Pre-Buff Nerf

Your game is balanced at the cap. Your new expansion pack raises the cap. How can you let players rise further without completely disrupting things? Nerf everything, then let the players work to get back to where they were. Then launch the next expansion pack.

Do I need a developer quote for something we have seen on so many major expansions? The Lord of the Rings Online™ is the one nearest to my vision. At the end of Shadows of Angmar™, players had quite respectable Block/Parry/Evasion percentages, some avoiding the majority of attacks. Percentages are dangerous things: they automatically scale, and once you’ve reached a certain point, you cannot give more without giving the enemies an ability like “evasion penetration” that feels like a Burglar nerf. When Mines of Moria™ launched, those percentages were all changed to BPE ratings, which were much larger numbers that translated to much smaller BPE percentages. It was an across-the-board nerf to defenses. This, in player relations speak, was done to create the opportunity for future character increases (i.e., work your way back to where you were).

For Siege of Mirkwood™, several other percentages and numbers were changed to ratings. Who would like to guess whether the rating translates to a smaller percentage than it used to be? There is currently a forum debate about whether, because the ratings are level-relative, you actually become weaker when you level up: not just relatively less powerful because you are using your level 60 equipment against level 61 enemies, but weaker against level 60 enemies. I suspect that the math does not work out that way, and it just looks suspicious because the new system is being presented by the same people who made us feel cheated when they gave us free stuff.

That and there were other across-the-board nerfs. The other way of doing it is to leave the players alone but buff all the enemies. Tanks got a boost in the new patch, gaining resistance to critical hits (which is currently bugged to also resist critical heals). Offsetting this (perfectly, if the math works out), all the elite and boss enemies gained buffs to their critical hits. This is one way of discouraging having non-tanks tank: everyone else was nerfed with respect to bosses (and tanks got a boost versus non-group enemies) with what sounded like a buff. This has unfortunate effects on raids with lots of area effect damage, because you can only “tank” a zone-wide attack so much.

There are not many things left to convert to ratings. The next step is to re-norm ratings, and again explain how it raises the ceiling for future increases. Then buff enemies, because players cannot see the numbers behind the DM’s screen. (To a lesser extent, this also applies to changing the rating-to-percentage curve. Players can see that if they look, but it takes active looking to notice that +rating gives an increasingly small +percentage boost.) Then keep making traits increasingly irrelevant by leaving their values capped where they were at level 50, which becomes a rounding error 15+ levels later.

: Zubon

16 thoughts on “Pre-Buff Nerf”

  1. Aheh, looking forward to this kinda change in cataclysm as well – supposedly everyone is getting hp similar to a tank, rather than us tanks being 25-30k hp higher. plus, a whole lot of ratings are disappearing from gear >< will be interesting times.

    "This has unfortunate effects on raids with lots of area effect damage, because you can only “tank” a zone-wide attack so much."

    -so boss spells can crit in LoTRO? o_0 that seems really strange, doesn't that far increase the chance of someone with lower hp getting owned? or is that the kind of difficulty turbine wants, a chance that the backline suddenly dies to a crit?

  2. Yar. Overall it makes sense, and it sucks, as you point out, only in the context of presentation. One wonders why they did percentages to start with. One also REALLY wonders why they haven’t raised the Virtue cap from 10 to 11 anytime while they’ve raised the level cap from 50 to 65. /shrug

  3. Sadly it’s probably too late to jump off the downward-spiraling track and institute a level-cap-increase freeze. In addition to the mechanical issues you’ve brought up, there’s also the obsolescence of good content (how many people run the Rift anymore, much less Helegrod? The Annuminas instances? Barad Gularan? Goblin Town?).

    1. This is a major issue in most MMOs. So many cool areas that are no longer interesting once people “levelled out of them”. I have yet to see many of the areas you mentioned, i.e. I never entered Haudh Valandil so far.

  4. @.@ i had a decent post, but wordpress ate it :(

    I think blizzard is doing this as well, half the stats on gear are going away in cataclysm, and ratings have been around a while – see Ratingbuster, a hugely popular mod that converts ratings to their % at your level.

    RE: “This has unfortunate effects on raids with lots of area effect damage, because you can only “tank” a zone-wide attack so much.”

    -does that mean LoTRO boss spells can crit? 0_o, that seems really strange to me, the idea that a backliner could be taken out with a random crit stacked with other damage.

  5. I thought the reason Blizzard was doing that in Cataclysm was for the opposite reason; because the rating system is too complicated and they wanted to make it more casual friendly (easy to understand). Which is the way they’ve been heading for a while now.

    Obviously the way to do things is to make them level relative.

    1. Obviously the way to do things is to make them level relative.

      Or not, as Blizzard found out. Originally, all those items currently using ratings used flat percentages instead. But Blizzard wanted to have item progression, so level 50 items that gave a +2% increase in critical hit chance were troublesome. You couldn’t just make a level 60 item giving +3% crit without eventually having people having absurdly high chances to crit.

      So, they switched to ratings, which allowed them to make a level 60 item that also gave +2% to crit.. but be better than the level 50 item because the level 50 item would give less than +2% crit on level 60.

      Unfortunately, they never did have that much self-control with handing out rewards. TBC saw rogues with 100%+ chance to dodge, making them de-facto immune to all physical attacks. Tanks amassed absurdly high stats as well, which required them to give the exact same kinds of nerfing auras Zubon was talking about to NPCs to give them a fighting chance. The same lack of restraint continued with Wrath, with the players demanding and receiving additional tiers of gear well above and beyond the original plans. So, people still have absurdly high percentages, defeating the entire point of the rating system. And it’s even worse with twinks, where the items the twink couldn’t acquire on it’s own are actually boosted by the ratings system to be even more powerful.

      1. I kinda took a huge break so I never saw that. Very silly of them to break what should have been a perfectly good system and then have to nerf it. Good thing I mostly don’t care about nerfs (I hate one thing they did to my main in the last patch).

  6. Whatever they did it certainly fixed my DPS minstrel back to the way things once were, in a good way. Tactical crit isn’t nearly as OP’d as it once was but I’m seeing 2k crits once again.

    Though, to be fair, minstrels have a pretty steady history of buff – nerf – buff – nerf. It won’t last long.

  7. That reminds me of the time City of Heroes faced Enhancement Diversification… (a nerf in overall power, some unbalanced powersets faring significantly worse than others)

    …which was probably in preparation for the Inventions loot system. (re-buff by collecting lots of random drops!)

    1. This was explicitly the case with nerfing Hami-Os. They were too good, so they needed to lower the best … so that they could add a new best (at present: purple crafted Inventions).

  8. Another change worth mentioning is the rebalance of weapon damage. Ostensibly it was intended to make all weapons of a given type equally valid choices (for example, use whatever one handed melee weapon you like). In reality, what they did was nerf the damage range of the old slow high damage weapons down to the level of the old fast weapons. As many attack skills cue off of the maximum damage your weapon can do, it was a stealthy nerf to weapon based attack skills across the board. Sort of analogous to the CoH “enhancement diversification” patch in a way.

  9. Do you think Turbine have consciously decided to make traits irrelevant by not increasing the trait cap in line with the level cap? I used to think traits were quite a nice thing in the early levels but the thought of having to grind out all my traits again is a major disincentive to leveling an alt.

    1. I suspect as much. While it would be nice to be able to get my virtues up to 12 or 15 on my main, I’d almost rather stab myself than go through even the current ten level grind on my alts, much less a 15 level grind.

    2. outside of legendary items, this probably is the most disappointing system in LOTRO. It has a lot of potential but hasn’t quite been given the love it needs to flourish. Instead of a system which allows for diversity, there still are, for the most part, a handful of “optimal” traits to equip with very little changes between classes. Plus with all the changes to the combat system it is hard to figure out what traits are good and which are worthless. Unless of course you’re one of those OCD folks that have them all maxed ;)

  10. As a player and designer, I loathe “ratings” for stuff on items. As a player, it’s annoying to have to try to figure out if it’s worth sacrificing 2 points of Agility for 16 points of crit rating or whatever. Add in caps, diminishing returns, and all sorts of other fun crap and it just becomes easier to look at a spreadsheet to find out what your next “upgrade” should be. I especially hated it when playing my Feral Druid in WoW:TBC, because I had a lot two different forms to worry about, too.

    As a designer, it’s just lazy because it’s the treadmill in purest form. Putting raw percents on items means that the +2% to crit item at level 30 may in fact be better than the item with more raw stats at level 60. No incentive to upgrade, no incentive to play, can’t have that! Once again, the steep power curve just sucks away a lot of fun you could be having in these games for short-term “chase the cheese” motivation.

Comments are closed.