Project Delicate Rebalancement: Tales of the Wild Coast

Discussion in 'General Modification' started by TimSmith, Nov 26, 2006.

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  1. TimSmith

    TimSmith Established Member

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    Re: Are The New Mods Making The Game Unbalanced?

    Note: Thread split from the Game Difficulty: Are The New Mods Making The Game Unbalanced? thread for GM discussion.


    Maybe the answer is to make added quests for the higher levels so they come AFTER completing the main storyline. Of course, this might seem anti-climactic after Zuggy...

    On the other hand, if you are getting to level 10 after these side quests, perhaps they should be viewed as an ALTERNATIVE adventure module. ie Either do the Temple OR get distracted by other matters and leave the Temple bashing to more "focussed" adventurers. After all, if you gallivant off somewhere else, don't be surprised if some other adventurers happen along and steal your thunder by clearing out the Temple before you get around to it!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 28, 2006
  2. Old Book

    Old Book Established Member

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    Re: Game Difficulty: Are The New Mods Making The Game Unbalanced?

    I thought the vanilla game, pre-mods, was a cake walk. I completed it with no losses with a team of 5 wizards, and a duo of a Babarian/Rogue and a Bard, all well before there were any mods. No reloads. I never soloed the game all the way through, but I soloed the Moathouse with a wizard then got bored. Only the nodes were seriously tough, and I gave up on playing them because they were too buggy. Occasionally someone would claim to have soloed with a 1st level rogue and while I expect that's what's known as a "lie", certainly soling with a rogue would be possible if you didn't care about killing your way through and just wanted to get the end sequence.

    With the mods, the game is harder, and more interesting, before you get to the temple and in a few places once you arrive. The Tower battle, with foes using spells intelligently, is fantastic.

    With only a few exceptions, the rest of the temple is too easy for 8th-10th level characters.

    I don't really like the Cut the XP solution, but it has the advantage of being quick, simple and effective. If your characters are lower level, the challenge will be that much greater. Unless someone wants to seriously re-mod the encounters in the temple, that's probably the best answer.

    A much harder but probably more entertaining answer would be to introduce leveled encounters within the temple to more seriously tax the characters. If you're level 4 in the Earth Temple, encounters remain as they are. If you're level 5, you face more foes, including some spell casters. If you're level 7, you face an entirely different group of monsters, and so on.

    A few high level enemies patrolling the upper floors (just as enemies patrol the bottom level) might be easier to mod, and would help add some tension.

    Allyx's Node FIxes might partially take care of this. If players could go into the nodes again without the frickin freezes, they wouldn't care so much that the first floor of the temple was a bit of a pushover.
     
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2006
  3. Aeroldoth

    Aeroldoth Established Member

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    Re: Game Difficulty: Are The New Mods Making The Game Unbalanced?

    I think what makes many encounters too easy are the small numbers involved: A few bugbears here, a handful of gnolls there, even a spellcaster all by himself. This can't easily be fixed either since the whole temple consists of tiny rooms and narrow corridors.

    The high clerics, senshock... they're all sitting by themselves, waiting to be outnumbered. In order to make encounters more challenging, we would need to merge a bunch of encounters together, so that casters can actually cast while your party is busy with the dozen monsters attacking you. Memorable combats such as the fire temple, the watchtower, Hedrack, all involve large areas with lots of opponents. The game needs more of this, but there aren't that many large areas in the temple to use. The nodes would be great, but they're so buggy they're not worth the annoyance.

    All I can think of for modding is that once the "alarm" is sounded, have all the faiths gather in their respective temple areas (earth troops in the earth temple, etc). This would make for great combats... if you survived.
     
  4. Lord_Spike

    Lord_Spike Senior Member Veteran

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    Re: Game Difficulty: Are The New Mods Making The Game Unbalanced?

    Maybe someone who can find that earlier thread could link it here, or merge it? I haven't been able to find it yet, but it sort of got dropped as many topics do. Other more pressing matters, I guess...

    http://www.co8.org/forum/showthread.php?t=4008&highlight=experience+multiplier

    Here it is...though I don't get exactly where there was a "hue & a cry" against it. Maybe it was simply put on the back burner, and then forgotten?
     
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2006
  5. Gaear

    Gaear Bastard Maestro Administrator

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    Re: Game Difficulty: Are The New Mods Making The Game Unbalanced?

    Hm . . . I find myself in rather pointed disagreement with the prevailing opinion of modders here. I've been playing through for the first time with 5.0.x, using an eight member party with no XP farming, so my progress should be going as slow as it possibly can. I'm at 10th level in the 3rd level of the temple, having done the Moathouse Respawn, Hickory Branch and Verbobonc. I've found the beginning game to be excrutiatingly difficult and the middle game to be wearisomely easy, but I'm anticipating an upturn in difficulty for the end game, based on what I've heard.

    What's it all mean, IMO? We've broken the game. People will come here to get the mod (many following the Co8 PC Gamer article), load it in, play, and have similar reactions to what we're hearing from mrbunnyban and blackfly. A 'WTF?' reaction from players is unnacceptable, as it tarnishes the rep we and the originators here at Co8 have worked to establish.

    What are the solutions, easy or otherwise? Culling from what has been mentioned here and elsewhere, we could:

    1. Do nothing
    2. Reduce the XP award
    3. Rebuild the temple and later game to be appropriately difficult

    It hasn't been mentioned yet, but there is a fourth option, though I'm loathe to impliment it:

    4. Remove the added content from the official mod and make it available as optional add-ons

    I hate that idea because it's a slap in the face to the guys - Allyx, Ted and Krunch - who busted their asses to make those mods. But if we're unwilling to do anything else, I think we have no other choice but to do it. As I already stated, having a broken ToEE because of our mods cannot be tolerated. If people do find it somehow acceptable, then we might as well all pack up and go home, because our quality standards will most assuredly relegate our status to bush-league. It's all about excellence, people. Excellence is something we have achieved here in the past and are quite capable of continuing to achieve, if we want to.

    Personally I like option 3 above to overcome this dilemma, although I know that right now Blue is asking "Will you be the one to do all that work?" Of course I won't, unless somehow sound engineering is to blame for it all. But that doesn't change anything. If we can't bring ourselves to undertake such an overhaul, then I believe option 2 is best. Followed by option 4 and then finally giving up on ToEE with option 1.

    Working on KotB is all well and good, but we've got something of a first do no harm obligation to ToEE here at Co8. That conclusion, to me, is inescapable.
     
  6. Kalshane

    Kalshane Local Rules Geek

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    Re: Game Difficulty: Are The New Mods Making The Game Unbalanced?

    Well, the option I liked from the previous discussion was to have some form of XP selector in the Front-End. Set your XP/difficulty from Normal (current awards) to Hard (50% or so) to Really Hard (33%).

    That said, I think reducing the XP awards would be a problem because as mentioned elsewhere, the early levels are where the game seems to be most difficult, and reducing the awards compounds that. Also, reducing the awards makes it far less-likely for folks to be able to use all the additional spells various folks have worked hard to include in the game.

    I'm willing to help out in making existing NPCs tougher if that's the route we want to go down, but as I found out in my creature overhaul for 5.0, there's a lot of stuff I don't know how to do.
     
  7. Lord_Spike

    Lord_Spike Senior Member Veteran

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    Re: Game Difficulty: Are The New Mods Making The Game Unbalanced?

    I was before and am now a proponent of the xp-modifier solution, as this seems easiest of all. I don't know how hard it would make for people to progress early in the game, and may not turn out to be the best solution. So, for the sake of adding to the discussion, I'd like to suggest as option 5 that the Mods be made tougher & placed at the end of ToEE rather than during the middle of the journey. That seems easier to do than fixing everything else, and would let those who created them expand upon their work. Obviously, way more discussion is in order, but fixing this ought to be a priority.
     
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2006
  8. Cerulean the Blue

    Cerulean the Blue Blue Meanie Veteran

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    Re: Game Difficulty: Are The New Mods Making The Game Unbalanced?

    I would really like people to play through the first part of the game with the the XP award reduced before they pronounce judgment on it. I have gotten through the Moathouse so far with the XP award reduced from the stock 70% to 50%, and I haven't really noticed any difference in level progression. Due to the geometric increase in the XP needed to gain each new level, I don't think the award reduction will really be noticeable until higher levels.
     
  9. wizgeorge

    wizgeorge Prophet of Wizardy

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    Re: Game Difficulty: Are The New Mods Making The Game Unbalanced?

    Maybe some work with random encounters could toughen things up. I know a lot has already been done, but is there any room to work with. Then again, tougher monsters mean more xp also. 5 or 6 random's in a row while trying to rest is a pain, but it adds xp. I'm not so sure a long, difficult scripting is really needed. No matter what is done, the "manipulators" will find a way around it.
     
  10. Old Book

    Old Book Established Member

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    Re: Game Difficulty: Are The New Mods Making The Game Unbalanced?

    Adding just a few good spell casters to the Earth Temple would make quite a difference, though it wouldn't work as well as the tougher option of allowing the entire temple to respond at once. Fireballs are not an option (not enough room to toast the PCs without getting monsters), but a few Charm Persons, Hold Person, or Prayer spells cast by enemies could make those Earth Temple fights into something very different.

    Level two of the Temple seems better balanced to me; certainly the Fire and Water Temple fights can result in a TPK if a player isn't cautious. Again, just a few Witches or Wizards could make the softer areas more challenging.

    Can a high level patrol be added, like the Captain who patrols on level three?

    Just random thoughts here.
     
  11. Old Book

    Old Book Established Member

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    Re: Game Difficulty: Are The New Mods Making The Game Unbalanced?

    If the XP reduction applies only to foes killed and not to quest rewards, you'll still be about level 2 heading to the Moathouse. Going through the MH, you'll reach level 3, which is enough to complete the place. The fighting in Nulb can all be handled by a level 3-4 party, though a level 5 party will find it easier.

    An XP reduction probably wouldn't be a problem.
     
  12. Gaear

    Gaear Bastard Maestro Administrator

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    Re: Game Difficulty: Are The New Mods Making The Game Unbalanced?

    A few responses . . .

    Verbo and HB may not be part of the original story, but they are there in 5.0.x. As such, they are meant to be played. Therefore, as such, we are responsible for what impact that has, not the player.

    This would be quite fine in theory, except that, IMO, the difficulty of the early game actually needs to be reduced, not just kept stagnant. I base this opinion on my impression that I'm essentially an average player, and thus representative of what a majority of users might experience. I have a working knowledge of D&D and I'm 'hip' to most of the game's nuances, but I'm no tactical master. Mr. Average here had his ass beat repeatedly in the early game, particularly as regards our newly modded stuff. Too much of that kind of thing makes people want to quit. At least average people. ;)

    This is quite an interesting suggestion. (Slaying a dragon in Verbo, for example, would be fittingly climactic to a ToEE expansion, which is what this scenario would effectively turn those mods into, I believe.) Allyx and Krunch and Ted would have to hold forth on the doability of this and whether they have any inclination for it. My best guess is that they probably don't, unfortunately. :(

    I dunno, OB. I was just through level two with 5.0.x and it was almost a total yawner. The only deaths I suffered were in the fire temple fight. Everything else - including the water temple - was a breeze. And by 'breeze' I mean spellcasters standing around filing their nails and such. The temple priests in particular went down with embarassing ease. And remember - this is coming from the guy who just got done crying that the early game was too hard. :shrug:

    Lastly, a few other points of consideration . . .

    • The new mods dole out a lot of cash and magical items and weapons in addition to XP. This impacts later stages of the game as well. I've got Zert wreaking havoc with the 'blade of fury' (iirc) on temple level one; we eventually get to level two and raid the fire chest for the flaming longsword (+1), and find it's obsolete. I'm not even using it.
    • Some of the foes in the new mods are rather dominant, CR wise. For example, I think krunch's orc captain is still my top rated enemy killed in the ego section, and I've since gone up against all the temple priests, their troop commanders, various 'groaning spirit' type things, etc., etc. Sort of out of whack in that regard.
     
  13. TimSmith

    TimSmith Established Member

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    Re: Game Difficulty: Are The New Mods Making The Game Unbalanced?

    I think you have hit the nail on the head. However, assuming that rebalancing the Temple for higher level characters will be a Herculean task, the XP adjustment option sounds the most practical. Having it customisable from the front end would be wonderful.

    (Another solution could be changing only the mods. 1)Make THEM more challenging and place them later in the game. 2)Instead give their encounters artificially low CRs in order to award hardly any XP-if the mods are there for the fun but don't add to the XP haul, then they won't make characters too powerful later on.)
    Edit- posted just after previous post, so I now see that my last suggestion would still leave the party rather well equipped, even if not over experienced. Hmm...
     
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2006
  14. Allyx

    Allyx Master Crafter Global Moderator Supporter

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    Re: Game Difficulty: Are The New Mods Making The Game Unbalanced?

    Time to weigh in my responses, so here goes.

    I also agree the game becomes too easy at later levels if you complete all the added content, but to fix it (and we should fix it) we do have those options mentioned above...

    The easy fix: reduce XP to 50%
    The hard fix: reballance the temple to take the new content into consideration.
    The restructuring of the new content itself: altering when the new content can be added.

    "Do nothing" isn't an option, its a cop out.

    So to look at each in turn.

    The easy fix is just that, easy to do (I could have posted this fix faster than writting what I have done so far...) but it remains to be seen if it will have the intended effect on the game.

    The hard fix will take months to do, it's not just a few spellcasters here and there, it's every creature in the temple that needs to be boosted up at least 1 or 2 levels, and in the case of spellcasters improved AI to cast new spells as well, a smarter dungeon would also help increase the difficulty (adding alertpoints to some of the bugbear guards who stand around waiting to die while thier comrades in the next room are blissfully unaware of the combat outside the door).

    Which brings me to the last option, it would be fairly easy to stage the Verbobonc mod later in the game, but I would need to alter how it can be triggered. Currently I can (and do) make a beeline straight to the female prisoners as soon as I enter the temple (level 5-6). Embarking on a side treck adventure intended for level 10+ characters at half the intended level is suicide. The new content should fit within the story at an appropriate time IMHO, which doesn't leave me many options for a triggerer, in fact only one that I can think of, Prince Thrommel. as far as scaling the monsters in the new content to make them more challenging, it shouldn't be too hard, In Verbobonc only the spiders are used elsewhere in the game, so adding extra levels to the Drow and adding a second parent Dragon should be a relatively simple thing to do, though it would also increase the challenge that Ted's Drow in the moathouse respawn present as a side affect. I suspect HB would be a little harder to do If krunch re-used some of rufnredde's orcs. How to trigger the HB mod is a question for krunch though.
     
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2006
  15. Shiningted

    Shiningted I want my goat back Global Moderator

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    Re: Game Difficulty: Are The New Mods Making The Game Unbalanced?

    Hey, buff my Drow by all means :)

    Pity to hear about the Blade of Fury - I limited all the magic gear in my mods to +2 max for just this reason. But I agree something should be done.

    I am not sure what Blue has in mind for reducing the XP - taking it down a peg for the quests is the easiest thing I can think of. If it can be done just as easily for the critters, lets just do it.

    And if anyone wants to redo some of my modding efforts to reduce XP or to rebalance it, hey, go for it.

    We do seem to have a fairly, mmm, not unspoken but a consensus opinion that ToEE is 'finished' as far as new content goes. But we also have new modders coming through who want to contribute freely but are not ready for a whole module. May I suggest new content for ToEE be solely of an RP variety? Some new quests that have to be thought, not battled, through would be a lot of fun and wouldn't necessarily contribute anything in the way of Xp, if an intelligently rewarding payoff can be thought of (like the endslide to end all endslides).
     
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