balance

Star Trek Online offers a broad overview of upcoming space combat balance changes

The space combat of Star Trek Online is pretty much the crown jewel of the game. It’s intriguing, diverse, engaging, and pretty much everyone who plays the game is all but contractually obligated to praise it. But it’s certainly not perfect, which is why the game is rebalancing the space combat. A new post on the official site details the core philosophy behind the changes to keep the gameplay fun and vital while adding more choices, and the barest skeleton of the changes are also outlined.

Beam Overload is becoming slightly less powerful, while targetable kinetic weapons like torpedoes will be harder (but not impossible) to shoot down and no longer will be affected by abilities like Tyken’s Rift. Several profession abilities are also being buffed up significantly to have a greater impact on combat, like a big boost to Miracle Worker’s effects and a new Science ability to improve healing and exotic damage. The full list of changes will be detailed point-by-point in an upcoming test patch, so players can look forward to the full set of shifts with the upcoming change for feedback.

Source: Official Site; thanks to Michael for the tip!

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Paragon celebrates a year of early access with a big patch

Has it really been a year since Paragon first went into early access? It certainly has according to the developers, and they would know. By way of celebration, players are being treated to a nice big patch containing all sort of fun toys, starting with a new hero named Yin. She whips things and reflects projectiles, so if that’s your thing you should be happy to see her show up.

The game has also adjusted balance on 20 different existing heroes, as well as adjusting several cards and adding a large number of new ones. Players also have access to the new Banner feature, allowing you to show off your sign for kills and tower destruction. Last but not least, there are also a number of promotional giveaways to coincide with the anniversary. You can find out everything from the full patch notes, or you can check out the top-level overview with the video just below.

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Jeff Kaplan chimes in on the power of Overwatch’s bird-watching robot and metagame balance

Do you think Overwatch has made Bastion too powerful? The good news is that yes, Jeff Kaplan agrees with you, as he’s outright said that the team balanced him to be a bit too powerful right now. But the key word is “just a bit,” as Kaplan’s post is more about the nature of balancing a game and the perceived metagame vs. the actual metagame seen by developers at all levels.

Kaplan explains that when a hero is underpicked, that sometimes doesn’t mean that hero is underpowered; Mercy isn’t a frequent pick, for example, but she’s among the top five most powerful heroes in high-end play. Getting players to pick a hero more often often requires tuning up that hero, and that always makes the hero seem overpowered, because you’re going from almost never seeing that hero in action to seeing them constantly, along with a new power buff. This doesn’t necessarily mean the hero is overpowered, just that players need to adapt and see new strategies in action. The full post is well worth a read even if you’re not very into Overwatch, as the philosophies are applicable for any game with multiple choices for players.

Source: Official Site via VG24/7

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Heroes of the Storm balance update tunes down Tychus, Varian, Malfurion, and Murky

The latest Heroes of the Storm balance patch isn’t going to give anyone a bunch of satisfying new tricks. It’s actually taking a lot of existing tricks away from various characters. Tychus, for example, has proven to be too darn good at not just tank-busting but assassin-busting as well, therefore making him too dominant against too wide a spread of heroes. Murky is clearly dominating, Malfurion is too good as support, and Varian isn’t unbalanced but did have a few abilities that were just not fun to play against.

As such, all four characters have received some major adjustments. Tychus has had his attack range dropped and several abilities tinkered with, keeping his power at his intended role but tuning him down elsewhere. Murky received a wide-reaching nerf to his control and reliability, while Malfurion loses much of the power on his Entangling Roots and associated talents. Last but not least, Varian’s Warbringer has been changed to a Slow effect, as the ranged stun was proving too easy to abuse and led to unenjoyable game states. There are a few other heroes with adjustments on a smaller scale as well; you may want to check out the full patch notes before diving in.

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Path of Exile explains its rebalancing philosophy for patch 2.6

When The Fall of Oriath goes live, Path of Exile will undergo quite a bit of balance adjustment. But why wait until then? The upcoming patch 2.6 also features plenty of balance changes aimed at making less-attractive character builds more viable while also addressing certain imbalances found with existing builds. It should be easier for certain builds to covert physical damage to elemental damage, for example, while wholesale conversion of elemental damage to a different element will be made harder for other builds where the elemental properties of skills were almost entirely overwritten.

Unique items have also been rebalanced, along with one-handed weapons across the board; some leeching weapons have changed to life-on-hit for lower levels (where leech was almost useless) and one-handed weapons have generally been boosted in damage and utility. Area-of-effect increases have also been tuned down somewhat to avoid builds feeling as if they needed to have every possible point of area increase in order to be worthwhile. Check out the full list of changes; if you’ve been playing the game with any regularity, they’ll probably have a big impact on what you do while smashing monsters.

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Eternal Crusade makes loadouts more flexible with widespread balance changes

It’s been a bit quieter than normal on the Eternal Crusade front this month, but that was due to a large-scale rebalancing patch being in heavy testing. That patch is up for testing now for players, with the expectation of going live soon. And it’s a big one, altering the fundamental way that you play the game with more loadout freedom, no more diminishing returns on loadouts, and major shifts to the ways that each faction is meant to play.

The idea is that players will be asked to make hard decisions about survivability compared to damage-dealing capacity, with more flexible classes having more options but being more vulnerable on the exchange. Eldar units are also less healthy, so they should go down faster to compensate for their spindly frames being difficult to help. That’s in addition to a number of new options for every class to help each faction feel more distinct. Check out the full list of changes on Steam; it’s a meaty patch that should severely disrupt your regular play patterns.

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World of Warcraft’s Hazzikostas discusses the goals for future Artifact Power implementation

There has been some back-and-forth about World of Warcraft’s Artifact Power system. The problem that people have run into, essentially, is that the game’s initial exponential power curve for artifact power starts to flatten after a certain point. So instead of players entering raids with a difference of a few artifact levels, there are people who have just started to put levels into the final artifact trait in 7.1.5 and others who have maxed their artifact or nearly finished it. Designer Ion Hazzikostas discussed this issue and the game plan moving forward on the forums recently, as well as the reasons behind the system and its open-ended nature.

The plan was to avoid a weekly cap that left players feeling as if they couldn’t catch up, but the net result has been that focused players on a single spec can advance far beyond players with less dedication or time. Moving forward, the 7.2 patch and beyond will have a more exponential curve; Hazzikostas puts it as a matter of someone gaining twice the AP per week only making a small additional game over a more casual player. Check out the full rundown if you’ve found yourself hitting the AP wall in the recent patches.

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Perpetuum rolls out the final wave of Syndicate robots

The final robots are arriving in Perpetuum. The last four Syndicate robots are being rolled out with the game’s newest patch, allowing players four new options for what to use for stomping about the world. Each machine provides a different focus, with the Helix serving as a good all-around electronic warfare platform, the Legatus providing a heavy machine for mounting firearms, the Metis serving as a heavy support machine, and the Callisto offering a more elusive electronic warfare option.

The patch also contains a large number of balance changes and refinements for tuning modules and various game systems. Weaponry has also received a tuning pass, which should be highly relevant to anyone looking with longing at some of the aforementioned Syndicate robots. The exact date and time for the patch is not yet determined, but it should be soon; keep your eyes peeled for exactly when you’ll be able to ride around on a new robot with better tuning.

Source: Official Site; thanks to IntegerOverflow for the tip!

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The Daily Grind: What form of balance is best for MMOs?

I’ve been thinking about balance a lot. We all say that we’d like a balanced game, but there are a lot of different potential meanings behind “balanced.” Final Fantasy XI, for example, is balanced around the idea that every single job has a roughly equivalent pool of tricks. That means that classes like Red Mage and Blue Mage are considered balanced because Red Mage is more flexible and has access to more tricks constantly… despite the fact that Blue Mage, in every practical sense, is better at doing everything and is far more desirable in content.

By contrast, World of Warcraft is fond of across-the-board balance changes wherein a given class or spec gets 20% higher damage or 20% lower damage. The problem with that form of balancing is that it doesn’t really address tricks (or lack thereof), and a 20% damage drop just makes a spec 20% worse, while a 20% increase doesn’t make a bad rotation any more fun to play. You could also balance things by trying to tune or adjust specific abilities… but that runs the risk of having a cascade effect or having no effect at all, and sometimes you remove or weaken an ability that isn’t really at the heart of any power issues.

In short, any approach has issues. But what do you think, readers? What form of balance is best for MMOs?

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DC Universe Online adjusts abilities to have a little more impact

The stat revamp for DC Universe Online is an ongoing process with a lot of moving parts, and that means that none of those parts are finished moving until all is said and done. The most recent adjustment to the revamp is only about three changes, but those three changes ripple outward to have a big impact. Tank pulls have their cooldowns lowered, some heals have increased potency, and weapon buffs have increased duration. That’s it.

It sounds small, but all three have big implications for actual gameplay. More potent heals make the healing process less focused on spamming one ability and more focused upon landing something with impact, while faster tank cooldowns make it easier to pull things and move faster without fear of losing control. The weapon buffs also synergize better with other ability and help ensure that weapon-based playstyles will still work. These changes are on the test server now, so you can see how they shake out for yourself if you’re so inclined.

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Overwatch explains the goal of the PTR to players, and it’s not about balance

D. Va has taken a bit of a drubbing in the most recent Overwatch patch on the test server. Her guns do less damage and her armor is decreased; she’s shooting more bullets and has more health to compensate, but she’s still become squishier. The resultant outrage has led to a video response from game director Jeff Kaplan explaining that the test realm isn’t really about testing balance, but about testing whether or not the game crashes into a buggy mess after five seconds of play.

That’s not to say the developers don’t care about balance on the PTR, of course; it’s just not their primary focus, and given the small percentage of players who jump into testing, that feedback may or may not bear out once changes go live. The most important focus is making sure that all of the parts of the patch work without causing unexpected crashes or exploit-worthy bugs. So if you’re wondering why your brilliant dissertation on D. Va’s nerfing has gone without a proper response, there’s your answer. You can see Kaplan’s full response just below.

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Atlas Reactor opens up its public test server with a new Freelancer

Do you want to test out Brynn the Skywarden in Atlas Reactor? You can do that right now on the game’s test server. You can even stream about her and sing her praises on every available forum. The developers are fine with it; it’s a public test server, there’s no NDA. But even if you don’t want to play around with Brynn, you may want to check out the test server, as there have been extensive balance changes to a wide variety of characters.

Aurora, Asana, and Nix have all received some downgrades, as Trion felt all three characters were a bit too easy to play successfully; by contrast, Orion, Blackburn, and Juno have all gotten buffed up. And that’s not counting the smaller tweaks to specific mods or other options to ensure that the game has a more balanced environment. You don’t have to just read about the changes, though; as mentioned, you can try them out. Right now, if you’re at a place where you can run the game (your work may be very accepting).

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Wisdom of Nym: The state of Final Fantasy XIV’s Machinist

About a year and a half ago, I first put (digital) pen to (theoretical) paper about Final Fantasy XIV‘s Machinist. At that point, Heavensward had just recently launched, so the new jobs were still in something of a grace period, but right out of the gate Machinist felt like it needed a tune-up. Heck, I know a few people who abandoned any and all plans for the job after having played it for a few weeks.

I am not one of those people, obviously; I’ve stuck with the job from launch until now. So now that we’ve seen the job actually play out through all of the various updates (with, admittedly, one more patch for potential minor tweaks), it’s safe to say that Machinist has gotten at least some of the adjustments it needs and enough buffs to be more competitive. It’s just still not going to be what some of the people looking for the job have wanted.

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