A bit of feedback

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alseif
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A bit of feedback

Post by alseif »

As a disclaimer: this is not a critique post, in fact I only hope to help the server. Still - feedback is a gift - that one that needs to be delivered right and accepted willingly. So apologies in advance if anything I post seems abrupt, it's not an intention in the slightest.


What You Do Right
First thing I want to describe are points that made me really, really like the server. I am not a veteran player on PW, nor am I an experienced NWN player, but I've tried some of the PWs available and Blackstone got a solid spot in my favourites. Here are the things I observed that makes it so:

1. Interesting sub-races not locked behind any "DM approval" / "Premium currency" / Whatnot. It's exciting to see the race you want to play in the list of what is available only to realize - nope, you can't actually get it. Your approach with letting players play their desired race at the start is great.

2. Balanced sub-races. I've seen them PWs where some sub-races get like +8 to stats and some frankly insane bonuses. Of course, it was counter-balanced by strong monsters, etc - but at the end it leads to some power creep and it's hard to make non-special sub-races competitive. You don't go overboard. There are some bonuses, but they are minor - maybe helping on first 5 levels, but that's it. I really like that.

3. Interesting socketing system. It allows for a quick ramp-up and explanations of it are context-sufficient. It's not overblown and doesn't require you to learn an entire new set of mechanics while still providing for variety and power spikes. Good job here.

4. Transfer system. Time is money, time is life. It looks like you understand that players are rather going there doing things and not walking from point A to point B. Good combination of portal stones and portals themselves. Many PWs are forgetting what matters in the pursuit of realism. I'm glad it's not the case here.

5. Solo-player friendly quests system. It allows to actually go there and immerse yourself in the world, do something and even RP within quests. When I was able to tell that extortion guy that I will not help him to hurt people .. which happened after I learned what is he actually doing - it was that feeling - aha, quests actually have a story and the choices matter!

6. Balanced progression and allowing for choice between those who want it faster and those who want to immerse themselves into the world. It is a good mix of both world with letting player to do their choice.

7. Free cosmetic changes! Finally it's possible to do the desired look on the armors / weapons. I know - few would care, but RP-wise it's really helpful. It's that little thing that made the server stand out a lot.

8. Similarly, the hide commands for some equipment. It was always bugging me that winged races lose their appearance should they wear any cloaks. And here it is no longer a problem. Again - small thing, huge win.

9. Unique monsters spawn! It somewhat reminds me of Diablo elite monsters implemented in DnD. And it makes sense - it is a way to introduce challenge to the "familiar" areas too.


What You Could Improve
Another disclaimer here: while I do not play on hardcore mode, I do believe in RP of the world, even if playing solo. As such, if a character dies without party and nobody is around to help - they are dead for good (unless some kind soul finds them while they're downed). And this is where the majority of improvements could be made in my opinion.

1. CR is not really reflecting the difficulty of the dungeon. It is especially critical on early levels. Example - kobolds are far easier to do than the farm, yet kobolds are marked CR: 2 and the farm is marked CR: 1. This misjudgement could prove to be fatal (see below)

2. Lack of options to ask for help. If you're down solo - you can't get help and nobody knows you're down. The system already notifies when say one player kills another. I think adding some notice that a character was downed by a monster in some location would be good. When you're downed, the "respawn" menu will block any interactions with the UI preventing from placing anything into the chat.

3. Death on a whim of a dice roll. My first character was perhaps unlucky (will explain below), but my second one was really careful. Yet still.. death at level 9 in a CR: 4 zone. How? Failed to roll a dice on a one-hit-kill ability from a water elemental. And the character was a Paladin + the best available gear, fortitude save was 16 - yet DC was 20, so.. unlucky roll = dead.
- First, I didn't even know a CR:4 zone can have creatures that can just one-hit-kill
- Second, if I understood this correctly, the server isn't even using hardcore settings - I never saw monsters doing critical hits on my characters. Yet.. one-hit kill abilities? Hm..
- Third, this means that if you play with RP in mind (as I've described, it's a "conventional hardcore", i.e. I agree to myself that the character is dead unless somebody helps) or - worse - on true hardcore - all bets are off. No matter how careful you are, no matter what you do - there will be a day and time when you fail that roll and you'll die. This just doesn't feel great as it's outside of your control.
- Next, the ability itself just seems too powerful. At least on level 9. It's an AoE death ability with no cast time. The DC and area is comparable effectively to implosion - a level 9 cleric spell. And there were several of said air elementals. Since my character was a paladin, save of 16 would likely be the highest in a party meaning 1-2 such creatures would likely instantly kill the entire crew.
- Finally, you've even changed some spammable death-like abilities to not cause instant kill (like devastating critical). So having such a thing on a monster seems.. odd.

4. Death on a whim of a spawn. This is about my first character death - he was level 7 and went to a CR: 7 zone (beetles), yet was greeted with two elite monsters + two ranged beetles + queen beetle right at the door. Failing both ranged checks he got 31 fire damage instantly and then the elites finished the job. I didn't even get to react there. Again - this doesn't feel like a death through my fault. Although this one can be mitigated somewhat if you only go to lower CR zones (but then again, CR isn't accurate, see point 1.)

5. Doors closing. Wow, this almost costed my first character life several times. If you try to run away and it closes right into your nose - yep. Annoying, unneeded and extremely dangerous. Seems to be a simple thing, but ruined my day many times.

6. Socketing levels increase with no information (perhaps I didn't find it)? Question is - how to know what will be a level requirement after socketing a gem into an item? Relevant at early levels because if you socket something and it becomes +3 levels from where you are - you might as well just sell the item as after that time you'll almost certainly find a better one.

7. Finding a party. I did it solo because I didn't find a way in-game to announce a party or any announcements of other parties. It could be because there just aren't many low-level players, but still. Some other PWs do a great job with such announcements.


So far that's it. I really had a blast - it was fun while it lasted, now my characters are both dead, that's several days of work I think. I need a break and maybe I will retry, but that issue with random deaths really turns me off for the moment. I just don't know what I can do to prevent that.
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driller
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Re: A bit of feedback

Post by driller »

1.The CR rating listed in the journal was fixed. But regarding CR, the system to calculate it was made by Bioware, sometimes it's it can be a bit off.

2.I have no issue adding this.

3.There are a few issues here. The main one is Blackstone was designed to be a party based PW. So doing it solo can be harder for that player.
But, there a few items being sold in some of the later merchants that can help with this issue.

The main difference between something like Drown and Devastating Critical is that dev crit never runs out and has the potential to activate every hit. Those water elementals can only fire drown 1 time.

This is splitting hairs, but Drown isn't a one hit kill spell. It does 90% bludgeoning damage of your current hit points, so it is possible to mitigate the damage with certain items.

4.I assume that another player was chased out the exit, there are no spawn points near the door, I am not that cruel.
But, be aware that Blackstone has random events that can reward you or get you killed, it's part of how the server was made.

5.This sounds like an edge case.

6.I consider this a learning experience.

7.There is a town crier beside the Waygate in the Keep. There is also an opt in shout option. Type /help in the chat bar.

Regarding death. I would just respawn, Blackstone gets a lot tougher as you level up, based on what you have said, you will probably hit a wall when you reach Act 2. Death will be hard to avoid in the long run, there are a few bosses that will most likely kill you as they are designed to challenge a party. And this is not even touching on the end game raids.
alseif
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Re: A bit of feedback

Post by alseif »

1. Thank you!

2. A BIG thank you!

3. Hm.. I remember very clearly I got 93HP > 0HP in one go. I also didn't see the bludgeoning damage, it was a pure death effect (i.e. save roll > fail > dead, no damage numbers as if it should've been if it did 90% of health damage). Another (though minor) concern is how did such dangerous monsters ended up in low CR area.

4. Fair, looks like this is an edge case

5. I'd like to know in general why even close the doors? I mean it's an additional effort to do (I assume a script or something)?

6. Okay, I can live with that. Still, would be then cool to find it somewhere in-game (like a book you made when starting out - it was really helpful).

7. Didn't know about town criers. Will try that, thank you!


About death in later game - thanks for the info. I am not about "one life" philosophy (hence I don't play on hardcore mode, just having a convention), yet I also don't condone dying and respawning willi-nilly. In essence, dying in the party (which you mentioned when talking about bosses) would be fine because there's a party who can help - in-lore that's not "death" but technically a knockout or a severe wound which can be stabilized. Dying solo - well, that's where the question of taking responsibility for the life of the character comes up - at least for me.

Thanks for your reply!
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Re: A bit of feedback

Post by Yune »

The water elemental special ability is an instakill (and AoE), the druid Drown spell is 90% HP as bludgeoning damage and single target. Yes the toolset CR5 water elemental is the scariest toolset monster by CR by a huge margin, but luckily they only exist in horde mode (where they are very scary) or if you do the heroic party event in dark forest which has party in the name.
alseif
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Re: A bit of feedback

Post by alseif »

Yune wrote: Fri Jun 10, 2022 9:19 am The water elemental special ability is an instakill (and AoE), the druid Drown spell is 90% HP as bludgeoning damage and single target. Yes the toolset CR5 water elemental is the scariest toolset monster by CR by a huge margin, but luckily they only exist in horde mode (where they are very scary) or if you do the heroic party event in dark forest which has party in the name.
Yes, this sounds about right - I went from 100% HP to 0% HP in an instant. Logical question is - why have it that way? Death in such fashion is not something preventable, it's just a roll of a dice, totally outside of control of players. No amount of strategy or good battle approach would protect against a bad roll. Even high saves are not granting immunity to that because of a natural 1. Dying to something through no fault of your own is never fun, so.. I don' know.

Maybe change that ability so that it indeed does 90% of HP damage (and also can be reduced by say bludgeoning damage resistance / immunity) ? That would still be dangerous but with planning, preparation and correct combat tactics this could be overcome, at least in a party. Right now 2-3 of these monsters can wipe the whole party quite easily from what I understand - because this is AoE and even paladins with high charisma can fail the DC check - mine was 16 fortitude vs DC 20 so it's 25% chance to die instantly and other classes would have even lower saves.
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Re: A bit of feedback

Post by driller »

The reason it is that way is because it is a default D&D spell and that is how it works.

But, I changed it so that when the ability is cast against a player, it uses the Druid drown spell, otherwise it is the default monster ability.

alseif wrote: Fri Jun 10, 2022 9:30 am
Yune wrote: Fri Jun 10, 2022 9:19 am The water elemental special ability is an instakill (and AoE), the druid Drown spell is 90% HP as bludgeoning damage and single target. Yes the toolset CR5 water elemental is the scariest toolset monster by CR by a huge margin, but luckily they only exist in horde mode (where they are very scary) or if you do the heroic party event in dark forest which has party in the name.
Yes, this sounds about right - I went from 100% HP to 0% HP in an instant. Logical question is - why have it that way? Death in such fashion is not something preventable, it's just a roll of a dice, totally outside of control of players. No amount of strategy or good battle approach would protect against a bad roll. Even high saves are not granting immunity to that because of a natural 1. Dying to something through no fault of your own is never fun, so.. I don' know.

Maybe change that ability so that it indeed does 90% of HP damage (and also can be reduced by say bludgeoning damage resistance / immunity) ? That would still be dangerous but with planning, preparation and correct combat tactics this could be overcome, at least in a party. Right now 2-3 of these monsters can wipe the whole party quite easily from what I understand - because this is AoE and even paladins with high charisma can fail the DC check - mine was 16 fortitude vs DC 20 so it's 25% chance to die instantly and other classes would have even lower saves.
alseif
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Re: A bit of feedback

Post by alseif »

driller wrote: Sat Jun 18, 2022 6:02 am But, I changed it so that when the ability is cast against a player, it uses the Druid drown spell, otherwise it is the default monster ability.
Thanks a lot! I really appreciate the fact you're willing to accommodate a feedback from a random nobody like myself (those post-death messages are awesome!)

In the meantime I realized that there are a lot of other 1-hit abilities on many monsters, so .. in a grand schema of things you were right, it doesn't matter that much (so long as other one-hit-kill things remain). I've learned to counter that with just having party members, explaining to them that my character cannot "respawn" and needs resurrection in case of death. So far works well..

As a continuation of a feedback topic, I'd like to ask about "higher level" content and share my experience (and a bit of a confusion) so far. I've been to some high-level areas with a team of many characters and what I notice is the following:

1. Armor Class matters not. It really doesn't matter if the character has 50 AC, 60AC or 70AC. I had 75AC and monsters in those area cut through that like the character is naked. This has all the implications on the efficiency of character builds as far as I understand it.

2. Even what one would consider a "normal" enemy can kill a character in an instant: for instance, with 25% immunity bonus, 15/+9 resistance, 50% concealment and 75AC the character was still getting 300 .. 500 damage in one round from a "normal" monster - and there were multiple of those making survival nigh impossible task.

3. The way this content is approached as far as I observed is mostly by having three groups of people: first one is 900+HP characters with full defense bonuses holding the monsters, the second group resurrecting the dying front-liners (and my god everyone dies a lot) and a third group being ranged characters who actually did the damage.

4. For bosses it's generally the same with the exception that the front-liners die so fast it's a constant chain of resurrection and hit-n-run tactics hoping that the party would revive at a pace faster than it is dying.


So.. it was really outside of my window of expectations. Thus my questions / concerns are:

1. Is this by design? To be fair - I cannot say that there's no "strategy" involved here as this requires teamwork and quick reaction on who is dead / who is alive, but at the same time it looked as if we were trying to do content we shouldn't be doing and abusing the resurrection mechanics.

2. I understand that the majority of participants there were in the top-top-top end gear. But they were dying from a slight movement of the boss into their direction all the same. So - does it even matter what the gear is? Is there any point in chasing good gear or is it the case that so long as the party dies slower than it's wiped out it's good enough?

Thanks in advance for your reply!
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Re: A bit of feedback

Post by driller »

1.This server is not about AC, but damage soaking with the forged/found gear. But this cuts both ways, as most mobs have overall low AC.

2.Which creature was this normal monster you are talking about?

3.If they keep the front liners healed, they wouldn't have to raise them. You have to have teamwork.

4.The bosses behave they way they do due to an attempt to challenge players. I have seen it all trust me.
I mean should the PC not die or be in any danger? There has to be a chance of a wipe and they have to be on their toes and work for it.
If not, then you may as well put a lever in that they can pull and get loot.

1.Yes it is by design, including the AC decision and the Boss fights. There is a raise/rez cool down to lessen abuse.

2.I think some of the issue is the party size and possibly (gear/builds) doing high end raids are not quite on the same level as the older ones that originally shaped the boss fights.
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Re: A bit of feedback

Post by Catopillar »

Strategy, teamwork, planning, and using proper gear and builds. I have seen all the non-sky haven bosses done with zero deaths. Many people raid without the proper immunities for each fight, my dps with 500hp can survive long enough to react to the boss targeting me. Improved invisibility is also a must have at all times. 50% conceal = 50% damage reduction.
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Re: A bit of feedback

Post by alseif »

driller wrote: Sat Jun 18, 2022 6:38 pm 1.This server is not about AC, but damage soaking with the forged/found gear. But this cuts both ways, as most mobs have overall low AC.

2.Which creature was this normal monster you are talking about?

3.If they keep the front liners healed, they wouldn't have to raise them. You have to have teamwork.

4.The bosses behave they way they do due to an attempt to challenge players. I have seen it all trust me.
I mean should the PC not die or be in any danger? There has to be a chance of a wipe and they have to be on their toes and work for it.
1. I've noticed low efficiency of AC, that's true. As for monsters having low AC - well, I was unable to land almost any hit on them, only my first attack in maybe 3-4 rounds got through (+10 enchanted weapon). But that's not indicative because I know there are weapons with +20 attack in the game and mine was only getting +10 attack from enchantment so I assume that was the problem with me landing hits. My gear wasn't even close to end game after all.

2. I forgot the exact name of the area - Astral "Something", there were several areas with some islands separated by bridges and there were those winged warriors who were absolutely destroying everyone - if not for resurrection. Also the boss (Witch "Something", also don't remember exactly) summons them as minions

3. Oh.. but they were doing so, of course. It's just that characters were often dying so fast that healing was unable to keep up. By the way - I noticed that healing is generally not readily available, for instance there's no place where one could buy potions of heal - and the potions of healing critical wounds are almost nothing in such encounters (it also could be I just didn't find that place to buy strong healing potions yet). If potions of heal are restricted then I assume it's to encourage brewing potions? I can't be sure here.

4. No, bosses are fine, not really an issue here - I was just wondering if that reliance on resurrection is intended. I think in a system where there's no real "skill" involved as it is in DnD (i.e. there are no timings and whatnot, no skillshots or counter-play, it's just roll of a dice + auto-lock on target) it's really difficult to balance monsters versus equipment. Make the equipment too strong and PC will just stand there clicking several buttons.

I was perhaps just overwhelmed how resurrection-heavy the raids are and that pieces of best equipment still mean nothing to the monsters there. It's rather a contrast to raids in usual MMO where it somewhat matters + there are all elements of skillful play. But - of well, that's DnD. Making it even this far is already great.

As a personal preference (no action or response expected here, just fyi) - I liked the raid with that huge Devil much, much better. First - because well, while there were additional monsters there (a demilich or something), they were considerably weaker compared to the boss itself. Second - because if I understood it correctly, the devil had to die in some specific area so there was an element of tactics there. And finally - well, while we were dying, it was not so en-masse resurrection spam - we needed to reposition and react to what boss was doing, but there were very few "100% --> 0% HP, woops, what happened?" moments.
Catopillar wrote: Sat Jun 18, 2022 6:51 pm Strategy, teamwork, planning, and using proper gear and builds. I have seen all the non-sky haven bosses done with zero deaths. Many people raid without the proper immunities for each fight, my dps with 500hp can survive long enough to react to the boss targeting me. Improved invisibility is also a must have at all times. 50% conceal = 50% damage reduction.
Well, I was under concealment from improved invisibility in that "Astral" dungeon. Like I said - 50% concealment, 75AC, 25% immunity and 15 points soaking damage and it was still 300 .. 500 damage I was getting in a round easily from just one monster. It could be I was that unlucky, but I suspect that those monsters just have blind-fight (i.e. 50% concealment turns to 25%), attack of something like 60+ and weapons +10 or better. Can't be sure of course - I can't refer to the combat logs here because with all the spam of things happening anything is impossible to read, it goes away way too quickly.

Just to be clear - in no way, shape or form do I "complain" about it or ask to change it. As I've mentioned above, in a game system like DnD ruled by auto-lock on target + raw dice roll there's not much possibility to do to have challenging dungeons but to present parties with challenges like it was there. I was simply asking if it's like that by design. And since it is - I have my answer.
Last edited by alseif on Sun Jun 19, 2022 7:11 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: A bit of feedback

Post by driller »

1 and 2. You were in the Astral Tower, which is a pretty high end area. None of the mobs there would be considered normal.
3.It is encouraging that the party have proper healers.
4.This is what I was saying before, the parties today are not like the parties of yesterday.

You need to try the hard version Shalnath.
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Re: A bit of feedback

Post by Sway »

driller wrote: Sun Jun 19, 2022 6:17 am You need to try the hard version Shalnath.
LoT Raid, also! :)
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Re: A bit of feedback

Post by Yunim »

A properly equipped build should be able to survive 1 round from most mobs, including bosses.
Decent HP, 50% concealment, 35% physical DI, 15/- physical DR, and 10/- or 15/- elemental DR will turn most one-hit-kill bosses into one-round-kill bosses.

For example, Shalnath does a max of 224 damage per hit (excluding Death Attack and Crushing Blow), but this can be reduced to 95 damage with the right gear.
Add on 50% concealment and even a fragile DPS build should be able to last long enough to run away after getting targetted.

Astral Hero's (the mob you're probably taking about) do a max of 358 damage per hit (usually much less), but with the right gear this can be reduced to 175 max damage (again, usually much less).
It's possible for a DPS build to tank two Astral Hero's for a few rounds, which is long enough with the right strategy.

In my experience people tend to be more comfortable with dying and raising because of the large party sizes.
Something else to consider is that people don't always take the best builds or use the best gear for boss runs because a large party size will make up for it.
There's no point worrying about a few DPS dying, or fully gearing your character, or surviving getting targetted yourself if there are 15 other people that are fully healed and still fighting.
Most boss runs can be done with zero deaths if everyone is properly prepared and pays attention, it's just that most people don't really care about playing that way.
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