Question about thoughts and directions about balancing Wizard in Solomon's Keep

edited November 2016 in Dark Modding
Dear Mr. Raptis,

After playing couple of runs in Solomon Dark, I can see some balance change with the returning spells. I know this is not a completed version(and it won't be) and some spells may not be the way you wanted to be. However, I believe that this incomplete work of yours did showed some of your directions in balancing the upcoming Solomon's Keep (at least the Wizard part). I just have some questions for you to see what you want the Keep to look like and possibly help you by giving suggestions that may help you make this awesome game more perfect. 

1. Compared to the old Solomon games, Solomon Dark had some significant nerfs(battle mage nerf on higher level, channel mana nerf on higher level, fireball explosion radius nerf on lower level). Do you think Battle Mage, Channel Mana, and Explode are too powerful (in early game for explode only)in the old Solomon games? Do you plan to keep that change to the new Keep?

2. Skills like meditation, acid rain (replaced by magic storm, which is amazingly good), ring of fire, magic circle, mana up, health up were considered worthless in previous Solomon games(All three secondary skills are Dire Trio's secondary). And I see you attempted make meditation viable by concentration effect (Though I do not understand why you nerf ring of fire early level damage). Do you have plans to buff them, nerf other good skills(for example, battle mage), delete them, or make new skills that synergize with them? 

3. In late game, arrows are really big issue because they are fast and only lighting and water has options to guard against them (even magic shield cannot stand against storm of arrows). Will you add anything that can counter arrows for fire and ether users(arrow blocking version of dampen maybe)?

4. Steam jet has been the least favored welded spell in the old solomon game because of its short range, vision blocking, inability to block arrows, and etc. Do you think steam jet needs some sort of adjustment or do you just want to leave it as it is?

5. I think earth magic can work well with corridors if it has some adjustments like adding wall-bouncing. Also, I think some welded abilities like hailstones and meteor swarm(with the adjusted mana cost)are fine with corridors (to be real honest, I just want to play hailstones. I'm having so much fun with that skill). Would you consider putting earth magic or are you still skeptical with it?

6. What kinds of unique bosses that we should expect besides the ones from old solomon games and solomon dark?

7. What is definition of Wizard as a game character and what kinds of play-styles would you expect from Wizard players? 


  • Quickie answers:

    1. They're nerfed because of the "concentration" ability (concentrating on them essentially removes the nerf).  I'm tossing that in new Keep, so the skills are going back to be more like what they were in the iPhone games.  All subject to actual balancing in Keep, of course!

    2. TBD!  Fundamentally, all this stuff gets determined in the last couple weeks of dev... I put in values that "seem about right" for dev and then spend time in the end going over it.  Were they really considered worthless in original Keep?  When I played it, I made extensive use of Magic Circle as a counter to arrows.

    3. See above!  But now that you raised the issue I'll make note of it.  It's a little different in Keep since corridor geometry provides defense.

    4. The welds are supposed to be a pain the butt and mildly worthless except at high investment levels (talk to the library mage and discuss the book on spell welding with him).  Though in Keep, welding will be a little bit different, since the mechanism is so confusing to people.

    5. I'll consider it, but as an update, not initial release.  Earth is actually very difficult to balance-- it tends to either be utterly worthless or all-powerful.  The main issue I'm dealing with in Keep in this respect is one that's a bit OCD, though-- the wizards have a lot of skills, the other classes, not as many.

    6. Everything you saw in Keep + Dark, plus:  Solomon's mother, various demon bosses, a zombie boss, and at least one vermin boss (Previously I have stated that a proper necromancer deals only in undead and demons-- I'm expanding that to include love of vermin).  Each Keep run will mix them up though-- you won't see all of them every time.

    7. Wizards basically are the "artillery."  They tend to stand back and do large damage from a distance while being very susceptible to damage.  They are uber powerful at high levels, but weak at low levels.  The challenge-- as in high school-- is to make your smart little sissy survive long enough to become master of the universe.  By contrast, the paladin is powerful at low levels, but tends to max out earlier, while the rogue tends to be stronger mid-game and weaker at both ends.  The necromancer class is just another form of wizard-- it's a "class" rather than me adding Solomon's skill trees to the wizard.
  • edited November 2016
    1. Thank god the concentration system is gone. I've been hating it for making it the sole reason why my sweet lil battle mage got nerfed.

    2. For Magic Circle, I find it not useful in both early game and late game. Early game, you don't really need magic circle because the number of arrows are negligible and you can just kill the archers before they shoot. Late game, when arrows become a big problem, magic circle is useless there are massive number of arrows to dodge and there are little space to move(especially hallway). Also, the slows provided in magic circle is not so powerful. Not to mention that there are greater alternatives for magic circle which are
    frost jet and lighting. Also, based on what I have searched, I've find no guide telling me that magic circle is worth a point. If the magic circle just block the arrows, then I guess it will be considered useful.

    ring of fire... low late game damage, better alternative (frost jet, flash freeze). Also, you nerfed the damage for level 1 ring of fire and the range.

    why would you go mana up & health up when you can get magic shield and battle mage?

    and meditation... ... no... I don't think I need to explain this one.

    4. I have no problem with welded magic but steam jet is just... ... terrible even in late game(unless a paladin has steam jet. that is a different story). It doesn't fit with mages who are fragile and should never go melee range. If a mage ever have to go short range because of his or her primary(like frost jet), there should be some sort of defensive abilities to protect a mage. Frost Jet is the perfect example of a good short range skill: arrow blocking and pushback. That is what steam jet is lacking. 

    5 Mind if we suggest some skills for other classes?

  • >Mind if we suggest some skills for other classes?

    I take all suggestions, but bear in mind that there's a few rules about SK skills-- they can't be redundant is the biggest one... and they also can't cross class types.  I do have the skill systems designed already, but a sufficiently good idea could melt my heart of stone.

    To explain that last part: I won't just fling a "mage spell" into Paladin with a different name, like Diablo did with the paladins.  The paladin is going to specifically feel like a holy warrior whose connection with The One True God is a part of his battle.  I won't just put in a blue fireball and call it "holy bolt."

    I'll take these complaints into consideration tho.  I bet there's something I can do to make Magic Circle better... for example, it probably makes sense to reduce the damage taken when in the circle, since a slower arrow wouldn't do the same damage, no?

  • I think damage reduction in magic circle is a fantastic idea. Arrows are not one big hard-hitting shot but a massive amount of low damage. Lets say you have a character with 1 armor. If you receive one attack with 6 damage, you receive 5 damage. If you receive three attacks with 2 damage, you receive total of 3 damage. Therefore, damage reduction will be excellent way to count against arrows.

    Health up can become useful by adding skills that has health scaling (such as using 10% of your total health as a bonus damage) or putting hp regeneration on health up.

    Improving Mana up will be same as improving health up. Make some skills that synergize well with high mana pool. You could make a toggle-able skill that prevents mana regen and constantly drain mana when active to make mana up more valuable.

    Ring of Fire just need to be powerful enough to wipe out skeletons in late game and also it should little to no cost mana(health cost could be a better alternative). First of all, ring fire's damage is really low on late game. It can't even kill a single skeleton on higher level. If a player enough mana, player would use his or her primary skill to wipe of skeletons rather than use ring of fire(unless the player is bored). Ring of fire is suppose to be an emergency wipe out button when the mage is in danger. When the mage is in danger, the mage's mana pool would also be low. Therefore, ring of fire should be accessable at low mana and its damage at high level must increase.

    Meditation... ... I don't think we can save it. :(
  • 1. If I can get good with Concentration, I can get better once it's not there. Bring it!
    3. Fireball with enough skill points can burn arrows it contacts up, Boulder can block it and make the compactness of rocks mean something, Magic Missile could knock them out of the sky on contact with enough Smart Missile. Just ideas.
    4. Maybe make Steam Jet continuously spread out based on terrain, so it slowly becomes not-as-close range once there's steam everywhere. Saturation is a thing.

    > I won't just put in a blue fireball and call it "holy bolt."
    Can you feasibly put in a projectile for him though, in the case he's forced out of effective range? Besides, better a blue fireball for a warrior than a red one...cough cough HADOUKEN!

    Meditation... ... I don't think we can save it. 
    Faster health regen maybe?
  • @NiGHTcapD_ntc
    1. Here is a problem: even with concentration, you can't get higher than what you can get in the old game(75% mana cost reduction is the highest you can get even with items with +battle mage. In old solomon, you can even get 100% mana reduction.)
    Also, the problem with explode is that: First, there are no concentration for it. Second, you need to spend many skill points to get the explode radius that you had in old solomon games. And Third, spending skill points on explode dramatically increase the cost of your primary attack. 

    Of course the new Solomon's Keep won't look like it because of no concentration system(the real reason why battle mage and channel mana got nerfed) and the skills will more similar to the old solomon game.

    3. Sounds like a good idea.Just a reminder that there is a missile that blocks arrows out in the game (Frost Missile of course)

    About the meditation... ... faster health regen may work I guess. But it doesn't make meditation better than other skills (magic shield, a buffed magic circle, battle mage, channel mana)
  • Certainly not. But if it were the only thing other than potions and time to recover health with, then it may have some degree of practicality and usefulness, small as it may be.
  • I feel like turn undead makes more sense as a Paladin skill. It essentially applies a fear to demons-

    Meditation would be good if mana costs were removed while standing still or active skills came off cooldown faster while meditating

    Earth magic is so cool! Please work it in if you can!

    What if magic circle just slowed more and had a massive radius? I feel like actually still having to dodge projectiles would be better for skill based play rather than just always leveling MC because you can't survive without it.

    All this talk about certain classes being good only at certain breakpoints in the game sounds scary. How will a Rogue or Paladin compete with Mages in the higher difficulties? Sounds like you'd only pick mages if you were playing end-game content.
  • I also agree that certain classes being good only at certain breakpoints is bad because it does not make each character unique enough and make certain classes useless.

    I think that you should think more about various potential (and sometimes wacky)build that can be made in each classes. For example, we could have paladin build that sacrfices defense for more offense, tanky necromancer build that excels in close-combat(not taking about staff swinging), or a paladin build that focuses on utilities such as applying debuffs(stun,slow,confuse,petrify,etc) or converting enemies. 

    Making varieties of viable builds will make the gameplay more diverse and fun for players. Solomon's Keep in mind that all builds must be viable in all parts of the game. Otherwise, the build that only works in certain period of game will be considered trash build compared to other viable builds that works on all part of the level.
  • @ZedTheRed
    Apparently turn undead IS paladin's Faith skill. I just found out while i was searching for infos of sk in raptisoft tumblr blog.
  • @Raptisoft
    Just some simple questions:
    I've searched all of your blog posts and yet I couldn't find any detailed information about rouge's skill set. What are the branches of skills for rouge? Also, are there more branches of skill tree for paladin and necromancer than just three revealed in your blog post?

  • edited November 2016
    >All this talk about certain classes being good only at certain breakpoints in the game

    No, no, not "only being good."  It's a matter of playstyle.  A wizard requires attentive, caution-based play earlier in the game, a paladin requires attentive, caution-based play late in the game.  This is actually a common RPG standard.  I certainly would not intentionally balance things so that a class could not be played at all at certain points.

    >Just some simple questions:

    Rogue has Archery, Roguery, and Treasure hunting as his grouped skills.  I've been doing a "rule of three" which exists for everyone except the wizard (I would have done rule of three for the wizard except backwards compatibility would not allow it unless I broke the wizards into two groups, like say 'natural mages' and 'chaotic mages').

    Everything is utterly subject to change, however!  Until I actually code the rogue, everything I have on him will only be general guidelines.  But it is the class giving me the most difficulty since archer is always my third-choice class, and in almost all RPGs, the archer's extra skills always basically boil down to the equivalent of "spells" which I want to avoid in Keep.  (Titan Quest is a good example of a nicely fleshed out archery system that nonetheless degrades into spell-like abilities-- but also for the record, Titan Quest did their warrior classes BRILLIANTLY).

  • edited November 2016
    For the archery, would you consider it to be similar like ranged carry (or ad carry) in MOBA genre, where has huge focus on empowering basic attacks?

    Also, I would prefer to call rougery, shadow. Roguery does sound more like stealing items from enemies then hiding.
  • PepperMaster 

    i honestly pick magic circle every time and i make it to about wave 40 and normally its not because magic circle didnt do its job its because i cant get away from the sheer number of enemies and maintain mana (i use ether fireball and mana is super hard to maintain solomon dark i use frost jet in solomon bonyard and always picked circle there as well its been years but i used to get into the thousands of kills with magic circle on boneyard)
  • edited November 2016
    In boneyard, unlike keep, early game advantage is crucial. So, magic circle may have more value than in keep. However, there are spells that are so much better than magic circle. Just getting battle mage, channel mana, perks, & items solves the mana problem. Flash Freeze, Frost Jet, Frost Missile provides for superior crowd control than magic circle. Health regen? Wait till you see poison mage. If magic circle is the only option for cc, then it is fine to go for it. But there are always skills that are far more useful than putting ur precious points to magic circle. In solomon dark, it is still not a good option because no one starts with it and there is a big counter for magic circle: spiders. Flash freeze is so much better option for cc.

    For keep, there is no reason to go for it cuz the early game is way easier than boneyard. If it gets buffed in the new keep(probably damage reduction bonus according to Mr. Raptis) it will be a nice viable option for defense.
  • Out of topic, but does anyone know if upgrading both
    immolation and embers to imps has some significant effect? I haven't
    noticed the immolation taking effect after getting embers to imps, and
    I'm not sure if its even intended. Same goes with the other spells. I haven't managed to get gargantuan and (instant rock chance ability) at the same time. If having both abilities is not intended, well it would be a nice idea for Keep, and maybe the second one is only available after maxing out the first one (would be the ultimate element focus play style)

    I tried all the spell fusions too, and I think jet stream can now actually push back enemies without hitting them if chill wind is high enough level (although who actually upgrades chill wind all the way?) Anyway, the boulder fusion spells are really nice, and boulder would be nice to have in keep, even if it has to be really different in keep (how would meteor shower work inside the keep though?)

    Also, I was also thinking that since magic shield is basically the most important ability for every single run of both keep and boneyard, it could maybe be a "guaranteed to appear" skill at, say, level 10? Even Solomon uses it.
  • Pepper I dont use magic circle for the heal or the mana really i use it for the slow a 75% slow makes it so no magic attack or arrow (execpt lightning) actually hits me because i can keep it up all the time i dodge poison and frost homeing missles while also dodging arrows and spider webs the fact of the matter is that magic circle is more of a skill (quite literally its not activate and it passively does something like magic shield 100% better skill btw but i combine them because magic circle has the weakness of lightning spells and or me getting encased in fire enemies etc etc)
  • @Kyoto828

    I was just making sure if you are those who would use magic circle for regen type. One thing you got wrong is that magic circle's slow is max 70% without any perks or items and level one slow is 50%. (75 is mana cost for level 1 and slow rate for level 4 which cannot be reached without the help of perks and items) 

    Here are some better alternatives that makes magic circle not worth a skill point.

    Arrows: Frost Missile and Frost jet with chill wind and lighting with hurricane solves literally arrow problem. Maybe magic circle may work with magic missile but just having magic shield is still good enough because clearing massive waves just got easier for ether user with addition of piercing. Fire? with various nerfs in Solomon Dark, I would not play it (Maybe only for fun). Earth? Go for golem, taking aggros is better than apply slow. If some does not attack your golem, your magic shield will stop that damage for you.

    Spider: When they charge in, flash freeze Bolt them. Also, golems are exceptional in taking spider  aggros away from you.

    Magic Bolts: Dampen should be the major counter for magic bolts but unfortunately, dampen crashes the game. Earthquake prevents enemies to be inaccurate and unable to navigate which is way better than 50% slow. Also, magic bolts are easy to dodge without the help of magic circle. If you are saying but what about arrows? look above.
  • @peppermaster yes i figured out the 75% slow is though my items but hey it works for me because it makes the game more skill based and i like that magic shield just works no skill needed
  • edited November 2016

    If you like challenge, then using magic circle is good . However, I'm just saying there are so much better options than that and most people would prefer to use that better options
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