Latest Diablo 3 News
DiabloWiki Updates
Support the site! Become a Diablo: IncGamers PAL - Remove ads and more!

Temporary buffs

Discussion in 'Diablo 3 General Discussion' started by Pyrohemia, Jun 30, 2010.

  1. Pyrohemia

    Pyrohemia IncGamers Member

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2007
    Messages:
    2,146
    Likes Received:
    22
    Trophy Points:
    123
    Temporary buffs

    Can player annoyance be considered as a method of balancing a skill?

    Diablo 2 makes use of a lot of long term 'temporary' buffs. Battle Orders, Fade, Enchant, Shout, Battle Command, Energy Shield, Bone Armor, Cyclone Armor, Holy Shield... the list goes on. The Amazon seems to be the only class not afflicted with temporary self-buffs (Inner Sight and Slow Missiles are enemy debuffs and don't count). All of these skills have durations longer than a single battle and at high levels last several minutes to a good portion of an hour (Energy Shield). The question is: Why do these skills expire?

    I can see two reasons why the skills would expire. The first reason is for thematic reasons. The obvious counter point is that we are dealing with magic and the only limits to what can or can't happen are our imaginations. We can simply choose to have buffs not be temporary and there are no fundamental contradictions. The second reason why these skills are temporary is as a way to try and balance skills that would otherwise be too powerful.

    This second point deserves some more detailed analysis. When a buff has a duration smaller than the length of one battle it becomes situational and allows for strategic usage. If there is no cool-down for the skill, though, players will chain castings together so that the buff is active continuously and the constant casting merely provides aggravation for the player. For buffs that are longer than one battle up to longer than hundreds of battles the player comes to expect that the buff is always present. In the fast paced game of an action-RPG anything longer than the length of a few fights is functionally infinite. When the buff eventually wears off the player has the annoyance of recasting in order to re-assume what has become his 'regular' power level.

    In Diablo 2 there are also temporary buffs such as stamina potions, thawing potions, etc. These are consumable and thus aren't automatically reusable when they expire so it makes sense for them to be temporary. Skills on the other hand are fundamentally reusable making their resulting buff effectively continuous.

    Now, the question becomes: When a skill buff lasts for a period of more than a minute (enough time for a couple of battles) does having the buff eventually expire lower the power level of the skill by any appreciable amount? If that answer is no, does the player annoyance of having to periodically recast temporary buffs outweigh any potential boosts to game balance?

    Diablo 3 has, as of what I remember although I don't want to try and find a quote, introduced a visual timer for buffs that will let you know when they are about to expire. Do you think that this will eliminate some or all of the annoyance surrounding keeping your character at full power?

    My opinion is that temporary buffs that aren't situational have player annoyance as their only downside. That makes for a game play mechanic that both isn't fun and has no benefit. I think that for Diablo 3 buffs should either be permanent or situational with nothing in between.

    What do you think when you ask yourself these same questions?
     
  2. Moonfrost

    Moonfrost IncGamers Member

    Joined:
    May 31, 2009
    Messages:
    1,268
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    120
    Re: Temporary buffs

    Indirectly, yes. Or rather, ask yourself this instead: can a method of balancing a skill lead to player annoyance? The answer is undoubtedly yes, because most players will do whatever it takes to gain an edge over their in-game opposition, even if that means performing tedious and repetetive tasks (e.g. re-buffing). Player annoyance is a very common side effect of game design challenges.

    Obviously this wasn't the designers' original intent; no sane designer would deliberately annoy the player. Many of them probably assume the player will have enough self-discipline to not play the game in a way that ultimately spoils their fun, but sadly that is rarely the case.

    That being said, the above isn't the only skill-balancing method. A better, more player-friendly alternative is to add certain barriers that prevent or discourage players from re-casting certain skills: things like cooldowns, resource costs and other conditional requirements; stuff that breaks the players' "negative" behavioral patters.

    In WoW, player skills have their own budget. If a skill exceeds its budget, it becomes overpowered and must be counter-balanced with negative effects such as cooldowns, resource costs, skill charges and so on - in other words nerfed. As you perhaps realize, some of these counter-measures would fall under the heading of "player annoyance" (esp. skill charges), but that is often a necessary evil because messing up game balance can have an even more negative impact on things than a certain amount of player annoyance does. Making the game too easy just because you don't want to put certain "annoying" restrictions on the players isn't a good thing.

    The reason I mention this is because I expect Blizzard to adopt this approach to skill balance in D3, given that they've become fairly familiar with it over time.

    Yup. One of the things I dislike about D2 was that I normally have no clue how soon my buffs will expire. Since I usually don't want to find myself in a situation where an important buff wears off when I really need it, I basically have to re-buff myself more often than I would've had there just been a simple buff timer available.
     
  3. NASE

    NASE IncGamers Member

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2006
    Messages:
    3,610
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    165
    Re: Temporary buffs

    Aren't we forgetting one aspect of those skills? at lower levels, you analysis doesn't cut it.
    I for one never bothered keeping up a low level shout or enchant. They simply wear off to soon and cost to much mana preventing normal play.
    So the limited duration on some skills has a meaning. It's an extrapolation of the function of the low level skill.

    Second, isn't the reason why they are considered useless in diablo 2 a problem with balance? None of the buffs have a downside. If forinstance, mana shield would consume 90% of the maximum mana (assuming there aren't mana pots in abundance) one might consider not renewing it at a certain time, or start preparing the renewing before it's there.
    If one manages to find an appropriate cost for the skill, it becomes a challenge to use effectively rather then only an annoyance to the player.
     
  4. Pyrohemia

    Pyrohemia IncGamers Member

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2007
    Messages:
    2,146
    Likes Received:
    22
    Trophy Points:
    123
    Re: Temporary buffs

    Yes, level 1 shout is only 20 seconds. That is enough for one battle. That could be considered situational. By level 3 it lasts 40 seconds. That is no longer situational and by my standards is merely frequent and aggravating. I definitely did give thought to lower levels. ;)

    When the buffs have an appropriate downside such that they balance themselves, wouldn't it make sense to allow the player to enter and leave that state at their own will just like a werewolf or werebear can? (I do know that these still aren't permanent but they do allow player control.)
     
  5. Brother Laz

    Brother Laz IncGamers Member

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2003
    Messages:
    560
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    165
    Re: Temporary buffs

    Just nerf the gd skill.

    In Median XL I tried 'tactical buffs' with a short duration - there was one that maxed all your speeds for 3 seconds and had a 10 second timer. Nobody used it. All of them ended up with a long duration or completely ignored. (That skill above now has an almost unlimited duration and the timer can go to zero)
     
  6. NASE

    NASE IncGamers Member

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2006
    Messages:
    3,610
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    165
    Re: Temporary buffs

    Allow me to note that ddo has many limited buffs and that I use them all the time.

    And I doubt it's an mmo thing as I actually don't like mmo's and don't play them (safe for some ddo as it's free) often.
     
  7. Brother Laz

    Brother Laz IncGamers Member

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2003
    Messages:
    560
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    165
    Re: Temporary buffs

    Does it have 3K monsters per Act? :)
     
  8. NASE

    NASE IncGamers Member

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2006
    Messages:
    3,610
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    165
    Re: Temporary buffs

    And why is that important?
     
  9. Flux

    Flux Administrator

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2003
    Messages:
    6,710
    Likes Received:
    62
    Trophy Points:
    472
    Re: Temporary buffs

    The utility vs convenience debate is eternal. Early in D2's development they had herbs and other reagents you could use for temporary buffs. Faster speed, resistance, etc. No one used them or remembered to use them. Same thing with charges on items; no one uses them, or saves them for the perfect occasion that never seems to arrive. This trend led to more +skill stuff in D2X, and ultimately the salvation/damnation that is oskill bonuses.

    I'm okay with useful skill bonuses requiring the player to actually cast them. They're called skills, and should require some of that to use. Remembering to cast a skill before you get the bonus is a reasonable request.

    An issue not yet broached in this debate is stacking and multiple effects. Auras last forever, but you can't have multiple in effect at once. (Flashing aside.) Warcries don't last forever, but you can stack up lots of them. Some curses can stack, others cancel each other out.

    A fairly easy way to balance abilities is to give them limited durations, or let one or more work at the same time. Not that D2 handled this perfectly; Battle Orders for instance, was used by every Barb build since it was supremely helpful. And since more points = more bonus + longer duration, everyone who used it maxed it out. Imagine if the duration/bonus had worked inversely, though? Say that BO lasted 300 sec at level 1, but only 15 sec at level 20. Where would the sweet spot be?

    Lazy/inattentive players would leave it at level 8 or 10, a good bonus but not so good they had to recast it constantly. Min/maxers would fill it up, and take pride in remembering to recast it almost constantly. What if all your warcries added into some kind of warcry timer, and the more you had active the faster they expired? Use just one and lasts for 5 minutes. Use 4 at once and it only last 15 seconds. Etc.

    I'm not arguing for that skill function in D3, but I think there's a lot more the devs could do with skills and durations, rather than just the nuisance vs. convenience issue.
     
  10. elganame

    elganame IncGamers Member

    Joined:
    May 10, 2010
    Messages:
    360
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    122
    Re: Temporary buffs

    All characther will have theyr pasive skills taking in mind that each and everyone needs to be an independent character too.
    Its a matter of party costumisation in wich buffs affects other players and its stats.
    I think that character buffs and its combinations will be crucial, i think we will experience more powerfull characters on party mode in wich we will be doing special "Epic scenes" or runs we usually couldnt do alone unless we have top item sets.

    Talking about buffs and debuffs, cold, poison, and other status.
    Will the characther still turn green when its poisoned or will we have like a sign or icon representing the status?
    For example, when de Monk stuns the mobs they apear whith that strange "eye looking" simbol on the head.
    Will we have diferent simbols representing the stats? Or full colores blue ice characters, green poisoned...etc...??
     
  11. Ephraim

    Ephraim IncGamers Member

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2010
    Messages:
    207
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    57
    Re: Temporary buffs

    A good example for this debate is Holy Shield.

    Actually using Holy Shield doesn't come until HS is about level 5 or so, because it usually costs almost the entire mana pool to run for about 30 seconds to about 1.5 minutes, which just isn't enough time.

    Once I do get Holy Shield higher, so that it has a 5+ minute duration, a new problem emerges. The duration is so long that I forget about HS. If I remember to recast HS, it's because I've noticed that my shield has reverted. At this point I start wondering how long it's been off. I start thinking it would be better to recast more often. Generally, I'll end up recasting every 30 seconds or so, which completely defeats the purpose of my increasing the duration and obliterates my mana pool. Either I'm not casting it enough and lose the effect, or I'm casting it too much and I lose my mana.

    I think that the timer in D3 will be an immeasurable help in preventing this type of problem. However, this problem does raise the question: Is there any point to having the duration at all? The duration is either short enough that you're never using the skill, or it's so long that you're casting it too inconsistently, or too often, almost to the point where there is no benefit from adding to the duration. Food for thought.
     

Share This Page