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Acheron

Heroes should divide the experience gained from tactical battles

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This might not be a popular suggestion and it might be too late to implement. But the game would improve if all heroes gained equal experience from the tactical battles. Specifically, each hero gets: mission experience + total kill XP / 5.

Why is this a good idea?

Because right now the "strategically best" way to play the game is not the "tactically fun" way to play the game. Strategically, you need to conserve battle XP by passing it to the next generation of trainees through the XP training pool. Because relatively few heroes contribute to this pool (Regents, Partners, and Standards), you want to concentrate battle XP into those heroes. Obviously, the best way to do this is to farm XP to one (sometimes two) heroes each battle, especially in the early game. Given how difficult the XP curve is right now on normal and hard, the strategic layer of the game really rewards this strategy over time.

But it's no fun!

I started a new game recently and began implementing this strategy, only to get quickly bored. The most fun way to play the tactical battles is to take on the Cadence as a team and let all the heroes work together. XP farming requires an extremely boring, incremental approach to taking out pawns. But I just can't help myself because the alternative is to "waste" it on those other grubby heroes who will only steal it from the next generation and take it with them to their graves. I feel stuck: either I XP farm and have no fun on the tactical layer, or I deliberately avoid XP farming and minimize my fun of being successful on the strategic layer.

The two layers should support each other. This tension is bad!

A good solution to this would be to make it impossible to XP farm. Keep experience generally the way it is. Missions give XP, pawn kills give XP. But to encourage interesting tactical battles, simply distribute 20% of the XP for kills to each hero in the battle (don't simply allocate XP to all surviving heroes in the battle or else I can XP farm by only bringing one or two heroes to the battle, or killing off some heroes in the battle). This would encourage me to bring and use a whole team of heroes, rather than focus on one or two. A side benefit is that it would be easier for the designers to tweak level progression throughout the game. Since you can generally control how much Cadence kill XP comes at the player every 10 or so years, an even distribution of that experience makes it easier to control how much XP the heroes will have at various times (with some variation based on how well they are doing in battles and how they choose to allocate resources to Keeps and Crucibles).

But doesn't this destroy the relic system?

Nope. It should be easy for the game to keep track (and show the player) how many kills a hero has, and to put weapons on a separate XP track than heroes. Weapons keep all the kill XP that they generate, so you still have some incentive to have badass killing machine heroes in order to generate and level up your relics. This is even better since under the revised system, you are using badass heroes for the express purpose of making relics. Right now your incentive is to XP farm anyway, so relic generation and leveling is just a byproduct. Separating the mechanics for relic XP from the mechanics for hero XP makes leveling relics seem more special and doesn't unduly increase the complexity of tactics.

tl;dr -- Distributing 20% of XP from a Pawn to all heroes in battle will cure the tension that currently exists between playing the game "correctly" and playing the game "awesomely."

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that's actually a really nice idea!

maybe just reduce the amount of XP given from kills and increase the one given from missions could be enough...

but i agree i did this too... focusing to give the kills to a particular hero or 2 makes the game a bit less fun in fights.

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I hear you, but isn't the bulk of experience already doled out based on participation in the battle, with kill XP making up a relatively small portion? That's how I recall it on the post-battle screen, but it's been a while.

The Battle XP/Kill XP balance should also depend somewhat on the overall difficulty of the game, especially the early game. I'm okay with some of the kill-farming metagame of the Fire Emblem series, because typically the first 10 missions or so are pretty easy, and the goal isn't simply to win, but to start your units' development off right. With the early game of Massive Chalice being such a meat grinder, it seems like a less-elegant fit here.

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Slightly off-topic, but maybe not. I'd love to see experience go towards damage dealt, and not just kills. It always seems unfair when a fresh faced rookie deals a bunch of damage, bringing a cadence down to 1, and then I have to finish it off with my experienced veteran who steals 100% of the experience. Poor rookie. :(

As for OP's suggestion, that would get in the way of being able to level up during a battle, which is always fun. Plus I never really try to XP farm (other than the aforementioned trying to get my rookie's boosted up when possible) and it doesn't seem to hinder the strategic gameplay at all. So, I guess I would say just play it how it's fun and don't try to min/max the gameplay.

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This is nowhere near a reason for or against this style, but while the above "stealing" of xp by veterans is frustrating, I equally like setting up a kill with a veteran and finishing a person up with a rookie. It feels like a veteran turning to the green hero and saying "Alright, finish it off!"

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I hear you, but isn't the bulk of experience already doled out based on participation in the battle, with kill XP making up a relatively small portion? That's how I recall it on the post-battle screen, but it's been a while.

The Battle XP/Kill XP balance should also depend somewhat on the overall difficulty of the game, especially the early game. I'm okay with some of the kill-farming metagame of the Fire Emblem series, because typically the first 10 missions or so are pretty easy, and the goal isn't simply to win, but to start your units' development off right. With the early game of Massive Chalice being such a meat grinder, it seems like a less-elegant fit here.

I am not sure what the exact average breakdown is, but I think the mission XP and total kill XP are roughly equal, so if you XP farm to one hero he/she gets 5x the experience from a mission as the others. It actually is very significant, especially when taken to extremes.

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As for OP's suggestion, that would get in the way of being able to level up during a battle, which is always fun. Plus I never really try to XP farm (other than the aforementioned trying to get my rookie's boosted up when possible) and it doesn't seem to hinder the strategic gameplay at all. So, I guess I would say just play it how it's fun and don't try to min/max the gameplay.

You could still level up during a battle. XP gets dolled out after each kill, it's just that every hero gets 20% of the Pawn's XP.

I hear you with the "just don't XP farm." I wish I could, but it actually is so much more effective on the strategic layer. It's very possible to win without it, but it's a less effective way to play, which in effect is a penalty for playing with a full team (i.e. the "fun" and tactically correct way).

If you look at KestrelPi's posts, he clearly has difficulty with the strategy side, including the XP curve. I don't think he would have nearly the same problems if he XP farmed, but it's hard to fault him since he's just playing the tactical layer the natural and enjoyable way.

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It's true that I don't XP farm, and I wouldn't consider that a very fun way to play the battles. I do what I need to do to win the battle. The most that I have ever tried to do is give kills to a particularly low level character I recruited in an attempt to bring them in line with my other characters. Actually, what I'm more likely to want to do, all other things being equal, is share the kill XP around as much as possible.

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It's true that I don't XP farm, and I wouldn't consider that a very fun way to play the battles. I do what I need to do to win the battle. The most that I have ever tried to do is give kills to a particularly low level character I recruited in an attempt to bring them in line with my other characters. Actually, what I'm more likely to want to do, all other things being equal, is share the kill XP around as much as possible.

Right, and you are being penalized for it, in that your general level curve is slower than it would be if you conserved XP in those heroes you wanted to make standards or parents. I remember we had a disagreement awhile back when I suggested you try farming, and you correctly pointed out that you're playing the game the way it naturally seems to want to get played.

You and others are obviously able to resist the farm grind, but ideally there shouldn't be a trade off between fun and good strategy.

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Yeah, the other thing about it is that it just doesn't -feel- strategically sound. My only concerns in a battle are how do I do the most damage while maximising my chances of staying alive, and that's why I don't lose many battles. It could be that that hurts me in the longer term, perhaps, but the battle layerand skill tries definitely seem to 'want' you to employ strategies like crowd control and collaborative takedowns rather than anything else.

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[my apologies for the wall of text. My rant got away from me. tl;dr the game might be too complicated right now, making it hard to balance, so there aren't really any alternative viable strategies, thus making fewer real player choices than if it was simpler.]

I know it's getting a little late for this, but there's something to be said for the idea of "What kind of choices are we giving the player and what behavior are we trying to encourage?"

The tactical layer is pretty easy to conceptualize and it's the most balanced right now. The game encourages clever use of different team members' strengths. This is good because it's encouraging you to think of interesting tactical combinations. If you do that, you win battles easier and with fewer casualties.

The strategy layer is where the balance is rougher right now. This is understandable, because the game tries out a lot of new concepts which are interesting and fun in themselves. But in jamming them together, we see some aspects of the game becoming complicated rather than complex, and the lack of balance means that the appearance of choice is somewhat illusory.

For example, the way that personality and genetic traits work is deep and nuanced. It is possible to maximize the chances of good personalities and good genes if you have LOTS of matchmaking choices, but the system is too difficult to game without plenty of options. But these mechanics are clashing directly with other interesting-in-themselves aspects of the strategy layer: managing population and expanding the XP training pool (also now the hybrid class system). The current balance makes the #1 and #2 strategic priorities to make sure you always have enough heroes for the next generation and make sure that those heroes have higher starting XP than the previous generation. Those goals are both difficult to achieve and vastly more important than managing traits, which means that you don't have a realistic option for managing traits unless you have (1) a significant number of available parents; who (2) have high enough XP to be realistically considered. And even then, the goal of managing traits is clashing with the goal of choosing hybrid classes. There simply isn't enough choice to meaningfully interact with the system, at least not until the endgame, so most people don't even think about traits much other than to encourage bountiful and avoid the very worst ones. So traits become almost one more random generator rather than a system for creating much player choice. Maybe that's fine, but it seems like a bit of a missed opportunity and I think simpler would be better. As many people have said, vastly increasing fertility would shift the research and marrying choices away from the mundane "keep the population going" goal closer to "try to create the type of hero retinue you want to play with."

With regard to experience, right now there are several choices as to how to manage it. One is on the tactical layer: "Who do I give my kills to?" Another is research: "Do I spend time building crucibles / researching nation XP / buying XP scarf?" Finally, you have hero management: "Do I 'spend' my high level hero as a Standard / Parent or use him/her in battles?" I think there are sufficient choices in the strategy layer itself with research and hero allocation, you don't really need a whole other layer of choice in the tactical layer, ESPECIALLY when this conflicts with the other goal of tactical battles: have fun and use your group effectively.

My overarching point is that right now there are too many strategic "choices" and not enough strategic CHOICES ;) There are a million little facets and potential decisions, but there aren't too many viable alternative strategies. It would be cool if traits were powerful enough that having low-level-but-awesome heroes was a viable alternative to high-level-but-mediocre heroes, but this doesn't seem to be the case. Likewise, it would be fun if there was a viable research alternative between a huge population (lots of options) with small population but more items. Right now, the real choice is between "a" population with the bare essential items or "no" population with fun gadgets. Not really much of a choice. There are a million things going on under the hood, but because things are unbalanced in favor of population and experience control, mostly all the player really thinks about is "Match high level hero with other high level hero, try to ignore nervous [insert worst trait here], recruit heroes and build keeps to keep population from hitting dangerously low levels." So the complexity that's built into the game kind of gets wasted.

Simplifying the underlying mechanics would make it so much easier to balance, and once you balance the game there will actually be more CHOICES than there are right now.

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This is a very smart suggestion and I've been thinking about it for a while. For elegance of design I like the idea of the fun way being the best way--I do like your suggestion. But the best way being the best way is its own sort of fun. I *enjoy* farming xp on heroes (not to an extreme extent) but when I can, and I think being able to do so adds depth to the game. I think the current system just works, and it'd be a bit rash to overhaul it this late in the game.

[my apologies for the wall of text. My rant got away from me. tl;dr the game might be too complicated right now, making it hard to balance, so there aren't really any alternative viable strategies, thus making fewer real player choices than if it was simpler.]

I know it's getting a little late for this, but there's something to be said for the idea of "What kind of choices are we giving the player and what behavior are we trying to encourage?"

The tactical layer is pretty easy to conceptualize and it's the most balanced right now. The game encourages clever use of different team members' strengths. This is good because it's encouraging you to think of interesting tactical combinations. If you do that, you win battles easier and with fewer casualties.

The strategy layer is where the balance is rougher right now. This is understandable, because the game tries out a lot of new concepts which are interesting and fun in themselves. But in jamming them together, we see some aspects of the game becoming complicated rather than complex, and the lack of balance means that the appearance of choice is somewhat illusory.

For example, the way that personality and genetic traits work is deep and nuanced. It is possible to maximize the chances of good personalities and good genes if you have LOTS of matchmaking choices, but the system is too difficult to game without plenty of options. But these mechanics are clashing directly with other interesting-in-themselves aspects of the strategy layer: managing population and expanding the XP training pool (also now the hybrid class system). The current balance makes the #1 and #2 strategic priorities to make sure you always have enough heroes for the next generation and make sure that those heroes have higher starting XP than the previous generation. Those goals are both difficult to achieve and vastly more important than managing traits, which means that you don't have a realistic option for managing traits unless you have (1) a significant number of available parents; who (2) have high enough XP to be realistically considered. And even then, the goal of managing traits is clashing with the goal of choosing hybrid classes. There simply isn't enough choice to meaningfully interact with the system, at least not until the endgame, so most people don't even think about traits much other than to encourage bountiful and avoid the very worst ones. So traits become almost one more random generator rather than a system for creating much player choice. Maybe that's fine, but it seems like a bit of a missed opportunity and I think simpler would be better. As many people have said, vastly increasing fertility would shift the research and marrying choices away from the mundane "keep the population going" goal closer to "try to create the type of hero retinue you want to play with."

With regard to experience, right now there are several choices as to how to manage it. One is on the tactical layer: "Who do I give my kills to?" Another is research: "Do I spend time building crucibles / researching nation XP / buying XP scarf?" Finally, you have hero management: "Do I 'spend' my high level hero as a Standard / Parent or use him/her in battles?" I think there are sufficient choices in the strategy layer itself with research and hero allocation, you don't really need a whole other layer of choice in the tactical layer, ESPECIALLY when this conflicts with the other goal of tactical battles: have fun and use your group effectively.

My overarching point is that right now there are too many strategic "choices" and not enough strategic CHOICES ;) There are a million little facets and potential decisions, but there aren't too many viable alternative strategies. It would be cool if traits were powerful enough that having low-level-but-awesome heroes was a viable alternative to high-level-but-mediocre heroes, but this doesn't seem to be the case. Likewise, it would be fun if there was a viable research alternative between a huge population (lots of options) with small population but more items. Right now, the real choice is between "a" population with the bare essential items or "no" population with fun gadgets. Not really much of a choice. There are a million things going on under the hood, but because things are unbalanced in favor of population and experience control, mostly all the player really thinks about is "Match high level hero with other high level hero, try to ignore nervous [insert worst trait here], recruit heroes and build keeps to keep population from hitting dangerously low levels." So the complexity that's built into the game kind of gets wasted.

Simplifying the underlying mechanics would make it so much easier to balance, and once you balance the game there will actually be more CHOICES than there are right now.

I think your thesis here is dead on. Easing up the fertility restrictions just a touch, and making research times a tad faster, would open up a LOT of room for players to experiment and enjoy all the parts of the game they don't get a chance to see right now.

I don't mind fertility and experience being "unbalanced" mechanics vs traits, items etc, but I do think exp and fertility are a bit too stingily tuned right now. In fact I think that aspect of the strategy layer is my major balance complaint/concern.

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