluddy
03-01-2011, 06:48 AM
After finding some inconsistent values, I realized I neglected to account for the effect of increasing difficulty levels (normal, champion, elite, legendary), all of which have multipliers that increase monster HP and resistance among other things.

The picture that comes out of this update is very grim. The new graphs are attached. This time, the real monster levels are along the bottom. As you can see, even if we upgrade our spells to level 30, they become completely worthless as we advance along the levels to new difficulties. Being a fire mage gets challenging at level 25 or so. At elite level it's impossible. I also accounted for increasing monster resistance with difficulty.

If my data is right, this situation is unfixable given the current tools. The only way to 'fix' this right now would be to adjust the spell lines so they reach somewhere below the end point of monster effective HP. But this would make mages invincible for the first 3/4 of the game, since spells would be higher than monster HP for that region. The only solutions are either to make spells relative to caster level, or to make the spell graphs quadratic by increasing them proportionally at each level.

BTW if you look at fire, now that I adjusted for difficulty, you can see why it's got the graph that it has. Monsters actually get stronger than fire at legendary level.

Maledictus
03-01-2011, 07:01 AM
Does the explanation/discussion and the graphic representation take into account the boost (secondary skills that boost/support primary attack) skills?
Same for the charlevel+x factor when creating a new town. I.e. what is the context for the measurements.

Bluddy
03-01-2011, 07:10 AM
Does the explanation and the graphic representation take into account the boost (secondary skills that boost/support primary attack) skills?

It doesn't. The stats on the effect of those skills aren't easy to find in the files. I believe they boost damage by a certain percentage, right? Well, even if you built up to boost 100%, which would take away precious points from building up a spell, you'd still be way below what's needed to survive the end game. And many spells can't be boosted, so those would remain just as pitiful as they are even after 30 skill levels.

Crisses
03-01-2011, 07:24 AM
The picture that comes out of this update is very grim. The new graphs are attached. This time, the real monster levels are along the bottom. As you can see, even if we upgrade our spells to level 30, they become completely worthless as we advance along the levels to new difficulties. Being a fire mage gets challenging at level 25 or so. At elite level it's impossible. I also accounted for increasing monster resistance with difficulty.

**Whimper** -- yeah, that's a big problem....to the tune of "Count me out" on trying to get a mage past level 30. I play a slow game, and it effectively means I have to fight MORE monsters because of respawn rates.

Can you spell crit with area-of-effect spells? i.e. is Volcano still even vaguely worthwhile? If there's no spell crit on AOE, then that explains why Shatter is so special -- it lets you single-target & still get a splash/AOE that's very formidable (unlike Fireball, where the splash is far less formidable).

How are people able to use Shatter to endgame? Do they have to spam it until something shatters, or whack a monster over the head until it's lowered in HP enough to break? I guess Shatter has crit effects because it's got a single target.... does the crit chance transfer to the new grenades?

So with my Wizard (basically a fire mage now that I pulled nearly all my points out of defense spells), the tactics I was using just a couple levels ago fail because of the widening gap through the 20s as I switch between a Normal & Champion difficulty level. When you tested the character and it was "Ok" yesterday -- was that Normal Level -24 or Champion Level 25+? :)

Have any mages made it to Level 100 without gratuitous use of vitality or other stat-mod potions?

Bluddy
03-01-2011, 07:30 AM
Not sure when I tested your char if it was normal or champion level. I'm guessing normal since 3 fireballs generally killed monsters, but I'll test again when I get a chance. I'd say low level champion is the very edge of where mages can be sustainable without turning to the dark side (ie. Shatter). Necromancers are the only ones who could continue to do well if they invest all their points in raise dead (as was mentioned before).

I'm guessing that the crits on Shatter do transfer onwards, which is why it's viable until the endgame. High intelligence helps there.

As for potions -- nothing I can think of can help the mage reach the endgame.

Anyway, we're at the point where we mortals can do no more, even with fervent modding. Only Shadow can help us now.

Crisses
03-01-2011, 07:36 AM
It doesn't. The stats on the effect of those skills aren't easy to find in the files. I believe they boost damage by a certain percentage, right? Well, even if you built up to boost 100%, which would take away precious points from building up a spell, you'd still be way below what's needed to survive the end game. And many spells can't be boosted, so those would remain just as pitiful as they are even after 30 skill levels.

Right -- so even if you have say Volcano 30 (615 skill points) and Fire Mastery 30 (you actually won't have enough skill points to reach 30 on this but let's play in this fantasy universe for a moment)....then you're a 1-trick pony with nothing else to cast. Volcano has a 5 second cooldown (and at 30 will cost about 70 mana to cast). So you'll be dead, lots. 5 seconds might not seem long but even 1 second cooldowns in battle can make a big difference. This theoretical dead man has no defense spells, not even teleport with a 60-second cooldown.

Shatter & Ice Mastery -- maybe.... 30 in Shatter just does 300 grenade damage or so....but if that damage stat is boosted by ice mastery it would help it. Again you can't have level 30/level 30.

Crisses
03-01-2011, 07:37 AM
Only Shadow can help us now.

"Help me, Obi Wan, you're my only hope!"

Crisses
03-01-2011, 07:47 AM
I think what we need is Shadow's head on this. First, what other factors affect spell damage -- we know about mastery -- and crits. Is there anything else -- hidden factors on the back-end, etc. It's possible it's not QUITE as bad as it looks.

Then we need to think about what can be done to bring mages closer to that line.

One problem with "Haha! I have a level 100 Wizard!" is that we didn't interview the person about "Ok, but was it FUN?" And fun here includes a challenge, and sweating a little when there's a boss, and occasionally running for dear life...and feeling like you're winning an uphill battle. But fun is not a constant life-or-death-with-emphasis-on-death struggle, and not a pill & potion quaffing addict. A mage should, with careful play, prayer & potions, be able to make it to the 50s or 60s (at least) on Hardcore.

Bluddy
03-01-2011, 09:44 AM
OK I just ran a simulation using fireball and fire mastery. My rule was to try and keep fireball at 1/3 of monster HP, while economizing on skill points. I'd only upgrade fireball/mastery if I lagged below 1/3 of the monster HP for that level. Of course I had to keep to the skill points allotted. I got to level 24 of fireball and level 27 of fire mastery.

You can see my results in my huge excel book on page 'Mastery'.

My conclusions are the following:
- Things aren't quite as bad as they seem if you use masteries to the most.
- A mage MUST have a high level in masteries. Masteries are the only thing keeping the mage in the game. It's still a struggle, but it's doable. They provide the non-linearity which spells lack.
- I used up 685 points out of 1151 getting to these levels. There's room for pretty much only one more skill at level 25 at most. Had I used up skill points on other skills, I would probably have been unable to keep up.
- Other classes use masteries for boosts -- not because they have to. It's not necessarily fair to expect the mage to have to spend a precious skill and spend it all on masteries to survive; especially when the mage has few skills he can have in total (all of them must be taken to high levels to be effective). If mastery is a must (and it is), mages have even fewer available skills then we thought they did.
- What about the other skills that don't scale and don't have masteries? What about skills like tornado, whose class doesn't have the cold mastery to boost it? The thief's ice attack? These skills are completely useless.
- Fire mastery is one of the strongest masteries, giving 10% damage with each level. Other masteries are weaker, and may not be enough to save their respective mages.
- What all the non-scalable skills need is a small component of DynamicStatMultSkillDamage with each level. Masteries should just boost these. I'll try to add these and see what I get.

Crisses
03-01-2011, 10:48 AM
Ok, Bluddy & I have tossed out the "desirable" skill level of 16 for someone's major sklils -- this is about 10-25% of your skill points over the life of your character, so you could have between 4-10 skills at 16, depending on their initial cost.

So rather than needing 24/27 on those skills, they're about 10 levels off by endgame. It's not a LOT....the power they have at 24/27 should probably be happening around levels 14/17.

I think that's what we should look at adjusting to and see how that affects game balance. If someone decided they wanted only 2 skills -- say fireball & fire mastery, would the level 29 Fireball & 30 Fire Mastery (maxed out on skill points) make the character able to 1-shot a boss at level 100? :) Then their only challenge would be monsters that have higher fire resistance/immunity -- except that I think Fireball has a lower splash effect so I guess such a character can still get mobbed to death.

Fireball can also be mitigated with a .5 reuse period to avoid fully spamming it, and leaving FieryBlast a desirable skill (and of course tweaked to be usable) with no cooldown at all. You'd have to aim your fireball more carefully in groups of critters to get the best effect.

Crisses
03-01-2011, 10:50 AM
Oh -- what about the "On Fire" effect -- is that damage already accounted for in the formula, or is there still an "echo" effect that goes on. Plus there's the critical factor. The spell might not be off a whole 10 levels...?

Ice spells get the addition of slowing the creatures too, so there's balance between the echo damage of fire vs. the slowing effect of Ice -- other direct-damage skills may not have these fringe benefits.

Bluddy
03-01-2011, 11:28 AM
Still trying to wrap my head around this, but struggling.

in the graphs the X-axis is Level, yes? So all comparisons are run on a charlevel=monsterlevel basis. There are problems for this assumption that should be obvious.

I make the assumption that, if a skill needs 20 levels to get to full power (endgame power) I upgrade it every 5 levels (100/20). Each skill level corresponds to 5 monster levels. For 30 levels, I try to make another assumption: let's try to get to full power in 30 levels of the skill, so we upgrade every 3 levels. 1 spell level = 3 monster levels. Since the spells are linear, that's a completely fine assumption.

Once you get masteries involved, it gets much harder to graph. That's why I did a little simulation of having both fireball and fire mastery, and trying to keep fireball at a constant level relative to the monsters (who will hit me much harder with level, so it's not like I solve my problems by keeping fireball at the same relative strength).

I can tell you that according to my calculations, try as you might, you have no chance of reaching level 100 without serious investment in a mastery skill. You'll then be able to afford 1 or 2 other spells. That's it. That's your only chance of reaching the endgame, if you're luck, with one caveat -- use Shatter and things change. That's why everyone uses Shatter.

I'd like to ask: does anybody here who contributes to this discussion actually played a class to level 100, and is therefore able to contribute to this discussion with arguments NOT based on formula based graphs? As cool as the graphs are, they do (in my opinion) not represent actual gameplay situations. Please note, I'm not saying there are no problems here, I'm just not clear on how the actual problem is detected. Basing the whole discussion on graphs seems wrong to me.

Better yet -- find me a mage at the higher levels who doesn't use Shatter. I doubt you will. People give up way before they get there because it's so tough. I haven't gotten to high level classes, but I collected quite a few test classes from the forum, some of which are at very high levels. I use them to verify some of my calculations and discoveries about the game's mechanics. I have yet to find a pure mage at high level, or even a pure conjurer, and especially ones without Shatter or Bone Shatter.

There are also problems with the absence of context for the argument (is the need for skill focus bad? the effects of char-monster spread?) but I'll leave that as-is for now.

I'm looking at the average monster hit points. Some will be higher, a few will be lower. Elites and Champions will be much higher. Bosses will be much much higher.

Bak
03-01-2011, 12:00 PM
Hunter's Lure scales but has the same lagging behind the character that other summoned creatures do. Hunter's Immolation Trap, Freezing Trap -- they're near-useless unless pumped.

27th level hunter/thief. Immolation at level 4, freezing at level 3, net trap level 3. VERY useful, despite you saying they are "near-useless" unless pumped up. If my character didn't have a bow, it would be more difficult, but if all he had was a bow (without these skills) it would also be more difficult.

Crisses
03-01-2011, 01:49 PM
27th level hunter/thief. Immolation at level 4, freezing at level 3, net trap level 3. VERY useful, despite you saying they are "near-useless" unless pumped up. If my character didn't have a bow, it would be more difficult, but if all he had was a bow (without these skills) it would also be more difficult.

My hunter/trickster is now Level 50. I took all my points but 1 out of Immolation trap. It's no longer useful to me. It was useful -- pumped it quite a bit -- but now I'm just going to use it on barrels & doors and webs. It's no longer of use against monsters for me compared to me putting those extra skill points into barbed arrow... If your experience is better, great. :) But if you've seen the charts -- the game changes big time once you leave Champion and start entering Elite levels -- so I'll see you on the other side of level 49 ok? :)

Crisses
03-01-2011, 02:18 PM
Better yet -- find me a mage at the higher levels who doesn't use Shatter. I doubt you will. People give up way before they get there because it's so tough. I haven't gotten to high level classes, but I collected quite a few test classes from the forum, some of which are at very high levels. I use them to verify some of my calculations and discoveries about the game's mechanics. I have yet to find a pure mage at high level, or even a pure conjurer, and especially ones without Shatter or Bone Shatter.

I can't find Maledictus' original post :/


It's anecdotal now backed up with actual charts that MIGHT be evidence if we could get the game developer to let us know what other factor(s) if any we might be missing.

Player after player has complained that the game "isn't fun" after level 20-30 or so. Very few classes/hybrids are making it up past say level 50 or so. VERY few examples of level 100 characters, much less level 100 mages. Because THIS IS NOT JUST A MAGE PROBLEM.

The problem started in Depths of Peril. Someone did a meticulous analysis of the 4 base classes in DoP and repeatedly mentioned certain skills "didn't scale to level". We were already trying to think of what was wrong with the skills/spells, but this is the problem. The charts make it very clear that UNLESS there's other factors involved, the base damage of direct-damage skills is not able to keep up with dungeon-monster growth levels. The few skills that DO keep up are going to get overplayed and the trees with no choices will simply go unused, wasted....

If every time you play the game you have to make the same choices, then it's not replayable. I won't play a carbon-copy of someone else's character. I don't like the formulaic "Try this build because it works great." I won't follow that mold of "This only works if you pump up with vitality potions." I won't take a rogue ONLY because it's one of the ones with a stronger set of skill trees (Trickster is great for example, compared with other skill trees!).

Here's another way of putting it:

While working my way to level 25 I have a solid character concept. I **Like** my character. By around level 20 or so, I've given it emotional investment. I used to table-top RPG so my character has a personality concept. It's like my chunk of control over a fictional universe. Now let's say my concept was "I am a great & diversified-portfolio Magician!" and I thought my mage could run around with Ice Armor, Fireball and a Magic Sheild. (is 1 skill on each tree too much to ask? Stick around!) I'm doing pretty well -- things die when they should, and when something doesn't die soon enough, I can boost my armor & arm my magic sheild. Yay!

Around level 25, where I switch to Champion difficulty level, I have to RETHINK my choices because the game swings erratically away from my character's abilities.

So ok, my mage decides first to drop say the sheild. It doesn't last long enough, too long a cooldown time -- screw it. Put the points into Fireball. Ok, the game eases just a bit, after all by this time the points from the Magic Sheild only pump Fireball by 1 level or so....

By level 30 I still can't keep up. My current skills are unworkable. My only choice is to kill before they kill me. I need Fire Mastery to help out, because Fireball is way too expensive. So I drop my ice armor. Again, it doesn't last long enough, too long a cooldown period -- I'm getting mauled and my 2 defense spells totally failed me. I pump up Fire Mastery. I make it to level 35 but now I'm disappointed. My character is now a single-tree one-trick pony charlatan -- my character disappointed me. I thought "I" was this great and powerful magician, and I'm not even 1/3 through the game and I'm struggling to keep up and I'm bored with my one working spell (and 1 passive). [right-click, right-click, eat food, right-click, right-click, potion...] Either I go back to another game that's more replayable or I'm still hyped about Din's Curse and try another character concept.

Now, some people don't have that experience that early. Some are more stubborn, or more willing to drink vitality potions, or better at strategy (or stubbornness?) than I am. But the numbers we have right now agree with the story I've heard on the forums.

Maledictus
03-01-2011, 05:13 PM
I can't find Maledictus' original post
I removed it, but not quickly enough it seems. I'll add it here, for those interested, and because it became part of the discussion:

-----
Still trying to wrap my head around this, but struggling.

In the graphs the X-axis is Level, yes? So all comparisons are run on a charlevel=monsterlevel basis. There are problems for this assumption that should be obvious. I'd like to ask: has anybody here who contributes to this discussion actually played a class to level 100, and is therefore able to contribute to this discussion with arguments NOT based on formula based graphs? As cool as the graphs are, they do (in my opinion) not represent actual gameplay situations. Please note, I'm not saying there are no problems here, I'm just not clear on how the actual problem is detected. Basing the whole discussion on graphs and sheets seems wrong to me.

I have not played a full mage class in DC yet, so I'm now playing one to see how things play out (very curious!) but this is obviously going to take a while...

There are also problems with the absence of context for the argument (is the need for skill focus bad? the effects of char-monster level-spread?) but I'll leave that as-is for now.
-----

Adding a question: assuming 2 situations; one town with charlevel=monsterlevel, and one town with charlevel+10=monsterlevel, is the problem portrayed here more serious for the second situation, and if so, how much? Would it be possible to graph this relation? Also, I can't find the link to the sheets anymore, maybe it would be handy if links to files are always in the first post of the thread.

Edit: just found it.

Bluddy
03-01-2011, 05:44 PM
Adding a question: assuming 2 situations; one town with charlevel=monsterlevel, and one town with charlevel+10=monsterlevel, is the problem portrayed here more serious for the second situation, and if so, how much? Would it be possible to graph this relation? Also, I can't find the link to the sheets anymore, maybe it would be handy if links to files are always in the first post of the thread.

Character level + 10 = monster level will be worse, but the important thing here really is the slope of the lines at any particular point. If I find that monsters deep inside the dungeon are just too tough for me and I have skill points, I'll try to upgrade my skill. But I only have so many skill points, and if the monsters are improving faster than I can catch up (the slope of my skill line vs the slope of their HP line), the gap between me and the monsters will get bigger and bigger. At a certain point, I'll be using every single skill point to try and improve my skill (I can't switch to anything else since I'd need to build that up from scratch) and I just won't catch up with the monsters. In the meantime, their attack is getting stronger, and I HAVE to kill them before they get to me because my defenses are relatively low. The result is death(s) and frustration. That's what the graphs are basically describing.

Manumitted
03-01-2011, 06:06 PM
I'm wondering how, if at all, these depressing figures account for Cast Time gear. A 44% CT staff or gloves isn't so hard to find, and I have to think things would change considerably with the extra 44% or 88% magic DPS, assuming one's Mana Regen can keep up (dipsomania, ahoy there!).

I have a Defender/Fire Mage who's L32 at the moment and not having that much trouble. Despite his all-plate and Defender side, he can't storm through the dunjon like my Warriors, but casters aren't supposed to do that anyway. He hangs back and roasts mobs from afar, which also reduces the "uncover a gas leak and fireball it before you see it" routine. He hasn't even had to don his Cast Time gloves yet or switch to a CT staff.

I'm also wondering if these figures account for Magic Crits, which are awfully easy for a mage to get up to 100%.* That's another almost free way to double damage.

*200 INT and 2 Fryse Blue Rings, and you're there. Or at least you were before the rings got nerfed a bit.

Bluddy
03-01-2011, 06:40 PM
I'm wondering how, if at all, these depressing figures account for Cast Time gear. A 44% CT staff or gloves isn't so hard to find, and I have to think things would change considerably with the extra 44% or 88% magic DPS, assuming one's Mana Regen can keep up (dipsomania, ahoy there!).

I have a Defender/Fire Mage who's L32 at the moment and not having that much trouble. Despite his all-plate and Defender side, he can't storm through the dunjon like my Warriors, but casters aren't supposed to do that anyway. He hangs back and roasts mobs from afar, which also reduces the "uncover a gas leak and fireball it before you see it" routine. He hasn't even had to don his Cast Time gloves yet or switch to a CT staff.

I'm also wondering if these figures account for Magic Crits, which are awfully easy for a mage to get up to 100%.* That's another almost free way to double damage.

*200 INT and 2 Fryse Blue Rings, and you're there. Or at least you were before the rings got nerfed a bit.

Hmm... Good points on both counts. I did consider magic crits, but if you account for both high critical hits and fast casting gloves, that does change the picture somewhat... But by how much? Was this the design -- were casters supposed to have critical hits and fast casting? Would that make fast casting gloves a must-have item for magicians then? How does that work for spells with cooldown times? I really wish I had a pure high level mage to test all of this out with.

Crisses
03-01-2011, 08:36 PM
Hmm... Good points on both counts. I did consider magic crits, but if you account for both high critical hits and fast casting gloves, that does change the picture somewhat... But by how much? Was this the design -- were casters supposed to have critical hits and fast casting? Would that make fast casting gloves a must-have item for magicians then? How does that work for spells with cooldown times? I really wish I had a pure high level mage to test all of this out with.

I haven't seen any of these items.... and I've played several characters. Maybe I just don't know what to look for.

I don't think random items should be required to survive... maybe that's just me.

Brysos
03-01-2011, 09:02 PM
I haven't seen any of these items.... and I've played several characters. Maybe I just don't know what to look for.

I don't think random items should be required to survive... maybe that's just me.


I have fast cast gloves and a fast cast staff and they make a huge difference. I think I have found one other pair of fast cast gloves in all of my playing. My mage is pretty easy to play, with the exception of the odd unique who is super fast and can one shot me. I do die a lot because I can only take a few hits, but shatter kills screens full of mobs in a few hits and Teleport and Fire Maelstrom get me out of jams if I react quick enough.

Crisses
03-01-2011, 09:57 PM
Yeah, it's been said many times Shatter (and to a lesser extent Bone Shatter) is really the best spell. But not all viable mages should be required to use Shatter....

Volcano is heavy in damage, but also has a moderate cooldown (5 seconds). Shatter is spammable. Maelstrom immobilizes the opponents allowing you to run, which is nice, but the damage doesn't keep up to its name.

Do the fastcast gloves reduce the cooldown? Obviously that would be amazing...However, if they're a rare enough item, then one shouldn't count on mages getting their hands on them when doing game balance...not unless the game reaches critical mass with players farming for items and high trading going on.... lol

Manumitted
03-01-2011, 11:26 PM
The thing I dislike about Fire Maelstrom is that it hurts me worse than the mobs most of the time. Something volatile--the spell effect itself?--always seems to go boom close enough to hurt me unless I run away from the instant I cast the spell, which reduces the opportunities to fireball the fish in a barrel. It's good only for crowd control.

I don't think anything hurries up a cooldown timer, even dying.

I item-farm for long enough in convenient towns and survey the merchants constantly enough that I'm drowning in spare Cast Time gloves and have a moderate oversupply of CT staves. Every caster of mine already has at least +33% CT gloves, usually +44%, often with other useful enchants (middling omnistat / omniresist / single stat or resist). If you have Hide Crappy Items turned on, you may be sabotaging your chances at these gloves, because they usually show up with no other enchantments, and the CT enchant is (still) worth just a few CP per percent.

Bluddy
03-02-2011, 03:07 AM
The thing I dislike about Fire Maelstrom is that it hurts me worse than the mobs most of the time. Something volatile--the spell effect itself?--always seems to go boom close enough to hurt me unless I run away from the instant I cast the spell, which reduces the opportunities to fireball the fish in a barrel. It's good only for crowd control.

Could it be an earthquake? Might be hard to see with the maelstrom going on.

I don't think anything hurries up a cooldown timer, even dying.

OK so the cast time gloves are really for spammable spells, which is fine. They allow you to fire faster spammable spells if you have the mana for it, so you don't need to boost their level as much and can concentrate on other skills instead. That's a fair trade. I don't think that solves mages' (or other classes') problems. And those gloves are rare enough that we can't count on them. Also, non-mage characters (or half mages) will prefer something else over fast cast items.

While I'm on this topic, I should mention what I think masteries should be like: they should essentially be group discounts. If I know I want to specialize only in fire mage spells, it's worthwhile to get fire mastery so that I can build up more fire spells in my repertoire while spending fewer skill points. It's not as good of an investment if I want to diversify between different skill trees, say fire and ice. In that case I'd need to buy the spells at full price, or try to get a group of ice and a group of fire and get both masteries to try and save. This is how the spells should work. Instead, right now they're just used for survival.

Manumitted
03-02-2011, 04:01 AM
Could it be an earthquake? Might be hard to see with the maelstrom going on.

I moved on to a new town and figured it out. The old town had the modifier Fire Hazard, so the maelstrom would rip holes in the floor, find multiple gas leaks, and light them up. Irritatingly enough, the gas explosions never seemed half as hard on the mobs as they were on me. It's like the mobs were insulated from the explosions by the maelstrom's DOT.

The new town actually lets me clear a cave-in with fireballs without causing a bigger cave-in or explosion, and I can shoot more than two fireballs at the same mob without blasting my face off. Fire Hazard is no fun for a Fire Mage.

Bluddy
03-03-2011, 02:57 AM
I started a balance thread in the mod forum. See you all there!