melnorme said: Re: attributes, I think you need to clarify your design goals. Is your objective to have attributes that are viable/useful choices for all classes? Or is the objective to have attributes that are viable/useful choices for the Cartesian product of classes and whether or not they're being played as a close-range "line of fire" character? That is, that all attributes should be viable/useful for both melee and ranged rogues, for both muscle wizards and traditional wizards, etc.

The former.  It’s more important to me that players be able to make a wide variety of characters of a given class with different Attribute spreads than for those Attribute spreads to be equally viable in all circumstances/all different class styles (e.g. close-up gish wizard vs. back row wizard throwing out big AoEs).

The game’s content should always (IMO) encourage the player to play toward the strengths of the character.  In many class-based RPGs, a large number of possible stat spreads give the player nothing for the points they put into them.  A 2nd Ed. fighter with a high Int or Cha winds up being just a bad fighter.  It’s cool for role-playing purposes, but mechanically, they aren’t good and there are very few routes to making that Int and Cha feel like good investments.

In 3.X, WotC tried solving some of this with feats and specialty classes.  E.g. you can make an Int-oriented fighter with certain feats or you can make a Swashbuckler with Int-based damage bonuses.  This is a way to address the problem, but it happens on the back end rather than in the stat/attributes themselves.  I made a 3.5 cleric based on William of Baskerville from The Name of the Rose.  High Int/Wis/Cha, low Str/Con/Dex.  It was difficult to make a character on that concept that didn’t feel like he was dragging the party down and virtually impossible with just the core rules.

In Bobby Null’s recent 3.5 game, one of the players made a high Cha fighter.  He was just a bad fighter.  Cool character, but really a liability in combat.  Outside of combat, his conversational stats were steamrolled by the “diplomancer” noble/marshal I made.  At 8th level, she had +29 to Diplomacy.  Setting aside that 3.5 makes it ludicrously easy to blow out the Diplomacy DC scale with a modicum of effort, there was nothing good or fun about the massive deficiencies of the other player’s high Cha fighter.  You can solve it on the back end with enough splat books, but what I would like to do in PoE is see how much of it we can solve in the Attribute system itself.

I’ve never said our current system is perfect, that it will be perfect, or that perfect balance is even a goal.  I think I’ve said many things to the contrary over the course of development.  It’s much easier to try to make all attributes valuable in a classless system, but I don’t think that means we shouldn’t attempt it in a class-based system.

On a minor side note, if I ever get to make an Ars Magica/Darklands-style game, I would definitely make it turn-based and classless.

enverxis said: Replying to your answer to my previous question: Will the encounters in the BB undergo some alterations to make them more interesting over the course of the beta?

As soon as Dave has new behaviors implemented, we will start using them in the BB content.

anek45 said: Would you consider giving XP for selected unique & difficult combat encounters outside of quests, like killing the spider queen or surviving a bandit ambush? Such encounters seem like a much more meaningful source of experience for an adventurer and much more deserving of a reward for players, than completing a fetch quest. Not to mention it would make wilderness exploration more compelling.

We’re doing that already.  Near the beginning of the project, we talked with people on the OEI forums about quest-based XP and said that we would have quests that were specifically “defeat this dude” or “clear this area”.

melnorme said: Bioware's first Dragon Age game had a feature that was derisively termed "the rogue shuffle". A distinctive movement animation for rogues that activated when they were moving near opponents and going for flank attacks. This was considered a bad thing in DA, but it dawns on me that something like this could be useful in PoE - making it more clear when you were in melee engagement. Have you considered new animations as visual feedback for melee engagement? What other feedback is being considered?

We used to have lines that drew each way between the engaged character and the engager, but we disabled them because they were buggy.  Kaz needs to create new artwork for it and programming needs to fix the bugs with it.  Knowing when characters are engaged is very important, so it’s going to be addressed.

anek45 said: What's the rationale behind not including a weapons proficiency mechanic in PoE? I always found allocating proficiency points to be a fun and meaningful part of building and advancing characters in the Infinity engine games. It made each character more unique (compared to others of the same class) in a way that had a big effect on both combat game-play, and "role-playing" of the characters. Do you disagree?

Allocating proficiencies at character creation is asking the player to commit to decisions about what weapons they want to use/specialize in before they’ve even used any of them.

We do have Weapon Focus as a talent for all characters at level 3.  Weapon Focus grants +10 Accuracy, which is about the equivalent of +2 to hit in D&D terms.  In BG, going from Unskilled to Proficient meant going from -1 to Hit/-1 to Damage to 0/0 to both, so I think Weapon Focus has a similar weight.  Fighters also get Weapon Specialization at 4th level, which adds to their damage.

The main differences between this and BG/IWD are that we don’t have the player make these choices before 3rd level and we don’t use the Mastery/High Mastery/Grandmastery style PO:C&T rules that sent fighters flying away into the stratosphere, damage-wise.

anek45 said: While the innovative classes (Chanter, Cipher, Barbarian etc) are already quite fun to play in the backer beta, the traditional ones feel boring and inflexible - especially Fighter and Rogue, which actually feel *less* versatile in combat than their Baldur's Gate versions. Their new modal & active abilities don't really seem to make combat less 'routine', they just make the routine more cumbersome to go through. Will that be different in the final game?

If you’re arguing that 5th level fighters and rogues in Baldur’s Gate felt more versatile in combat than PoE’s 5th level fighters and rogues, I completely disagree.

I’m not sure where you get the ability routine from since a lot of their use is situational.  If you can position your rogue to flank or to take advantage of any of a laundry list of Afflictions, you will automatically Sneak Attack (in BG, you could only backstab under very limited conditions).  If you can’t take advantage of those Afflictions as applied by someone else, you can inflict them yourself with Crippling Strike.  If you want to Sneak Attack with a ranged weapon, you can (again, you could not in BG).

In addition to Sneak Attacking, a 5th level PoE rogue also has the ability to increase attack speed with Dirty Fighting when circumstances allow (i.e., when they are not the focus of attacks) and to use Escape when they’re in trouble.  Finishing Blow is the opposite of a routine use ability since its power scales inversely with the Stamina of the target.

Prior to receiving High Level Abilities in BG2:ToB, fighters were extraordinarily simple.  BG’s fighters’ tactical options revolved around which weapons to use, whom to attack, and where they should be positioned.  PoE’s fighters are also supposed to be pretty low-maintenance, with Defender, Knock Down, and Vigorous Defense as their modal/active abilities.

Defender a very good ability to use when you’re dealing with multiple melee enemies but should almost always be shut off right away if you’re dealing with a single opponent.  Knock Down is a situational use ability that is much, much more effective when used against a target with weak Fortitude.  Vigorous Defense is best used when the fighter is in the most danger.  Sometimes that’s at the beginning of a fight, but not always.

I can see how some people might consider fighters versatile in BG because they could dump points into bows and hang back OR dump points into melee weapons and rush forward but that doesn’t really seem that versatile.  If you compare BG’s fighters to BG’s thieves, you can see that fighters were acting both as defensive characters and massive weapon-based damage dealers — but I don’t see any combat versatility in BG’s thieves at all, to be honest.

Please follow up if you have specific examples or scenarios in mind, because I may be missing something.

melnorme said: So, after examining PoE's health/stamina system, it dawns on me that "damage spread" has changed from a tactical to a strategic concern. In AD&D, if your tank got beat up badly in a fight, you could heal him, and he could just keep on tanking until you ran out of healing resources. In PoE, since you can't heal him, you have to make sure he doesn't get hit too hard over the long term. So, his reliability as a tank is diminished and other characters must be ready to fill that role. Intentional?

Damage spread isn’t really being “spread” right now due to how AI targeting works, but our system has similar underpinnings to healing surges in 4E.  In both the scenarios you’re describing, healing is a strategic concern.  In AD&D and 3.X, you were limited by healing resources, typically from a cleric or (rarely) a druid.  You still didn’t want anyone to take too much damage over time since the healer would have to continually dump his or her limited spells into the characters to keep moving.

In 4E and PoE, clerics/priests serve more of a tactical function than a strategic function.  Outside of combat, 4E characters can use their own surges without needing a dedicated healer.  Within combat, they usually either need to use Second Wind or have a surge triggered by a cleric or similar healing character.  But even if a cleric triggers a surge (e.g. via Healing Word), it’s the targeted character that’s using it, not the cleric.  4E clerics sprinkle a little extra healing on top of the surge, but the surge is typically doing the majority of the healing.  Much more than in AD&D or 3.X, you don’t need a dedicated healer in 4E in a strategic sense — though they can be incredibly valuable, tactically.

For defense-oriented characters — both in PoE and 4E — their defensive abilities and their HP/surges/Health are their resources.  They have high HP/Stamina/Health because they’re intended to take the lion’s share of damage.  Everyone needs HP to keep moving, but when a defender runs out, the line of defense drops.  PoE’s AI targeting currently dogpiles on the nearest available target, so if you send your fighter forward, he or she is going to suffer significantly more than a 4E defender would (assuming the DM didn’t just have everyone dogpile).

I think that when the AI targeting improves, damage will spread out more.  Additionally, I think all the front line characters need to have their health set up more like the barbarian with Thick-Skinned.  After all, in 4E, surges are proportional to total health, but even so, the front line classes have more surges to burn every day.  E.g. wizards have 6 base surges and fighters have 9.  4E characters also get more surges the higher their Con, so it’s not uncommon for a front-line character have almost twice as much personal healing potential.

enverxis said: Currently in the PE beta, backers like myself are playing ranged characters in no armor because there's virtually no reason to suffer the reduction in DPS from the reduced action speed from armor if you're not getting attacked (that much anyway). Do you think this is degenerative gameplay and if so, what would you propose to make ranged armor wearing a viable choice ?

That doesn’t seem degenerative because it’s entirely within the spirit of the game — it’s just dull because circumstances never demand anything different.  The players are making a strategic choice based on the available (undemanding) content.  If, in 3.X, you removed armor proficiency feats but retained ASF, most wizards would only wear heavier armor if their characters were frequently being targeted by AC-based attacks.  That would either require them to enter harm’s way or for the DM to specifically target them.  Otherwise the trade-off isn’t worth it.

What’s happening right now is that the enemies aren’t using anything beyond the most basic targeting preferences and most of the enemies in the BB do not have AoEs.  It results in the “dog pile” behavior where one character (usually the BB dwarf fighter) takes the lion’s share of attacks and damage.

I’ve been talking with Adam, Steve, and Dave about how targeting preferences need to work to make both tactical and strategic considerations more interesting.  The discriminations the AI needs to make are not complicated or fuzzy, but without them, combat lacks dynamism.  AIs should prefer spellcasters, targets with low Stamina, low defenses, specific Afflictions on them, whoever inflicted the most damage on them, etc.  Those preferences result in different characters being attacked at different times and often in a target switch mid-combat.

Ultimately, if your ranged characters don’t wear armor (or wear light armor), that should be a decision that is evaluated and re-evaluated with different areas and sets of enemies — and occasionally has negative consequences when someone beelines for you with no regard for provoking Disenagement Attacks or specifically hurls an AoE into the back line.

melnorme said: What is your answer to the accusation that, compared with BioWare's Infinity Engine titles, the encounters in the Black Isle-developed IE games over-relied on melee enemies at the expense of interesting ranged opponents?

This is a very dramatic question!  Also, I don’t think so, at least not consistently.  BG2 did have more ranged enemies and by proportion of casters, I would say those enemies were interesting ranged opponents.

BG1 didn’t have a large proportion of ranged opponents and of their ranged opponents, a large number of them were straightforward archers.  Archers can certainly make mixed melee/ranged battles more tactically interesting, but IWD had standard archers as well.  Creatures like BG’s sirens and basilisks were very dangerous, but IWD also had ranged casters like yuan-ti priests, orc shamans, etc.

I think it’s best to mix ranged and melee whenever possible and I think the best battles in the IE games (IMO) featured both types of opponents (or singular opponents with different ranged and melee capabilities).

ghoulishvisage said: Why did you guys decide to keep keep the term "Godlike" for the race instead of coming up for an in-universe term for them like Tiefling, or Genasi? When it was initially announced I thought it was just a descriptive way you were speaking of them, then as the time went on I thought that it was just a working-title for them. I didn't think until recently that you were going to stick with the term.

The in-universe term is Godlike.  They appear among all races all over the world and little is common between them except for their odd supernatural appearance and sterility.  Vailian dwarves and Ymyran elves would have Vailian and Aedyran terms for them, but in most cultures and languages those terms simply translate back to the equivalent of “Godlike”.