March 11th Dev Chat Transcript

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

For once I can say that a dev chat has given me some interesting information to talk about. Well, maybe they all have interesting information, but I've usually found them somewhat superficial. Today's dev chat has a few things I'd like to talk about. First up is a bit about the captain's In Harms Way skill:

Question: In the Bullroarer patch notes, you stated that it is becoming increasingly difficult to design content with IHW at 100% [damage mitigation]. Could you please expand on this? Do you believe there is a place in [the] game for a 100% damage bubble? Will you be giving captains additional group survivability tools to compensate for this significant loss?

Answer: There were cases where the In Harms Way skill was being used with other skills that trivialized or completely negated content in the game. Our content team did not have any reasonable way to address this - doing so on their end would have meant a severe reduction in the amount of content they could produce over time, due to having to compensate for every 'scenario' that would occur. We chose instead to address In Harms Way, which we believe to be the root cause of concern with this particular issue of trivializing game content. We do not believe there is a place in the game for a 100% fellowship wide damage bubble at this time, so we changed the skill. Making the skill have a 50% damage reduction still means that the skill on its own could be useful, since Captains (via various banners) tend to have a lot of morale. Spreading out the damage for their entire party becomes a preventative tool vs. a panic button, but it also means the skill can be used without pairing it with another. As always, we will be evaluating the change over the course of Book 7, and we will be monitoring your feedback in case we need to make changes.

Welcome to the wall of text. There's a lot there. Where to begin....

First is the point about the negating of content - basically being so overpowered that content became trivialized. I could see how that potential was there but I personally never ran into that situation. I always found the skill usage to tread the fine line between saving a wipe and wiping anyway. If things are going really bad, not even the IHW, LS, and SOM combo would save you. I'm not sure I totally buy this, but since I cannot know for sure, I'll accept it.

Second, there was no other "reasonable" way of addressing the issue. Okay, if I accept the first point, I have to accept this one. And I'm not a programmer or know their tools so I cannot say what's reasonable or not.

Third, they do not see a situation that merits a 100% damage mitigation. That goes with number two - since they seemed to have trouble designing content for such a situation.

Fourth, the skill is now useful on its own without the use of Last Stand or Strength of Morale. Okay, this is the kicker in the "argument" I think. Because of the way In Harms Way was working (100% damage mitigation) I always assumed this skill was never meant to be used on it's own (unless you'd like to sacrifice yourself for the good of the group - which I happen to not be adverse to and have used the skill to that end before). Given that we get Last stand and especially Strength of Morale, I was convinced things were working as intended. Perhaps they were, but as things progressed, they stopped. It's like many features that saw a change with Mines of Moria and now Book 7 - long term feedback changes. Do I like that IHW can now be used as a separate entity? Does it justify the change, that regardless of what you call it, reduces it's effectiveness? I'm willing to accept this new advantage - this trade off. But I haven't tested it yet. And it's still on the test server so it can be changed. I can't know if it will work as intended. Perhaps, as an offhand thought, it should only be reduced to 66 or 75%.

Lastly, IHW as a panic button or preventative tool. I think these aren't mutually exclusive. In fact, I say such a still is a natural panic button and should be forced into being a preventative tool. We're inclined, with cool-down timers, to save INW for the right moment, and the right moment often takes the form of a panic situation. We can't know it's the right moment until the time has passed for preventative measures. And there are a host of other skills that operate much more effectively as preventative skills than IHW.

And now, I have to admit a feeling of loss over the epicness that was IHW. I felt powerful, I felt useful, I felt effective. So does everybody that has an overpowered skill or even class (I'm not saying Captains are overpowered). Compounding that feeling was that I was saving the whole group - it is one of the only times that a Captain is on the "front lines" so to speak, actively saving the bacon. The DPS, tanking, and even healing get all the glory usually. Buffs are in the background, not as noticeable. But when the IHW, LS, and SOM combo was hit, everybody knew the captain was doing something spectacular. We were pulling through. It was our small reward for being the quiet guy in the back that was subtlety helpful. I reveled in that roll, but I also reveled in coming through.

That's not to say that we can't have an epic moment like that, or that IHW will no longer be epic. It'll just be a little less epic and it remains to be seen if it's a 'bad' change or not.

The second item I want to talk about, or rather point out is that Under the Banner managed to get a question in about fansite and blogging tools in relation to the Lorebook. We've of course been having a discussion around this blogosphere about that issue. It sounds to me like they're open for further discussion but the question was to large for the dev chat environment. I definitely encourage my fellow bloggers to follow up on this question. I haven't been the one taking the lead on this, but if anybody needs me to do anything, let me know.

That's all I got for now. I apologize for spending so much time on the Captain issue, but I can only write about what interests and affects me. Playing a captain, this definitely falls in that category. I hope it was entertaining anyhow. Happy adventuring!

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