COMMUNITY - FORUMS - GENERAL DISCUSSION
A conversation needs to be had...
-18

About combat and the whole death dynamic. Put simply, it's bad.

I've had reservations for awhile now, but it's taken some time after they announced the bloodlust stuff for me to crystallize in my head why it's so bad.

Here are the problems as I see them:

  • PC respawns and NPC lack thereof create a fundamental imbalance due to their equal emphasis in large scale (and perhaps small scale) PVP.
  • These imbalances create terrible gameplay loops and eliminate incentives for certain types of PVP.

To describe the first problem best, imagine the course of a pitched battle: two sides face off, start killing each other and one side or the other starts to gain the upper hand due to attrition. Except, some of the previously slain players start to get back up, zombie-like, to keep fighting. The essence of the problem is that this ability to keep coming back into the fight means that the side with the more PCs has a huge advantage. If numbers of PCs are relatively even, then maybe it's not a huge deal, but if an army is made up of majority PCs, or even just substantially more PCs than an opposing side, it can completely skew the normal effects of a battle. Imagine fighting your opponent to a stalemate, only to have more and more of their soldiers keep getting up. If you have a situation where two sides fight each other to a standstill, that's still effectively a loss for the side with fewer PCs.

Which brings us to the second problem. There are three options at this point: leave the mechanics as is, have dead players respawn at a safe place, or simply do away with soul-walking and make all deaths permadeaths.

Leaving the mechanics as they are means that once you lose an open field fight, you are done as far as your character is concerned. Any group with a brain in their heads will simply camp your bodies with OPCs/NPCs until you permadie. You could say that this is simply the consequence of losing, but this is a crappy game mechanic for all involved. It sucks for the people who lost because they have to deal with endless spawn camping. And it sucks for the victors, because they have to waste time and/or characters to keep killing you. But people will still do it because the benefits far outweigh the downsides at a strategic level.

Creating safe respawns keeps the above terrible gameplay loop from developing, but it locks in the advantage of larger groups that I talked about at the beginning. If your group is large enough, you can simply launch your warm bodies at another side, and as long as you aren't sub-humanly terrible, you can grind them down until they lose through sheer force of numbers. It just seems too much of an advantage to me that one PC is worth 10 or so NPCs in terms of longevity. At that point, why even have NPCs in combat at all? It makes it too easy for larger groups to come in and dominate.

Finally, there is one-time permadeath. This solves the problems of both of the previous solutions by putting PCs on par with NPCs in terms of longevity, without eliminating the inherent advantage PCs have (they aren't controlled by terrible AI). The biggest issue here is not in the gameplay, but rather getting players to accept it as a solution. Permadeath is scary, but to be honest, the consequences aren't all that different from any other full loot game. You have ways of passing your property to heirs, and the reincarnation system means you can get a leg up on reskilling new characters. In EVE, the mantra is "don't fly what you can't afford to lose," or in other words, be prepared because you know that you will die eventually. It functions fine there (they have ship insurance and what not but you still ultimately take a loss with each destroyed ship that you have to make up for), and it is (was, but that's another story for another time) a very successful niche MMO. People will play with these mechanics if you give them plenty of warning ahead of time. And frankly, the higher stakes make for more thrilling gameplay. Adventures really mean something when you could lose it all with a mistake. Trading becomes more profitable. I think it would honestly improve just about every aspect of the game. Change sparks of life to give you a certain amount of characters per use, instead of the life of one character with multiple respawns, and you will have a game with much more robust and fun game mechanics.

TLDR: get rid of spirit-walking and introduce one-time permadeath to solve fundamental PVP imbalances.


3/20/2019 2:57:28 AM #31
-4

People are attacking you, but I think you have some valid concerns if SBS is striving for realism. Spirit walking to me sounds like running around as a ghost in ultima online. I guess instead of your guild or a healer resing your toon you have to find your body then just come back? Idk. I would like to see dead characters taken completely out of the fight like in life is feudal. You respawn to your most recent 'set home' location and then you have to run back. That could be your actual home that's 4 hours away or a siege camp a few hundred yards away. I also assume there will be some sort of resurrection sickness that effects your stats and ability to fight, but a meatshield is a meatshield if there's pvp.

3/20/2019 3:03:24 AM #32
+9

Posted By Gunnlang at 11:55 PM - Mon Mar 18 2019

Or we could just wait until we test out the mechanics, to see how it all really plays out. If it does need to be changed, then it will.

Unless I have missed it somewhere, we don't even know how long this spirit walking will take. Basically until we have all the details down, it's really hard to say what is a bad idea and what we should change it to.

This is the correct answer, the time to test these mechanics is probably further away than most think. The post is way too early and will be irrelevant soon. I would wait till I've tested it before I go making assumptions...


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3/20/2019 3:28:30 AM #33
-6

It isn't too early if they decide to code a bunch of mechanics that don't even work in theory, that's why I wanted to discuss this now. Time is a precious commodity to small studios.


3/20/2019 3:42:06 AM #34
+6

Posted By Julius Foederatus at 8:28 PM - Tue Mar 19 2019

It isn't too early if they decide to code a bunch of mechanics that don't even work in theory, that's why I wanted to discuss this now. Time is a precious commodity to small studios.

You may be right...

Personally I think this is way too soon to be trying to change HUGE game mechanics based on assumptions you have about pitched battles, a very small portion of the game.


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3/20/2019 3:47:38 AM #35
+5

Posted By Julius Foederatus at 11:28 AM - Wed Mar 20 2019

It isn't too early if they decide to code a bunch of mechanics that don't even work in theory, that's why I wanted to discuss this now. Time is a precious commodity to small studios.

In theory is not the same as in practice.

Theory is inevitably always over simplified to the point of inaccuracy and biased due to assumptions and subjective interpretation.

If during testing, any mechanic shows clearly demonstrable flaws then I'll be the first to suggest change, but until we see it in action, there is no conclusive way to know if things will turn out the way it is perceived or planned.


3/20/2019 8:42:20 AM #36
+4

(1) I don't think corpse camping will pay off. The OP mentioned that both sides in the battle dislike it, but that the winner would find it a strategic necessity to do so. One reason I don't think that it will be strategic necessity is because of logistics: without adequate supplies, the losing side should not be able to restart the battle. Therefore, I expect a mechanic whereby the winner can loot and pillage the loser's supply train.

(2) Either supply depletion or character exhaustion could be used to limit the duration of a single battle. Perhaps supply shortage will lead automatically to a greater rate of character exhaustion.

(3) NPC forces may flee the scene rather than stick around for certain annihilation. If they are not aggressively pursued, it may be possible for them to rally. We don't know if morale mechanics will be part of the system, but their presence would make large-scale battles much more like those in unit-level tactical and strategic wargames than typical MMORPG PvP. Typical MMORPG PvP is squad-level, at most.

(4) It would totally make sense for unit leaders to be characters with leadership skills not entirely based on head-bashing ability.

(5) Given that mechanisms apropos of the previous points are present, perhaps the side with fewer PCs present would be well-advised to fight on the defensive, and use their PCs to maintain the integrity of the NPC formations and respond to tactical challenges by unit actions rather than individual combat.

All of the above are suggested as possible mitigations to the potential problems highlighted by the OP. They all propose large-scale combat mechanics that will yield an experience more like a distributed-control wargame than an RPG. SBS may not agree with the suitability of that approach, and may opt for greater individual agency and tactical freedom of action on the part of each character, whether NPC, OPC, or PC. I don't have any experience with the kinds of games they would use as inspirations or models, so I cannot say in that case what kinds of mitigations would be possible.

What I do know is that SBS will be trying to provide a feel for pitched battles that I interpret as somewhat like miniatures combat. The exact quote is something along the lines that a battle 100 against 150 will feel like a battle of 1000 against 1500. This is a typical representation scale for miniatures battles like tabletop Warhammer. If I have guessed correctly, then the character action "palette" in pitched battle will not be exactly the same as it is in individual combat situations like duels or squad-level actions. In such situations, I would rather be a general in command of NPCs trained by some of our players with military experience or knowledge than of an equal number of PCs skilled in individual combat.


3/20/2019 1:23:49 PM #37
+5

@Julius Foederatus

It appears you are under the assumption that once a PC respawns they pop a health pot and are back in the action. This is utterly and completely incorrect.

While the energy and vitality systems are still in flux the crux of the system is as you are awake you burn energy. As you do strenuous activities such as combat or as conditions move from your tribes baseline ie hotter and drier than your tribe is used to or you are wearing improper clothing for the weather you lose progressively more energy. We’ve been told that simply wearing armor is tiring and the heavier more battle ready armor you wear the higher the penalty.

Now if combat drains energy at a higher rate I think we can safely assume energy will drop significantly for each death. True bloodlust comes into play for spirit loss and such but while rules in a pitched battle are different than an open field fight you still have the survival mechanics.

You need supplies as I explained two pages back and you need energy. As it drops you will eventually need to sleep or you will “pass out” and be forced to sleep. Along with needing to eat and drink you won’t have an army of zombie PCs rising from the ground endlessly. Adding in as others have suggested disarming the downed enemies the inability to corpse camp and many other mechanics that all come into play it doesn’t appear there needs to be a change at this time.

Given the sheer number of new mechanics that are intertwined with combat no one not even the devs can know for sure how it will work in the end without extensive testing. Calling for changes now is akin to trying to build a plane without a mode mock-up being ran through a wind tunnel. Once everyone SBS included gathers data on how everything interacts and how each mechanic comes into play then and only then can a determination be made.

As for my comment on the commander not knowing mechanics I stand by it. This is a game. Far simpler than real life it all boils down to how mechanics work. Much like chess. If I have a rook and a knight while my opponent has managed to crown 3 queens I’m at a disadvantage and need to adjust my tactics. Throwing my army into a pitched battle that I can’t win is a failure from the getgo. Using castle walls and settling in for a siege while waiting for my allies to show up with their forces would be a much better way to go about it.

Feel free to keep using hyperbole and WAGs to support your desire to fundamentally change a mechanic no one truely knows how it works.

3/20/2019 1:32:24 PM #38
+0

Posted By Gunnlang at 8:54 PM - Tue Mar 19 2019

Posted By Marovec at 06:00 AM - Wed Mar 20 2019

Maybe I am misunderstanding what you said, but don't NPCs respawn now?

I know at one point they didnt, but that was changed for a variety of reasons.

What? Where was this changed said? Surely my memory isn't that shit that I would forget something like this, got a link?

I remember the discussion, and ha e seen it quoted in Discord a few times since, but cant find it for the life of me.

It wasn't 100% "locked in", they said it was still being discussed, but needless to say it seems NPC permadeath on first kill is something that is unlikely to happen.


Imgur

3/20/2019 2:10:27 PM #39
+0

Posted By Marovec at 08:32 AM - Wed Mar 20 2019

Posted By Gunnlang at 8:54 PM - Tue Mar 19 2019

Posted By Marovec at 06:00 AM - Wed Mar 20 2019

Maybe I am misunderstanding what you said, but don't NPCs respawn now?

I know at one point they didnt, but that was changed for a variety of reasons.

What? Where was this changed said? Surely my memory isn't that shit that I would forget something like this, got a link?

I remember the discussion, and ha e seen it quoted in Discord a few times since, but cant find it for the life of me.

It wasn't 100% "locked in", they said it was still being discussed, but needless to say it seems NPC permadeath on first kill is something that is unlikely to happen.

Unlikely yes but it hasn’t been changed yet.

3/20/2019 5:02:18 PM #40
+1

Posted By Malais at 07:10 AM - Wed Mar 20 2019

Posted By Marovec at 08:32 AM - Wed Mar 20 2019

Posted By Gunnlang at 8:54 PM - Tue Mar 19 2019

Posted By Marovec at 06:00 AM - Wed Mar 20 2019

Maybe I am misunderstanding what you said, but don't NPCs respawn now?

I know at one point they didnt, but that was changed for a variety of reasons.

What? Where was this changed said? Surely my memory isn't that shit that I would forget something like this, got a link?

I remember the discussion, and ha e seen it quoted in Discord a few times since, but cant find it for the life of me.

It wasn't 100% "locked in", they said it was still being discussed, but needless to say it seems NPC permadeath on first kill is something that is unlikely to happen.

Unlikely yes but it hasn’t been changed yet.

I think there might be a middle road here to maintain population while also increasing the harm and stakes of death and allowing for a "kill all the peasants" type of offensive war. There is a discussion of holding PC offspring in some kind of limbo until it is time to spark into them. (That was to prevent over-aged heirs and maximize PC lifespan as PCs, I think.) NPCs can be handled the same way. That is, when an NPC dies, it could be replaced by another younger, less experienced, less skilled NPC, which then has to start anew (as players do -- but without the benefit of past lives and skill ramps). Thus, the cost of killing off the peasants is not depopulation -- but rather erosion of specialized skills and expertise. (Also, presumably, contractual obligations with NPCs end with the death of the NPC -- so there is also that loss, with new contracts and new terms required in a new deal with a new NPC.)

However, another option is just to let NPCs be born, age, and die (sometimes horribly and far too soon). That would add an element of domain management gameplay -- one involving maintaining or increasing NPC population. There could be policies that support that. Not killing off your NPCs in offensive wars or squandering them in desperate defenses could do that. Setting an NPC birthrate such that it would naturally increase without premature death could accomplish this.

NPC migration (NPC refugees) should also be a thing. People flee war zones and go to places that are not so awful. That could and should happen in COE, too.

So, COE should have a lot of conflict -- but it shouldn't be all violent conflict everywhere -- and there should be advantages from being a stable domain and for being smart about your use of violence.


The above opinions are mine alone and do not reflect those of my Kingdom or Duchy.

Count of Arden, in the Duchy of Fioralba, in the Kingdom of Ashland, by the Grace of Haven.

https://chroniclesofelyria.com/forum/topic/17117/naw-the-duchy-of-fioralba

https://chroniclesofelyria.com/forum/topic/14124/naw-kingdom-of-ashland

3/20/2019 5:55:12 PM #41
+0

Last I saw the comments, it was a bit middle ground. NPCs wouldnt permadie on first death, but they still have a much shorter "soul span".

That potentially still allows for tangible effect from waging "total war", but still allows for people/conquerors to rebuild.

All subject to testing and tweaking, of course.


Imgur

3/20/2019 11:48:55 PM #42
+0

Posted By Marovec at 04:55 AM - Thu Mar 21 2019

Last I saw the comments, it was a bit middle ground. NPCs wouldnt permadie on first death, but they still have a much shorter "soul span".

That potentially still allows for tangible effect from waging "total war", but still allows for people/conquerors to rebuild.

All subject to testing and tweaking, of course.

It would make more sense if they had a few lives in them. Stop people from just mass murdering one sex, to completely wipe them out from whatever area.

At least increase their lives in war. Since you take them out to one war and naturally never again. Would make those first battles so epic, in size, then anything else afterwards, mostly players fighting each other.


3/21/2019 2:42:14 AM #43
-1

Posted By Malais at 09:23 AM - Wed Mar 20 2019

@Julius Foederatus

It appears you are under the assumption that once a PC respawns they pop a health pot and are back in the action. This is utterly and completely incorrect.

While the energy and vitality systems are still in flux the crux of the system is as you are awake you burn energy. As you do strenuous activities such as combat or as conditions move from your tribes baseline ie hotter and drier than your tribe is used to or you are wearing improper clothing for the weather you lose progressively more energy. We’ve been told that simply wearing armor is tiring and the heavier more battle ready armor you wear the higher the penalty.

Now if combat drains energy at a higher rate I think we can safely assume energy will drop significantly for each death. True bloodlust comes into play for spirit loss and such but while rules in a pitched battle are different than an open field fight you still have the survival mechanics.

You need supplies as I explained two pages back and you need energy. As it drops you will eventually need to sleep or you will “pass out” and be forced to sleep. Along with needing to eat and drink you won’t have an army of zombie PCs rising from the ground endlessly. Adding in as others have suggested disarming the downed enemies the inability to corpse camp and many other mechanics that all come into play it doesn’t appear there needs to be a change at this time.

Given the sheer number of new mechanics that are intertwined with combat no one not even the devs can know for sure how it will work in the end without extensive testing. Calling for changes now is akin to trying to build a plane without a mode mock-up being ran through a wind tunnel. Once everyone SBS included gathers data on how everything interacts and how each mechanic comes into play then and only then can a determination be made.

As for my comment on the commander not knowing mechanics I stand by it. This is a game. Far simpler than real life it all boils down to how mechanics work. Much like chess. If I have a rook and a knight while my opponent has managed to crown 3 queens I’m at a disadvantage and need to adjust my tactics. Throwing my army into a pitched battle that I can’t win is a failure from the getgo. Using castle walls and settling in for a siege while waiting for my allies to show up with their forces would be a much better way to go about it.

Feel free to keep using hyperbole and WAGs to support your desire to fundamentally change a mechanic no one truely knows how it works.

You're not understanding the problem. What happens after a fight? A PC needs a few minutes, maybe an hour at most to be combat ready again. An NPC is gone. Even if they put in multiple lives for NPCs, unless it's on parity with a PC, you will still have that inherent imbalance. Take my original example. Side A and side B do the exact same amount of damage to each other. It is 1:1 combat effectiveness. But because of the disparity, they lose a certain amount of their army strength each time, while side A does not (or at least it doesn't over a short enough time span for it to matter). Repeat this 3 or 4 times and side B is out of the fight, despite doing just as well as side A. You can't just grow NPCs out of the ground, it would most likely take a minimum of weeks to regain that lost manpower.

I'll say it again, PCs already have an inherent advantage over NPCs because AI can't match a human player. Giving them the additional longevity advantage completely skews combat balance between larger and smaller groups. If we're trying to make NPCs an integral part of the game here, this situation just makes no sense. We've already had some very real concerns that larger groups will just steamroll. While we shouldn't work to eliminate every advantage that numbers confer, it doesn't make any sense to specifically engineer more advantages for them that they otherwise would not have.


3/21/2019 2:46:46 AM #44
+5

@Julius Foederatus

All I can get from your posts here seems to boil down to:

"War isn't fair."

You're right. It never has been and it never will be.


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3/21/2019 1:57:17 PM #45
+4

@Julius Foederatus

The basic design principle of CoR is change. Nothing in the entire world is permanent. Not the great Kingdom in the North. Not the great white spires of the temple of light, not the hamlet of fisher folk by the sea not even you or me.

Everything in CoE crumbles to dust even our family lines will eventually die out. The reason for this is how can you have a great story if nothing changes? In rift the great dragons are dead, the great threat to the world ended yet visit a starter zone and it’s like nothing happened.

NPCs whether they have limited reapawns or are one and done they will always be more fragile than Players. There is an actual Lore based reason why players can respawn and NPCs can’t. However CoE is a game and as has been pointed out SBS is kicking around the idea of LIMITED reapawns for them.

Even if they have limited respawns a commander should always think twice about taking an army of NPCs to battle. They each have needs and desires as well as a number based opinion of their leader. If that drops too low they will flee. Players... not going to happen. They will stand with their guild (mmo style) until hell freezes over regardless of the odds.

I get it would be nice to have an AI army to counterbalance the big guilds. Zerg armies h e been talked about, dissected, analyzed and ultimately accepted as part of mmo culture. This thread alone is full of foils and ways to counter that style of combat gameplay that actually exist within the realm of CoE currently and do not require a complete rewrite of the NPC design.

Allowing your fear of large guilds destroying the game or running roughshod isn’t healthy for the design of the world. Instead you need to stop looking at it from an equality standpoint and see NPCs for what they are.

A resource.

Originally back in 2015 NPCs were nothing they were literal placeholders that existed for one purpose to be taken over by a players soul. Their lives were one and done unless “soul jacked” by a player. They were meant to do the mundane tasks that players wouldn’t want to do in order to keep the world functioning. That’s all. They were sorta bought and sold when tokens were introduced to the online store. People could donate to their mayor and depending on the number of tokens the settlement grew in size and would start with extra NPCs.

An NPC army will never ever even with limited reapawns be the equal of a player army, nor should they. In my opinion you should never have a 1:1 ratio if you are going to fight a player army it should be 10:1 or more. Your example you keep tossing out is a very poor one. A player army with voice coms will always beat an army of NPCs of equal size, you even point out the weakness of AI versus players but continue to beat the dead horse of reapawns being the issue. Instead you need to view NPCs like I said above a resource no different than a sword, or a horse.

If I have a horse and ride it into battle it gives me an advantage in energy, speed, and such yet a single arrow will kill it and it’s gone for good. My shield protects me from arrows but if I get disarmed and fail to pick it up it’s gone forever as well.

Your NPCs are much in the same vein. You have an awesome blacksmith who is best at his craft. Because he’s a big guy he hits hard with a war maul. Yet if he dies you lose access to his skills.

All about choice. Big guilds will always have an advantage and while the design of CoE will mitigate it there is never going to be a point where your example works out in the smaller groups favor unless they outwit their opposition. NPCs won’t allow them to over power them ever.

And for the record at the moment I’m a count of 1. I do not have a guild backing me nor any friends starting in my family. An immortal army of NPCs would be nice but wouldn’t truly fit the spirit of the game SBS wants to build.

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