Buffing

Ravious’s trinity and beyond discussion reminds me: buffing is a lot more fun than healing. City of Heroes will always have a place in my heart because of how awesome Kinetics is, especially at high levels. Buffing is less visible than putting green numbers over folks’ heads, and you cannot slap a DPS meter-equivalent on it, but it is more fun for both the buffer and the buffed (than the healer and the healed).

You know the litany against healers, in design and in playing one and in needing one, so skip that. Apart from enjoying the resource management game of the little bars you watch, the big fun in being a healer is making your friends limitless gods that go toe-to-toe with Cthonic horrors and win. Sure, you could do that by pretending you are a battery and re-filling the little bars every time the big bad all but one-shots your tank, while your other friends plink away its health, but why not actually make your friends limitless gods? Buff their defenses so that they can take the hits without constant healing, buff their regeneration to cover the gap, and buff their attacks so they swing more often and put really big numbers over their enemies’ heads. Cut the umbilical cord. (Debuffing does about the same, although something within me loves helping my friends more than hurting my foes, even if I am helping my friends hurt my foes.)

But why should I go on at length when we have this view from D&D?

: Zubon

7 thoughts on “Buffing”

  1. Someday, when I have more money than I’ll ever need, I want to make an MMO with the following rules:

    1. Healers play free. Absolutely free–no subscription fee, no cost for repairs, no cost for (non-tradeable) food and drink, etc.
    2. Everybody else pays.

    I think it would be a really fun experiment. Or did I miss someone doing it already?

  2. Debuffing is fun, if you think of it as another kind of buff. Imagine a boss with 90% armour. Then you halve that. You just buffed physical deeps by ~450% or to 550% damage. Turn your debuffs into another form of buff, and suddenly, debuffs are awesome. But then again, so are buffs.

    1. My buffing favoritism may come from games with many small targets. Games with fewer, larger targets favor debuffs: everyone on your team benefits, and you just need to keep this one guy oppressed. Games with many enemies that fall like popcorn favor buffs: the debuff lasts only the second or two the enemy will survive.

  3. Maybe I’ve just not played a game that does buffing right (I’ve only played the first 20 levels or so of CoH, your favourite buffing example) but I can’t see how buffing CAN be more fun than (well designed) healing, if only because the input/feedback loop is so soggy.

    How do you make it clear what you, the buffer, have accomplished? What proportion of your allies’ success is your intervention? What do you point at to say, “That was me?” You’ve contributed something valuable, sure – but indefinable. And how do you know if you’re doing it better, or worse, unless you’re at the line where anything less than improvement means a wipe?

    1. In CoH’s specific case, some buffing and debuffing’s effects, such as force fields or sonic shields, may not be immediately obvious to your allies unless they have had the experience of being in your buffing shoes on an alt.

      One can graphically alter some of the shields and effects to make them different colors and more or less visibly obvious. And some of the effects are in and of themselves obvious, aka a force fielder’s big bubble, flames or ice surrounding your allies, etc.

      The beauty of CoH’s buffs lies in the effectiveness of buffing, especially since buffs stack.

      To make it clear to a team that loves the obvious green numbers more, unappreciated buffers have been known to concoct an excuse to go AFK for a while and let the buffs wear off. This leads to a “mysteriously inexplicable” rise in damage taken, up to the point of sudden deaths, and a team that tends to welcome back the buffer with a “wow, we don’t know what you were doing, but we missed you!”

      Stacking buffs requires no such creativity as one’s god-like nature becomes apparent rather shortly in gameplay, and half of the team are probably buffers in the know anyway.

      There are also other buffs such as speed boost and fulcrum shift in which a player’d have to be blind to not notice.

      In the former case, one tends to take off into walls at high speed with a simple forward key press, while skills recharge more quickly. (Leading into a whole new argument about “I don’t want your buff!”)

      In the latter, the ludicrous amount of damage one can suddenly cause, plus the 20 stacked buff icons by the character’s name tend to give away the fact that -something- was done. :)

      1. But it’s voodoo, isn’t it? The players know the buffs are doing something – and many will know the specific numbers being affected – but all that really translates to in battle is the knowledge that you’d be vaguely less effective without them. It doesn’t matter whether it’s 500% less effective of 5% less effective; there’s no feedback that directly contrasts your current performance with your normal performance.

        I mean, it can work, but how can it possibly be more satisfying than healing?

        1. Well, once we get down to the realm of “more satisfying than,” we stray into subjectivity.

          It could be very well that the current implementation of “buffs” as a near-invisible effect represented by a tiny icon by a character’s name is more to blame than the action of a buff per se.

          Buffs can be given visual feedback, some more obvious than others, just like healing.

          A “Deflected” combat pop-up text was added to City of Heroes to make how defence works in CoH more obvious. It appears whenever you would have been hit if you didn’t have ally or self defence buffs on.

          And just to stretch the definition of “buff”, who says it needs to be an aura on the person? It could be positional.

          Alien Swarm has damage amplifiers (and medpacks, can’t run away from those healz) that affect an area, with a very clear visual effect as to buffed or no.

          I was trying the Global Agenda demo and this Robotics class wandered over and plunked down a honking big blue force field right in front of me, blocking any damage from reaching me until the force field wore down. It’s not green numbers, but it sure was obvious.

          And for ultimate satisfying god mode buff, I’d say the TF2 medic ubercharge would be a good contender. For its 8 glorious seconds.

Comments are closed.