XV: New Skills (explanations)

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XV: New Skills (explanations)

Post by MarcoNecroX on Mon Nov 17, 2014 3:02 am

Hi all... now that I feel like extremely relaxed after releasing a 6-month (.. or 3 to be realistic) of work patch, I feel this as a new game, even for myself. I want to make this thread to mostly explain the "why" in the new skills. I know that regardless of most people being happy about the new skills, there are some things I want to mention.

Ultimative has always been about "lets keep adding more chocolate to the cake". This is the first patch that will truly have an impact in the game for almost all classes and builds, so I feel  forced to explain the reasoning behind the changes considering Laz has worked a nice chunk of years in the mod. I also want to say that I've decided to completely ignore all kind of skill ideas / mechanic suggestions (even from alpha testers) for a simple reason: I wanted the skill ideas to be of my own, so I would know best what a skill is and what I want it to be.

Finally, to answer all the questions regarding the new skills, such as "why does Rotting Flesh spawn poison at your feet and not the monster's" or "why does Windform deal shit damage against mobs". Not all questions have been asked yet but a lot of things that I'll mention are based on questions that would inevitably be asked. There's an explanation for everything, and here you have it. Hopefully most people read this as I'm going to talk about a lot of stuff in the game, the "how"s and "why"s, and you'll probably learn something too.


Amazon

The amazon could obviously not get 5 random skills, because, factions obviously. I could've made an extra neutral skill as I've done for sorceress, but that would have pretty much ended being a buff for a class that is already extremely viable and powerful. So I made the storm tree. The first thing I thought when making a new tree for amazon was, both a wdm tree and a caster tree would be boring. So I decided to mix it up. My intention was to make an experimental tree that wouldn't be that easy/intuitive to play. But for that reason, the tree would have a lot of options. Melee, ranged, wdm, caster, or any kind of hybrid that includes a combination of those.

I will compare this tree to melee sorceress due to her innate lack of itemization.

Stormcall
Stormcall is the neutral skill. It could potentially be used by a neutralzon or just a lightning zon based around oskills which would have freedom of chosing any kind of weapon. It is also easy to use as I felt the other skills were 'different enough'. I have balanced this skill so that it's rather powerful early game to compensate for the lack of proper itemization, while melee sorceress have overpowered warp blades to steamroll through the early game.

Magnetic Field
This skill is intended to be a skill that doesn't benefit from your direct weapon damage, but from your weapon modifiers, and covers a decent amount of area as well as dealing lightning spell damage. My intention when making this skill was, let's make something that people need to use optimally in terms of mechanics. So, stats such as crushing blow, hit-procs, life on striking, open wounds, slow target, as well as skills like Doom or TTAD in general. There is a lot you can do. But there's an extra choice to take as you could decide to boost your dexterity and damage regardless to make better use of your weapon procs, such as javelin from Danmaku. Or you could go for a more control-ish caster build instead, that uses energy to boost the skill's damage but still uses a few wdm modifiers such as LoS or CB. This skill is probably the perfect representation of the tree, which is being an experimental skill.

Itemization
The gear is something that is being mentioned a few times. As I've said before, it's an experimental build. Which means you have less access to items that "suit your build perfectly". But those items exist regardless, SU War Scepter being a prime example of it. I feel like experimental builds should be strong enough to be powerful just using crafts, like sorceress used to be before baneblade. I felt as if I added new gear, it would have to be good enough and that would lead it to being the standard gear for the build (kind of like AotoR and Starhawk have always been for sorceress). And I don't want that. So I've given her maces for that reason, and the fact it was an underused item (like swords for druid). I feel like overall, and with a new set, the itemization endgame should be more than fine.


Assassin

The reason why assassin gets five random skills is because you can't 'simply fit' a whole new tree to a class that has always been identified by martial arts (neutral tree), traps, psychic and overall being a powerful ninja. Adding a new tree would look bad, but I also felt that there were a lot of flaws in the current design of assassin skill trees: a lot of skills were completely off. Batstrike for example, Singularity, Starbrust/Psi (which I tried to help by adding Tiefling). So my main focus was to reorder the trees properly, and then fill the gaps. I feel like the whole assassin feels a lot more cleaner and efficient now. All trees are properly defined, while giving some extra love to the psychic and claw trees which were heavily underused, and bring back a legendary skill like Hades Gate - which was a really simple decition for me: people like it - people have it.

Noctule
First I want to explain how this skill works. Upon hitting, it casts several bats dealing weapon damage in a rather small range. The 'twist' is that all these initial bats will spawn two bats on collision that would fly north and south, so the more enemies you get to hit with the initial hit, the more damage and AoE you get. Why north/south? I tried to add EVERYTHING in the new skills. Any kind of aspect that I could use, I'd add. And this is the positioning aspect. The logic behind this skill was to give clawsins an optimal use of her dual-clawing, as you get both melee hits to spawn bats (just like you get two charges with batstrike) - which is the same reasoning I've used for Deathgaze and Iron Spiral.

Doom
I felt as this skill was off. Yes, it is effective for wdm builds but noone (besides me and maybe a few randoms) 'casted' it. At most, you could see people smaxing crucify in older patches to get the synergy, but the skill was there and was completely unused. So I moved this skill to the psychic tree so that it would be of use with those skills that really need Doom to work proplery, like Singularity. Why should newbies know how powerful the mix is, when Doom was far apart? Now they know. And a magic pierce to boost the magic damages of Shuriken Flurry, Phase bomb & Psionic Storm.

Obliteration
To epxlain this skill first I have to explain Singularity. Singularity is essentially a nova of spinning missiles which spawn mini-novas on its way. You could see it as a Mandala, where the missiles are mostly concentrated in the center of the black hole. While obliteration looks similar, it's quite different. It has 8 'hot-spots' rather than 1, it hits a higher amount of times (probably the skill that hits the most in the game). So you'd prolly think, well then Obliteration is clearly better - but here's the reason why it's just "different": it requires a corpse which disables blink+cast strategy. And it basically deals less damage and has a shorter duration, at the cost of not having a timer.

There is one little detail to mention about the skill. It displays an incredibly low damage, and I know for fact that over half of the community complains about things without even trying. People sometimes give too much value on displays, they assume that if PlugY stat sheet is saying something, such as 63 Life after Kill (which is fixed in XV), it is true, but never bothered to actually test whether the skill was actually working and it wasn't a LCS display bug (thanks for wasting my time btw). tl;dr - skill displays shit damage but read the skill, it says massive hit count. So people would then complain that there's no kind of "total damage" display. And the only thing I can say here is - there is no way to truly make an approximation. And bro, the skills are black holes so, yeah.


Barbarian

The reasoning behind the barbarian's new tree is extremely simple. Dual-weapons is a too cool feature to just have ignored. Which is same reasoning for new claw skills, as well as bringing back several clod mechanics. This is a limited game, and this mod is big. Everything that is an unique mechanic, something original and different, be sure I'll buy it. If you make a summary of all the new skills, you will see most skills are melee, deal phys/mag damage or have a weird weapon requirement. It's because I don't want to add more stuff that already exist and everyone uses, I want something new. That said, the skill explanations:

Deathgaze & Iron Spiral
These skills are the bros. Or enemies, however you like to call it. There's a paradox on why these skills have these weapon requirements. While you'd normally think limiting skills to weapons is removing variety, I feel this is the opposite. Not giving them weapon restrictions would mean people would chose the popular one - giving them weapon restrictions would mean different itemization for both skills and thus two different builds, which is a lot harder to measure in terms of "what's better", compared to two skills with equal access.

Daedalus
First thought: attack rating. All barbs buffed. Gg.
There's an explanation for this. Most newbies suck at barbarians because of attack rating problems. I've seen it over and over. This skill is meant to solve/help this problem and make the class a lot more popular. For me this is the core of the game: have all classes be equally viable, popular, different and unique. And I feel it has never been as balanced as it is now (others might disagree). Truth is barbarian was lacking offensive power for this reason.

Now the question is - "some people actually know how to play barb and that you need attack rating, so you're basically giving a boost to those players too". This is essentially the reason why you get % based attack rating instead of flat amount - percentages have a diminishing returns nature. So basically, newbies who had 0% attack rating might get 500% which would work effectively, while good players would get that 500% on top of an already existing 500%, which essentially translates to a 100% increase. And this comes at the cost of 4 skill points if you're not a dual-wielder - so it's fair.

Windform
Okay this one is a biggy. Several people have asked for tankbarbs. This is what I intended with windform, enable you to just have total freedom of your movement while also gaining nice defensive buffs while spinning. The issue with classic whirlwind is that the skill function is almost impossible to modify. But everyone loves it, and it looks so cool. So here I did what everyone would call "killing two birds from one shot". High poison damage to compensate for the lack of hits, while you get boosts like life on strike that you can combine with skills like Fortress (as well as the poison boost!).  You also get to make use of the stat "Stun target" - which means you can actually stun the mobs you hit. The fact that this skill requires a lot of effort to be used as a main skill is compensated by the huge amount of utility you get from having this skill. All in all, you get a decent boss-killing skill, a good movility skill and some nice defensive possibilities - and most importantly - WW is back!


Iceburst
The iceburst change is simply a more thematic skill. There wasn't really something melee barb could use, as the skill tree is already... full of melee skills. So, Iceburst could be essentially become popular if I made it a strong skill, and that's always the easy route. But I thought I'd just make something that would be conceptually good-looking, which is the fact that barbarians have access to Stormblast, Ancient's Hand, and now Iceburst, which are skills that work very similarly. And this would fit well with skills such as the almighty Kraken Stance, Nephalem Weapons, and bloodhatred. Which is the same reason why Iron Spiral, Deathgaze & Daedalus also cover these 3 elements. And that allows me to even make a set which can proc all of these 3 first skills, how cool is that?


Druid

There's a lot that can be said about the weredruid. And probably one of the biggest reasons for that is that it is the one which had the most time invested on.  First of all, why werewolf? I feel like the "it existed in clod so fuck it" mentality is older than my grandma at this point. Median XL is a game of it's own. The fact that werebear morph exists on mercenaries, and that this one was unused despite being extremely awesome, felt just wrong. In the future if I continue to mod, I'm probably adding Werebear as an oskill again, for the same reason. It is just to good to ditch.

That said, I felt that if I was adding a new morph, it should be ...... (wait for it) ...... different. And this is where the mana aspect of the tree kicks in.  Which again, is another thing that has been practically ditched completely in the mod. But this has a big problem - the mod isn't balanced towards the use of mana. Don't get me wrong, I love the mod, and Median has a wide amount of great features, but the proper balance of mana isn't one of them. This is the reason for the drastical mana drain and mana costs.

Werewolf Form
So, trees and rats get a ridiculous amount of health. And werewolf gets.. dodge melee attacks. Think of assassins. This is pretty much what this tree is intended to do. Make a build that seems glassy and hard to play, but with enough manpower and game knowledge, you overcome the weaknesses (in this case mana) and become a really solid endgame build. I felt druids were basically about being a newbie class with 1-skill spamfests. Eventually, both assassins and werewolf, properly geared and polished, also become a one-skill spam fest (and the strongest), but this requires effort compared to oneshotting mobs from outside the screen. High cost, high reward.

Feed the Pack
... but macro, Circle of Life already gives life after kill...
Testers have complained about this and the main reason why this skill also adds life after kill is essentially because it's the most reliable way of regeneration, independant of your items/procs setup. It's the same logic for why Stormcall exists, it's just something that everyone knows how it works, and everyone can rely on. And to fit the skill's theme which is about "killing"  and using that to heal and reanimate allies.


Necromancer

You could argue that caster necromancer already existed due to totems, but I can argue with that. Having 4 totems and teleporting to enemies and have them attack while you watch, isn't being a caster nor a viable tactic at all. Totems are basically damage-effective summons for me. This said, I felt necromancer didn't have a real caster choice, and something in the lines of "venom" and "bone" would be just about perfect.

Funeral Pyre
Viable. Heroic. Killer.
That was my only intention when making this skill. It's something that necromancer has always lacked and lead him to be left behind when fighting most heroic bosses. I know, I know, everyone has always been cheesing with Rathma's Chosen behind my back. I feel as the combination with widowmaker doesn't really fit into the regular flow of the game, as if it was never meant to be used that way, but it's not something that can be fixed without a really deep and long thinking process. All I'm trying to say is that I don't feel that as a standard way to beat heroics, and the reason for FP is essentially to allow necromancers to have a shot at them, and hence the reason why there's a fire skill in a venom/bone tree. And it synergies really nicely with boneyard.

Rotting Flesh vs Pestilence
First off I want to say that rotting flesh doesn't spawn poison clouds at your minion because the engine doesn't allow it. That said: all poison skills tend to collide with other poison spells. There's no way that can be prevented. So here I basically thought I'd make two skills that work completely different. Pestilence is basically a more generic skill that can be accessed by any kind of necromancer, and has a static poison length duration. While rotting flesh is overall a stronger skill, that can be enhanced with duration, has a wider range, but requires a minion and doesn't re-apply poison constantly like Pestilence does.


Paladin

Flavor.
You could see it as the problem or the solution. I don't really need to explain why I can't add 2,5 skills for both unholy and holy paladin. So, neutral tree was the only real option for the paladin. But here we see another problem which basically is, why is there a random neutral tree inside each of the holy/unholy tabs? It just can't be. Two different neutral trees inside the holy/unholy tabs would look extremely bad and outplaced - hence I've come up with the influence concept. They would be basically mirrored-mechanics, but each version would have different features depending on the kind of influence they are. This, once again, solves (almost) all problems: I get to put trees inside the holy and unholy tabs without looking outplaced, and at the same time I don't restrict any skills by making these trees be factional, but neutral.

There's no much to explain for this reason. While paladin doesn't get "brand new skills" due to the mirroring concept, all paladins are affected by the influence rework, and thus, are forced against to choose, but this time, between a more defensive/teamwork tree or a more aggro/solo tree. This means basically that all paladins will be different from now on, so the new mirrored trees rework are not as "irrelevant" as they might look.


Sorceress

It was pretty obvious to decide what sorceress would get. A proper melee tree and a proper mana tree. Nothing too fancy really.

The "Nerfs"
It didn't take much time until people started asking about "why sorceress nerfs?". I want to say that sorceress hasn't been nerfed, but buffed (all classes in some way have, as more options are given). Why? simple, it's a faction based class and that means that the power of the class is being limited by choice. Adding 5 new skills that do not interfere with this system, is a buff regardless of how you want to look at it. Non-ice sorceress can now have summons, while all five builds benefit from the mana tree and the nice amount of features it gives.

Mana Tree
I have nothing to say. Making a sorceress around mana has always been fun, and now it's more fun.

Fusillade
This goes again with the logic of people ask - I deliver. People wanted a ranged skill, which is understandable as "ranged" sorceress doesn't exist. And by ranged, I obviously mean weapon-based, not the ranged word by itself. So, to this skill. The reason for the mechanics are simple - I can add a ranged skill if everyone wants it, sure, but it's still a melee sorceress. So, putting more points into it reduced the seek range, making this skill eventually be rather close to a melee skill. Is it OP? hard to tell, but it requires a high investment into the skill for it to be fully effective, and those are skill points that you used to have somewhere else.


End

Promising new skills was easy, but making them wasn't. I want to point out that after I announced XV, I got not one, but two jobs, which as you can expect, took a lot of my time. This is one of the reasons why the patch got delayed this much. The real reason however is that I work better while on heavy pressure. So I guess you could say I always knew the patch would be released on november, but announced it for august to "gather pressure" and then use that as my fuel for modding (don't feel used). Gladly your wait and my slavery are now over.

I also want to mention that I'm traveling around 1 month to europe, and I can't say really say what will happen when I go back. Modding stops being a hobby when your expectations and promises become too big, but truth is I'm too much of a fan of hype. It becomes pretty much like a job, except instead of getting money, you get a bigger e-peen and QQ. I guess I just love the mod too much and who knows maybe I'll be modding it forever. But I just wanted to point out that "anything can happen".

tl;dr - Hope everyone is enjoying patch.


Last edited by MarcoNecroX on Tue Feb 17, 2015 6:29 pm; edited 4 times in total

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Re: XV: New Skills (explanations)

Post by MarcoNecroX on Mon Nov 17, 2014 3:19 am

there should be a badge for reading this post Facepalm

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Re: XV: New Skills (explanations)

Post by Sexen on Mon Nov 17, 2014 3:23 am

I admit I skipped some but I plan on going back later. From what I did read it should hopefully clear some things up. That is if people actually read it Twisted Evil

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Re: XV: New Skills (explanations)

Post by WolfieeifloW on Mon Nov 17, 2014 3:23 am

Read it, nice post.

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Re: XV: New Skills (explanations)

Post by iwansquall on Mon Nov 17, 2014 3:32 am

I read all of them. I thought i want to post a big feedback on all new skill design.

But i guess i dont have to, since you answered most of it here.

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Re: XV: New Skills (explanations)

Post by Gekko64 on Mon Nov 17, 2014 3:35 am

Thanks for taking the time to post this, it's very interesting to know the reasoning that led to the new skills Smile

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Re: XV: New Skills (explanations)

Post by Westville on Mon Nov 17, 2014 3:37 am

Read this post; enjoyed reading it. Finally a post into the innerworks on your mind..


At the end...have fun getting married with (anything can happen!) lol; that was my impression of the end.

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Re: XV: New Skills (explanations)

Post by suchbalance on Mon Nov 17, 2014 3:41 am

Thanks for the great post & patch, enjoy your hols.

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Re: XV: New Skills (explanations)

Post by The Big Ouchy on Mon Nov 17, 2014 3:48 am

I am starting to see some bigger functional discrepancies between pestilence and rotting flesh btw. Rotting flesh seems like a more reliable poison spreader.

Pestilence doesn't seem to hit too often, so it works as a nice buff for a few points without being a standalone killer due to the low duration. The point about accessibility and use for all builds makes sense too.

So while on the exterior there seems to be a great deal of overlap, there is a noticeable difference in utility and feel.

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Re: XV: New Skills (explanations)

Post by Sexen on Mon Nov 17, 2014 4:01 am

MNX wrote: And that allows me to even make a set which can proc all of these 3 first skills, how cool is that?

I forgot about that... spoiler alert Razz

I reread it again all the way and now I have to say that is why alpha testing was difficult at times for me. I would open a character and have to figure out what was going on and what you were doing because I had not seen it before. I think everyones reactions about everything they are talking about right now will change and evolve the more they play everything. There is some in-depth stuff going on and I can also understand everyone's confusions Twisted Evil

@Ouchy yea rotting flesh > imo but everyone else said no. Pestilence is in my eyes a "shield" around your character to damage all those annoying melee mobs for your caster. We all know how great a melee mob pack is slashing away at your squishy caster.

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