Toldain Talks

Because reading me sure beats working!


Toldain started as an Everquest character. I've played him in EQ2, WoW, Vanguard, LOTRO, and Zork Online. And then EVE Online, where I'm 3 million years old, rather than my usual 3000. Currently I'm mostly playing DDO. But I still have fabulous red hair. In RL, I am a software developer who has worked on networked games, but not MMORPGS.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Mitigation Mania

There's been some discussion on forums about how mitigation values seem to be out of line in tier 8, with the Ruins of Kunark expansion. This is based on several factors. The raw mitigation numbers seem unimpressive to some in comparison with dropped items. And the mitigation of the brawlers, who wear leather, doesn't seem to be able to keep them from getting oneshotted.

I've also heard from players in game that mobs in RoK seem to be hitting less often, but harder. And a third thread of this is that the word on the street is that the high end raiders have seriously hit diminishing returns on mitigation, so that plate tanks are now seeking more avoidance. As a side note, with all the adornments available, as well as dropped and quested items, and AA abilities, the plate tanks can build up very good avoidance. Which is making the brawlers a little jealous, I'm afraid.

I decided to gather some data. I have collected the mitigation values on mastercrafted armor from tiers 2 to 8 and put them in a spread sheet. I have confirmed that the ratios for plate-chain-leather have remained consistent, and I
calculated the plate mitigation value divided by its tier.

I didn't use fabled raid gear, it's much easier to get consistent data on mastercrafted gear. However, I think this will be a good indicator, since game developers have stated they use a program to determine mitigation values, so we're dealing with some kind of formula. Hence, we want to study the trends of that formula.

I also plotted this stuff on a graph:

There are two-major takeaways from this. Mitigation, in general, is on a nearly-linear growth curve. However, there is small flattening of that mitigation growth for tier 8. Mit/tier grew slightly all the way through tier 7, and now it's dropped off a bit. Why? I couldn't tell you. But it's definitely there, folks aren't imagining it.

And mobs are hitting harder, it seems. It's harder to gather data for this, since monsters are all different, after all. One kind of mob isn't supposed to hit exactly 8/7ths harder than another one, and there is a lot of variability in how hard they hit, too.

I haven't seen a formula for mitigation diminishing returns, but I assume that it's linear with level as well. Which would tend to put the squeeze on tanks a bit more. Was this the intent of SOE? I don't know. Maybe there's a single mitigation/avoidance sweet spot, which is reachable only via raid buffing, and both bruisers and plate tanks can get to it? I don't know.

But player DPS has undergone enormous growth in this expansion, more than linear by quite a lot, I'd think. They might think that they need to do something to help the mobs out.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Power Draining Down the Drain

A few nights ago I was invited to a group in Maiden's Chamber. Well, invited may not be the right word. Begged, dragged, pleaded with. This includes Call of the Hero the moment I got into Jarsath Wastes, and zoning in to Maiden's before I even got my bearings from that.

We get to the first named. Ok, they say, we want you to mez this guy, and power drain him to nothing. And keep him a zero power while we kill him.


Say what? You want me to use my skills as an illusionist? And here I thought power draining was dead in this game, at least as far as PvE was concerned. Sure, I'll be glad to!

And I did it. The mob resisted a lot, so keeping him mezzed was a challenge. I remembered to take off all proc buffs and gear, because you don't want the remez attempt to wake him up from the old one. Mind you, I have a master 1 mez and 5 AA levels in making it less resistable, but he still resisted me some, and the power drains. But we got there, and it didn't take a bunch of retries, either. Exhilarating!

The reason they wanted me to do this, they said, is that the mob, Bilithu of the Old Way, will summon you to another room where there is adds and the fight gets very messy then. If he has power to do it with.

Wow, I thought, SOE is really trying to allow some strategy back in the game, but they are doing it in instances, just like Vaults in KoS, and so on.

Power draining was very effective in the early days of the game, With a couple of spells, I could steal all of a mobs power, and that would make them a lot easier to deal with. But that's not been the case for a long time. Most mobs have far more power than I can drain easily, just killing them is much easier, whether I'm soloing or in a group. Power draining might be a good way to deal with a heroic mob if you have a duo, but that's about it. But my three main spells with power draining also have a big stun, a stifle, and a power boost for my group, so they still have their uses. Is it making a comeback?

No. I saw this in the Test LU 42 notes:

Charasis: the Maiden's Chamber - Bilithu of the Old Ways:Summons of the Feaster is no longer affected by mana draining spells and abilities. Bilithu's power pool has been reduced.

This is what it is to be an illusionist in EQ2 these days. We have abilities that are good abilities, and we can make make-or-break contributions to our groups. But the game designers won't let us use those abilities. Either that, or our group members won't, because they don't know or they don't think its "fun". May Erollisi bless them, but right now, I don't feel like it.

Thuuga Wuuga

Ok, just last night I picked up a quest called "An Ugly Bounty" in Fens of Nathsar. Looking over the quest rewards, I see that one of the items, the Bracelet of Thuuga gives +2 spell critical chance and +75 heals. And has +42 int and no bonus to wis at all. Furthermore, there's another item, the Signet of Thuuga, which gives +75 heal amount along with +36 wis. Ok, I say, this seems wrong. Where's my +50 or whatever to spell damage? Those other two items have pluses to combat arts. This looks like a mistake!

Well, looking over the Test Update #42 notes, I saw this:

Bracelet of Thuuga now increases Spell Damage instead of Healing

Well, there's a very nice high dudgeon interrupted! Now the question is, should I wait until LU42 goes live to finish this quest?

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A Few Plat More

The new expansion drops money like your 6-month old drops peas off the highchair. Quest rewards are very generous coin, and vendor prices for Kunark dropped items are quite healthy. Raid zones drop very generous amounts of coin, too. Why is that?

I can think of a few reasons, though my mind-reading ability is weak, even if I am a 3000-year-old enchanter specializing in mental magic. The first possibility is that it was done in an attempt to make the expansion more attractive. Other things in the expansion are that way. There are four tiers of raiding, for heaven's sake.

But all that coin injected into the game means inflation. And this can be seen in the price of master spells, which are going for 10 times the amount of plat that they did in the last expansion. However, the last expansion didn't raise the level cap, so there's a lot of pent up demand. Sort of. There's had been a long time for characters to master out, and then when the level cap raised, suddenly nobody had masters for all their upgraded spells. But still, it seems that prices are up. Was this according to plan? Well, who wins, and who loses in an inflationary economy?

People sitting on piles of coin are the big losers, and people sitting on lots of valuable commodities are the winners. First, most adventurers/raiders I know don't sit on piles of cash, they spend it to enhance their character, or to twink new characters. So they didn't get hit by inflation. But they didn't really gain by it, since they tend not to stockpile goods that can be sold on the broker. Vendor prices didn't change.

What about tradeskillers? Well, I think a wise merchant will keep a cash reserve and an inventory of raw materials. The cash reserve was hurt, somewhat. But stockpiled raw materials probably did ok. Though lower tier prices didn't change much. The collectible market got a boost it seems. Collectible gatherers/sellers have probably done very well. And then there's the plat sellers.

I don't know how they operate, really. But if they warehouse their wealth as coin, they have probably taken a hit. And at least some of them do exactly that. I'm sure they are out there farming energetically, but I've noticed that they have a preference for remote areas. With two expansions stopping at T7, the game had lots of room for them to establish farming runs that were fast, easy, and far from view. Kunark is very busy now, and I haven't seen much farming activity at all, for that reason. It's going to be hard for the plat farmers to keep up with players who simply go into the new zones and play. Another blow to the plat sellers.

On the other hand, people who sell accounts and characters will probably do well. It's getting harder and harder for new players to come into the game, it seems. It will take a couple of months of assiduous effort for a new player to get up to where they can get pickup games easily, while braving the general chat cries of "newb!" Gathering enough Achievement experience to be effective on a raid adds to the time. And getting some of the good no-trade drops takes time, too. So a well-equipped high-level toon will command a top-dollar price.