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Virilneus’ GS4 Idea Book » Game Balance

Virilneus’ GS4 Idea Book

March 27, 2011

Training Point Factoring Bug

Filed under: Game Balance — Virilneus @ 8:24 am

I call this a bug, because it would seem unintended, unless you intend all professions with AURA or DISCIPLINE as a prime stat to have a TP penalty, which has been fully taken into account in regards to game balance and mangler costs (I doubt it).

But, by all means, if this isn’t an unintended bug, say that it is intended that some professions receive less TPs without having training expectations adjusted down by the same ratio.

This issue is very similar to the Sorcerer/hybrid CS issue that was finally, thankfully, fixed after many years of complaining by myself and others. It is a mathematical anomally. I’m hoping that it too can be fixed like the CS issue was. Though, this is arguably a bigger deal since it involves TPs. When I have brought this up in the past I’ve been told it wasn’t a big deal, but you factor it over 100 levels and you’re looking at significant TPs. Consequently I had also been told the CS issue wasn’t a big deal, so I’m hoping maybe attitudes have changed. Anyways…

In GS3 all professions had the same TP formula, which double counted DISCIPLINE and AURA, thus making them important to all professions for TPs. With the change to GS4 professions were differentiated by using prime stats for each professions. However DISCIPLINE and AURA were still treated differently, namely counted twice and then halved.

On the surface, doubling something then halving it would seem to be a wash, which is probably why it passed review originally. However, this is not the case in practice as you will see.

So here is the formula today:

MTPs = 25 + ((LOG + INT + WIS + INF + ((AUR + DIS) 2) 20)
PTPs = 25 + ((STR + CON + DEX + AGI + ((AUR + DIS) 2) 20)
Note: A character’s prime requisites are doubled for the above formulas.

For the sake of easy math I’m going to give every stat a 100, this will show the disparity at the most extreme point, but in actuality the value non-requisite stats matters little to the disparity, it grows as your prime stat approaches 100, which, because it is a prime stat, tends to happen at early levels, so we really are talking about 100 levels of this disparity.

CLERIC
MTPS = 25 +((100+(100*2)+(100*2)+100+((100+100) / 2) / 20) = 60
PTPS = 25 +((100+100+100+100+((100+100) / 2) / 20) = 50

WARRIOR
MTPS = 25 +((100+100+100+100+((100+100) /2) / 20) = 55
PTPS = 25 +(((100*2)+(100*2)+100+100+((100+100) / 2) / 20) = 60

Do you see the pattern? Pure has a max of 60 MTPS and 55 PTPS, square has opposite.

You would think wizards would have the same pattern? You would be wrong

WIZARD
MTPS = 25 +(((100*2)+100+100+100+(((100*2)+100) /2) / 20) = *57.5* truncated to 57
PTPS = 25 +((100+100+100+100+(((100*2)+100) /2) / 20) = *52.5* truncated to 52

The wizard has AURA as a prime stat, so it gets doubled, however, because it then is divided in half, the bonus is divided as well. As such, in the formula, if you have 100 in your prime stats, for a cleric, warrior, rogue, ranger, empath, paladin, the prime stat bonus is 100. If you’re a wizard, bard, or sorcerer, the prime stat bonus is 50. So when you divide by 20 you end up with a difference both sides. So the wizard gains 2 PT, but loses 3 MTP. Considering what point is more useful, that is a net loss of 2 MTP. Over 100 levels that is 200 MTPS (202 if you count level 0). The equivalent of 4 full levels of training points. For a mathematical quirk!

Most people don’t even realize this is going on.

This is especially, IMO, injurious to sorcerers who already have game-high training point expectations, and we have to do with 5% less than others, a factor which obviously was not accounted for in our TP costs.

Lets look at SEMIs

RANGERS
MTPs = 25 + ((100 + (100*2) + 100 + 100 + ((100 + 100) /2) /20) = 55
PTPs = 25 + ((100 + 100 + (100*2) + 100 + ((100 + 100) /2) /20) = 55

BARDS
MTPs = 25 + ((100 + 100 + 100 + (100*2) + (((100*2) + 100) 2) 20) = 57.5 truncated to 57
PTPs = 25 + ((100 + 100 + 100 + 100 + (((100*2) + 100) 2) 20) = 52.5 truncated to 52

So, bards receive 2 MORE MTPs than rangers, but 3 less PTPs. Because Bards and rangers do not have obvious TP preferences (like pures do) this is harder to say that it is a penalty. I cannot necessarily say Bards are being penalized.

However, wizards and sorcerers definitely are when compared with the other pures (clerics/empaths) because for these professions MTPs are preferred and needed (I myself have almost 6000 PTPs converted)

In practical situations, the disparity will not reach 202 mtps unless you put your AURA to 100 at level 0. This isn’t often done. However, because AURA is so very important (spirit, mana, etc) it isn’t often tanked, 80s, 90s, are common, even for low levels. The disparity for your average typical training over 100 levels probably is somewhere around 180 mtps, still a big number.

I think it is a big deal, I think it should be fixed. Yes, it would mean giving wizards & sorcerers a TP boost after the fact, and that may seem egregious, but you’re only giving us TPs we would have earned over the life of our characters had this mathematical quirk of a penalty not existed. It is only fair.

The fix, by the way, would be to remove the prime stat bonus, if it is AURA or Discipline, to AFTER the stats are averaged and divided by two.

So….

If Profession = Wizard or Sorcerer:
MTPs = 25 + ((LOG + INT + WIS + INF + ((AUR + DIS) 2) + AUR 20) = 60 (with all 100s, just like a cleric or empath)
PTPs = 25 + ((STR + CON + DEX + AGI + ((AUR + DIS) 2) 20) = 50 (with all 100s, just like a cleric or empath)
Note: A character’s prime requisites are NOT doubled for the above formulas.

If Any Other Profession:
MTPs = 25 + ((LOG + INT + WIS + INF + ((AUR + DIS) 2) 20)
PTPs = 25 + ((STR + CON + DEX + AGI + ((AUR + DIS) 2) 20)
Note: A character’s prime requisites ARE doubled for the above formulas.

August 24, 2009

The Biggest Idiot in Gemstone

Filed under: Game Balance — Tags: — Virilneus @ 7:56 am

Simutronics has a rather stupid forum system, things are not archived, they eventually pass into oblivion with no record. One might think that, perhaps, this allows someone to act like impressively dumb and that there will only be a short term memory of their purposeful stupidity. Sometimes though, you just can’t stand for that, there can be such a egregious example of stupidity that it needs to be archived for all time.

 I used to have respect for Doug (Dionket) but he showed his true colors a couple months ago in an argument about training costs. He was in the sorcerer folder, and he was telling all of us we were wrong and he was either purposefully acting dumb to annoy us, or indeed has some mental impairment.

Now normally, would I feel the need to call out an individual poster? Not necessarily, and in fact though I saved the most stupid of his posts I did not post it here. However Simutronic’s has a new stupid thing were they label supposedly knowledgable and helpful posters with blue names in their forums, and they gave Doug such a label. As demonstrated by his posts he is either one of the most ignorant people on game mechanics I have ever seen, or he purposefully likes to act dumb, either way, it seems an odd behavior to reward. So, if they’re going to ignore this type of thing, I feel that I cannot.

 First, Doug’s post.

I will apologize in advance if my table skills do not pan out. I’m sure there are better ways to format this, but hopefully this will serve.

I elected to use Tsoran’s trainer for this purpose, to rapidly cycle through the calculations (Thanks, Tsoran!)

I will also point out that my analysis has three assessment points across the pure / hybrid spectrum (explicitly, Clerics, Empaths, Sorcerers and Wizards). The race selected was dark elf (should not be statistically significant) throughout the exercise, and for purists, I can post the stats if desired (likewise, should not be statistically significant for my purpose here).

The first assessment is every profession getting the most total training possible based on profession for each category (Armor and Weapons, General, Combat and Magic). In other words, if the profession could train 3 times in something, I trained in it three times. An important note — this categorization is the one published on the website supporting our lands — I chose it explicitly for that reason, so that there would be zero confusion or possibility about spin being applied.

The second point is parity, or a “we all train the same” review. I did this only for the categories of Magic and General. It’s possible there may be something in Combat that is different, but for Armor and Weapons every one of the professions listed above could only train 1x per level in, so there seemed no point. What the parity training is intended to cover is a force cast of training exactly the same (same number of ranks) skill at the least common denominator. As an example, if all professions could train 2 times, except an empath could train 3, 2 times was selected for all.

The third assessment is closer to ’standard training’. This one is harder, and debatable. I elected to keep some categories of training completely consistent (for example, despite the need / plan for empaths to train 2 or 3 times a level in physical fitness, everyone got 25 ranks as a goal to maximize hit points.) This does not attempt to account for the myriad choices a player may feel compelled to make while advancing — but as a consistent baseline, it should serve well enough.

As a final note, none of these plans seem achievable even by cap.

I hope you’re seated. The results are — interesting.

Max Magic Training possible — Cleric loses
Profession Physical Mental
Cleric 909 21,715
Empath 909 19,897
Sorcerer 909 21,109
Wizard 606 20,503

Max General Training possible — Sorcerer / Empath lose
Profession Physical Mental
Cleric 3,535 5,252
Empath 3,939 4,949
Sorcerer 3,838 5,252
Wizard 3,232 4,848

Max Armor and Weapons Training possible — Sorcerer loses
Profession Physical Mental
Cleric 7,474 1717
Empath 10,100 1,818
Sorcerer 10,200 1,818
Wizard 9,999 1,515

Max Combat Training Possible — Empath loses
Profession Physical Mental
Cleric 7,373 5,555
Empath 8,888 6,565
Wizard 8,282 6,060
Sorcerer 8,282 6,464

Checkpoint 1: Sorcerer clearly disadvantaged in General, but is not the most disadvantaged in Magic.

Parity Training (”we all hunt the same, we all train the same”)
Parity Magic training (same ranks all across the professions)
Profession Physical Mental
Cleric 909 18,685
Empath 909 16,281
Sorcerer 909 15,857
Wizard 606 18,483

Parity General training (same ranks all across the professions)
Profession Physical Mental
Cleric 2,929 4,848
Empath 2,929 4,545
Sorcerer 3,232 4,848
Wizard 3,232 4,848

Checkpoint 2: Clerics clearly disadvantaged in Magic, as in checkpoint 1. Sorcerers and Wizards share the disadvantage in the General training. The real surprise for me is the flip of Sorcerers to the best spot. Intuitively, though, it makes sense if one considers the ‘least common denominator’ approach to this part of the review.

Training by profession (”closer to standard”)

General training plan for this purpose is as follows:

4 ranks of armor — traditional training for the pure in full leather
25 ranks of physical training — traditional suggestion (24, but who’s counting? That’s a little math joke, there).
30 ranks of climb — traditional suggestion
50 ranks of swim — traditional suggestion with advent of Nelemar
40 ranks of perception — perhaps somewhat arbitrary, but selected based on years of reviewing discussions on perception to ‘find’ things like cracks and rocks
Max ranks for AS, MIU, Harness, Spell Aim
2x core Mana Control (elemental for Wizards, spiritual for Clerics and Empaths)
-0- Special note — trained Sorcerers 1x in both Spiritual and Elemental MC
25 ranks in non-core Mana Control (includes mental MC) for all professions
3x spell training — not achievable short term, but maximizes the pure potential at / after cap
1.5x core lore (here defined as the cheapest lore available to the profession.)
.5x secondary lore (here defined as the second cheapest lore available to the profession)
.5x tertiary lore (here defined as the most expensive lore available to the profession)

And the results are:

Profession Physical Mental
Cleric 1,211 14,637
Empath 1,239 14,209
Sorcerer 1,239 13,581
Wizard 932 14,181

Please feel free to double check these results. I cannot profess to exacting 6-sigma accuracy in the environment I ran the numbers in. However, even if they’re within a percentage point or two, there are a couple of threads we may discern from this.

First, sorcerers training is challenging, but no more so than any other pure profession.

Second, the position that sorcerers have training point gaps that are significant are not apparent in reviewing the numbers in conjunction with the Simutronics framework.

Third, sorcerers challenges (and they do exist), do not get addressed by attempting to change these numbers. If nothing else, the raging debate I expect to see over the training plan used in the final tabulation should be indicative of my position.

Bottom line — get a guru, ask for and welcome happily every bit of support you get no matter from what quarter, address the CS disparity in the spell lists (don’t need training point adjustments to do that), answer the AS / CS discussion once and for all (training in Magic and general training plan maximizes CS and AS, so you don’t need training point changes to answer that).

On a totally independent note — I saw in the Minor Elemental folder a suggestion by one of this profession to ensure EMC was specifically hooked into the Elemental Lore review. Great suggestion! A bit more negative than I would have liked — the ‘downtrodden profession’ is wearisome and unnecessary to those who care. But the suggestion itself is part of what I enjoy seeing in these lands.

Doug

Now, for emphasis….

Training by profession (”closer to standard”)

General training plan for this purpose is as follows:

4 ranks of armor — traditional training for the pure in full leather
25 ranks of physical training — traditional suggestion (24, but who’s counting? That’s a little math joke, there).
30 ranks of climb — traditional suggestion
50 ranks of swim — traditional suggestion with advent of Nelemar
40 ranks of perception — perhaps somewhat arbitrary, but selected based on years of reviewing discussions on perception to ‘find’ things like cracks and rocks
Max ranks for AS, MIU, Harness, Spell Aim
2x core Mana Control (elemental for Wizards, spiritual for Clerics and Empaths)
-0- Special note — trained Sorcerers 1x in both Spiritual and Elemental MC
25 ranks in non-core Mana Control (includes mental MC) for all professions
3x spell training — not achievable short term, but maximizes the pure potential at / after cap
1.5x core lore (here defined as the cheapest lore available to the profession.)
.5x secondary lore (here defined as the second cheapest lore available to the profession)
.5x tertiary lore (here defined as the most expensive lore available to the profession)

And the results are:

Profession Physical Mental
Cleric 1,211 14,637
Empath 1,239 14,209
Sorcerer 1,239 13,581
Wizard 932 14,181

So… according to Doug, if you were to do an accurate comparison of professional training costs in a standard plan (his words) clerics should be .5x trained in elemental lore and .5x trained in sorcerer lore. Wizards should be .5x trained in spiritual lore and .5x trained in sorcerer lore. Empaths should be .5x trained in sorcerer lore or elemental lore as well.

He posted this darwin-award winning claim in a thread where everyone else was posting in good faith, with accurate information. Then he spent a few days defending his claims as accurate when everyone immediately attacked him for either being stupid or posting in bad faith. We’d all done comparisons showing what professions actually need to train in, in fact he read my posts on the subject prior to his post (supposedly) and I go into great detail not just on the results, but the methodology of statistical comparison used to counteract differing professional needs (like wizards having no need for spiritual lore training) and ROI of training ranks. And yet, he chose to ignore all of that and post his figures which include, as standard training, a plan no character has probably ever followed.

And hey, Simu chose to award this loser with a badge denoting helpfulness and a knowledge of game mechanics. Someone who would tell a wizard to get spiritual lore training as a standard part of their training plan.

Bottom line on Doug is this. He either is just dumb, which maybe isn’t his fault, but it should generally mean he should be ignored and not considered an accurate source of information. Or, (more likely) he is just the type of person to be purposefully disengenuous to the point of incredulity in an attempt to win an argument. Mark Twain may have said “There are lies, damn lies, and statistics.” But had he met Doug, he may have said “There are lies, damn lies, statistics, and shit Doug says.”

July 5, 2009

Give Sorcerers Minor Mental

Filed under: Game Balance, Sorcery — Virilneus @ 4:59 pm

Sorcery sucks.

There are deep faults running through the profession that go to the design of GS4 at it’s core. Keep the utter lack of improvements and GM attention, and the very very sparse development over the last decade, going so bad that Melissa, then PM, had to apologize to us for forgetting us, forgetting an entire profession, hah, keep all that aside.

The main problems with sorcery is that it is the games only true hybrid profession, and the various unique trappings of it being a hybrid cause it to be second class compared to others.

We have two minor circles, the only such profession with two minor circles. Minor circles are by definition less powerful than major circles. This is a penalty.

Because of the way CS calculations work from spell ranks 33-66 we develop penalties to our CS in the 400 and 100 circles.

Because of the way lore training works our cost/benefit ratio is 300% that of wizards or clerics. Training in ANY lore for our minor circles is usually only doable postcap. We even spend more on spiritual lore than empaths do, the non-hybrid profession.

Add those two things together and we pay more, for less. We’re mediocre at 2/3rds of our spells, and no one seems to care to fix that. This is intrinsic to our definition as a hybrid.

Hybrids are supposed to be defined as having weak secondary circles, but their unique multi-sphere knowledge allowing them to have a more powerful primary circle. Unfortunately we only have the former, our primary circle has been nerfed and neglected. For our secondary circle suckiness to be justified our primary circle needs to be made the most powerful spell circle in the game. I do not say this out of professional patriotism, this is a fundamental fact if you care at all about balance. We don’t need parity with now-far-better other pure professions, we need superiority. Otherwise we’re getting the penalty of being a hybrid without the benefit, and that is wrong.

Many sorcerers would much rather have a situation like a wizard or a cleric and have 3 good circles you can easily lore modify and that you’re supposed to be good at. Especially wizards with their 2 full circles of exclusiveness.  But that is not how we’re defined, and by our definition and balance needs the 700 circle is supposed to be the most powerful in the game.

The problem is players fixate on such issues and if all is not equal they complain. If we got our old DC back, for instance, people would be in an uproar because they’re too shortsighted to realize that is the reward we get for our crappy secondary circles and our highest-among-pures training costs.

The second option would be to drastically reduce our training costs so we’re paying less for the less power. Not only reducing our costs for parity (as should be done anyways), but reducing them below parity. Paying less for spell ranks, less for lore, less for arcane symbols, all down the line. This is probably unlikely.

What is perhaps the best option though is giving us access to a third secondary circle.

In an argument on the forums it was repeatedly insisted we’re not allowed to be good at 2/3rds of our spells because we’re hybrids, we get breadth. This is false currently because 700/100/400 is no more breadth than 400/500/900 or 100/200/300. It is all a different range of the spectrum, but it is the same amount of spells.

If our all challenges are to have a reward, and breadth is it, give us a third secondary circle, minor mental.

Did you fall out of your chair? It really isn’t as drastic as you think.

1. It fits, do you know sorcery was once the mental class? We still have ithzir penalties to prove it. Additionally we’ve had some of our spells taken away for the mental sphere, replaced with clones with different descriptions, and some of our older spells are still mental in description because they haven’t been updated in forever.

2. It would fix the CS penalty. The additional secondary circle CS from the first 33 ranks in MnM spell training would make up for the CS penalty exactly. Exactly.

3. We would be even more mediocre at the 100s, 400s, and the new minor mental sphere as well. Sorcerers would not be getting more points, nor the ability to quadruple spells. We’d simply have more choices to make, in spell training, lore training, and mana control training.

4. Another downside of sorcery is a relative lack of utility & buffs in the 700s, this is a throwback to when we were “masters of destruction” and not allowed utility.  MnM would give us more of such, making up for that lack.

5. The one buff we do have, 712, could be downtweaked if there are self-cast-only spells in MnM (like 1109) that were not designed with the idea that sorcerers would wear them every hunt. For instance if we’d be gaining DS boosters, the DS bonus from 712 could be lessened. It’d be a wash.

Some TP costs would have to change, of course, to reflect us as native mentalists. You could do two things.

1. Remove sorcerer lore entirely, achieve sorcerer lore effects with existing elemental, spiritual, and mental lores & mana controls (best option)

2. Keep it sorcerer lore, maybe reduce the cost, reduce cost of mental lore to 0/7 or 0/6 (I think 0/6, its still a ton of TPs to spend on lore for 1 circle)  so it matches the other ones, and of course reduce mental mana control as well.

Empaths were supposed to get MnM, they said no.  Let us have it. It would slide in perfectly, fix a lot of what is broken (though, not everything,our spell list still needs an overhaul, it’ll be the only one that hasn’thad a review), and you could do this quickly, since MnM is almost done. Thus maybe getting all those sorcerers who cancelled accounts to come back, and stop others from doing the same.

I know, this sounds drastic, think about it though, the more you think about it the more sense it makes. Sorcerers will have a professional circle on par with the professional circle of other pures (after some upgrades), but we’ll have three minor circles (instead of one minor and one major like every other pure) and be mediocre at all three in comparison. Still, having 4 circle access will finally be a unique benefit not found elsewhere and will make up for 3 of those circles being mediocre.

(ps, when I say a circle is mediocre, it means two things: the circle is minor, so designed to be less powerful than major, and because of how training and CS calculations work, and it is mediocre for sorcerers. a wizard is not mediocre with the 400s, they do not have the same penalties, etc The mediocrity is specific to sorcerers using the circle.).

May 14, 2009

Sorcerer Training Costs

Filed under: Game Balance, Sorcery — Virilneus @ 7:38 pm

I believe sorcerers (and wizards) should have training costs changed. I have no idea how the current situation we have was created, but it is obviously unbalanced, and should be rectified.

It is my belief that professions that hunt in equivalent ways should have equivalent training costs. This is not the case. Among the 4 pure professions there are serious differences in training costs where some pure professions have cheap skills and thus can train in them more, or pick up more hobby skills, and others have far less flexibility. I won’t even try to add in non-hunting experience gain 2 pure professions have. That is a balance issue unto itself.

PHYSICAL TRAINING COSTS
Aggregate Total for all weapon/armor/cm/dodge/moc skills

Cleric: 128/57
Wizard: 158/66
Empath: 159/68
Sorcerer: 160/68

Remember as well, that clerics and empaths need less overall ranks in armor use to wear heavier armor, thus, it is a double bonus (or double penalty for wizards and sorcerers).
UTILITY TRAINING COSTS
Aggregate Total for all pt, first aid, survival, climb, swim

Empath: 13/2
Cleric: 18/3
Wizard: 21/3
Sorcerer: 21/3

MAGICAL TRAINING COSTS
Aggregate total for HP, Spell Aiming, MIU, AS.

Wizard: 2/7
Empath: 3/9
Sorcerer: 3/9
Cleric: 3/10

MANA CONTROL TRAINING COSTS
This one is harder to calculate, because of hybrid status. Mana control can function as a lore skill, so a wizard can train in 1 control and get benefit (after the lore review) to 3 circles. Same with clerics. Empaths to two circles, a sorcerer to one each, or one and a half each. As such, on that sorcerers pay the most for the least benefit. But ignoring that. Looking at mana return benefit…

Cleric: 900 MTPS for +15 mana return per pulse.
Wizard: 1200 MTPS for +15 mana return per pulse.
Sorcerer: 1200 MTPS for +15 mana return per pulse.
Empath: 1200 MTPS for +15 mana return per pulse.

Anyone surprised clerics actually have 25% less mana control training costs for the same mana return benefit? Are they really the most mana returning profession? The mana control portion of alchemy further tilts it towards clerics (and wizards) by existence of a hybrid penalty.

LORE TRAINING COSTS
On this one you can’t just look at cost, you have to look at cost benefit. A wizard spends 0/6 to benefit 3 circles. A cleric spends 0/6 to benefit 3 circles. An empath spend 0/12 to benefit 3 circles. A sorcerer spends 0/20 to benefit 3 circles.

What is further ridiculous with this, is sorcerers as well spend more on spiritual lore than empaths, AND WE’RE BOTH SUPPOSED TO BE HYBRIDS! A sorcerer spends 0/7 for each minor circle he is a part of, an empath spends 0/6 for each.

THE CHALLENGE

I challenge any GM to post a reasonable justification for this disparity. I did not make these numbers up. These are not my opinion. This is basic math that does not add up. Balance, by definition, is would mean that if you take from one area, you give to another. There is no give here, not for sorcerers. What benefit do we get for these much higher costs? We get to hunt in guarded? Please, almost every profession does that now, including bards and rangers. Such an excuse might have flown 12 years ago when we were the only profession (outside of clerics on undead) that could reliably hunt like that, but that was 12 years ago, things have changed, why have all these restraints on our profession not changed? We’re hindered because from-guarded CS hunting is so overpowered? Wake up and smell the dead ithzir, everyone hunts like that now. Have you seen bane/smite, boneshatter, immolation?

But go ahead, explain to me why sorcerers should have such higher costs. Tell me what we are getting in exchange.

THE SOLUTION

I will not ask you to nerf clerics or empaths. It won’t happen, I know it won’t happen. I will not ask for it. Instead, I ask you to help wizards and sorcerers BY LOWERING OUR TRAINING COSTS (mostly sorcerers, a little wizards). Since you are only lowering costs this doesn’t really require reallocation. You’d simply log in, and get free TPs from the adjusted costs. Well, not really “free” TPs. That is a bad word to use. Reimbursed TPs, reimbursement for the equivalent hunting you did compared to other pure professions.

Wizards first. Wizards should have 0/1 in MIU and BE ABLE TO TRIPLE (currently 0/1 and only double). Wizards should have 0/2 in AS. Currently 0/1. This is for consistency, and I’m making up for this by asking you lower wizard HP costs to 0/3, and EMC to 0/3. This should offset the ridiculously cheap physical skills of the two spiritual pures.

Now sorcerers. IT IS WRONG THAT WE SHOULD HAVE THE HIGHEST PHYSICAL AND HIGHEST MAGICAL AND HIGHEST UTILITY TRAINING COSTS. There needs to be sufficient adjustment so we’re not the worst in every category. Either that or, our spells all need big uptweaks as a tradeoff for what we pay for them. It is horrible game design to have a profession have universally higher training costs with no trade off.

So, here is what I propose.

1. Lower AS to 0/1 and let us triple. (making us the best in AS, something we deserve)
2. Lower HP to 0/3 (tying us with wizards here as best, which we both deserve, considering the shafting we get on physical stuff)
3. Lower Elemental lore to 0/6 and spiritual lore to 0/6 (a decrease of one, to give parity to what empaths pay)
4. Lower sorcerer lore to 0/5 (minus 1, it sucks enough, might as well make it cheaper, and we only get 1 circle of benefit out of it, which means it is the least beneficial lore in the entire game, no other lore, NO OTHER LORE, affects only 1 circle). I think I could even justify this going to 0/4 or 0/3 but I’d accept 0/5.
Would this make sorcerers the best in any one area? NO. Clerics would still be the best in physical skills, we’d be the worst. Empaths would still wipe the floor on utility skills. We’d be the worst. Wizards would still edge us out on core magical skills (thanks to a 1 PTP edge on spell aiming, fair enough), but we’d be 2nd, and ahead of empaths and clerics as a tradeoff for their leads in the aforementioned areas. We’d still have the worst cost/benefit lore ratio, but it’d not be _as_ bad. And mana controls, on the proxy-lore benefit scale, we’d STILL have the worst cost/benefit ratio. On the mana return scale, clerics & wizards would be tied for first, us and empaths would be tied for second (or last, as it were).

But what this would do, outside of course of letting the players of sorcerers know we’re not red headed step children, is allow more diversity in our profession by freeing up TPs for hobby skills that most of us, quite frankly, cannot afford.

AN ADDENDUM

I hope you guys are thinking about these issues when you lay out the costs for Savants. If you just do it based on “how you visual the profession” without looking at balance, you’re only going to upset more players. A new profession that not only diverts needed coding resources from us, but also has cheaper costs than us (and they’re bound to have cheapo brawling anyways, so its probably going to happen)… ya, that’d probably drive more sorcerers to quit.

December 6, 2008

Read What Simu Doesn’t Want You to Know!

Filed under: Game Balance — Virilneus @ 9:59 pm

Seriously, I mailed feedback months ago, no response, so I REPORT this bug on the forums hoping that they FIX it. What do they do? They cover it up! Maybe they don’t have the manpower to fix it, (believable) maybe staff doesn’t prioritize it, maybe, just maybe, the people who currently abuse it are friends with GMs (I know, I’m being purposefully incendiary, so sue me). Well, screw them, 3-400 active players view this site daily. Maybe its okay to them to just have a few “special” people abusing game mechanics generating millions of free silvers monthly, but if I tell you all how to do it perhaps it becomes a big enough problem for them to finally fix it. Not that a fix would even be hard, you have to stop a single event that happens once per month and this isn’t ovulation I’m talking about here, they know when it happens down to the minute.

You know what grinds my gears? Telling me not to report a bug on the boards… sheesh… I swear if they marginalize the officials any further by putting in cumbersome and frequently changing and or different depending on who you talk to rules… No discussion of broken game mechanics now? What is the game mechanics subforum for then?

Maybe they should have staff spend more time fixing problems than preventing players from discussing them. There is a thought.

Dear ASPEN,Your post was hidden from the GemStone IV Forum.  Discussing and/or promoting methods of abusing game mechanics can harm the game and ruin the fun for other players.  Such methods should be reported to staff via in game bug reporting methods or email.  Check the Contacting Customer Service information in the Help section of our web site to learn more ways to report methods and incidents of game mechanics abuse.

The problem area of this post is:

The whole post.  There is absolutely no reason for you to post messages detailing how to abuse game mechanics.  Even if you think the proper channels are ignoring you on such issues.

Please remember that you agree to abide by the Rules for Posting and the Terms of Service each and every time you login to our services.  If you need to review these items, they can be found via the Forum Policies link at the top of every forum’s page and from the customer service page, respectively.

Thank you for your cooperation in this matter. If you have further questions, please feel free to contact me at MOD-GSRALIEL@play.net.

A copy of your post is included for your reference, below.

-Raliel

==== BEGIN COPY OF POST ====
Forum:    GemStone IV
Category: Game Design Discussions
Topic:    Player-Run Shops
Msg#:     3552
Subject:  How to Abuse Game Mechanics to Buy a Shop CHEAP

I sent a feedback to Simutronics about this awhile ago, no response, I didn’t want to post the bug letting others take advantage of it, but since no one wants to fix it, might as well let everyone know about it.

So, if you don’t visit your shop for 6 months or don’t pay rent your shop gets repossessed. At this point it can be claimed by someone else.

The thing is, when this happens is known and can be manipulated.

Shortly after 1 AM eastern on the 1st of every month the game server goes through each shop and updates it. It takes a little while (and different towns go at different speeds) but when it is done you will be able to buy a deed. Just set up a script to start spamming the command and run it at 1 AM and you’re all set.

But a deed is not a shop, the guy will sell you, and anyone else, a deed so long as there is a vacant shop, he could sell 100 deeds for 1 vacant shop, then it is whoever gets to that shop first. What you can do is have a movement script to immediately run and spam every room of the shop area trying to claim your shop, and if that doesn’t work in subsequent months you can skip the deed buying portion (they don’t expire) and just room spam starting at 1 AM.

If you MA you can have all your characters get deeds to increase your chances. You can also hit multiple towns in a single night because they stagger.

If a shop in WL goes for 10m, and a shop in FWI goes for 5, and SOL and Mule go for 5 each, imagine how much money you can make! All you gotta do is abuse this game mechanic (it is mechanics abuse because you’re using OOC knowledge to give your character an unfair in game advantage - not unlike say imbuing ranger rods repeatedly for sale at the pawn, who remembers that one?)

So you claim the shop, then sell it to another player, pocket the silvers, rinse repeat every month.

Some players have already been doing this for a long time, reaping tens of millions of silvers in profit, don’t you want a shot too? Just drink some coffee, the next cycle is new years eve so you’ll probably be up late anyways.

The obvious solution to this, considering how few vacancies there are, is to have some GM schedule a monthly real estate auction and let players bid on the property. Put it on the calendar. It’ll be good RP, it’ll drain silvers from the gain, and you’ll be stopping this abuse.

But until then, its like the Oklahoma land rush. Mark it on your calendar’s folks! New years eve, after the GM openhouse, ready your scripts or macros and head to the shop deed guy with note in hand. You could turn a 100k deed into millions!

January 4, 2008

Hybrid Mana Control Penalties

Filed under: Game Balance — Virilneus @ 12:17 pm

Some game formulas, such as the mana return formula, give bonuses to the tune of counting your highest trained mana control fully, and next highest trained one at half. This balances out TP costs and rewards between hybrid pures and pure pures. It is a fair and equitable way to do things.

 Other game formulas, such as a few in alchemy, simply average the mana controls for hybrids. This results in hybrids spending twice the TPs for the same bonus as pure pures.

 Obviously, all game formulas should use the setup used for mana returns, and the alchemy formulas, and any other formulas in game setup that way, need to be changed. Else this is just-another-hybrid-penalty.

December 31, 2007

Maximum Possible Enchant, Forging, and Metals

Filed under: Game Balance, Skills, Spells — Virilneus @ 6:25 pm

There is a problem with enchant and how it relates to forging, namely, thanks to the change with enchant to allow wizard enchanted weapons to be blessable, it is now cheaper and easier to forge perfect steel weapons and enchant them to 4x than to forge a perfect vultite weapon.

 It makes no sense that more common metals should be more desirable, but they are, and that is a problem.

 Some would say this is a forging problem and should have a solution found within that system. I think however that since an enchant change caused this issue, maybe another enchant change could fix this. Futhermore, the idea I have come up with I feel helps the enchant system in many other ways as well.

 The concept is the same that is found in almost all other magical item manipulation based spells or abilities in the game, namely that materials have a quality and that that quality determines how much magic they can hold. You find this with scrolls, and all imbeddables. You find this system in place in the Scroll Infusion, Imbue, and Recharge Item spells. However, this is not the case with metals for the enchant system. All metals, no matter of base quality, can be enchanted to the same 10x limit by players (with the right, rare, potions of course).

 Why is it, that this system alone, the system that perhaps generates the most benefit, places so little importance on the base material quality? It goes against the grain of all other magical systems, and it should be changed.

I propose that all metals should be given a maximum possible enchant, not unlike their current minimum enchant (aka starting enchant aka natural bonus). This enchant being the maximum possible level a player would be able to enchant the item to.

The easiest formula I can think of for this would be a +20 or 2x(base enchant) whichever is higher. So Golvern & Veil Iron would have a max of +50. Vultite, Rolaren, etc would have a max of +40. Glaes, Mithglin, etc would have a max of + 30. Imflass +24, Mithril, Steel, Ora, and anything else +10 or lower would have a max of +20.

Or, it could be a set amount + the initial enchant. Say metals under +20 base enchant would have a max enchant of +20 over their base. So imflass at +32, mithril at +25, Ora at +30, steel still at +20. Then metals above 4x would have +25 added to their base (so that a theoretical 10x is still possible).

The third option would be for GMs to just go through and assign maximum enchant values for each metal and wood type, so they would be able to make unique considerations for each.

 Some may see this is a nerf to enchant, it is not. This doesn’t change the power of enchant, the demand of enchant, or the value of enchant. All this does, really, is change which metals a customer is likely to hire a wizard to enchant with.

Some may see this as “unfair” because they have a say mithril themed outfit and now they won’t be able to use mithril without taking a loss on the enchant value. Firstly, this system would of course grandfather in all existing gear, secondly, you can always use your “rp metal” as the hilt, as embellishments, as spikes, cross guards, trim, edging, and all the other nifty ways you can add secondary materials to your item’s description. It just will not be the base metal.

In addition to fixing the little forging problem I think this would also help enchant in that it would create an additional restriction on high level (8x+) enchants. The creation of a new restriction, metal types, should logically lead to a lessening of the existing restriction, potion availability. In other words, I feel that this change would result in more high level enchanting potions being released.

Finally, this would also help the game and enchant by likely lessening restrictions on other metal types or enchant methods. GMs may not want players to be able to enchant razern to 7x or 10x, but if razern had a maximum possible enchant of +25 maybe GMs would allow it to be enchanted, in spite of the natural crit weighting it has. The same goes for Rhimar, Drakar, Coraesine, Zorchar, Gornar, and all the other special property metals. All these metals that are currently not enchantable might be made enchantable so long as they have a maximum enchant built in.

 If you do not want to simply outright put a hard limit on enchanting certain metals beyond a theoretical maximum amount, then a compromise could be those metals simply gaining exponential increases in failure rates beyond a certain point, so that they are still possible, if very risky, to enchant further.

 Irregardless, metal (and wood I guess) quality should play a larger role in enchant, and perhaps other magical systems. It adds more depth to the game, and supports the official documentation on material rarity and desirability.

December 10, 2007

Foraging, and Double Dip Penalties

Filed under: Game Balance — Virilneus @ 10:50 am

The foraging system is broke. Unlike any other major system in the game there exists an antiquated large professional bias system that is unneeded in today’s game. This system was created well over 15 years ago to suit a much different environment than what GS4 is today.

HISTORY OF THE PROBLEM

Originally way back when there was no primary mangler skill that affected foraging results. Instead things like level, perception, and first aid are what mattered. However level is not professionally biased at all. First Aid was the domain of empaths mostly, and perception was the realm of rogues. So there was no way for rangers to gain an appropriate foraging (or even skinning) advantage through the use of the mangler, when they were supposed to become the most apt profession at both.

Compounding the problem was that the game way back in the 1980’s or early 1990’s was a 20 level game, and 20 levels did not provide enough of a time for significant differentiation in a 1d100 system whereas people of different training paths could become significantly differently skilled. For those who do not grasp this concept, an example would be that with a 1 rank per level difference in skill the total ranks of difference after 20 levels would be only 20 and in a 1d100 system you need differences of 100 before skill diversity really becomes visible. This concept is of course why Gemstone has a system of ranks and skill points so that a greater difference in skill levels can be created at lower trainings.

The PTBs at the time, of which I really doubt any are still around save David Whatley, decided that the best way to accomplish diversity in foraging abilities would be to assign arbitrary professional bonuses and penalties based on how skilled they thought your profession should be. So rangers got a bonus, sorcerers & wizards a penalty, etc. This solution was perfectly fine for the time. The problem is that in the 15-20 years since no one has thought to change it.

Eventually, through a series of changes, we come to a point today where these biases are completely unnecessary and also significantly larger than other similar profession bonuses that exist in today’s game (and they’re rare).

THE PURPOSE OF THE MANGLER

Before anyone tells me these bonuses are fine, especially any GMs, please answer one question. What is the purpose of variable training costs in skills in the mangler?

Maybe I’m crazy, but to me the purpose of rangers having 1/1 in survival in the mangler, which is half as much as the next lowest profession, is to ensure they become the most proficient profession at things like foraging.

The fact is, sorcerers & wizards have to spend nearly 3x as many TPs for our survival ranks. Bards, Rogues, warriors, etc a solid 2x as many TPs. Rangers have a sizeable lead here. Survival is so cheap for them to train in almost all train in it heavily, making them great foragers.

As I stated above, when the foraging biases were created there was no such mangler skill as survival. However now that there is, how can anyone justify the biases when the mangler so handily already takes care of things?

OTHER RANGERLY BONUSES

After the foraging skill was created and the biases set, eventually along came the foraging spell (603). Without this spell it’d already be nearly impossible for many penalized professions to even complete Adventurer’s Guild foraging tasks. However, rangers have additional bonuses through their spell training that professions using it off scrolls or through items do not receive. As such, even without the professional bias, even if rangers had no better TP costs in survival than anyone else, this spell alone would be enough to ensure rangers would remain the preeminent foragers in Elanthia.

It does not stop there though. Rangers also have the ability to SENSE terrain which gives them an indicator of which plants grow there, whereas other professions need to rely on time consuming experimentation to figure such things out.

Finally, for that extra boost, an older ranger can use 650 and achieve the Yierka form and get even better at foraging. No other profession has access to such an ability.

SIZE MATTERS

One of the most discouraging things about these biases is the sheer weight of them. By weight I mean how many ranks of skills or TPs spent does it take to overcome a bias. How would squares feel if, for no good reason, they started 20 ranks in the hole for invoking scrolls with their AS skill or 20 ranks in the hole for using magic items with their MIU skill? How would anyone who isn’t a rogue feel if they needed 40 ranks to use a rolaren lockpick instead of the standard 20?

This is how it feels to be a wizard or sorcerer trying to forage. With each rank helping so little and with such a large bias it takes a substantial effort just to get as good as a level 0 ranger, and at that point you still have a long way to go.

If the bonuses were just a shift of the endroll required to a measly 5 points in either direction, hardly anyone would notice and no one would complain. But that 5 point shift wouldn’t have accomplished their goal 15+ years ago, with no skill backing them up they needed big biases, and no one has of yet changed them since.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Foraging should be a system like picking locks. Rogues do not get a professional bonus to picking locks. However they have the lowest TP costs for perception, picking locks, and disarming traps. They also can triple in these skills when other professions cannot. Their skill training allows them more benefit from the 403/404 spells than other professions, their guild gives them additional lockpicking abilities not available to other professions. As such, even without an arbitrary bonus, they’re easily the best lockpickers in Elanthia.

Rangers likewise have the lowest training costs in survival, they have 3 additional professional abilities that grant them bonuses. They do not need an arbitrary positive bias and other professions certainly do not need arbitrary negative biases.

If GMs really feel this system is so great then perhaps we need more such redundant biases to double up the effect of mangler biases. I would propose that it is only equitable for the changes in regards to AS, MIU, and lockpicking that I mentioned above as hypothetical examples be implemented post haste. After all, if the foraging system is so perfectly balanced as many would have you believe then certainly that same bonus/reward structure deserves, nay demands, to be ported to other skills.

Or maybe.. just maybe… Simutronics can collectively come to the realization that a system that was designed before many current players were even born is probably do to be examined with a critical eye.

Scrap or drastically shrink the foraging biases, they aren’t needed anymore.

December 3, 2007

Empathic Dispel and Hybrids

Filed under: Game Balance, Spells — Virilneus @ 3:49 pm

It was said that when Empaths were given the MnM spell circle Empathic Dispel would be evaluated in regards to what spells it can affect.

With Warden’s statement that Empaths are now to be considered full mental/spiritual hybrids despite not having the MnM circle, this would seem to be the right time to do this review.

Empathic Dispel is a Mental/Spiritual spell that affects the following spheres:

  • Mental/Spiritual
  • Mental
  • Spiritual
  • Spiritual/Elemental

Which sphere is missing? Mental/Elemental of course, AKA Bard spells.

Bards are mental/elemental hybrid semis, empaths are mental/spiritual hybrid pures, sorcerers are elemental/spiritual hybrid pures. Why is it that Empathic Dispel affects the 700 circle but not the 1000 circle?

Personally, I do not think it should affect either, it is already powerful enough and a half on half match shouldn’t be enough to justify it not working. So I would ask that 700 circle spells be made immune to 1140. If not, then for consistency sake the 1000 circle needs to also be affected by 1140, anything else reeks of bias.

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