Aion Analysis: Character Creation

Character creation in Aion was one of the most involving aspects of the game itself.  It starts off by presenting two faction options: Elyos or Asmodean.  In vanilla Aion, this had a large impact on your gameplay, as your faction would determine some of the abilities you would get access to later.  While this was eventually changed, there remained a factional imbalance with how the maps were set up.  That aspect will NOT be covered in this article.

After that, you are presented with 12 options for classes to play.  In vanilla, there were only 8 options.  There aren’t 12 classes to play, though.  The game presents male/female as different versions of the classes, although there is no difference in gameplay between the two.  The differences are purely cosmetic.

One of the more confusing aspects of this window is that you are presented with 6 stats in the lower left: power, health, agility, accuracy, knowledge, and will.  There is no explanation what these stats are for, and it is entirely up to the player to learn.  There is no equipment within the game itself that has these stats on them either, as HP is the stat that appears on gear NOT health.

These stats cannot be changed in any way, shape, or form until 5.0.  In 5.0, players are given a talent-point style system (called Essence Allocation), and I will cover this system in great detail in the future.  Before the Essence Allocation System, though, these stats were completely immutable, and they also did not indicate what they were for.

After a lot of experimentation by the player base, it was discovered that these stats indicated how well this specific class scaled with stats.  If a character had 100 knowledge, they gained 100% of the value of every point of magic boost.  If a character had 95 knowledge, they only gained 95% of the value of every point of magic boost.  If a character had 130 knowledge, they gained a whopping 130% of the value of every point of magic boost.

While I do view more knobs to help balance a game as a valuable tool, these particular stats always puzzled me.  They were presented to the player at class selection, and seemed to be of vital importance.  While they were very important, the way they were presented always made it feel like they were a stat that could be changed, or a stat that would come into direct play later.

But neither of these things are true.  These stats were always hidden in the background, and it was never something that factored into gameplay decisions later.  In fact, at 10, when you ascended to become your true class, these stats changed again.

This gave character creation in Aion a confusing feel, as it would sometimes present you with information that was neither important nor relevant.

Then comes the cosmetic portion.  I am sure virtually everyone has seen pictures of hideous and beautiful Aion characters, so I will not cover those here.  Instead, I am going to talk about the armor and ability showcase mode.  In this mode, you can view 4 types of armor:

  • “Naked”
  • Low level armor
  • Mid-high level armor
  • High level armor

You can also view 6 different abilities.  Of these 6 abilities, some may not actually be in the game, though.  This was one of the odder realizations I had when I bought a plastic surgery ticket (a character appearance modification item).

While this may not seem major, one of the cooler abilities that it showed for sorcerers was an ability that didn’t even exist within the game, at least not for sorcerers.

In conclusion, the game’s creator has a lot of cosmetic options, but it also has a bunch of information that only serves to confuse players (or simply be forgotten).  The stats, along with the sometimes missing abilities, are a confusing combination of things to present the player with that seems to serve no actual purpose in the game.

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Aion Analysis: Introduction

“Aion Analysis” is a series of articles I’m going to be doing on the game Aion.  This article only introduces what the series is going to be about, and it will not do any actual analysis.

Aion is a game developed by the Korean developer and publisher NCsoft.  It was originally released in South Korea in November 2008 and quickly became NCsoft’s flagship product.  It released in Japan in July 2009, and was subsequently released in North America, Australia, and Europe in September 2009.  The game was advertised as a PVPVE game.  One of the core focuses of the game was for PVP and PVE to often intermingle instead of being separate subgames.

In South Korea, the game experienced an incredible amount of success.  It surpassed Lineage 1 in terms of financial success, and it was the most popular MMORPG in South Korea.  Despite being wildly successful in South Korea, the game was not immensely popular elsewhere.  It saw massive initial success, but the success tapered off and, as the game was westernized more and more, the game continued to do worse and worse financially.

In spite of Aion’s tapering popularity globally, it is still rather popular within South Korea, often being ahead of World of Warcraft in LAN cafes in terms of popularity.  Outside of South Korea,

Before I go into analyzing the game, I feel that I should discuss my own background in Aion so that you may understand the context I am viewing the game through.  I am from North America.  I hit level 50 as an Elyos Sorcerer in patch 1.5.  I played sparingly during 2.0 and 3.0, but I came back and played again during 4.x and 5.x.  During 4.x, I got an Elyos Songweaver to 65 as well.  Most of my hours played are in 1.5-1.9 and then 4.3-4.5.

This is going to be a long series of articles and sometimes I will discuss very specific aspects of Aion.  The first article should be up on May 29th.

List of all articles to date:

Character Creation [May 29th, 2017]

Master X Master Master Idea – Chief Gunner Koakoa

All numbers on here are just meant to be there to give an idea of the range, power, or reusability of a specific skill.  This is not meant to represent finalized numbers.

Chief Gunner Koakoa

Core Design Philosophy:

Chief Gunner Koakoa is designed to be more a fight-controller and a zoner than he is a true damage dealer.  Koakoa’s abilities are very mana intensive, and he is heavy reliant on his passive to restore mana for sustained presence.

Weapon:

Koakoa uses a long-ranged charged weapon that fires an explosive projectile.  The projectile deals more damage the more the weapon is charged.

Ability 1:

Molotov Cocktail

Cast Range: 15 meters
MP Cost: 225
Cooldown: 18 seconds

Throws a Molotov Cocktail at the target location, dealing minor damage on explosion and placing a patch of fire on the ground.  The fire deals constant damage.  The fire starts as a 1 meter radius AOE.  The radius grows by 0.1 meters every quarter second.  Lasts 3 seconds.

Design Insight:

The purpose of this ability is to give Koakoa an option for a sustained team fight ability.  The growth rate may be a bit large, but I was just trying to spitball numbers.

This ability also provides very powerful wave clear and PVE power for stationary (or semi-stationary) targets.

Level Traits:

  1. Increases skill power by 5%
  2. Reduces cooldown by 1 seconds
  3. Applies a 10% snare to individuals within the fire pitch
  4. Increases skill power by 5%
  5. Increases duration by 0.5 seconds
  6. Reduces the delay between growth spurts from 0.25 to 0.2.

Ability 2:

Spike Bomb

Cast Range: 15 meters
MP Cost: 200
Cooldown: 15 seconds

Throws a Spike Bomb at the target location.  0.75 seconds after the bomb lands, it explodes in a + formation.  One of the lines for the bomb travels parallel to Koakoa’s forward vector at the time of casting, and the other line is perpendicular to the same forward vector.

Deals very high damage and applies a 30% snare to all targets that are hit.  A player standing in the center of the + where the lines overlap will take double damage.  Each “line” out of the bomb extends 4 meters from the center.

Design Insight:

A tricky ability to land, Spike Bomb is meant to provide substantial team fight burst and enable follow up.    Its unique targeting style makes it an ability that can be used to cut off corridors and deny space in addition to potentially dealing damage.

An alternative implementation I had considered was to have it pulse 3 times instead of just one, but the snare would be reduced to 10% per hit, stacking up to 3 times.  The damage would be reduced to roughly 35% of its current damage per burst.  The damage would be higher overall, but it would require the individuals to take all 3 hits.

I went with the single blast over the triple blast because Koakoa is already heavily focused around zoning abilities, and having another hard to land ability with high zoning presence might make Koakoa little more than a nuisance.

Level Traits:

  1. Reduces cooldown by 2 seconds
  2. Increases cast range by 1.5 meters
  3. Reduces detonation delay from 0.75 to 0.5 seconds
  4. Increases skill power by 5%
  5. Increases skill power by 10%
  6. Increases the length of the explosion by 1.5 meters and the width by 0.5 meters

Ability 3:

Bomb Party

Range: 20 meters
MP Cost: 250
Cooldown: 14 seconds

Creates a bunch of bombs in a 6 meter radius.  The bomb explosions do not overlap.  Bombs explode after 4 seconds.  If a bomb is destroyed, it does not detonate.

There are three bomb sizes – Small, medium, and large.

Small bombs die after 3 instances of damage.  Medium bombs die after 5 instances of damage.  Large bombs die after 15 instances of damage.

All bombs do the same damage (very high).

Design Insight:

While this ability is easily countered (by simply destroying a small bomb and standing in the gap), it is an ability that will heavily restrict enemy movement on the battlefield, making it a powerful combo ability.

Level Trait Ideas:

  1. Reduces cooldown by 1 second
  2. Increases skill power by 10%
  3. Increase the density of bombs by 10%
  4. Increases skill power by 5%
  5. Increases radius by 1.5 meters
  6. Increase durability of bombs by 100%

Ability 4:

Blank

Cast Range: 5 meters
MP Cost: 125
Cooldown: 15 seconds

A short range cone attack that deals low damage and applies a 1.5 second fear to everyone within the cone.

Design Insight:

This gives Koakoa a way to remove control of enemy masters at the expense of damage.  I had considered a 1.5 second blind as well.

Level Trait Ideas:

  1. Increases skill power by 5%
  2. Reduces MP cost by 25
  3. Increase duration of fear by 0.5 seconds
  4. Increases cast range by 1 meter
  5. Reduce cooldown by 1 second
  6. Blank reduces the defense of victims by 10% for Blank’s fear’s duration

Ultimate:

Bombs Away!

Cast Range: Global
Ult Cost: 2 bubbles
Cooldown: 45 seconds

Drops a bomb on top of every enemy master on the map.  The bombs are tethered to the master that they were summoned upon.  After a 5 second delay, the bombs all explode, dealing massive damage to any nearby enemies with a small falloff radius.

Design Insight:

The idea for this attack is that it drops the bombs instantly, but the bombs explode after a while to make Koakoa’s ult more of a fight disruption ult than a straight up team fighting ult.

The tethers would have a short delay before moving in the direction that the master moved as well.  This would allow the enemy masters to run from the bombs and outrange them.  The falloff radius is intended to match up with the base move speed of masters while attacking.  In this instance, it does slightly reduced damage to the player if they’re moving away while running.  If you run at full speed, you will outrange the bomb’s explosion radius.

Swapping masters will break the tether, but the bomb will persist.

Level Trait Ideas:

  1. Increases skill power by 10%
  2. Reduces cooldown by 5 seconds
  3. Increases explosion radius by 25%
  4. Increases skill power by 5%
  5. ??? [I suppose another increase skill power would fit here, but it feels generic having that fill out the ult]
  6. While a target is tethered with Bombs Away anywhere on the map, Koakoa’s non-auxiliary abilities have a 75% reduced cooldown.

Level 3 trait – Increases the explosion radius by 25%.
Level 6 trait – While a target is tethered with Bombs Away, Koakoa’s non-auxiliary abilities have a 50% reduced cooldown.

Passive:

Resupply

Every fourth weapon attack that deals damage to enemies restores 45 mana to Koakoa.

Survival:

Rocket Jump 

Koakoa detonates a small bomb to launch himself towards the target location.  Can be used to jump over walls.  While in the air, Koakoa takes 75% reduced damage from all sources.

Project Infinity Influence Map

First demo with decals enabled:

Second demo with decals toggled on and off to show the performance of the system when decals are enabled vs. disabled:

This map is hideous.

Yeah it is.  This is a sandbox-test map that I use to demo anything before putting it into a “real” map.

How does it work?

It is a double buffered event-driven influence map that is based off of this article by Alex Champandard.

It appears to update in rows.  Why is that?

The amount of grids that are updated per tick (from the server’s perspective) are editable in the actor details panel on the right side of the picture shown below.

It updates a limited number of grids per run to keep the overhead low.  Setting the “Updates Per Tick” value to 0 results in it updating all of the grids at once.

What is the purpose of the influence map in this game?

The purpose of the influence map in this game is to simulate areas of control by the different factions within the game to indicate to the AI where it should focus their efforts.

What is the “BP_Outpost” that was added to the map?

The BP_Outpost added to the map is a constant influence point that the AI will construct to add spawn points closer to the front lines of battles.  The BP_Outpost, in its current state, adds no true gameplay ramification outside of the influence applier.  In the future, it will add spawn points to the world.

What does all of this lead to?

The goal for this is to create a system wherein the actions of the players or the NPCs can sightly shift the behaviors of the NPCs in the world.

What still needs to happen in the influence map?

  1. Performance upgrades
  2. Adding support for multiple factions
  3. “Smarter” spawning – Some of the grids being spawned simply can’t be pathed to, so spawning them in the current way is suboptimal.

What kind of performance upgrades are you looking at doing?

Now I’m going a bit on the technical end.  Right now, it spawns an actor for every single grid square.  That is horrendous, performance wise, although kudos to the Unreal Engine for being able to handle over 250,000 actors being on the map.  These are not ticking actors.  Only the original “InfluenceMap” actor is a ticking actor, and it chooses small subsets of the population to update.

I have a plan for a major performance overhaul which does involve moving away from actors for the influence grid and moving to a far, far more efficient system.

How large have you expanded it to?

512×512 is the highest I have managed to get into a game.  It is around 6 GB worth of influence map data on its own, although that is partially caused by them all being actors, and it is VERY obvious whenever a chunk updates.  So, that made it painfully obvious that I had to completely overhaul my system.

That seems excessively large.

It is.  Especially since no performance upgrades have been done yet.  This is the goal, though.  512×512 is the “target” for my project.  My project’s world map is intended to be split into an 8×8 grid of 64×64.

When is the next update planned?

I want to have the next implementation of the influence map ready to go by the end of next weekend.  I won’t have the debug visualization completed by then.

 

Hopefully I will have more specifics for the next blog post.

 

MXM Ranked Draft Feedback

To start with, my biggest complaint regarding this test is the ranked draft system.  By making bans only apply to one team, games regularly have identical bans.

In platinum, Sizuka and Death Knight are almost always banned.  In expert, it’s generally Sizuka, Nedien, and MBA.

Why, though?

Because in the current system, you are only banning for the enemy team, which means you are very frequently only banning masters that are either ridiculously strong in general or ridiculously strong against your comp.

The exact numbers I’m going to use for how many picks and bans is under the assumption that the game will reach at least 50 masters.  Currently, there are 35, and I think that 15 more by launch isn’t unreasonable.

In the current system, bans only apply to the opposing team, your team picks a total of 10 masters, and it’s possible to have the same master once on each team.

The smallest number of masters that will be picked and banned combined is 12 (assuming the same 2 masters are banned by both teams and the same 10 masters are picked).  The largest number of masters that will be picked and banned combined is 24 (assuming different masters are picked and banned across the board).

In this current system, though, Sizuka is regularly banned in Platinum and Expert level games.  Your team has no reservations about banning Sizuka because even if you ban her, the enemy still has to ban her or you can get her.  This makes the value of a ban extremely lopsided.

With that said, let’s talk about a different draft system: A semi-blind draft.

It would start as it does now.  The first set of masters would be banned.  Once both captains have made their selections, the bans are shown.  These masters are banned for *both* teams, and it is possible for both teams to pick the same ban.

The second set of masters must now be banned.  The masters that are banned by either side are not selectable, but this is another blind ban phase.

Now the first two players from both teams get to make their picks.  Once they have been picked, there is another 1-ban phase.  For this ban phase, bans are not retroactive, but they apply to both teams moving forward.  A captain can also only ban masters that are not already banned or visibly picked by the enemy team.  That is to say that a master picked by your own team can still be banned, but a master that has been visibly picked by the opposing team cannot.  This leaves situations where the blind picks can trick the enemy captain into a wasted ban.

Now the next two players will pick their masters.

After this pick phase, there will be one more ban phase where one master is banned again.

After this, the captains will pick their masters.

Won’t this take too much time?

Given the current amount of time, yes.  So, I propose a modification of how much time the captains have.

The captains will start with a reserve pool of 60 seconds.  Every banning phase will give the player 15 baseline seconds.  If the captain bans within the first 15 seconds, they do not spend any of their reserve pool.  If they take more than 15 seconds, they spend some of their reserve pool.  None of the phase’s base time carries over to subsequent phases.

Time Difference:

Current system takes a max of 1 minute during the ban phase.

Proposed system would take up to 2 minutes for the ban phase.  Slightly longer, but not significantly so.

How much of a difference could we see?

Raw Master Counts:

We would see 14 masters picked and banned at the minimum (if both teams ban and draft the same masters).

We would see 28 masters picked and banned at the maximum (if both teams ban and draft completely different masters from each other).

Hopefully we will see changes to the drafting system to encourage a larger variety of masters in game, and I think that allowing for more bans is the most reliable way to encourage it.  Balancing is the best way for encouraging a wider swathe of masters, but the metagame in MOBAs tends to shift for weeks or month before it starts to stabilize, so it is also much harder to make good balance changes and not simply make kneejerk changes to early perceived imbalances.

A deeper ban system also allows for specific tiers of players to better handle was is strong at their specific bracket.  In DOTA 2, for example, even when Invoker is strong, he isn’t a good hero at 1k or 2k, but he is a strong hero at 6k.  You can’t realistically balance the game for both tiers, so giving more bans is a great solution.


Don’t Automate The Captain Unless Necessary

I know that this change combined with the first one will extend how long the draft phase goes, but I feel these will help the overall quality of matches.  Sometimes the highest MMR player doesn’t want to ban, but sometimes he does.

For this, I propose a 15 second captain selection phase at the start of the match.  People who wish to be captain must offer to be captain during this phase.  If multiple people offer, it will select the person with the highest MMR of those that offered.  If none offer, it will select the person with the highest MMR on the team.

The other 4 teammates will still be sorted in terms of MMR as they are currently.

My Hopes for the MXM Titan Ruins Match API and Why

All examples that I use in the sections are simply arbitrary examples.  They are not meant to represent how I think certain metagame aspects will play out.

Also, I do understand that some of these are crazy and would take up a lot of space, but I am putting these ideas up here anyways in hopes of potentially sparking anidea on how

  • An indication as to who is the “bottom left” team and who is the “top right” team.
    • This may sound obvious, but given the symmetry of the map, it may be very difficult to determine without some indicator.  This is important given that “top lane” is the opposite lane relative to each team.
  • Picks and bans in order; in matches without bans, still indicate the order of picks, and keep them in shown/hidden order to provide more information
    • I would like to be able to see pick rates along with perhaps information regarding counterpicking.  Perhaps when Kromede is a shown pick she has a 42% win rate, but when she is a hidden pick, she has a 55% win rate.  When Sizuka is picked early, maybe it causes a sharp increase in the number of Death Knight and Ignuma picks (or Death Knight and Ignuma bans).
  • Ability breakdown by hero (in the proper order as well)
  • All master deaths, the time of the death, the location of the the death, and the damage breakdown (preferably by abilities and masters as well, but at the very least by masters and owning players)
    • This one would be useful for parsing information about where a player is most frequently caught out of position, or perhaps where a player likes to stalk.  Maybe Kat the Cat is heavily involved in kills that happen in the first 2 minutes on top lane.  If only the master is indicated, it would be difficult to dissect which Kat the Cat (if there are two) was the one involved in specific kills.
    • I changed this from “kill” to “death” in case a player dies to something that isn’t a player (river king is a frequent killer)
  • All neutral kills (the four jungle camps, river kings, ritualists, the Summoned Guardian, and the two altars), the time of the kill, the damage breakdown (only owning player is necessary in this case to me), who initiated the fight, and who secured it.
    • In the case of most of the camps, the team to kill it gets the reward (what I refer to as “securing it”). The dream scenario here would be for the API to provide enough information so that it could be dissected that Blue Team initiated on the Summoned Guardian, dealt 80% of his life in damage, and were discovered by Red Team, who then wiped them and took the Summoned Guardian.  In the case of the altars, this information could be helpful to determine which players are very good at contesting or stealing altars.
  • Skill level up information (i.e. Took Q at level 1, E at level 2-4, Q at level 5).
    • This one would be useful for showing how a player chose to skill up, and perhaps show where certain players feel that a hero’s “breakpoints” are.
  • Trait information, including re-doing traits
    • This one would be useful for showing if a player has a specific trait build against certain masters or perhaps even a certain trait build up until, say, a big push down mid where the player swaps all traits to be offensive
  • A by-wave creep participation breakdown.
    • This is the one that would consume the largest portion of data, and it is likely too much to actually be implemented.  The idea for this, though, would be something like…
    • 1TR (1st wave, top, red) – B2A3 (Blue team, player 2, first [shown] hero, 3 points), B2B2 (Blue team, player 2, second [hidden] hero, 2 points), B4A1 (Blue team, player 4, first hero, 1 point)
    • In that example, the stuff in the parentheses would not be included, but it shows which blue masters were involved in combat with the red Titanites.  It could potentially just be merged between both teams to be…
    • 1T – B2A3, B2B2, B4A1, R1A4, R2B2
    • That would indicated that the second and fourth players from blue and the first and second players from red participated in the first Titanite wave top.
    • This would allow the parsing of lane information.  Perhaps Lua has a 60% win rate if she goes mid, a 42% bottom, and a 56% top.
  • Titan appearances by time (and whether Kinetic, Ardent, or Helix)
  • Titan Incarnate usage by player and time
  • Destruction of towers by time and damage breakdown

Master X Master – Alpha 3 Feedback

Usability and User Experience Feedback Section:

Lack of Persistent Parties

There is no way to form a group that persists between matches.  After every match, you must re-invite everyone back to the group.

Friends, Recent Players, and Mercenaries

Friends and recent players show different primary masters for friends, which is confusing when you’re trying to pick a friend to be your mercenary.

Hidden CDs on Passives

Any ability that is a triggered passive (such as Death Knight’s passive resurrection) is not shown in the tooltip or on the button itself.  It is displayed as a buff on the player’s bar, but it seems rather unintuitive when all of the other abilities show the CD on the bar AND tooltip.

Latency on Smart Cast

There seems to be a bit of latency on smart casting still.

Double Tap to Cast

I would like to see the option to be able to hit a key (such as Q), bring up the targeting reticle, and then his Q again to cast the spell.  This was a targeting style I loved from GW2.

General Gameplay Feedback:

General

  • Smart cast seems to still have a delay on it
  • The unlocked camera is difficult to control
  • Can we get tooltips for mousing over stats?

Titan Ruins

  • Vita’s ultimate doesn’t cancel capturing an altar.  I assume it should.
  • Add a visual indicator of some kind for when the player gets a buff from killing a neutral (such as the Ritualists) that way players better understand what it gave them.
  • The side lane Titan Sights are rather low value with the top lane Titan Sight carrying virtually no value beyond denying vision to the enemy and the bottom Titan Sight only being valuable whenever you lose that altar.  See the utility skill change proposals to see how I propose fixing that.
  • Value of master kills should go up based on how big a streak the victim had or perhaps the amount of
  • Of the four utility abilities, the teleport skill and the sprint seem to be of no real value given their CD.  If I had to make changes…
    • Heal remains the same.  This ability is extremely popular already, and it is a massive heal for everyone that it is applied to.
    • Fortification CD slightly reduced.  This is the second most commonly used ability, but it doesn’t seem to be as high impact as the heal in a game.  The heal is effective at any stage of the game.  Fortification is only effective whenever you’re inside your own base and by a building.
    • Sprint CD greatly reduced.  Sprint is virtually never taken because, while it is a decent ability while active, its cooldown makes it terrible by comparison.
    • Teleport CD reduced greatly.  This is the one way I can the side lane Titan Sights being given a lot of value.

PVE

  • The game doesn’t communicate what exactly “Attack Score” is.  The forums suggest it is the number of NPCs that were killed.
  • Don’t hide Technique Score even when it is bad.  Let players know what area(s) they can improve in.
  • Can the Battle Log be enabled in PVE, at least for yourself?  I’d like to see a hero damage breakdown.

Master X Master – A Mechanical Analysis

Master X Master is the newest NCsoft title to enter an external alpha.

Describing The Game

MXM is a difficult game to describe succinctly.  It has been describes as an ARPG, a MOBA, and an MMO.  What is it exactly?

First, I need to cover one of the core features.  One of the core premises of the game is the “tag” system.  With the “tag” system, you are swapping out one master for another that you had preselected.  “Master” is this game’s term for hero/champion.  The tag system has a 15 second CD and the masters have separate health bars and resource bars, but they have shared ultimate bars between them.

Now that that is covered…

The ARPG portion of MXM is primarily focused on speed running and attempting to win one of the big prizes in the end of the dungeon.  This is how you will get the components to unlock some of the time distortion heroes.  It is also how you will get the nodes and other resources to upgrade your PVE powers.  Note that your ARPG progress does *not* carry over to the PVP portion of the game, so if you’re only interested in PVP, you will only need to run the time distortion dungeons enough times to unlock the heroes you seek, and then you can go back to running PVP only.

Its MMO elements are the most easily summarized aspect.  Instead of being in a chatroom, everybody is in a virtual lobby where they can see each other.  Everyone picks a “representative master”, and that is their physical representation in the lobby.  This “representative master” feature is more important than just a representation of yourself in the lobby, but I’ll cover that later.

The MOBA portion has two sub-modes.  The first is the 3v3 arena mode.  It is a rather straight forward deathmatch mode.  The winner is the first team to 25 kills or the team with the most kills after 10 minutes.

Then there is the 5v5 mode, Titan Ruins.  The base concept is the same as other MOBA/ARTS games — Destroy the enemy team’s throne/core w/ a 25 minute timer.  In the case of the game going 25 minutes, the team with more points wins.


Attunements, Attributes, and Playstyles

And now we get into a more advanced concept that is present within MxM.  It is a simple concept on paper (and in practice), but on the surface, it promises to greatly expand the professional metagame.  Whether it will deliver that or not has yet to be seen.

Attunements

There are three attunements; Ardent (Red), Helix (Green), and Kinetic (Blue).  Ardent beats Helix, Helix beats Kinetic, Kinetic beats Ardent.

To be more specific, each attunement deals 15% more damage to the attunement it “beats” and 15% less damage to the attunement it loses to.  In this case, Ardent would deal 15% more damage to Helix and deal 15% less damage to Kinetic.  Kinetic would deal 15% more damage to Ardent while dealing 15% less damage to Helix.  Helix would deal 15% more damage to Kinetic while dealing 15% less damage to Ardent.

Attributes

Weapon Damage – This shows how high the master’s basic attacks deal.

Skill Power – This shows how much damage the master’s skills do approximately.  A skill with 300 skill power will do a lot less damage than a skill with 750 skill power.

Survivability – This shows the amount of health or tankiness in general the master has.

Difficulty – This shows the approximate difficulty of playing the master.  A character with a difficulty of 1 will be much easier than a hero with a difficulty of 7.

Playstyles

Juggernaut – These are the tank types.  They will be very good at getting to the front line and staying in the front line.

Assault – These are the sustained DPS types.  They tend to have the highest weapon damage but medium skill power.  If they do have high skill power, that ability’s damage is likely distributed over a longer window.

Assassin – These are the squishy high burst DPS types.  They tend to have lower weapon damage but higher skill power.

Skirmisher – These are primarily the initiator or counter-initiator types.  They tend to have either a charge or a way to bring the enemy to them.

Marksman – These are the long range siege types.  They aren’t necessarily bad at fighting players, but they tend to have a range greater than that of towers, allowing them to siege towers even without the assistance of creeps (Titanites).

Support – These are the healer/support types.  Not all supports are healers (Nanurunerk and Maia come to mind), but no real healing is provided by non-supports (except for your utility skill that anybody can have).

Summoner – These are the “pet” types.  They summon pets, but the “pets” act on their own.  This does make playing a Summoner frustrating at points, but it also reduces the total micro needed.


Theoretical Applications

So, what does all of this mean for the game?

In theory, let’s say that you have a master that is exceptionally powerful.  Because almost all of my MOBA experience comes from DOTA 2, I will use DOTA 2 examples.  Let’s say that you have a case of 6.84 Sniper or 6.85 Leshrac.  In this theoretical system, Sniper would deal 15% reduced damage to and take 15% increased damage from 1/3rd of the heroes in the game.  The same would be true for Leshrac.  Would this have theoretically “fixed” Sniper or Leshrac or at least made it so he wasn’t always the answer?  It may not have fully fixed either of them, but I imagine it would have helped a non-trivial amount.


Counter Picking

Being that MXM is a game of two masters per player, there will be 10 masters per team instead of 5.  The pick menu does not show both heroes that an individual currently has selected.  It only shows their “primary” hero and a “?” for their secondary hero.  This allows some room for counter-picking, but, as is the case in most von Neumann games, it can also result in overthinking the draft stage.


Pick and Ban Modes

I mention the pick and ban mode, but I have not been able to get enough players together to test it out, so I do not know how the system works, but there is a pick-ban mode in alpha test 3 of MXM already available for both the arenas and Titan Ruins.


The Camera and Backstabbing

The camera seems to be focused in a more forward position (relative to the team’s starting location) than most MOBA cameras, giving a “bottom-screen advantage”.  Attacking from the enemy’s side of the map gives you a tactical advantage as they will have less time to react to your movements and positioning.

Unlike other MOBAs, MXM always gives you the bottom of the screen.  This means that both teams are the “bottom” on their screen, and both will be equally susceptible to bottom-screen backstabbing.


Titan Ruins

Just as a forewarning, the rest of this article will focus on Titan Ruins, but I will indicate it on every section’s header.

For a breakdown of scoring and how Titan Ruins works, here is a link to the Wiki that discusses it in great detail.  There are some minor errors on there, but it is accurate for the most part.  One key aspect not mentioned in the Wiki is that you are always the team on the bottom.  This can make the map disorienting for newcomers, as sometimes Aduman is on top lane, or sometimes Aduman is on the bottom lane.

The quickest way to orient yourself with the map is by looking at mid.  In mid, there are symbols similar [^], [^^], and [*].  [^] and [^^] will be right next to each other, and those markers indicate the position of the ritualists.  [*] indicates the position of the Summoned Guardian.  By orienting yourself with the location of those two markers, you can determine where Ruak and Aduman also are.  The ritualist altar will be slightly closer to one team than the other, and the summoned Guardian altar will be slightly closer to the other team.

The Hero Altars mentioned in the Wiki (which summon the aforementioned Ruak and Aduman) can be found at the midway point of the side lanes.  They initially spawn 4 minutes after the game starts and 4 minutes after the altar’s hero dies.  Whenever the Altar Protectors spawn, a voice calls out “Altar Protectors have spawned”.  There are two Altar Protectors, which are rather basic PVE mobs.  Killing them makes the Altar vulnerable which then requires a player to capture it (which is a 10 second channel that requires you to do nothing else and take no damage for the duration).

There are four Titan Sights on the map.  As mentioned, the Titan Sights give a large swathe of vision, and they are positioned in a consistent manner around the map, and they remain captured for 5 minutes after being captured.  After 5 minutes, they will become neutral and can be captured again.  There are two Titan Sights on each side of the river.

One Titan Sight is in the jungle between your middle and top lane.  Given that the best way to kill a lane is by coming in behind it (due to the limited vision on bottom screen), this Titan Sight provides protection from backstabbing to your top lane unless they cut directly through the river and risk being ambushed by the River King.  It also makes enemy rotations from top lane to mid much harder, although bottom to mid is exposed.

The second Titan Sight is favorably positioned on your bottom lane.  This means that you are able to get vision that sees behind where creep equilibrium falls in bottom lane, allowing you to see incoming backstabs.  The bottom Titan Sight becomes especially valuable whenever the Altar is captured by the enemy team.  The bottom Titan Sight will show you who is with the Aduman/Ruak push, which can be especially helpful

The enemy jungle Titan Sight is perhaps the most valuable individual Titan Sight in the game.  If the enemy has it, it is very hard for you to rotate from bottom to either mid or their jungle for a gank.  If your team has it, though, it makes it very hard for the enemy to rotate from (or through their jungle) to your bottom lane, and it limits their total access points to the Ritualist/Summoned Guardian on your side of the map substantially.

The least valuable individual Titan Sight in the game is likely the top lane Titan Sight.  This Titan Sight primarily has one valuable aspect to it, and that is that capturing it denies them their bottom lane Titan Sight vision.  You can also see if they are pushing towards the top altar, but this information is already provided by your lane creeps (Titanites), and the area of vision it provides is not great enough to see them unless they are walking directly down lane.  If they are sticking to the side of the lane towards mid, they will not be in range of the Titan Sight.  Ritualists have a 6 minute respawn after they die.  Summoned Guardians have a 10 minute respawn.

As for the tower layout…

Top lane has one outer tower.  Bottom lane has one outer tower.  Mid lane has two outer towers.  Inside of there, top lane and bottom lane each have their own inner tower.  These towers are able to attack anything pushing down mid while also being out of range and untargetable to the mid push.  Then there are two towers at the core.


 

Timing Windows (Titan Ruins)

Timing windows are a very important thing within Master X Master.  In DOTA, the term “timing windows” generally referred to when a hero’s peak strength would be achieved.  For example, a Naga Siren’s timing window is much later than a Juggernaut’s timing window.  In MXM, your timing windows are less master dependent and more environmentally dependent.

The Titan Sights will originally be captured around 20-30 seconds into the game.  Once they are captured, you have 5 minutes until they become vulnerable again.  The hero altars for Ruak and Aduman become vulnerable 4 minutes into the game (and 4 minutes after death).  This means, in most cases, the altar protectors will spawn 1 1/2 minutes (or so) before the Titan Sights become vulnerable again.

As a reminder from the end of the previous segment, the Ritualists spawn 6 minutes into the game and give powerful buffs.  The Summoned Guardian is up from the start, and he has a 10 minute respawn.  This is important because of the timing of it all.

At 4 minutes, the altar protectors spawn.  It will take 10-15 seconds to kill the protectors (assuming only one team is actually trying for the altar).   It’s more common for it to take 30 seconds or more (due to the enemy team contesting).  After that, it will take 10 seconds to capture the shrine.  This puts the game at 4:20-4:25 minimum, more likely around 4:40.  Ruak and Aduman will occupy part of the enemy team’s resources for 20-40 seconds.  This puts the game at anywhere from 4:40 to 5:20 (more often towards the later end of that range).

If you remember from earlier, 5:20 is the time when Titan Sights come up.  This means that Ruak and Aduman will generally be occupying the enemy team during the team when you are setting up to capture the important Titan Sights.  As I mentioned earlier, I consider the enemy jungle Titan Sight the most important, your own Titan Sight the second most important, bottom lane Titan Sight the third most important, and top lane Titan Sight the least important.  Their jungle Titan Sight will also be the easiest for them to contest, so it should be the highest priority for taking.

Now that you’ve captured the Titan Sights, another 20-30 seconds of game time likely passed.  That puts the game around 5:40 to 5:50, so very close to the window where the Ritualists will spawn.  With good vision, you can send most of your team back to their lanes to farm with one or two people going to the Ritualists to claim the buffs for themselves.

Keep in mind that while you are doing all of this around the map, you want to do these activities with the smallest group possible.  The individual points scored by killing Titanites in lane may seem trivial, but they add up.  If you are taking your team away from point farming in lane too often, you may end up being point starved in the later phases of the game.

The most difficult timing window to properly execute is the Summoned Guardian.  He is up at the start of the game, so there is no trickery necessary for his first spawn.  With that said, it is time consuming to kill him without your full team, and it is often rather obvious if one team is killing him (especially if the whole team is killing him).  He gives 75-100 points, though, which means that, worst case scenario, you get 75% of the way to the next Titan and, best case scenario, you get a full Titan worth of points.  It’s usually in the middle, though.

Due to the Summoned Guardian’s very tanky, boss-like nature, he takes a lot of resources to bring down.  This makes him a poor choice of targets when the altars are up (except in the case of a game winning push opportunity).  Your team will take a lot of damage and spend a lot of time or mana in there, making an immediate follow-up fight risky.

 

[UE4] Quick Note On Using Apply Radial Damage

For this, I was using a line trace that would create an explosion at the target location.  It did not work for a while, though, even though I was drawing the debug sphere on top of the radial damage and it was spawning at the right place.

Why, though?

View post on imgur.com

My first issue was that radial damage requires visibility to the target.  In this image, “End Point” is the impact point in the trace.  This will be ever so slightly within the target it collided with.

Thus, your radial damage will not apply.

There are two ways to fix this.

First solution: Make the Root Component of your explosion (**IT MUST BE THE ROOT COMPONENT**) block WorldStatic (or whatever you don’t want it colliding with), but nothing else.  When moving the explosion to its destination, have it sweep and not teleport.  If it sweeps, it will adjust the end location so that it is no longer colliding with any surface.  The above image works for radial damage if you make this change.

Second solution: This is a bit more brute force approach that you shouldn’t use unless you’re looking for a very specific outcome.  Take the impact normal, adjust it by an amount, add it to the end point, and move to there.  If the Root Component is not set to block world static, the “Sweep” portion of SetActorLocation won’t do anything, so it’s fine to leave it on.

View post on imgur.com

With that said, you should do your best to use the first solution, but sometimes it just isn’t possible, so the second one will work as well in these cases.

Categories: UE4

What I’d Like To See Happen To Yrel In Legion

So, we all know the story of Yrel.  If you don’t, avoid this post because spoilers are ahead.

Also, this isn’t meant to be written like a story.  This is meant to be written similarly to a stream of ideas.


For starters, we do not know if Yrel is dead in the prime timeline.  She could have been killed by orcs.  She could have died in the explosion.

…  But what if she didn’t die?  What if the Legion captured her and other nearby draenei?  What if they were being spiritually broken, malformed into the Eredar?

Imagine, if you will, the final raid tier of Legion.  The cinematic comes out.  Gul’dan is narrating the cutscene, saying how these champions of the light shall fall like so many before them.  He will end it by mentioning that they will be broken and fall like so many before them.  I realize this part is extremely cliche, but I haven’t seen anything regarding Legion’s story, so I don’t know what it is building towards.

The screen fades to black — All ambient sounds stop.

Gul’dan: “And if they make it here…”

Then Yrel’s voice, slightly modified to sound more similar to a Man’ari, speaks, “Then I shall thin their ranks.”

The patch name appears right then.  You wouldn’t see Yrel in the cinematic.  You’re left wondering if that was Yrel or not.

She would be the second to last boss in the raid.  As you approach her room, you are approached by a group of demons led by an Eredar.  The Eredar is Samaara, Yrel’s sister.  (A possible alternative would be to give Samaara an Eredar name as she was not considered strong enough to keep her name.  It isn’t until you beat Yrel that you discover that this Eredar was Samaara in this alternative.)

You enter the room with Yrel standing alone in center of the room.

http://vignette2.wikia.nocookie.net/wowwiki/images/7/70/Yrel.png/revision/latest?cb=20141015013356

That is her WOD appearance.  In this raid, though, she’s have a much different appearance.  The off-whites would be black.  The bronze armor lining would be replaced with a fel green.  The pink (and the pink crystals) would be replaced with a red similar to Gul’dan’s eyes.  Her skin pigmentation would be slightly more purple, but very, very slightly so.  But her hair, her horns, and everything else about her would be the same.

Why, though?  Why would Yrel be an antagonist?  Why would Samaara also be with her?

Because it tells you more about the Legion than a thousand words ever could.  You saw how strong willed and determined Yrel was in the face of impossible odds in WOD.  She knew that they were facing near impossible odds, but she still fought.  She was a true heroine.

… Yet the Legion was able to break her will.  The Legion shattered her resolve.  It helps put into perspective the power that the Legion holds compared to the Iron Horde.  You saw what she was willing to bear.  You saw the sacrifices she made in the name of her people.  And yet the Legion could break her.

Why is Samaara there?  Because it is the antithesis of the WOD story.

Eredar Yrel isn’t too weak (physically) to protect her beloved sister.  Eredar Yrel’s convictions were too weak to keep her from being corrupted.  Instead, Samaara is too weak to be of any value to Eredar Yrel, so Yrel is willing to send her to her demise.  So instead of a story about physical weakness leading to the death of her sister, it becomes a story about weakness in her convictions eventually leading to the death of her sister.

Want Yrel to still be a protagonist?

Fast-forward to Yrel’s defeat.  Her red cotton candy mace falls to the ground and shatters.  She is ready to be executed.  She is as defiant as ever, as you’d expect of Yrel.  Velen approaches and asks you to continue on.  He will deal with Yrel.

Towards the end of the Gul’dan fight, things look very bleak.  It seems as if evil will triumph.  A blazing light shoots down from above, piercing through all of the demons on the battlefield, bringing them to their collective knees.  In come Velen and Yrel, yelling for the champions of the light to hold on.  They join in the battle to help defeat Gul’dan once and for all.  I base this entire redemption arc on the fact that Avrus was redeemed, although I am not sure if an Eredar has the same rules of redemption as a satyr.

Closing cinematic features Yrel being very distraught.  She thanks the champions for allowing her to see the world without being blinded by corruption.  Her regret is palpable, but she is clearly very confused.  Then she remembers Samaara.  She sprints out of the cutscene.  The rest of the cutscene then plays out however it will.  The player is offered a quest by Velen to go and check on Yrel.

The player will find Yrel at the spot that Samaara died.  The scene would be a cruel juxtaposition of the similar WOD event.  After a brief time, Yrel swears herself to the light.  She swears that she will become strong enough to save this world from suffering the same fate as hers; To save the people of Azeroth from suffering the same fate as her people; To save everyone from the torment that she and Samaara suffered.

Eventually (perhaps in the pre-patch for the expansion after Legion), Yrel becomes a regular NPC in the Exodar.  Perhaps she could assume a more primary role in the war against the Burning Legion.

But wouldn’t this taint Yrel’s legacy?

To me?  No.  WOD showed you the kind of champion that Yrel could have been had historical events been different.  She would have been a strong, unbreakable champion of virtue.

This path shows you that, even in her darkest moments, she still held onto a shred of light.  Despite being near fully consumed by the demonic powers given to her by the Burning Legion, the love for her sister still burned brighter than that.  She would be a hero whose tale wasn’t simply about glory and destiny.  Her tale would be one of falling into the clutches of evil.  It would be one of redemption and future glory.  It would be a tale of a character who understands corruption, anger, and the power of the Burning Legion like few others.

It would give the players many “what if” questions to ask.

But why does Samaara still have to die?

Why?

Because in the end, time is a flat circle.


I hope you enjoyed reading my crazy idea.