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What is the gameplay purpose of forma polarity?

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I'm going to try to respond to some of the common themes I'm seeing in posts critical of altering how forma polarity works.

First theme: forma polarity adds complexity to the build system.

With respect, I don't see how this is true on a per build basis. For a particular build, you choose the mods you want, regardless of polarity, and then figure out which mods need to be half cost in order to sum up to < 74 / 78 points. Then you just polarize slots for those mods. This is no more complex than that game where kids have to stick the blocks into the correctly shaped hole. Polarity could not exist and the process would be virtually the same.

For altering a build, it's the same thing - you figure out what mod you want to swap, and polarize the slot for that mod to the mod's polarity if necessary. Again, there's no complexity here.

The only place where complexity comes into play is when you want to run multiple builds on the same frame, and then you have to balance the builds against one another. But why are the builds coupled in this way? I can't think of a single reason why this should be so (other than $, but I think there are a lot better ways of making $ than coupling what should be independent builds), and the more I think about it, the less sense it makes. I suspect at this point that polarized forma came before configuration slots and when configuration slots were added the ability to forma configurations independently was difficult at the time, or updating the database schema was going to be really painful or something.

And really the complexity here is only choosing how to balance your builds - do you do what I do, and probably what most people do, and pick the build you care about the most and optimize for that, and fit the other builds in as best you can, or do you have 2-6 builds all with varied levels of gimposity?

So the added complexity coming from coupled builds really just leads to a lot of semi-gimped builds and annoyed players, as far as I can tell.

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4 hours ago, (PSN)PreeminentPants said:

really just leads to a lot of semi-gimped builds

What does that mean?  That because of the polarity system there are a lot of builds that semi- can't do anything? 🤪   

Definitely not my experience, even though I don't regard most of the arguments for polarities providing build depth to be compelling.  


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On 2021-06-01 at 2:51 PM, (PSN)PreeminentPants said:

TLDR: AFAICT the only thing forma polarization does is promote build lock in, which is, IMO, a Bad Game Mechanic.

I'm sure forma polarization has been discussed before, but I feel strongly enough about it I want to add my $0.02 to the probably enormous pile.

I don't understand why forma polarization is in the game. To the best of my ability to tell, the only purpose it serves is to lock in builds and prevent build experimentation and build flexibility. For instance, I have a Frost build that maximizes armor for high HP bubbles. I can't swap Chilling Globe for an armor mod without reformaing a slot. Why should I need to do that? I understand not wanting to allow swapping builds during a mission, but preventing build modification between missions doesn't seem like a good game mechanic.

This type of issue has been around forever - OG WOW priests and warriors can tell you all about it because group builds and solo builds were completely different and respeccing over and over got really expensive. It was anti player fun then and it still is now.

Possible alternatives (ordered by my personal preference):

Note: Due to their relative scarcity, umbra formas are different beasts and should keep the current system. The alternatives below shouldn't affect umbra formas IMO.

1) Get rid of polarity altogether.
This seems extreme at first glance, but really it's not a big deal in the long run. It doesn't enable any new builds and it still requires the same number of forma for any given build. It just means that it's easy to experiment with builds and you can optimize multiple builds in different configuration slots, whereas currently you can often only optimize one build and other builds are gimped or outright impossible.

2) Add Universal Forma to the game
Universal Forma would be basically the same thing as Aura forma, except they work for any slot other than the aura slot. IMO they'd be easier to get and cheaper to make than Aura forma - maybe 2 forma for one universal forma.

3) Allow forma to apply to individual configurations
In other words, when you apply a forma you should be able to choose which configurations the forma alters, just like applying a Helminth power to a warframe.

EDIT: 4) Stack forma instead of replace

E.g. If you forma a slot with D and then reforma with -, the slot now fits both D and - polarity. Credit goes to @quxier for this option.

To sum up, I'd really like to see the removal of build lock in from the game, and I think the options given above are all all feasible means of doing so. Thanks for your consideration.

today dictator GIF

Edited by (XBOX)YoungGunn82
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15 hours ago, Tiltskillet said:

What does that mean?  That because of the polarity system there are a lot of builds that semi- can't do anything? 🤪   

Definitely not my experience, even though I don't regard most of the arguments for polarities providing build depth to be compelling.  

Probably talking about players like myself, who avoid heavy forma investments explicitly because of the lock-in factor, so our output is less than what may be optimally achieved. Trading 10-20% of power potential for the ability to change stuff around as desired.


I'll say it again, as I have for years: Polarise the ITEM, not the SLOTS and all the problems go away without breaking the 'business model' or cheapening the process.

  1. Polarities are tracked as an 'available bank' per type
  2. Applying a forma increments one of these banks up to a maximum of the total standard slots each (Can have 8 madurai, 8 Vazarin, etc, unlocked on the same single item).
  3. You can choose to use or not use any combination of available polarity banks. Assign, organise and un-assign available polarities onto slots with the polarity swap UI.
  4. Special slots are separate, stored as a bitmask of unlocked types rather than 'X/Y' integers; retains current functionality of those being un-swappable with standard slots.

This is strictly more flexible than "multiple-polarised slots" because you can condense or spread your unlocked polarities across available slots; instead of having a single slot with both Madurai and Naramon available on that slot alone, with the same investment you have the choice to use either polarity on the first slot and either use the other polarity on a second slot or leave it neutral. You don't need to polarise separately to have 1 flexible slot and 1 additional polarised slot.


It means the 'cross-polarity' mechanism functionally goes away because you can just take unnecessary polarities off the slots, but that's not a bad thing.

It means you never have to undo previous investments. New mods, changing builds and balance changes are all safely future-proofed.

It doesn't power-creep at all, only adds ever-increasing flexibility. Every Forma is still worth the same and takes the same effort to install and re-level the item as before, there's no 'super forma' that has to be priced accordingly/farmed separately/makes you effectively unlock 5 Forma's worth in one re-level.

It promotes more Forma investments - you could invest forma until every slot could be assigned any polarity combination, if you really wanted.

Even Umbra Forma fit in seamlessly, compared to 'universal forma' solutions which would either need to be 'universal BUT NOT umbra' or completely circumvent umbral forma acquisition.

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