Brainstorming: sub-classes and races for heroes/Leaders and balance

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Home Forums Age of Wonders 3 Discussions Brainstorming: sub-classes and races for heroes/Leaders and balance

This topic contains 26 replies, has 7 voices, and was last updated by  Naetell 2 years, 9 months ago.

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  • #258932

    Hiliadan
    Member

    Hi all! An idea has been in the air for a very long time and I’m finally opening a topic to discuss it!

    Context and current issues with the game
    (in the following discussions, I may say “heroes” but I always mean heroes and Leaders, unless stated otherwise)
    In PBEM competitive games, heroes and Leaders level up very fast (1 level per turn up to level 11 can be achieved easily and level 15 can be reached around turn 15-20) and heroes tend to become monstrous units, especially when (and not really “if”) they get good gear from clearing high level sites. It is very hard to get unkillable heroes but it is relatively easy to get very strong heroes that can have big impacts on auto-battles and can clear any site on manual (or even solo them). In order to avoid having ridiculous games with armies of very strong heroes making T1, T2 and even higher tier units useless, we have to limit hero levels to 13 or 15 and also limit the number of heroes to 2 for Small maps and about 3 for Large maps.
    In addition, despite some (recent) efforts to make all abilities useful, some hero builds (i.e. choices of abilities) are more useful than others and tend to be always picked, reducing the strategical options for heroes. The issue is especially severe for Leaders, since the lack of casting point and spell upgrades means they often get more upgrade points than they can spend.
    Finally, balance is made difficult because adding a strong ability to a class (or making one easier to access) usually means heroes and Leaders from that class can get both that new ability AND all the previous strong ones, becoming too strong and sometimes benefiting from synergies that would be better avoided to maintain balance. For instance, the addition of Lava Walking and 100% Fire Protection to Dreadnought heroes (in v1.22 of the balance mod) is not over powerful in itself, but combined with the existence of Destabilized Mana Core that does Fire damage, it means Dreadnought can now use one of the strongest nuke without any danger for themselves. Or the Scouting ability of Rogue can be combined with Total Awareness to create an extremely mobile and lethal unit.

    How can sub-class and sub-race help?
    Sub-classes and sub-races would be paths heroes and Leaders could choose to specialize more, based on their class and their race. So each hero would be more customized and unique, and new strategic options would appear to adapt to the conditions of each game. Eomolch’s Hero Development (http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=524567032) and Hero Profession mods (http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=616553983) introduces such sub-classes and sub-races and show what is possible.

    If they are mutually exclusive, sub-classes and races can help deal with the issue of some abilities being too strong or too synergistic to allow 1 unit to have several of them (e.g. Destabilized Mana Core and Lava Walking+Fire Protection would be on two different paths). They allow the introduction of new abilities, without creating a power surge for heroes.

    The sub-classes and races could also introduce additional costs, as Eomolch’s mods do: to access T1 abilities, you would need to pay a specialization “fee” of 3 upgrade points (UP) for instance, which you currently do not have to pay. For T2 abilities, that could be 4 points, etc. That would slow down hero development while not modifying the balance between abilities (i.e. Master Illusionist would still cost 15 points and Chaos Rift 5 points so the arbitration between them would not change).
    That would allow to raise the maximum level of heroes above level 13 or 15 without creating monsters. That should increase the fun of hero building as well as the balance of the game (heroes surge in power too fast compared to normal units).

    And finally, if done well, that should make more builds interesting, depending on the role wished for the heroes and the specific situation of a game (terrains, other races you play with, actions of the opponents, etc.).

    What are the key options?
    I see the following two big options to choose:
    1/ what should guide the sub-classes and sub-races?
    => Eomolch went for 3 sub-classes for each class: 1 support, 1 ranged, 1 melee.
    For races, the direction of Eomolch is less clear.

    2/ should paths be mutually exclusive?
    => Eomolch went for mutually exclusive path. The Empire Building mod (http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=745699351) avoided exclusivity. I believe mutual exclusivity is necessary to help balance things by limiting the number of very strong abilities that can be accessed and by limiting unhealthy combos (e.g. 100% Fire Protection and Destabilized Mana Core).

    Other considerations
    Eomolch’s mods remove starting items and starting spells for all heroes (and just the items for Leaders). Instead heroes and Leaders get an ability doing their old damage output without any item. That also slows down hero progression and make hero building more meaningful, though that may be a bit harsh for new players (for spells).

    Then of course, the questions are: what abilities should be “core class abilities” that everyone gets, then how should existing abilities be classified among each sub-class and each sub-race. And what new abilities should be brought for sub-classes and sub-races?
    Looking at what Eomolch and Der Mentat did in their mod is probably a good start!

    #258939

    I’m all up for increased hero diversity.

    However I have to ask if there’s a simpler solution for pbem op heroes:

    Can the game be modded so that heroes show up until after turn 15?

    Also, possibly of less concern, in big eomolchs and der mentats mods, the ai couldn’t / can’t choose between sub races.

    For example it always choose the flying t3 high elf unit.

    #258944

    Hiliadan
    Member

    Can the game be modded so that heroes show up until after turn 15?

    Also, possibly of less concern, in big eomolchs and der mentats mods, the ai couldn’t / can’t choose between sub races.

    For example it always choose the flying t3 high elf unit.

    Not sure if it’s possible to mod but anyway that would only delay the issue and that would not be really fun.

    Regarding the AI and sub-races, I think you’re mixing it up with the Racial Heritage’s factions and Empire Building’s new units. That’s not related to heroes and as far as I know, the AI does use the new hero upgrades of these mods, though, as for upgrades from the official game, it chooses them quite randomly.

    Also, I had forgotten a poll had been run and provided support for the idea of sub-classes and sub-races, and that’s actually the reason why this thread was posted on the first place: https://www.the-battlefield.com/aow3/index.php?page=bf_poll&pollnumber=21

    “Introduce sub-classes for each class (e.g. Monk, Paladin, Priest for Theocrat) to create new viable hero builds and prevent heroes from having all top class abilities (e.g. Convert and Divine Justicar would be in 2 different sub-classes) ”
    => 12 votes, 44%

    “Rework the starting items to provide equal XP opportunities for all classes (e.g. 3-shots options for Dreadnought and Warlord) and limit the interest to kill starting heroes for their weapon (e.g. items replaced by skills, which cannot be stolen)”
    => 14 votes, 52%

    This had less support but is still an option:
    “Let heroes start with no combat spell but give them a few upgrade points on level 1 to compensate”
    => 8 votes, 30%

    #258946

    Jolly Joker
    Member

    I’m playing with a mod (and site settings) that makes hero leveling a LOT slower (and frankly I cannot understand why your balance mod hasn’t addressed that, since it is the biggest balance problem and fun inhibitor, after all).

    If you do that, it’s a non-problem. Current game I play a Halfling Theo who is Level 10 on turn 58.

    Additonally, I can only recommend the PBEM community to pick SLOW as game speed and few starting resources.

    There is another solution, though: reduce the points you get for upgrading to 3 per level.
    However, the main thing to keep in mind is, that a level-up should always be something with a certain significance, but too much significance and the collective sum of level-ups is too powerful, and too few level-ups and it’s too rare an occasion.

    So this must be carefully balanced, otherwise it’s no fun.

    PBEM has another problem. In most cases it’s a duel situation on smaller maps which makes them a very straightforward race, limiting the experience as well.

    #258950

    Hiliadan
    Member

    My introduction/context may have been misleading, sorry. When I said 1 level per turn is achievable or level 15 is possible by turn 15-20, I did not mean it was the norm. It’s only for very good players and when they decide to focus XP on heroes/Leaders. And I did not mean the issue was with the speed of XP gathering.
    The balance mod already fixes most of the issue with XP farming and hero leveling speed. JJ, you should not compare your level in your game with your mod with what I describe, you level up way way slower than us. I’m sure we could achieve speeds close to our current ones with your mod, though probably a bit slower. But that’s not really the point.
    Making leveling slower would not fix the issue, which is not that heroes level up too fast. No, the issue is that when heroes reach level 13-15, they’re already very very powerful and allowing them to go beyond these levels just make them monstruous and is not even fun in terms of hero building because they can take all the available upgrades.
    So the first of the three issues I described is not really about XP gathering speed but rather about the need to put a cap on hero leveling. The solutions described by both of you do not help with that. A cap at level 13 or 15 would still be necessary.

    JJ, you also ignored the two other issues mentioned in the first post: there is mainly 1 interesting build for each class (though you can have some variations around it, but some abilities are must-have) and it is not possible to add very good abilities to boost a hero class because that would make it OP in combination with other abilities (while having mutually exclusive paths would allow to add some very good abilities that could prove useful in some situations, while avoiding synergies and OP combos).

    There is another solution, though: reduce the points you get for upgrading to 3 per level.

    Yes, that is another way to achieve the aim of making hero building more interesting beyond level 13-15. It might be easier to anticipate the effects of keeping the current +5/level and adding new pre-requisite costing 2 to 5 points though.

    #258953

    Bouh
    Member

    Actualy heroes already all have three paths : combat unit, army leader or spellcaster. Indeed at level 13-15 you can start to mix some things, leaders don’t need the spells and stuff you find can quickly make your hero a powerhouse.

    But, first, that’s the point, like a queen in chess. And second, they are stil very vulnerable (like a queen in chess or any unit in AoW3).

    I guess the objective is to prevent the possibility of any hero to become more than a T3 unit before level 18 or 20 ?

    Also, this question is not about balance but about gameplay. It is quite different.

    Finaly, why not use the work of Eomolch directly ?

    IMO the only thing the class system of AoW3 lack is more distinct racial variations. Something Eomolch mod fixes elegantly I think.

    #258954

    Jolly Joker
    Member

    Just for clarification, the mods I play with at this time have not much to do anymore with the mod(s) I posted.

    #258956

    Hiliadan
    Member

    @jj: alright, then maybe we would be much slower.

    I guess the objective is to prevent the possibility of any hero to become more than a T3 unit before level 18 or 20 ?

    Also, this question is not about balance but about gameplay. It is quite different.

    Finaly, why not use the work of Eomolch directly ?

    No, the objective is rather to allow heroes to be as strong as now at level 13-15, so better than T4 in some ways (Divine Justicars, Master Illusionist, Inflict Ghoul Curse/Ghouling Strike, Total Awareness + First Strike + Assassin’s Strike, etc.) but at the same time vulnerable, but make it possible to continue hero building beyong turn 15 WITHOUT allowing to get ALL the abilities and maxing HP, resistance, defense, damage, etc.

    I disagree that is not about balance. I agree that it is about balance AND gameplay. But as I pointed out, there are at least two balance issues: 1/ with hero cap at level 30, heroes become ridicuously powerful. Currently, we fix that in competitive PBEM with cap at level 13 or 15. And 2/ we are constrained in how we balance hero class between themselves by the need to avoid adding too many synergistic and strong abilities. For instance, we want to boost Dreadnought and we also want to boost spellcasting vs other paths, but if we decrease the CP upgrade costs (for heroes) too much, and if we add a Fireproofing ability giving Lava Walking and 100% Fire Protection as we did, it makes going for Destabilized Mana Core too strong. Another example: we want to add a Gas Masks ability giving a stack protection from Choking Fumes, but if we add this + the other abilities we added to Dreadnought, it may transform Dreads from one of the least chosen heroes to one of the first choice. Adding mutually exclusive paths allow more flexibility in terms of how we balance hero classes.

    Why not use the work of Eomolch directly? Good question. One reason is that some abilities are not balanced and Eomolch is not working on it any more, so even if he agreed to balance it – which I’m not sure -, it’s unlikely the changes would come fast enough, if at all. Another related reason is that the overall balance (not by individual abilities but the bigger picture) may not be the best for balance.
    But still, I think it can be a big source of inspiration.
    And also, I believe it would make sense to work by steps and first do only very minor changes, adding just 3 sub-classes per class with only 1 or 2 abilities associated with each one. For instance Dreadnought could have:
    – Support: Destabilized Mana Core, Gas Masks (from the balance mod)
    – Melee: Inject Mana Fuel (from the balance mod), Fireproofing
    – Ranged: Portable Cannon (new ability)
    So we would be far from the big changes Eomolch brought, at least as a first step.

    • This reply was modified 2 years, 9 months ago by  Hiliadan.
    #258960

    Jolly Joker
    Member

    If you want a couple of suggestions, I think, the problem is – if you consider artifacts as well – thatheroes become too strong DEFENSIVELY. With all the additional resistanccies that come with artifacts you may easily have heroes with something like 20/16 in def/res + assorted elemental resistancies.

    Which means, you can try to make things more difficult by

    1) halving the usual “20%” resistancy basic unit to 10%, which is pretty easy to mod (it may be worth a second of thought to review racial resistancies under this regard).

    2) changing the values for all defense/resistance/HP related hero upgrades.

    I will still repeat what I said a couople of years ago. It’s not enough to reduce XP EXPLOITS; it’s also that XP is better placed with heroes, meaning that not only you must make heroes level-up slower you also have to make units level up faster IN COMPARISON (because the +10 HP for each level after the medals need a lot of additional XP).
    Because THAT is part of the balance: if it is basically “paying” to put as much XP as possible on the hero, a good player will aim to do it. If that is not so clear-cut, go figure.

    This is a very complex game with a very complex balance because you can influence so much, and the gain you get from directing XP where it pays most is extremely important.

    #259000

    Naetell
    Member

    I saw the topic and this kind of forced my hand. I’ve been working on a mod like this for months now, and it currently is in the final stages of testing.
    Every class will gain 3 subclasses with plenty of new abilities. New abilities will be spread out over all 30 levels.
    I have created over 350 new abilities for this mod.

    I thought about redistributing the core abilities of heroes over the classes for the same balance reasons, but ultimately decided against it in order to increase mod compatitbility.

    So, playtesting-wise, here are my conclusions: Adding subclasses will not solve your balance issues. A precursor mod to this one I never released was much smaller in scale but still made heroes more powerful simply by adding 1-2 abilities to them. It is less the individual power level of the abilities and more the fact that all the abilities together compound to make one super powerful unit.
    To that end, I refocused my efforts with this mod to create interesting choices for players, and so far I feel I have succeeded in this. The hero paths feel distinct and allow players to have different games even with the same class.
    This does, however, place an even greater burden on hero development. Yes, the increased RPG feel does help from a gameplay perspective, especially since with all these abilities it is impossible to have enough points to get them all.

    Jolly Joker is right in that the balance is more about the XP disparity between heroes and normal units.
    I could rig up a seperate mod module to play with this, but it would take a lot of math to get it right.
    The options here would be:

    Reduce hero XP gain.
    Reduce XP gain across the board.
    Reduce XP needed for champion ranks.
    Add +damage/+def/+res to champion ranks. (Extremely dangerous)
    Rebalance Hero XP gain to favour kills over actions. (This would create the Age of Wonders Shadow Magic problem of wanting your heroes to deal as many killing blows as possible, reducing the viability of healing/support specs)
    Raise the hero XP needed per level. (Easy, and there’s a mod that doubles xp needed already so it’s easy to test how that plays)

    On that note:
    Playing with reduced hero XP/Double hero XP needed

    The main problem this mod created for me is that the disparity between the player and AI heroes is massively increased. Players are much better at leveling their heroes even without overly grindy play. The “ideal” solution here would be to give the AI an XP cheat so their heroes gain bonus XP per turn instead of wishing for them to fight more/better.
    However, I haven’t been able to find a setting like this in the modding tools thus far.
    (Where are the AI difficulty settings anyway?)

    From a balance perspective, the most even solution here would even be to disable XP gain for heroes completely except for the XP per turn option. This means that heroes can be expected to reach X power within Y turns with little variance.
    However, this is boring from a gameplay perspective.

    Another option is to create Tier variants. I created a couple myself for this mod, and you can tune the XP/medal rewards as desired. This makes it possible to create, say, a T2 variant that gains +damage on champion medals instead of HP, and another that gains +def.
    (Disclaimer, doing so will mess with the polymorph skill in my mod since it has a check on Tier requisites.)

    Last but not least, I am seriously considering creating a Hero Killer unit to counterplay hero dominance.
    The issue here is again that the AI would have no clue how to use a unit like this.

    Personally, I’d like to rebalance XP values. I won’t do that for this mod. (Some people like OP heroes, I say, why not.)
    However, I do intend to create another mod to look into this.

    NOTE: None of this will fix the fact that equipment matters more, especially in the early game. The AI is abysmal at clearing dungeons compared to human players, and I don’t think anything is likely to fix that.

    #259003

    Hiliadan
    Member

    So, playtesting-wise, here are my conclusions: Adding subclasses will not solve your balance issues. […] It is less the individual power level of the abilities and more the fact that all the abilities together compound to make one super powerful unit.

    Well, your conclusion should be: “Adding subclasses the way I did, allowing combinations of many abilities does not solve balance issues”. Are your subclasses mutually exclusive? We do not plan to add 350 new abilities. The first step would actually be to NOT add any new abilities and just divide 3-6 current abilities into 3 subclasses, as I illustrated for Dreadnought, in order to limit OP synergies and prevent heroes from getting too many strong abilities.
    I believe such an approach does limit the power heroes/Leaders can get.
    So it really depends how you implement the subclasses. Saying you add subclasses does not mean you have to add many powerful abilities, or you have to add no new abilities, it’s a design choice.

    Jolly Joker is right in that the balance is more about the XP disparity between heroes and normal units.
    […]
    The options here would be:

    The balance mod already solved most of the issue of XP accumulating too fast. As I said in previous posts, the issue is not really the pace with which you can reach level 11 and get access to your top ability but rather the fact that after that, you can get all the other abilities by level 15 and then just upgrade your defense/resistance/HP/damage and become very hard to kill, so a level cap is necessary.
    A majority of players do not seem to want to slow down hero leveling further and feels it’s OK to get Divine Justicars/Master Illusionist, etc. at the time they currently get it.
    So no, most competitive PBEM players seem to disagree that “the balance is more about the XP disparity between heroes and normal units” (for the base game it is, but the balance mod already addressed that).

    In more details:
    Reduce hero XP gain.
    Already proposed to the community (if you’re talking of less XP for heroes compared to Leaders or other units) and no consensus on it (many opposed) so not implemented.
    Reduce XP gain across the board.
    Already done, XP counters reduced to avoid farming.
    Reduce XP needed for champion ranks.
    Not considered.
    Add +damage/+def/+res to champion ranks. (Extremely dangerous)
    Not considered.
    Rebalance Hero XP gain to favour kills over actions. (This would create the Age of Wonders Shadow Magic problem of wanting your heroes to deal as many killing blows as possible, reducing the viability of healing/support specs)
    Done, no touch XP. Works fine.
    Raise the hero XP needed per level. (Easy, and there’s a mod that doubles xp needed already so it’s easy to test how that plays)
    Already proposed to the community and no consensus on it (many opposed) so not implemented.

    The “ideal” solution here would be to give the AI an XP cheat so their heroes gain bonus XP per turn instead of wishing for them to fight more/better.

    True, and I think JJ found a solution for that.

    NOTE: None of this will fix the fact that equipment matters more, especially in the early game.

    Good point, and it should be addressed.

    Overall, you still focused on a problem that is already mostly fixed and the competitive PBEM community does not strongly want to get modified further: XP gains for heroes.
    You ignored the 2 other points I note in the context in the first post, like JJ and BBB.
    But I’m starting to think nobody actually support the idea of subclasses and subraces, I’m not sure where are the people who voted for that solution in the poll.

    • This reply was modified 2 years, 9 months ago by  Hiliadan.
    #259007

    Naetell
    Member

    I’m sorry if you feel I’ve come across as hostile. That was not my intent.
    My purpose was not to criticize.

    Well, your conclusion should be: “Adding subclasses the way I did, allowing combinations of many abilities does not solve balance issues”.

    A precursor mod to this one I never released was much smaller in scale but still made heroes more powerful simply by adding 1-2 abilities to them. It is less the individual power level of the abilities and more the fact that all the abilities together compound to make one super powerful unit.

    I refocused my efforts with this mod to create interesting choices for players

    The purpose of the mod I’m working on now is not to provide balance. I’ve walked that path and found nothing but despair.

    Are your subclasses mutually exclusive?

    Yes, of course they are. They’ve been like that in the precursor mod to this one as well.
    Mutual exclusivity is easy to do and it is a lot more fun to work with.

    The first step would actually be to NOT add any new abilities and just divide 3-6 current abilities into 3 subclasses, as I illustrated for Dreadnought, in order to limit OP synergies and prevent heroes from getting too many strong abilities.
    I believe such an approach does limit the power heroes/Leaders can get.
    So it really depends how you implement the subclasses. Saying you add subclasses does not mean you have to add many powerful abilities, or you have to add no new abilities, it’s a design choice.

    For instance, we want to boost Dreadnought and we also want to boost spellcasting vs other paths, but if we decrease the CP upgrade costs (for heroes) too much, and if we add a Fireproofing ability giving Lava Walking and 100% Fire Protection as we did, it makes going for Destabilized Mana Core too strong. Another example: we want to add a Gas Masks ability giving a stack protection from Choking Fumes

    Sounds like the community skipped the first step and started adding abilities already, but you can change that.

    I’d say there’s about 3 cases here:
    Case A) You do not add abilities, just divide the existing ones over 3 subclasses.
    Your level 15+ problem of people running out of abilities to pick and just picking stat boosts just moves to earlier levels.
    Ah, but they’ll have less abilities, and thus less power. Except that many abilities can still be gotten through items, and people will simply pick the subclass with the strongest abilities they can’t find on items easily.
    If you divide the spells for heroes over the subclasses as well, prepare for a new massive balance pass being required for every spell that can never achieve its goal because the leader will still have all the spells.

    Case B) You do add abilities of relative similar power to each subclass, but make sure they have no synergy. (They have to be equal or one class will just become the meta pick)
    You’re adding power, but no one is happy with it because the picks are either so good they matter on their own or they don’t matter at all, in which case they’re just noob traps and people should just invest in stats instead.

    Case C) You do add abilities of relative similar power to each subclass that do synergize.
    Worst case: Nothing is fixed. Best case: somehow, the new synergetic abilties are perfectly in harmony with the rest of the game. Perhaps this can be achieved through adding maluses to the picks that offset their power.
    People won’t accept that easily though.

    The balance mod already solved most of the issue of XP accumulating too fast. As I said in previous posts, the issue is not really the pace with which you can reach level 11 and get access to your top ability but rather the fact that after that, you can get all the other abilities by level 15 and then just upgrade your defense/resistance/HP/damage and become very hard to kill, so a level cap is necessary.
    A majority of players do not seem to want to slow down hero leveling further and feels it’s OK to get Divine Justicars/Master Illusionist, etc. at the time they currently get it.
    So no, most competitive PBEM players seem to disagree that “the balance is more about the XP disparity between heroes and normal units” (for the base game it is, but the balance mod already addressed that).

    In PBEM competitive games, heroes and Leaders level up very fast (1 level per turn up to level 11 can be achieved easily and level 15 can be reached around turn 15-20) and heroes tend to become monstrous units, especially when (and not really “if”) they get good gear

    A level a turn is not too fast? Okay.

    If you can’t touch XP values, you’re going to have to pick away at other things.
    You still have the option of making stat picks cost more points, but I doubt that’ll be cheered for.

    True, and I think JJ found a solution for that.

    I tinkered with it myself for the past hours and found a sort of solution too. I’m still looking for a better way but this will work for the time being.

    Overall, you still focused on a problem that is already mostly fixed and the competitive PBEM community does not strongly want to get modified further: XP gains for heroes.
    You ignored the 2 other points I note in the context in the first post, like JJ and BBB.
    But I’m starting to think nobody actually support the idea of subclasses and subraces, I’m not sure where are the people who voted for that solution in the poll.

    [/quote]

    Look, the idea is not without merit. After making my mod for so long I’m well aware of what can and cannot be done for subclasses and subraces, and it certainly can alleviate some of your issues.
    However, it is not a silver bullet solution.

    Truth is, I did not make a post here to reply to your OP, I just wanted to say: hey, I’m working on a mod that’s doing something similar and here’s what I’ve learned from working on this.

    If that is what you want though, then I can oblige.

    Sub-classes and sub-races would be paths heroes and Leaders could choose to specialize more, based on their class and their race. So each hero would be more customized and unique, and new strategic options would appear to adapt to the conditions of each game.

    Mutual exclusivity and adapt based on the condition of the game do not go well together. The exclusivity means you’ll have to go all-in on a role for a specific hero, locking them in a path that cannot be undone.

    If they are mutually exclusive, sub-classes and races can help deal with the issue of some abilities being too strong or too synergistic to allow 1 unit to have several of them (e.g. Destabilized Mana Core and Lava Walking+Fire Protection would be on two different paths).

    Yes, but you’ll find it’ll soon become a matter of building synergy through multiple heroes having subclasses that synergize with each other.
    Unless you play with leaders only, it will prove impossible to balance as properly as desired.

    They allow the introduction of new abilities, without creating a power surge for heroes.

    Only if said abilities are tiny in benefits and have no synergy whatsoever. No one wants that. If you’re adding even somewhat decent abilities, you’re adding power.

    However, there is a way you could avoid this, and that is to scrap every hero ability that currently exists in the game. Start with a clean slate. Then you can create an exact amount of abilities that’ll give a hero the power level of a T4 unit by level 30.
    This is a huge amount of work though.

    The sub-classes and races could also introduce additional costs, as Eomolch’s mods do: to access T1 abilities, you would need to pay a specialization “fee” of 3 upgrade points (UP) for instance, which you currently do not have to pay. For T2 abilities, that could be 4 points, etc. That would slow down hero development while not modifying the balance between abilities (i.e. Master Illusionist would still cost 15 points and Chaos Rift 5 points so the arbitration between them would not change).
    That would allow to raise the maximum level of heroes above level 13 or 15 without creating monsters. That should increase the fun of hero building as well as the balance of the game (heroes surge in power too fast compared to normal units).

    The problem just moved to level 17-18. It’ll move further up the more point sinks you add. (However, at some point it’ll become mathematically better to forego abilities altogether and just add more stat points to a hero)
    I personally don’t think point sinks are fun, but that’s up to the PBEM community to decide.

    And finally, if done well, that should make more builds interesting, depending on the role wished for the heroes and the specific situation of a game (terrains, other races you play with, actions of the opponents, etc.).

    I agree. If the intention is to make builds more interesting, subclasses/subraces will do that without a doubt. It’s also really good for giving heroes a more of a defined role.
    Even with my unbalanced heap of added abilities, the fact there’s classes to pick matter. It also makes that choice of 2nd and 3rd hero more interesting.

    What are the key options?
    I see the following two big options to choose:
    1/ what should guide the sub-classes and sub-races?
    => Eomolch went for 3 sub-classes for each class: 1 support, 1 ranged, 1 melee.
    For races, the direction of Eomolch is less clear.

    It is more intuitive to have a rigid structure like 1 support, 1 ranged, 1 melee.
    If you don’t have that, then people will have to learn a lot about what each subclass/subrace does.

    I went with a different setup per class myself despite that, because I found it more interesting that way.
    I’m sorry, but I don’t have any big reasons to pick it over a rigid structure. Both are valid ways to build it though, and if you do both subclasses and subraces, you can pick a rigid structure for one and a loose one for the other.

    2/ should paths be mutually exclusive?
    => Eomolch went for mutually exclusive path. The Empire Building mod (http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=745699351) avoided exclusivity. I believe mutual exclusivity is necessary to help balance things by limiting the number of very strong abilities that can be accessed and by limiting unhealthy combos (e.g. 100% Fire Protection and Destabilized Mana Core).

    My opinion on this is a lot stronger: Mutual exclusivity is the way to go.
    It allows for a more flavorful design where the mechanics more strongly reflect the flavor.
    This will increase the math involved considerably, keep that in mind.

    Other considerations
    Eomolch’s mods remove starting items and starting spells for all heroes (and just the items for Leaders). Instead heroes and Leaders get an ability doing their old damage output without any item. That also slows down hero progression and make hero building more meaningful, though that may be a bit harsh for new players (for spells).

    Here’s my problem with Eomolch’s design choice: It reduced compatibility with other mods to a bare minimum.
    Any other mods adding heroes get shafted big time, and many people play with these.
    If you want just PBEM players to use the balance mod and none of them want to use other mods, then my point here is moot.
    For single player and people who do use stacks of mods, it can be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

    I know compatibility is low on the list of priorities for the balance mod project, but that’s literally the only big consideration here. New players are unlikely to download a mod that modifies a lot of stuff.

    Then of course, the questions are: what abilities should be “core class abilities” that everyone gets, then how should existing abilities be classified among each sub-class and each sub-race. And what new abilities should be brought for sub-classes and sub-races?
    Looking at what Eomolch and Der Mentat did in their mod is probably a good start!

    Difficult questions, because the answers depend on how you balance it.
    The best way to start is with math.
    Create a spreadsheet, copy the list of abilities for each class from the wiki, then divide them up. Add new abilities where there are notable gaps. Do this purely in theory, creating the actual abilities can be done later.
    It can be as simple as putting an X with a cost to indicate: I want an ability here one day that costs this many points.
    Don’t forget, before starting this, create a power per point matrix. You want it to make mathematical sense. You can run a few existing units through the matrix to see if you’re on the mark. T4’s should be roughly the same power level as other T4’s, well, you should know from playing the game which ones should score higher than others and by approximately how much. (Don’t forget to factor their medal abilities, I made this mistake at the start and it can really screw up calculations)

    Exceptions to the PPP Matrix can be made where they make sense. For example, in my mod I artificially reduced the cost of Sun Disc on a class because you can easily get it through items before it should even reach the level the ability situated on.

    If you add really intricate abilities that completely change the way a class plays, prepare to do a lot more math than this.
    (Shapeshifting… I’m looking at you.)
    (No, seriously, don’t do shapeshifting. It’s a nightmare for a host of reasons.)

    This post became massive. Ouch.
    You have my apologies for the time it has taken to read through all of this.

    #259010

    @ Hilidian, I am always interested in your ideas.

    #259011

    Hiliadan
    Member

    No, you didn’t come across as hostile, don’t worry. But I’d be happy if we could get out of the debate about the speed of hero leveling because for me it’s not really about that any more.

    You asked if 1 level per turn is not fast. Yes it is but I tried to clarify my confusing intro:

    When I said 1 level per turn is achievable or level 15 is possible by turn 15-20, I did not mean it was the norm. It’s only for very good players and when they decide to focus XP on heroes/Leaders. And I did not mean the issue was with the speed of XP gathering.

    Most players still haven’t reached level 15 at turn 40. And as I said, we had 2 proposals to 1/ reduce XP for heroes to 2 per hit instead of 3 and 2/ increase the XP requirements for each level, but none got sufficient support to be implemented (so far). I understand that as people considering hero leveling is fine (and several said so explicitly).

    The problem just moved to level 17-18. It’ll move further up the more point sinks you add. (However, at some point it’ll become mathematically better to forego abilities altogether and just add more stat points to a hero)

    Moving the problem up, combined with a few additional abilities, would make the whole situation better I think. So the “subclass choice abilities” would not just be sink points but also unlock a few more choices.
    When I said I believe we should first divide 3-6 abilities into 3 subclasses without adding new ability, I mean it would be a good way to go in terms of process. That would be a first step to see the impact, before moving forward and adding a few abilities if that seems relevant. So for instance the subclasses would first star at level 9 or 11, and then later on, in a further iteration of the mod, could go down to level 7-9, etc.

    Regarding compatibility, it’s actually quite important but little attention has indeed been paid to it. But if some things are necessary for balance and break compatibility, we’ll indeed implement them anyway.
    The best solution is when modders use the balance mod as the basis (and not the base game) and create compatibility mods (like the Empire Building Mod did) or directly use it as a required mod. I can understand some people don’t want that, but personally, I can’t play AoW3 without the balance mod any more.

    Do you have a manual or something describing your mod, like what abilities, at which level and how much do they cost?

    @BBB: lol thanks! 😛 But what’s important for me is not my ideas (and in my first post, I tried to summarize and answer to not only my view but also that of Gilafron, and people who expressed their opinion for the balance mod) or other people’s ideas but rather what people who care about balance wants to do. So if the debate stays limited between JJ, Naetell, you and me, we’re not going to get far. 😀

    #259012

    Jolly Joker
    Member

    I could write a lot, but it’s probably easier to just write what you have to do to tweak the balance.
    a) make heroes need more time to gain a level VIA CONTACT XP
    b) make units need LESS time to gain a level VIA CONTACT XP

    This way you will get more powerful units and less powerful heroes and that way you can produce units better equipped to be a real threat for heroes

    If you consider how it is, a full “cycle” of level gaining for a T1 needs 70 contacts, for a T2 55, for a T3 and T4 50. For heroes it starts with 17, becomes 25, then 33 and ENDS with 50. That’s too good for heroes (and too bad for units).

    #259020

    Naetell
    Member

    Moving the problem up, combined with a few additional abilities, would make the whole situation better I think. So the “subclass choice abilities” would not just be sink points but also unlock a few more choices.

    It’s an improvement, but not a catch-all solution to the problem. Of course, there’s always going to be a gap between players of different skill levels, and there’s only so much you can do to mitigate that.

    When I said I believe we should first divide 3-6 abilities into 3 subclasses without adding new ability, I mean it would be a good way to go in terms of process.

    Yeah, that is a good idea. No matter my experience on the matter, it’s something you have to see to fully grasp the implications of. The effects of moving abilities around were far greater than I had imagined when I started out making subclasses.
    This also is the reason why I think few people will have something relevant to say in this discussion at this stage.
    I’m not a PBEM player, so ultimately, my ramblings here are no more as background noise. It’s the community that has to decide, but you’ll have to rig up a small mod moving abilities around into subclasses to get most people to get a feel of how big this discussion is and what is possible.

    The best solution is when modders use the balance mod as the basis (and not the base game) and create compatibility mods (like the Empire Building Mod did) or directly use it as a required mod.

    I get that but all too well. I’ve gone over the changes from the balance mod and implemented many of them myself in my own environment.

    The problem, as a fellow modder, is that it’s difficult to set it as a prerequisite or create compatibility mods because the balance mod is still being updated as we go along. What is compatible today may not be tomorrow and all that.
    This makes it complicated to use as a base.

    For example, the changes the balance mod made to the points required for some hero skill picks completely throws the math on my subclass mod. The only way I could fix that is to constantly update point values for my new abilities as changes are made to the balance mod.

    Once the balance mod is more or less in a finished state, all bets are off, but for now, this is a real issue many of us have to deal with.

    Do you have a manual or something describing your mod, like what abilities, at which level and how much do they cost?

    Yes, I have the complete design document here. I’ll see if I can put it up somewhere.

    #259021

    Naetell
    Member

    If you consider how it is, a full “cycle” of level gaining for a T1 needs 70 contacts, for a T2 55, for a T3 and T4 50. For heroes it starts with 17, becomes 25, then 33 and ENDS with 50. That’s too good for heroes (and too bad for units).

    I agree, and I’m 100% sure now I’ll be fixing this for myself soon.

    #259022

    Jolly Joker
    Member

    You’ll doubtlessly have a lot of fun with that.

    I’ve been modding this myself, but I won’t tell you how and which and what (except if you want to know/try), because I’m very interested to learn with what you will come up. 🙂

    #259023

    Naetell
    Member

    Design document:
    https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/11pcGMEeu_VLiirWtF8FjXST-lUc3uif6m2S5lbrfgzY/edit?usp=sharing

    Note that, yeah, it’s a lot of abilities and far beyond the scope of a balance mod.
    As for balance for this mod, values are currently being tweaked, but the idea is to balance hero classes against each other, not the rest of the game. (That’s for a separate mod)

    One thing that’s certain here is that there are far more abilities per class than there are points to spend. This may prove problematic for the AI at higher levels, but tests are yet to show that.

    #259024

    Naetell
    Member

    You’ll doubtlessly have a lot of fun with that.

    I’ve been modding this myself, but I won’t tell you how and which and what (except if you want to know/try), because I’m very interested to learn with what you will come up.

    I know you can change the hero and leader XP values per engage/touch/cast/turn in HeroGlobalSettings.rpk.
    The normal units’ XP levels as well as their engage/touch XP are defined in the Tier resources in Title.rpk.
    Aside from these, it is possible to create abilities using the Quick Learner template to give flat or multiplier XP bonuses.

    Those are the ones I know of.

    • This reply was modified 2 years, 9 months ago by  Naetell.
    #259027

    Jolly Joker
    Member

    Well, no, I mean, the tools are clear, I mean what EXACTLY wou will come up with. We might compare notes. 🙂

    #259032

    Gilafron
    Member

    I like the ideas of hero subclasses. However, balancing is going to be terribly hard and getting consensus will be terribly hard. Honestly, I think it is a non-starter. No one is going to be happy.

    I did like the fact that the Empire mod allowed multiple paths. What Theocrat doesn’t want healing? I think the vast majority of paths would be that one if there was only one choice, as in the Hero Dev mod. For the record, I like Empire Mod heroes better than Hero Dev mod.

    I have a few suggestions if you go down this road:

    1. Bundle skills so nothing costs less than, say three points. That makes choices as commitments.

    2. As opposed to subclasses, chain the abilities as in a tech tree. Casting points is done this way, sort of.

    3. Remove starting weapons. This MUST be done, no mater what. This helps prevent killing heroes at the beginning.

    4. Give all heroes a one-shot range ability. Pistol for Dreadnaught, Spirit Ray for Theocrat, etc. This approach will help a little on slowing down XP for heroes.

    5. Reducing magic items is a big downer for me. It may make balance, but it hurts enjoyment severely. Same goes for reducing treasure site rewards. That’s some of the most fun in the game.

    I’m also concerned that something like this moves beyond a balance mod into an overhaul mod. I’d like to see a hero subclass mod on top of the balance mod, but the balance mod has too much flux to really build something on top of it.

    I previously expressed interest in pursuing this with Hiliadan, but I’ve soured on the idea of integrating this into the PBEM balance mod. I think the best the community can hope for are little tweaks, not huge overhauls.

    • This reply was modified 2 years, 9 months ago by  Gilafron.
    #259043

    Naetell
    Member

    Well, no, I mean, the tools are clear, I mean what EXACTLY wou will come up with. We might compare notes.

    I just ran the math and it is difficult to say what exactly would be the best solution.
    A) Heroes level too fast.
    Adding more XP needed per level has a sizable impact and is the most customisable. Especially with my subclass mod in mind, I can make the “big” levels harder to reach compared to the ones in between. Removing touch XP speaks for itself even if that makes it harder for support classes to level. (The level of abuse is too great)

    B) Units level too slow.
    As it stands, a T4 unit would need more total XP than a hero to get to level 30. That seems odd, especially given that they only get HP compared to a hero’s ever growing power.
    Making a T1 require less XP makes sense. T1’s are rarely a threat in the late game, and adding even champion 25 for 250 HP to them won’t break them compared to T4’s or heroes. They simply don’t deal enough damage to be dangerous to a high-level hero.
    The waters get murkier with T2 and especially T3 units, but a slight reduction shouldn’t push them over the top.

    It would, however, mess with evolving units. This can be solved by making a Tier variant for evolving units that doesn’t give such big XP bonuses.

    That’s what I’m thinking right now, but I haven’t done any actual changes or tests yet. My opinion might swing depending on tests.

    #259047

    Hiliadan
    Member

    @jj and Naetell: mmh, if possible, could you please open a new topic to discuss hero vs unit XP?

    #259049

    Jolly Joker
    Member

    Yeah, should do that, really.

    • This reply was modified 2 years, 9 months ago by  Jolly Joker.
    #259096

    vfxrob
    Member

    @naetell

    Had a look at your doc, thats going to be awesome!

    #259109

    Naetell
    Member

    @jj and Naetell: mmh, if possible, could you please open a new topic to discuss hero vs unit XP?

    Okay, won’t discuss it here.

    @naetell
    Had a look at your doc, thats going to be awesome!

    Testing is going well, but I have currently stopped work on the mod for a moment due to hospitalization. (My poor kidneys 🙁 )
    This will delay release slightly, but it should be up on the workshop next month if no critical errors cause further delays.

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