game balance

Wisdom of Nym: The numbers game in Final Fantasy XIV

It’s not really hard to figure out the best stats for melding in order to do the maximum damage in Final Fantasy XIV. You have, ultimately, only a few real options, and with the removal of Accuracy as an option, none of them is actually going to make or break important points. The problem is that asking “what can I meld to do maximum damage” is perhaps not always the right question to ask.

The matter of stat weights and best-in-slot gear has already been attracting ferocious debate in various parts of the community, and you know the debate has gotten to a fever pitch when Yoshida actually addresses one of the stupider new customs in a live letter. (That would be tanks wearing 270 STR accessories, for the record.) So I think it’s well past the point to talk about the issue of tank damage, tank scaling, and numbers in general. They may not carry the allure of story sequences, but they’re still important.

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Final Fantasy XIV details some of the balance changes coming to the game on Tuesday

The next patch for Final Fantasy XIV arrives tomorrow, and everyone who has been following the game knows that it’s bringing the new weekly Allagan Tomestones of Creation into the game. But it’s also bringing some other stuff in the form of balance adjustments, something detailed in the most recent Letter from the Producer LIVE with producer (and director!) Naoki Yoshida. All healing jobs are seeing some adjustments, with Scholar singled out for some far-ranging changes like reworks to Excogitation and Indomitability and the re-introduction of Miasma II.

Yoshida also discussed changes coming to tank jobs, Black Mage, Machinist, and Dragoon. He also discussed some of the game’s upcoming content, such as plans to implement a new Alliance Raid roulette for content such as Crystal Tower and Void Ark and new separations of congested areas in the open world. You can check out the full letter for more hints about the future, but you can also just wait until tomorrow; a lot of this will be in patch 4.05, after all.

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Path of Exile updates fans on the state of Fall of Oriath’s beta

The sixth week of beta testing of Path of Exile’s next expansion is kicking off, and the good news is that the developers still aren’t planning any wipes for the beta. It’s humming right along, and the wave three patch is right around the corner. This patch brings changes such as the previously discussed Pierce/Chance to Pierce shifts, along with several under-the-hood performance improvements that ought to help in the future. Game balance in general continues to be closely watched and addressed.

More work is also being done on early tutorials as well as the Labyrinth, which has fairly little time to be tested and thus is something the development team is very interested in hearing feedback on. The next wave of beta is currently slated to take place within 10-15 days, so if you’re invested in doing the work to test the expansion beta, you should get in there and offer some feedback sooner rather than later.

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EVE Evolved: The controversy over EVE Online’s capital ship nerfs

EVE Online players have been up in arms this week over sweeping nerfs that are about to hit to high-end farming gameplay styles in the player-owned nullsec territories. It started when CCP Games announced that the Excavator drones used by Rorqual capital industrial ships would be getting a sizeable mining yield reduction and that a respawn delay would be added to ore sites in nullsec. As players were still reeling from that unexpected news, developers then announced a surprise general nerf to fighter damage with the goal of making carriers and supercarriers less effective in PvE and PvP. This significant balance change was just announced on Friday 9th June and goes live on Tuesday 13th, prompting outcry from the community over the lack of feedback-gathering on such a significant change to capital ship balance.

These nerfs both seem to be reactions to the latest few Monthly Economic Reports, which showed that the total money supply in the game economy is over a quadrillion ISK and rising rapidly. The detailed breakdowns of economic activity in the reports tell a more complex story, with ISK supply from bounty prizes roughly doubling over the past year and mining in the Delve region shooting off the scale in the past few months. It seems that a large number of nullsec players are spending more time farming and building up resources, and it’s the scale and efficiency of the top-tier farming setups that has CCP worried.

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I discuss the upcoming Rorqual and fighter nerfs, look at the economics of farming, and explain why this trend could be a more serious indicator than CCP realises.

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Wisdom of Nym: Words of caution about speculating on Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood’s balance

Whew. All right. Last week had a big old release of news about Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood, and now I’m far more relaxed because I can actually talk about all of the things I saw. This has been gnawing at me since I got back from San Francisco, and while there’s a certain amount of fun in knowing things other people don’t, it’s much more fun to talk about how utterly cool pretty much everything looks. Even the jobs which I’m not specifically more excited about look like they’re getting lots of cool toys along the way.

Unfortunately, we’ve already started seeing people crying that the sky is falling and that Stormblood will be the worst thing ever, because now we know about the abilities. And… yeah, that’s downright bad.

Look, you all know how much I love speculating about things. I speculated about which abilities various jobs were losing or getting compressed (and wound up at about 65% accuracy, which I think is pretty good), I’ve speculated about what we’d hear at the various fanfests, I’ve speculated about jobs we’re likely never to get. But there’s good speculation and bad speculation, and your speculation about what the jobs will look like in terms of performance at 70 right now? It’s bad. Let’s talk about why.

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Shroud of the Avatar unveils its patch notes for release 42

The end is coming to Shroud of the Avatar. The next patch for the game, release 42, allows players who have succeeded at the quests for the paths of Love, Courage, and Truth to begin walking the Path of the Oracle. This is the culmination of the game’s storyline, so if you’ve been waiting to see how it’s all going to turn out, the next patch is your time to shine.

Of course, there’s a lot more in the patch than just that. Players who are just getting into the game can enjoy more polish passes on the new player experience, for example, and players of any experience level can enjoy the new combat balance changes to make the game a bit more balanced and fun. There’s also the in-game mail system and improvements to enemy AI, so no matter where you are with the story, you’ll find something to do. It’s just worth noting that the people waiting to see the Oracle are finally going to get their payoff.

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Gigantic discusses upcoming polish and balance changes in open beta

The development of Gigantic has moved on to the stage of polishing and refining the content already in the game, which is a good thing for players. The latest official set of community answers focuses on exactly that, dealing with the balance and quality-of-life changes planned for the game’s open beta testing. Matchmaking issues are still being investigated and worked on, and players can expect at least one more major update during this test phase to address balance and bugs.

New voiceover lines for certain characters are also being added, and players can expect to see those as well as integrated voice chat in the relatively near future following internal testing. There are also plans to show more numbers in the future to help with theorycrafting, although those numbers are unlikely to show up in the next couple of builds. Check out the full rundown for all of the information you could want about the process of making the game polish up and shine nicely.

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Fan-made Overwatch short explores Mercy’s backstory

If you’ve played a single Overwatch game with Mercy as your support hero, you’ve heard her rallying shout at least once – “Heroes never die!” That serves as both the title and the central theme behind a new fan-made film pitting Mercy against Widowmaker and exploring the good doctor’s past and motivation. It’s only a short film, but the production values are great for a fan film, and it’s well worth watching just below.

Oh, you don’t want to pay attention to dedicated fan productions, you just want to worry about actual balance changes? Fine, go over the changes from the game’s latest test patch. Soldier: 76 is getting his damage tuned down and Reinhardt’s Earthshatter will be a bit more restricted vertically; meanwhile, Genji and Hanzo can do damage faster after climbing walls and Orisa can use her protective barrier more often. There are your mechanical changes.

Seriously, a lot of effort went into that fan film. You should watch that.

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Gigantic talks about player disconnection and player abandonment

It sucks when you get into a match in Gigantic, you get ready for the thrill of competition… and then two of your teammates just leave. What do you do? Do you stick out the fight, knowing full well that you’re likely to lose because you’re undermanned now? Or do you throw the match as well, falling into exactly the same trap as the people who just abandoned the match? It’s a complex situation, and it’s one Motiga explains is a very real but tricky problem to solve in the latest weekly dispatch.

The overall goal is for players to find it more rewarding to stay in matches, less rewarding to leave the match, and less penalizing for people who stick it out after other players jump ship. That’s a set of changes starting with the idea of a “safe to leave” flag, a point when players can leave the match once it’s clear that the outcome is all but decided… which, in turn, discourages players from jumping ship at the first sign of trouble. Combined with the team’s ongoing efforts to tackle major server issues, players should increasingly find it easy to get in and play matches which they intend to get in and play… and stick out to the end.

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Greg Street discusses balancing League of Legends for all skill levels

How do you balance a video game? It’s kind of an ongoing question, but it’s also one that Greg Street (aka Ghostcrawler) has been answering for years with work on both World of Warcraft and League of Legends. He gave a panel on exactly that topic for League of Legends at this year’s GDC, and you can now watch that hour-long talk in the video just past the break. And it’s a worthwhile topic from the start because he’s talking about balancing not for the best players or the worst, but for everyone.

This is important; balancing for new and inexperienced players only produces a game that doesn’t have the depth needed for long-term play, while balancing solely for veterans creates a game that’s impenetrable for newcomers. So how do you make a game that’s fun for people getting into the genre for the first time as well as people who eat, sleep, jungle, and repeat? Check out the video below (courtesy of Gamasutra) for one possible answer.

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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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