The results are in, if you didnt respond that's on you. Data and responses are below.

TL;DR - Severely nerfing the buffs and lowering penalties.

Common Results

- Of those that said yes, many said to nerf party buffs (an option in the NO response).
- Many “Other” responses in the NO response stated to severely nerf, but to reduce penalty. This was an option given in the multiple choice.
- People seem to think their specific run is the reason this was brought up. Again, this is not true. We have had this situation for so long, and in preparation for Vahrcore and other content, the conversation needed to happen again.

Main Takeaways

Party buffs...
- Provide gameplay variety
- Provide comp building
- Interactiveness

These are common thoughts surrounding party buffs. However, the way that these provide it are not healthy, and we will more than likely look into ways that variety and interactiveness can be built into classes or raids to offset this.

Main Problems

- For something that’s support to increase coordination, very little is actually required. (“Press button and profit syndrome”)
- Composition building is already a requirement due to class buffs, party buffs just prevent classes from being taken (why take sniper when you could take WW for SB AND class buff) while also just straight up increasing DPS further.
- No matter what approach we take, people will be unhappy.

- Penalizing a damage has this drop-off point, where players just don't care about trying to DPS, and just press the support button whenever possible. (This limits how impactful a party buff can be.)

Common Yes Responses

Promotes bringing other classes
You can say it promotes bringing other classes, but when there are 8 party buff classes, and 30+ DPS classes, you lock more out of a party than you bring.

Meta parties will consist only of the highest DPS character, +1 healer and tank. Less reason to run other classes. Having 8 warriors where everyone is competing for DPS.
No one runs 8 warriors… that's not a thing that's done, class buffs ensure this entire point. And while parties would consist of many DPS characters, you have a choice of over 30+ rather than slots taken up for a select 8.

Vahr: If you’re running 7 warriors 1 healer (or any other party of 7 of one class) then you’re either incredibly stupid, making a meme run (and it’ll show), or our class balancing is worse than Rito’s (jk but not jk). Also, class buffs are insanely impactful so running 1-2 base class buffs is always going to be a bad move. Nobody has actually cared to elaborate when I asked them to explain this point, so I’m going to assume that this is a superficial answer that doesn’t hold any meaning.

It is because those classes with these buffs are weak on doing DPS
That's a fault on the balance, not because of party buffs. Ideally a class without party buff option would do the same as a pure DPS.

This may be their key to get into a party with strong players, while having an average gear.
Project Duck allows everyone to get close to end game gear or reach it with just a little bit of work. This seems like you’re trying to be in parties you shouldn’t be. Recommend to create parties of similar gear rather than getting into a party because you can press a button.

Vahr: -redacted- When Kozima has to censor what you say... yikes

Joorji: You shouldn’t be joining parties that you shouldn’t be in anyway.

Provides opportunity for team coordination outside of forced mechanics in Nests
The team coordination is “I'm SB’ing” and that's about it. In terms of team coordination you hardly have to coordinate.

Vahr: TL;DR Zerk can just yell “SB~!” in his goofy ass voice on his first time on the class and does the same job as a veteran of the class and that’s just wrong no matter how you look at it.

Joorji: Coordination in push single button gameplay.

The class can be useful when they got specific buff.
If a class is taken only for the fact it has a singular button, is it really a class? Other classes that are *useful* bring damage, which requires piloting, while support classes can be brought down to dodge stomp, press button.

Vahr: If we can replace the class with a consumable item or plate skill then why don’t we just make said item and delete the class. Admittedly, some players have problems dodging stomps (even veteran players… oops).

Joorji: There are other reasons for a class to be useful. Not a single button.

Responses to essay submissions

Should a game bend their balancing because someone found a composition with a support core + huge support abusers that seemed to be the best in paper and also happened to be the best in game? Probably, but I'm not too sure what would happen to party buff abusers that only work that well under certain circumstances and with certain pilots.
Yes. A game always balances whenever something is the clear winner within their certain rules. Piloting party buff classes also takes 0 experience or skill to express. We’ve had people swap to the class with 0 gear on and 0 experience on it, and just stay there to press a button. And it worked. The circumstance also boils down to “is the boss near me”. There is no timing requirement nor is there any punishment, it's see cooldown use cooldown, and they give too much of a benefit for that.

Vahr: Bluntly put, have you ever played any competitive online game? Also this has been an issue since DDN was the hardest raid on our server, we’re now in the shakedown phase before IDNHC/VC.

Joorji: It’s not like the usage of these buffs require a good pilot, you literally just press the button when it’s called out in voice chat during raid. Anyway, this is nothing new. There has always been an on paper and in application most OP party composition. We aren’t nerfing it just because people thought they pioneered a new strat that was game changing. This has been known for over a year on Project Duck (and many years before in retail DN T4).

1. It's flavor ;
This point we agree with, it does add variety to gameplay. But the variety is just straight up crack mode, which we did not design to become. Crack mode is more Celestial DN's style.

Vahr: Maybe if we had more flavors in the flavorizer

Joorji: I agree that it’s fun to have party buffs, but fun =/= good for the game. If we were able implement them in a way that is rewarding and impactful rather than just having a super busted press one button to activate crack cocaine, that would be nice. We’re exploring other ideas.

2. It's a choice ;
It's meant to be a choice, but we still see players getting bullied when they don't take it. I don't care if they are getting bullied per se, but the fact that this is a theme is kinda disconcerting. Also, the point of the choice system was for the A/B system to be a power neutral thing, but we've reached a point where further nerfing the player for taking it has diminishing returns on what it does. You were not supposed to get damage increases for taking the party buff, it was supposed to be a pure stylistic choice

Vahr: We generally don’t care too much about how players treat each other (cuz we’re not your mothers, go be adults), but in this case its a symptom of an underlying issue. Party buffs should be a power neutral and potential feelgood plus.

Joorji: Yes, it’s meant to be a choice. But it is almost always more beneficial to take the party buff than solo (unless you have two of the same class in the party).

3. It's to be expected ;
Sure it's to be expected, but at the same time that's why they were removed to begin with. They cause power imbalances and problems within balancing that cannot be solved. You can say "don't balance classes around the buff power", and this holds weight, but look at it from our perspective. If a class is doing 30% more when taken with this party buff, and everyone else gets 15%, does this not mean that now the most optimal comp is restricted further? Now you want to take the party buff AND only this specific class, locking even more classes out of play. You take this comp into account for raid clear times and everyone suffers for it because the time to clear goes up for “average” parties.

Vahr: If someone can find us a senior game designer who’s willing to work for free, hit us up. In the meantime, our amateur asses can only juggle so many interlinking systems at once (and throwing more people at issues like this usually are counterproductive).

Joorji: Yeah, basically.

4. It's player mentality ;
Yes, its a big player mentality thing. Lots of players are stuck in this T4 era, but lots of new era classes have this “party buff” feel built into their kit via steroids.

Vahr: I 100% still suffer from party buff fatigue from 70 cap (being both on the “BUFF MY ASS” paladin side and the “I GIB U BUFFS” side) and its been 4-ish years and its honestly refreshing that I have individual agency as a player for the most part. It is really nice to feel like you can coordinate and give a nice boost to your DPSers (if you’re one of those people that have a support mentality) but as it stands the current system doesn’t really require you to coordinate. To me its too much boost for not enough coordination.

Joorji: I agree that it’s a lot to do with mentality. People like the feeling of 10 seconds of crack cocaine like Spirit Boost or Fast Forward. I also enjoy it. It’s just a matter of balance, too much of anything is no fun. People don’t like the super standard boring reality of T5 gameplay, but pure T4 gameplay is also cancer. We don’t and can’t (because it’d be poor game design) to force you to pick up certain party buffs like SB and/or FF to pass a DPS check, but it makes it so those who take those party buffs pass DPS checks with much less stress.

What if instead of costing the users damage when they are forced onto party buff builds, it costed the buffing individuals something rotationally.
If someone wants to rework 8 classes for us we can look into this, but affecting the way a specific class plays without making it feel bad to play for the person is hard as is, creating this weird system requires the majority of these classes to be reworked. FF and SB are used by the classes that use them for themselves as well, thats why we haven't changed the CD’s. Creating another system to this just seems like a headache that would eventually get nowhere. This also creates a problem of, how much damage do they do still, do we need penalties, etc, which has its own flaws.

Joorji: Honestly, this would kill so many classes. A class like Tempest would get slaughtered by not having SB up for itself. We’d have to rework so many classes to work around it. Interesting idea though.

Furthermore, there aren't enough players on this server where there's a supply of specific classes to meet demands. Even if I wanted a Mystic for FF, there aren't enough of them. Many of the dev streams that I've watched don't include Mystics. I feel like people take what they can rather than be choosing beggars. - "Fast Forward affects classes unequally." That's okay! Friendly teams should talk among themselves about what classes they want to take. If it bothers someone that they won't do as much DPS as their other party members because of Fast Forward, they should speak up. - "Furthermore, it's difficult to balance classes when FF causes such variation in DPS." FF is not the only thing to create DPS differences. Other examples include Yum-a-tron, infrequent rebuffing, and mechs that target certain people. A lot of data is not meaningful because of these confounding variables, and it's a dev's job to filter out the undesirable data points. After a raid, the conversation is usually, "Oh, Person A did more than Person B, wow OP." Party buffs add to the conversation. Instead of just showing off your DPS and accepting it, we question the DPS
The dev runs are mostly done with the main balancing idea in mind.

The main principle and mantra for what we do is, we don't want to force people off of classes they want to play because taking w x y z is just massively more stronger than a standard party. Groups can talk about what they want to take, but the current situation becomes problematic when we have to factor in how much the highest comps are doing and balance according to that, it just makes a group of friends who want to play what they want argue on who they're gonna shove onto the slave characters.
Kind of give us an impossible scenario here by saying we don't have enough people to fill a class out, but then you want us to keep something that further makes us have to cherry pick the already low numbers that we have for the class. It's kind of selfish when you think about it, because now you're kind of hurting the people who “choose” to go full DPS, but because we have even less numbers for their values, we cant balance right. Also, you say each class shouldn't benefit equally to FF and the like, but then how does it feel to play a class that doesn't get a big damage increase while others do? Person A gets a massive benefit while Person B doesn't, just feels bad for Person B while Person A gets this massive ego boost (unfortunately a common theme we’ve seen with players). The final sentence sounds like people cannot accept that they messed up in the raid. Conversations happen enough in, "oh i could have done x or y and gotten more out of the class”. This sounds like party buffs can be used as an excuse for skill (you can say “were you there for all casts", but when A gets more out of it than B, and they both are there, theres really no way around that). Self improvement should be a conversation that should be had.

Vahr: Nit - dev streams are not really representative of run compositions (we’ve actually been running a lot more FF lately because Guardian’s pretty busted with it), but Alex covered this enough tbh

"You're just clicking a button. How is that identity?" I think of it in the same way that we think of Gladiator as the Coup class or Ice Witch as the ice stacking class.
Gladiator has to use skills to generate bubbles to cast coup, and coup only affects the boss, Ice witch has multiple applications of ice stack and works towards placing on the boss, though this one is a little problem as well... FF SB and the like just press the button get reward.

Vahr: Gladiator’s actually a shining example of a class done well - highly mechanical class that has high rewards for playing well, and its keystone “big button” requires proper preparation and execution. Even then, if all you do on Gladiator is press coup, you’ll do less damage than a moderately afk Saint. Ice Witch definitely is closer to a OBC but you do have to be active to maintain ice stack. We’ve already mostly addressed IW’s passive power as well.

Final Decision

- Severely nerf the party buffs for now. (Yes, that means the penalty goes down as well.)
- Look for ways to address the main takeaways above, but in a way that is not just straight power to a select few.

Final Remark

If those of you see this as unfair, please take note that this was the point of the form. The majority wanted them removed entirely, but to try to satisfy as many as we can we are keeping them but at a lower power. We are not enforcing our will, but based off the headcount we've received, the best way to satisfy as many as we can is to reduce the power of party buffs tremendously. We do note that a large,large % prefer them removed entirely, but after talking with a few of them, its worth mentioning that a decent amount state they want them out to help us in the balancing department. While we appreciate this, we do want to try to make the party buffs work in some way; it is fun, but its a headache to manage.