View Full Version : Development Update, Game Balance 10-8-02

17th October 02, 03:35 PM
Publisher Note (http://eqlive.station.sony.com/community/articles_archive.jsp)

Just like everyone else, we're people. People make mistakes.

Some mistakes aren't that unbalancing and are safe to keep in the game and work around. Others can sometimes yield gameplay that turns out to be even more fun than developers even imagined, as ingenious adventurers discover unrealized potential in their abilities. Yet others, even the best-intentioned ones, can cause an entire style of gameplay to shift dramatically in a direction that no one particularly enjoys.

Unfortunately, today, we need to address a number of the latter kind. For that, we sincerely apologize. It is absolutely our fault that certain abilities have been allowed to grow out of control.

In our last letter, we stated that our goal for large scale battles in EverQuest was never one of endurance contests. We'd prefer to actively return to the type of battles that everyone feels are more fun - Battles that require tactics and skill, as opposed to attendance and endurance.

Due to some specific abilities as they exist today in EverQuest, this unfortunately isn't possible. The mathematics simply cannot be made to work. In extreme cases such as that, the abilities themselves must be altered.

It isn't possible, for example, to ever make another fast-action, do-or-die-quickly style encounter as long as Manaburn exists in its current form, unless it is targeted solely at an entire group of people who have this ability, as it will otherwise be trivial to those who do.

Likewise, it isn't possible to create encounters that must be completed in a certain amount of time due to mana consumption, when Rods of Mystical Transvergence provide an essentially unlimited source of mana. Every challenging encounter must also be challenging for the massive raid of people who have infinite mana, and the encounter then becomes undoable to those who do not have the infinite supply.

Hypothetically, the only alternative to changing abilities such as these would be to inflate every other class up to the same tier of relative power (be it damaging power, or mana regenerative power), then inflate the rest of the world to compensate for the sudden rash of new found power. Drastic, world-wide changes of that sort, however, are a guaranteed way to do more harm than good.

The time has come to address these abilities. Fortunately, after doing so, EverQuest as a whole, and the encounters in Planes of Power, will be able to be tuned for forces who are interested in active participation in the game, as opposed to those forced to sit through yet another 45 minute encounter with a single NPC, as became the norm in Luclin.

* Manaburn. In addition to the problem described above, this ability was never intended to be a way for small bands of high level players to hold hostage the advancement of larger numbers of more appropriately leveled people. While this was not the universal case, it has unfortunately happened enough across most servers to where it became a large concern in recent months. The concept of someone looking to complete their epic quest via teamwork and overcoming the odds, only to have their attempts obstructed, in some cases, by small teams of players looking to profit financially from their power, quite frankly, is not a behavior that we wish the game to reinforce.

In the next patch, Wizards who have purchased Manaburn will find that their ability points have been refunded. Please make sure that you have fewer than 25 pooled Ability points.

At that point, they will be able to purchase a new Manaburn if they choose, which has most of the power of the old one. However, the new Manaburn leaves a temporary effect on its target when used that does not stack with other Manaburns. The delay that we will be tuning on the Test Server soon will allow a single target to be manaburned no more frequently than once every minute.

Hopefully, this will bring the ability back in line with the original intent -- A powerful ability that allows a Wizard to do massive short-term damage, but not a method for a group of wizards to destroy powerful creatures with zero risk.

* Rods of Mystical Transvergence. The description above shows how this spell has perhaps singlehandedly altered the balance of the end-game encounter by turning it into an event where the largest challenge is setting up a timed rotation of Complete Healing. Once that is established, in many cases, the event is just as playable by leaving AutoAttack on, and wandering away to watch television. This does not make for stellar interactive content.

We view Magicians as an excellent source of damage, especially with the many pet enhancements that have been made over the past year. To be honest, it is a more than a small shame that their full energies have been viewed as "needed" to be spent, full-time, purely on transferring their mana to others. Magicians are supposed to be the masters of elemental conjuration and highly respected as a damage-dealer, not the masters of mana transferrence.

In the next update, Rods of Mystical Transvergence will be changed so that the spell summons an item that is still a valuable upgrade over the original Modulation Rod, yet does not provide an infinite amount of mana. The idea of sudden mana gain spells is only balanced if there is a net loss over time to counteract the rapid infusion. The initial version of the spell that we will be testing summons a Rod containing a single charge of 360 mana for 450 hit points, and can only be used by a person once each minute.

In addition, the Rods themselves will be non-droppable, and spell will turn into a "target based summon," such that the Magician summons them directly onto the recipient, as opposed to having to hand them out manually or create a stockpile on the ground.

Since there are definitely encounters in the game where this type of mana regeneration is mandatory for the encounter to be beaten by a reasonably sized force, a number of those encounters will likewise be re-tuned to shorten their duration, most frequently by lowering the hit points on the NPC in question.

Again, our intent here is provide Magicians with a desirable secondary ability that would ideally be used before a battle, not an ability which essentially compels them to suddenly transform into a full-time support role, transferring their mana to others, as opposed to dealing damage.

* Complete Healing. The concept of any class getting their single best, most efficient primary ability at level 39, has never sat well with most people. In the days of characters having a maximum of 2000-4000 hit points, the spell was absolutely not imbalancing. However, as time went on and characters progressed, now doubling that amount of hit points, it becomes obvious that the spell must be scaled back slightly.

This spell has, over time, become the defining cornerstone of the Cleric class. As such, it cannot be altered significantly. Taking that into account, and given that those with the most hit points in EverQuest have yet to hit the full 10,000 HP cap of this spell, the spell will remain nearly as useful as it is today, by being reclassified as a spell that heals for 7,500 hit points, down from its current cap of 10,000.

This will allow it to continue to be used as it has been in the past, while allowing for more dynamic types of heals to be introduced in the future. Making this change will allow us to providing more entertaining high-end encounters that require more active involvement than setting up a Complete Healing "Rotation" or "Chain," then repeating the same motions until the Large Thing you are facing, eventually falls down.

* Monk Defense. Finally, the issue of defensive ability needs to be addressed with respect to Monks. Monks in EverQuest were originally intended to be a class with excellent offensive potential, both with and without equipment. This ability came at the expense of having only passable defensive abilities, partially in the form of an extremely small, restrictive selection of equipment from which to choose.

This, of course, caused its own series of problems of how to adequately reward the person behind the character. It did not take long for universally equippable items (ALL/ALL items) to be considered by and large as "Monk Loot," as far back as before the launch of Kunark.

Over time, Monks' defensive abilities had been tuned up to correct a perceived weakness. This, taken in combination with a few years of universally equippable, low-weight, high powered items entering the game, slowly transformed Monks into what is arguably the strongest defensive class in the game. Monks get hit less than any other class, and due to the tuning over time, no longer take appreciably more damage when they do get hit.

This imbalance between the classes does need to be addressed in order for the Plate-wearing classes in the game to have their proper relative power. The Plate-wearing classes in the game take a serious penalty to their offensive abilities in order to defend as well as they can, and we cannot fix this problem solely by inflating their defensive abilities to compensate for this. Again, that type of change would harm EverQuest as a whole much more than altering the one class. Likewise, we have no desire to retroactively alter all of the equipment in the game that is contributing to this problem.

Monk defense will be altered somewhat. It is no secret that in EverQuest, a character's Armor Class does not compare equally across different classes. (A Wizard with 1000 AC defends differently than a Warrior with 1000AC, for example.) It's not the most optimal system, for sure, but it is the one that many people have had much time to get used to. As such, Monk defense will be altered such that they may continue wearing the same equipment, however, they will get a decreased benefit to their overall ability to take damage.

Again, we have no desire to make monks unable to take any type of punishment -- far from it. What we are primarily striving for is maintaining the defensive order of the Plate classes being able to take the most punishment, followed by the Chain classes and Monks. The latter being technically a Leather wearing class who will continue to make up the difference by being able to avoid more blows than the rest.

In closing, we would like to again apologize for the amount of time that we've allowed these abilites to remain in their current state. With Planes of Power on the horizon, in order to make encounters that most people would consider "fun," these abilities and class attributes need to be brought back into line as sane upgrades and logical progressions, as opposed to their current manifestations.

We appreciate the many well thought-out letters that have been sent in on these topics and more. As always, we thank you for playing EverQuest and look forward to seeing you soon in the Planes of Power.

- The EverQuest Development Team