EP changes upon entering a new Arcade room

Discussion in 'Suggestions & Feedback' started by The G-Meister, Feb 17, 2017.

Tags: arcade, balancing,
  1. The G-Meister

    The G-Meister Giga Slime

    The intro

    This post was long enough for tl:drs, which are in italics and blue. Having said that, I'd highly suggest reading this whole post through... except for the bit about the current state of Arcade. C'mon, grab your lunch and ingest (both your lunch and the information).


    You've probably come to this thread to explain how you're an Arcade veteran and you'd hate it if you couldn't burst out your Frosty Flamethrower in every room. Yes, you may be right. Yes, this idea may be terrible. Yes, this topic is highly controversial. However that doesn't mean you shouldn't give me a chance to explain myself. Please read this thread carefully (all apart from the section on how Arcade currently works). In addition, I've probably given you an assumption you may want to object to. Thank you.

    Arcade's design intentions :cool:

    During the course of writing this post, I decided to ask Teddy what the design decision/motivations behind making the mode were. Here is how the important parts of the conversation went (with times being GMT and "Today" being 16th February 2017):


    As a disclaimer, I was given full permission to quote this post. Here are what I think are the important things we can draw from this:
    • Arcade was initially supposed to be difficult to provide replayability during a time of little content, but is being subject to a rework of unknown scale to make it more accessible to the average player. I would assume that means the mode is being made easier, or the option to make it easier is being implemented, due to the median arcade floor being quite low, but this is irrelevant for this argument.
    • Moving forward, Arcade is intended to be (at least at this time) cheap to create compared with the development costs (and therefore development time) of Story.
    I would add in that it's supposed to feel like "Secrets of Grindea", but that's highly if not completely ambiguous and subjective, and therefore I will refrain from using this comparison directly. You should too.

    I'm also going to work under another assumption, that the mode would be tweaked in other areas to keep the difficulty the same, the time taken to complete the mode the same, and anything other factor the same, except for the relative effectiveness of skills, talents and items to one another. This is a change to such a fundamental mechanic that of course it's gonna have other effects, and definitely wouldn't be implemented without tweaks to other things in the mode.

    How Arcade currently works :fish:

    If you're not familiar with how Arcade works in relation to EP and what makes the best build, then this is the paragraph for you! What happens is, just like any screen change in Story, your EP bar is automatically filled to it's maximum current value (that is, Max EP minus EP blocks). The reason this has a different effect to story mode grinding is that you enter rooms very quickly, and the enemies are always there waiting for you. You're practically straight into the action with full EP to spend at your leisure.

    What is the side effect of this? The mode seems to favour burst damage skills more than DoT skills. These often require a lot of EP and do a lot of damage. This is quite a departure from Story, especially on Hard where EP regeneration is often the prime focus of a good magic build and is also highly valued in a 1H build with the use of Second Wind.

    The argument

    How this change would affect Arcade :eek:

    Having said that, I'm not here to discuss the side effects of having full EP upon entering a room. I'm here to explain how this change may allow Story to be balanced alongside with Arcade. Feel free to debate if this is a good idea or not as well.

    First, a reset to 0 EP upon entering a room :rolleyes:

    Well, what does this actually add to the mode? What are the benefits? Starting with 0 EP means skills are on less of a cooldown and more of a warmup. With standalone skills in other games, a cooldown essentially gives you a free pass to use all of your skills once, whereas a warmup means you have to regenerate them before using them. The current "cooldown" in Arcade is slightly dampened by the fact that all skills use the same currency (EP), but then significantly increased by the fact that you're straight in on the action after you enter a room.

    A "warmup" system means that EP regen is favoured just as much as it is in Story. It would turn a room into a bitesize Grinding session, perhaps with a few more enemies than normal.

    While one might argue that it makes certain skills less useful, that's because they're already less useful than others in Story anyway. In fact, this applies to gear and talents too. What this should do is reduce the development time spent balancing the mode around the skills, and increase the amount of development time available for things like balancing the skills in the first place, having the knock-on effect of balancing the mode.

    This is also in line with one of the mode's intentions - requiring less development costs.

    Second, it doesn't have to be 0 EP :confused:

    One thing that would make it slightly easier (but still having the same effect) would be to set EP to a small value (for example, enough to use one skill, EG 15 constant, or 20% of useable EP) upon entering a room. Another justification for this is that, for ranged builds, people often back off from their enemy to regenerate some EP before they fight.

    What value though? For a constant value, the more EP you have blocked off, the closer that number is to your maximum EP you can regenerate. If we used a fixed percentage of your total useable EP (that is, Max EP - any EP blocks) we avoid the risk of making summons slightly more viable. It also gives a point to using +Max EP items, as instead of just upping your maximum for when your EP would regenerate to full (which wouldn't often happen in this system), they also increase the amount of EP you have when you enter a room.

    Third and finally, dynamic EP between rooms? o_O

    We see the odd feature pause at the end of an Arcade room, only to continue when you enter the next room. For example, Frosty Friend's health regeneration. Really, I think that's a great idea, and wish it was applied to more things. EP could be one of those. However, we need to go about it in a more round-about way to avoid an issue I'll explain later.

    So, when you enter your first Arcade room, you start with a fixed (but arbitrary and insignificant for this argument) quantity of EP. As soon as you finish the room, the game takes the current status of your EP, and simulates it's regeneration forward in time, up until the point at which your time rank for the room would decrease (unless you've already got a C, so it regenerates to full), and freezes it at this value until you enter the next room of hostiles, at which point it continues on it's normal regeneration path, whether halfway through the post-skill cooldown of like 0.5 seconds, or actually regenerating.

    What we are trying to gain with this idea is the feeling that the time between you stopping one fight and starting another doesn't really exist. This essentially turns EP regeneration into that of one, larger grinding session. If you know you're gonna need EP in the next room, you can sit around and regen for a bit longer. If you know you're in a hard room and you might have time to regen in the next one, you can burn all your EP to beat the room quicker.

    Why the need for the simulation forward in time? This prevents the optimal strategy becoming "wait until your rank is about to decrease then kill the last enemy" to regenerate as much EP as possible. Even though it would be difficult to do this, that's still what the strategy would be, and I would think it's technically true for Frosty Friend's health regeneration already.

    This would also stop players being able to use Protect or Haste before rooms and then get their EP back as soon as they enter, effectively making it cost them no EP. I'm less concerned about this though, as support skills seem like they're going to be subject to a complete rework or a replacement.

    Is there a downside to this? I'm not sure one would call it a downside, but how do we handle skills used outside of battle? Maybe EP could regenerate like normal while out of battle, but then be set to the value as you enter your next battle? This doesn't remove the aspect of Protect and Haste being free though. Another solution could be not allowing players to use skills outside of battles, but this ruins the fun of spamming skills in a multiplayer doorway while waiting for someone to finish their shopping trip. I can't think of a good solution off the top of my head, but that's not to say this negative outweighs all the positives.


    So, what does all this gain? For the somewhat minor initial cost of development resources, we could have a mode in which skills can be balanced akin to Story. While this won't technically halve the development resources spent on balancing in the future, it could have a significant impact, as well as one infinitely more important thing - it significantly reduces the amount of discussion on the balancing of current and new skills in both Story and Arcade :D There will still be the odd thing of course (for example, related to healing or the recasting of ground-locked AOE skills when entering a new room), but that won't take away from it's significance.

    The storm has passed ;)

    I'd assume this is my longest post yet - in fact, I think I'm about to hit the character limit :eek: Definitely a very heavy topic, would like to hear other's opinions.

    ~G <3

    P.S. Fuck off did you actually read the whole article :mad:
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2017
  2. Own

    Own Moderator

    That was a lengthy, well-written post.

    I still disagree with it entirely under the basis that anything that slows down arcade is just going to be an annoyance to those who run it, though. :p And be a particular advantange to anyone with a 1h/2h melee build over magic.

    I can see it's use in story mode, though, to prevent things like the season temple insta-grinding rooms. Go in, use powerful skill against the small room with 3 knights and a wizard, leave, repeat.
  3. The G-Meister

    The G-Meister Giga Slime

    Why thank you. :D
    And that's why I put this in ;)
    There are some simple changes that can be made to speed it up. Decrease the number of rooms you have to fight before a boss. Decrease the number of enemies in each room. I'm sure there are other things as well, but either way, I don't think that would undermine the effectiveness of the idea significantly, when only a few people run the game, compared with the masses.
    The question I'd ask there is, is it not the case that more melee builds can be run than magic builds in Story? And what is the advantage that 1H/2H players gain over magic with this system that they wouldn't already have in Story?
  4. Own

    Own Moderator

    I don't like the idea of reduced room numbers. Each dungeon floor is already kind of small on the minimap, when you compare it to games like Isaac, Wizard's Lizard, Our Darker Purpose, etc. I don't like the idea of reduced enemies either. One of the appeals of Arcade is fighting larger, unique formations of enemies that Story doesn't provide.

    The ability to run up to enemies and begin smacking them for full damage immediately. Melee builds are strong enough to kill enemies with basic attacks, with their skills complimenting those attacks as needed. Magic builds need to keep their distance and run away. Decreasing the EP between rooms for no good reason and increasing the time magic builds need to run away seems a bit pointless unless the aim is to further frustrate magic users.
  5. The G-Meister

    The G-Meister Giga Slime

    I respect your opinion, but I'll say this again. I don't think that would undermine the effectiveness of the idea significantly, when only a few people run the game, compared with the masses. For games to do well, sometimes they need to make significant changes that aren't in the best interests of their long term and/or committed fan base.
    The difference we have with a full EP bar each room is that both a melee person and a ranged person can start dealing damage immediately. However, magic users still have the extra safety of range. Compared to a story grinding session, this makes ranged magic much more safe to use in Arcade because of that (essentially free) EP. I have experience of this as well. With my Meteor + Earth spike build, it was only viable at the start of rooms when you had loads of EP to use. After that it was just as slow as it was in Story with the EP regeneration which, on floors 7/8, quickly got me killed.

    What we're doing is preventing skills that rely on the free EP becoming more useful than they otherwise would be. And yes, that's gonna frustrate magic users, but read what I said in response to the other quote.
  6. Kana

    Kana Rabby

    I really like the idea, particularly example 3. I can see how it would help balance things.
    But if we are looking for a solution to make all abilities balanced in a way that reflects their balance in story mode, I think much harsher measures would need to be taken.

    Arcade is nice, because it lets you play at your own pace: you can blast through them as a challenge, or practice fighting a small horde per small room, in bite-size chunks. This is what makes Arcade what it is. But it is also what makes its balance different.

    Story combat is built around "parking the bus". Sitting in a large area, and allowing enemies to come from all directions, and relying on it. In fact, I think that all abilities are balanced for this, particularly magic.

    Ice Nova accounts for enemies coming from all directions. Flamethrower is not accounted for entering a room from the side with no chance of enemies spawning behind you.
    Plant Summon accounts for staying in a room for an extended period. Frosty Friend does not account for all enemies existing at start, before the player has a chance to aggro.
    Meteor accounts for having space to aim a shot before enemies attack. Haste does not account for enemies to be immediately within arms' reach.

    I'd rather not look at it this way myself, and perhaps that's why no one else has said it... But I don't think balancing Arcade to be like Story mode is possible. Not without taking away the room system. But that's what makes it fun.

    But @Own , I think that if we are still looking for the closest work-around, having EP regenerate only as long as enemies are in the room with you is the best solution. I like it to be fast-paced also, and to feel like I'm making progress, moving from room to room. But the room system is exactly what makes burst abilities so strong(and fast and bursty). This idea significantly reduces the overall underlying problem (though it doesn't solve it). :)
    And @The G-Meister , I think a better way to keep it faster paced, is either slightly lower health on regular enemies or for enemies to take a second to aggro. It would allow faster-paced builds to go fast, and slower-paced builds time to prepare, without having to avoid fewer enemies attacks "overall" in the run.
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2017

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