[MUD-Dev] Character skill distribution and trade-offs

Sean Kelly sean at hoth.ffwd.cx
Thu Jun 6 14:08:19 New Zealand Standard Time 2002


On Wed, 5 Jun 2002 Daniel.Harman at barclayscapital.com wrote:
> Ron Gabbard [mailto:rgabbard at swbell.net]
 
>> The ramifications of 'mesmerization' actually went even deeper as
>> the DPS I had planned for 'magic' in relation to 'melee' damage
>> had to be reduced to maintain the challenge of the encounter and
>> offset the ability to recover during battle.  In addition, those
>> characters with lower health and/or defense became paperdolls in
>> the option where mobs are 'beefed up' to offset the effect of
>> 'mesmerization'.

In the games I've played (most recently Dungeon Siege) the mana cost
for any domination spell is proportinal to the power of the mob
you're trying to dominate.  Generally, this cost is so high that I
rarely consider it a worthwhile spell to cast.  Obviously it's an
investment-return relationship, and the return for even a short-term
domination of a powerful mob is quite significant (both in terms of
eliminating it as an adversary and it having it as an ally).
 
> Heh, you've nearly designed yourself Everquest! A few ideas :
 
>   - I suggest you either don't have mesmerisation in the game
>   unless you want to balance every encounter around it.

Or restrict it by adding some sort of "saving throw" mechanism, so
(a) all mobs have a chance to resist and (b) powerful mobs
(especially ones integral to quest segments) are highly resistant or
immune to domination

>   - If you do have it, don't just give it to one class unless you
>   want to give them a monopoly.

But if you give it to everyone then it becomes much more of a
balance issue.  Suddenly every tom, dick, and harry will be able to
dominate an adversary, and the benifit of the physically weaker mage
class is reduced.

>   - Consider attaching a running mana cost to keeping mobs mezzed
>   (i.e. not a one off cost when you cast it) and make it pretty
>   significant.

Or just give the spell a short duration.  Or give the mob a saving
throw roll every turn, so even powerful mobs who succumb to the
spell are likely to shake it off quite quickly.

>   - Consider using a system similar to AO or DAoC whereby you can
>   only maintain a certain number of spells at once. In fact you
>   could prevent them from doing anything else at all whilst
>   keeping a single mob mezzed. Part of the problem in EQ is that
>   mez is used to keep upto 5 mobs at a time on ice, if you limit
>   this number to 1 its impact is significantly tamed.

Agreed.  "Hold Monster" is one thing, "Hold Group" is another.
 
> Frankly, I think mesmerization is a bad idea. If you let it
> dictate the whole balance of the game, you end up with mobs that
> do huge dmg and a combat system thats hard to
> predict+maintain. Furthermore it overpowers charm, as certain
> players can then control overpowered npcs.

IMO domination spells are all of limited use anyway.  Aside from
getting a powerful adversary out of the fray for a few critical
moments, I don't see much use for most CRPGs.  Especially
considering the problems associated with being able to cast the
spell on another player (though this is something I'd absolutely
love -- kidnaping could be quite an impromptu quest generator).
 
> Of course all this makes me wonder if the importance of
> mesmerisation in EQ is a result of overpowered monsters, or vice
> versa.

And really, how likely is anyone to be able to dominate something
highly intelligent like a dragon.  From a practical perspective --
why design a game that forces grouping and then add such a simple
mechanism to break it.

Sean

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