Yesterday two devs of the system designs team gathered on Reddit to answers questions of the community. As always we have read through the full session for you, summarized the most important topics and added some minor comments. Have fun with it!
What is a typical day at work like for a Systems Designer?
In the early phases of a module there are a lot of planning meetings and discussions about the features we want to consider for our next release, which ones take priority, and how we want to approach implementing them.
After we get through those meetings and have a plan, the weeks of implementation begins. Through out those weeks it is looking at spreadsheets, unglamorious tools windows, and a lot of iterative work/checks/adjustments and back to more work.
Nearer the end of a module, and at the end of a given feature, we go through reviews to see how the features we worked on feel, what we should adjust and of course bug fixing.
Throughout all of a module there are playtests where we play features in progress or pvp or run dungeons etc. for feedback/testing/and simply keeping up to date with the game changes.
Why can’t all of our powers have different effects in the PvP arena than in the PvE areas?
The main issue is that balancing two separate powersets requires a large amount of work, both to maintain and to set up. We would effectively have to create a new version of a power that was a PvP only power, or add PvP specific effects on normal powers that change the way they work. This also means that tooltips need to be updated, changes need to be made, and interactions between other powers need to be accounted for.
tl;dr: this doesn’t sound like the devs really want to split powers
Why was the +5 gear from Illusionist’s Gambit given one offense and one overload slot?
Does control no longer have a place in the game?
This leads into another problem which is that control powers are too plentiful and aren’t tuned for control. There are a large amount of powers that are fairly competitive damage-wise (looking at you smoke bomb) that are ALSO incredible control powers. I don’t think we’ve balanced control against power well and that creates situations where you’re getting control “for free.” It also means that taking a control effect over something else, when it is a choice, generally feels like a loss rather than a gain.
tl;dr: a lot of text, but bottom line: don’t expect control to matter in the near future
Storm Spell Nerf
The 30% damage nerf that we applied to it was compensation for it being allowed to critically strike. While low-end / fresh 70 builds will see a decrease in effectiveness for Storm Spell, mid-high geared players should see an increase.[…]
The weapon enchantment nerf did hit CW fairly hard, and while we want to compensate them for it, we didn’t want Storm Spell to be the sole taker of what that compensation is.
The nerf is a late compensation to the fact that Storm Spell now critically strikes. Devs are aware that CWs still do less damage overall due to Weapon Enchantment changes, and plan to further adjust in the future.
Will the professions system in Neverwinter see a complete overhaul sometime this year?
Hard to read anything into the answer. Most of the times “on our radar” means nothing, but it definitely feels like they really want to tackle professions at some point. But they are not actively working on it.
Are there any plans to change the Bonus RP event?
We have looked at the Bonus RP event and have some improvements we are working on for it, however those won’t go live until M14 due to where our schedules are at which is why we haven’t talked about them yet. In short the rewards will be higher, the rate will be faster, and players will be able to gain bonus RP from more activities. Stay tuned for more information in the future.
Let’s be cautiously optimistic here. We wouldn’t get too hyped, but at least the rewards are getting upped.
How would you summarize the development process of a module?
Other than that, we usually have a list of things that we need to get done, such as the critters in a new zone, or the rewards that come from new content. We generally have a list of things that we try to add in every module (such as a Zone / Campaign / Rewards / Critters) and once we finish those things we can get into the more unique features, such as the refinement changes.
Buffs and DC Meta
We’re going to be tweaking classes in the future but to really remove the 2DC meta, we’ll have to look at the buffs and debuffs that they apply, as well as the buffs and debuffs that other classes apply. It’s likely going to need a medium-large overhaul, but it’s something that we want to do.
For power creep and the highly geared players, they are getting quite powerful with all of those item level increases, so we’ll be keeping an eye on that and making sure nothing gets too out of hand.
This is a blessing and a curse for DCs. Doesn’t look like they plan to nerf the class, but if they change how buffs work, the reign in 5-toon groups could end nonetheless.
Can you elaborate on how and why the old dungeons can never return?
This is a very important topic to some and although you might not like it, it doesn’t seem like they’ll focus on bringing old dungeons back. It’s probably as much work as designing a new one, at least not something they can do on the fly.
Why are Ultimate Enchanting Stone so hard to get?
Anytime we release something new and rare we keep an eye on it. For right now they are going to remain in the end chests of the newest dungeons, but we will keep an eye on it.
Larger Scaled Events and Teamwork
The other factor is that we don’t really think a larger player count would make our fights that much more interesting. We’ve found that 10 man trials seem to work best for what we want.
Good they know that their engine is bad. Bad that they don’t plan to update it and instead just avoid content that is too resource intensive.
Why can’t Deep Gash (GWF feat) Crit?
Storm Spell was the first one of these powers that we gave the ability to critically strike, we wanted to make sure that it was tested and working well before we touched the others, but it’s possible to see powers, like deep gash, change to this functionality in the future. As for Slam and Pillar of Power, both of those powers just didn’t have the correct flag on them, so they were unable to crit (perhaps intentionally so in the past).
We want to make sure that stats are useful in most situations, like crit, and we understand that it makes crit less valuable if a portion of your powers cannot benefit from it. There are a few exceptions to this, such as Armor Pen and Piercing, but those are more intentional.
This is understandable, but players only get that changing stuff just takes so long in this game. It’s really frustrating, but also nothing that anyone can really change.
Why are you and other devs completely bound by a NDA?
While this is true, other studios are much more forthcoming with information. This is not something they couldn’t change, they simply run a very strict policy here.
That’s our summary of the Reddit AMA. Did we miss anything? What’s your opinion on the answers? Share your thoughts on our social channels, in the comments below, or visit the corresponding thread on our message board!
Neverwinter UN:Blogged is always looking for writers to contribute to the blog. If you are an active player and search for a way to spread your opinions, analysis, diaries or reviews to more than 40,000 regular visitors, then don’t hesitate and get in touch with us on our contact page or message board! We are currently especially looking for console and PVP content, but that’s not exclusive. There is no frequency requirement, you post how often you want.