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Armor, Scaling and AI: Why change?


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Alright folks, I've watched and read debates about these three for years and noticed that DE has low-key proven themselves correct by inserting a few test obstacles that even vets have openly admitted to avoiding instead of fighting. SP Stalker, the old Railjack grineer, some  sentient enemies, Orb Vallis Corpus spiders, etc. All of these enemies are not in the one-shot crowd however the argument for "beefier" enemies with better AI tend to be regarded as "annoying", "avoided", "boring" or "bullet spongy". Steel Path has increased the issue so, if low engagement is the method used by some players, is it even worth pressuring DE to change the system into an avoidable, less fun system?

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That's why it's a dumb idea to keep focusing on the enemies. The enemies have never been the problem, it's the players. An enemy one player finds beefy is trivial for another. When players can be 4-5 significant figures different from one each other it's impossible to create good enemies. Maybe players should be more like 0-1 significant figures in difference? Then you can put enemies wherever they need to be to be fun to fight.

And why should content be avoidable? Gameplay structured in a way you can just walk right past it is a problem too. It's a problem propped up by the gameplay being so potentially easy that you can ignore it entirely, but it's still a problem nonetheless. Ideally we get fun, high engagement, unavoidable content. If a part of the game makes you want to skip right past it then it's not very good...

Edit: That said, if you balance the players then you also need to balance the enemies. Enemies can be several significant figures apart as well. A lvl175 Tech has 1/13th the EHP as a lvl175 Heavy Gunner. A new Axio Tech has like 1/90th the EHP as a Gokstead Officer. Making armor scale slowly or not at all would make enemies more consistent, which you'd need to do if the players were made more consistent.

Edited by PublikDomain
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13 minutes ago, GEN-Son_17 said:

All of these enemies are not in the one-shot crowd however the argument for "beefier" enemies with better AI tend to be regarded as "annoying", "avoided", "boring" or "bullet spongy". Steel Path has increased the issue so, if low engagement is the method used by some players, is it even worth pressuring DE to change the system into an avoidable, less fun system?

Besides what PublikDomain says about the actual "beefiness" of enemies being all over the place because player power is just as chaotic:

The quality of an enemy is the ratio of its intelligence and its durability.

Something like the Marauders in Doom are durable and more complex (or "smart"). The zombie enemies are pretty straightforward, both in how they attack and how easy they fall.

The aforementioned "beefier" enemies in Warframe don't have the intelligence and complexity to match their longevity, either individually or in groups (the latter of which are yeeted at our faces willy-nilly). I can hop around and throw a glaive at SP Stalker and he'll die. Eventually. There's no further fuss with it. My "thinking" is limited to knowing when to press the melee button. And that's what makes it annoying: I solved the problem, I'm just stuck grinding through the massive EHP mountain.

Edited by Tyreaus
Correction because math iz hard
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23 minutes ago, Tyreaus said:

I can hop around and throw a glaive at SP Stalker and he'll die. Eventually. There's no further fuss with it. 

This is why I want Stalker Classic to return. When he had more to his AI than "slowly jog at player" he was actually fun

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19 minutes ago, TARINunit9 said:

This is why I want Stalker Classic to return. When he had more to his AI than "slowly jog at player" he was actually fun

Frankly I'm surprised they haven't just pasted Shadow Stalker as a moveset the Stalker can switch to, so that it's a flat-out (and self-evident) upgrade to the OG version.

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3 hours ago, GEN-Son_17 said:

SP Stalker, the old Railjack grineer, some sentient enemies, Orb Vallis Corpus spiders, etc.

All of these are beatable tho? Just not for new players. Yes you'll need major power creep cheese but it is achievable. Also I'm assuming Steel Path applies to all of the above examples.

But I have got to agree that it's not about making spongier enemies. That's not what's really being requested at all. It would just cause us to demand for even greater power-creep. No, what we got with the necramechs is a good example of what we want. In effect better and more engaging damage gating. With the necramechs you have to shoot off the shoulders first for an example. Is that example the perfect one? No. I can appreciate the shoulders bit but the weakpoint in the back being the only thing to actually damage is still pretty bad. But fine lets just say that it's content targeting primarily the veterans and leave that example there.

Then there's the Thumpers. Again I can appreciate that we have to shoot off the plates first and then get access to the weak-points(this is good!) but even when you go with a stealth frame the Thumper magically knows what direction you are in and turns to face you. Why? It really should be an omni-directional entity not caring at all in the first place. Or at the very least stealth should matter and have an effect on this. Smart player choice and preparation should be rewarded. And I don't mean better loot by that - rewards in that sense are a separate topic for another discussion.

 

3 hours ago, PublikDomain said:

When players can be 4-5 significant figures different from one each other it's impossible to create good enemies. Maybe players should be more like 0-1 significant figures in difference? Then you can put enemies wherever they need to be to be fun to fight.

I'm not sure I understand what the above even says. To give you the benefit of the doubt I'll chalk it up to myself not being a native English speaker. To take a stab at guessing though(having read it multiple times pondering it over and over). You are asking for better squad match-making I suppose?

Edited by Megalomaniakaal
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6 minutes ago, Megalomaniakaal said:

I'm not sure I understand what the above even says. To give you the benefit of the doubt I'll chalk it up to myself not being a native English speaker. TO take a stab at guessing though(having read it multiple times pondering it over and over). You are asking for better squad match-making I suppose?

I'll simplify it if that helps:

If Player A deals 15,000,000 damage every second (an Arquebex), and Player B deals 50,000 damage every second (a bad weapon with its best build), how much health should their shared enemy have? There is no way to answer that because Player A deals 300x more damage and has 3 more zeros at the end of his number. But if Player A dealt 100,000 damage every second and Player B dealt 50,000 damage every second then the answer is much easier: you can put an enemy at 75,000 health and it will feel similar to fight for both players. The difference in how long it takes to kill the enemy isn't much different for either player. The enemy dies in more or less a second for both players.

Edited by PublikDomain
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What DE doesn't seem to understand is that difficulty and fun comes from complex enemies with unique mechanics and not from the same enemy with more health.

Another point is the actual mechanics on these enemies, you don't want to force the player to do something you want to present ways to overcome the situation to him; look at the marauder from DOOM Eternal and the kuva guardian both are invincible unless you do something, have an annoying companion and are pressure units but while the guardians only needs to be stunned with the void and then shot the marauder can be exposed in many ways and even himself can act in so many ways to the point where you can feel like each marauder is different.

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4 minutes ago, PublikDomain said:

I'll simplify it if that helps:

If Player A deals 15,000,000 damage every second (an Arquebex), and Player B deals 50,000 damage every second (a bad weapon with its best build), how much health should their shared enemy have? There is no way to answer that because Player A deals 300x more damage and has 3 more zeros at the end of his number. But if Player A dealt 100,000 damage every second and Player B dealt 50,000 damage every second then the answer is much easier: you can put an enemy at 75,000 health and it will feel similar to fight for both players. The difference in how long it takes to kill the enemy isn't much different for either player. The enemy dies in more or less a second for both players.

Now that's dangerous talk, next we'll have destiny like situation where enemies get scaled to each player such that gear won't matter at all and the only real difference will be if power level/item mastery rank determines if whether you can even damage an enemy or not.

Edited by Megalomaniakaal
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The problem I have with SP Stalker is he is immune to warframe abilities and status effects. With a 1.5% spawn rate it's not worth modding for a chance encounter with him. When he does show up its easier to just die and get back to what you were doing than fight him with an inadequate loadout. If there were more enemies that were ability/status immune then I would run a loadout that to combat those enemies and stalker wouldn't be a problem. 

 

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7 minutes ago, Megalomaniakaal said:

Now that's dangerous talk, next we'll have destiny like situation where enemies get scaled to each player such that gear won't matter at all and the only real difference will be if power level/item mastery rank determines if you can even damage an enemy or not.

I mean, there's always the Doom-like alternative of not scaling anything, even the player's power, by appreciable amounts. Lie on the laurels of uniqueness, as it were. Or, as DE might actually do given how often they do it with enemies, yeeting DPS caps onto weapons based on enemy level like reverse damage scaling, so that the upper bounds are more controllable.

Now that's dangerous talk. Lol.

(Note: The local dragon does not advocate for the implementation of DPS caps on player equipment. It may be effective, but it's cheap and lazy and everyone knows it wouldn't be done transparently.)

Edited by Tyreaus
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2 minutes ago, Berzerkules said:

The problem I have with SP Stalker is he is immune to warframe abilities and status effects. With a 1.5% spawn rate it's not worth modding for a chance encounter with him. When he does show up its easier to just die and get back to what you were doing than fight him with an inadequate loadout. If there were more enemies that were ability/status immune then I would run a loadout that to combat those enemies and stalker wouldn't be a problem. 

 

I don't disagree nor am I trying to argue against lowering that sponginess. On the contrary. I think we are all arguing against sponginess here. :)

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Just now, Megalomaniakaal said:

Now that's dangerous talk, next we'll have destiny like situation where enemies get scaled to each player such that gear won't matter at all and the only real difference will be if power level/item mastery rank determines if you can even damage an enemy or not.

I enjoyed Destiny's scaling for what of it I played (a little after Cayde's thing). I'm of the mindset that Warframe is like Pokemon, or at least should be: every weapon/frame is someone's favorite. If you like a given weapon you ought to be able to use it in any piece of content. All guns and builds don't need identical stats, but they should at least be in the same ballpark. Right now that isn't the case, some items are significantly better than any other option. As much as I'd like to use my Kuva Kraken, my Kuva Brakk is so much better in just about every way possible that I don't really have a choice. The mechanics, look, handling, etc. of a gun should be what you pick them by, not the size of a number. Every new gun you craft should have the potential to be your new favorite, and Warframe should be about exploring the weapons and frames and actually playing with them. As it stands the bulk of content in the game might as well not exist for how little it's used, which is a shame. I had a lot more freedom in Destiny, at least in the parts I played, to play with the new guns and armor I found. All weapon should be good enough.

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14 hours ago, PublikDomain said:

I enjoyed Destiny's scaling for what of it I played (a little after Cayde's thing). I'm of the mindset that Warframe is like Pokemon, or at least should be: every weapon/frame is someone's favorite. If you like a given weapon you ought to be able to use it in any piece of content. All guns and builds don't need identical stats, but they should at least be in the same ballpark. Right now that isn't the case, some items are significantly better than any other option. As much as I'd like to use my Kuva Kraken, my Kuva Brakk is so much better in just about every way possible that I don't really have a choice. The mechanics, look, handling, etc. of a gun should be what you pick them by, not the size of a number. Every new gun you craft should have the potential to be your new favorite, and Warframe should be about exploring the weapons and frames and actually playing with them. As it stands the bulk of content in the game might as well not exist for how little it's used, which is a shame. I had a lot more freedom in Destiny, at least in the parts I played, to play with the new guns and armor I found. All weapon should be good enough.

Yeah, I don't actually disagree.

edit: I will say this tho - WRT weapons. Lets take the Latron for an example. There is the base MR2 Latron good for starter content. Base missions of the star chart can be all passed with it. Then there is the Latron vandal(with the best CC of the three BTW) But the difference in stats, well rather damage output, is frankly so small I'm not sure why it isn't simply a skin. And then there is the Prime. Not. Any. Better. And arguably worse than the Vandal.

 

Why couldn't the different variants be what makes a weapon - any weapon a viable choice for the whole game. So as you progress to new more "difficult"(read spongier as it stands) content you might have to reacquire a better version of it? **shruggs** Beats me...

Edited by Megalomaniakaal
typo
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7 minutes ago, PublikDomain said:

The mechanics, look, handling, etc. of a gun should be what you pick them by, not the size of a number. 

i honestly felt that there was a LOT of potential design space in the basic weapon stat distributions prior to status 3.0. with IPS status weighting, the innate slash distribution was incredibly useful, as were any weapons that could dilute that weighting with innate elemental, and they could totally have extended that to impact and puncture with a good status rework. now they're all very samey and i mostly only look at the crit and status chance because we just use forced procs now.

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24 minutes ago, VoidArkhangel said:

What DE doesn't seem to understand is that difficulty and fun comes from complex enemies with unique mechanics and not from the same enemy with more health.

Another point is the actual mechanics on these enemies, you don't want to force the player to do something you want to present ways to overcome the situation to him; look at the marauder from DOOM Eternal and the kuva guardian both are invincible unless you do something, have an annoying companion and are pressure units but while the guardians only needs to be stunned with the void and then shot the marauder can be exposed in many ways and even himself can act in so many ways to the point where you can feel like each marauder is different.

What is your source for stating that fun directly correlates with enemy complexity? Because in most games AI isn’t terribly intelligent. PoE, Diablo, Destiny, Borderlands all have extremely basic AI. 
 

They have path finding, cover mechanics and abilities like jumps or grenades, all of which are present in warframe. When you state “more complex,” what exactly do you want from them?

I see a lot of people taking shots at the AI, and asking for it to be better. But never giving any insight into what that might look like.

Hopefully it goes without saying that “make something better” or “more complex,” is by itself worthless feedback.

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2 hours ago, GEN-Son_17 said:

bullet spongy"

Excluding stalker, most of the enemies were/are easily killed in 1-2 shots. Even then, SP Stalker doesn't take long to kill.

"Bullet sponges" don't exist to anyone utilizing the tools to deal with the specific enemy. The issue is, people have some very questionable builds and don't properly make use of Warframe abilities. Add on the issue of extreme variance in performance between the best weapons and the worst weapons. You could have two people with similar builds, but different weapon choices, and that alone is enough to cause a massive difference in dps.

When it came to old Railjack Grineer, I could kill them quickly using assault rifles, it was only the officer that was immune to armor removal that was an issue. However, you had people using magnetic complaining they were "bullet sponges", or someone else that stacked reload speed and other non-damage stats complaining. At this point, this is no different to being level 1 in an RPG complaining a level 100 enemy is a dps sponge.

The only way to "fix" this is both balancing weapons so there is less of a gap, and dumbing down the arsenal system so it ends up being nearly impossible to have a bad loadout. As it is, simply balancing weapons isn't enough when there's a long list of really bad mods, or combinations, that reduce damage dealt to a severe degree as well as all the interactions weapons have with abilities.

 

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39 minutes ago, Megalomaniakaal said:

I will say this tho - WRT weapons. Lets take the Latron for an example. There is the base MR2 Latron good for starter content. Base missions of the start chart can be all passed with it. Then there is the Latron vandal(with the best CC of the three BTW) But the difference in stats, well rather damage output, is frankly so small I'm not sure why it isn't simply a skin. And then there is the Prime. Not. Any. Better. And arguably worse than the Vandal.

I thought I was the only one who used the Latron series as a "What the hell is this gun balancing?" thing, glad to see I'm not alone.

But yeah you forgot to mention that they all have a 2.4 second reload, which is longer than a few full blown SNIPER RIFLES that out perform the entire series in almost every way but spam-shooting.

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I love that gun. The gun play is fun. Using it from MR 2 to 5 was fun. But...

 

edit:

13 hours ago, Aldain said:

But yeah you forgot to mention that they all have a 2.4 second reload, which is longer than a few full blown SNIPER RIFLES that out perform the entire series in almost every way but spam-shooting.

No I didn't. It's got a fairly sizable magazine. Shame about it not having ADS give a bit of a CC or CD bonus though. It's described as a marksmans rifle, I'd expect it to indeed be somewhat similar to snipers. Just lacking a scope perhaps. edit: and thus head-shot combos.

Edited by Megalomaniakaal
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Just now, Megalomaniakaal said:

I love that gun. The gun play is fun. Using it from MR 2 to 5 was fun. But...

I feel your pain, I like the Veldt, which is basically the EXACT SAME GUN as the Latron Prime with a bigger mag and faster reload.

No really, the stats are almost exact clones other than minor differences like those and the different fire rate.

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I'd just like to see more mini-boss like enemies that can show up in missions that have their own rewards pool, or are at least a cache of meta resources and are distinct from: Shoot till it ded.

 

I like killing Necramechs.

Weakpoints that take knowledge to understand to hit and get an angle on, with nearly any weapon. Only a few need to be killed per mission. They are the Objective.

They have a chance at dropping parts/mods for a Necramech, as well as a guaranteed standing currency.

Once the strategy is known, it's quick, but not instant.

 

I'm neutral on Tusk Thumpers.

Like Necramechs, need to understand how to take them down.

They drop general components. But nothing really unique.

Once the strategy is known, it's quick, but not instant.

 

Granum Void Treasurer was a missed opportunity for a unique interaction (Spawn condition is literally just wait, they are just bullet sponges, and TBH some other type of currency drop once you have all the components from the Granum Void). 

 

Kuva Guardians could be improved, like actually having a chance to drop Kuva.

 

I do not like killing Heavy Gunners/Bombards

Bullet sponge, need a particular element setup, end-game build. I'd like it if there was an ammo cache weakpoint on them that you could target to make them explode (or at least chunk a % health) if you don't have the proper elemental setup.

I need to kill more, more, more, faster, faster, faster, to get any reward, via end-of-mission or miniscule drop chances, and because there's going to be several, several more of these units during the mission.

 

And then there's the Battalyst. Bullet sponge because of armor, needing specific elements. And has a mechanic to make it an even spongier bullet sponge. And all you get is a middle-finger for killing it, and probably a few other Battalysts too.

 

29 minutes ago, Yamazuki said:

Excluding stalker, most of the enemies were/are easily killed in 1-2 shots. Even then, SP Stalker doesn't take long to kill.

"Bullet sponges" don't exist to anyone utilizing the tools to deal with the specific enemy. The issue is, people have some very questionable builds and don't properly make use of Warframe abilities. Add on the issue of extreme variance in performance between the best weapons and the worst weapons. You could have two people with similar builds, but different weapon choices, and that alone is enough to cause a massive difference in dps.

When it came to old Railjack Grineer, I could kill them quickly using assault rifles, it was only the officer that was immune to armor removal that was an issue. However, you had people using magnetic complaining they were "bullet sponges", or someone else that stacked reload speed and other non-damage stats complaining. At this point, this is no different to being level 1 in an RPG complaining a level 100 enemy is a dps sponge.

The only way to "fix" this is both balancing weapons so there is less of a gap, and dumbing down the arsenal system so it ends up being nearly impossible to have a bad loadout. As it is, simply balancing weapons isn't enough when there's a long list of really bad mods, or combinations, that reduce damage dealt to a severe degree as well as all the interactions weapons have with abilities.

 

 

With Grineer it's two-fold: Not having the right damage type, and the Armor damage reduction exacerbating this.

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