Context

“Cat-people get +5 Agility.” It is a simple sentence, something you could expect from a dozen YAFMMORPGs. If your game has yet to release, how can you express it without being meaningless or getting into an endless cascade of information? (Or perhaps the endless cascade is a good thing for promoting your game, and you can turn this one thing into months of web site content.)

The first version of the game site will probably list all the races and include some mention of how swift the cat-folk are. Later, you list the bonuses that each race will get, so humans get these three, some for the nigh-inevitable elves, some for the cat-people. “Cat-people have above-average agility.” Great! Your potential players want to know what that means. Is it just flavor text about their being graceful, or does it have gameplay impact?

You quantify those bonuses, giving us “+5.” Great! What is the scale on that? +5 means a lot more on 1-100 than 1-1000. It could be the difference between “all Rogues are cat-folk” and “race is irrelevant.” Does Agility (or any other attribute) face diminishing returns? We are going to need more information about these attributes in your game. Context, we need context.

How do they scale? If it starts as 1-100 and grows up to 1000, the bonus is valuable early on but increasingly irrelevant. Or is this the kind of game where attributes never increase, so you are locked into these at the start, apart from magic items that affect attributes? At what level could we expect to receive a +5 Agility item? The scale might go past 1000; how many levels are there? Is it a hard cap, soft cap, cap with planned increase in an expansion? And is that a flat +5 or just a +5 at first level that scales? At what rate does it scale? We could be talking +1 per level, a fixed percentage, and is that a percentage of the base or a modified value? Context, we need context.

That is character advancement, but what about character development as a whole? What does Agility affect? It could affect dodging, ranged combat, melee combat, melee combat but only with light weapons, critical rates, parrying, countering enemy miss chances… Is Agility a base stat or derived from something else? Does something else derive from Agility? We are going to need to know a lot about the game’s systems to even understand what “Agility” means here. Context, we need context.

How do these numbers interact? +5 might be big or small in context, but the important things is the effect that difference has. How does Agility play into the formulas? If the “to hit” roll is dominated by level modifiers, my +20% modifier might effectively mean +2% hits. Can you give us any combat formulas for us to plug into spreadsheets? Context, we need context.

There is just one race of cat-people? The screenshots showed a variety, including lion-people, tiger-people, and cheetah-people. Are there other bonuses set based on sub-race? Are sub-races just cosmetic? We like the idea of lions being stronger, but we do not want to be locked into a lion-person to be a tank. Do other races have sub-races? At what point do you make that selection? Can we see the character creator? Context, we need context.

Have any of these answers changed during testing? When are you going to update the web site? Why won’t the devs tell us anything?

: Zubon

11 thoughts on “Context”

  1. Hmmm…. Honestly, I stopped at the second paragraph (philosophically, not literally). Quantitativity has been established (cat-folk agility is mechanical, not fluff). That’s really all there is to know until such time as I’m going to be playing the game (or not).

    But the precise magnitude of cat-folk agility? Why would I give a shit until I’m rolling a character? Before that the question is whether or not to buy the game at all, and such degrees as you proceed to delve into don’t matter to that, do they?

    Maybe I just don’t get it…

  2. Think of other games. How much more % chance to crit is actually +216 Crit Chance? But often it is hard to express in a better way if there are diminishing returns and crit chance is tied ot level and level of the opposing mob and/or something like that.

    But then, as Moondog already said – if people are new to the game, they don’t care for this at all. But I think there needs to be more transparency for those who stick around.

    Unfortunately, getting more familiar with game mechanics often means having to read up what some number crunchers of the fanbase came up with. So no wonders we have players with only rough ideas and superstitions about what they are actually doing, equipping, and why they are doing it. :)

    Getting familiar with the mechanics of the game and the effect of stats and game gear is an area that is not often discussed when it comes to game design. Ingame Wikis or improved tooltips might help here. Many people are probably interested in that, without being interested dedicated number crunchers by heart.

  3. This somewhat parallels what is going on in the DarkFall forums, where before the Spotlight section AV would communicate nothing, and of course people bitched. Now they communicate a ton, and anything that is not “The expansion is coming out today” gets a “why do I care about this, ETA expansion AV!!!1121!”

    It’s both sad and amusing really.

    (btw, the +5 for cat people is way OP, KTR’s needs to nerf it)

  4. The simple answer is not to release the “+5”.

    You say “These are the cat people, and they shall be slightly more agile than other races”. You don’t need to (and shouldn’t) quantify that, because it will almost certainly change.

    The core of the race is not that it is +5 Agility, it is that they are slightly more agile. The +5 is just an arbitary number, and will change if it needs better reflect the “slightly more agile” part, and thus isn’t important in the slightest.

  5. Cat people are simply +5 STYLE over other races.

    Yeah, you know who looks good? Me. That’s who. The Cat. Yow!
    (It’s cold outside, there’s no kind of atmosphere…)

  6. It’s probably a time-saving measure.

    If you say “Cat people have more agility than most others”, I imagine the number of people that would immediately ask “Well, how much more?” is greater than the ones that would just nod. So let’s avoid having to go back and reply.

    Likewise, the number of people that would see “Cat people have +5 agility” and simply nod happily is much greater than the ones who’d question what does that +5 mean, which so far it seems to be only you, Z, so I guess that proves the theory :)

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