Welcomes and Disclaimers
This is going to be VERY unprofessional and not everything that I write on here 100% reflects the direction of the game or how we're going to balance classes. So do not take things from this blog and use it as absolute evidence for why we are doing certain buffs or nerfs. Not everything is my decision and most of this are just my thoughts on the current balancing patch or situation surrounding it.
Currently, we're on a development hiatus to give us a break after the huge patch cycles we've had recently. The game is in a much better state now than what it was prior to the PvE content revamp so I agree that now is a good time for a short vacation. That isn't going to stop me from talking about design and future endeavors though.
The previous developer blog that I wrote included a lot of ranting. This time I'm going to be focused more on content, design, and direction. Basically, I'm going to be doing what the main purpose of this blog is.
The last class balancing wave that occurred at the time of writing this is wave 11. Wave 11 did not have any real focus, it was all sorts of buffs and nerfs across the board. Based on previous feedback, we tried to do less balancing based on the classes that constantly get balance and move towards balancing a wider variety. It was a difficult process to decide numbers but we ended with the result we did. Some of the balancing decisions I am not satisfied with. Here are a few that left a foul impression on me:
- Silver Hunter
The rest of the changes were rather good in my opinion. I will now talk about these three classes first then individually go over my thoughts on the rest of the classes.
Silver Hunter does not have a lot of players, but they do have a few devout followers. The reason why this change didn't sit well with me was how small of an impact it's going to have. It isn't going to be a large amount of damage gained from these % changes. Deluge Bolt, Razor Wind, and Tornado Shot are all among the top DPS skills, but the amount we increased them by isn't enough. If I were to revisit this change, I would have buffed their Class Mastery II and buffed the numbers on their skills all across the board. One of the major reasons why it didn't happen was a lack of data/communication. There was an idea (to buff the class), but there wasn't a plan for execution. Silver Hunter in general is a difficult class to balance. Constant air time means dodging a lot of mechanics, and that in of itself is better than a class that has a lot of iframes. If we make it too strong, it'll just be a class that can do free dps without worrying. If we make it too weak than it'll just be a flying mosquito (and not the deadly disease carrying kind) that tickles bosses. I consider the failure to properly buff them this patch my fault since I didn't give it as much love as it should have gotten. I promise to revisit Silver Hunter again soon.
This class has proven to be strong ever since we buffed it a very long time ago. It was probably about 4 months ago that we last buffed this class to the point that it is now. It was a sleeper OP if I were to be honest. No one played Pyromancer or Sorceresses in general until bigger population of people realized that it was OP. The reason why this nerf didn't sit well with me is due to the fact that it isn't really going to change anything. If we wanted to actually nerf this class as much as it needs to be nerfed, a little more than a 10% Hotrod nerf needs to be done. It is true that Hotrod is like 30% of the class' damage, but a 10% nerf isn't going to do enough to nerf it. The class also has good survivability through damage reduction abilities. Additionally, with Project Flow, it's definitely gotten a lot easier to play in high stress situations. If I were to do another pass on Pyromancer, it would probably be nerfing Fireball and/or nerfing Class Mastery II. It hasn't been too much time since the buff happened to see that many data points. However, from what I've seen so far, there hasn't been much of a change. I will refrain from nerfing them any further for a while, at least until I get a better grasp of how well they're doing now.
This is kinda generic given that it's a first spec and not a second spec. But I'll be discussing Impator and Luster in this same section. The change was primarily for Impactor, but Luster got some help from it as well (which isn't an issue/problem btw). The main reason why Impactor is "bad" and Luster is good is because of bugs. Impacto isn't able to use their CM3 ability and Lusters have a bug that buffs one of their strongest skills. It would be great if we were able to fix the bugs and balance the classes afterwards, but we haven't been able to resolve a lot of the issues that cause it. In the mean time, I'm looking into figuring out some adjustments to the class that will balance them both out in the mean time. One of the issues that Impactor suffers from by not being able to use their CM3 is bubble generation and a good bit of damage. We might be able to adjust that by increasing the bubble generation from Impactor. As for Luster, we could nerf their overall damage. But that's kind of a cop-out solution if I were to be honest. Luster is in a strange place as a buffer, off-healer, DPS. It kind of does everything (except tank).
This is also a weird one for similar reasons as Silver Hunter as there aren't many players that play War Mage. There should be a lot of fluity changes and raw damage changes that come from these adjustments. However, I don't expect a lot of people to suddenly switch over to WM (especially when Pyromancer is still so good). I have a "crazy" rework for the class that I have drafted in the future that would involve completely changing Laser Ray (awakening skill). It's currently a channeled ability, which removes a lot of mobility and actual gameplay. You kind of just sit there and Kamehameha wave in front of your for a VERY long time. I plan on changing this to a one tap activation giga laser that shoots out in front of you that expends your bubbles. It'll take a lot of playing around with to adjust bubble costs and things of that sort. Hopefully coming to light in the future.
There isn't too much to say here honestly. Removing bubble cost from Slime Shake was something we should've done a long time ago. It mostly only effects Adepts since they don't make bubbles as easily as Physicians. Sounds like a somewhat minor change, but it makes a big difference for them. Physician buffs were just us trying to make it stay relevant and keep up with the potential damage of Saint and all the buffs and raw healing that it gives.
Breeze Call Dance and Illusion Dance were giving so much Final Damage it was ridiculous. Considering that we nerfed it from 60% FD to 30% FD shows how crazy it was. Blade Dancer was a top DPS class that also has one of the best debuffs in the game. It was pretty insane for a long time, but now that we brought it down by this much, it should be pretty balanced now. I haven't been in a party with a Blade Dancer in a while, but hopefully I get some feedback soon.
Was initially "nerfed" quite a bit from the Guillotine Cross change from a couple patches back. It was actually a bug fix that fixed Raven's from being able to use Guillotine Cross 10 bubble damage for the cost of 5 bubbles (this basically doubles their output). We put more damage into Guillotine to make up for that change. The Rake change is also just a nice addition in there to solidify the deal. Most of the Raven players class changed to Abyss Walker as a result of the nerf in the past. Hopefully, some of them come back to their class (although I haven't seen any).
Same as Physician honestly.
Kozima brought in the revamped KDN Abyss Walker and absolutely destroyed the balance of the class in our server in a previous patch /sarcasm. Jokes aside, we had a feeling that we needed to nerf the class before bringing it to the live server, but we decided to let it go to see the results given we don't have a lot of data as we are limited by the conditions of test server. Given that the results are EXTREMELY HIGH DPS we had to nerf it quite a lot. It seems like it'll be in a good spot now considering that we nerfed their highest damage ability and their overall damage.
This is an ongoing project. It was a complete revamp of the class that was designed primarily by Peteus and supported by me, Neoliia, and Kozima in the background. The redesign is hoping to fix the major issues of it's bubble consumption and reliance on Counter Flare. We nerfed Counter Flare but buffed it's other skills as well as removed the bubble cost of the EX attack version of their regular skills. I gotta say that Eyedentity were smoking some crack cocaine when they were making this class. It's such a mess. Project Flow also came in within the same patch (which for some reason I forgot to put in patch notes, sorry). This should make the class MUCH more viable. Big props to Peteus for doing the most of the work here. Now the class is much more playable.
Future Balancing Direction
There are plenty of classes that we haven't gotten to yet and I really want to rectify that. I recently gave a list of classes that need feedback on and direction in order to solidify our future goals. We want every class to be viable in some stretch and allow players to play the class they want, not the class that's relevant (because they all should be relevant). I think we'll be able to achieve this within the next couple months as we move closer to balancing every class.
We know that it's going to be a hard path to go along but I just wanted to explain our definition of class balance (this spreadsheet that I'm linking here may have errors, do not take it too seriously. It is only there to give us a starting point/metric).
Separation of Roles
This goes without saying, a support class should not deal as much damage as a pure dps class and vice versa. This is something that we currently have issues with. We had classes like Blade Dancer that crushed dps numbers for example. It's been fixed recently but you get the idea. I shouldn't have to explain myself much here.
Some classes are going to be harder than other classes, that's inevitable. Classes that are harder and/or have higher skill ceilings should be awarded as such. They should be able to deal higher damage than the lower skill ceiling classes. When I say this, I don't mean a huge margin. I'm not saying anything like a high skill class should deal 40% more damage than a low skill class. Ideally, the difference should be less than 15%.
This also does not mean anything along the lines of comparing within the same class. For example, a good Reaper/Ripper player is going to achieve much higher dps than a bad player. That is something that we can't fix unless we fundamentally destroy the class' core identity. Don't expect us to change that anytime soon.
Classes that have more things to use in their disposal such as damage reduction, mitigation, debuffs, blocks, iframes, air-time, range, self-healing, and super armor should ideally deal less DPS than classes that have fewer tools in their arsenal. Again, not by a huge margin, but it should be at least slightly noticeable. We're never going to see how much this is going to weigh in an actual nest given that people have different play styles within a party. Aggressive, passive, and careful, we can't get 100% reliable data from it so we're just going to do out best to make sure that this is achievable.
Rest assured, we are still listening to your feedback. I for one would really appreciate more feedback than we already get. There are a lot of dark spots in our radar that we would really like to get scouted. This includes a lot of the classes that I mentioned we don't have data for. Please discuss all you want and my DMs are open on Discord for further discussion if you wanted to talk about your class or the direction that we're going in. I won't bite.
I know I have been rather bad with my tone and wording when discussing balance. I've been trying to fix that. I'm sorry if I caused any kind of bad blood or represented the rest of the Project Duck staff poorly based on my words. I can only hope that I can be better from this point on and gain back the trust/credibility that I may have lost along the way.