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Pablo acknowledges why better AI alone will not be enough for good difficulty in WF: We need to be nerfed first


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In consideration of the upcoming hard mode and discussions surrounding it, this part of Shy's recent interview with Pablo is particularly relevant.

At the 40:05 mark, Pablo makes the following remark with regards regards to Jizo and Triburos asking why can't AI be improved so it reacts better to our behavior by changing their tactics and getting new attack patterns as difficulty/level increases:

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Pablo said: Imagine a world in which every single enemy is controlled by a deepmind AI (The StarCraft AI designed to beat pro-players), so the smartest AI you can have or imagine in every single enemy. You'll be able to just press 4 and just freeze them in place and shoot them in the face. There's absolutely nothing the smartest AI can do if you can crowd-control them forever. So how do you counter that? You have to nerf those things. But imagine the level of friction it would generate with the community if all CC abilities in the game were nerfed.

Then again this topic comes back at around the 50:55 mark. This time Jizo asks why not program the AI with anti-cheese tactics. For example, by having Grineer identify that you're camping in survival and throw a "gas grenade" that deals very high damage and forces you to move:

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Pablo said: The reality of it is, with stretch and overextended and all of that added to our many CC abilities, there's literally a big, BIG area where enemies can not just get to you.

That's something many people have been highlighting in the forums for months now, myself included:

On 2020-05-09 at 4:38 PM, Jarriaga said:

What is a smart Grineer with different and new attacks going to do against Limbo's stasis? What is it going to do against Saryn's or Equinox's 40-meter wide-area nuke bubble that ignores cover? The only thing the game can realistically do to give us a slightly harder game experience is buff the enemy's stats unless you are willing to accept that some WF's need to be nerfed to the ground in order for better AI to make any difference.

At least the Corpus have nullifiers to counter some of those frames, but precisely because some people don't want to face the slightest bit of resistance against area nuking/denial, they avoid Corpus missions.

I'm just happy with higher starting enemy levels because the community won't accept massive WF redesigns in order to accommodate a skill-based difficulty instead of a stats-based difficulty, which, as a concept, is inherently incompatible with Saryn and Equinox and Mesa and Octavia and Limbo and Volt as they currently exist.

So the problem with WF's balance and why DE have had to resort to things such as invulnerable enemies and nullifiers is directly tied to how powerful some frames are to the point of invalidating the game. As long as they exist in their current forms, there's little they can do beyond bullet sponges and invulnerable enemies. As Pablo pointed out, most players here would not accept massive changes and nerfs to area nuking and CC, so literally, what else can they do? So it seems to me that DE are very aware of what the problem is: The power fantasy itself and how strong we are. It nullifies any attempt at balance or challenge via enemy improvements.

So what is DE going to do if we don't allow nerfs? It seems that at least Pablo finds it interesting to have enemies make you fail the mission if they can't get to you instead. For example, by having enemies attack life support capsules in survival so you can't just camp in one place, as he mentions just a few minutes later.

Curiously, that's also something I suggested last year:

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An enemy that captures all 4 towers in Interception or prevents you from capturing them, an enemy that destroys unused life support capsules or decreases max life support levels in Survival, an enemy that deals permanent damage you can't heal until the enemy dies, those are things that could increase difficulty by increasing your chances of failing the mission.

That, I think, is where DE will head. That's how difficulty will be introduced.

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1 minute ago, Jarriaga said:

The power fantasy itself and how strong we are. It nullifies any attempt at balance or challenge via enemy improvements.

Good. Let's drop this charade then and let this be the wonderful power fantasy that it is instead of trying to "balance" it and take all the fun out in the process.

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vor 1 Minute schrieb Gabbynaru:

Good. Let's drop this charade then and let this be the wonderful power fantasy that it is instead of trying to "balance" it and take all the fun out in the process.

Fully agree, people should just accept the direction of the game instead of trying to turn it into dark souls 4, while basically pissing off the majority of players.

Warframe won't survive if the majority is gone. 

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2 minutes ago, (XB1)TyeGoo said:

Fully agree, people should just accept the direction of the game instead of trying to turn it into dark souls 4, while basically pissing off the majority of players.

Warframe won't survive if the majority is gone. 

But thing about the children!!! i mean the challenge!!!

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I mean people have been saying that for a while.

It isn't wrong, you can't design anything around this level of power, when Warframes can press 4 and turn the game off or a Kuva Bramma can be dumbfired around and nuke everything in a 20 block radius (before anyone starts chanting "Self damage" it wouldn't change anything, you'd just have a few self deaths while anyone with half a brain would kill everything).

There isn't anything that can be done to salvage this level of power, it will lead to stagnation beyond compare and eventually reward structure will need to be so bloated because of our speed that everything else becomes too slow to be viable.

Balance is needed for EVERY part of the game, and by the way, Dark Souls isn't the only "challenge" type in the world, anyone ever play Killing Floor on the higher difficulties? THAT ACTUALLY NEEDS TEAMWORK MOST OF THE TIME.

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4 minutes ago, Gabbynaru said:

Good. Let's drop this charade then and let this be the wonderful power fantasy that it is instead of trying to "balance" it and take all the fun out in the process.

It's not that easy. People get bored when there's no challenge and when everything feels like it's being handed to them in a silver platter. There has to be a middle ground.

2 minutes ago, (XB1)TyeGoo said:

Fully agree, people should just accept the direction of the game instead of trying to turn it into dark souls 4, while basically pissing off the majority of players.

Warframe won't survive if the majority is gone. 

There's no need to use the most extreme scenario such as Dark Souls in order to give us some challenge. It seems DE could look into making us fail missions instead by having enemies target objectives or increase fail conditions if we go from what Pablo said.

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Just now, Jarriaga said:

It's not that easy. People get bored when there's no challenge and when everything feels like it's being handed to them in a silver platter. There has to be a middle ground.

People are still here and it's been over 6 years. If they truly get bored as you say, it takes a long freakin' time for it to manifest visibly. But I don't see it. As long as the game keeps being super fun, people will keep playing it and will keep returning to it. Not everything needs challenge, you know? There are many games out there that are meant for relaxation, and Warframe is and has been one of them for a long time. It should keep being like that.

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3 minutes ago, Jarriaga said:

It's not that easy. People get bored when there's no challenge and when everything feels like it's being handed to them in a silver platter. There has to be a middle ground.

There's no need to use the most extreme scenario such as Dark Souls in order to give us some challenge. It seems DE could look into making us fail missions instead by having enemies target objectives or increase fail conditions if we go from what Pablo said.

That idea, about enemies making your life harder i like it, for me having those enemies to be of the same lvl of kuva liches would be even better(or make them liches).

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Good AI can still improve the game, but we need better designed enemies for that better AI. They are some great enemies in this game that can present a challenge but they're not used often to be effective for that challenge. Manics, amalgams, rachnoids, all these enemies change up the fight but they are almost never used.

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13 minutes ago, Jarriaga said:

As Pablo pointed out, most players here would not accept massive changes and nerfs to area nuking and CC, so literally, what else can they do? So it seems to me that DE are very aware of what the problem is: The power fantasy itself and how strong we are. It nullifies any attempt at balance or challenge via enemy improvements.

And the 90% of the nukers and tankers are hating on Pablo for speaking the truth. Its funny because all these players are the one's who want difficulty but only camp during higher level endurance runs not wanted to get shot. lol

I believe instead of DE nerfing the enemies armor and health, they should have just exponentially increased it. Therefore no one would want to run endless mission because killing one enemy would take 1-100 billion health, armor and shield plus damage to kill, along with their damage scaling up. This would get rid of the long camps that DE didn't want players to do.

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The kuva liches actually provide some challenge if you let them hi lvl 5 have you guys faced a toxin lick you have to actually watch for their hallowed ground like skill. I think bosses could be the key for challenge but when it comes down to it the boss needs to not be immediately blown up and should something crazy like the liches do and then Ta Da its entertaining.

 

So I think they are already on the right track when it comes to liches design.

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1 minute ago, AbstractLemons said:

The kuva liches actually provide some challenge if you let them hi lvl 5 have you guys faced a toxin lick you have to actually watch for their hallowed ground like skill. I think bosses could be the key for challenge but when it comes down to it the boss needs to not be immediately blown up and should something crazy like the liches do and then Ta Da its entertaining.

 

So I think they are already on the right track when it comes to liches design.

 

4 minutes ago, aruless said:

That idea, about enemies making your life harder i like it, for me having those enemies to be of the same lvl of kuva liches would be even better(or make them liches).

Yea i was thinking if they "made" an enemy that gets in your way, should be something of the same caliber of a kuva lich.

Just the other day i made a kuva lich with Mag, and oh boy at lvl5 he was kicking my ass with mag abilities xD

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13 minutes ago, Gabbynaru said:

People are still here and it's been over 6 years. If they truly get bored as you say, it takes a long freakin' time for it to manifest visibly. But I don't see it. As long as the game keeps being super fun, people will keep playing it and will keep returning to it. Not everything needs challenge, you know? There are many games out there that are meant for relaxation, and Warframe is and has been one of them for a long time. It should keep being like that.

I beg to differ. You and I don't see it because we are the hardcore forum users. DE themselves have acknowledged in the past that they have seen users leave because they get bored.  Reb said it herself once in a GameSpot interview at the 14:52 mark addressing the power scaling vs. difficulty problem in Warframe. She mentions how being able to one-shot everything up to certain point leads to boredom because the game feels too easy, and that's a challenge they (DE) want to tackle on as a team.

DE are the only ones with access to their numbers in order to make such a claim, so somewhere in their spreadsheets, they saw a link between player retention and difficulty. Maybe nowhere near big enough to tank the game, but big enough for them to notice. Sure not everything needs to be difficult, but that's not to say that people don't play expecting for things to change some day. More so now that an optional hard mode is going to be introduced. You won't have to participate on it, but those of us that want to know what DE's problems will be when making said game mode.

So if you want to say that Reb is wrong because of your personal experience, be my guest. No one else will pay attention to you at that point.

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1 minute ago, kwlingo said:

they should have just exponentially increased it.

All that would do is cause weapons and Warframes to be made obsolete because they can't deal with the exponential increases, imagine if they decided "Ok now everything is balanced for the Kuva Bramma. What's that? X weapon can't damage anything? Too bad, get the Bramma because nothing else matters.".

At that point they might as well just start deleting everything that isn't the meta, because all the variety would be literally worthless.

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I wouldn't worry about too many changes happening, there'll be a tidal wave of salty pushback and hostility the moment DE proposes something, there always is.

3 minutes ago, Jarriaga said:

People get bored when there's no challenge and when everything feels like it's being handed to them in a silver platter. There has to be a middle ground.

depends on the game though: there are people who don't play games to be challenged, because they already have to employ their problem-solving skills and resolve in real-life, or they go to other games for a challenge. if I wake up one day and think "I want to play something hard" I'll get back into Nioh or Bloodborne, or try the hardest event on MHW: Iceborne solo. I'd wager most recurring players, people who have been around for months and years, and are still here, aren't looking for a challenge: it's just the loud minority being vocal.

warframe fits nicely in the "cathartic power fantasy" category, and I'm sure DE recognise that. that would also mean they recognise adding all sorts of different difficulty changes has just as much risk of driving existing players away as it does of attracting new ones. a shift towards difficulty is a gamble, and the community can't agree on whether or not it's worth the risk. so until then, it's best for DE to stick to what they know IMO.

 

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7 minutes ago, Gabbynaru said:

Good. Let's drop this charade then and let this be the wonderful power fantasy that it is instead of trying to "balance" it and take all the fun out in the process.

well you have good point pretty much for the truth fantasy's power is just how imagination works for take example One Punch Man manga or anime, he freaking cannot be hurt and he just op character guy and now imagine that was warframe but cannot fix the balance in the game even thou you try balance the game much you can and still end up being on the wrong side.  This is warframe we are crying out loud because powers are pose to be boundless in warframe but yet some ppl like to think to put a cap on warframe and don't need to break the limits.  I only find that just twiddle thinking about it why would you put a cap on warframe when warframe was pose to be most powerful machine and being that actually can destroy whole army of fleets and the children could of go atomic bomb level if they actually gain enough power from the void for untold to be and unsaid to be in stories to think by.

Capping frames and other stuff bit twiddle but this is the dev's work anyway so pretty much we can't do anything bazaarly fun about it.

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From the looks of this thread. People are ok with letting frames that arent nukers be dead in the water. Screw fixing nyx and chroma. Got to live out the power fantasy of stand around pressing four. Unless we get better missions layout. A great amount of frames will be useless because if you can just nuke to win. No point of thinking. I'm disappointed tbh.  If I want to play a "idle" game. I got forger on steam.  When i got to this game, it was for the fast paced movement and combat. But seeing this interviews and the current devstreams. Casual frame is what this game is now. camping is meta, nuking are meta. why even have 40 freaking frames in this game if people dont want to play for fun. damn, just when i had my hopes for the game.  I feel like the reasons for me to continue is getting less and less as the weeks go on. returning to this game in 2016 was amazing, so much to learn, so much to do, and that feeling of freedom you have where you can play any mission as any frame in high level content. Most importantly, It was the movement and combat that kept me glued for years.  it wasnt perfect, but, i was alot more optimistic for DE and this game. the thrill of challenging content that puts me to the test. may never come because people favored just camping in corners with mesa with the same braindead youtube builds. 

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I can think of things AI can do in Index to beat us... like baiting us to go near the edge and then bumping us off the edge to our deaths. Or, how about guarding the energy/ammo restore points and ambushing us? The Auditor could also hide and wait for us to be near one of those laser bar areas before deploying the laser bars that instantly kill Tenno.

In Defense missions, AI can throw a bunch of grenades at the defense target and there isn't much we can do if the grenades land near it (well, Limbo can bypass this). AI can also divide and conquer where some AI is distracting us while the others are shooting the defense target at a distance.

AI in Rescue missions can be more attentive to the rescue target... like an Ancient can grab the rescue target and pull him into an awaiting crowd of runners (these explode on death). The Tar Mutalist Moa and Mutalist Ospreys can also prime the area where an Ancient pulls the escaping rescue target. The AI in defection missions seem to be more adept at killing these kinds of targets!

In Capture missions, the AI can try to do more to protect the capture target. This already exists in Index where Tenno specters try to protect Tenno with lots of index points. The capture target can even orchestrate an ambush by using him/herself as bait.

Other general AI things I think can help a little:

  • AI tries to push Tenno into respawn volumes (basically to disable their powers so they can kill them at respawn).
  • Nullifiers and Scrambus/Comba can be a little sneakier and clever about when and where they nullify Warframe powers. Maybe give Comba/Scrambus a more intentional nullification ability (they seem to nullify random types of abilities on each cast). For example, a Nullifier might sneak up on you with Crewmen and then deploy the Nullifier bubble.
  • Elite Shield Lancers can hide their presence in a crowd of Grineer before doing considerable damage to Tenno with their Tonkors (bravo for adding these units!).
  • AI can be more attentive and aware of Operator... target Operator instead of Helios for example.
  • I think specialized units like Grineer Commander can setup fancy ambushes by sneaking up and switching places with Tenno into an awaiting crowd of Grineer (hopefully including an Elite Shield Lancer or two to blow the Tenno up).
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Just now, Jarriaga said:

I beg to differ. You and I don't see it because we are the hardcore forum users. DE themselves have acknowledged in the past that they have seen users leave because they get bored.  Reb said it herself once in a GameSpot interview at the 14:52 mark addressing the power scaling vs. difficulty problem in Warframe. She mentions how being able to one-shot everything up to certain point leads to boredom because the game feels too easy, and that's a challenge they (DE) want to tackle on as a team.

DE are the only ones with access to their numbers in order to make such, so somewhere in their spreadsheets, they saw a link between player retention and difficulty. Sure not everything needs to be difficult, but that's not to say that people don't play expecting for things to change some day. More so now that an optional hard mode is going to be introduced. You won't have to participate on it, but those of us that want to know what DE's problems will be then making said game mode.

Indeed, looking at playercounts vs account numbers reveals that while the game is maintaining a relatively stable concurrent player count (fluctuating up and down on occasion), the number of new accounts being made is several orders of magnitude higher than the rate of growth of concurrent players. Which means that this game has a very high attrition rate. Some of it, admittedly, is likely due to new players making accounts, playing for a bit, then deciding that the game isn't for them. However, I'd be willing to bet that a significant portion of that turnover is due to long-term players reaching the end of progression and burning out because none of the existing content is engaging to them.

2 minutes ago, (PS4)robotwars7 said:

depends on the game though: there are people who don't play games to be challenged, because they already have to employ their problem-solving skills and resolve in real-life, or they go to other games for a challenge. if I wake up one day and think "I want to play something hard" I'll get back into Nioh or Bloodborne, or try the hardest event on MHW: Iceborne solo. I'd wager most recurring players, people who have been around for months and years, and are still here, aren't looking for a challenge: it's just the loud minority being vocal.

Have you considered the possibility that there is more to challenge than just being the most difficult? Players asking for balance aren't saying the game should become a hardcore, stressful experience, they just want the game to not be so lax that you can literally switch the enemies off indefinitely with no effort needed.

4 minutes ago, (PS4)robotwars7 said:

warframe fits nicely in the "cathartic power fantasy" category

Except it doesn't, because it can't even do so consistently. The vast majority of weapons and warframes can't hope to match the output of the select few meta items, it's just that said meta gear is so oppressive to the experience that players have a warped understanding of how the game is supposed to be experienced.

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2 hours ago, (PS4)robotwars7 said:

warframe fits nicely in the "cathartic power fantasy" category

I wouldn't say so. Power Fantasy only works when you overcome a challenge. Otherwise, after some point, killing enemies stops being satisfying. When someone let's you win at Tekken over and over again, after a while you no longer have fun because... what's the point? Being able to kill hordes of enemies as if they are made of carboard for hours and hours just becomes boring.

Look at Doom Eternal for example. It's a great example of power fantasy regardless of your difficulty setting because even on the easiest difficulty you still have to... well... play the game. So you actually feel like you are killing stuff, instead of pressing "delete enemies within 50m radius" button every 20 seconds. Playing some Warframes is literally less engaging than Cookie Clicker and I can't see how someone could find that satisfying for more than 20 minutes

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Don't think there will be a solution. Be it too easy or difficult... or enemies that immune to wf power... or the new mechanic Pablo said, there will always be people who will be unhappy about it.

If Pablo push the ideas n they got implemented, I'm sure there will be people who said they now have to do this or that to prevent from mission fail instead of enjoying the game etc.

But whatever direction the game takes, DE has to know who is paying their salary. Done too overboard, people pissed off and the game dies.

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45 minutes ago, Jarriaga said:

What is a smart Grineer with different and new attacks going to do against Limbo's stasis? What is it going to do against Saryn's or Equinox's 40-meter wide-area nuke bubble that ignores cover? The only thing the game can realistically do to give us a slightly harder game experience is buff the enemy's stats unless you are willing to accept that some WF's need to be nerfed to the ground in order for better AI to make any difference.

At least the Corpus have nullifiers to counter some of those frames, but precisely because some people don't want to face the slightest bit of resistance against area nuking/denial, they avoid Corpus missions.

I'm just happy with higher starting enemy levels because the community won't accept massive WF redesigns in order to accommodate a skill-based difficulty instead of a stats-based difficulty, which, as a concept, is inherently incompatible with Saryn and Equinox and Mesa and Octavia and Limbo and Volt as they currently exist.

How about give each faction Air Support Charges that can mess with Tenno? So for example, if the Grineer can't get at you or the defense target for enough time, they call in a Nullifier Air Support (which should also have a cooldown) to open up the map temporarily.

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21 minutes ago, (PS4)robotwars7 said:

depends on the game though: there are people who don't play games to be challenged, because they already have to employ their problem-solving skills and resolve in real-life, or they go to other games for a challenge. if I wake up one day and think "I want to play something hard" I'll get back into Nioh or Bloodborne, or try the hardest event on MHW: Iceborne solo. I'd wager most recurring players, people who have been around for months and years, and are still here, aren't looking for a challenge: it's just the loud minority being vocal.

That's fine, but we are talking about implications for the upcoming hard mode, which is opt in. Why would you willingly join a hard mode while not wanting to be challenged? Do those people also drink water expecting to remain thirsty? Normal mode can stay as it is, while hard mode introduces additional failure mechanics. That is a valid middle ground.

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1 minute ago, nslay said:

How about give each faction Air Support Charges that can mess with Tenno? So for example, if the Grineer can't get at you or the defense target for enough time, they call in a Nullifier Air Support (which should also have a cooldown) to open up the map temporarily.

That would perfectly fit with the intent of "in case enemies can't reach you" that Pablo mentioned. 

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23 minutes ago, Aldain said:

All that would do is cause weapons and Warframes to be made obsolete because they can't deal with the exponential increases, imagine if they decided "Ok now everything is balanced for the Kuva Bramma. What's that? X weapon can't damage anything? Too bad, get the Bramma because nothing else matters.".

At that point they might as well just start deleting everything that isn't the meta, because all the variety would be literally worthless.

That is exactly the point. DE doesn't want us to camp for hours on end. This would be the fix. If even the Bramma cannot one shot them any longer most players would extract.

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