Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Back after a while

My primary computer has something very wrong with it and I spent a week + debugging that. Now I'm traveling and have re-built the latest simulator on my laptop so I can test again.

What Am I Doing Right Now?
Testing Bio-Weapons. Specifically different kinds of bites and Thunder Tail (a large, REA-expensive, striking weapon).

What Am I Learning?
Some of the attacks--the bio attacks--have profiles that mean they go very rarely (ROF 1x, charge up of 1 Round). In simulator-ville this means that to give the user a 50% POV with them they need to do like 40pts of damage on one hit. This is overwhelming. The reason is that in a given battle sometimes they may not ever get to act so when they do it has to be decisive.

However: if a PC has an 8 AP 'Monstrous Jaws' attack that deals 45 PEN damage when their companions are doing around 10 PEN for the same investment that's a problem. Why? Well, the dynamics of many-on-one are very different than the dynamics of 1-on-1 and a group of PCs (estimated 3-5) can make up for each other's weaknesses in ways that the current simulator environment doesn't handle. For example, while the attack might get blocked in the simulator, in a real-world situation a group of PCs with Monstrous Jaws might choose to only attack targets who've spent all their REA.

What Can We Do?
Well, a few things--and I'm not going to go into all of them right this second. The best thing to do would be to create some new simulator environments that handle many-on-1 attacks and then see how the attacks perform there. Give the simulation some PC-vs-NPC style battles.

We may still do that--but right now we're looking at a simpler scenario: manual revision of the numbers. I'm going to look into simply reducing the excess damage (above 25 at L1) by some standard amount and making a very few simple tests to see how that performs (such as making the Test Characters fewer AP than normal but putting in 2 of them instead of one). If I can get some basic balance out of that I think we'll be okay.

I should note that this is a rare problem and it usually only occurs when people take 'monster' attacks and that those attacks are not really supposed to destroy a PC in one hit--they're, instead--meant to be a scary attack that comes out once in a while. Reducing the damage will actually help with that.

What Else?
We are working on the new Character Creator software and we're trying to make it get A-Cost correct. This is quite difficult since we're still revising how it works.

Our current thinking: There are no 1pt attacks. Previously if I had Super Strength and wanted Eye-Beam-Lasers at the same level I paid 1 AP for the second attack. This was because it was way, way more efficient to just have "double your points" in one attack or the other. The utility (range) of splitting them made no sense.

The problem is that in some (early) testing it looks like having a ranged attack for ranged people and a hth attack for hth-people (Which will hit harder) is, in fact, a good deal better than 1 AP worth.

We were also charging 1/3rd AP of your most-expensive attack for other attacks like Exotic ones (Ghost Bullets that ignore armor--who wouldn't pay 1 AP for some of those!?) or Periodic Attacks (like the monster bite that does way more damage but is only active once in a while). This formula has been extensively tested and seems to work.

So getting rid of the 1 AP attacks means that if you have 12 AP in Super Strength for 4 AP more you can get 12 AP in Laser-Eye-Beams. While the exact value may not always work out right this works out pretty well so far and makes the rule much, much simpler.



  1. Hmmm. While I agree that the 1-AP-for-all-additional-attacks was probably excessively cheap, I'm wondering if a one-size-fits-all here is not problematic, too. Is it really worth a significant buy in for additional attacks that aren't going to be used in most combats? And at some point, even if all the attacks are theoretically useful, don't you get some serious diminishing returns?

    That said, I'm glad you're keeping in mind the limits of the simulator in other areas.

    I learned the hard way in Hero years ago that a very high damage attack that failed a lot was actually more disruptive to a game than one that only failed occasionally; they were both problematic, but you could at least account for the high damage one when putting out opposition, where the high failure one meant you were almost always putting out too much if you accounted for it, but if you didn't, when it came up it was too dramatic in its effects.

  2. With the release of Maddness Returns I rushed off to the JAGS website, oh so excited about sharing my tales of Wonderland with fellow divers, (diverse divers? How delightful!) only to discover the forums are still down and I have no one to spread my joy over. (like warm marmalade, it is, too)

    Ah well, I shall be left to share my stories of grand adventure with my dolls ... as is usually the case.

  3. By all means, post them here. We did try running forums and the problem is this: I'm not willing to keep up with security patches. The current state of hacking is this: hackers run tools that scan the web looking for software of any sort (any content management software) that has a known vulnerability. When they find one they compromise it (sometimes badly, sometimes subtly).

    I'm simply no longer willing to take that risk or that responsibility. So we're going to use flat HTML with desktop based Content Management and look elsewhere for forums.

    This is a decent tool albeit not a good one.

    So post your comments here!


  4. I want to note to Thomas that I highly agree: having characters whose attack-damage varies widely makes planning almost impossible. Our Periodic attacks are not that unpredictable. Those with "activation rolls" (to see if they are active that Round) activate on a 9-.

    In short battles this does mean that sometimes it won't come into play--but mostly they do.