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Information February 2023 Balance Changes [Explained]

Discussion in 'Update Notes' started by Nise, Feb 19, 2023.

  1. Selquin
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    Selquin Headless Horseman

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    I would say that it was too late after the first one, or at least after the first couple have job advanced. The initial anti-beginner countermeasure was poorly thought out, and now the consequences should be accepted.
     
  2. beegoratto
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    beegoratto Zakum

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    To me, personally, this is the biggest reason I’m frustrated by the change. I do not have a beginner mage and wouldn’t have the resources to make one for at least another 3 years (without NX and APR farming), so the change doesn’t really affect me.

    What I find infuriating is the fact that bossing mages, which already struggle to find a place in the meta, aren’t allowed to make trade offs for the same advantages as a traditional washing attacker, as well as the fact that Auf is so blatantly left in the abysmal state that it currently is in (and has been since its release 6 months ago) and one of the main avenues for entering the fight as a mage has been removed instead of even attempting to make changes to the fight itself or address how unplayable mages are.

    Let’s face it, beginner washing isn’t the reason people want to mule mages; people want to mule them because they bring nothing to the table. Even bishops actively played in Auf are little more than glorified Res mules. People don’t want to mule them in that fight because they now have the ability to wash to 20k; people want to mule them because there’s almost no difference between what an active bishop brings and what a mule brings (unless, surprise surprise, you can wash to 20k hp!)

    Removing beginner washing to cut back on muling is treating the symptom, not the cause. If staff truly wants to see mages not muled, then why not give tools to mages to incentivize them to actually be played? The reason Bishops are actively played in Ht isn’t because they’re too hard to keep alive as a mule; they bring enough to the table to be considered worthy of an active player’s slot.

    Beginner washing and muling mages are not the same issue and using muling as an excuse to make this change feels cheap to me.
     
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  3. pjnob1e
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    pjnob1e Blue Snail

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    Why change the zerk animation? The stationary horns don't make sense when attacking, since they stay in one space when the character's head moves, compared to the old animation that revolved around the feet of the character.
     
  4. fartsy
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    fartsy Zakum

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    actually multiple staff members knew about it early on and numbers were shared with them far before I hit 120.
     
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  5. Krythan
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    Krythan Headless Horseman

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  6. mathijs2000
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    mathijs2000 Mushmom

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    I am glad they got rid of the whole beginner mage/dk build. If they didn’t act now it would have been too late, and we would have so many more people abusing it. Overall I like the changes, good work staff.
     
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  7. Milkydoor
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    Milkydoor Timer

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    I very much agree with all of this.

    I can corroborate very similar figures on a traditionally washed mage and since I spread out my levelling, my character has never been suboptimal or scuffed by its stats. Contrasted with the extra ~2 year total investment of a beginner mage and the huge NX front loading to approach playability, I don't think it is entirely fair to say there are no significant drawbacks.

    For AMs, the kit situation is quite dire and there are certainly too many useless skills, but bishops have to make substantial sacrifices if you want to push high level job advancements. A bishop would be quite happy with around 400 SP, (~level 65 advance), but pushing any higher forces you to discard skills of increasing importance. This was an interesting exercise in itself and I encourage trying it for oneself to see what kind of quality of life is being lost when pushing high level job advancements. All of that would be made even harder by skill changes, which is again completely acceptable.

    I think the angle presented by the others regarding it being too late to remove beginner washing is also reasonable, but I still would like to argue that the disadvantages of such a build are being quite downplayed and the fears of build normalisation and rework resistance are being overstated.
     
  8. -ovv
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    -ovv Horntail

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    Putting a stop to beginner mule is like cutting out the tumor to prevent spread so that treatment down the road is easier. Beginner mages spreading and normalizing makes the potential rework on the mage class that you're looking for all that more difficult. This latest patch shows staff's willingness to take into consideration player feedback for future development, whereas things like beginner mage (and heavy washing in general) are player-driven solutions that attempt to circumvent staff-driven development of the game.

    Again, the pain point of all of this is the time it takes for any change to be made. It took 6 months from the DK thread to the actual implementation. If the mage thread gets released today, is it to be expected that mage reworks will be released 6 months down the road at the expense of more event/patch delays?

    It doesn't need to be a fear if it ceases to exist, and they don't need to wait around to determine whether it becomes normalized or a bigger problem if they nip it in the bud. The main issue now is there continues to exist a handful of beginner mages with said advantages that are now unobtainable. If staff decides to revert these characters to match the new restrictions, there will be concerns of invalidation of work, but players admittedly knew the risks they were getting into when starting the project.

    The act of hiding information until project completion feels like a statement that staff has no power to revert existing characters, which I think is incorrect.
     
  9. porl
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    porl Mixed Golem

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    Staff should just revert the sp loss (for not job advancing as beginner) and the job advance block so that everyone can have their own beginner mage as originally intended.

    This fixes this “hypothetical mage rework” idea that came out of nowhere
     
    • Disagree Disagree x 1
  10. Kimmy
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    Kimmy Administrator Staff Member Administrator Game Moderator

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    There's no debates needed whatever this exploit needed to be patched or not. Even if everyone in staff wanted it to stay (which wasn't the case to be clear), I didn't, as I've never wanted such exploits to be here. As soon I learned about it I was in complete support in getting rid of it, and that isn't going to change.
     
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  11. fartsy
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    fartsy Zakum

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    which exploit

    beginner mages or dks? both are born out of the same AP resets that probably 90% of the server also uses. At what point does a feature become an exploit?
     
  12. beegoratto
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    beegoratto Zakum

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    It's entirely possible to address the muling issues without cutting out high wash characters. We live in a world where both 30k HP Sed mules as well as active Shadowers both exist simultaneously.

    High wash is not the issue and the reason people mule mages. Plenty of people mule Bishop in PB with as little as 3-4k HP.
     
  13. -ovv
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    -ovv Horntail

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    iPippy already mentioned eloquently the issues of balancing around player-driven work arounds. The normalization of mages with missing SP only make for a problematic future and limits staff ability to make adjustments that apply fairly across all players of that class. Personally, I think making an unpopular decision now that will save headaches and even more complications down the road is ultimately a good decision.
     
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  14. beegoratto
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    beegoratto Zakum

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    I would be more inclined to agree if staff game some indication that the fact that bossing mages are in a terrible spot was at least on their radar (as well as the atrocious state of Auf), rather than using the justification that this change was done in an effort to combat muling.

    While I would readily believe this is the case, it's also important that this is communicated clearly.
     
  15. -ovv
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    -ovv Horntail

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    I don't think staff needs to acknowledge anything, especially for something like that which is fairly obvious. Nightz is a mage main and I'm pretty sure he's aware of how things are with his class. Also, mages as attackers have been consistently buffed over the past year with minor content tweaks, and changes have been tailored in favor of active mage/bishop play (in PB) over their muled counterparts.

    I also think the bossing data released with the balance changes indicated pretty clearly the sad state of Auf. Staff provided the data so obviously they should be the first to know how underwhelming things are right now. If anything, what this shows me is they're overwhelmed with the laundry list of things that need to be addressed, and making announcements of any sorts simply puts things on a timer for everyone to nitpick at.
     
  16. beegoratto
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    beegoratto Zakum

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    I'll be honest I'll believe it when I see it. The direction of already implemented balance changes to prioritize active play over muling so far have been pretty disappointing as they almost all universally come with some level of negative QoL side effects and often negatively impact regular play just as much as muling (see Time Leap, Heaven's Hammer)
     
  17. OP
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    Nise
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    Nise Supervisor Staff Member Supervisor Game Moderator

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    Hmmm perhaps we haven't reiterated it explicitly in recent patches, due to it being overshadowed by other things. But staff is aware that mages are in an undesirable state for bossing scenarios. This has been the staff's stance since at least 2020. We've made efforts to change this disparity between mages and non-mages, particularly in bossing scenarios:
    • Buffs to bossing skills for mages (para, cl, angel ray, big bang)
    • Booster speed buffs (more relevant for bossing, due to DPS loss, rather than leeching/training)
    • Immunity and resistance changes for various bosses (esp NT bosses and Krexel)
    • Changes to PB mechanics to be better for Bishops (zombify cooldown increase, mini-bean changes, element resistance removal)
    • Incorporation of elemental weaknesses to Auf
    Now, were these enough? No, as the classes still remain undesirable and extremely niche in majority of bossing scenarios. Which is why we also never said we were satisfied with the state mages in bossing scenarios. Unfortunately, without a huge overhaul in the classes, it just isn't possible to make them good at bosses. Even since 2017 (which is when I first started playing ML), the weakness of mages at bosses was widely apparent. But there have been no solid suggestions that would fix the disparity.

    (everything from here onwards is my personal opinion, and not representative of staff)

    Original v62 mages are designed terribly from a balance perspective. They are WAY too good in their niche, and absolute garbage in everything outside of it. The class is also designed in a way that is hyper fixated on ultimates, to the point that the class is ONLY designed around them. Besides ultimates, the other 4th job skills are so underwhelming that after you max ultimates a lot of mages just didn't even use their SP. What other class does this xD Can you imagine a Bucc not using their SP??? These guys are legit fighting for every SP point cus the class is overloaded with things that are still relevant or feel varied enough to put points into.

    To make them relevant requires innovation. Working within the framework of v62 is why mages can't and haven't seen significant improvements in bossing scenarios in my opinion. If the community believes that mages should be reworked, I would personally love to work on it.

    Additionally, if you have any suggestions as to how, please please please tell us. Also, the balance team is always looking for talented individuals to work with, so if you think you can help in this manner and interested in game balancing as a whole, applying to join the team would also be of great help.
     
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  18. beegoratto
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    beegoratto Zakum

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    These are all fair points, and like I mentioned before I'd more than readily believe that staff is aware of the state of mages.

    I'm going to take a quick detour and mention that one thing I like about the DrK addition of active Zerk is how much it benefits active and skilled players first and foremost. Instead of just buffing damage across the board which would potentially benefit players who aren't interested in interacting with a core class mechanic (zerking), it's a change that appeals to the heart of the class fantasy and gives players both more combat options and more chances to utilize the most interesting parts of their kits even in fights where they otherwise may not have previously been able to do so.

    I'd love for mages to be able to experience this feeling in more content than Bishops in HT, as their only viable purposes in bossing otherwise is relegated to essentially mule duty or a one-dimensional purpose to enable "actual" members of the group, such as pinning Nameless or clearing mini-beans, with the exception of PB main body where obviously their damage relative to attackers is now doubled (and surprise surprise, they're considered viable attackers now!)

    I think one of the hardest parts of making suggestions is the lack of inner workings of staff, engine limitations, and just overall the server philosophy. These are important constraints that help define viable suggestions that won't waste staff's (and the suggester's) time with something that could never be implemented in the first place. The first place I'd actually look to make changes honestly is to fight design; it's clear from horntail gameplay that there's a lot of interesting things mages can already do (especially bishops) that they aren't allowed to showcase in most fights due to one-dimensional design (pin the thing until it dies) or overly restrictive requirements (pb timer imposes strict dpm requirements, auf dispel spam is just... incredibly toxic). There's plenty of room for interesting fight design in a world where you can theoretically build custom fights from scratch, and not just for mages, but for all classes.

    But I'm also under the assumption that such custom content would not only go against server philosophy, but implementation would be a nightmare from script, art, sound, and design needs.

    As for changes to mages themselves, again, knowledge of design constraints is important information, as to knowing what the engine can handle, how custom changes can reasonably be, what can interact with what, etc. but here’s a few salient points I can probably guess will be the constraints required that will be true under any given circumstance:
    • Damage. Unfortunately given how incredibly low the skill floor is for this game, any utility heavy and damage weak class can and will be muled, there’s very few ways around this that don’t become incredibly convoluted. If the skill floor were higher, it may be possible to have classes centered around utility, but this is not and likely will never be the case
    • Mule-ability. Staff seems to generally prefer removing mule-based play when possible, therefore elements of gameplay that are easily muled will generally be unhelpful additions.
    • Scaling. Mages currently lack the ability to scale with gear, but scale incredibly quickly with levels, which is something easily obtained due to their ability to farm with ultimates. There is also an argument to be made that such easy to access baseline scaling should result in mages generally being less preferred in non-farming roles to standard attackers
    • Identity. If I had to choose 3 interesting things about mages that set them apart and are fun to play around, I would probably say their ability to do massive amounts of AoE damage, especially to spread out targets, mobility in ways inaccessible to other classes via teleport, and their variety of utility spells. While single target attacking is nice, there’s little here to separate them from Paladins.
    Given these constraints, I’d probably make some combination of suggestions that would include:
    • Increasing single target damage to be competitive with, but not eclipse, a single target attackers DPM. This gap should be narrow or even mage favored at early 4th job and low gear levels, and become noticeably larger in favor of the attacker at higher levels and better gear (this should happen naturally due to how mages scale). This allows mages to serve as viable attackers, especially accessible to new players, but still allows normal attackers, which require more of a time and meso investment to hold the edge long term. An argument can be made that this is already the case but the scaling curve for mages can be adjusted so that the disparity between mages and attackers is not as extreme.
    • Giving more chances for mage utility to shine, without turning them into one button wonders that can be muled. Seal and Doom are both incredibly cool skills that are usually useless in bossing situations. This can be accomplished by creating scenarios where the skill as is becomes necessary, such as granting mini beans both magic and weapon immunity, forcing bishops to stand in a location where they’re vulnerable if muled, or by changing the skill itself, such as making Seal cancel the next boss ability (and even potentially can be cast during animation to reward attentive players) and adding both a cooldown and an activation requirement to prevent muling (ideally one that doesn’t require actually active players to grief themselves like the TL requirement. A charge system is fine, but one that won’t time out and isn’t tied to a status the player may want on/off given the state of the fight may negatively impact active players less)
    • Create scenarios where mage mobility can shine. Falling pillar attacks that are coded to have gaps (instead of a wall of 12 pillars in a row) is a great example of this as mages are generally more favored to be able to dodge these attacks compared to normal attackers. This also has the advantage of rewarding active playstyles versus also buffing mules. Ideally do not force mages to cast ultimates in these scenarios as this leads to frustration for mage players as can be seen in PB body when mages are forced into situations where they have to choose between possibly dying and griefing their dpm and griefing the rest of the run’s dpm when mini beans spawn. Vertical teleport mobility is also unique to mages and is another aspect of their kit that sets them apart.
    • Create scenarios where an active mage player is more valuable than a mule. Pink bean statues were actually an incredible opportunity for this, but failed due to banish mechanics and the prevalence of zombify. If this fight were to be tweaked such that the banish order was more predictable, and seduce order rotated in a less random way but became exceedingly dangerous (such as disabling avoid and shifter and adding more 1/1s), and 2/3 zombify sources were removed or had increased cooldown, this fight suddenly becomes incredibly important to have snappy, active Bishops. As is, because banish is random, it’s difficult to know ahead of time who will need to be predicted, and due to the presence of 30k NLs, babysitting is not required most of the time. In addition, zombify is almost permanently present in stage 5 even with the cooldown increase as 3/5 statues can cast the status, preventing players from being able to make a conscious decision to remove it from the fight.
    I’d imagine that, given enough time, there’s ways of making almost every aspect of mages’ kits interesting and impactful for cheap (in terms of implementation effort). I agree that the v62 mage is terribly designed, but it seems like the door is now open to more custom changes that can fix this. These are just some of my thoughts of the top of my head; I’ll admit I have written down literally none of my thoughts on mages prior to this post and lack any useful ideas with documentation that is properly written out.

    As is though, it feels like staff’s approach to making fights interesting or dangerous, or to changing class skills to fight muling, often ends up having the opposite effect of what’s intended. Fight design currently heavily rewards Night Lords as both the most valuable offensive and defensive pick when Seduce is present, and heavily punishes mages and their skills with how prevalent zombify is and how spammy dispel can be in Auf, and the TL change has almost no impact on mule Buccs but significantly impacts the rhythm of active Buccs.

    I didn’t originally intend for this post to be so long, looking back. I was just going to post some quick thoughts off the top of my head but I suppose this gave a good opportunity to go through some thought exercises and express discontent at some previously implemented changes. That being said I apologize for the rambly nature, and I hope I communicated my thoughts rationally enough.
     
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  19. Milkydoor
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    This is a great discussion to have (and probably should be started elsewhere in full, as with DKs?) and I like beegoratto's main balance pillars and suggestions.

    As said previously, everything is subject to engine limitations, and these are also randomly thrown out ideas, but some much more radical (and possibly straight up unviable) thoughts:
    • Make cancel duration reduced by opposite damage (so weapon cancels last a shorter time if hit by magic attacks) - cancels, especially on single bosses are often non-gameplay and don't achieve the (I assume) desired effect of encouraging composition variety, but this would make AMs and active bishops feel a lot more impactful, especially in things like HT preheads or Zak bodies.
    • In the spirit of mobility, an ability which places two doors which function as an in-map teleport for the entire party, like mystic door but in-map and for AMs, allowing everybody to save a lot of time repositioning and opening up some innovative strategies. It may also make mage farming even more abusable.
    • Create opportunities for poison and freeze to shine. For the former, a huge damage sponge summon that can be poisoned and ignored for a bit while everybody hits something else OR brute forced through if there is no poison (I don't know how much damage venomous star and stab do and if they would be too strong). For the latter, some kind of highly mobile summon like a wyvern or mini-bean or summons with incredibly high knockback values that warrant freezing (or dooming).
    I like the idea of making seal useful in bosses, but blocking a skill would probably be a little too strong, especially in HT. Something like reducing the damage dealt by the next cast could be more reasonable and also possibly alleviate hp threshold problems and save pot costs.

    Rewarding mage mobility should be careful not to inadvertently buff NLs over other classes (e.g. Zak pillars) but I like the idea of giving everybody more things to dodge. It could be too much, but content which necessitates switching between vertically stacked platforms (like ducking in Berga) to dodge special attacks could definitely benefit mages, especially with telecasting.

    I very much appreciate of course the transparency regarding mages and the willingness to discussing rework ideas! Super excited about seeing changes. :D
     
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  20. akashsky
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    akashsky Horntail

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    Its more so how the beginner mage can be creative and calculating in what they choose to sacrifice, to end up having little or no disadvantage compared to the normal mage. But, if we are going to act on the premise that this much HP should not be attainable by beginner mages without them being inferior to normal mages, then yes I will agree with you.

    You had to make a tough decision as staff and while I may not necessarily agree with the decision / thought process I will respect it. The last question I have is what will happen to the existing beginner mages / dk. Will staff decide to leave them alone, or will they be changed in some way to be made more equivalent to their normal mage / dk counterpart? Either decision is going to be unpopular with some group, so there is no right answer here.

    Changing them in some way would be more fair to most current/future players of the server, but it would open up a nasty precedent that is not ideal for maplelegends image.
    Leaving them alone would be unfair to players who were in the process of making, or planning to make the beginner characters, but at the same time would be the easiest approach for staff to follow.
     

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