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View Poll Results: Nerf or buff
Nerf the offender 5 62.50%
Buff something else 3 37.50%
Voters: 8. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 05-14-2009, 09:48 PM   #1
gruevy
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Nerf, or buff something else

This is a poll. I prefer, unless things are obviously not working as intended, to buff other things to compensate for an overpowered skill or spell rather than nerfing it down to size. How do you decide which? What single criterion do you consider in making this decision?
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Old 05-14-2009, 11:32 PM   #2
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Re: Nerf, or buff something else

Quote:
Originally Posted by gruevy View Post
This is a poll. I prefer, unless things are obviously not working as intended, to buff other things to compensate for an overpowered skill or spell rather than nerfing it down to size. How do you decide which? What single criterion do you consider in making this decision?
If you state that a "skill or spell" is "overpowered", doesn't that mean that it should have less power to be of a proper level of power?

No matter how some players may view a modification of a skill it is hardly ever as easy as "nerf or buff".

And (most) coders (at least the ones I know) do not modify down a skill in a game that has players without considering the impact on all the players (in a general sense), not just the ones that may have the particular skill. And believe it or not, we do not like to negatively impact a player's game-play as much as some players would like you to believe.

I know I have spreadsheets of damage per time, risk factors and usage costs for each set of combat skills. Utility skills and combat-assistance skills also need to be considered.

If only it was as easy as "nerf or buff". But it may seem like that from the outside.
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Old 05-14-2009, 11:37 PM   #3
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Re: Nerf, or buff something else

There's something to be said for testing things thoroughly before full implementation. Then the question becomes unnecessary.

Last edited by prof1515 : 05-15-2009 at 03:00 AM.
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Old 05-14-2009, 11:50 PM   #4
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Re: Nerf, or buff something else

Well, take the bash skill. On the mud I play, ArcticMud, it has been tweaked, buffed, nerfed, adjusted, and in all other ways constantly managed as the game has moved along. It makes mages not cast spells, when they're down, as you probably know. Let's say that at high skills, it never failed on any mage. Do you give someone else a skills to pwn bashers, and someone else something to own them, and go in a circle? Do you limit the effectiveness of bash alltogether? Do you add items to make mages able to resist bash? This is what I mean. Your first reaction to the problem of bash, or anything else, is either nerf it, or buff something else, when presented with an imbalance.
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Old 05-15-2009, 12:48 AM   #5
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Re: Nerf, or buff something else

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Originally Posted by prof1515 View Post
There's something to be said for testing things thoroughly before full implementation. Then the quiestion becomes unnecessary.
It is amazing what a player can find that a coder may have missed.

You never know what they will try. Who would have thought they would type "Turn tomato"...?
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Old 05-15-2009, 12:58 AM   #6
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Re: Nerf, or buff something else

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Originally Posted by gruevy View Post
Well, take the bash skill. On the mud I play, ArcticMud, it has been tweaked, buffed, nerfed, adjusted, and in all other ways constantly managed as the game has moved along. It makes mages not cast spells, when they're down, as you probably know.
Nope, didn't know that, as I do not play the game.

Handy skill.

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Let's say that at high skills, it never failed on any mage. Do you give someone else a skills to pwn bashers, and someone else something to own them, and go in a circle? Do you limit the effectiveness of bash alltogether? Do you add items to make mages able to resist bash? This is what I mean. Your first reaction to the problem of bash, or anything else, is either nerf it, or buff something else, when presented with an imbalance.
A lot depends on what the game is designed for.

CvE (character versus environment) and CvC (character versus character, also know as PvP and PK) are very different systems, for instance.

I try to stay away from "never fail" skill design. The chance of failure should always exist, and in a CvC game with levels there should be a chance that when used on a like-level opponent the skill could "miss". A lot of that (for me) would be based around the statistics of both the source and the target as well as the sources skill.

Without knowing the particulars of the specific game it would be hard to state exactly what I would do.
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Old 05-15-2009, 03:04 AM   #7
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Re: Nerf, or buff something else

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Originally Posted by Mabus View Post
It is amazing what a player can find that a coder may have missed.

You never know what they will try. Who would have thought they would type "Turn tomato"...?
But there's a difference between abusing or unintended use of a command/skill and an overpowered one which is what the original poster seems to be discussing. "Overpowered" usually means it wasn't tested thoroughly to ensure that it was balanced, just tossed in without thought as to performance.
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Old 05-15-2009, 04:34 AM   #8
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Re: Nerf, or buff something else

Some skills should remain powerful. Bash is a legitimate skill that stops spellcasters. That's how it should work. This also all depends on the system in place at the mud in question. You don't have to concern yourself as much with balancing on roleplay intensive muds because realism is always going to be favored by the players normally. On PK muds however this is not the case and balancing between the classes is a huge ordeal. The same applies to games like world of warcraft. I don't think you can ever balance these games because they are constantly changing to suit the needs of players who want more more more. So really this discussion is moot for certain games, and up for debate on others.
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Old 05-15-2009, 05:32 AM   #9
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Re: Nerf, or buff something else

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Originally Posted by gruevy View Post
I prefer, unless things are obviously not working as intended, to buff other things to compensate for an overpowered skill or spell rather than nerfing it down to size.
That was also my attitude on the original God Wars mud, and was the main reason the balance got so out of whack - the classes kept leapfrogging over each other, getting stronger and stronger.

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Originally Posted by gruevy View Post
How do you decide which? What single criterion do you consider in making this decision?
As has been pointed out already, it's really not that simple. But generally speaking, if you've got a skill which is overpowered, it's almost always better to bring it back in line with the other skills.

If you instead decide to buff the other skills, you will likely be giving yourself a lot more work - and there's always the possibility that you buff one of the skills a bit too much...does that mean you should buff all the other skills yet again?

I do buff sometimes of course, but not without careful consideration.

Quote:
Originally Posted by prof1515 View Post
There's something to be said for testing things thoroughly before full implementation. Then the question becomes unnecessary.
Well sure, in theory, but that's like saying if you test your software properly you'll never have any bugs. In practice it just never works out like that. You can certainly reduce the problem with a good design and careful testing, but the more complex a mud becomes the more things are going to slip through (particularly as active muds are being constantly developed and improved).

It's not enough just to test the skill itself, either - you need to test everything it can interact with, and retest it any time you modify something else which might impact the skill in some way. Sometimes a previously well-balanced skill may later become overpowered as an unavoidable side-effect of a newly introduced feature.

I've actually been running a "nerf week" this week on God Wars II, fixing several imbalances that have accumulated over the last few years. I decided to do it all in one go to get it out of the way, expecting to get mobbed by the players, but feedback has been surprisingly positive.
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Old 05-16-2009, 02:20 AM   #10
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Re: Nerf, or buff something else

There is no simple answer to this. There are times where you simply MUST nerf something, and players are rarely going to be happy about it.

The key is how you go about it.

I wrote a series of blog posts about this once that went into great detail. Learning how to nerf things appropriately is one of the most important things a mmo/mud developer has to learn.

Nerfs… How to do them right
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