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pittax

Liches are not Nemeses (detailed feedback and suggestions)

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Just found this in my notes, written it up ages ago, but never posted. Figured that I might as well drop it here, even if it's a bit late to the party.

 

Firstly, I have to say that I'm yet to find a person that actually enjoys the lich system beyond the  funny lich names and ridiculous bugs (my favourite is lich possessing the defence cryo-pod, it gaining the hp bar and starting to move around). I've seen a lot of complaints, but I don't think that people are focusing on the right reasons why the lich system is not fun. Here are some of my thoughts why he Liches are not fun and some thoughts on how to address them.

 

1. Lich grind is demotivating

Canonically there are 4 types of gamers: explorers, achievers, socializers and killers, with their own motivations. While I would love, if warframe would make a decent effort to fix their inconsistent lore and build an actually compelling world (for the explorers) and add some reasons to build communities (for the socializers),  right now it focuses almost solely on the achievers. In other words, getting all-the-things is almost only motivating factor. It's not ideal, but it works, only you have to keep  in mind when designing content.

With liches, you are hunting for 13 weapons. On average that's some 38 lich kills, or 25 duplicates. Lets assume that it takes 2 hours to get rid of the lich and there is no trading. You roll for the loot when you lock-in your lich. This means that you will be working towards the desired goal for 26 hours and you can look forward towards 50 hours of being told that you are not getting anything at the end of the mission. 50 hours of pain, and this is assuming that you are happy with any % weapon. If you want the ephemeras - make that 126 hours, if you want good % weapons... good luck.

If you are willing to trade, the system doesn't become half as bad, but given  that the lich grind by itself is not very fun - it's not enough to motivate people.

 

2. The Ritual Suicide

This issue has been brought up a lot - supposedly people don't like to get killed and DE's stance seems to be "it's fine if stuff kills you". In my opinion, the devil is in the details - the problem is not that the players get killed by liches but HOW the players get killed by liches.

Fist issue is simple miscommunication. I understand that the idea is "you find the opening > you stab it with the parazon > it does not work > lich murders your face". But that's not how it is telegraphed in game. There is no visual indicator of the stab failing (other than your face being murdered). The simplest way to address it would have the lich "level-up" during the stab, taunt you about failing and only then murder you.

The second issue is the fact that we are not facing a superior foe and losing - we have to choose to die. Yes, technically you can get lucky, but with those odds it's not a fight - it's plain suicide. A lot of people are not OK with that. If lich randomly came after you, chased you through the level and killed you, with us being powerless to stop it, it would be one thing. But we have to deliberately choose to go to the lich and die. That's just a plain wrong message to send. Add in the fact that you die 3-4 times per lich, it's no wonder people are feeling bad about it.

In the ideal world (where wf AI is not crap), you would want a powerful Lich chasing the player throughout the level, but you could change it to work even with the current AI:

  • Have the lich teleport to the player after a random interval of time, if it can't attack,
  • Have the lich slowly growing in power and reduce the times between teleports as the time goes by (getting a ominous glow is a classic),
  • Have failed stab immediately get lich to full power instead of just killing you, making the escape extremely hard.

At the end of the day, it wouldn't change much "on paper", but I can guarantee that players wouldn't feel half as bad about getting killed by their liches.

 

3. Resource stealing is not "fun"

One of the good design approaches - if something does not serve the core goal of the design, it should not be included. In case of games, the goal is having fun (and player retention from dev point of view) and liches stealing stuff does not help with either. I know that this was added to give some presence to the liches, but trying to motivate players by annoying them is a bit silly.

One potential solution to this would be to turn liches into glorified extractors - have them accrue "interest" on any resources collected. It does not have to be a lot, but it has to be visible to the player when it opens the lich - a list of stuff that is stolen, and liches additions to it. If it scaled with the amount of time lich was alive - even better, now we have a small reason NOT to kill the lich. (As a bonus, it also helps with the player retention a bit.)

Naturally, it's possible to expand this in the future, by making liches undertake small projects (like mini femorians/invasions), if they gather enough resources, but even the basic resource interest is enough to turn a mechanic that is detrimental to player interest into something that is at least a bit motivating.

 

4. Liches are note Nemeses

Ok, not everyone cares about the lore and reasons for killing, but thematically Liches are a plain failure. Players were asking for Nemesis - an entity that is akin to a rival and represents a constant threat. Original concepts showed/mentioned on streams weren't far of the idea - it's a threat that you can't just easily kill off in an hour or two of work (even if we have to suicide a few times along the way).

At some point in the development they gained loot tables, and stuff with a loot table obviously has to be farmable, and farmable stuff should be killable in a reasonable amount of time etc. It went from a cool world-building concepts to just another loot pinata.

I imagine you could go about addressing this in many ways, but my approach to making liches meaningful at this point would be:

  • Remove the progression items and high rng stuff from liches (so the whole current loot table). Instead give them some sort of guaranteed trophies, stashes of resources etc.
    If you must have rng on them, make it something that gets some chance to appear on the lich every day, no every kill (just please don't do ridiculous single digit %).
  • Move liches from the front lines - have them stay in their ship/base, and only have an option to attack them directly 1/week or have it limited in some other way.
  • Give liches more meaningful presence - in addition to current resource stealing, give them some death squads, deploy temporary nightmare modifiers in your missions and mess with players with other minor ways.
  • Add more meaning to thrall missions - make them into tactical strikes to decrease lich influence, retrieve stolen resources, farm kuva weapons etc.

Of course it would be possible to dial down the kill difficulty on the current liches, turn them into some sort of lieutenant and just add a proper Nemesis as their boss, but that feels a bit of a waste.

 

5. Other Minor issues

Current opting-in mechanic isn't really idea, as the game doesn't tell you what you are getting into. The easiest way to fix this, would be to simply have an option to order a hit on the lich from red veil or steel meridian 1/week to just take care of the lich.

Spreading out of the nodes across the whole of the star chart is becoming a problem already. It's already almost impossible to find a squad for some of the missions outside of peak times and it can only get worse from here. Having some shared tactical strikes against the liches, that were not directly tied to the star chart could be a better approach to let players share the burden between them.

Edited by pittax
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They seemed cool when first showcased...

But now, post-release, they are little more than that sad and edgy kid at school who thinks you are his rival and tries every way imaginable to provoke you. Except you don't care about him in the slightest because you just want to move on with your life. And when you do care you kinda trash him and move on, leaving him behind like the immemorabe ant he was. 

The issue with Liches is mostly the amount of needless grind, repetitiveness and rng. And the fact that the system was pretty much butchered from what it proomised to be, to what we actually got.

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I am down for the Kuva Lich system overhaul. or rework. or whatever it may be called. I believe DE can change it to a better, good thing to enjoy, SOON™. but i can't guarantee how SOON™ it is.

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37 minutes ago, (PS4)Hikuro-93 said:

And the fact that the system was pretty much butchered from what it proomised to be, to what we actually got.

Isn't this the case with most of the things DE promised? Over promising, under delivering.

Edited by SazerTarious
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I really think they should skip the current tripple mod setup and just have us find clues to the where the Lich is holding out. Then when we finaly find him we could duke it out with him, the end result being RNG based. No not in the way the current auto-kill-on-mod-fail works, but more of a mister-lich-manages-a-villainous-escape-whahahahaha-see-you-next-time-chump kinda thing. For each escape he manages, the chance for the next one is reduced. They can also tie the reward system to this and give us 3 outcome options when we finaly capture him.

Vanquish, as it works now, we get his loot.

Convert, as it works now, he becomes our buddy.

Shame/mock/abuse, we dont kill the lich, we dont convert the lich but we do dishonor him. This could lead to a myriad of things, we could steal his weapon at this point (and the possible ephemera) only to have him come back for vengeance later on. Something that could happen even if we have another lich in progress. The shaming/abuse thing would also result in him leveling and getting new perks and weapons, same weapon as before but with automatically better bonus stats. And say if you turned him initially with Volt but shamed him with Saryn, then he'd get a mix of abilities based on both electric and poison kits. Something like electric, poison, electric, poison for an even split. The weapon element would stay as the original one, even if a frame with another damage type does the shaming. This mostly due to the RNG nature a takedown would have, which could screw you over on the weapon if you have the wrong frame at the moment.

And regarding his vengeance thing, he'd simply be another assassin type, though he'd always be the level he is, so people should be aware of if they are at a point in the game where they can afford upping his level and live with his possible vengeance. It would make it possible for him to team up with any new lich you spawn. It could possibly also run you risks of losing converted liches if they appear at the same time on a map as the shamed lich.

The problem is how many shamed liches we would be allowed to have in play at the same time. Maybe they can just set a limit of 5 active liches at a time, if all are shamed and on a path to vengeance, no new ones can be spawned. That would help people lock in 5 different weapons they want to get to max stats for instance and it would spice up normal missions aswell since it would bring a big chance that one of them appears in a mission. There is also the question regarding how many times we'd be allowed to shame the same lich. I'd say infinitely, so you can actively level up the weapon damage bonus to max if you like on one lich.

Edited by SneakyErvin
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What is this? An intelligent, well-explained, constructive post? In the General section? On this forum? I can hardly believe my eyes.

I jest, I jest. As a game designer myself, allow me to add my proverbial two cents to your points, one by one.

POINT 1

I *think* that's the idea? Like, you say that the grind is bad, but it becomes much less tedious once you factor in trading: that's likely intended to be that way. I think the *intention* here was not for the system to be a "gotta get to the big prize in under ten minutes then sell the rest for plat" kind of deal, but rather a "Imma just try my luck at it, convert any lich that doesn't carry stuff I want, and then trade with my pals at the clan" kind of deal, actively encouraging the "socializing" part you mentioned in your own reasoning. Granted, the execution is more than a bit questionable, but I believe the intention was something along those lines. Meaning, just by having fewer but more desirable rewards up for grabs the issue could be, if not solved, at least alleviated: like, if there are five prizes and all of them are good, even if you get the same prize twice chances are you'll find someone who doesn't have it and is willing to trade, but if there are twenty prizes and you get the absolute worst nobody wants, then you're pretty much stuck with it. So yeah, IMO here the problem is easier to solve than you're making it sound.

POINT 2

I 100% agree with you here, as you made some excellent arguments.

POINT 3

I 100% agree with you on this one as well.

POINT 4

IMO here the issue is not as clear-cut, black-and-white as you're making it sound. You need to remember that, in videogames, decision-making on the player's part is usually a two-layers affair: in order to decide that I want a guy dead I need to hate him from a lore/storyline standpoint, and I also need to see a reward in it from a gameplay standpoint. When I look at liches, the issue I see is that lore-wise one has no reason to care about them (they're not like, say, the Stalker, who was built up as a nemesis over time, they're just a bunch of dudes who showed up one day), meaning that the only possible thing that could motivate me into going after them would be the rewards from a gameplay standpoint... But those suffer from the issues discussed in the previous points, so that aspect too fails to properly motivate me into caring about them. In such a context, IMO even the fixes you're proposing wouldn't solve the issue: they would help if this system was a new and improved way of working pre-existing nemesis-type characters into the latest iteration of the plot (Stalker and his acolytes, faction assassins etc), but for a bunch of random dudes it's not going to be enough. The issue here is similar to the Railjack, in that it's something that doesn't FEEL like it adds anything to the game because, at the end of the day, all you're doing is taking care of a bunch of objectives in order to get your hands on a specific reward, but said objectives come right out of left field, are unrelated to anything else you're doing on the star chart, and are never mentioned again nor do they impact anything at all once you do go back to the star chart.

Then again, both the archwing and the open world content on Earth/Venus suffered from a similar problem at first, but it was if not solved at least mitigated over time, as elements were added to them that tie into other parts of the game, helping the whole deal feel more coherent. I can only pray that a similar evolution will affect the liches as well.

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14 minutes ago, SazerTarious said:

Isn't this the case with most of the things DE promised? Over promising, under delivering.

Sadly enough yes. It's ok to dream, it's ok to share those dreams with the audience. But they should leave the hype for when they actually have something close to being finished and palpable. Instead of advertising it in a scripted demo, and a misleading one at that, 1+ years before.

Now the interesting question. Why does DE overhype stuff? They sure avoid acknowledging issues unless they have a good answer, which is a generally reasonable practice. See the cross-progression topic. What does DE say? "We don't know. We'll adress it when we have something worthwhile about it". Why not this stance for content that is still very far from being reality, and will need lots of changes from what was advertised?

Why over-advertise stuff that will only create a nasty and disappointing suprise later down the line, and shut up when there are actual issues that need acknowledgement? That is a major flaw imho.

Edited by (PS4)Hikuro-93
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4 minutes ago, (PS4)Hikuro-93 said:

Sadly enough yes. It's ok to dream, it's ok to share those dreams with the audience. But they should leave the hype for when they actually have something close to being finished and palpable. Instead of advertising it in a scripted demo, and a misleading one at that, 1+ years before.

Now the interesting question. Why does DE overhype stuff? They sure avoid ackowledging issues unless they have a good answer, which is a generally reasonable practice. See the cross-progression topic. What does DE say? "We don't know. We'll adress it when we have something worthwhile about it". Why not this stance for content that is still very far from being reality, and will need lots of changes from what was advertised?

Why over-advertise stuff that will only create a nasty and disappointing suprise later down the line, and shut up when there are actual issues that need acknowledgement? That is a major flaw imho.

Agree, let's not derail the og's post or else silent players up police will show up and remove this thread completely.

But regarding the original post, yes i 100% agree that lich system needs a major overhaul, and tbh as 6-7 years veteran i have played this repetitive game and enjoyed it a lot, but this kuva lich system is on whole another level of repetitiveness and boring. That's why i have only killed 2 liches and will probably wait for few months before this is fixed and will try it then, like everything else in warframe new system at launch is terrible just give it few months, it will become what it should have been in the first place.

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Anything that will get rid of that automatic death when attempting a mercy would be an improvement to me and get's my support/upvote.

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4 minutes ago, TearsOfTomorrow said:

POINT 1

I *think* that's the idea? Like, you say that the grind is bad, but it becomes much less tedious once you factor in trading...

Oh, it's very much the idea. It's added in as a long grind to extend the play time. I'm not saying that it's the worst thing about the liches, just pointing out that it's not motivating enough, even with the addition of trading (and high% weapons is just whale bait and demotivating for everyone else). I specifically didn't add suggestions for this point, because addressing some of the following points (and making the whole endeavour more fun) would sort of address this point.

 

4 minutes ago, TearsOfTomorrow said:

POINT 4

... The issue here is similar to the Railjack, in that it's something that doesn't FEEL like it adds anything to the game because, at the end of the day, all you're doing is taking care of a bunch of objectives in order to get your hands on a specific reward, but said objectives come right out of left field, are unrelated to anything else you're doing on the star chart, and are never mentioned again nor do they impact anything at all once you do go back to the star chart.

Well yes, that's Warframe in a nutshell - DE doesn't bother with the world-building. Outside of major quests it's a disconnected mess. Some attempts to addressing that would definitely be appreciated and how liches (or anything else) can fit into that is obviously not a clear cut issue.

Instead I'my trying to suggest one of the ways to change them to at very least fit the original promise of "nemeses", as they very definitely are not at this point. It really irks me when devs refer to them as such in the streams after their release.

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11 minutes ago, (PS4)Hikuro-93 said:

Why does DE overhype stuff?

For the same reason why all other companies in all manners of fields (from games to movies to cars to whatever the hell) do it: because nowadays the internet reaches more people than television does, and on the internet being noticed, making an impact, creating interest and hype, is not and never has been about quality content or intelligent ideas. Rather, it is and always has been about shouting louder than the competitors: is the product ready? It doesn't matter, because tomorrow the competitors will announce something big, so by tomorrow we must announce something big too, or we risk the spotlight not being on us for 0.00938 nanoseconds.

Basically, it's your every day internet attention whoring, but on the scale of a company. The issue here is that the devs are in a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" kind of scenario, because if they don't rely on overhyping stuff the higher-ups will chew them out for allowing the spotlight to not be on them for even a milisecond, because most execs of most companies are still stuck in that "there's no such a thing as bad publicity" and "the important is to get people to constantly talk about us" mentality from the '80s. But if they do rely on overhyping stuff then they, not the company execs, will be the ones facing the negative backlash from the fans: it is the darkest and most unfair side of this business, is what it is.

Source: I work in this field myself, and 98% of my job involves dealing with this dilemma all day everyday... And I mean, I'm an indy developer who's part of a very small-scale reality: I can only imagine that things would be exponentially worse for people working on something as big as Warframe.

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I agree with the premise. Liches as they stand are not nemesis. They are a glorified assassination mission. Mercury's Vor, but stretched out over a couple hours, and the Seer that drops glows in the dark.

I have made a text-based web game to illustrate my suggestions for liches, and it converges with what you are saying in your fourth point. I disconnected most rewards (kuva weapon included) from permakills, added Assets that give the lich more variety and can be destroyed for loot, reworked the murmur system to give the lich more longevity (which it can have now that the loot doesn't come from permakills), and an Intel system to make interacting with the lich on a strategic level more interesting, with special missions to recover stolen loot, destroy assets, and all kinds of stuff.

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21 hours ago, pittax said:

At some point in the development they gained loot tables, and stuff with a loot table obviously has to be farmable, and farmable stuff should be killable in a reasonable amount of time etc. It went from a cool world-building concepts to just another loot pinata.

 

 

 

They have too some be farmable and they have to be give good loot this is not the problem. This system has based from Shadow of Mordor series which we can get loots and challenge at the same time and that time is a very small window. I mean have played both of the shadow of mordor games more than 200 hours and didn't get bored from it cause system feels like alive. I can get there should be take more time on warframe to take down a lich but it shouldn't be like this , cause if you are lucky one lich may die in 10 minutes (yes , in one of my  39 lich hunts I manage to kill it by luck on first try ) Games needs a coop aspect too. Here is my solution for the some of the problem:

  • There should be no thralls farming on anywhere , it should be like in the shadow of mordor series. First of all liches needs more dialogs secondly thralls turn to bodyguards we should find at the and of the invaded node as a miniboss like thing, and thralls should have diffrent models as well, cause right now they are just lazy desinged place holders and  nothing more. We should interogate them after we killed them and after 10 or 15 thralls we should know all the requim spots and mods. In the meanwhile liches can invade us we cound't kill them but we can overpower them to escape or they can overpowered us. if we clear all the thralls we should find the exact node for him spawn and fight with him like a capture mission and if we didn't kill his thralls also there should be way to spawn him so we can fight with him and all of the remaining thralls at the same time but more of a challanging fight . There should be other liches in other nodes too and actually they may have cooperation or skirmishes between them as well like in the original source.
  • Liches have grab attack wich could kill many of the none tank frames , this is not a problem for me cause I am mostly using brutes as warframe and they can get punches but if you are a mag main or even a frost main that atack could kill you in one shot , atacks like this should have changed to skill based atacks like in dark souls and some hack and slash games we should able too defend or dodge some atacks with our reflexes and grab animation should have changed to a clash animation like in old god of war games (after the clash if lich succed it could kill us , if we succed we put a huuuge damage on to lich or might even knocked down him ) 
    Long story short we need a more active combat
  • And most importantly they shound't be status immune
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DE couldn't care less about the community feedback on Liches (and in general tbh) even if they specifically ask for feedback...

"Vitriolic hate" of the community for the Liches is their justification for not touching the Liches.

I for one welcome every single thread about Liches, even if I won't make another thread myself I will post in every single one I find.

(this as been copy pasted from another related thread but valid)

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Well.. you cannot have a nemesis that you can kill in seconds if not for the Parazon gating. I can literally kill a dozen of level 5 liches together, if it was not for the parazon and 1 shot scripted mechanic (and even that I can circumvent). 

In my opinion the whole parazon and its mechanics are bad design.

And you know what? We can move past all this if:

  1. There are some mechanics to the fight with liches.
  2. The grind to vanquish/covert the lich is streamlined to be around 2 hours.
  3. Rewards for playing lich missions is substantially higher. 

The current design has too many layers of RNG in terms of progress (not even talking about weapons), it is really lame. And the rewards are... bad. You spend between 1-4 hours (depending on your progress luck) with no rewards to end-up with mostly a MR fodder weapon, which hopefully you do not already have. I could use this time to run 20 minutes Mot like 10 times and end-up with 40 relics. 

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On 2020-01-13 at 10:51 PM, pittax said:

Firstly, I have to say that I'm yet to find a person that actually enjoys the lich system beyond the  funny lich names and ridiculous bugs

Actually, count me as one

No, seriously, no trolling.

I wish i could explain detail why, it simply clicked when i realize i do not have to kill my lich at all,  if i don't want to, and that the system does rely on me to do that .... to keep the lich alive because realistically, that's the only way something with loot can stay alive that long in a game like this. I used to hate the lich system up to that point when i realize what DE actually trying to achieve. (or at least my vague interpretation of it)

Not hyping and have low expectation do contribute to it in someway i guess, i did not hate it fast enough/

 

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I am waiting for huge fix for liches in 30 days , I mean DE mostly always fix their content (for example plains of eidolon. Current state compare to release of the content is huge and now plains is a very decent concept and I am sure we will many more content on there )  We only need to trust them and don't burnout ourselves while waiting .

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13 minutes ago, Orakan said:

I am waiting for huge fix for liches in 30 days , I mean DE mostly always fix their content (for example plains of eidolon. Current state compare to release of the content is huge and now plains is a very decent concept and I am sure we will many more content on there )  We only need to trust them and don't burnout ourselves while waiting .

Tell that to the Conclave community, or whatever seems to be left of it. DE has failed before, and there have been plenty of times where feedback is selectively considered. Only through continued criticism can we hope that they finally wise up & improve.

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Just want to add this here. One of the most ultimate, top of the list, #1 objectives in just about every video games is to NOT DIE. When you don't die, you can complete the rest of the objectives. It always gets under my skin whenever dying becomes the strategy forward when there is a clear alternative to NOT dying. I get it, everyone plays how they want to play, but it always makes me feel like it is poor game design when your players will readily commit suicide to get from point A to point B faster or for a shiny.

That said, a nice, choke slam or chucking your butt across the room into a wall, and dealing non-lethal damage, would be much cooler after a failed parazon strike then getting Batman v Bane 'd time and time again. Plenty of other ideas/options out there other then committing to suicide to move forward.

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A good part of the disconnect for me comes from the fact that the murmurs and lich appearances are isolated to their own missions. The lich doesn't feel like any sort of menace, it's just a loot bag that you choose to hunt down at your leisure. The ritualization of the process of murmur farming and stabbing leveling them up doesn't help either, it feels like you're just going through motions to move from lich to lich.

How about making it so that there are no controlled territories, and no leveling (or maybe a vastly tweaked setup that doesn't heavily punish you for insufficiently planned stabs). Thralls can appear anywhere, and give you murmurs when you kill them. The lich can appear anywhere as well, and when it does, it takes all of the loot from that particular mission. When a lich appears, there's no penalty for taking a potshot at it with whatever parazon mods you have equipped, meaning that even if you don't know anything you can still start figuring out the first mod you need more organically.

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Long story short until a huge fix come for the liches nobody wants to do the lich content after first 5 liches

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33 minutes ago, Orakan said:

Long story short until a huge fix come for the liches nobody wants to do the lich content after first 5 liches

More or less unless maybe you buy "cheap" weapons for the MR. Which shows just how bad it is.

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I have every weapon and only need better rolls for my brakk but and want to get the shockwave ephemera too but I realy realy realy don't want to farm liches anymore cause in this state they are boring and feels like a burnout. Hope our solutions in this topic will be considered by DE

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On 2020-01-13 at 10:51 AM, pittax said:

3. Resource stealing is not "fun"

One of the good design approaches - if something does not serve the core goal of the design, it should not be included. In case of games, the goal is having fun (and player retention from dev point of view) and liches stealing stuff does not help with either. I know that this was added to give some presence to the liches, but trying to motivate players by annoying them is a bit silly.

One potential solution to this would be to turn liches into glorified extractors - have them accrue "interest" on any resources collected. It does not have to be a lot, but it has to be visible to the player when it opens the lich - a list of stuff that is stolen, and liches additions to it. If it scaled with the amount of time lich was alive - even better, now we have a small reason NOT to kill the lich. (As a bonus, it also helps with the player retention a bit.)

Either have them accrue interest and we gain back an increased % of the stolen resource (stolen mods give back some endo + the mod, etc.) OR give us a larger return on lich missions and let the lich steal the difference, then let us steal it back from their bloody hands upon executing them. These missions are higher level, more difficult, and yet they still give 5-10k credits? Oh brother...

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