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Feature Request Fighting: Reduce Effect of Weapons, Increase Effect of Skills

Discussion in 'Build 15 Brainstorming' started by Pieter Boelen, Sep 1, 2016.

  1. Pieter Boelen

    Pieter Boelen (Not So) Old Seadog Staff Member Administrator Storm Modder Hearts of Oak Donator

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    I do wonder what the game would be like when the sword used would be more up to personal preference (certain fencing style, for example),
    but not have a huge impact on the fighting because the Fencing skill would actually be much more important.
     
  2. Tingyun

    Tingyun Corsair Storm Modder

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    It seems it could be possible without too much work, as it already exists within any given tier of weapons (ie, if you consider the weapons around min level 15-18 or so, they are largely comparable, but have different strengths in terms of piercing/block/damage). Tighten the range there, and you have that system.

    You'd just have to rebalance all melee damage around a single tier, keeping the swords same relative advantages in block/piercing/damage, and maybe tighten the range a little bit. Maybe give a larger base hp bonus, and lower the per level increase. The initial setup of it would probably only take 5 or 6 hours for me to produce a working version, with a week or so of normal playing to playtest and finetune it into pretty good shape. Early guns would fall back a bit in power, but they could be slightly buffed as well, and at any rate early one-hit gun kills are considered annoying enough there is a system to eliminate them in internal settings, so I think that would be fine if they diminished a bit. Early swords would be a bit more deadly, but a sufficient base hp bonus would keep it reasonable.

    The problem would be with existing storylines, which were balanced under the old system. I don't know how dependent they are on the current sword balance. Freeplay would work fine though.

    Seems like the sort of thing that might make sense for a toggle, for the interested players (with the old sword stats and balance implemented by default).

    EDIT: Basically, I think it would play much as it currently does, with the only difference being that at any given set of levels, there would be a much broader range of swords that are viable and useful.
     
  3. Pieter Boelen

    Pieter Boelen (Not So) Old Seadog Staff Member Administrator Storm Modder Hearts of Oak Donator

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    @Tingyun: I made a separate Feature Request for this one.

    What I'd envision happening from this would be that you hardly need to worry about what sword to use anymore.
    You may change it if you prefer a different style, but otherwise it'd all be skills.

    In an ideal implementation, there would no longer be a huge difference between high-level and low-level characters, other than their actual skills.
    A bit like real life, for example.

    Getting better armour may help you then to offset a lack of skill.
    Bigger guns can be better, so to prevent being able to get those in the early game, they'd have to be expensive which also means it must be uncommon to find them for loot.

    Effectively, in the early game (when you have low skills), you may want to avoid fights altogether. Or at least pick only small ones you know you can win.
    At some point you become proficient so that fights aren't a huge concern anymore, though they're still evenly matched because there isn't a huge progression.
    This is the point where sea battles should be more the focus. And once those become relatively doable as well, you should be ready to get into fort assaults and possibly politics.

    That way, instead of the game levelling up to keep things hard for the player, despite the player levelling up,
    you get a game progression where you end up doing different things altogether in the later game.
    This is something I have suggested for Hearts of Oak as I believe it has some merit.

    But it is quite a different approach to the game and I doubt it could be made to work in PotC in a rush....
     
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  4. Tingyun

    Tingyun Corsair Storm Modder

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    So my first post was mostly why I think it would be possible, since we are discussing exploring it, I also want to voice my concerns for discussion:

    The below is in addition to current storyline balance (already mentioned that one, others would know better how significant a concern it is, I have only done freeplay)

    Concerns:

    1) RPGs generally follow the better swords, better performance progression because it is fun for the player. They get to loot a body or chest and think, hey, look how much better this thing I found is! If all swords are close in performance, or even if they have small differences, the player will probably lose some excitement (ie, I have seen games thst give the player a 4% better _____ kind of item progression, it is never inspiring).

    2) Let's say guns retain large differences, but you make them rare for the best ones. You'll have made the player much, much more powerful. Because given enough time, the player will find a couple of those guns, while most of his enemies will still carry the not great ones.

    In other words, same as armor in the current implementation, it is basically a player buff because it is rare, as the player only needs to find it once, and most enemies will not get it.


    In other words, I agree it would need careful consideration. I actually think though the problems aren't as much in implementation, as they are with we might not like the end result. RPGs are basically more fun the more seperate dynamics of advancement that are available, and removing the equipment dynamic would mean we have to implement enough other aspects of advancement (like the politics, you mention, and a more advanced skill system) to compensate.

    And if we do so, it would probably still be more fun to have those new dynamics of advancement + equipment progression. I tend to think what we would get would be more realistic, but less fun.

    On the other hand, it is a real shame that we have so many swords, but some stay relevant only for a brief moment, and we get restricted in the variety we get to experience....
     
  5. Grey Roger

    Grey Roger Sea Dog Staff Member Storm Modder

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    Especially since, if you arrange matters so that the player has to follow a strict sequence of small fights -> bigger fights -> sea battles -> forts, it's going to play merry havoc with storylines that require you to get into fights. Most especially with "Tales of a Sea Hawk" which requires you to take a fort, which in turn means you need to capture (or earn enough privateer rank to buy) a ship capable of taking on a fort. And then you're up against Sovereign of the Seas.

    It's also probably going to wreck "Ardent", which assumes you have a fighting chance in a fight from the start and requires you to take a tier 6 ship early on.
     
  6. Pieter Boelen

    Pieter Boelen (Not So) Old Seadog Staff Member Administrator Storm Modder Hearts of Oak Donator

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    To clarify, I have no clue if what I'm proposing even CAN work well in the game.
    The progression I suggested is also not a "first this, then that", but more of a gradual shift that occurs naturally during the game.
    In any case, this is for certain very, VERY hypothetical.

    The main issues I was thinking to address with this are the "player levels up, so do the enemies, so effectively there is no real progression" one as well as a matter of a realism.
    I've always wondered how to make sense of those two things while still maintaining something that is fun to play.
    That's a tough nut to crack for sure!
     
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  7. Tingyun

    Tingyun Corsair Storm Modder

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    I do agree removing the leveling system of difficulty would be a great goal. A world that levels with the player is always less fun. It is one of the reasons why, after Bethesda started making a leveling world after Morrowind (which had very, very limited leveling of the world), the popular mods have always removed or limited that leveling feature (ie, Oblivion and Skyrim both had it removed via mods). People rightly hate to see common bandits suddenly become expert swordmen armed with the finest equipment.

    The problem is that to do so, you need to define the difficulty range of certain areas, and rely on player intelligence to avoid the ones that are too difficult.

    I think it could be done well in POTC, by basically following three steps:

    1) Make the level of enemies on enemy ships related to the tier of the ships, modified by military/pirate/trading type.

    2) Lock regular outlaws and bandits at low level, with low level equipment.(ie, one of the biggest complaints about oblivion was random bandits wielding powerful magic swords and armor--noone minded when mods eliminated that, and noone complained that random outlaws were no longer challanging to the player).

    3) Let dungeon bandits level with the player under current system, until someone has time to make different tiers and tie them to different dungeons.


    How hard would 1 be to implement? It seems the biggest challenge, and also even if step 2 were never implemented, 1 would be a huge improvement. Is all of this controleld by one particular file, or spread out?

    Also, side question, but do you know which function controls the minimum level of equipment allowed for NPCs based on player level?
     
  8. Pieter Boelen

    Pieter Boelen (Not So) Old Seadog Staff Member Administrator Storm Modder Hearts of Oak Donator

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    Actually, #1 is already mostly the case.
    PROGRAM\Loc_ai\LAi_CreateOfficer.c has this function:
    Code:
    int GetBoardingCrewRank(ref Crewmember)
    {
       int crank = sti(Crewmember.rank);
       int rank = crank*0.6 + 0.2*rand(crank);
       rank += GetOfficTypeRankBonus(Crewmember.quest.officertype);
       if(rank < 1) rank = 1;
       return rank;
    }
    
    Which is called like this from PROGRAM\Loc_ai\LAi_boarding.c:
    Code:
    chr = LAi_CreateFantomCharacterRk(false, GetBoardingCrewRank(boarding_enemy), false, officertype, true, BOARDER_HAS_GUN_PROB, model, "rld", enLocType + locnum); //Changed by Levis
    
    So level of enemy boarders depends on the rank of the enemy captain. Ideally that should match (partly) with his ship tier.
    For generic Sidequest Captains it most certainly does (such as the Governor Ship Hunting ones).
    If this is done, then it should apply to CoastRaiders/WorldMap/DirectSail Encounters too:
    Planned Feature - Use Generic Captain and Ship Generation Functions | PiratesAhoy!
     
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  9. Tingyun

    Tingyun Corsair Storm Modder

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    Pieter, side question: I've been searching for the functions where the player's level is used, in particular the function which determines the level of items given to enemies, and the function that determines the strength of random enemies like outlaws based on player level. I tried searching for ENEMYLEVEL_MULT_BASE and ENEMYLEVEL_DIFF_INFL , two relevant defines from internal setting, but oddly enough they didn't seem to actually be used. Do you have an idea where I should start looking for those two functions? Its ok if not, I'll keep poking around. ;)
     
  10. Grey Roger

    Grey Roger Sea Dog Staff Member Storm Modder

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    Indeed. The problem, once again, comes down to the two ways of playing PoTC. Some people like to keep a game going for ages, and they're the ones who want progression to be slow so they don't max out too soon. And some people like to play a storyline, maybe do a bit of free-play to enjoy the rewards given by that story, then start over with a different story, and they're the ones who don't want progression to be slow otherwise they're not going to see it. A lot of proposed development seems to be geared towards the first, which is why I'm trying to defend the second - not least because that's my own preferred playstyle. :D

    But even as things are now, there's some degree of having to build up. Early on, I can barely take a small merchant, and then usually only if I've grapeshotted it into surrendering and only need to duel the captain. Actual boarding is usually impractical until I've got good Fencing skill and armour, and so have my officers. It takes a while before I'm able to take on a warship with its larger, tougher crew.

    One effect of everyone levelling up is that there's a sort of arms race between the extra HP you get from levelling up and the extra damage you can do due to better swords available and damage bonus from improved Fencing skill. Eventually that maxes out but the HP keep going up, which means high level characters can get into some epic duels, especially against ship captains who seem to have even more HP. It may not be realistic but it's right in the style of films in which the main character slices his way through minions and then has a big fight against his opposite number.
     
  11. Tingyun

    Tingyun Corsair Storm Modder

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    Grey Roger, that makes sense, but I don't think it is dependent on a leveled world. You would still have those epic duals with the captains of large and powerful ships, just not every lugger in the ocean is carrying a master swordsmen. ;)

    Generally, leveled worlds fall into the BOTH not fun and not realistic basket, at least that is the conventional wisdom across most games and player communities. And you feel progression more if the world isn't keeping pace with you.

    Leveling the world alongside the player is usually the result of one of two motives:a) lazy initial game developers wanting a shortcut to game balance, or b) treating the player as too stupid to have a say in the kinds of challanges they take on. Hence, the near universal hatred for worlds leveling with the player. ;)
     
  12. Pieter Boelen

    Pieter Boelen (Not So) Old Seadog Staff Member Administrator Storm Modder Hearts of Oak Donator

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    Most randomly generated characters are created using 'LAi_CreateFantomCharacter' in PROGRAM\Loc_ai\LAi_utils.c or one of the related functions that it calls.
    Searching for those should lead you to find pretty much all important code for this.

    A lot of brainstorming is geared towards the first. I don't think we've quite reached the "proposed development" stage yet.
    For the time being, simple is often best and not changing anything is always the simplest.
    So most of the things I say will be long-term goals at best, or perhaps ideas for Hearts of Oak to try out instead. ;)

    Plus... Defending what already exists is certainly valid. But it is also a bit superfluous.
    Doing new stuff is hard. Keeping old stuff is not. Doing both is slightly challenging, but nothing a toggle cannot fix.
    So it shouldn't be a huge issue to do both whenever necessary.

    Does the game end up becoming easier or harder as you progress? Or sort-of similar? Depending on how you go?

    Indeed it does all seem to fit better with "faceless push-over goons" and "hugely challenging hero battles" as seen in films.
    Nothing necessarily wrong with that and, in fact, I quite like that myself.

    For now, I'm just brainstorming on how could a game work if that would not be the case?
    Real life manages it. So why can't a game do too?

    Not saying we should do it, especially not now, but it's still something I wonder about.
     
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  13. Levis

    Levis Find(Rum) = false; Staff Member Programmer Creative Support Storm Modder

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    Thinking about this a bit I do see some opertunities but it's very risky as @Grey Roger pointed out because we could easily screw things over.

    I believe there are different kind of weapons in the game. What we could try to do is the following:

    - Give each weapon a "type", for example it's a dagger, or more like a fencing sword or more like a broadsword (I'm not that well read into swords from that era so forgive my naming :p).
    - We create some Perks which (require profesional fencer) for each type of weapon. And only if you have this perk will it get the boosts from the weapon itself. Else it's just a matter of your skills.
    - These perks would have a high cost so it's not easy to specialize in all kinds of weapons. We could even have small sidequests added to them to unlock them (or maybe only the more special weapons).

    This way you could also help the storylines. Say you have a storyline which is very fight heavy at the start then you could provide the player with this perk from the start so they get these bonusses already. It would still prevent them from using other type of weapons but you could for example give the character the specilization for normal swords so he can use these at least and when he want to use other weapons he can still specialize in that.
     
  14. Pieter Boelen

    Pieter Boelen (Not So) Old Seadog Staff Member Administrator Storm Modder Hearts of Oak Donator

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    AoP/CoAS have a "Light/Medium/Heavy" weapon types for that, I think.
    But those also have some different fencing styles to go with them in those games, which we cannot replicate similarly in PotC.

    Is it not possible to distinguish between types of weapons simply by looking at their stats?
    Some are more offensive, some are defensive while others are more balanced, for example.
     
  15. Grey Roger

    Grey Roger Sea Dog Staff Member Storm Modder

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    Perhaps not, but the idea of having perks which each give a bonus to a specific group of weapons has some merit. Even dividing the weapons into really broad groups such as daggers/knives/dirks, axes and swords could be a start. Likewise, different perks for pistols, muskets/rifles and thrown weapons. And another one for bows.
     
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  16. Levis

    Levis Find(Rum) = false; Staff Member Programmer Creative Support Storm Modder

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    good to hear you think that might have some merrit.
    Thinking about it a bit more I tought it might be nice if every character always has at least 1 of those specializations already. And it can gain the others ones lateron. The one you have depense for example on your starting options. If you play as a native for example you will have the bonus for bows etc.
     
  17. Tingyun

    Tingyun Corsair Storm Modder

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    I may be the only one, but personally I don't like the idea of weapon specializations. I like to try out different playstyles, different weapons--so I'll try out each new sword I find, cutlasses, rapiers, axes, switch out guns from musket to rifle, to pistol, really enjoying each one. I like being able to experience variety, seeing the different graphics on my player, etc. I don't like anything that limits the players variety, or rewards the player for playing in the same way--even for something like the kind of graphical weapon used.

    More generally, I actually think the equipment system is pretty great in the current implementation. May not be realistic, but it isn't so unrealistic as to bother me, and it is very FUN trying out all the new swords that come around and such. So I personally would rather not see drastic changes to the equipment system.

    Instead, what I think does need to change, is that the world should stop leveling with the player, or indeed making things more or less difficult at all based on player level. Instead, the player should have to be smart about what challanges they take on, and enemy levels and strength should entirely be dependent on the logic of the situation (ie, ship tier and military vs trade). That change would be both more realistic and more fun. :)
     
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  18. Pieter Boelen

    Pieter Boelen (Not So) Old Seadog Staff Member Administrator Storm Modder Hearts of Oak Donator

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    That is definitely what I'd like to see as well.
    I'm not entirely clear yet on how, so to prevent confusion, I am moving this thread to Build 15 Brainstorming where it belongs.
    But if I do run into opportunities to untie the game world from the player, I may just try to make that happen.
    It's sooo tempting!

    Obviously any such attempt will only go into an official mod IF it works out OK.
    Which I'm obviously hoping it will.... :wp
     
  19. Grey Roger

    Grey Roger Sea Dog Staff Member Storm Modder

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    It might make sense for some free-play characters to have weapon specialisations already, e.g. an army veteran might already have the longarm specialisation because, being a former soldier, he's used to soldier weapons, i.e. muskets or rifles. Others could either have some extra free ability points which they can spend on weapon specialisation if they want, or some other perks consistent with their background - a merchant would more likely have the full range of commerce perks than any weapon specialisation, perhaps. More generally, I'd suggest not starting off with a specialisation as players will want to choose their own weapons.

    I'd hope this is an additional perk, the same way "Expert Marksman" is an additional shooting perk, not detracting from the general melee perks already in effect. So you can play around with different weapons, pick your favourite and then specialise in it. Next time you play, you might prefer something else. Or, if you're playing a long campaign, you'll eventually build up enough ability points to get another specialisation perk. Or you could leave non-combat perks to your officers and spend all your ability points collecting all the weapon specialisations.

    That already happens at sea. But there you have the choice of whether to engage or run away before the battle starts. Thus, early on, you won't want to take on warships with their tougher crews, but once you've built up your skills and equipment, you can take on frigates and ultimately even ships of the line. On land, it's another matter - random bandits might attack you, or there may be a group of highwaymen blocking the road and sometimes the scene layout doesn't allow you to get around them. Either they're permanently weak so you have a chance early on and easy kills later; or they're permanently tough and you instantly die early on; or they scale with you, whether it's just on your skill or on your overall level. Or they're completely random, as sea encounters are, which means early players are liable to get into unwinnable fights and later players are liable to get some trivially easy kills. One thing is for sure, though - even now, don't try going into a fort from its landward gate unless you have plenty of skills, perks and equipment, because your officers don't accompany you in most areas, so the fights are tough - this is the land equivalent of taking on a naval group at sea!
     
  20. Tingyun

    Tingyun Corsair Storm Modder

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    Grey Roger,

    On specialization: game balance is always tradeoffs, so if you make a +5 damage with _____ weapon type specilization perk, then either you have made the game easier, or you otherwise account for this by increasing difficulty elsewhere. There is no way to maintain game balance while not punishing the player who likes to use all the different types of weapons. And having the option of being a crappy sea captain just to be able to use different weapons as well is, of course, punishing them for wanting variety.

    On non-leveling system and bandits: Random bandits would, of course, be low level and only a challenge to beginning players, and have crappy equipment that makes them only rewarding to beginning players. That is how it should be. This is why everyone hated when Oblivion was released with bandits that would level up with the player and wield glass armor and daedric swords, and everyone loved the mods that removed the leveling and left crappy random bandits as crappy for the entire game.

    Not everything should stay challanging. Indeed, that is exactly how the player feels like they progressed!

    However, this only works if dungeon bandits are approrpiately tiered up and the rewards of dungeons are tied to their difficulty. Which is why in my above post I said this is a larger undertaking, and so a good initial solution is to eliminate leveling at sea (currently, except for quest ships, the captains for other kinds of ships DO level with the player (and the boarders from them)). Bandits can be left leveled, to avoid making the dungeons trivial, for now at least.
     
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2016

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