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First look: Ranger powers & UI - Official discussion thread

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I dislike the precedent this sets. While I understand the overall rationale, it looks like too many things are trying to be done at once, and several incompatible with the long-term goal of Crowfall's development: a polished, balanced siege/open warfare RPG. To enumerate:

  • Fun, Fairness, and Participation. I understand the desire for fun, cohesive classes that are also fun to fight against. Beta test participation goes up when the thing being tested is fun. More testers = more feedback = better balancing and polish.
  • Building Framework Tech. Great principle, and one I agree with on the face of it. Build specific, but extensible bits of tech in one package, then port the logic forward to other archetypes. Eventually, all the framework is there and future archetypes are just pulling the right tools out and configuring.
  • Flesh Out the Original Archetypes. This is actually a major plus for the art team. By bringing out eventual archetypes steadily, the art team gets time to model, craft, and polish the rigs and textures that'll make the character unique. Both spreads out their workload and allows them to regularly show their progress not just internally, but externally.
  • Expand Systems Incrementally. Fewer variables means easier balance. When crafting combat, that's sometimes a great approach, as it makes the effects of balance changes very easily seen, rather than second/third/fourth-order crazy because there's 1,000,062 variables in play.
  • Show Direct Progress vs. the Original Proposal. Crowdfunded games are a tricky area. While game development takes time, too long without information and backers get nervous. Even better is to show actual stuff on a regular basis. Why blog post when you can alpha test something new?

That's a lot of goals to be doing all at once, and I think it's too many. This is especially true because goals 1, 3, and 5 work against delivering the end product as advertised.
 
Ditch the extra goals. They're adding time, pandering to those who can't really be pleased, and creating the wrong vibe both now and later for how archetypes settle out.
 
To do this, I see two approaches:
 
One. Make the archetypes truly placeholder (different names, specified roles that don't necessarily meld with planned ones). You remove the association problem, but keep all the tech expansion benefits that should help with development. Yes, it'll be a fake balance that doesn't really "solve" how to make all the ultimate archetypes play well together, but it does create a test environment.
 
Two. Implement all archetypes as eventually intended. If that slows down when archetypes come into the build, or creates outright imbalanced cases (an assassin in the build, but not a stalker yet), so be it. What is in the game is what's intended to be there. If something lacks a counter, seeing how that affects the game can be just as valuable as having a counter present. It starts on the end balance sooner, and delivers exactly what was promised, even if it isn't as "fun".

 

 

--------------------------------

Not TL;DR Rationale

--------------------------------

Fun is subjective. It's a special sort of player who doesn't just want to play a game, but break it. Beta builds and debug screens excite some folks, and when they get going they'll giggle with joy as they type out how many bugs they found in 30 minutes.
 
Crafting a game experience to be fun has created purely a balancing testbed, removed from the messy but detailed full picture that typifies testing. For the initial combat tests, it made a lot of sense to create a mostly-balanced fighting scenario, because the aim was holistic: system performance, physics reactions, usability, etc.
 
But designing back to that testbed each and every time makes feedback stuck to that tiny little segment of a really big game. Sure, beta tests will pull back to the big picture, but by ArtCraft's own admission combat is extremely important to the end product's success, and getting it right requires a ton of feedback, a ton of testing from as early as possible.
 
Testing and balancing around what are ultimately tech demos of the overall combat system, steadily getting more complex, doesn't give the valuable "feel" feedback of a final character. Consider the ranger as presented, versus as implemented for Siege Perilous.
 
The original archetypes were pitched in the context of the full picture. The initial disclaimer of every archetype reveal so far has said (justifiably) "skills subject to change; heck, these skills might not even exist on release". But it's in the fine print to many a player, particularly those just wanting to keep tabs with where development is without having the time or interest to test it.
 
On the one hand, you get the negative reaction when a placeholder archetype claims the same name as a planned final one, and it's missing a ton of the originally stated features. Or just as bad, locks behind a promotion class expected core features (stealth, in this case).
 
On the other, players are testing and balancing something that won't be in the end game at all. They'll come to associate the word "Ranger" or "Knight" with a grab-bag of tech expanding skillsets, rather than what is planned. When inevitably balance shifts to testing the totality of the game's archetypes, and the placeholder skills split to their intended spots, it will at minimum cause a ton of confusion.
 
Just as likely, it will backlash as backers (the main testing pool) consider "their class" taken from them. No amount of disclaimer is going to fix that feeling.
 
Showing progress for the sake of progress panders to the impatient. There's a lot of impatient people out there, who consider anything inconvenient to them as a gross offense against their peace of mind. Crowdfunding does not discriminate against these people; they can contribute just like someone willing to wait for what they paid for.
 
While maintaining engagement is a critical piece of today's game development (particularly for indies and crowdfunded campaigns), feeling obligated to push something out there to keep people happy is a recipe for disaster. Guild Wars 2 has learned this lesson hard as the 2 week update cycle became unrealistic, but players still expected high-quality content at that rate for years after it was abandoned.
 
Combine all three of these, and long-term everything has to be readjusted, several times. As new archetypes come in and the "range of combat operations" fills out, powers will need to shift where they belonged. Systems might have to be ported "back" to existing archetypes, skills might be deleted outright or transplanted. Each time resets significant portions of the existing balance and pushes polish further away.
 
With readjustment and resetting comes schedule slip (or worse, schedule rush). Rather than delivering the full picture on schedule, it is either delivered late, or delivered half complete. This especially doesn't satisfy the impatient folks.
 
Finally, associating archetypes with literal placeholder approaches disappoints those who liked the original archetype idea a lot, and eventually those who grow attached to the placeholder version. Neither group is happy.

Edited by TaCktiX

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The goal of all of these Pre-Alpha tests is to test the technology, not to craft and balance archetypes.  They want to test as much tech as soon as possible so that they can deal with issues ASAP, testing the tech will save them more work and give them a better idea in crafting the future archetypes that will utilize the same tech.  The reason to make the tests and the archetypes fun is to keep people playing so that data can be gathered and bugs can be squashed.  Archetypes will be constantly balanced as more archtypes and other game systems are created and introduced, you aren't going to hit the sweet spot with the first attempt, so they wouldn't be saving significant time by trying for the final version now.

 

Normally I'd agree with you, but surely you could develop the archetypes AND test the technology at the same time. I don't want "balance" (in fact the exact opposite is just as illuminating during development) but I did say "feedback". I'd like for devs to know where a niche archetypes power level lay and what would likely counter it. I want meaningful discussions among experts who are passionate in their archetype.

 

All we can have now is hypothetical hogwash sessions with little if any meaningful contribution helping this game towards its eventual final product (beyond the obvious glitches/bugs).

 

Based on some rough math we did, this game is likely burning through cash pretty quickly. I am really concerned that by taking these round-a-bout methods of creating archetypes with abilities that wont be representative of the end game archetype abilities, that the development path will ultimately lead to what Tactix stated; a game that has to rush to put the final version of the archetypes abilities in place, with little to no feedback on how it interacts with other archetypes.

 

Ultimately my argument is bigger then just the Ranger. The final games "fun" factor will not be derived from the side-trek they are taking right now. No the "fun" factor will come from our interactions with the archetypes and their interactions with each other. At this point we are being told that the final version of archetypes won't come until much later. I am simply arguing that it would be more useful to simply build out the archetypes as they are intended to be in the end product, and skip this middle point which is seemingly meaningless beyond this contrived and wholly un-quantifiable notion of  "fun" during pre-alpha.

Edited by scree

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You are being condescending, but in reality it's you who demonstrates naiveté. Do you honestly not realize that the current ranger set is a first approximation of what they currently intend the ranger to be?

 

Rofl, he was mad at ranger being OP. We haven't even played him yet, and changing 1-2 skills might reduce his efficiency enough if that's the case.

So yes, I am pretty sure you both are being crying babies.

 

Plus, praise ICEFROG... the best way to balance a game is making every character OP in his own way (cit.).

 

The last thing I want is some players abandoning this game because their favorite archetypes and roles have taken a 90 degree turn from what they hoped they would be.

 

That's not even remotely the kind of people I wish will play this game.

 

I am simply arguing that it would be more useful to simply build out the archetypes as they are intended to be in the end product, and skip this middle point which is seemingly meaningless beyond this contrived and wholly un-quantifiable notion of  "fun" during pre-alpha.

 

To be honest, I am not sure that's true.

 

Not everything can be designed a priori, some things need to be played out with all the variables in their place.

What they're using is a decent strategy, which is build every power and archetype they've thought about, with their must-have (melee, ranged, stun, block, and so on) and THEN balance them out, swapping powers right and left at the end, when they have a greater picture of it all.

 

Your problem is that you (and your guild) have already chosen an archetype and thus don't find playing alpha/beta useful since that archetype is not even close to its final form. Well, that's not really something we/they should care about right now.

Edited by Fenris DDevil

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To be honest, I am not sure that's true.

 

Not everything can be designed a priori, some things need to be played out with all the variables in their place.

What they're using is a decent strategy, which is build every power and archetype they've thought about, with their must-have (melee, ranged, stun, block, and so on) and THEN balance them out, swapping powers right and left at the end, when they have a greater picture of it all.

 

Your problem is that you (and your guild) have already chosen an archetype and thus don't find playing alpha/beta useful since that archetype is not even close to its final form. Well, that's not really something we/they should care about right now.

 

Fenris, we clash on many topics and opinions, but I cannot disagree with your statement here. I see a lot of players responding in this thread that seemingly have no clue what game development in general is or how ACE approaches their development of Crowfall, but you're not one of them.


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So lets just clear up one thing, I don't have a problem with the current strategy. I am concerned, however, and am pointing out there are some issues that might arise from doing things this way.

 

1.) You are designing archetypes not as they are going to be at launch, but rather what fits into the game as it currently sits (which is pretty meaningless). This by nature means they need to go back and redo the archetype as the game design becomes more meaningful. This means they are purposefully incurring additional costs in time and money (something they have precious little of).

 

2.) It means players are less exposed to the eventual "final product" of an archetype. Less time exposed to an archetype means that testing may not have time to discover all of the bugs, glitches, interactions with others and shortcomings an archetype might actually be suffering from.

 

Something Blair mentioned was that Assassins might not make it into the game until an early version of a campaign is available. I suppose the real question now becomes, what exactly is the timeline for introducing all of the archetypes? Should we expect the bulk of them before the campaign betas? Or are they planning on introducing Archetypes all the way up through the public beta/soft launch? Or are we to expect only 6-7 before Campaign tests begin. This time table is what concerns me the most, we have 13 archetypes promised by launch and we've only seen roughly 5 of them implemented (lets just gloss over and ignore the 3x promotion classes per archetype we've heard very little about). 

 

As an example relevant to this development team;

Shadowbane, prior to launch, had a very different system for "protecting" its cities. Trees of Life offered repairs on a set number of buildings during the beta. This effectively made the buildings immune to destruction, but not entirely. A well equipped force could still technically destroy a city. After launch the Trees of Life offered complete building destruction immunity for up to 7 (I think it was 7 at launch anyways?) buildings. This change drastically impacted how the games public launch played out, and few if any tests were done during the beta on this major system change.

 

This is just a minor example of drastic design changes that I'd like to avoid in this game. Sure Rangers aren't exactly as I envisioned them, but they are still seemingly very useful in their current state. I'm not the one complaining about Rangers in this thread (I'm really not), but there are people who have posted stating that Rangers are no longer interesting to them. 

 

If you really think this approach isn't spending more money and time then the approach I suggested, I'd love to hear how you think that's really possible. There is a finite amount of available time and resources available to develop this game, and the current approach really feels like its wasteful. They've designed the current Ranger to fit into this test, and they'll have to redesign the Ranger later on to fit back into a game where 13 archetypes are present. How is that not wasting development resources? Even if you designed the most effective building blocks in the world, you still need to spend time and money to redo them later.

 

The only stated reason for this approach being presented in these regards is this notion of wanting the pre-alpha (!!!???) to be "fun". Is that really important to people at this point? I guess I never understood the appeal of trying to make a pre-alpha "fun", especially if it means we've now costed the game precious dollars and development time to do so.

Edited by scree

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The only stated reason for this approach being presented in these regards is this notion of wanting the pre-alpha (!!!???) to be "fun". Is that really important to people at this point? I guess I never understood the appeal of trying to make a pre-alpha "fun", especially if it means we've now costed the game precious dollars and development time to do so.

 

 

I agree with your concerns, especially regarding finances. Developing in the open is a different strategy than i'm used to seeing, and may require some tradeoffs -- balancing some early stages of development towards making things fun instead of efficient. However, I hope their ability to balance the ability to test all of the new tech they've introduced outweighs any further readjustments they will have to make to the archetypes. Time will tell.

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I see a lot of players responding in this thread that seemingly have no clue what game development in general is or how ACE approaches their development of Crowfall

 

Except you, me, him and all others have no clue about this. 

 

You expound endlessly on other matters, presenting yourself as some expert in the ways of game design and development. Maybe you could take your own advice; develop any non-zero amount of humility whatsoever; recognize the limitations of your knowledge and understanding; and have fewer, less-extreme opinions about game design. You know as little about it as you do about game financing.


I mean, I'm assuming "fluffer" is just another pjorative term for carebears, whales, etc. Of course, I could be incorrect, but I doubt it.

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You expound endlessly on other matters, presenting yourself as some expert in the ways of game design and development. Maybe you could take your own advice; develop any non-zero amount of humility whatsoever; recognize the limitations of your knowledge and understanding; and have fewer, less-extreme opinions about game design. You know as little about it as you do about game financing.

 

I think I said I had no clue about how healthy ACE finances are? Unlike what others seem to proclaim.

 

ACE has told us and still continues to tell us how they approach the Alphas tests. In their video's and in their articles.

 

Our Approach: Minimum Viable Powers

 
We have been building each archetype with what we think would be a ‘minimum viable power’ kit for that archetype to be useful and fun in combat. This means that the current list isn’t final, and some of the powers might even jump to other archetypes (or be cut entirely!) as we continue development.
 
This is just our first iteration of the combat user interface (UI).  As such, we are leaving ourselves room on the powers tray for the player to eventually slot additional combat powers (i.e. the ones that the player will acquire via disciplines, advantages or class promotions). We also assume there will be another non-combat related power bar when we start building those systems.
 
In other words, don’t freak out about the interface!
 
Each new power we build often has a set of new (and different) components that would be useful not only in the construction of that particular power, but that would also open up a new area of design discovery. The goal is to build reusable elements that we can repurpose in other powers. We also went a little nuts with new tech for the Ranger.

 

This one I copied from the latest article.

 

In no way I'm a game designer or pretend to be one. I just listen, watch and read everything ACE communicates with us. Comments that are asking to design archetypes in a near final state ... I can't help it that some people don't seem to be able to grasp or understand the effects on Crowfall's development.

Edited by Canth

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Normally I'd agree with you, but surely you could develop the archetypes AND test the technology at the same time. I don't want "balance" (in fact the exact opposite is just as illuminating during development) but I did say "feedback". I'd like for devs to know where a niche archetypes power level lay and what would likely counter it. I want meaningful discussions among experts who are passionate in their archetype.

 

All we can have now is hypothetical hogwash sessions with little if any meaningful contribution helping this game towards its eventual final product (beyond the obvious glitches/bugs).

 

Based on some rough math we did, this game is likely burning through cash pretty quickly. I am really concerned that by taking these round-a-bout methods of creating archetypes with abilities that wont be representative of the end game archetype abilities, that the development path will ultimately lead to what Tactix stated; a game that has to rush to put the final version of the archetypes abilities in place, with little to no feedback on how it interacts with other archetypes.

 

Ultimately my argument is bigger then just the Ranger. The final games "fun" factor will not be derived from the side-trek they are taking right now. No the "fun" factor will come from our interactions with the archetypes and their interactions with each other. At this point we are being told that the final version of archetypes won't come until much later. I am simply arguing that it would be more useful to simply build out the archetypes as they are intended to be in the end product, and skip this middle point which is seemingly meaningless beyond this contrived and wholly un-quantifiable notion of  "fun" during pre-alpha.

Honestly just sounds like you either don't like or don't really want to know the process of making these games. Normally we wouldn't even be seeing this much of the game or have this amount of info this early in the process. Like the saying ACE used about sausage making, we all like to enjoy the final product but perhaps for some its best not to see it being made. There is no side track or w/e this is their process. Is it the same as past Devs? Probably not but this is how they are doing it because its what they think is best. Its fine to not like their process but IMO don't think we can really say if its "wrong" until we see the final product.

 

As far as the fun factor goes I would refer you to an article ACE did sometime last year titled "Finding the Fun" in which they describe achieving the "fun" in the game to be just as important as finding (relative)balance and finding features and mechanics to work etc. Finding it as early as possible and maintaining it was a big take away from that article. Fun isn't something that should be just tacked on for later and hope the final product is fun. If the process doesn't include finding the fun right away with all the other elements then yeah it'll likely be too late at the end.

Edited by pang

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Do you honestly not realize that the current ranger set is for testing purposes?

Do you honestly not realize that the forum is for feedback purposes?

 

 

While everything is subject to change entirely, what they've released is a real and clear indication of the thinking of the designers, not merely in terms of kind but of degree. In that light, one might entirely reasonably be concerned, and even disappointed, with what they're seeing, without assuming that it's release-ready.

 

You are being condescending, but in reality it's you who demonstrates naiveté. Do you honestly not realize that the current ranger set is a first approximation of what they currently intend the ranger to be?

This guy gets it.  They're going to "turn some knobs" but what you see is pretty close to what the Ranger will be on release, and its core design is broken AF.

Edited by sidney

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Not sure i will be a fan of Rangers getting "hide" only and no stealth....Unless i'm reading this wrong....

Will be able to get stealth from Disciplines like all classes will. But yeah seems to me Assassin might be the only one with archetype based stealth perhaps.

 

 

Do you honestly not realize that the forum is for feedback purposes?

 

 

This guy gets it.  They're going to "turn some knobs" but what you see is pretty close to what the Ranger will be on release, and its core design is broken AF.

 As others said above its a bit hard to take seriously the notion that a class is broken even before it gets a chance to be played in the actual game.

Edited by pang

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Will be able to get stealth from Disciplines like all classes will. But yeah seems to me Assassin might be the only one with archetype based stealth perhaps.

 

I would not assume that all Archetypes will have access to Stealth from Discipline Runes. It is possible (and I would say likely) that only certain Archetypes will have access to Disciplines that grant Stealth.


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I would not assume that all Archetypes will have access to Stealth from Discipline Runes. It is possible (and I would say likely) that only certain Archetypes will have access to Disciplines that grant Stealth.

I would tend to agree, but when they have said that stealth will be available via Discipline runes they never mentioned any qualifiers or limitations to it as far as I know.

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I would tend to agree, but when they have said that stealth will be available via Discipline runes they never mentioned any qualifiers or limitations to it as far as I know.

 

Some quotes from the Character Advancement FAQ:

 

Not every discipline will be available to every archetype – but every archetype will have access to many, many disciplines

 

DO THE DISCIPLINES HAVE RESTRICTIONS?
 
Some of them do, yes. These are either thematic or budgetary (meaning “this requires a huge number of animations that we can’t afford immediately.”) The former restrictions are not likely to change; the latter will likely be lessened over time, as budget permits.
 
An example of the former is: Guinecean Duelists don’t have access to Archery, because their civilization has developed gunpowder. Instead, they use flintlock pistols. An example of the latter is: the Cavalier Discipline (which grants shield mastery and block powers) would also not be usable by Duelist archetype, because they don't have the necessary skill pre-requirements (shields) nor the required animation sets.

 

 

And then there is the precedent set by Shadowbane's Disciplines, which are clearly the inspiration for Crowfall's Disciplines. In general, they were not available to all classes. They were restricted thematically and for balance reasons. It is easy to imagine ACE deciding for thematic or balance reasons that one or more Archetypes will not get access to Stealth Disciplines.
 
For these reasons, I don't think it is accurate to say that all classes will have access to Stealth via a Discipline.
Edited by Jah

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I see, had forgotten about that bit of info apparently, thanks. Still though if we are going by the thematic approach I'd think Ranger would fall into that category of getting Stealth through a Discipline whereas for example the Champion wouldn't because doesn't really make sense.  

Edited by pang

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