Spell casting has usability dropped below acceptable limits.

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Do you like recent magic system changes and how healing spells working right now?

I'm a (half)mage and I hate recent changes!
3
50%
I'm a (half)mage and recent changes are fine for me.
1
17%
I'm not a mage at all but I still dislike recent changes.
1
17%
I'm not a mage at all and I like recent changes.
0
No votes
I'm not a mage so I don't care about their stupid problems.
0
No votes
I hate mages! Why can't they just shut up?!
1
17%
 
Total votes: 6
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t3st3r
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Spell casting has usability dropped below acceptable limits.

Post by t3st3r » Sun Sep 20, 2009 4:13 am

With recent changes overall spell casting usability has finally dropped below any acceptable limits I can manage to tolerate.

Most annoying things are:
1) Discrimination of targets. IMHO, that's UNFAIR and STUPID way to balance things. Traditionally, friendly spells are usually working the same way on any target, including caster himself with same effect (so caster can benefit from own spells as anyone else can). This is completely fair, reasonable, balanced and does not requires stupid artificial explanations and traditionally implemented in most magic systems. Furthermore, I'm finding that healer who can't heal himself looks like an complete idiot, after all. Can you imagine, say, medic who fails to heal himself? Or maybe, veteran firefighter who is unable to eliminate small camp-fire while fully equipped? When someone who practices some kind of art or job fails to apply it for saving his own life, that's what we all would call "epic fail", actually. Why all mages should look like a bunch of losers and idiots? :evil: As for me, that's clear sign of some things have gone a way too artificial. Too rough and questionable methods of balancing. Please re-think this?

2) Failure rates of spells. Well, as for me, while I'm being a proficient mage in game, but I fail to heal people most of times in a real in-game scenarios. Most of times healing spell does not works at all. Should I mention this is extremely annoying and frustrating? Well, to be honest, with all these changes healing is well below any acceptable usability limits.

3) As a related issue I can see problem that healing dummies does not gives a proper rewards at all. Actually, cooperation, helping newbies and saving someone's life is are all thing worth of proper reward. Not just some "20 XP" which are useless so almost nobody will bother gaining them, right? Saving an almost killed newbie is a bold and challenging task for any healer, don't you think so?

Well, problems are outlined, some analisys are following:
As for me, major problem seems to be that "lay-on-hands" magic is virtually instant. So it haves tremendous abuse and unbalancing potential which is hard to control, especially without imposing stupid and artificial limitations on players which seems to create more troubles than solve.

My proposal is something like this: revert these changes, removing both of these concerns and replace "lay-on-hands" with spell which is an non-instant healing which is:
1) Haves devs-controllable heal rate (but noticeably better than lum). Maybe dependent on target stats and caster level, if you want to, etc.
2) does not req's lifestones (so there is reason to learn it, after all).
3) Once cast on target, further healing does not fails but also not causes useful effects except maybe adding some extra healing time or HPs to heal (a bit like rain spell, etc) but not changing heal rate, etc (so mages still have to be extra-careful in crowded places, etc - no matter what, if damage rate exceeds heal rate too much, mage would not last for a long time and can't avoid this fate without being really careful).
4) Haves simple and clear rules and works most of time.
5) Does not suffers from server lags (lum seems to have severe problems here and often delays too much due to server lags, lay-on-hands not seemed to have this problem).
6) Does not really discriminates people (i.e. works for any target, including caster, maybe with a various efficiency depending on target and it's stats though).

All this will allow mages to suffer from their weak nature in tight battle conditions without a proper defense but will eliminate all these "this thing never works right" epic fails.

Also, I bet healing should give much more XP for healing newbie who has been almost dead when you've healed him (which is a very hard but bold and brave task for any real healer, I guess). And healing a high-profile warrior from 80% HPs to 100% HPs should give much less XP points than it does now. This can be naturally explained - healing almost dead people always harder and gives more XP than healing just some minor damage (minor means that damage value small compared to overall HPs value). So as for me, you may want to re-think some healing formulas?

Also I can also propose to make lightning a bit less powerful (as just L2 spell when there is 5 levels planned AFAIK) BUT then increase iron ore amount in game (i.e. increase it's drop rate, etc). This will not help to gain anyone too much ore easily due to increased demands and numerous iron ore hunters. And this will allow people to have more fun in game and less of boring and monotonous killing of stupid yellow slimes while having just approximately same amount of XP in same time frame - just in a bit more funny and less boring manner (so there is more lightnings casting and less slimes killing involved). And for L3 I can offer to implement lightning which does not requires iron ore as a mandatory ingredient but somewhat weaker without ore, randomly fails to strike without ore or even sometimes hurts caster itself without iron ore so it's much more risky and tricky for incompetent caster (all these effects of course depending on caster's proficiency with magic I guess so skilled wizard should not look like an incompetent dummy but this should take a time, resources and efforts to get to these results).

P.S. Excuse me for angry and long post - I'm just really frustrated because all these "epic fails" caused some of my friends to die in a battles because of my personal failures as a mage and I consider these as my own "epic fail", actually. Either I was not able to heal them in a timely manner due to overcomplicated spell rules, or they died because I died myself while trying to deal with these a-way-too-tricky rules and ouch-never-working-spells, retrying (non-working) spell casting until finally falling eaten by monsters while trying to save someone's else life which has been almost hopeless with current rules of spell casting causing massive failures in spell casting anyway.
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The Scarlet Rhus
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Re: Spell casting has usability dropped below acceptable limits.

Post by The Scarlet Rhus » Sun Sep 20, 2009 4:22 am

I'm actually a (full) mage, not a (half) one... anyway, I haven't played the game for a month and a half so I haven't played the game with the recent changes, but from your descriptions they sound repulsive.

~I voted option '1'...
The Scarlet Rhus
/quit tmw
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Re: Spell casting has usability dropped below acceptable limits.

Post by fate » Sun Sep 20, 2009 5:16 am

t3st3r,

thanks for the feedback! Your suggestion (regarding healing spells) indeed is one of the options that we're considering. :-)

As you noted, the instant-healing property of lay-on-hands (which, by the way, is supposed to also drain the caster's HP-- a bug that we hope to close soon) makes it easy to abuse. The `failure rate' that you are referring to is in fact not a failure rate, but rather a timed (and very deterministic) limit on how frequently this spell can be cast between two people. There may be another bug here; we'll be looking on that when we fix lay-on-hand's other issues.

Outside of transmutation spells, there are no spells right now that have a failure rate, and even for transmutation that rate can be overcome with practice. We may reconsider that (this is magic, after all, not some predictable thing), but the failure rate would be in the less-than-1% range.

We've almost finished collecting data on the gameplay and will soon be able to alter the game content again. As you suggested correctly, changing lay-on-hands is a bad idea, but we're hoping to have some measures in place that will allow magic users to continue playing even though 3/5 of their planned career-specific content is still missing.

I can't predict what exactly we will do, since we don't have all the data yet. But it is possible that we will add some explicitly temporary features for magic users, i.e., features that will vanish or change their behaviour as soon as magic level 3 is released (or before that if we choose to redesign, of course.)

There is one question that I have for you, though: do you consider lifestone usage a serious issue? When playing, I never seemed to have trouble finding components for them and still have a fair stock of lifestones on my character, but I haven't had any time to participate in hour-long `grind-fests' lately (nor am I sure whether I could justify spending time like that in the first place).

I concede that we will have numbers that will answer your question more objectively soon, but you may have insights here that might escape our statistical analyses.

-- fate
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Re: Spell casting has usability dropped below acceptable limits.

Post by fate » Sun Sep 20, 2009 5:49 am

t3st3r,

as for the idea of basing experience on percentages healed rather than absolute values: experience right now also depends on experience gained by the person you're healing, so that you can't just `milk' a person who is only taking damage indefinitely. Also, giving considerably more experience points for healing lower-level players might entice higher-level players to avoid dangerous parts of the game altogether (leaving higher-level players without healers).

Apart from that, the idea of awarding experience on `percentage healed' rather than on `number of points healed' sounds interesting, as it encourages healers to collaborate with players that are neither too weak to max out nor too strong to leave any healing efforts insignificant. I'll have to play with the numbers a bit here, but I believe that you may be on to something there! :-)

-- fate
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Re: Spell casting has usability dropped below acceptable limits.

Post by t3st3r » Sun Sep 20, 2009 11:25 pm

fate wrote:t3st3r,
thanks for the feedback! Your suggestion (regarding healing spells) indeed is one of the options that we're considering. :-)
Nice to know. It could be not a perfect solution, though. At least I can see one disadvantage: this will make spell more similar to lum. As for me, any solution is fine as long as it does not causes unfair discrimination, too artificial things and does not hurts overall usability too much. So if someone can offer a better solution or at least something which will both allow you to balance things if needed and will not cause headache and frustration, I guess it's welcome to post their proposals for dev's review as well, yeah? I'm just bothered myself of thinking how to achieve goal of ability to rebalance things if needed and still not annoy players too much.

Then conclusion has come that instant healing is quite unnatural and haves large abuse potential and too hard to control without resorting to extremely weird and/or annoying limitations which seems to cause more problems than they solve. Also, as for me, it recovers a way too much HPs in one shot for a free spell, while consuming quite few MPs, finally saying "good-bye" to balancing and welcoming it's abusive usage. For example you can quick-heal a warrior several times so warrior survives even most horrible places of TMW without any issues. Let's say, I noticed that at least some high-level warriors already suffer from lack of thrill and challenge due to lack of challenging monsters in good quantities and places where it's really possible to die anyhow easily. And instant healing makes this even worse, because it allows warriors to survive even in most horrible places without issues.
As you noted, the instant-healing property of lay-on-hands (which, by the way, is supposed to also drain the caster's HP-- a bug that we hope to close soon) makes it easy to abuse.
As for me, I would prefer such spell to consume a reasonable amount of MPs rather than HPs. Mages are already weaklings and have problems surviving in monster-populated places. And with such implementation I'm afraid that mages will die too often and quickly to be a really usable in parties/groups heading to monster-crowded places, etc. After all, there is no any use for dead mages. So I guess mages should have some options to survive even in crowded places. This surely should be challenge and thrill and should require some skills and tactics which are differ from warrior's style, of course and failures in actions sequencing should lead to mages deaths of course :).
The `failure rate' that you are referring to is in fact not a failure rate, but rather a timed (and very deterministic) limit on how frequently this spell can be cast between two people.
Surely. From dev's point of view that's 100% correct :mrgreen:. And that's why there are testers existing in the world, sorry 8). The problem is that from user's point of view right now all this looks like just spell which fails too often to really rely on it in a tight battle conditions in crowded places and some set of strange, tricky and not completely fair rules which seems to be too artificial and somewhat frustrating.
There may be another bug here; we'll be looking on that when we fix lay-on-hand's other issues.

Well, if we will talk about bugs, I also noticed than lum tends to delay before getting in effect after casting, sometimes up to 10-15 seconds or more, especially in crowded places. Not just I have only weakest spell to heal myself (and this seems to be quite stupid, IMHO), but also it's predictability so poor than I can't really rely on it, especially in a real battle conditions in crowded places. So I'm getting dead due to inability to heal myself for a long time, then bunch of people who relied on my healings are doomed to follow me soon this way as well (unless they're high-level warriors who not really needs healing at all most of time). And in such scenarios failure root cause is not really my faulty and wrong actions applied in wrong times but rather overall weird magic system behaviour. From my side there is basically nothing wrong with sequencing and timing magic according to events and players states (which is very challenging on it's own, especially without proper UI shortcuts). But there is so bad predictability of output that I'm completely frustrated - it's very sad when sequence of actions which expected to do things right just miserably fails.

Btw, lay-on hands seems to be better in sense of lags issues. You may want to investigate why this happens with lum.
Outside of transmutation spells, there are no spells right now that have a failure rate, and even for transmutation that rate can be overcome with practice.
As for me, that's actually quite good and funny behaviour. I have nothing against of it and I surely had some fun learning to use these spells and improving them. The only minor issue here is that you're better to give more clear and visible hint to players at earlier phases of game that player have to vary spells. Surely I can resort to "read source Luke" but usual player can't and from my experience players are often learning this from other players rather than from in-game hints. While this is good, so important hint is better to be reworked to be more visible. I'm personally found how spells xp points counted in sources after suffering from troubles with magic bugs like 733 what forced me to learn how all this works to understand if I see desired behaviour or not. And only much later I encountered proper hint in game, while I guess it should be exactly opposite. As for me, it could be also not so bad idea to award some (much smaller) spell xp points for repeated casting. Smth like upscale whole system say, 5 times and reward 1 point for repeated casting and 5 for spells who were rewarded by 1 point, 10 points for spells who were worth of 2 points, etc. This will relax missing hint to being just several times slower in learning magic. As for me, that's enough to punish those who fails to read hints :)
We may reconsider that (this is magic, after all, not some predictable thing), but the failure rate would be in the less-than-1% range.

I can imagine something like this: say, you're just starting to deal with lightnings while you're virtually nothing as spellcaster yet. Lightnings are dangerous and tricky. I see no reasons why they can't harm caster or fail at the begin of mage's way. After all, bow and sword fails to hit hard monsters in begin of game until player raises stats and getting familiar with it. Same could be somewhat OK for some magic I guess, though failure rates and principles probably should be a bit different (if implemented at all). And failures for offensive spells are not very annoying (after all people lives with a non-perfect weapons and takes it as granted). However frequent and numerous failures of healing spells (while I'm actually seems to be quite skilled spellcaster) seems to be too annoying for me.

For higher magic level(s) I can also propose something funny like a "thunderstorm" spell (basically inspired by arrow hail and chain lightning from HMM). I.e. some lightning-based spell which will be an area-effect (like an arrow hail but much more powerful and feared). Of course it have to be expensive, hard to cast and also dangerous for caster (and maybe even other players?). Surely caster can be occasionally hit by bolt while staying in the middle of thunderstorm but in exchange it could be a real fun to cast this into large bunch of nasty monsters and then try to escape this mess without getting killed, getting not so bad XP for killing a bunch of nasty monsters if all this succeeds.
We've almost finished collecting data on the gameplay and will soon be able to alter the game content again.
Wow! You have managed to measure things like XP growth rate, etc anyhow? Are there any options to know what you've learned from collected data? (that's just to have unbiased view of current in-game things and will not be abused by me for any personal gains - actually it's easy to notice it looks like gaining XP is not my top priority in game now - I'm rather just trying to have some fun :wink:).
As you suggested correctly, changing lay-on-hands is a bad idea, but we're hoping to have some measures in place that will allow magic users to continue playing even though 3/5 of their planned career-specific content is still missing.
I understand it's challenging and can cause numerous balancing issues and need to re-balance things lots of times and I'm not going to blame anyone for this on it's own :wink:. I'm simply against making things too artificial, too unreliable, discriminating people for no good reason or simply hardly usable in total. You can notice, I attempted to take these things into consideration when proposing above changes to lay-on hands, do not know if I succeeded though. By reading sources I understood that magic system allows implementing levels sequentially and this surely challenging task in term of keeping things balanced.
I can't predict what exactly we will do, since we don't have all the data yet. But it is possible that we will add some explicitly temporary features for magic users, i.e., features that will vanish or change their behaviour as soon as magic level 3 is released (or before that if we choose to redesign, of course.)
I can understand this. Now you actually have to make it possible to play as if there were all 5 levels while having only 2, so it's tricky and surely requires changes when new parts are getting implemented. And I have nothing against this on it's own and even can understand that some requirements could be uplifted and readjusted, some spells re-balanced (including making them worse), etc. I'm only have something against overall usability issues and only certain changes and I'm trying to argue why I have certain point of view :wink:.

Though as for me it will be nice if you will post expected changes and learn what people think about them before applying them. I do not know if this will work fine though.
There is one question that I have for you, though: do you consider lifestone usage a serious issue? When playing, I never seemed to have trouble finding components for them and still have a fair stock of lifestones on my character, but I haven't had any time to participate in hour-long `grind-fests' lately(nor am I sure whether I could justify spending time like that in the first place).
No, finding components for lifestones not seems to be a real problem, especially after learning magic to create them from easy and cheap items (and I consider learning some things via quests is a part of in-game fun). But some problem with them is that they could end in the middle of battle if you're careless or battle is long. You will have to attempt to create them, use them and not to die in same time and this will unlikely to succeed in crowded places since it requires much time and spells seems to be rate-limited and then healing spells failing on their own due to introduced changes. Then, when you will die due to lack of healing in fruitless attempts to handle all these tricky things when your magic constantly fails to work and you're under monsters attack, other people will follow you soon to their menhirs. If your healing has been anyhow really required for them. And I see no clue to try to heal people who does not really needs it (btw, this seems to be a problem with high-level warriors).
I concede that we will have numbers that will answer your question more objectively soon, but you may have insights here that might escape our statistical analyses.
-- fate
Statistical analyses can't catch overall usability issues (and that's what annoyed me most with recent magic system changes). I have nothing against fair re-balancing game on it's own - balanced gameplay is what we all want to have, I guess. But analyses can provide a lots of useful info for balancing and ideas what to rebalance so it's great you're doing all this. If you can share some numbers or conclusions, so I can have more neutral and unbiased view of in-game balance, this will be great.
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Re: Spell casting has usability dropped below acceptable limits.

Post by t3st3r » Sun Sep 20, 2009 11:26 pm

fate wrote:as for the idea of basing experience on percentages healed rather than absolute values: experience right now also depends on experience gained by the person you're healing,
I know this ("use source Luke" seems to work for me :mrgreen:). And this means issue with healing newbies is here. Newbie can't usually kill tough monster and gain lots of XP - by design. So healing newbie can't provide a nice reward even if healed character really needed urgent help as (s)he has been close to death.
so that you can't just `milk' a person who is only taking damage indefinitely.
Yes, that's true, and idea on it's own seems to be good to prevent some kinds of abusing this feature (at least trivial ones).
But I can see some balancing issues here you may want to consider:
1) High-level warriors usually do not really need any healing at all right in most parts of game (unless they intentionally willing to unequip some armour, etc to allow fellow mages to gain XP). They have so insignificant damage most of time that this often kills all fun and thrill as well as any need to heal them. And if backed up by 1-2 skilled mages, such warriors simply can't die at all (thanks to insta-healing and low damage amounts received+high vit). So sometimes people just getting bored due to almost complete lack of challenging things in game. I can propose to think on balancing this part of game and introducing more of some dangerous "big boss" monsters who are hard to kill by just some 1-3 persons so they're rather have to be killed by a numerous group instead and granting nice chances to die meeting them in one face.
2) Healing newbies is not a rewarding task at all (no matter what you will do, looks like you can't have good XP reward at all). So most of people does this only for their own pleasure. I guess such behaviour have to be encouraged by rewards as well and saving a almost dead person, even weak one, definitely harder task than just healing a bit damaged warrior (who maybe lost some 100HPs but if that's just some 15% of overall health, it could be simply ignored by warrior at all and will not lead to death, so warrior does not actually needs healers too much in this case).
Also, giving considerably more experience points for healing lower-level players might entice higher-level players to avoid dangerous parts of the game altogether (leaving higher-level players without healers).
Right now high-level warriors do not really need healers most of time when they're in full armor. They're so hard to damage that there is very few places in game where they can really die while being fully-equipped (probably all such places can be counted with fingers of one hand). Hence, they rarely need healers anyway (warriors also can slow heal using consumables like beer and potions). The only exception I know is when warriors are intentionally unequipping some armor to allow fellow mages to gain XP as well. I'm finding this practice too artificial and unnatural and IMHO, that's sign of some in-game balancing issues which are also making high-level warriors to lack a real challenges and thrill in game most of time, hence no real fun. Let's say, high-level warriors are killing skulls as if they were maggots, it just takes longer and grants more XP - that's where difference ends! I seen high-level mages and some archers who died fighting skulls. But no high-level warriors. And these are 2nd and 3rd worst monsters in game IIRC (just after jack-o).

I'm not ready to recommend good rebalancing ideas for warriors, only some basic ideas like some really tough "boss" monsters which are hard to kill in one face or with a small group without chances to die.
Apart from that, the idea of awarding experience on `percentage healed' rather than on `number of points healed' sounds interesting, as it encourages healers to collaborate with players that are neither too weak to max out nor too strong to leave any healing efforts insignificant. I'll have to play with the numbers a bit here, but I believe that you may be on to something there! :-)
Well, I just attempted to think how to make some things a bit better. I hope it has been at least partially useful
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