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Sentinel - Weaken Skill

Rev

Well-Known Member
After testing the weaken skill a bit, I am wondering if it is correct. Compared to Distract, it seems a lot weaker (pardon the pun).

1) I notice it does no damage. Distract does. I do a damage animation and if I have the xbow equipped, I use a bolt so I feel like it should have a damage component.

2) I don't know if distract is too high or if weaken is too low, but they don't seem balanced. Distract is 30% to outgoing hit for 1min at low level, 35% at 50. Weaken is 10% to outgoing penetration at low level, 12% at 50. Just seems a lot less powerful compared to Distract.
 

AdricLives

Administrator
Stormhaven Studios
2) I don't know if distract is too high or if weaken is too low, but they don't seem balanced. Distract is 30% to outgoing hit for 1min at low level, 35% at 50. Weaken is 10% to outgoing penetration at low level, 12% at 50. Just seems a lot less powerful compared to Distract.

Maybe, but -30 hit is not 30% chance they miss. So make sure that comparison is not relying on -30 hit being that. Also... they stack. So why not both? It being an "attack" and using up a bolt should not be though, that is configured wrong.
 

Rev

Well-Known Member
I guess maybe I just don't understand what the skills do then. I thought -30 was a percentage decrease to their chance to hit me and I really don't know what outgoing penetration actually does, but the numbers just seemed to different for skills that seemed to be similar in an attack with a debuff component. Maybe once the stat changes are done, the descriptions will be more clear.
 

Kaeolin

Well-Known Member
I guess maybe I just don't understand what the skills do then. I thought -30 was a percentage decrease to their chance to hit me and I really don't know what outgoing penetration actually does, but the numbers just seemed to different for skills that seemed to be similar in an attack with a debuff component. Maybe once the stat changes are done, the descriptions will be more clear.
It's been a problem all along that we don't understand some of the abilities and what they do. They've been working on them, cleaning up the tooltips. I cast weaken on pull and distract pretty quickly thereafter on anything 2^ or tougher. I figure it's doing something and lets me feel like i'm contributing to the combat with more than just heals
 

Rev

Well-Known Member
I can tell they are applying to the mob when cast. It is knowing what they do that is a bit unclear so I was just comparing the numbers and actions of each skill. Hoping once the stat changes and tooltips are reworked it will make more sense.
 

Undone

Codemaster
Stormhaven Studios
I think the skills should be better, if you cant even tell if its working or not, what's the point.
And how would you convey how well a "reduce the chance the mob hits you hard" is working or not? It's a difficult thing to make noticeable given that the distribution of miss/glance/normal/heavy/crit is normalized - these types of skills are skewing that distribution one way or the other. We can't crank it up to 11 because the skill also needs room to grow. Unless you are analyzing hundreds of hits you're not going to get a large enough sample size to determine the distribution, much less if the distribution is skewed.
 

Pelirow

Active Member
And how would you convey how well a "reduce the chance the mob hits you hard" is working or not? It's a difficult thing to make noticeable given that the distribution of miss/glance/normal/heavy/crit is normalized - these types of skills are skewing that distribution one way or the other. We can't crank it up to 11 because the skill also needs room to grow. Unless you are analyzing hundreds of hits you're not going to get a large enough sample size to determine the distribution, much less if the distribution is skewed.
I think this is going to be an ongoing tension issue, simply because at this point it's hard to know a skill is being useful and so far the best you've been able to provide is "it's working, you just can't see it." And that can be frustrating for players to hear.

I don't know if there's an obvious solution, but I do know there's going to be some player angst over this simply because players want to push a button and see a thing. Without clear conveyance that a skill is actually working, it can be a letdown to push a button and not actually see a concrete gain other than an icon on my buff bar confirming I really did push that button. You can tell us it's working and something is happening and we just can't "see it" and that's not always going to be an answer that satisfies the masses that want to visibly see themselves acting stronger. I wasn't all that excited to get my Dodge skill when I hit 18 on my MAR because I wasn't sure I'd be able to tell it was noticeably better than my level 4 Defender Resilience skill, and this turned out to be the case. I shelved my level 18 skill that took days to earn for the level 4 skill that took me hours to gain simply because Resilience had longer duration and less cooldown and those were the only two aspects of the two skills I could tangibly compare.

I don't know what the answer is for conveying how a skill with actual benefit is providing that benefit in the web of systems you have going on, I just know it's a bit of a letdown not being able to ascertain said benefit and I doubt you could easily add combat logging that says something like "you avoid this attack while your Dodge skill was active" or "you took less damage from a Weakened mob." The only other thing I can think of is something like you'd see from DnD: a rulebook that explains how all the stats work and how they're connected and how gains and negations can be beneficial. We just don't know what all these things are doing.

Another issue is it can be hard to tell just how information is being conveyed, such as Rev thinking -30 hit was 30% reduction in hit chance, because there are other skills that will say something that shows a plus/negative and it actually is a percentage. Hopefully this is something that can be better clarified eventually.

We have all these interesting stats and components to the stat system and I can see how with all these minute aspects of the system, having a clearly noticeable impact while we're lower level toons could go down the road of stat bloat, but it's definitely frustrating trying to figure out the benefit of one stat over another in a given instance and the universal conclusion of every player I've talked to is "no idea." If we have all these stats and we can't even feel them making a difference until we're finally high level toons, players are going to feel like they're not actually getting better.
 
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Undone

Codemaster
Stormhaven Studios
I don't know what the answer is for conveying how a skill with actual benefit is providing that benefit in the web of systems you have going on, I just know it's a bit of a letdown not being able to ascertain said benefit and I doubt you could easily add combat logging that says something like "you avoid this attack while your Dodge skill was active" or "you took less damage from a Weakened mob." The only other thing I can think of is something like you'd see from DnD: a rulebook that explains how all the stats work and how they're connected and how gains and negations can be beneficial. We just don't know what all these things are doing.
If we're talking about something like +/-HIT then there is no way to convey that information to the player accurately in chat. The stat values simply shift the distribution to make it more/less likely for something to happen. In other words: it impacts EVERY hit EVERY time when the buff/debuff is active - the question becomes did that buff/debuff push the distribution over a threshold to change the result? Our +Hit stat is very similar to what other games call +Crit and I don't recall those games having this perception problem. Maybe we just change the name of +Hit to +Crit so people can rest easy that their buffs/debuffs are doing something to help your group.

And that's really the other point that really confuses me a bit. Folks will do everything in their power to increase their Armor Class by 1 point (which arguably results in very little additional absorption), yet if a debuff that gives -Hit to an enemy isn't immediately noticeable then suddenly the ability is weak and offers little benefit? In my view, as a supporter, if I can do any little thing to reduce the damage output of our enemies then why would I not do that? Why does the min/max mentality not apply here? Statistically, it should result in me having to heal less frequently, which in turn will result in me generating less aggro, which in turn should improve the group's survival rate.
 

Pelirow

Active Member
And that's really the other point that really confuses me a bit. Folks will do everything in their power to increase their Armor Class by 1 point (which arguably results in very little additional absorption), yet if a debuff that gives -Hit to an enemy isn't immediately noticeable then suddenly the ability is weak and offers little benefit? In my view, as a supporter, if I can do any little thing to reduce the damage output of our enemies then why would I not do that? Why does the min/max mentality not apply here? Statistically, it should result in me having to heal less frequently, which in turn will result in me generating less aggro, which in turn should improve the group's survival rate.
The issue is twofold, in my view:

1. It goes back to the "it's there but you can't see it" aspect. 1 extra AC point may not do much, but players can SEE the 5 AC become 6 AC on their character stats and know they improved, even if it was incredibly minimal. As I said before, this might be the harder part of the issue to reasonably display or change.

2. The larger issue is Embers is a game heavily based on LAS and making choices as to what we put on our hotbar yet we can't tell which skill is preferable for a given situation. Weaken or Distract? Resilience or Dodge? Polished Tin Sword with 4s delay or Crafted Tin Sword with 5s delay but +6 PEN? Players have little to no idea (yet?) how to compare the wide range of stats attached to the skills and gear you've given us to make decisions based on their playstyle, preference, or group comp. I think people understand +Hit well enough compared to some stats and can maybe understand it better with a bit more explanation in-game or in a DnD style rulebook, it's when +hit or +pen are being compared we're feeling lost when trying make the decisions we want to make, to some degree. And I'd say for weapons with the +hit/pen/dam differences that those are the easier stats to understand and decisions to make. A better example may be: Assume Rev has one spot on available on his bar for either Weaken or Distract, can he tell for a given group and a given target of mobs which one would be better to put on his bar, or even his given playstyle preference? Which one would mean he has to heal less? Sometimes it feels like we just have to spin the wheel to pick rather than having actual player choices because of the inability to distinguish things.

It's still early beta and perhaps after the stat changes people will better be able to gauge what skills do, but right now after a month of testing most of us still have no idea.
 

Undone

Codemaster
Stormhaven Studios
1. It goes back to the "it's there but you can't see it" aspect. 1 extra AC point may not do much, but players can SEE the 5 AC become 6 AC on their character stats and know they improved, even if it was incredibly minimal. As I said before, this might be the harder part of the issue to reasonably display or change.
And a debuff showing on the NPC is not something you can SEE?

2. The larger issue is Embers is a game heavily based on LAS and making choices as to what we put on our hotbar yet we can't tell which skill is preferable for a given situation. Weaken or Distract? Resilience or Dodge? Polished Tin Sword with 4s delay or Crafted Tin Sword with 5s delay but +6 PEN? Players have little to no idea (yet?) how to compare the wide range of stats attached to the skills and gear you've given us to make decisions based on their playstyle, preference, or group comp. I think people understand +Hit well enough compared to some stats and can maybe understand it better with a bit more explanation in-game or in a DnD style rulebook, it's when +hit or +pen are being compared we're feeling lost when trying make the decisions we want to make, to some degree. And I'd say for weapons with the +hit/pen/dam differences that those are the easier stats to understand and decisions to make. A better example may be: Assume Rev has one spot on available on his bar for either Weaken or Distract, can he tell for a given group and a given target of mobs which one would be better to put on his bar, or even his given playstyle preference? Which one would mean he has to heal less? Sometimes it feels like we just have to spin the wheel to pick rather than having actual player choices because of the inability to distinguish things.
We've never really obfuscated what our stats do - we just don't explicitly explain them via tooltips (yet). There are not that many to keep track of and they seem relatively self explanatory anyway no?
  • +DMG = increase damage
  • +HIT = increases the probability of a heavy/crit while simultaneously decreasing your chances at a glance or miss
  • +PEN = less of your damage is absorbed by the target (i.e. more damage to health)
  • +RESIST = reduces incoming damage
  • +RESILIENCE = chance to not die when you hit 0hp
And we will not be providing the combat formulas directly as that is up to the players to discover on their own.

In regards to your Rev example it's entirely up to the player which they feel is more important in that particular situation - I don't think one is going to win out over the other in all scenarios, ideally you would have both. Distract provides -HIT which means mobs will heavy & crit less, while weaken reduces penetration meaning that the player will absorb more damage. It's not really meant for one to be overall "better" than the other, just an alternative to select from. If you want to min/max that kind of stuff then you'll just have to experiment on your own.
 

Pelirow

Active Member
And a debuff showing on the NPC is not something you can SEE?
Yes and no. Like I said, we can see the debuff icon is on, but the effect is so modest that we don't see the outcomes change much. Damage numbers for a mob that is weakened don't go from 10-12 damage to suddenly being 20-24 damage, but rather roughly in the same neighborhood of the numbers as before the skill was used, so it's hard to actually feel the impact. Everything looks and feels the same before and after pushing that button, even though I believe you and there's benefits being gained, it's just not as apparent. Not much we can probably do about this, and perhaps like you said, at higher levels it'll be more noticeable.
We've never really obfuscated what our stats do - we just don't explicitly explain them via tooltips (yet).
This is true and why I said perhaps with more time and after the stat rework folks will be more savvy about what choices they want to make. My final thought to add is: even though the game and the stat system are heavily inspired by DnD type tabletop game games, assume folks playing Embers have never heard of tabletop games when it comes to the what and how of stats used in the game. I went to go read a DnD ruleset website to try to understand the stats at one point early in the beta, especially Disadvantage haha.
 

Undone

Codemaster
Stormhaven Studios
Yes and no. Like I said, we can see the debuff icon is on, but the effect is so modest that we don't see the outcomes change much. Damage numbers for a mob that is weakened don't go from 10-12 damage to suddenly being 20-24 damage, but rather roughly in the same neighborhood of the numbers as before the skill was used, so it's hard to actually feel the impact. Everything looks and feels the same before and after pushing that button, even though I believe you and there's benefits being gained, it's just not as apparent. Not much we can probably do about this, and perhaps like you said, at higher levels it'll be more noticeable.
And how is this any different than that extra 1 point of armor class? You yourself said:
1 extra AC point may not do much, but players can SEE the 5 AC become 6 AC on their character stats and know they improved, even if it was incredibly minimal.
Which to me it's the same thing minus the lack of NPC stat sheet.
 

RazorBrains

Active Member
Well I think people like to see results and do not want theoretical results on a spell that is cast. I dont want to waste stamina for a theory spell that I am told works but cant even notice? If this was a passive spell on a piece of armor or weapon, then maybe that would be different, where the stats add up over time as a passive.

The crit is a little different because some games have spells that increase crit to very high levels so they immediately see their damage numbers spike.

My suggestion would be to make spells like this much more powerful so people can notice for a fact its working. If you really think increasing it is overpowered to increase. Then I would suggest limiting this a few ways if needed like:

Have longer cooldowns offset by power of spell.
Increase power by 100% and implement a 50% resist rate. Just doing this would technically be the same outcome. Half the time you would be getting the spell, but when it hits it would double.
Maybe combine it instead with an attack speed debuff, so you see the swings slower.

Funny I don't even know if 100% increase would be enough. People want flashy spells, imagine if you did a HOT (heal over time) spell that was so weak you couldn't notice between it or natural regen rate.

At this point, I would cast this spell if I have extra stamina to waste, but if I am low on stam, do I cast this spell or save stamina for a heal? Seems obvious choice, as a heal is noticeable. So is this spell balanced?

Personally if there are spells people don't even know if they are working or not, that's not going to go over well. Active spells shouldn't be theoretical.
 

Undone

Codemaster
Stormhaven Studios
Well I think people like to see results and do not want theoretical results on a spell that is cast. I dont want to waste stamina for a theory spell that I am told works but cant even notice? If this was a passive spell on a piece of armor or weapon, then maybe that would be different, where the stats add up over time as a passive.

The crit is a little different because some games have spells that increase crit to very high levels so they immediately see their damage numbers spike.

My suggestion would be to make spells like this much more powerful so people can notice for a fact its working. If you really think increasing it is overpowered to increase. Then I would suggest limiting this a few ways if needed like:

Have longer cooldowns offset by power of spell.
Increase power by 100% and implement a 50% resist rate. Just doing this would technically be the same outcome. Half the time you would be getting the spell, but when it hits it would double.
Maybe combine it instead with an attack speed debuff, so you see the swings slower.

Funny I don't even know if 100% increase would be enough. People want flashy spells, imagine if you did a HOT (heal over time) spell that was so weak you couldn't notice between it or natural regen rate.

At this point, I would cast this spell if I have extra stamina to waste, but if I am low on stam, do I cast this spell or save stamina for a heal? Seems obvious choice, as a heal is noticeable. So is this spell balanced?

Personally if there are spells people don't even know if they are working or not, that's not going to go over well. Active spells shouldn't be theoretical.
They're not theoretical though, it's actual functionality. If this is the case then we might as well remove 99% of the supporter buffs/debuffs and replace them with heals only. At which point the supporter becomes very one dimentional. I understand the desire of wanting things to "feel" impactful, but at some point we need utility-like abilities that either increase your survivability or make it easier to take down a target - neither of which is easy to quantify. Not everything can be flashy and immediate.
 

RazorBrains

Active Member
Well then if you are going to have spells that have very little notice for supporters. Then make the buffs last like 5 minutes so they are just recasts people do out of battle. If the buffs must be done in battle then have it an AOE shout for entire group for at least 2 minutes. Or if they are debuffs have them aoe and last the entire battle. At least then it might feel impactful.

I would try to focus on spells like bloodlust, that increase attack speed, so people can see it. Or spells that increase damage, again so you can see it. But recastable 5 minute buffs, I can see this working on hidden stats buffs.
 

Rev

Well-Known Member
I never had an issue with them applying to the mob or seeing them apply. I feel like this got off of what I originally meant. All I meant was that comparing the Distract and Weaken, they seemed very similar in function and description but the lower skill, Distract does weapon damage and -30 outgoing hit where the higher level Weaken has no weapon damage (but still used ammo) and a lesser -10 outgoing pen. It just seemed like the higher level skill wasn't on equal ground or better than the one I already had. I am at the point where I have to decide which 6 to roll with, so I look at the higher level one that does -10 outgoing pen and compare it to a lower skill with weapon damage and a -30 to outgoing hit, I can't justify putting weaken on my bar instead. I need both healing skills, Bolster Armor is really the only defense I have against gaining aggro, and Assailing strike is huge for removing the mob's armor. That leaves Screen, but that is a decent skill to use when grouped. If we are staying at 6 skills, then how does Weaken fit in? Would it only be useful if there were 2 Sentinels so one does weaken and one does Distract? Again though, I am waiting for the stats and tooltips to get their makeover to pass judgement. I just wanted to be sure there wasn't something bugged or configured wrong with either of the two skills before I can compare.
 

Undone

Codemaster
Stormhaven Studios
I never had an issue with them applying to the mob or seeing them apply. I feel like this got off of what I originally meant. All I meant was that comparing the Distract and Weaken, they seemed very similar in function and description but the lower skill, Distract does weapon damage and -30 outgoing hit where the higher level Weaken has no weapon damage (but still used ammo) and a lesser -10 outgoing pen. It just seemed like the higher level skill wasn't on equal ground or better than the one I already had. I am at the point where I have to decide which 6 to roll with, so I look at the higher level one that does -10 outgoing pen and compare it to a lower skill with weapon damage and a -30 to outgoing hit, I can't justify putting weaken on my bar instead. I need both healing skills, Bolster Armor is really the only defense I have against gaining aggro, and Assailing strike is huge for removing the mob's armor. That leaves Screen, but that is a decent skill to use when grouped. If we are staying at 6 skills, then how does Weaken fit in? Would it only be useful if there were 2 Sentinels so one does weaken and one does Distract? Again though, I am waiting for the stats and tooltips to get their makeover to pass judgement. I just wanted to be sure there wasn't something bugged or configured wrong with either of the two skills before I can compare.
The tooltips aren't going to tell you any more than what I outline above regarding what each stat does. You have to take into account that 1 PEN does not equal 1 HIT: the two stats impact two different things entirely, and those two different things are calculated in completely different ways so it's difficult to give you a "value" to compare. It's like comparing apples and potatoes. Most skills should be considered as if they were on equal footing if they are of the same level. The decision should be centered around "do I want this mob to do less damage every hit to my tank (but cause my tank's armor to degrade faster)? or do I want to lower the chance the mob scores a heavy/crit on my tank?"
 

AdricLives

Administrator
Stormhaven Studios
Not only that but Weaken not dealing damage means it generates less threat and costs less stamina. Even comparing -PEN to -HIT is not going to be the whole picture. And as mentioned I'm not sure any amount of feedback in the combat logs or explanations in tooltips is going to answer your question of "which ability should I use" this is ultimately something you decide for yourself and figuring out when they are most effective and making that decision is part of the game. What we can try to offer is explanations of the stats so you can better understand how -PEN and -HIT generally effect things so you can make a more educated decision. But ultimately this decision and discovering when one is more useful than another is something for the community to figure out.
 

Pelirow

Active Member
But ultimately this decision and discovering when one is more useful than another is something for the community to figure out.
This is what I hope happens and is what @RazorBrains and I are trying to explain isn't happening (currently) from what we see. After a month of beta I haven't been able to figure out anything with a number of the different abilities and stats I've been trying understand. Perhaps players will start understanding the nuances better over time or after the stat simplification, but if the dedicated beta players are looking at these numbers and not able to make conclusions, I'm not sure how much better players will be at launch trying to pick and choose based on actually figuring the skills out as opposed to just blindly choosing because they're clueless. Time will tell.