In arcade mode, there's a major problem with Temple of Seasons rooms. Some rooms don't have any season orbs. Since Season Temple enemies are fairly straightforward, one would think that this wouldn't be a problem. But major issues can result from this that bring catastrophic planetary devastation to any player's runs -- especially in multiplayer. Here are a few examples.

1) Summer Mages and a Summer Hydra appear in a Summer Room without Orbs. The main reason this is a problem is that fire from the Summer Hydra effectively never goes away. If you run around long enough, eventually the whole room will be filled with fire, but other enemies (or Hydras in the boss fight) will still be able to attack you. This ensures that you're set up for mega loads of damage. It's not fair to the player at all, especially when Summer Mages are blocking your path. If you're playing Big Brothers, this gets even worse when Larva's are present.

2) Multiple Autumn Mages and Autumn Knights Appear in an Autumn Room without Orbs (an Autumn Hydra may or may not be present). The problem with these kinds of rooms is fairly straightforward. You inevitably get trapped in a tornado (because the room is small and so many empowered mages are present), which throws you into another tornado, which throws you into another tornado... And all this occurs while autumn knights with their powerful, hard-to-interrupt spins (which are hastened by tornadoes) attack you over and over again. This, again, gets even worse with Big Brothers if Larva's are present. This is another easy way to end a run or significantly harm it. When an Autumn Hydra is present, this gets even worse.

3) Situations similar to the above happen in a Mixed-Season Room. This explanation is pretty straightforward. In a mixed season room, all enemies -- including hydras -- are empowered. (Yes, I encountered a run where a hydra appeared in a mixed season room.) This basically takes the above scenarios (and the other possible scenarios that could exist) and makes them worse.

I think the simple solution to this is to force all regular rooms to have Season Orbs. This way, the season can be changed to prevent unfair run-killing situations from existing. This isn't a viable solution for mixed-season rooms since the gimmick of these rooms is that all enemies are empowered. However, something has to be done to prevent the unfair situations described earlier.

For mixed-season rooms, G's idea was to implement a "Season-Reset" Orb in a room. This basically means that upon hitting an orb, all season effects are nullified for an instant. I like this idea and think it's creative, but there are a few setbacks: First of all, Knights are not affected by season changes mid attack. Autumn Knights will keep spinning, Winter Knights will keep dashing, and Summer Knights will keep slamming. It does still affect hydras and mages. Any mage's effects will disappear (assuming you hit the orb late enough), and the hydra's empowered attack will be interrupted. However, overall, requiring the player to hit a season-reset orb affords a lot of risk to the player for only temporary relief from an unfair circumstance. So as an add-on to the idea, some conditions: Season-Reset Orbs should be placed at all edges of the room (or at least be provided enough accessibility). It's risky to run to hit an orb in a mega-empowered environment...and you only reset the season for a second. With this, the player can reset from it somewhat balances the risk factor. Also, a Season Hydra should be required to headbutt at least 1-3 times before starting their empowered attack again after a Season-Reset. Employing only a season reset would effectively be the same as changing from a hydra's season and then back to it again. This means they'd go right back into spamming their empowered attacks immediately. By forcing some headbutting in there, it makes the season reset actually meaningful. @The G-Meister I'm interested in your thoughts on this.

P.S. Someone will probably mention that issues with tornadoes and autumn knights can be resolved by simply reworking the enemies. That's partially valid, but I think it still leaves significant problems. Actually, I think that's its own problem worth of its own separate post.

The G-Meister

Giga Slime
This is a balancing post. When I write them they're fairly long, so grab a sandwich and get stuck in.

Oh and a disclaimer - I talk about mage and knight attacks a lot later, and sometimes I forget to add "season" to "attack" or "cast". Assume it's there where relevant.

Why I think rooms without season orbs go against the developers intentions for the Temple

The reason for me suggesting this was because I believe the intention for combat in the temple is that you keep switching seasons. This is because summer mage thorns, winter knight ice (though I think it fades over time), and more importantly the autumn hydras' mushrooms, summer hydras' fire and winter hydras' ice all stick around. Some of them stay forever until you change the season, others take a while to disappear over time, or don't disappear until you interact with them in some way. The generally results in progressively worsening rooms, even more so when there's a hydra, and yet again when the room is mixed season.

Progressively worsening rooms then results in a concept seen in a few places in the game, and this is that of the DPS race - AKA "you better kill things quickly as the risk of you taking damage/dying in this room is getting worse the longer things are alive". The saving grace of this type of mechanic is one of two things - you actually staying on top of the worsening room (like in Power Flower) or something that might reset all these complicated mechanics. It's the latter in this case, in the form of a season orb.

One of the mechanics of season orbs is that they (attempt to) reset all the effects of the previous season. I say attempt to because it seems to have a couple bugs (and yes, I consider these bugs, not intended quirks of the system). If a season mage is casting its season attack when the season changes, that cast will still go through, and autumn knights do not immediately cancel their incredibly long season attack phase. There might be a couple more extremities but I don't think they are as relevant as these.

As a result, we have a nice mix of systems. In theory, the room should get too unbearable to handle, and switching season should then not only provide relief from all the chaos, but, as MLG said, this relief is only temporary and the room starts to get more difficult again, albeit this time in a different season to vary things up a bit.

However, some rooms in arcade lack season orbs. It also completely goes against the original idea, which is, as I'll say again, what I believe the entire temple was built around anyway.

Why I think rooms without season orbs (and therefore my runs) suffer greatly from a lack of them

Not only do I believe this is wrong in theory, but it also becomes a pain in the arse in practice.

The DPS race is the only (viable) option for completing rooms without season orbs. Given how bad these rooms can get and how quickly it happens, they become stress fests where your entire run is at stake, rather than a brief rather than an interesting challenge on the way to the boss (which is what I believe rooms should be).

Going back to MLG's post again, certain synergies blow this problem out of the water. I said earlier that rooms should in theory get too difficult to handle earlier, but actually that significantly varies depending on the room composition. I'll get back to this later, as it's not particularly relevant right now.

Season flushing concepts

My little idea to fix both of these was a "season reset orb" or "blank orb", as MLG has already pointed out. This basically has the normal season orb effect of resetting all of the effects caused by the current season being in effect, but without changing the season. From now on I'm going to call this "flushing" the season.

This could actually be extended in a couple of ways from what I originally thought.

Case 1: Season reset orbs are a grey/white/blank colour

This was the original idea. Put one of these in every room without another orb. This includes normal rooms and mixed season rooms. I'll leave it at that for now, without endorsing any of MLGs other ideas. We'll get back to those further down.

Case 2: In addition to Case 1, allow hitting an orb of the current season to flush the season

If flushing the season is now a useable mechanic, it might as well be implemented onto the orbs we have already. This the allows for another change.

Case 3: In addition to Case 2, allow single orbs to spawn in rooms

Currently it's either 2 orbs, 3 orbs or no orbs, because a single orb does not have any effect. With the addition of case 2, they do, and function as both a single use "change to this season if you dare" (which, over the time frame of an arcade room is pretty significant) and, once the season is the season of the orb, it becomes a season flusher.

Case 4: While we're on the topic I'll slide in a cool idea - if a room has been going long enough, all orbs become "unempowering orbs" where no season enemy is empowered

It's an extra failsafe for if a player has managed to somehow survive for long enough in an extra-jank room. I would say make them Spring orbs, but that would be a heck of a lot of extra artwork. Maybe instead it puts a grey filter over the entire room or something.

That's all for now.

Other mechanics that feed into this topic

I'm now gonna return to what MLG was pointing out. While what MLG is suggesting isn't bad, it's not the approach I'd take to the problem. In order to continue I'm gonna elaborate on seasons and mechanics that influence either the rate at which rooms get more difficult, or how difficult this caps at.

Winter is currently the easiest season, by far. This includes both the season hydras fight and normal rooms. Overall, it has the lowest difficulty cap (to the point that a max difficulty room is still pretty easy) and a slow rate of difficulty increase. Here's why:
  • Ice is the least threatening obstacle. It is largely counteracted by frostling shoes, and is even beneficial when you can exploit the slide to hit things while moving and exploit the uncapped movement speed while charging skills to keep your distance or pace up. It even fades away over time, unlike fire.
  • After becoming empowered, winter mages are on a charge-up instead of a cool down. This means they have to cast a projectile twice before summoning cubes around an enemy.
  • The winter mage season spell is also the least threatening of the season spells, being easily counteracted by most ranged attacks, any decent AOE attack or a 2H magic projectile.
  • The winter hydra in the season hydras boss leaves gaps on the floor, consisting of a strip on the left and a small spot on the right, where the ice beam will never hit players and they can stand on the floor without ice effects.
  • Season knights are baitable and simply moving across their path will leave them stunned against a wall for a good few seconds.
  • Season knights need to get a decent few dashes off before the room is even reasonably covered in the not-actually-that-difficult ice.
Summer is a little more problematic. It is either on par or more difficult than Autumn in the hydras boss, and the second most difficult normal room. When hydras are present, rooms have the highest difficulty cap, but it takes a while for that difficulty to increase. When hydras are not present, rooms have a fairly low difficulty cap, but it reaches it somewhat faster. Here are most of the significant points:
  • Summer mages cast as soon as you enter the room, making their obstacle an immediate obstruction.
  • Summer knights have the least threatening empowered attack due to the fact that they stand still and have a tiny hit range, as well as a lot of wind up frames.
  • Summer hydras have the scariest season attack by far of the hydras, spewing fire at your current location that doesn't disappear until you change season. This attack makes you keep moving and makes a deadly combo that will almost definitely result in you taking a hit if both a summer mage and hydra cast at the same time.
Autumn is the most difficult season overall by far, to the extent that it gets switched from at the earliest possible opportunity. Rooms without hydras have a high difficulty cap that is reached almost instantly, and respite is rarely/only briefly gained from it. Hydras only make that worse. Again, here's the significant points:
  • Autumn mages cast their season spell instantaneously, filling their presence with tornadoes.
  • Tornadoes are the most powerful mage spell by far, as they take up a large area, significantly impact movement and can stun you meaning you can take a hit.
  • Autumn knights have the most powerful knight season attack, going all gold charge whirlslash on your arse - except they don't stop for a good while. Like Summer hydra fire, you need to keep moving, though you have the option of shielding against a wall.
  • They also attack almost instantly and barely stop for a break.
  • To make matters worse, these two attacks are the only ones in the temple with a programmed combo, making it necessary not only for you to stay away from the other tornadoes, but also for you to pull out your shield against a wall and pray.
The icing on top of all of this is the mixed season room. Mixed season rooms by nature have no orbs at the moment, because doing so would remove the mixed season and remove all the challenge. However, by nature they also put all enemies in the room into season. This means that all of the worsening effects are immediately observed and cannot be reset. Furthermore, hydras in these rooms (particularly summer ones) basically means GG.

Some changes to combat this

What I'd like to propose after all of this is actually a bunch of changes to these attacks rather than additions to rooms like MLG was suggesting. So @XxX_MLG Noob_XxX, you're welcome to shit on these points. I'd like to roughly balance around hydra-less summer rooms, and using these points:
  • There is no immediate challenge. I make this point because this is what gives some respite after changing season or entering a room. I think players should be rewarded for being able to kill stuff quickly and have a chance to smack faces in after manoeuvring their way to a season orb.
  • The difficulty cap is large, but not infinite. This is what facilitates season switching, in combination with -
  • The rate of difficulty increase is fairly slow/moderate. This means that you'll definitely think about changing the season over the course of a normal room.
  • Give most effects a way to dissipate with time. This means that if something has been around a while, it will have been removed by various, normally experienced room actions (like thorns and ice cubes), or it simply disappears after a while.
With this in mind I'd like to propose these changes:
  • Put all season mage season attacks on a warm-up. This means Autumn and Summer mages do not instantly cast.
  • Give all season mage season attacks a 1-projectile charging time. This means mages shoot once before casting.
  • Do something to make sure autumn mages do not hit their difficulty cap for the rest of the room as soon as they cast their season attack. Something like they summon 1/3 the number of tornadoes but they last 3x as long. I'm open to ideas. Anything could be possible if tornadoes are also reworked, but that's an entirely different topic.
  • Nerf autumn knights somehow. Most knight season attacks don't get in your way for anywhere near that long. Maybe instead they only do a single whirl, but keep doing them as long as you're in range. Or maybe allow perfect guarding to knock them out of their attack cycle, like orange slimes.
  • Alternatively/in addition, remove the programmed tornado-knight combo. It's a pain in the arse, and the fact that both are present anyway is challenge enough in itself.
  • Make winter knight season attacks slightly more challenging. Maybe something like they summon 2-4 ice spikes behind them on their journey. Something to make the ice a little less bearable.
  • Make summer knight season attacks slightly more challenging. Thing like allowing them to move and/or change direction when spinning their hammer. This means you'd need to give them a little bit of a wider birth.
  • Increase/remove the dissipation time on ice. It's not even that difficult anyway.
  • Add a fairly long dissipation time to fire. It's goddamn difficult as it is, and when it follows you around, that takes up your attention anyway, let alone moving against walls and slow enough to cover the room in as little as possible.
  • Give the summer hydra a longer break between spewing fire. considering how much of your time fire spewing takes up, it's nice to have a moment to hit a hydra/enemy every now and then. Currently it basically means "switch season immediately"
  • Remove the safe spots on the winter hydra's beams in the season hydras boss. Nuff said really. Actually would make winter a challenge and worth switching from.
  • Slow down the rate at which autumn hydras spit mushroom clouds, significantly. The mushrooms themselves aren't too much of a problem. The problem is shielding the clouds without getting a face full of hydra, or other enemies in normal rooms. Maybe even increase the number of mushrooms spawned to compensate.
  • Lastly as far as I can remember, add other shoes/gear with special effects that help in summer and autumn. For summer, maybe one that lets you destroy thorns in only one hit and gives a poison-gas style "immunity bar" to fire, meaning you have to stand in it for 3/4 of a second before getting set alight. For autumn, something that instantly throws you out of tornadoes and doubles the radius you can see while blinded.
I may add to this, and will make separate posts when I do. Anyone else is free to pitch in too.

And finally...

If all of this gets implemented, we end up with a low-ish rate of difficulty increase. If that is the case, I'd like to make one last addition to the season orb thing.

Case 5: In addition to everything else, allow mixed season orbs to spawn

If we have nicely balanced rooms with ways to reset them whenever we desire, a mixed season orb isn't even that bad. As long as you make sure you hit it a few times during a room, or stuff will get bad fairly quickly with all the empowered enemies.

Aight I'm done, and really need to get back to studying. Thanks MLG :mad: