Race Season Eight - Signature Race (Locked June 16)
We introduced Signature Races in Race Season 2. Signature races are run throughout the season and allow competitive racers to demonstrate their ability in a consistent environment. We have special prizes for the top three players for each class across all races. You can win by just running one race excellently, although practice and running several races helps!
With the purpose of letting racers show off their skill, Signature races achieved their goal admirably, and have been hotly contested. As the seasons progressed we have tended towards reducing the variance of their randomness, and have reduced the frills so that they're generally just the core game. While the fixed seed races allowed players to practice and hone their skills, it failed to capture the long-term interest of some of our players.
In Season Eight we have decided that we want to return to having a special race as the signature race for a season. We have decided to use Descent: Champions as the base for the upcoming season's signature races.
Since there are elements in the existing Descent: Champions that make it less suitable for a competitive race, we will be making changes to remove a lot of the very high variance elements, as well as working to make each of the classes equally viable.
In testing this race, we want to focus on two areas:
As the Signature races are such a significant block of the race schedule, they need to not be too dry for less-competitive players.
While signature race rewards are divided by class, the community response to different results by class has been very negative. We are working towards making the experience more equitable regardless of which class is chosen. We are testing extensively, however there is a danger that some excellent strategy we had not anticipated is discovered.
We know from experience that thousands of racers, including the proven best, can find advantages we haven't predicted. We realise this creates a risk for us but we also understand that we need to test this internally only, as any perceived advantage for testers who may also race is harmful to fair competition.
We have two main tools to deal with the issues of variance and balance: the layout and composition of the maps, and the gems and items available in the chests.
The changes we are making the Descent: Champions levels are as follows:
We have focused these changes on reducing the variance. The dead ends in the early areas caused great variation based on luck. Moving side area entrances makes the choices between these routes more equitable
We removed the tight passages from some areas as they were detrimental to the game experience, and could contribute to deaths and delayed movement that were not the fault of the player. Wider passages allow more risk in play, with the danger being death rather than desync.
Changes to gems we are making are:
We added Flameblast and Glacial Cascade to increase the potential power of the Templar and the Shadow. Molten Strike was added to create more diverse skill options for the Duelist and the Marauder.
We are testing these changes and want to allow for the development of new strategies in this format.
We are also making changes and adding to the Descent: Champions unique pool available at the start of the race. The two items we are adding are to specifically target the weakness of the Shadow class in this race format, and increase the range of builds available to all players.
The unique items being added are:
These items will allow for several uses. We have also rebalanced some of the existing unique items.
Finally we need to determine an ideal length for this race. It will be shorter than the traditional one hour, because we have trimmed a lot of the variance and dead ends, and to keep the decision-making between rushing and clearing interesting.
We are currently experimenting with a 40 minute race, but this may change.
Update June 16, 2014: Please post feedback about this race type in the race forum. We're considering balance changes to the unique items but want to assess how this will affect the signature competition before making a commitment to this change.
Last edited by Chris on Jun 15, 2014, 9:16:05 PM
on May 15, 2014, 11:46:12 PM
Is Witch still bad in Descent-type races? I did one Descent race with a witch and it was awful.
on May 16, 2014, 12:11:13 AM
Witch has always been pretty stable but less played pre-flameblast buff. Now with it being the only class with guaranteed flameblast everyone plays it and to enter the top 20 got significantly harder.
on May 16, 2014, 12:15:28 AM
Why glacial cascade.. Its terrible. I rather get stormcall.
on May 16, 2014, 12:19:56 AM
Thank you for not making the signature race another fixed seed.
Better map layouts and that claw sound really promising.
on May 16, 2014, 12:34:04 AM
I heard "Descent Champions" is the signature and I cringed... then I saw the changes. Good job, though I agree with Rithz - I think Storm Call for shadow would be nice too.
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on May 16, 2014, 12:56:03 AM
While you fixed some of the problems of the early game (zone layouts), the most glaring RNG problem is still there - pack density. Shortening DC to <1h will just make people rush to Inner Halls and pray for champions packs there. A lot of people will again be disappointed when their good runs will be doomed with 1-2 champion packs per floor. And since it's DC, you can't rerun them again.
And why, oh why do you keep shortening the signature race? Like you said, it has always been a staple in competive racing community. You've already removed almost all the >1h races from the season schedule. Competitive racers have no problem with playing for more than an hour straight. Making races shorter increases rng in them, because the density, the lucky drop (game-changing unique), a shrine in the right place would play a bigger role than in a longer race. What's next signaute going to be like? A 20 min burst race? Are these really the best conditions to show our racing skills?
Some of the "balance changes" are also really questionable. Giving Molten Strike to several classes does not create any skill options, because it's just straight up better than Double Strike. Giving templar flameblast (the most overpowered skill in the current meta, with searing bond - just look at the results from the last season and how people leveled in the 2 week race) is just gonna make templars really strong. Instead of people going ground slam + leap slam / caster templar you will have everyone playing flameblast. As usual Shadow got a useless skill gem, didn't get Flameblast which it does receive in normal races and will continue to be the weakest class.
I really hope you would change your stance on internal and external testing. I can assure you that some people (myself included) would gladly sacrifice their chance to get a signature demi just to make the races better. Most of the glaring problems that we had in these races could have been easily avoided if you let an experienced racer test them before you release them. *Cut to all the rangers still complaining about not getting a quiver in a starting chest in Descent*
Posted by Chris on February 4, 2014 1:51 AM
"When we mass-ban people for running these tools, don't say you weren't warned :P"
Last edited by cwu on May 16, 2014, 2:03:26 AM
on May 16, 2014, 12:59:32 AM
I think descent champions is a great addition to the signature races, but I would like it to be coupled with another vanilla signature race.
I think running two signature races would be fun and keep racing very entertaining for both the casuals and the hardcore racers. It would also make both sides very happy (people who like EL/Descent and the other people who like vanilla races).
I'm glad you guys are finally understanding the state of the shadow class is weak, but they're still far too off from being anything that will be able to reach the highest point bracket. They need a class tree revamp and a gem revamp completely.
It would also be nice if people are allowed to "practice" signature races. You want people to compete for their best possible results but the ones that have an advantage in descent champion signatures will be the one who will be able to run them the most. You're already making it a very redundant race so people will get bored of them, so I don't see why this wouldn't be an issue.
I also hope gem drops are disabled finding any of the following gems would ruin the shadow record: Spectral throw, Firestorm, Flameblast, Stormcall, Ice nova
Last edited by Rithz on May 16, 2014, 1:34:26 AM
on May 16, 2014, 1:09:44 AM
And for that reason trying to homogenize results is only going to hurt the health of the overall race and game. Beyond the gem selection for Shadow, every class can reliably hit 25-26 with practice and knowledge of the race.
I don't see how this could be true, given the wealth of information and knowledge already gained by the best D:C racers. I personally would be more than happy to sacrifice the first half of the season to guarantee that the race is balanced well for any and all who race.
I think I would be less nervous about statements like this with evidence that any Developer had won a competitive Demi, or won the top points bracket in the recent seasons.
Fantastic changes, especially with regards to layouts.
I would like to say that in my opinion DC is already a very tight race with an hour finish time. If you tighten the time too much, the amount of experience that Gravicious gives you (499,000) will be too important in the race.
Currently the records and first places for most races is 3,150,000 with some runs hitting 3,250,000 and one or two witches hitting 3,300,000 - 3,450,000. I can tell you from personal experience that the last ten minutes of the race is absolutely crucial, where the best runs spend farming Inner Halls 3. My best races I go from level 23 - 26.5 in that span of time. This is 1.1 million XP in about 10 minutes before the 500,000 bump at general. There is significant strategy to this farming, and the pacing leading up to the hall zones.
If the race is 40 minutes long, it will solely be about hitting the minimum level threshold (18, or ideally 19) and then farming this zone until you kill Grav. I understand the need to create urgency by shortening it, but without experience seasoned winners of D:C participating, I don't know how this would be balanced.
There was an insinuation about people hitting 25 regularly in the original Descent in season 3, and beyond 6-8 specific races, most of which I can recall the person and what made the race exceptional (I.E. 685,000 XP in a 5 minute split from 50-55 minutes by Bzmode), no one except duelists hit that number.
Personally I think the race should be 50 minutes long to promote both strategies being viable, and fully clearing zones to be part of successful runs.
"When I close my eyes, I see this thing, a sign, I see this name in bright blue neon lights with a purple outline. And this name is so bright and so sharp that the sign - it just blows up because the name is so powerful... It says, "Diamond Supporter."
Last edited by Morsexier on May 16, 2014, 1:27:56 AM
on May 16, 2014, 1:16:29 AM
Don't you mean the entrance to the Chamber of Greed is in the center of the Burning Cave?
Designer of The Broken Crown
Designer of The Sigil Divination Card
on May 16, 2014, 1:47:56 AM