Update 1.5 Design Notes - Part 1

A preview of the newest features and previous build notes.

Update 1.5 Design Notes - Part 1

Postby Lord_Venan » Fri Nov 02, 2012 11:40 am

I thought I'd share some info on what we're planning for Book of Heroes 1.5. This will undoubtedly be the biggest patch to the game since 1.3 back in May. We're revamping a lot of core systems, introducing new content and adding all new ways to customize and increase your character's abilities! I'll start by touching on some of the major overhauls we'll be doing to combat, so that when we drop this on you in another month or so you'll be ready for the new system.

Getting Ready for PvP

One of the big focuses for this patch is to get the game ready for PvP. We realized early on however that we wouldn't be able to get it done in one go, so a lot of the work in 1.5 is going into laying the groundwork. And that means making the system more balanced, and in the process implementing some changes we've wanted to make for a long time in terms of how the combat system works.

Balancing always causes a variety of reactions. Often these reactions are negative. People don't like getting their stuff "nerfed" and this reaction is completely understandable as it is one that we have ourselves. I know where it's coming from, since everyone who works here plays a lot of the same games you do and have gone through that process and been equally annoyed at changes that get made. Just recently I picked up Diablo 3 after not playing for a couple months and realized the entire rotation my Monk had been built around got trashed by updates. I was not happy.

That being said, there is an overall play experience we need to give priority to, and to do that properly, things need to get adjusted. So when forced to do things that need to get done, that have a strong chance of making some people unhappy, my philosophy is fairly simple:

"When we taketh away, we giveth too."

To a large extent that's why we haven't made huge sweeping changes to the classes yet. I'd much rather deal with things all at once in one comprehensive set of changes than to do things piecemeal and cause people minor annoyances all the time. When we make big changes that are likely to cause some amount of user angst, the idea is to make sure we add some cool stuff in the process. And cool stuff is coming.

System Overhauls

When approaching the changes, there are a number of things we are trying to fix. Here are few of the bigger problems we see with the game that are fairly systemic.

  • Stats are unbalanced in their usefulness, with everyone always balancing towards maximum offense. Haste, crit power, crit and magic/melee are far and away the most useful gems and there is no useful tradeoff. In going with Sid Meier's definition of a game being a "series of meaningful choices", this system hasn't worked as desired.
  • Buffs are annoying. They drag out combat and the only choice of whether to use them or not is the player's tolerance for the extra button presses. Extra button presses are not fun. Especially when trying to burn through 42 energy.
  • Damage scaling, by which I mean the range of damage of values a player can expect from their actions, is far too vast. Particularly when we get to PvP, we don't want the game to devolve into whoever gets the first crit winning the match.

So, what are we doing to fix this? Well, I'll start by discussing some of the changes you may not like the sound of.

  • All stats (except Magic and Melee) will be calculated using a new curve, as opposed to the fairly linear system we've been using. This will enhance the diminishing returns effect, which means over-gemming a particular stat will be less useful than it currently is.
  • The range of crit power is being reduced. Crit Power will now scale to 200% so that damage is less bursty.
  • Haste is being moved to its own custom curve such that it will never decrease as you level-up, which was always a bit counterintuitive. As a result of this and the new diminishing returns curve, the effective Haste percent you will see in 1.5 will be substantially lower than the current game.
  • Buffs as combat actions have been removed.

So, those are pretty hardcore changes. I did say when we taketh away, we giveth too though. So what are we planning to giveth?

  • Combat timers have all moved to a hundredth of a second, as opposed to a twentieth. That means every time your haste increases, you'll typically see a change in the ability time.
  • Cooldowns for actions will almost universally use haste now. There are a few exceptions, but in general you'll be able to maintain any attack patterns you use when your haste changes.
  • Damage will be scaled up to get everyone around the same median they currently have.
  • Level Cap has been raised to 30.
  • Ability trees have been expanded to Tier 4, with 16 abilities total.
  • Buffs have been replaced with Passive Abilities.

With 1.5, we will be introducing the most comprehensive, detailed, yet light and easy to use combat system on the planet.

Sorry, channeling Apple there for a moment. But let's tackle that last bullet, since it is really the core fundamental change in the system.

Passive Abilities

Passives are something many of you are familiar with, and something that was even part of the initial design. For reasons now lost to time, they did not happen, and it's taken us this long to get to a point where we could spend the time to implement them. For those of you who aren't sure what I mean, Passive are basically abilities that are "always on" and don't need a button to activate.

The idea was to streamline the abilities so that once you are in combat, each action is moving the combat forward - namely, putting hurt on those monsters! To do so, each class now has eight passive abilities that will grant the player a range of different gameplay options, depending on their class.

Passives range from the rather pedestrian "increase this stat", to abilities that fire (proc) based on the flow of combat. These are things like granting the player an extra attack if an attack is dodged, increasing the player's haste temporarily after being hit, or giving the player a crit bonus after they kill an enemy. Each class has eight passives, and the way the player chooses to place their ability points will have a much more profound effect in how their character plays.

The end result of these changes is that combats should be a little bit faster, and a lot more dynamic. Gone will be the days of mindlessly going through your buff rotation or stitching things in as you get weird cooldown windows. Instead combat will be much smoother, and as various abilities "proc" or conditions change on the battlefield, you'll be reacting to optimize your output and moving the combat forward.

We're still working on the final abilities, and will be adjusting them as we get further in testing. We will aim to get those ability trees out on the forums ahead of the patch.

What Else?

That touches on the core combat changes we're making for 1.5. It is by no means comprehensive as there are a lot of smaller things we're fixing as well, but that covers the major points. Feel free to ask questions below. Things are still changing by the minute here, so nothing is final yet.

Like I did for 1.3, I'll be discussing other major changes in further design notes. So look out for those updates as we get closer to wrapping this up.
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Re: Patch 1.5 Design Notes - Part 1

Postby Zitruz » Fri Nov 02, 2012 12:42 pm

You got any plans on when 1.5 should come?
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Re: Patch 1.5 Design Notes - Part 1

Postby japster » Fri Nov 02, 2012 12:44 pm

Sounds great! Thanks. A few quick questions.

1. The most important, any estimated date/month for this patch to arrive?

2. I hope there's going to be passives/skills/playstyles that encourage defensive stats, e.g. counterattack passives or reflect damage/thorns passives. That way people aren't squirreled into one mode of playing (that you have rightly recognized). So we could have tanky builds that counter fast hitting haste builds, but in turn are countered by hard hitting slow builds. And the hard hitting builds would be countered by fast hitting haste builds. So with a rock-paper-scissors mechanism, at least things have some variation.

3. Lastly, any news on gear? Should we be expecting overhaul on the gear system (besides stat curves changing), and also a new valor higher than Knight?

Thanks and kudos for the hard work!
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Re: Patch 1.5 Design Notes - Part 1

Postby Lord_Venan » Fri Nov 02, 2012 1:35 pm

TCG_japster wrote:Sounds great! Thanks. A few quick questions.

1. The most important, any estimated date/month for this patch to arrive?


Late Nov/Early Dec.

2. I hope there's going to be passives/skills/playstyles that encourage defensive stats, e.g. counterattack passives or reflect damage/thorns passives. That way people aren't squirreled into one mode of playing (that you have rightly recognized). So we could have tanky builds that counter fast hitting haste builds, but in turn are countered by hard hitting slow builds. And the hard hitting builds would be countered by fast hitting haste builds. So with a rock-paper-scissors mechanism, at least things have some variation.


Counter-attacks for sure. Thorns and reflection less so, because I don't think it would work well with our combats, which tend to be over fast. But getting much greater build variety and play style is really a core goal behind this.

3. Lastly, any news on gear? Should we be expecting overhaul on the gear system (besides stat curves changing), and also a new valor higher than Knight?


Not yet. There are changes a coming though. I'll be covering that later this month.
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Re: Patch 1.5 Design Notes - Part 1

Postby LadyKincaid » Fri Nov 02, 2012 1:40 pm

It all sounds very interesting, LV. I know you do not want to spill too many beans, but I vote for - if not now, then down the line - minotaurs, werewolves and something aquatic like sharks or crocs. I will reiterate your point that 1.5 will be out in a month or so - so for those asking, that is the timeframe. Finally, I will put a plug in for a supernatural class in the future. Could be warlock, vampire lord - you get the drift. I'd like to see a lightning spell attached to that class (or another, I guess). Thanks for a great game!
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Re: Patch 1.5 Design Notes - Part 1.5

Postby MariKissMas » Fri Nov 02, 2012 2:08 pm

i want to be able to turn my android on it's side so i can type on bigger buttons. i have huge chat lag simply because i have to keep backing up to correct errors caused by clipping the wrong letter. and don't get me started on the problems that causes with auto-mistake. Thanjs.
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Re: Patch 1.5 Design Notes - Part 1

Postby _Christian » Fri Nov 02, 2012 2:12 pm

These base combat system changes sound great! I'm curious to hear about changes planned in the current guild system, how current guild progress will be taken into account with the new combat system, and where pvp fits into all this. Do you see guilds being more or less important overall in 1.5? In other words, will there be more of a "cost" than just pure advantage to being a "merc"?
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Re: Patch 1.5 Design Notes - Part 1

Postby High_Auger » Fri Nov 02, 2012 3:18 pm

Well I had hoped for an expansion/addition of an active defense that wasn't horribly underpowered, not thinking off the existing buffs here. Think that would have increased diversity in playstyles and greatly added to the complexity of the upcoming pvp. But the passive skills may perform the same feat.

Looking forward to see what you will do with the underpowered defensive stats. Decreasing the effectiveness of offensive stats is a start but I for one hope it's not all there is to it.

All in all really looking forward to the update.
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Re: Patch 1.5 Design Notes - Part 1

Postby MemphisViking » Fri Nov 02, 2012 3:54 pm

Since we'll be having a major revamping of abilities, can we have a grace period where we can experiment with different builds without having to spend gold shields every time we want to change things?
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Re: Patch 1.5 Design Notes - Part 1

Postby NikoNarf_1 » Fri Nov 02, 2012 4:03 pm

As acknowledged, many character builds currently revolve around offensive stats (haste, crit, crit power, magic, and melee). If the new system encourages a more balanced approach to stats, might there be some kind of gem exchange? If I currently have four blue +8 crit power gems, and in the new system I decide I would rather have two blue +8 crit power gems, one +8 magic resist, and one +8 physical resist, would this change be relatively easy? Or would I have to simply cash in my unwanted gems to silver and rebuild my valor stock through lots of raiding.

One consequence of this might be a lot of characters starting to hoard valor instead of spending to progress in the game, which for me takes away some of my motivation (I enjoy seeing the incremental increase in might over time).

One option might be a system where you could trade one tier level gem for another of the same tier by spending only 10% of the valor/silver/shields for the gem. So a character could purchase a +8 physical resist gem by trading in a +8 crit power gem and 300 kv, instead of paying 3000 kv.

On an unrelated note, I'm hoping for a price reduction in the barber shop. Maybe 2 gs for each change instead of 5 gs, or a 10gs "all you can change" buffet.
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