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  1. -== Armour Set T9s - A Discussion Of Their Design ==- -- And How To Fix Them Within Their Current Intended Function -- - The Godlings- Some preamble. I need to justify where my intentions lay and give you my thought process before I just jump right into my proposal without context. For those that are interested I have my original thought in this spoiler bar. It was in a different thread before, but I include it here for the sake of completeness. Please read it if you haven’t seen it before. Additionally I’m going to call this a workshoppable idea, rather than a straight-up suggestion of what I think must be done. I don’t mean to be overly pedantic but there’s a crucial difference between the two. I am very open to additional ideas being added, or significant problems with the idea being reworked. I am not going to put hard and fast numbers into this proposal. That isn’t my style, partly because I’m not equipped to run every single number I might suggest through every conceivable in-game situation (I have but one life and this is better done with real data from real players, play-testing) but second, because I see an unhealthy number of suggestions being torn down that have solid foundations, but have put too much of their essence placed on certain percentages they feel are necessary. To me they’re a loose thread just begging to be unravelled, and tend to be hyper-fixated on, rather than people actually discussing the broader topic at hand. I’d rather save my time and energy to talk about the overarching concept, rather than the minutiae of its precise implementation. I’m going to split T9 Armour powers into two different types and see if this thought experiment makes any sense to everyone else. All the Armour T9 powers are trying to do one thing of course; keep you alive - but, there’s (broadly) two ways they can go about doing this in my opinion: Pre-Fight Prep, and Panic Mode. I will cover Pre-Fight Prep powers below because those are the ones that generate the most ire from the majority of players I see talking about them. It is a universal truth it seems that these kinds of powers - Unstoppable, Elude, Power Surge and so on - are terrible for a multitude of reasons. But "The Crash" is front-and-centre in a lot of these discussions. More on this later. I will address Panic Mode powers in a separate Part 2 post because there's so much needed to be unpacked, and is only tangently related to Pre-Fight Prep powers that it would only confuse things if it were here. There is a third type of power too, with a much lesser representation, but I'll get to them in either the next thread as an addendum, or as their own thread entirely. But I want to focus on just one of the types in this post today. So, with that said; What are Pre-Fight Prep Armour Powers? Pre-Fight Prep powers are just what you think they are. You'd use them before, or just as a fight begins. They increase your capabilities to M A X I M U M levels… or at least that’s what I’ve always assumed they do / are supposed to do. Often these T9 Armour powers are easily identified with the significant increase to defences or resistances, sometimes mez protection, and often some increases to your sustainability; some moderate increase in regen and/or recovery, for instance. With zero exceptions these powers layer over any toggled defences and will put you near or above the caps for your Archetype when enhanced for at least the more common damage types. As previously stated these powers are almost never used because either; You’re already hitting some of the caps through canny IO slotting and the side benefits of the power aren’t worth it to you. The cooldowns are long and you’re not sure if it’s worth popping the power on this group, or holding back for the next. As humans we tend towards the latter. It’s just how our brains work. You’ve overextended and have forgotten that this power even existed. Maybe you should have used it 40 seconds ago, but hindsight is 20:20 don’tcha know? Regardless, you’re probably going to die anyway. Previous experience has told you that if you’re the first to go down, your T9 wouldn’t have helped, and if you’re last to go down then surviving for another 20 or so seconds by yourself wouldn’t really have been worth it either. These are the problems that the T9 Armour powers are up against. Unlike a lot of people who think the game should only cater towards SO quality builds I think there is reason to expect your capstone armour power to be both useful and complementary to any player’s build; be that SOs, HamiOs or IOs with all the set bonuses. They don’t have to be catered specifically for IOs - I'm not suggesting that - but they at least shouldn’t be nearly invalidated by IO usage. I’m going to come right out and say now that I think the cottage rule against changing something “too much” is applied far too liberally on these issues. Some of these powers may need significant work to make them fit into the current game of CoX we find ourselves playing. That said however, I actually think the T9 Pre-fight Prep powers on the whole, don’t need excessive tinkering to make them work, and work well. The design goal they are trying to achieve isn’t an incorrect path to pursue, so I think they can retain their essence in pretty much their totality with just a few little tweaks to re-contextualise how they are used, not what they’re trying to do. This may sound radical to some, but the T9 powers need to feel powerful right out of the gate - Pre-Enhancement. The T9 powers need to feel impactful within general play and the T9 powers need to be more usable on a whim. Not without consequences for misuse, naturally; but they need to be easily experimented with while you’re levelling past lvl 38 (32 for Tankers) or someone's bad first experience with them is going to sour the whole deal. A T9 Pre-Fight Prep power is something you want to use to make the fight go more smoothly. However you are confronted with a hard limit of 60 seconds to get the job done for most, and often you’re worse off once the power’s buffs expire. If you’re not finished the power has now become a liability, and you're possibly even more likely to fail with the “crash” coming into effect than you would have been just ignoring the power and doing things more slowly. But that’s less fun in this game about whiz-bang-whollop! Or, at least it is for the Archetypes that use these Armour sets. How do we fix this? Most will advocate for just removing the crash and nothing else. This is a mistake. Flawed thinking. The "Down" is a necessary tool to teach the player about the ebb and flow of combat ant to provide some kind of contrast between the "High" of your T9s effects, and the aftermath. If everything is just a steamroller with no breaks, that’s not particularly fun. Contrast is necessary. But, having only the control of when to start your crazy buffs, and knowing that there’s a really nasty surprise waiting for you in 60 seconds regardless of how this next fight pans out isn’t very appealing. By using a T9 power your goal is to have greater control over the situation you’re about to engage in. Losing the control of when you suddenly stop being a superhero isn’t what you pick a power for. Let alone your capstone power. So how do you keep the crash without it being obnoxious. How do you keep the power, keep the player control, and keep the ebb and flow of being S U P E R powered versus your normal power level? You give the exact timing of when the crash is going to affect the player into the hands of that player. After setting out the groundwork, here is my proposal: Make the Pre-Fight Prep T9s… toggles. No, I’m serious. Make Them Toggles. Toggles, so that the player has control over when they can start them up and when they can wind them down. Give the player control over when they want to slug it out for just a few more seconds or when they want to back off on the gas pedal because they’re tapped. I need to explain exactly why I think this is a preferable system, and what I hope to achieve with this change. So here’s why: The T9 Armour powers are sometimes referred to as “God Mode”. Now, going in, nothing in an armour set is ever going to live up to that moniker; it can’t. Not just for gameplay and balance reasons (and more besides), but mostly because that kind of expectation of anything is doomed to disappointment. So, I’m not going to try to make “God Mode”. These powers need to be more: Hero [Plus]. They need to be an expression of the player’s wish to push it to the limit. My goal here is to give players the ability to use these powers as they seem to have always been intended to be used, going beyond your normal capacity and saying “No. Guys, I’ve got this”. By changing these powers to toggles there exists a much finer granularity between Power On and Power Off. I want the “crash” to be something that the player has much greater control over, become something self-inflicted, rather than a delayed effect dolled out from upon high, and always at the worst possible time. I feel that this is at the absolute core of why the majority of these T9 powers are so reviled. They hurt you without you, the player, knowing exactly when it’s going to happen and the circumstances you’ll be in when it does happen. Removing this suckerpunch is the ultimate goal of the proposal. You need to be in control the whole time you’re using your limit break. I am firmly of the opinion that there needs to be a cost for increased power. But this proposal would mean changing that cost into a variable one, and solely in the hands of the player to manage or exploit as they see fit. How would this work in detail? The player’s new T9 would be a toggle with a pretty normal Endurance cost. It grants the full bonuses currently experienced by a typical a T9 armour power: Substantial Defence/Resists, boosted secondary effects, regen, recovery… the whole 9 yards. And then, after 60 seconds of being amazing, the player is given a choice. This isn’t a “Timed Toggle”, like the Hybrid Slot Incarnate powers. You are in full control of when this toggle is turned off. It obeys all the normal player-affecting armour toggle rules. Your power is never just taken away. You have to choose when you turn it off, or you choose to let it drain you dry. Because after 60 seconds the cost of the toggle changes. After the initial 60 seconds these new T9 toggles have a much steeper endurance cost introduced to their sustained upkeep, and I mean unenhanceable, non-reducible 6-8% of your max endurance per second steep, or thereabouts. Perhaps steeper, perhaps less so. I want to stress that the exact numbers for their usable uptime and the endurance cost spike afterwards isn’t important. I will not go to bat for these exact numbers. Numbers can be changed. Please don't @me about these numbers, alright? I'm using some baseline numbers that help conceptualise the idea, ok? What is important is that the player is confronted with a wall that they just can’t overcome… but it’s not immediate. It is in the middle distance. You can see it coming, or rather, you can see it steadily happening in real time. You don’t “crash”. You don’t have to turn this power off juuuuust yet if you don’t want to. You’ve probably still got enough in the metaphorical tank that is your Endurance bar, thanks to the power’s increased recovery buff, to hold on for a few seconds more. Time to retreat and regroup if that’s necessary while still keeping your defences up, or maybe just enough time to lay out that final boss or two before you stop. The endurance drain becomes painful, but you can make the drain stop. All you need to do... is give up the power… and you’ll be ok again. There would be zero lingering effects from these toggles. By turning them off, you are returned to exactly the same capability as before you turned them on. No -Recovery, no -Endurance, no -Damage, no -Health. You turn it off, and the power is just off, like any other power. Of course, when you turn off the juice the power has to go on cooldown. It behaves just like every other toggle after all. The Devs can set this recharge to something significant, but not unfair. (Let’s stay away from greater than 4 minute cooldowns, ok Unstoppable?) You can’t ever get enough recharge in these new toggle powers to ever make them permanent anyway, so keeping them semi-frequent on their uptime would be preferable - you want these powers to be used after all, not remain in a totally skippable state, or worse... forgotten in the power trays. Any lack of endurance you end up with, something that would normally have been referred to as a crash, you have inflicted upon yourself by keeping the toggle on for far too long. "The Crash" is now a consequence of the player's action or inaction, rather than something inflicted upon them from an outside source. After the first stage of the power where everything stops being all sunshine and rainbows, I’m imagining a “critical hit” style notification on your hud that tells you you’re now on borrowed time and your endurance is about to flow a lot less freely in about 10 seconds. Or not, if that’s too intrusive (and I can absolutely understand those that would say it is). Maybe something more on the player character FX side of things that would let the player know in short order that they’re running on fumes now. At the very least the change in situation needs to be immediately and noticeably visible, that’s what’s important. I think this introduces some interesting changes to how the player can approach the game with the Pre-Fight T9s set up in this way. The change from an all-or-nothing click to a player controlled toggle, albeit one with a stern disincentivising addition rather than the precipitous cliff of the current ones, means that the player will always be in control of the price they’re willing to pay for serious amounts of power. These powers have much, much more interesting and varied slotting potential as well. As a toggle you’re no longer chasing recharge reduction and can focus on the defences more, or up the recovery bonus, or tinker with any other secondary effects the power has without feeling like you’re wasting your time. But most importantly a Toggle power is viewed in such a different way than a click power. They are perceived as something you use in concert with other powers, rather than something that in isolation, has to be extremely powerful to justify itself. They're also something far less likely to be erroneously used as a "Oh God! Help me!" power. When panicking, you will rarely reach for a toggle and expect it to suddenly turn your fortunes upside-down. But the player, rightly or wrongly, often has the concept in their mind that a click power will, and that a click power should. It should give them a lot, and give it all to them immediately, rather than giving them something over a long period of time. So often the T9s are used incorrectly because they are formatted and presented to the player incorrectly. They're not like Build Up. This isn't a quick flash of extreme increases. Your T9 is a sustained drip-feed of moderate power that you will want to use early in a fight, not when you're half-way through and already having trouble. This style of power suits a Toggle far more than it suits a Click. What I would like to see is players really pushing the limits of this system. Trying to break it. Trying to get their recovery to a point where they can sustain this new T9 power for far longer than is usually possible. I'd like to see teams that really enjoy the extra freedom +Recovery powers give them. Teams with Accelerated Metabolism or Recovery Aura given a new lease of life thanks to how they would now interact with an endurance heavy toggle. I want to see people overextend with these powers, not from just forgetting about the timing as is the case now, but rather because they want to just hang on a few more seconds. Risk it. Go for it. Fight. W I N! The powers would change from something that you would have to pre-calculate their usefulness, to something that is a management decision on a moment-to-moment basis. Put it on cooldown early when you don't need it. Keep it running when you do need it! "Just a few more seconds... I just need a few more seconds... I've got this!" I know that this proposal isn’t an instant fix with no further work. I’m not suggesting it as such. Each power would still need revision and adjustment to function as intended within such a different design paradigm. However I do think that this is a fundamentally better way of dealing with some of the T9s that has some merit. At least enough to workshop it further within the context of each power set it would affect. Remember, this isn’t a call for ALL T9 armour sets to be handled this way. Some T9s aren't configured as a buff that is meant for sustained fighting. Ice’s Hibernate, Dark and Fire Armour’s Rez and Bio’s AoE based Absorb/Heal spring to mind as something wholly different. But Unstoppable, Elude, One with the Shield, and Power Surge? Those kinds of powers are more what this part of the proposal is covering. Thoughts? I mean… It wouldn’t make Unstoppable worse! Right? I’ll talk more about the other side of the coin - the “Panic Mode” powers in Part Two. *Some quick notes: Stone Armour is an interesting (sort of) precedent for this kind of T9 power. Now I will be the first to say that Granite Armour isn’t a perfect role model. It has heavy trade offs in both manoeuvrability, recharge and damage for its limitless toggle. And it takes away all your other toggles bar Rooted. That’s perhaps a little much for what I’m trying to do here, and it’s not a good idea to make everything the same carbon copy. But I notice it doesn’t get the same kind of hate that a lot of the other powers in armour sets get. It isn’t a joke. And there are those that are even able to make the power work, despite the extreme shortcomings it presents at first blush. It’s a build defining decision for Stone Armour players: Am I focusing on Granite Armour or not? The buffs Granite gives you are essentially unprecedented, but they do make the power worth investing in. The downsides are not insurmountable. So Yes, while keeping Granite armour in mind while workshopping this idea it is not the goal I am shooting for other T9s. My proposal is to still keep the uptime-downtime of our current T9s, but to give the player the ability to push themselves further than usual at a cost that slowly wears them down. Meltdown from Radiation Armour is an interesting one. It doesn't have a noticeable crash and the entire set is designed to replenish your Endurance and Health at a rapid rate. It also gives you a noticable increase to your damage value, rather than putting all its eggs into the +resist. It almost feels like a kind of Build Up (and also has better overall uptime than build up too) rather than the traditional T9. This is much better design, and apart from the, perhaps excessive, 8 minute cooldown, is far less causing of distaste than Unstoppable. I have it here for completeness' sake, but this power in particular is in less need of a rework. I don't think it would hurt the power for it to change into a toggle, as discussed above however. And speaking of getting better offence from a T9... Increased Offensive Capability is something that’s brought up a lot when it comes to the T9s and is something that I think is both essential, and yet, needs to be very carefully handled. Increasing the T9s possible offensive buffs, be that in the form of +Damage, +Endurance or +Recharge or a plethora of other possible ideas will almost certainly need to be considered to give these powers a more general performance increase, and make them enticing to players that have already hit the Defence or Resistance caps. I would personally like to see some added offence put onto the T9s in question here, but each should really follow the flavour of the set, rather than something generalised. I’m thinking that Super Reflexes’ increased offence should be very different from Shield Defence’s, and so on. If there’s interest in the idea then I’ll be happy to share more detailed thoughts on each individual powerset, but it’s beyond the scope of this initial post. It's long enough already. Lastly, the Scrapper - Stalker / Brute - Tanker divide may be brought up here due to the changes that happened to Hibernate and Icy Bastion from Ice Armour. Because Hibernate is the original power I feel like it, specifically can be talked about in greater detail in part two of this topic. The split is either something these kinds of powers (T9 Armours) could embrace and continue to diversify along the same lines (or at least parallel ones), or something to be abandoned entirely. For the moment, I am aware of the Ice Armour set being somewhat unique in how it handles T9s, but essentially it has divided them between Pre-Fight Prep and Panic Mode, which is actually somewhat convenient for me and this discussion. We can talk about Icy Bastion here, and talk about Hibernate later. Let's keep like-minded powers together for ease of discussion. In my opinion, not all Tanker/Brute powers need to be Panic Mode variations and not all Stalker/Scrapper powers need to be Pre-Fight Prep powers. This does not even have to be the only way the four Archetypes can be divided into two groups.
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