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W37-Razzmatazz

Forma and (over-)polarizing Warframes

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Hello! I have always spent my time playing and helping out my clan mates, rather than spending a lot of time on the forums. But in the last couple of months I’ve started committing my thoughts on Warframe to unicode, and I’m at a point where I am ready to share. I have many opinions and ideas, and I hope some can be valuable. Even though the ideas mostly fit together and form a coherent improvement for what I view as shortcomings in Warframe, I will try to separate them into more reasonably sized chunks.

I am sure my ideas are not unique, and many have been suggested in this place before. But I rather spend time writing than searching, so for now I will keep my suggestions purely my own. Feel free to link to any valuable previous discussions on the subject in reply.

 

I will assume that having more (viable) options as a player is a good thing, and having a very limited amount of options is not. I have read only a limited amount of research on the subject, and I am aware it’s not proven and probably not true in all circumstances. But I feel that, when it comes to modding in Warframe, this is not a far-fetched presupposition. Personally I enjoy both playing and modding more if I have lots of options.

Now that that’s out of the way let’s discuss Forma and polarized slots

For most Warframes, the first couple of extra polarized slots increase the amount of available options for modding, as you are effectively increasing mod capacity, and the majority of staple mods have way more drain than the 74/9 points you have available per slot. But since there are obviously fewer mods you can fit in a polarized slot, soon you start decreasing your possible options, and at a certain point very drastically. Because polarities are so strongly tied to a certain type of effect, very soon it’s hard to mod for something else entirely. Many builds just can’t use multiple Vazarin or Madurai polarities, but others are not possible without it. As a result, some combination of builds are just not possible on the same Warframe. You can (and I do) have multiple of the same Warframe to remedy this, but this is annoying (especially in the selection screen), expensive (extra parts, slot, potato, forma, time/opportunity cost), and the effectiveness is very limited anyway.

This problem could be partially relieved by reworking the mods. You could change/add more mods like Augur Secrets that have an effect that is not typical for that polarity - more offensive mods with Vazarin, more defensive mods with something other than Vazarin, etc. Or you could just decrease the drain on many staple mods, but that would reduce the point of Forma altogether. Also, reworking and re-balancing is an exceedingly difficult process, and might just as well introduce as many new problems as are being cleared up, while consuming a lot of development and play-testing effort.

A much easier solution would be that any slot that you apply a Forma to would match all polarities (except for Umbra). Any polarized slots that you get with the Warframe would be unchanged. This will not make Warframes any more powerful, as it will not make any builds possible that were not possible before, it will only increase your available options at any one time.

A variation of this idea would be that you could apply multiple polarities to a slot with multiple forma, or that the polarity would only become universal when applying a forma to an already polarized slot, but I feel this would just become too grindy. Adding a special kind of Forma to accomplish this would just make the option badly accessible, and I don't really see the point - if we think this is a good idea, why not make it universal.

The only downside I can think of is that right now adding a forma and the choice of polarity is something that you can put thought and care into. But what you lose in options at the time of adding the Forma, you get back many times over when modding afterwards.

I imagine DE is already playing with this idea, as was demonstrated when they added the aura forma.

Obviously, this is all equally applicable to weapons, companions and vehicles.

The function of Umbra forma could also be changed to fit better with this idea, but I will leave that for another post.
 

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The difference between polarity matching and non-polarity matching is so massive that the additional penalty from wrong-polarity is basically unnecessary. The game already makes a failure to match polarities drastically reduce the efficiency of your slots (and by extension the effectiveness of your Warframe) so it's not like people are going to suddenly be deciding to stick the wrong polarities into their slots on purpose. It seems that the "out of polarity mods penalize you" is just an unexamined assumption that formas should be tradeoffs when they really aren't.

I don't mind your idea, although I actually think that being able to polarize a slot multiple times to stack polarities and removing out-of-polarity penalties would work pretty well. It would be more grindy, but it wouldn't be unusably so and it would create a further forma sink that helps keep 'low tier' rewards like forma useful and desirable basically all the time, which is helpful in making things like fissures feel rewarding.

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It is trivial to make new polarities. The trade off is intended and would be implemented into the system if there were a new Forma or the existing ones were changed to this idea. Narrowing your choices for mods in exchange for the ability to slot high cost mods. That is the entire raison d'etre of Forma.

21 hours ago, W37-Razzmatazz said:

I imagine DE is already playing with this idea, as was demonstrated when they added the aura forma.

Auras are essentially meaningless at this point. People pick 2 or 3 out of all of them, if for nothing else than having the max amount of capacity with Steel Charge. It can't be used as an example of a ideological shift towards some Ultra Forma/complete change to the polarity system.

For all intents and purposes, there would be no point to polarities existing with the proposed changes.

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2 hours ago, peterc3 said:

For all intents and purposes, there would be no point to polarities existing with the proposed changes.

There is no point to polarities existing even now. They're a build complexity without much real purpose. About the only thing they accomplish is preventing people from running multiple builds on the same Warframe/Weapon, which I personally don't see as a good thing. At a stretch, I might be willing to concede that there's SOME challenge in attempting to fit multiple builds around a single set of slot polarisations, but I can't really think of a situation where that would be of benefit off the top of my head. It's complexity without a purpose, as far as I'm concerned.

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19 minutes ago, Steel_Rook said:

They're a build complexity

This is the entire reason. There's nothing more to them.

It is a cost to allowing high capacity mods. Get rid of polarities and there is no reason to not just cut the effectiveness of mods.

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I personally think that mod capacity itself should be removed. Majority of my burnout for warframe is trying to collect forma so I can make the builds for my frames so I can take them to new content. I could take my frame to different locations to level up, but I still have to deal with my frame not having all abilities available and it would not last long in higher levels.

I have a hate towards mod capacity and forma itself due to how much grind is required just to make ONE build on ONE of my frames. Then when new mods come out that look interesting, I probably have to use more forma to rearrange everything to fit it on. At the very least it would be nice if forma would not reset my frame back to level 1 every time.

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I like the idea of multi-forma-ing single slots to allow for each polarity added to it to still count as existing in that slot, rather than erasing. It still requires a ton of work re-ranking the forma'd thing. It then allows more flexibility in builds, unless they count on us wanting to own multiple copies of things with different forma configs.

Driving slot sales? Maybe... but I doubt it.

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Posted (edited)
15 hours ago, peterc3 said:

This is the entire reason. There's nothing more to them. It is a cost to allowing high capacity mods. Get rid of polarities and there is no reason to not just cut the effectiveness of mods.

I don't see how that follows. Allowing players to forma a mod to "all polarities" doesn't remove the cost of Forma. It just means players get more use out of their three Configs for the same amount of cost. What's the downside there? And in what way does that merit a reduction in mod effectiveness?

 

13 hours ago, (XB1)WafflyLearner89 said:

I personally think that mod capacity itself should be removed. Majority of my burnout for warframe is trying to collect forma so I can make the builds for my frames so I can take them to new content. I could take my frame to different locations to level up, but I still have to deal with my frame not having all abilities available and it would not last long in higher levels.

I tend to agree, somewhat. For the most part, the primary limiting factor of a build isn't mod capacity, but rather mod slots and mod availability. Capacity can almost always be "fudged" with enough Forma, it just ends up dragging the process out longer. About the only exception to this are Umbral mods, since their polarity is deliberately unavailable to most players. The net result of that, however, is that most people end up not really using them.

While I wouldn't go quite far enough to suggest removing capacity, I will agree that it feels like more of a time sink than an actual balance mechanic.

Edited by Steel_Rook
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On 2019-06-07 at 7:53 PM, W37-Razzmatazz said:

For most Warframes, the first couple of extra polarized slots increase the amount of available options for modding, as you are effectively increasing mod capacity, and the majority of staple mods have way more drain than the 74/9 points you have available per slot. But since there are obviously fewer mods you can fit in a polarized slot, soon you start decreasing your possible options, and at a certain point very drastically.

My friend, what you have done here is hit upon what is commonly known as the phrase 'specialisation breeds limitation'. It's a function in a very high amount of RPG games where they have skill specialisation instead of skill maxing.

It's also a function we see in nature, where animals change and evolve over time to match their environment, and if they change too much (such as evolve to only eat a certain type of nut or berry) the moment an environmental change occurs that removes or severely limits the thing they changed for, the species starts to die out.

A few games like to have a progression-based skill tree where over the course of the game you can gain every skill and use every part of the kit meaning that the game loop is 'getting stronger = more flexibility'. The issue with these is that you reach a point and then stop. You gain no more skill, you have every ability, your progression is no longer happening. These are often 'one and done' style games where the actual progression isn't the fun part, the gameplay is, like... Far Cry, where you can just keep going round and round shooting bad guys, clearing bases and getting the best gear out of the experience, and enjoy the 'role play' of a person being thrown into that situation and having to be a badass to get things done.

Other games go for the SBL function which encourages multiple play throughs, builds, specialisation for an effect, and also allows us to break down our specialisation and build it back up again into something else. This is commonly seen in some of the games that have lasted the test of time, such as the Elder Scrolls games (where it's not possible to max out all of the tech trees without cheats) or other traditional RPG type games like WoW.

Warframe has the SBL route, where making a build that's so specialised for the frame to do one thing literally means they have no flexibility to build for something else. (Warframe technically also has the Skill Maxing route, in the form of Focus, where you can max out everything, but you still can't use all five Schools at once, so... again, specialisation.)

But they give you the 'respec' option in the form of Forma and acquiring secondary versions of kit so that you can spec it out completely differently if you need to. This is in place of other games' literal Respec options where you grind up, pay a cost, and then reset your skills so you can spend those skill points into a different tree.

If another set of mods comes out, or another type of Forma (and yeah, I'm not happy about the existence of Aura forma, that's just... a topic I think is just made to annoy me...) that's where Forma comes in useful, because if you couldn't fit it on before, you can simply respec your frame for it.

Yes it takes a while, yes it can mean that a player has a half hour of grind before they can specifically do that, but that's kind of the point. It cautions players from making these min-max decisions lightly, knowing that a new mod can't simply be slotted in and experimented with.

We can achieve so much power with specialised builds, and the drawback, the limitation that DE has placed on us, is that it then limits us to that one thing we wanted to build for. Specialisation Breeds Limitation.

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I accepted the respec cost of formas long time ago but if DE decides to change this in the way the OP proposed i'll get used to it .

So if it happens good , if it doesn't still good .

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14 hours ago, Birdframe_Prime said:

Warframe has the SBL route, where making a build that's so specialised for the frame to do one thing literally means they have no flexibility to build for something else.

But they give you the 'respec' option in the form of Forma and acquiring secondary versions of kit so that you can spec it out completely differently if you need to. 

I agree with your analysis of what Warframe is at this point. But what I cannot find in your argument is how the SBL concept is positive in the scope of Warframe slot polarities, or adds in any way to the experience of playing the game. SBL is already present within the mod system: depending on the set of Warframe skills you wish you play for, when modding you can choose either to to maximize some some skills while sacrificing others, or stay generalized but with each individual skill less powerful. 

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We can achieve so much power with specialised builds, and the drawback, the limitation that DE has placed on us, is that it then limits us to that one thing we wanted to build for. Specialisation Breeds Limitation.

Specialization of a build is not the issue here: if you want a great general build, you need a specific polarity configuration just as much. The limitation at the level of polarities is not even an absolute one: you still have the option of just getting another frame. The only thing the current system really does is gate the options behind a huge time investment. I argue that this is detrimental to the fun and the experience of playing the game.

Also, you are saying this almost as if it's dogma for all game mechanics. I see it as a mechanism that can be employed to encourage the player to think about choices, and make trade-offs.

I don't think there is much merit in having to either re-forma your existing frame, making your old build impossible, or having to acquire another slot, Warframe parts, potato and bunch of forma, just so you can use a different specialized, or even generalized build. The only alternatives are just not using all those awesome mods you find and rank up and keep using non-maxed versions of mods, or just keep every frame you have focused on the limited amount of builds you can do with the particular set of polarities you decided to put in. I don't find those options particularly appealing.

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10 minutes ago, W37-Razzmatazz said:

Also, you are saying this almost as if it's dogma for all game mechanics

No, no, you misunderstand me.

I'm simply saying that the situation you find to be limiting on you, and the solution that you find irritating, are the exact desire of this game's creators. It's come up before, been asked before, and the answer is simply that, yes, it's what they want out of this.

Forma and secondary frames are our Respec, rather than having a way to be able to use all the builds on all of the frames, meanwhile it's not just the mods and number of mod slots that are the limiting factors.

The available mods, their relative strength for your build, and the polarities/mod points needed to achieve that build are the limits. That's the part you're trying to bypass. Because while, yes, having a Forma create all polarities would be more flexible, that's exactly the opposite of what they want the player to experience.

As I said, it's been raised to DE before, it's been discussed to death, and the only hint of a compromise on this topic took four years to arrive; the Aura Forma. Four years down the line? Who knows. But as of the current state of play, DE really does want to limit you with all three; the mod selection, the number of slots and the polarisation system making builds that are specialised (even if for that particular frame it's 'generalised' it's still specialised compared to the base frame), and then needing to 'respec' or at least 're-grind' to change them.

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4 minutes ago, Birdframe_Prime said:

No, no, you misunderstand me.

I'm simply saying that the situation you find to be limiting on you, and the solution that you find irritating, are the exact desire of this game's creators. It's come up before, been asked before, and the answer is simply that, yes, it's what they want out of this.

Good, that's what I was hoping. Dogma is a discussion killer. For clarity's sake: irritation is not the right word to describe my feelings on this. I just don't see the reason for it, and I argue the game would be more fun to play if the mechanic was tweaked for more flexibility in choices. I see an opportunity for improvement.

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As I said, it's been raised to DE before, it's been discussed to death, and the only hint of a compromise on this topic took four years to arrive; the Aura Forma. Four years down the line? Who knows. But as of the current state of play, DE really does want to limit you with all three; the mod selection, the number of slots and the polarisation system making builds that are specialised (even if for that particular frame it's 'generalised' it's still specialised compared to the base frame), and then needing to 'respec' or at least 're-grind' to change them.

Since you are clearly knowledgeable on past discussion, would you be able to give any sort of summary of the arguments given in favor of this limitation? Or at least link some previous discussion where some good arguments were voiced? So far you are just saying that this is working as intended, but that is not an argument why it is good for the enjoyment of the game.

The only reason I can read in your words for the persistence of this mechanic is that it is a way to increase the time you can spend playing this game,  "pad the content" - to put it in a somewhat negative way.

Whereas I can see how that could seem to be obviously true, I think even that could be argued: I'm 2400 hours into this game, and I have spent more plat on forma than I care to know (one a day is never enough), I have multiple copies of all frames I play regularly and still I feel the limitations of my chosen polarities all the time. I cannot try out new builds and other ways of playing my frames, possibly having a new experience in the game, unless I repeat a long process that I have already been through so many times already. If anything, I'd expect many players would be repelled by this sooner than they would be encouraged to play more.

I do see the merit in specializing a Warframe, and thus allowing for having multiple copies of that Warframe to make sense, but that could be achieved in other ways as well, ways that are maybe less limiting. Just brainstorming: applying a focus lens could influence mods with matching polarity: like make them 1 point cheaper or slightly more effective. Or an augments could be permanently installed in a Warframe instead of implemented as separate mod. I do not want to go into these things in particular right now, I'm just bringing it up because I think there could be many ways to have this effect, without the heavy limiting aspect of the current system.

I would immediately concede that my proposed solution is quite extreme, and could have consequences that I completely missed. But that does not detract from the point I'm making about the current state of the game in any way. I would be glad to see any change to the game that alleviated this, not just my proposed (and very simple) solution.

Re-examining MJ12's reply, I realize that just removing the penalty for having the wrong polarity would already go quite a way in improving your options for a frame at any given time, without losing possible intended merits of specialization, and it could be a decent, less extreme alternative.

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2 minutes ago, W37-Razzmatazz said:

would you be able to give any sort of summary of the arguments given in favor of this limitation?

Unfortunately there wasn't any given, as such. The problem with these discussions is that all the answer DE ever has to give is 'that's the way we intend it' and 'we're not looking into that'.

I'm not saying that's fair, or that it's the right way to handle it, just that it's the response DE have given to many, many such topics. A dedicated Augment slot? Not looking into it. Excalibur Prime still being Founder Only? That's they way we intend it.

The arguments in favour of multi-polarity Forma haven't changed over time either, though, which is why I don't think it's going to get anywhere. All the arguments you've made in favour, which I admit do have some weight to back them up, are just as relevant as the ones that came up previously, and are better worded versions of some of them.

But when we got stone-walled as a response before... even with better worded arguments in favour of your idea, it's still essentially the same idea and the only response we've ever had to it are words to the effect of 'we hear you, but we're not doing that'.

There is something I would do, though;

If a frame has been freshly polarised, as in you're back to Rank 0 and you have gained 0 Affinity on it whatsoever, you should be able to 'correct' that slot to another polarity (so if you mis-clicked and accidentally applied a Vazarin instead of a Naramon, you could switch it to the right one at no cost). Basically take away the direct penalty for an accidental polarity, which is one of the biggest complaints I've personally heard.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Birdframe_Prime said:

Unfortunately there wasn't any given, as such. The problem with these discussions is that all the answer DE ever has to give is 'that's the way we intend it' and 'we're not looking into that'.

Ah, alright, you're not trying to give a counter argument, you're just voicing DE's response so similar previous suggestions. You might even be in agreement with me. You did not make that clear to me in your previous replies 🙂

I did find some previous posts (back to 2013) about this subject (at least about my proposed solution), but I could not find many good arguments in favor or against, let alone any attempt of trying to compare them. Nor did I see any reply from DE on the subject. It  Actually, I do not care to know how DE responded in the past, even if it was dismissive, unless it was a proper argument, or a response to one. By the way, I can totally understand responses being dismissive at times, if the 'suggestion' being responded to is not argued in any way. Suggestions about mechanics without arguments are just cluttering up the forums and hiding the suggestions that are argued.

My goal here was not to bring up anything new, nor to illicit any (positive or negative) response from DE directly, just to try to argue my view of the problem and a possible solution in a manner that makes sense, so that any DE employee reading this (and agreeing with it) could possibly use my reasoning in discussions on the subject within the development team.

Edited by W37-Razzmatazz
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2 minutes ago, W37-Razzmatazz said:

You did not make that clear to me in your previous replies

Apologies ^^ that's a common mistake I make.

But you will almost never find any thread with an actual reply from DE. The most popular topics are generally cherry picked and answered on the DevStreams, Prime Times or the informal streams done between two Devs on various topics (like the one explaining the difference between Exilus Augments and regular Augments).

That said, in my personal opinion on the matter, there must always be a point where the ideals from the Devs are balanced against player enjoyment, and the modding system has been one of the most contentious over time.

I'm falling on the side of not ever putting in a form of universal polarity forma (I wasn't in favour of putting it in for the Aura Forma either), because in this particular case the 'player enjoyment' factor is directly at odds with the intent of the system.

The system has the answers for the situation, and the reason you want the change is because you don't like the answers you have, you don't like the methods you have. The basic reason you want change is not because you don't have options, but instead because those options aren't, to you, good enough.

While to me, those options are more than I've ever needed. I don't have anything against the grind, the extra acquisitions needed, I actively enjoy the small time of anticipation I get from acquiring a new mod and then doing a new Forma run to reset the Frame before I can slot on the new mod.

The limitations and irritations that you speak of, I actively find an enjoyable part of the game.

So... When it comes down to just me, I disagree with you on a fundamental level because of that.

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On 2019-06-07 at 7:53 PM, W37-Razzmatazz said:

A much easier solution would be that any slot that you apply a Forma to would match all polarities

Better idea: any slot you polarise twice will accept both polarities. So forma with a V and then a D and it will still cost 2 forma and need levelling twice, but means you won't be wrecking one loadout to make another possible.

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Either they need to get rid or mod capacity as it just makes applying forma and leveling your frame multiple times a chore, resulting in players probably getting bored with that frame.

OR

Remove the whole resetting your frame back to rank 0 every time you forma cause it is nothing more than an annoyance at this point or make it that a forma applies all polarities at once (both combined together would be recommended).

Either way, the way the mod system limits customization has no pros that outweigh the cons in the long run.

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if it's such a problem then maybe it would be better to just let the polarization stack. 

Say a slot you formad for madurai then formad again to use vazarin. Make it so it would still be compatible for reduction on madurai too.

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