One Shot, One Kill – Eliminating Hitpoint Bloat

Apr
23

One Shot, One Kill – Eliminating Hitpoint Bloat

In many modern-day MMORPGS, and even the evolved golden-era titles such as EverQuest, it’s not uncommon to see player characters with hitpoint pools that rise into the tens of thousands. This post from back in 2012 lists folks talking about players in classic EverQuest having 100k+ hitpoints as a plate-wearing tank-type. In games of this nature, it’s very common to have scenarios where player characters are going toe-to-toe with mobs and where the golden rule of “hitpoints > all” became the mainstay that continued on throughout my entire raid tanking career, and even into today’s games. 

We’re taking things back to ground zero in Saga of Lucimia, and completely eliminating hitpoint bloat. We’re sticking with a modified version of AD&D, and our plans (as of this writing) are to have tank-type characters with max stamina builds starting out with around 60 hitpoints, and players like scholars sitting down around 20 hitpoints, with middle-of-the-road types coming in just in the middle.

You won’t see massive gear increases over time, either. Our internal goal is to have a raid-geared tank sitting somewhere between 200 and 300 hitpoints after a couple of years of working on gearing up, and while that might increase slightly over time, we’re not planning on having exponential growth. In early versions of D&D fighters could get 10 hitpoints per level up to a certain point; once they reached that point of limited returns, it dropped to only two hitpoints per level, and we’re working with a similar system.

The reason for this is because looking to add as many factors as possible to keep the game challenging at all times. You can, and will, be able to be one-shotted by mobs. 

A 20 is always a hit in classic D&D; and when they land that 20…it’s time to factor in the critical multipliers. Bing, bang, dead.

In modern MMOs like Final Fantasy XIV, it’s all about the burn. From the moment you engage combat, parsers are running, and if you aren’t on top of your game with a max-burn rotation and max-burn gear, you’ll often find yourself without a group. There’s no strategy to combat. It’s simply burn-until-everything-is-dead, and watch out for the AOE markings when they glow on the ground.

In our game, the DPS who goes off uncocked, who does too much, too quickly, will very quickly find themselves nothing more than a bloody stain on the floor. With a lengthy corpse run to look forward to. And possibly an impossible (or extremely difficult) one if they need to pass through group-based territory and no one is around to escort them. It is vital to the success of the group, and your continued survival, that you learn how to play your role within the overall group environment; you aren’t here to solo, you are here to be part of the team.

Before the advent of DPS meters and parsers, players had to learn how to control their DPS. There were times when it was important to go all-out burn. Times when it was important to slow-burn with DOTs. And yes…there were even times when your most important function within the group at a given moment was to TURN OFF YOUR DAMN ATTACKS AND LET THE TANK GET AGGRO BACK!

*Gasp*. The DPS stop DPSing? But…that’s….blasphemy!!!!

Invariably, most DPS classes want to place the blame on the tank in these scenarios. “You should have taunted better.”

No. You should have learned how to play your class. Know when to go all-out. Know when to slow burn. Know when to stop attacking and let the tank control the battlefield, or let the mezzer crowd control. Or let someone snare and root. Playing a strategically adept DPS class means knowing when and how to use your abilities, not simply spam everything you have and go for maximum burn, 100% of the time.

It’s not always about doing max DPS. Sometimes the most important strategy you can employ is to fade into the shadows and wait for the right moment to strike. Gather your strength for that big-ass nuke when the mob is at 40% health, meanwhile pelting it with smaller fire bolts from your Relic staff and clobbering it up side the head from time to time.

In our game, it’s all about the success of the group, and the only way that happens is by everyone working together to achieve common goals. And one of the ways we’re adding challenge back into combat is by ensuring that squishy really means squishy. If you attract attention to yourself by going all-out, you face the very real reality of a single club to the head sending you lofting away from this mortal coil. And when death means something, when it really stings…it’s the last thing you want to let happen. Especially if it ends up wiping the group because you were too itchy on the trigger finger rather than playing strategically.

We also want players to remember one important rule: even the gods have their weaknesses. Just look at the Titans. Get enough of your friends together, launch enough coordinated attacks, and even the strongest defense will give. And you, my friend, are a long, long, long way from being a god. You’re just a mere mortal. Which means you are a fragile meat sack that needs protection to avoid becoming a bloodstain on the floor.

It’s the tank’s job to take damage, not yours. That’s why he’s got the heavy armor and the shield. But even in the case of fighter-types, it’s important to realize just how fast you can go down if there are multiple mobs beating on you, armor or no. At level 1, even with 60 hitpoints you will go down awfully fast if there are multiple mobs hitting on you for 8-15 points of damage in between the misses. You get six or seven good hits in a row in there, and you’re a goner.

The pre-Relic part of the game is meant to teach players the fragility of life, and how to work together as a team. Even when you achieve Relic gear, the challenge doesn’t go away; it simply adapts. It’s important to realize that at any given time you could fall prey to the realities of life as an adventure: you are a mere mortal, and a suit of armor can only do so much to protect you against an ogre’s club swing.

And once you reach dungeons and raids where you are facing boss mobs, even the tanks will be facing realities where a lucky crit from the boss, or a missed shield block, a missed interrupt, a missed counter-spell, can mean the difference between success and a full group/raid wipe and a lengthy corpse run.

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