Dev Diary: Some Additional Notes on 0.9.3
Hi, I am Carl de Visser, I started at Grinding Gear Games at the beginning of 0.9.3 development. I have been working with Chris on general game design and game balance. These are few notes, from my perspective, to expand on design features in the patch notes.
The Hidden Side of 0.9.3
A lot of our balance systems and core design has been changed to make it easier for Grinding Gear Games to work on the game. This is for two reasons:
(1) so we can balance the game more easily, and
(2) we can change and introduce new things without a wipe.
We have to make sure that the wipe between Closed and Open Beta is our last wipe. Once the game is released, we have to take care to minimise the damage done to people’s characters when we change things. A lot of what was changed was to make sure we don’t have to destroy player owned elements to change the game.
Removing the Level Based Calculations
One of the big elements removed from Path of Exile this patch is the level scaling. Almost all the combat mechanics used to take account of levels. Now they don’t. This means your actual character as you have built it is what matters for combat results.
In some ways it makes balancing the game harder work, as the level scaling elements in the calculations did a lot of the work. Balance only mattered like for like, as far as character level vs monster level went.
This does mean this patch won’t be fully balanced yet. We need our beta testers to test the game thoughout all levels, with a wide variety of characters, at a wide variety of levels.
It is easier for us to fix stuff now, so we look forward to your feedback.
Character Base Values and Attributes
The chance to hit has been changed, in two ways. Firstly, the formula has changed. It is now:
The design goals this achieves are:
Secondly, the chance for edge case streaks of misses and hits has been removed. There is some dependence built into hit chances vs the same target.
The new Damage Reduction formula is:
This means armour scales somewhat with damage, but is much better at reducing small damage than very large damage. This has already been well discussed and examined in the forums.
The base Critical Strike Chance is based on your weapon or spell. Weapons range from 5% to 10%, while spells generally have a base 5% chance.
All bonuses to Critical Strike Chance are percentages applied to this base. So if your bonuses total +50%, and your weapon has a 5% Critical Strike Chance, then your Critical Strike Chance is 7.5%. If you had a +150% Chance, and had a weapon with a base 10% Critical Strike Chance, you get a 25% Critical Strike Chance attacking with that weapon.
Players have a base 150% damage multiplier when they get a Critical Strike, as well as doing elemental effects. This Multiplier can also get bonuses.
There are two main goals for these chances:
(1) Players can easily understand and assess their Critical Strike Chance.
(2) Players can meaningfully build their characters around Critical Strikes.
Passive Tree and Requirements
The passive tree has been changed in a number of ways:
We do expect to make more changes however, so please give us feedback.
If you find a build you want is not supported, let us know.
We have also reduced item Attribute requirements in concert with the tree.
It is likely we need to (1) reduce the number of Attribute passives towards the outer edges to support interesting end game builds, but also (2) make requirements more stringent
We have built the tree with Keystone Passives in mind, but sadly we haven’t been able to put any in yet. They present a whole host of their own balance issues, as well as technical and art requirements.
They will be coming in future updates.
Yet to Be Announced Classes
You will have noticed the starting spot for the upcoming sixth class. This area will still be worked, but it needed to be added to have consistent off class build opportunities for the Witch and the Ranger.
Skill Gems and Support Gems
The major change for Skill Gems and Supports is how multiple Skill Gems work. Now Each Skill Gem liked with Supports gets its own loadout, which can be separately selected. There are two main goals for this:
(1) The new system is much simpler
(2) There are upcoming supports where players are likely to not always want it to have an effect. For example, if you have a support that turns a skill into a Totem (and independent caster of that skill), and you had the Fireball Skill gem, sometimes you will want to just cast Fireball, and sometimes you will want to spawn the totem.
The mana cost for support gems has also been changed. Previously mana penalties for supports started small, and rose dramatically as the support levelled up. Often this resulted in Support Gems being more valuable at lower levels than higher ones. Now, the mana penalty is consistent over the lifetime of the gem, while the effect improves as it levels up.
The experience progression has changed a little, as have the formulas for penalties. These formulas have two purposes, to fairly award players during normal play, and to penalise abusive levelling methods.
The old party split formula was not reflective of each players contributions to kills, and allowed for fast levelling exploits with high levelled characters being able to rush low levelled ones through the game.
So now, a players share of experience gained is based on:
over all the players totals of the above formula.
The penalty for playing off level is also different. The first thing to understand is that we have allowed a wide band of no penalty. So when calculating the effective difference between a Player Level and the Monster Level, we allow a band of 2 + 1 per 8 complete Player Levels.
So a level 24 character has a safe band of 5 levels. So from Monster level 19 to 29, there is an effective level difference of 0. At Monster Levels 18 and 30, the Effective level difference is 1.
From there the following formula is applied and multiplied by experience gained:
Equipment and Currency Drops
We have substantially changed how equipment and currency drops.
Magic monsters, rare monsters and unique bosses only drop equipment, and it has a higher chance of being magic or rare.
Currency drops are more common when dropped by common monsters or chests, to counteract that magic and rare monsters now only drop equipment.
Almost all currency items can now drop from the beginning of the game, rather than only being possible after certain characters level. Yes, it is possible to get a Mirror of Kalandra in the Twilight Strand.
There is a penalty to the likelihood of a Currency Item drop if you are a higher level than the area. This is to account for how much faster you are likely to be able to clear an area, and also to prevent abuse cases of farming low level areas for Currency. Each level your character is above the Monster level of the area incurs a flat 2.5% penalty to the likely hood of a currency drop.
Flasks are a large component of a characters skill use and survivability. We have tried to make flasks important, but a limited resource.
Flasks are one of the hardest game elements to test, as their use varies a lot based on build, and stage of the game.
Flasks are likely too stingy at the moment, but we get very little feedback if they are too generous. Please report on your experience with flasks, as it is a system we are very keen to get right.
Bosses and Side Areas
One of the big goals of 0.9.3 was to make harder difficulties harder, rather than just grindy.
Normal monsters do not get harder to kill at the same rate they did before. Dangerous magical and rare monsters will get more common however.
As well as Rare monsters, with their auras that have been well discussed already, we are adding a lot more unique area specific monsters. Side area boss monsters may be exceptionally difficult. Boss monsters will be given more skill abilities. As well as just changing and having more uniques, we are working on making the fights more interesting.
In 0.9.3 you may find some new surprises in Act 1, and the Bandit Boss fights from Act 2 have a couple of new twists.
We look forward to hearing your feedback on the balance of 0.9.3! If you haven't yet signed up for the Closed Beta and would the opportunity to help testing, please sign up here.
on Nov 13, 2011, 7:00:00 PM
Grinding Gear Games