Attributes - Maybe a better way to handle them

I may be about to say some very silly things, but so far I am under the impression it all makes sense, so if you'll indulge me...

Have you ever considered having your attributes ranking work the opposite way?

If I understood correctly, your attributes system was supposed to finally free us from the issue affecting most, if not all, stats allowance systems: namely going exclusively "put [required minimum] points in [mandatory stat (Toughness...)], then dump EVERYTHING in [main stat of choice]".
Now I won't pretend to have researched every current build in depth, but every single one I came across is built EXACTLY this way!
And it makes sense. Why would anyone put a single point into an attribute that not only isn't what they're aiming for mechanically (be it crit, attack speed or ailment chances), but also has less impact on damage than their main one anyways? Would you choose (or even care bout) 30% of 300 over 50% of 1000? Of course not!

Giving each of your attributes such a clear, single, focused purpose, and then coming up with your primary/secondary/... system giving an obviously universal benefit was a truly brilliant idea; but you may just have played the right cards in the wrong order.

Consider the impact of having your lesser attributes actually adding more to your damage than your major ones.

Now you want a crit-based build, so it's natural you'll put a lot of points in Ferocity.
But then, your secondary attribute gives you a better damage buff. So you may start thinking "OK, how much crit do I actually want? If I'm around X%, it should be enough, and then I can dump much more into Agility, which will actually add more to the base damage of my crits than Ferocity does, and even make them occur more often... But I have to be careful not to let it grow bigger than my Ferocity. Well I can always use more Ferocity if it comes to this anyways!" (notice there's some wiggle room in the choice of your Ferocity ceiling, more than with the "mandatory stat at X then literally everything there" approach), or even "Maybe I could have Toughness as a Primary, Agility as Secondary, and try to go as high as I can with my crit while keeping Ferocity as Tertiary... That way Ferocity will give me the best possible damage buff to compensate for my crit chances not going through the roof although I'm based around them being decent, and they'll still benefit from my attack speed being actually bigger (and not without flat damage benefit!) because hey, more attacks means more crits!". The fourth attribute may be left neglected, but that's probably fine, we're now in a world where you're interested in 3 attributes out of 4!

While it may sound less intuitive at first, the already focused single purpose of every element of the equation keeps it simple enough to grasp; yet now it actually offers you more than 3-4 choices for the whole game, it presents you with interesting dilemma, it encourages thinking, balancing, branching out in different ways, aiming for different side benefits, and thus playstyles...
There may end up being math experts giving us handy spreadsheets or optimal solutions soon enough, as is always the case with games nowadays, but I feel like it would bring the game closer to elegantly handling stats allowance, as it was supposed to do where most others kinda fail, yet it doesn't really seem to as of now.

TL;DR: You came up with the (commendable) idea of inciting players to put points into attributes that aren't their main, and what you did was actually give secondary attributes something LESS desirable than your main one. Right intent, wrong move. Simply swapping the numbers might actually fix that!

Once again, I'm no full-time game designer, and I may be missing something absurdly obvious here.
But if there's the slightest chance this idea can bring Wolcen closer to being as good as it's been promising, I'd rather risk looking like a fool in hopes we get to play the new most unforgettable game of the genre!

Replies: 16

Created: 2 years, 6 months ago

Category: Feedback & Suggestions

Counter intuitive / weird solution.

I'd MUCH prefer it if all the attributes would provide some form of defense also (hp for ferocity, hp and energy shield for agility and energy shield for wisdom, something like that) because right now, it's a bit unfair that a pure warrior who dumps all his points into toughness would be the only one to get the health pool as well as the damage! Every other build has to sacrifice points of the stat he'd like to max to spend it in toughness just to survive!

(Edited 2 years, 6 months ago)

Created: 2 years, 6 months ago

I'll admit it can be counter intuitive at first (or by just reading me), but we've seen much, much weirder in very successful games, it may just need to be introduced the right way; and it would frankly be kept simple by the very simplistic nature of the attributes in the first place.

Which is also why the alternative you suggest might, in my opinion, lean towards making attributes multi-dimensioned again, and risk snowballing into becoming like any other game that, to many people, would be better off not having stat allowance in the first place.
It would also link attributes to both offense and defense in the player's choice of gameplay, effectively denying us more combinations rather than opening up new ones, because then you'd HAVE to get attack speed if you want force shield (to carry on with your example), while right now, we may have to cater to Toughness to some extent, but that's universal and doesn't affect your choice in defense, because we can still choose whether we want to shield up, block, bleed and leech a lot or whatever, independently from whether we want to crit or to attack faster.

While unconvinced by the good of ripping Wolcen's attributes of their iconic (and welcome) single purpose, I must say that you do have a good point regarding the unfair place of Tough characters right now, but that circles back to my initial critic of most such games: "put [required minimum] points in [mandatory stat (Toughness...)], then dump EVERYTHING in [main stat of choice]" - it's just the one exception that makes it even worse, when both stats are the same...

(Edited 2 years, 6 months ago)

Created: 2 years, 6 months ago

because then you'd HAVE to get attack speed if you want force shield (to carry on with your example) -> Good point!
(although i said hp + energy shield for agility (a bit less of both, ofc, half) and only energy shield for wisdom, but still, a point to take into consideration)

I still think it would be ok like that tho, players might have to lean towards this or that stat a bit to fix their defense as desired but to a lesser extent than currently.

(Edited 2 years, 6 months ago)

Created: 2 years, 6 months ago

Fair. I'll just say that, in my opinion, your idea IS totally valid, but I wouldn't want it in Wolcen.
It is obviously valid because it already is what most games do (and that may be why you immediately explored that direction)... And I, like many people, were under the impression / hopes that Wolcen would bring a change to that often controversial aspect, if not a groundbreaking new way to handle it.

I like the idea of finally having the freedom to make a force shield berzerker or a raging-leeching battlemage, while most games confine us to "mages must have ailments and shields and no HP whatsoever, warriors must have the leech and block and whatnot, dodge is for rogues only"... These restrictions are a tradition, but they're getting old, and they keep us from exploring a lot of potentially fun characters, if only in fantasy. Wolcen breaking free of that played a lot in why it piqued my interest.

(Edited 2 years, 6 months ago)

Created: 2 years, 6 months ago

I see... and you're right, the more freedom the better.
I hate people who keep citing and comparing POE as the be all end all for arpgs, this game is different, yet, i enjoy it a lot! BUT... on this very point, i have to say that their way of putting hp / shield in the passive tree was brilliant in that regard, total building freedom! (even if one could argue that some build paths are just not efficient, like making a pure hp sorceress = not easy / advised, so, in the end, not yet the perfect system!)

So, then comes maybe another idea: totally disassociating hp and shield from the stats! I mean like... per level, you would get 10 stat points AND 10 separated points to spend in 2 OTHER stats which would simply be hp or shield! That would give the absolute freedom maybe... But i wonder if it wouldn't be too much of a change and require too much computing and headaches for the devs at this point!

One thing is for sure, this is one Interesting topic! Goes to show that the perfect arpg is not out there yet and that there are things like this that could be thought differently and bring things to a whole new level!

(Edited 2 years, 6 months ago)

Created: 2 years, 6 months ago

Not only is this an interesting topic, but this is also the first forum where I've ever seen a discussion on such a delicate topic carried on in a constructive and civil way for so long... I'm still a bit in shock to be honest, and I must thank you for that. ^^"

Back on track however, I must add a warning sign to your last suggestion. Defense is not only about HP and force shield, it's also about your choice of leeching, blocking, dodging... So I think this circles back to defense and offense, as a whole, not being any more tied to offense stats than they already are at least.
I mean, most of your defense of choice already comes from your passives and gear, and Toughness boosting HP AND force shield is already nullifying the choice between either being dependent on attributes - the choice of boosting one over the other comes from gear, and whatever you get, even any small amount of both, is equally boosted by a single, common attribute.
The only issue arises when that single defensive attribute competes with all other, offensive ones. But then again, having such a competition at all is a juicy tool for game designers, as it supposedly creates the opportunity for player choice ("die less easily or hit harder?"). The sad reality is that it never really does, as in ARPGs, power escalation eventually leads you to one-shotting everything before you ever get touched, or needing crazy passive synergies to survive hits in the millions that base attributes can't really scale with after a point. So you end up having said Toughness minimum for the rest (passives and gear) to do the actual defense job, and everything else in pure damage to go ever higher...

That's why I didn't mention defense in my initial post. The main problem I was focused on was offense, not only because that's what 3 attributes out of 4 are all about, but mainly because that's what they chose to give us with their primary/secondary/... system! Which, again, if exciting and enticing for any monster-bashing player, doesn't work if non-primary attributes are both your secondary choices AND secondary in the very damage contribution that's meant to make them worth considering (within the unique design intent expressed for Wolcen), hence my suggestion to invert that.

(Edited 2 years, 6 months ago)

Created: 2 years, 6 months ago

Fair point, but i think that, in this very game anyway, defenses, like blocking chance, passive dodge or leech are ALREADY totally independent from stats, they are on the gear and in passives, so, that brings me back to my last idea, just disassociating hp / energy shield from the stats gives total freedom, or close enough to my taste! (i also reach my "perfection is not of this world and best is close enough" point on the matter)

(Edited 2 years, 6 months ago)

Created: 2 years, 6 months ago

Agreed. That would be the last step to make defense truly independent, which it mostly is already, while removing the oddity that is Toughness among an entirely damage-oriented panel of attributes, as it seems to only be there out of tradition, and it kinda fails at offering any real choice. Then it would become even more easy to focus on the broken relationship between offensive attributes, and to tweak it without being hindered by that.
But I'm still adamant that the core problem lies in the (excellent) primary/secondary/... idea having been implemented backwards considering its desired effect. And I'm not sure a third stat allowance panel for HP vs force shield is the right way to handle a dissociation of Toughness' effects from other attributes.

(Edited 2 years, 6 months ago)

Created: 2 years, 6 months ago

Agreed. That would be the last step to make defense truly independent, which it mostly is already, while removing the oddity that is Toughness among an entirely damage-oriented panel of attributes, as it seems to only be there out of tradition, and it kinda fails at offering any real choice. Then it would become even more easy to focus on the broken relationship between offensive attributes, and to tweak it without being hindered by that.
But I'm still adamant that the core problem lies in the (excellent) primary/secondary/... idea having been implemented backwards considering its desired effect. And I'm not sure a third stat allowance panel for HP vs force shield is the right way to handle a dissociation of Toughness' effects from other attributes.

Farael Original Comment

I don't see any problem personally, i don't really understand what more you can do than disassociating hp/energy from stats or what more you could want. You can fully spec as you like that way, go for full ferocity, for example, while keeping the survivability, so, as far as i'm concerned, that's all wish!

(Edited 2 years, 6 months ago)

Created: 2 years, 6 months ago

The problem is that you'll never want anything outside of "dump EVERYTHING in X". And if you're going to put every single point in one single attribute forever, having points doesn't matter at all! You might as well have a single switch that says "crit OR attack speed OR ailments" and it would sum up your choices just as well - all your tremendous 3 choices...
The only long-term purpose of having points at all (and I'm saying long-term because, admittedly, they also serve to give a sense of progression during leveling, but that's a short-lived part in any ARPG) is to be able to spread them as you see fit, to have tweaking knobs that allow for creative builds. When they boil down to "just pick THE ONE you like", they don't matter the same.
That's the main reason why many people, including myself, use to hate stat allowance in games, because it most often fails at really bringing any depth to the game. Wolcen's team intended to change that.
The primary/secondary/... mechanic came to exist solely as an innovative way to fight that, to entice players to spread their points, having stats that aren't your main focus matter to you as well. It's arguably failing, and I'm trying to put a finger on why - because it's still, currently, giving something LESS valuable than what it is also giving to the already main attribute chosen for its mechanic. I have hopes that, with the current process of iterating and balancing the game with more player feedback, it might not be too late for them to consider it worth fixing, especially when it may be as easy as my initial suggestion.

(Edited 2 years, 6 months ago)

Created: 2 years, 6 months ago

Aah, i see, well, it's just that i like to "min max", at least i think like that right now and for what i have in mind, but i can clearly imagine someone wanting to make a balanced character; with some speed, some crit, some aliments...

But yeah, i hear ya... indeed, there ain't much depth in that in arpgs indeed... the brutal "kill shit all day" nature of that kind of game is to blame i guess! :D For stats to truly become meaningful, you would need to add depths to the gameplay as well maybe... like having some kind of furtivity mechanics, maybe some (deeper) notion of aggro being taken into account (there is a bit of that in Wolcen, that "presence" stat in the character detail, but it doesn't seem used that much in practice) - stuff like that, THEN... MAYBE... you could come up with some more meaningful stats, somehow, make the arpg genre lean a bit more towards the classic rpg, while maintaining the beloved brutal frenzy that it is! This is the kind of miracle that would produce something really groundbreaking, and would probably smash all the rest, set a new standard, a new style, pretty much like old diablo (and mostly d2) did, back then!

I picture an arpg in which you can truly assassinate, you know, do silent takedowns, apply some tactic while playing (having mobs "sniping you" that would be preferable to be handled that way for exemple), or the opposite, scream like a madman as a warrior and aggro everything on the screen while some wizard behind you, hidden in the bushes, gets ready to unleash a storm or meteor (slow casting, big damage)... which would maybe also damage the warrior who has to have taken into account his elemental resist because of this! ... I don't know... stuff like that... we can dream for now, but i imagine that for stats to be truly meaningful, you just need some form of depth added to the genre, current arpg is pure monster bashing after all, not that it's bad, but it entails less consideration of stats, probably.

But then i think... that means party play!... and i like my arpg solo, so i'm just fantasizing too much! ... Or maybe... you never know, find some way to make it work, add complexity, keep the brutality... i don't know, maybe someday we'll see that, something brand new, let's hope!

(Edited 2 years, 6 months ago)

Created: 2 years, 6 months ago

All of that. Every feeling you expressed is just so true.

But yet, I do believe that minmaxing is absolutely compatible with what I'm talking about, it's even the very fundation of the intent behind the primary/secondary/... mechanic - to make minmaxers able to minmax in other ways than "full THIS"!
And that's why I also believe that if the free damage it gives was actually higher on lesser attributes, you could then choose your main for its mechanical impact, and boost your overall damage with secondaries more, with them having both more of an impact on litteral damage per point and added impact through their own mechanic. Spreading out would no longer NOT be minmaxing, it could even be more efficient, this just requires some good math to ensure.

But that's only the most simple change to implement. One could imagine having secondary attributes contributing, for example, for 50% of their points to the main attribute too. That way, when you choose to add some attack speed to your crits, you don't really "not add more crit", you add the whole intended benefit of your point in Agility, and still add even more crit on top of it (because that's your easily detected focus of choice), getting 150% of the overall value of the point spent (which has to be a good way to entice players, getting more out of something for just putting some thought in, rather than brainlessly stacking one efficient yet single thing). The numbers are arbitrary, but the idea of such a synergy may work as well. However, such a solution may be way more complicated to implement right now, compared to my initial suggestion. So to paraphrase you, when perfection is out of reach, better is already enough.

The most ironic about all this is that, as someone who hates stats allowance systems in general, I can actually enjoy Wolcen's attributes. Because they are so simplistic, and because their lack of depth, once you see that the primary/secondary/... layer fails to add any, prevents them from causing me any dilemma. I end up having to spam a hundred times a single choice out of 3, which is more akin to bad U.I. design (where I could do the same with a single click) than to a core system design problem (leaving aside that it doesn't provide build diversity, which I crave, if more from an interest in fantasy than a drive to strictly push my gamer skills ever further I'll admit ^^). And that's so sad, that I can paradoxically say this is the first stat allowance system that doesn't stress me out because it fails so much at doing its job (from what I understand so far)... And that this is what actually causes me distress, in the name of the hopes we were given that it would be a groundbreaking fix to such systems.

(Edited 2 years, 6 months ago)

Created: 2 years, 6 months ago

Personally and on a practical level:

On my main character, i am also bothered by the fact that i get so much more damage from the main stat that it's tempting to keep pouring points into it, while mechanically, the main stat being ferocity, i don't really need to add more points to it as i consider my crit. rate to be fine for me, so i understand where your reasoning comes from!

Maybe not "more damage" should come from lower stats but i'd say just as much damage as from the main stat! The game should consider the stats total for the damage boost rather than the main stat maybe, i'd be fine with that, once again, on a personal and practical level!

(Edited 2 years, 6 months ago)

Created: 2 years, 6 months ago

That would be equivalent to not having any system there at all. If the different attributes added the exact same amount of damage, their only difference would lie in their individual purpose, and that's just buffing all numbers in the game arbitrarily, meaning it doesn't matter if I hit for 100 or 1000 damage since enemies are just calibrated for whatever the numbers are supposed to be.

Created: 2 years, 6 months ago

That would be equivalent to not having any system there at all. If the different attributes added the exact same amount of damage, their only difference would lie in their individual purpose, and that's just buffing all numbers in the game arbitrarily, meaning it doesn't matter if I hit for 100 or 1000 damage since enemies are just calibrated for whatever the numbers are supposed to be.

Farael Original Comment

It's already not far from that, the edge you take is more about the rest, the passives, crit rate, aliment chance, etc.

Created: 2 years, 6 months ago

Which is why I'm thinking Attributes are kinda broken in their current state. And there's no point in having something that doesn't serve its intended purpose (or any at all) in a game. If it doesn't add anything good to the player's experience, it generally means it needs to be either fixed or removed. There's probably no chance they're going away, so we might as well try to make them somewhat interesting.

Created: 2 years, 6 months ago

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