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Designing Toward Less Blobby Large Scale Combat


Pystkeebler
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Direct Damage (DD) AOE abilities, especially ranged ones, have a significant impact on the way large scale combat feels and scales. The need to blob up to split incoming AOE damage produces a negative experience. There's not much in the way of counter play when AOE damage can be directly applied without regard to LOS blocking. Stacking AOE scales too well with large numbers compared to ease of use, and this produces extreme variation in TTK.


Many have suggested raising or removing AOE target caps. Technical feasibility aside, this is unlikely to solve the problems. In some cases this produces more equivalency in raw damage output between sides of differing number, but the larger side still has a much greater health pool to spread that damage across. The result is primarily shorter average TTK, and significantly shorter TTK for outnumbered sides.


An alternative approach to addressing blobby large scale combat is to change the primary delivery of Direct Damage AOE attacks and fields as described below.


Suggested Changes:

  • Change all ranged direct damage abililties (primarily the GTAOE ones) to be projectile or raycast (like Gaea's Wail or Will-o-Wisp), or reduce/remove direct damage and replace with status effects.
  • Change all persistent Ground AOE effects to apply status effects (like Druid's Overgrowth) instead of pulsing direct damage.
  • Raise the target cap on ranged status effect applying AOE abilities.

Reasoning:

  • Reduces the need to "blob up" to split incoming AOE damage. In addition, the target caps on AOE status effect applications actively discourage blobbing.
  • Provides clear role for Tank specs in large group combat in denying lines of sight to weaker targets and absorbing DD AOE. With the proposed changes, this role can't be trivially circumvented by mass application of ranged direct damage aoe.
  • Emphasizes movement, positioning, and coordination in large group fights.
  • Raising target caps on status effect applying abilities makes these abilities function as effective stack busting tools. However, they can be mitigated through active ability use of cleanses, and do not scale as aggressively (no stacking) as direct damage AOE which will improve TTK.
  • Replaces the "fire and forget" persistent GTAOE pulsing direct damage abilities - which require little thought in their application and can stack to produce death fields in large groups - with status effect applying fields. This improves the scaling of TTK in large fights.
  • Encourages diversity in promotion classes due to emphasis on stacking status effects to bust large groups. Again this can be mitigated through active ability use of cleanses which also encourages diversity in Major/Minor choice.

Comment on Defensive side of the equation:

  • Healing would likely need to be reevaluated with these changes, and one recommendation would be to limit AOE healing effects and circles to group only. The effect of this is to require group coordination to maximize efficiency, making it more feasible for a well coordinated, smaller group to beat a larger number of disorganized opponents.

Special Cases:

  • Tornados and Chaos Orbs: These are already effectively projectile based, which is good. It may be necessary to limit the total number of outgoing damage ticks (like is done with water spirits) so that they deposit the majority of the damage in the front line. This is to make the roll of tank classes more pronounced. Chaos Orb will likely need an increase in it's movement speed to account for this rebalancing.
  • Melee AOEs: Likely need not see large changes as they are limited to the area around the player which is a significant restriction on where the damage can be deposited and the risks associated. Melee AOE dives remain strong stack busting tools.
  • Frostweaver: This is the hardest class to bend to fit. The least invasive change that still fits the goals is to cap the number of targets for frigid and volatile ice to 3 or significantly reduce the radius.
  • Column based AOEs: These are also reasonably well balanced by the limitations, and fit the general thrust of the changes. Damage should probably be deposited to closest targets first.

 

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4 minutes ago, Pystkeebler said:

Suggested Changes:

  • Change all ranged direct damage abililties (primarily the GTAOE ones) to be projectile or raycast (like Gaea's Wail or Will-o-Wisp), or reduce/remove direct damage and replace with status effects.

 

I am not sure this is possible for them with design limitation. Making them actual projectiles would bring more latency. 

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With all the CC immunity in this game, I'm not sure removing damage from aoe in place of more CC will really do anything.  Ok lets say you have a blob and 10-20 of them get cced from the aoe, those 10-20 can use one of their many, way too many, cc breaks/immunities to just get out of it and keep moving with the blob.  Or blob just sits there and heals through it because you can no longer damage anyone except the people in the front.  Those people can then just rotate to the back of the blob if they are getting low and now no one can hit them through the blob.

If you want to discourage blobbing just raise the aoe cap on damaging abilities (and CC abilities for that matter).  Then people would actually have to position with an ounce of thought instead of the stick to blob or die playstyle we have now.

Removing damaging aoes is a drastic change that would make a lot of specs just CC bots for the single target damaging specs.  Not in favor of this at all.

Also don't understand the frostweaver piece of this.  Volatile ice is a 5m range. If you're already removing the damage from it (which is negligible for frostguard, main volatile user, to begin with) why would you then also nerf its aoe cap and/or its range?

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 8/26/2021 at 12:38 PM, Curbsnugglin said:

With all the CC immunity in this game, I'm not sure removing damage from aoe in place of more CC will really do anything.  Ok lets say you have a blob and 10-20 of them get cced from the aoe, those 10-20 can use one of their many, way too many, cc breaks/immunities to just get out of it and keep moving with the blob.  Or blob just sits there and heals through it because you can no longer damage anyone except the people in the front.  Those people can then just rotate to the back of the blob if they are getting low and now no one can hit them through the blob.

If you want to discourage blobbing just raise the aoe cap on damaging abilities (and CC abilities for that matter).  Then people would actually have to position with an ounce of thought instead of the stick to blob or die playstyle we have now.

Removing damaging aoes is a drastic change that would make a lot of specs just CC bots for the single target damaging specs.  Not in favor of this at all.

Also don't understand the frostweaver piece of this.  Volatile ice is a 5m range. If you're already removing the damage from it (which is negligible for frostguard, main volatile user, to begin with) why would you then also nerf its aoe cap and/or its range?

Dredging this up... 

This is a misunderstanding. Status effect means burning, poison, corruption, etc. not CC. The abilities remain damage abilities, but since status effects do not stack, you do not have the same TTK scaling problems. Raising the AOE cap on direct damage abilities significantly increases number of calculations which is infeasible in large scale without significantly impacting server performance.

The primary thrust of the changes is to redesign AOE damage abilities that do not consider LoS obstruction, to be abilities that are affected by LoS obstruction. This makes the damage harder to apply exactly where you want it, and makes it harder to focus fire areas. The abilities don't need to be true projectiles, but can be raycast (e.g. Gaea's Wail) or the pseudo-projectiles like fire tornadoes, chaos orb, and Will-o-Wisp. The changes to targeting make it easier to land large AOEs on blobby groups, but harder to land large AOEs on spread out groups. LoS obstruction allows groups to position tanky characters to absorb incoming AoE, which rewards coordination and positioning more. The ubiquity of the current direct damage AoEs that can be placed wherever you want produces a scenario where the only way to reduce incoming damage to a reasonable level is to blob up to spread out the incoming damage.

Secondarily, the goal is to reduce the impact of overlapping pulsing AOE auras, which around most objectives create inescapable death fields that, again, can only be reduced by blobbing up.

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On 8/26/2021 at 11:11 PM, Pystkeebler said:

 In some cases this produces more equivalency in raw damage output between sides of differing number, but the larger side still has a much greater health pool to spread that damage across. The result is primarily shorter average TTK, and significantly shorter TTK for outnumbered sides.

This makes no sense, AoE damage by definition scales damage with the number of enemies with an area, and against small groups the change to AoE cap won't make any difference and hence TTK will be completely unchanged against a small group by just increasing AoE number caps. If you're talking about 'small group' as 6-12, then perhaps it will increase it slightly if they bunch, but that's the point.

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1 minute ago, Cerberias said:

This makes no sense, AoE damage by definition scales damage with the number of enemies with an area, and against small groups the change to AoE cap won't make any difference and hence TTK will be completely unchanged against a small group by just increasing AoE number caps. If you're talking about 'small group' as 6-12, then perhaps it will increase it slightly if they bunch, but that's the point.

If I have 10 people fighting 20 people with uncapped AOE, the smaller side has 1/2 the people but they hit 2x the targets. The larger side has 2x the people but they hit 1/2 the targets. The damage output is roughly equivalent. What ends up not being equivalent is that the larger side will, most likely, have more healers and has more total HP. The TTK for the small group will go down as total damage output has gone up. If both sides spread out significantly, the larger group still has a major advantage as it is now putting out up to 2x the damage the smaller side is.

You will find that, on average, the larger side will quickly kill many members of the smaller side, and the numbers advantage will snowball. The only case that TTK is unchanged is when there is 5 people or less, but blobbing is not a problem at those scales. Any scale fight larger than 5 people, you will see damage numbers grow significantly, and players will get deleted in large scale fights even faster than they are now. Also consider for a second that most of the objectives in Crowfall prohibit teams from effectively spreading out.

The other major consideration is that uncapping AoE targets makes server calculations scale like the number of players squared instead of linearly with the number of players, which means the server load is significantly higher.

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28 minutes ago, Pystkeebler said:

If I have 10 people fighting 20 people with uncapped AOE, the smaller side has 1/2 the people but they hit 2x the targets. The larger side has 2x the people but they hit 1/2 the targets. The damage output is roughly equivalent. What ends up not being equivalent is that the larger side will, most likely, have more healers and has more total HP. The TTK for the small group will go down as total damage output has gone up. If both sides spread out significantly, the larger group still has a major advantage as it is now putting out up to 2x the damage the smaller side is.

You will find that, on average, the larger side will quickly kill many members of the smaller side, and the numbers advantage will snowball. The only case that TTK is unchanged is when there is 5 people or less, but blobbing is not a problem at those scales. Any scale fight larger than 5 people, you will see damage numbers grow significantly, and players will get deleted in large scale fights even faster than they are now. Also consider for a second that most of the objectives in Crowfall prohibit teams from effectively spreading out.

The other major consideration is that uncapping AoE targets makes server calculations scale like the number of players squared instead of linearly with the number of players, which means the server load is significantly higher.

So essentially you're saying that if the big side changes their playstyle dramatically into one that requires more skill and co-ordination, and opens up more opportunities for the enemy team to pick off spread out forces, they're in a fight where their 2:1 numbers advantage gives them approximately a double damage/healing advantage? 

As opposed to now where a group of 20 can ball up and have an even bigger advantage because damage is almost guaranteed to be spread between all members within that aoe far more evenly than damage against a spread force can be if proper co-ordination is applied?

The only case where damage will go up significantly against a small group is when the group of 10 clumps up and eats AoE to the face, which is exactly the strategy we're trying to get away from, and will affect the group with twice the members by around twice as much, correct?

The current 'clump' strategy renders single target damage nearly useless in a larger scale fight, and a large group simply clumping (or by additionally doing something as cheesy as bringing pigs to a fight to spread aoe further) can render a small groups aoe damage essentially ineffective as it turns it into nothing more than a pure numbers game, regardless of any skill.

Everything else you've said is exactly the same as it is now, except currently there's almost no strategy a small group can use to beat a larger group, at least without AoE caps they can outplay a larger group if the larger group blobs up too much, which is currently the best strategy to use as a large group. It's hardly a high skill strategy, and it has very few counters. 

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1 hour ago, Cerberias said:

So essentially you're saying that if the big side changes their playstyle dramatically into one that requires more skill and co-ordination, and opens up more opportunities for the enemy team to pick off spread out forces, they're in a fight where their 2:1 numbers advantage gives them approximately a double damage/healing advantage? 

As opposed to now where a group of 20 can ball up and have an even bigger advantage because damage is almost guaranteed to be spread between all members within that aoe far more evenly than damage against a spread force can be if proper co-ordination is applied?

The only case where damage will go up significantly against a small group is when the group of 10 clumps up and eats AoE to the face, which is exactly the strategy we're trying to get away from, and will affect the group with twice the members by around twice as much, correct?

The current 'clump' strategy renders single target damage nearly useless in a larger scale fight, and a large group simply clumping (or by additionally doing something as cheesy as bringing pigs to a fight to spread aoe further) can render a small groups aoe damage essentially ineffective as it turns it into nothing more than a pure numbers game, regardless of any skill.

Everything else you've said is exactly the same as it is now, except currently there's almost no strategy a small group can use to beat a larger group, at least without AoE caps they can outplay a larger group if the larger group blobs up too much, which is currently the best strategy to use as a large group. It's hardly a high skill strategy, and it has very few counters. 

You're focusing only on one side of the equation, and assuming that, somehow, uncapping AoE won't lead to the smaller side taking more damage. The situation you are effectively assuming is that the small side spreads out perfectly, and the large side clumps on one pixel.

The more realistic case is that players generally maintain a roughly equal density on both sides, so that the number of targets hit per player is approximately equivalent. The large side will significantly out damage the small side in that case, and most other cases, and the small side doesn't have the healing or health pool to sustain it.

The larger side will also have a much easier time focus firing single targets down, if for no other reason than they have fewer targets and it's more likely that multiple people attack the same target.

In general, raising the outgoing damage will not fix the problem. Blobbing to spread incoming damage is a problem, but the proposed solution of uncapping AoE will not produce the desired effect. It will make large scale fights shorter, though. The problem needs a solution that is technically feasible, and addresses the problem directly with a minimum of side effects. A better solution would be, for example, applying a "crowded" debuff to players reducing their damage bonus when more than 8 are in a 5 meter radius. If that was even remotely feasible to implement on the backend, then that would more directly accomplish what you want without ratcheting up total damage outputs. The alternative I spitballed above was changing the nature of AoE damage abilities to largely remove the reason to blob. Or perhaps significantly raising the cap on debuffs like wee-one. But just don't blanket increase total damage output and make fights even more likely to be determined in a handful of seconds or one fire tornadoes volley.

Edited by Pystkeebler
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53 minutes ago, Pystkeebler said:

You're focusing only on one side of the equation, and assuming that, somehow, uncapping AoE won't lead to the smaller side taking more damage. The situation you are effectively assuming is that the small side spreads out perfectly, and the large side clumps on one pixel.

No, im comparing what happens when both sides do the same thing both with uncapped aoe and capped aoe. Yes there are situations where the smaller group can take more damage, but with an aoe cap the damage scales far worse for the small group, to a point where it is essentially impossible for a small group to kill a large group if all the big group does for strategy is stand on top of one another.

 

 

53 minutes ago, Pystkeebler said:

The more realistic case is that players generally maintain a roughly equal density on both sides, so that the number of targets hit per player is approximately equivalent. The large side will significantly out damage the small side in that case, and most other cases, and the small side doesn't have the healing or health pool to sustain it.

Yes, if both sides play well the team with numbers advantage maintains the advantage they currently have, while losing the current immunity from blobbing. The smaller group isn't more disadvantaged by this, it's the same as it is now, except they have an effective strategy against a blob.

 

53 minutes ago, Pystkeebler said:

The larger side will also have a much easier time focus firing single targets down, if for no other reason than they have fewer targets and it's more likely that multiple people attack the same target.

Again, this is exactly what the current situation is for a large group, while also essentially being immune to enemy return fire. A large group has an advantage by their numbers, that's fine, what's not fine is that advantage as it is currently being insurmountable.

 

 

53 minutes ago, Pystkeebler said:

In general, raising the outgoing damage will not fix the problem. Blobbing to spread incoming damage is a problem, but the proposed solution of uncapping AoE will not produce the desired effect. It will make large scale fights shorter, though. The problem needs a solution that is technically feasible, and addresses the problem directly with a minimum of side effects. A better solution would be, for example, applying a "crowded" debuff to players reducing their damage bonus when more than 8 are in a 5 meter radius. If that was even remotely feasible to implement on the backend, then that would more directly accomplish what you want without ratcheting up total damage outputs. The alternative I spitballed above was changing the nature of AoE damage abilities to largely remove the reason to blob. Or perhaps significantly raising the cap on debuffs like wee-one. But just don't blanket increase total damage output and make fights even more likely to be determined in a handful of seconds or one fire tornadoes volley.

I agree that large scale fights will be shorter than they currently are, but that's largely because teams are currently abusing a broken mechanic to reduce their incoming damage taken, it's also not necessarily a bad thing. Currently, the determining factor in many of these fights is either whoever has the most players to spread damage between, how tight groups can clump, or how much aoe healing/damage each group is putting out. It's not a skillful gameplay, there's very few tactics or even the need for shot calling in many cases as it turns into more of a front v front grindfest. This game has a large amount of 'emergency' buttons for various classes, including ultimates, so being caught in a pile of AoE is less of a death sentence than many games, but when two large forces collide you have to expect people to die very quickly. Also you have to remember that you can balance around the changes to AoE cap i.e. certain abilities have lower/higher damage than currently, or giving certain classes more mobility, faster/easier to use combat res abilities, or even direct AoE damage resistance statistics being implemented. Lastly. you have to remember that stacking AoE against an enemy team requires them to blob up, and co-ordination to carry out, and if AoE damage abilities are low enough in raw numbers per target compared to single target you have to take a balance of AoE and single target even in large fights to counter teams that play well and spread out enough.

As far as technical limitations I do believe this is the main problem with lack of AoE cap, if the server cant handle large scale pvp though the game probably shouldn't try to focus on it. Large scale fights are such a boring experience in this game, they run poorly even as is, they look terrible to both be a part of due to the blob nature of fights, and they take such a small amount of positional ability aside from 'stand in the blob'.

Edited by Cerberias
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Don't limit AoE abilities to how many players it can hit but limit how many stacks of AoE that a player can have applied to them within a time frame.

And add friendly fire, this would force tactical positioning, no more melee clustering with friendly fire aoe raining down on you, no more AoE heals inside a melee push without healing the enemy. I realize this would drastically change combat and some abilities would need to change because of that. But I think it would need for the better.

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I think most of what you are saying is barking up the wrong tree when it comes to the stated goal in the thread title.

AOE target limits aren't as important as the fact that the overarching game design pushes people into single points of contact.

e.g.
Keep sieges are 2-4 wards, 1 tree and 3 banetrees.

Unfortunately this does nothing to spread out either the attack or the defense because in the end attackers and defenders each only really need to hold 1 point. Hold 1 ward and the other wards and the tree won't matter. Hold 1 banetree and the other two can be let go.

By comparison, Planetside captures always revolve around multiple points. You can't take over a base by standing on one point. You need to capture multiple points to get the capture meter running in your direction. In very small fights this involves a lot of running around and fighting fires but it's actually kind of fun because it means 3 people who split up can hold a base against a 10-man team that only moves as a blob. The blob can only hold one point so they can't win. They must split up which gives the smaller group a chance for some kills, at least.

In very large fights it means that the players on all sides are split all over the place. If you have 100 people defending a base you might have 10 on this point, 20 on that point, 20 more on a third point and 50 others running around trying to crush the attackers outside, beat their spawn points, etc.

The actual capture mechanics force people on all sides to split up to some extent. (For the attackers in Planetside, the important things are the mobile respawn stations they bring up. Defenders need to blow those up to stop the attack. Attackers are therefore encouraged to bring multiples of these and they can't be placed too close to each other. So base defense splits up to protect points and hunt spawners, while base attackers split up to capture points and deploy and protect spawners. It really is a great setup.)

 

Crowfall's capture mechanics are all about the blob. That's the fundamental problem. Taking the cap off of AOEs will probably help keep things from stagnating, at least, but won't change the fact that this fort has one capture circle and everyone involved in the fight is ultimately going to be within like 30m of that circle.

It basically mandates blobs and all the performance problems that come with it.

Sometimes I wonder if game developers actually, you know, play any games.

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  • 1 month later...

You guys dictated this squarely on blob v blob

 

We already decided if they remove AOE Caps that yes we will split the blob, but just hit you where our strategy is focusing on hitting you from multiple directions (Triangle) and your aoe cap wont matter, and you will get mowed off the field quicker to our non limit aoe caps, we will force you to stay away from your blob or be punished, like you want larger groups punished for being in theirs now

 

 

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