RFC: Proposed rebalancing of the Multiplayer Common database

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RFC: Proposed rebalancing of the Multiplayer Common database

Postby Mechanist » Fri Aug 03, 2018 5:57 pm

As experience has shown, Drakan MP seems to be suffering from some general balance issues - which, incidentally, tend to be the most obnoxious when there are only 2 or 3 people playing, as opposed to larger numbers (4+).

The biggest offenders are the most overpowered powerups and weapons (including their respawn frequencies):
  1. Rune of Invulnerability (both the Human and Dragon variants),
  2. Magma dragon weapon,
  3. SoulTaker,
  4. LifeGiver,
  5. Dreadnaught.
The Rune of Invincibility in particular deserves a pillory, since the frequency of its respawn is just silly (every 90s for the dragon version, 45s for Rynn).
Let's put that into perspective: the Dragon Armor (nowhere nearly as OP as the runes) respawns every 90s by default... arguably still too often, depending on # of players and the map in question.

Magma weapon is almost as bad - its respawn timer is only 60s.
Normally, its huge energy use limits its overall usefulness when there are many players - but with only 2 or 3 players, the winning strat becomes to grab the magma and patrol the area where the entrance to its location is (and/or grab the invulnerability rune, as well).
In open areas, a decently-aimed alt. magma shot will usually oneshot the opponent - and with only 2 players, there's plenty of time to recharge for the next shot.

SoulTaker: 40AP damage... that's enough to be instagib when used with the spin combo. And because it's AP, the type of armor worn (if any) makes no difference; that makes fighting a skilled, SoulTaker-equipped opponent extremely frustrating, with only very low chances of success due to serious risk of instant death.
Also, its 30 durability is just ludicrous for such a powerful weapon.

LifeGiver: with 25AP damage, it's not quite as powerful as SoulTaker (will never instagib a fully-healed opponent) - but that disadvantage is more than offset by its healing properties (40% of damage dealt :arrow: 10% of user's max health per each successful non-combo hit; a lot more when combos are involved).
Again, that is not a problem in and of itself - but once more, the durability (30) seems excessive. That's enough for 3 full heals; or far more if used in combo attacks.

Dreadnaught: With 80AP, it's a 2-hit kill if used with a regular attack, and instagib when used with any combo (other than the forward thrust). Which is actually OK, since it's supposed to be a very powerful weapon.
What's not OK though, is its extreme durability - 15; easily enough to last half the duration a typical 20-kill map.

-------------------------------------------

So here are the changes which I propose to implement (in next release of the Community Patch):
  • Increase respawn timer on the Magma dragon weapon to 100s,
  • Increase respawn timer on the Rune of Invulnerability to 150s (dragon version) and 75s (Rynn version),
  • Decrease the SoulTaker's damage output to 35AP (from 40AP), and its durability to 20 (from 30),
  • Decrease the LifeGiver's durability to 20 (from 30),
  • Decrease the Dreadnaught's durability to 10 (from 15).

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Re: RFC: Proposed rebalancing of the Multiplayer Common database

Postby mage150 » Fri Aug 03, 2018 6:03 pm

I have to be 100% honest. It feels sacrilegious to make changes to the originals. I am against this idea entirely. I know we discussed rebalance of some custom maps and I get that. Some of us spent years learning to play around the existing mechanics and perfecting certain techniques. I would hate to see more people come back from those days and feel like their instinctual play no longer applies and their return ends up short lived.

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Re: RFC: Proposed rebalancing of the Multiplayer Common database

Postby Arokhs Twin » Fri Aug 03, 2018 6:06 pm

I have to be 100% honest. It feels sacrilegious to make changes to the originals. I am against this idea entirely. I know we discussed rebalance of some custom maps and I get that. Some of us spent years learning to play around the existing mechanics and perfecting certain techniques. I would hate to see more people come back from those days and feel like their instinctual play no longer applies and their return ends up short lived.

Sorry

Yeah I have to agree here. I get the idea of rebalancing some good but unbalanced maps but I don't think it's a good idea to change the multiplayer common database affecting all maps that use it.
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Re: RFC: Proposed rebalancing of the Multiplayer Common database

Postby Mechanist » Fri Aug 03, 2018 6:44 pm

(...) but I don't think it's a good idea to change the multiplayer common database affecting all maps that use it.
Well that's the entire point - since in this case, the root of the problem lies right there.

A few of the maps use their own (usually altered) copies of the MP Common DB objects: those are the rare maps where their creators have put at least some level of though into balancing them, since otherwise it'd have been easier to just refer to the MP Common objects directly, without going to the effort of copying them.
Those maps would naturally remain unaffected by these changes.

I would hate to see more people come back from those days and feel like their instinctual play no longer applies and their return ends up short lived.
Almost none of the changes I've proposed have an immediately obvious impact on gameplay (the notable exception is making SoulTaker no longer a guaranteed instagib weapon, although it'd still be a close call).
Also I doubt that the returning players would much mind the difference - AFAIK, the last Drakan multiplayer matches that happened with any sort of regularity dried up around 2013 or thereabouts; never mind the majority of old players who quit playing Drakan MP in the early 2000's.

In any case, your argument is on thin ice anyway, since Drakan has already changed a lot since then - and one of the most significant changes was that the fog distance limit has been increased to 200%; another is that the FoV can be now set to a much wider range than was originally permitted.
Also with modern hardware, far greater display resolutions are possible - and at performance levels unattainable back in the early 2000's.
And never mind that back then, multiplayer was very buggy and laggy, and the modem connections didn't help things any.

So I feel that any arguments pertaining to the former status quo need to be carefully scrutinized at the very least - and then might very well turn out to have been moot to begin with.


Finally, I don't know about you - but when faced with the kind of "gameplay" that involves repeatedly being blown up and/or instakilled without as much as being able to even hurt the opponent to any significant degree (mostly in a 1vs1 situation), I find it pretty much the polar opposite of anything that can be defined as "fun".
"Funny" - perhaps, but even then at most for the first 2 or 3 times. After that, it makes me want to just stand up and walk away, since it can't really be called a "game" anymore at that point.

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Re: RFC: Proposed rebalancing of the Multiplayer Common database

Postby Arokhs Twin » Fri Aug 03, 2018 9:13 pm

Finally, I don't know about you - but when faced with the kind of "gameplay" that involves repeatedly being blown up and/or instakilled without as much as being able to even hurt the opponent to any significant degree (mostly in a 1vs1 situation), I find it pretty much the polar opposite of anything that can be defined as "fun".
"Funny" - perhaps, but even then at most for the first 2 or 3 times. After that, it makes me want to just stand up and walk away, since it can't really be called a "game" anymore at that point.

I agree with you on the above point though and what you said on Discord regarding getting killed by someone with an OP weapon and then getting killed over and over again because you just have the starting weapon. This is what really pisses me off and if I see anyone with the starting weapon I don't attack them. Some fair play between players would go a long as well but not everyone plays fairly.

It would be interesting to get other player's opinions on this topic. Anyone reading please let us know what you think.
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Re: RFC: Proposed rebalancing of the Multiplayer Common database

Postby Mechanist » Sat Aug 04, 2018 6:00 am

and if I see anyone with the starting weapon
Rather problematic in Air levels, where it's impossible to tell which element the other player is currently using (unless they are actively attacking, or you just saw them grab one).

but not everyone plays fairly
Yes, which is why the only sensible conclusion I've been able to reach is that I outright refuse to play with those people on general principles, unless at least 1 or 2 other players are also involved.

Especially since taking this to its logical conlusion (based on observing how others play), it seems that a generalized "winning" strategy for FFA is to alternate between running away (collecting pickups until inventory is completely full), then camping (and/or spamming invuln runes) once sufficiently powerful equipment has been gathered.
Or, in maps with "privileged spawn points" - repeatedly suiciding at the start, aiming to eventually respawn with an OP weapon.
(this one in particular I have yet to see, but I expect it to be just a matter of time)

In QoD, camping the dragon to recharge power (where possible) and/or just keeping it outside the "playable area" altogether (effectively degenerating it into a Ground FFA map).
Air maps, just grab invuln then magma, and stick around the entrance to magma (or possibly the invuln rune spawn point).

Of course in principle, I could also play like that - but I just don't care much for that kind of "gameplay". Strange game... the only winning move is not to play.

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Re: RFC: Proposed rebalancing of the Multiplayer Common database

Postby Arokhs Twin » Sat Aug 04, 2018 10:11 am

Yeah you are correct regarding how others play. In most multiplayer games not just Drakan everyone seems to play like this and dying repeatedly causes you to get called a 'newb' or some other insults by some spotty 14 year old which is why I generally don't play multiplayer games. I've tried a few MMO's which had toxic communities but I settled on ESO (PC though!, not the toxic Playstation version) as that has the best players to play with or against in the PVP parts.

I know I'm not that good at MP games and you have probably noticed when I've been playing Drakan. I try to play fair which is probably to my disadvantage. I think this is something we are not going to get away from.

Modifying some maps to help prevent unfair game play I'm up for but then you run the risk of upsetting long time Drakan players so it's a tricky thing to do. The modifications you made to Katana War and others has definitely made an improvement. More air maps seem to be generally favoured now; it was the other way round 'back in the day.
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Re: RFC: Proposed rebalancing of the Multiplayer Common database

Postby Mechanist » Sat Aug 04, 2018 10:54 am

In most multiplayer games not just Drakan everyone seems to play like this (...) which is why I generally don't play multiplayer games.
Yeah, and neither do I.
In fact, other than Drakan, I never played any ever - except Quake 3 (but only a few times) to kill some time during school hours, way back when.

and dying repeatedly causes you to get called a 'newb' or some other insults
At least it seems that we haven't reached that point... yet.

I try to play fair
So do I, but doing that will only get you so far.
Not only in games, but in general. Eg. our boss didn't build a multimillion $ company by being nice and playing fair - it's fairly reasonable to say that he did that by conning, deceiving, and even outright theft (of intellectual property - reverse engineering and direct copying of competitors' products).

(...) but then you run the risk of upsetting long time Drakan players so it's a tricky thing to do.
Can't please everyone, that's for sure.
Which is precisely why I asked first, since it's pointless to make changes that everyone would hate.

Of course if there's a majority vote, then that's another story altogether.

-------------------------------------------------

BTW, there's another change I can think of which can be made - one which would affect all maps equally, and not be specific to any particular weapons/items:
Through assembly editing (debugging), it's possible to change the way the damage calculation is done.

Currently, "armor piercing" weapons (with "AP" after the damage number) completely ignore any armor worn: the end result will be exactly the same, no matter if wearing the Dragon Armor, or just regular clothes.

It's possible to change the way the damage is calculated - for example, make the AP weapons ignore only some % of armor (eg. 75%), so that wearing armor at least slightly reduces the damage received.

As of right now, in maps where AP weapons are common, there's simply no point whatsoever in even bothering to pick up armor, since in practical terms it accomplishes nothing - other than wasting time and inventory space.


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