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Charr Legion

A serious talk, and recommendations for the game's future. (Massive post)

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Greetings heroes,

This is Charr Legion again. Returning with another very long thread about some recommended changes to the game to help improve a lot of issues that the community has been struggling to endure but more importantly addressing some concerns.

Previously, I covered a lot in this thread (Removing Passives); but during a livestream a few weeks later, Haddad addressed our desire to remove passives by stating that he has no plans to remove something they've worked so long on. After a brief chuckle and some face-palming, I got to work on a different approach. However, I will start this thread by discussing a very difficult conversation I've been trying to hold off on.

HIGHLY DEROGATORY Development Concerns

First off; I want to state this simply - the way passives (and by association, Spheres) have been implemented into the game is awful. Not only are nearly all passives underwhelming but many of them are poorly balanced. I'll address these issues further below but I wanted to mention this now because I've had it with excuses from the dev team.

I've put off calling them out because I knew exactly the response it would get - in fact, I've seen other players do it before. To put it bluntly, Trendy, or at least some folks at Trendy, refuse to believe there is any fault in their game and when players try to bring awareness to these issues (not bugs but rather the game's design and direction) it is typically placated. I've seen an employee or two, without naming names, practically yell at players for criticizing the way Trendy has been handling a lot of their development path. In addition; I also see Trendy avoid threads that critique the game and recommend changes be made in favor of commenting/praising threads that are praising in nature or borderline asinine. Suggestions are hardly taken seriously despite how valid they are or how much community backing they have. 

Going back to the argument I witnessed between a trendy employee and a player, a few other players chimed in to voice their concern over the state of the game and at that point the employee got extremely defensive, made poor excuses as to why we don't have the right to voice our concerns, and essentially shut everyone up through a one means or another. This was troubling, but it mostly doesn't affect the true elephant in the room. The fact that someone at Trendy is royally messing up the direction and smaller design decisions that potentially have cost this gem of an indie game to have some serious community apathy.

There's a lot of issues to go into detail about - let's list a few. The focus on releasing new heroes every month. The focus on new incursions every month. The extremely high number values in the game (to the point that you can't even see them on the U.I), the extremely low and underwhelming benefits passives provide (there's no reason to grind another 1% and none of it feels exciting / impactful), the confusing purpose of spheres, the lack of end-game content as well as repetitive content (like endless modes), difficulty issues (both too easy and too hard), possibly degrading lack of quality, and severe balancing issues.

I think it says a lot when a developer repeatedly confirms that they are aware of an issue, but repeatedly fails to fix it. This tells me that the developer either A) has no idea what their community wants/needs or B) has too much pride to accept outside trains of thought. I understand that these two outlooks are fairly narrow and a lot of influences can take effect during development, but I mean - come on guys? It's not hard to change values or scaling for a tower during a patch or hotfix. That takes barely 2 minutes of time especially when the entire community is having issues with the way a tower/passive/sphere/pet is balanced. More on balance later though.

I'll also address here that I understand Trendy needs to make money; which is why I'm not bringing up the expensive business model or even their huge focus on heroes. But, there are always alternatives and as many of us in the community can agree on, it seems that they continue to push out new content without fixing any of the old content (new towers, abilities, incursions, weapons - while other towers, abilities, incursions, and weapons are broken one way or another.)

That concludes this wall of text for now. I had more to talk about but frankly, I get lost in all the issues. I don't expect any of this to change. As an adult man, I can honestly say that every patch, I've garnered hope for Trendy. Hope for changes that NEED to be made.  Hope that they finally fix their game. But every patch not only am I disappointed, but sometimes left confused as to what they hope to accomplish and sometimes how they've made things worse? I mean, their campaign update was great except it still didn't really add any story to the game and made leveling almost pointless to exist in the first place. It's more of a really long tutorial. But that's neither here nor there...

I'm sorry Trendy. I'm sure this thread post will just make some of the staff upset with me as a player, but I've just had enough. I've been playing Dungeon Defenders since it was just a free Unreal Engine demo back in 2009. I don't want to see this wonderful game fail.

So first I'd like to list a brief summary of some major changes I think would put the game in a much, much, better place.

  • All Heroes are hybrids - no longer having to make duplicate heroes to experience build types.
  • Passives are meaningful - Nerf heroes, buff passives.
  • Spheres Revamp - Spheres have... a lot of problems.
  • Onslaught Mode - I'm going to talk about this.... again.
Some of these changes are pretty massive and are far reaching; but I feel all of these changes are necessary for the longevity and success of the  game. I've thought extremely long and hard on all of this - as evidenced by my previous thread involving passives. I don't take any of these suggestions lightly but I know that if I can come up with this stuff on my own, surely the folks at Trendy would be able to utilize it if they ever chose to.


All Heroes are hybrids

I never understood, and still don't understand, why Trendy has made such a massive push to demotivate the AFK playstyle while constantly motivating the active playstyle. Seeing as how they force players to essentially choose one or the other with their items/stat points to be the most efficient. This also in turn forces players to make TWO of one hero just to experience that hero in their different climates. Some would even say that this was all done as a way to get players to spend money on hero slots but even I think that's just coincidence.

Personally, Dungeon Defenders 1 was a game I ONLY played as an AFK player. I loved it. In DD2 I can do that as well; except they've actually managed to make combat fairly engaging and fun to participate in that I often run out and hit things, especially when things get really difficult. Players WANT to be able to do both. We want to be able to run out and beat things up while also being able to place defenses without having to do all the silly shenanigans we have to do now.

To that end, I will mention a concept I mentioned in my previous thread. Bringing back Dungeon Defenders 1's way of doing items. The higher and more end-game the item, the more stats that it rolled with. Items in DD1 at the TRUE end-game, could have all 8 stats in the game. It was an extremely steep slope, but it helped make every hero feel heroic and play the way the player wanted to play them.

This concept should be supplemented by Spheres. THIS is where spheres should really come into play.


Spheres

Spheres have been in a weird place since their inception. Besides having extremely confusing purposes, balancing issues, and costing medals (???); they're just lame and don't really provide much to the game at large.

With my proposed changes to how items drop, thus allowing players to play both actively and inactively; spheres will come in to actually allow the player on the spot command over which of the two play styles they want to focus. This new system of spheres would be amazing, extremely easy to implement, and very easy to give balance passes to without upsetting the player base (I guess it's also worth mentioning that spheres should no longer cost medals, too.)

Here's an example; I have a level 50 Abyss Lord with the best gear in the game. ALL of his stats are pretty much maxxed out, allowing me to play actively and effectively while also building effective defneses. With spheres, I can better tailor what I want my Abyss Lord to actually do  for me. With the four slots, I can build him to just build defenses and then swap to another hero, or I can slot him so that he's a devastating strongly Hero DEEPS. It's up to me, and this choice doesn't require a stupid amount of re-farming or owning two abyss lords. A sphere for +50% Skeletal Archer Damage or a sphere for +100% Abyss Stone damage. And so on; as opposed to these traits being on passives.

Speaking on passives....


Passives are meaningful

I propose that all heroes in the game take a major nerf. Like, their stats are tenth of what they used to be. 2000 iPWR? Now it's 200. Why? So passives can come in and actually bring a fulfilling and meaningful goal to the game.

Let's look at Diablo 3; which is essentially DD2 minus the tower defense. They've got Hero Passive Spheres, Item Passives, Skill Spheres, and special glowy weapons.

In Diablo 3, players are almost completely worthless without their gear. Mostly their item passives. Additionally, Hero Passive Spheres and Skill Spheres make up a huge part of what supplements the item system of that game. Simply put, without these systems in play, you can't play the end-game.

Dungeon Defenders 2 is very far from reaching that. As it is right now, my Mystic has an entire set of Lavamancer armor equipped. Why? Because passive bonuses mean almost NOTHING. There are very few item passives that are actually important and typically they're on your trinket or weapon. Our Heroes rely on raw stats to get by in Etheria and while that's perfectly fine in most games, I don't think it'll be fine in Haddad's passive-centric version of DD2.

For passives to work, they need to be rewarding. They need to feel like a sudden burst of power when you finally get one. It's not exciting when you get a 2% damage boost to Dryad's wasps. The closest thing we have is the possible 10% boost to Skeletal Archers (which can stack up to 60% I believe? Maybe 50%.)

To that end, I say our passives should drop with much higher numbers and percentages. They need to have IMPACT. There needs to be a reason to grind. Say I have a pair of boots that boosts my Volcano damage by 35%, but I know the max it can have is 50% - I'm much more likely to try and farm for a better pair of those boots compared to the max 5% a lot of our gear provides, especially if I have a 4% pair - all those hours of grinding for just 1%?

This is why I suggest nerfing the player's base stats significantly so that passives can take over and essentially raise players to the bar they're at now while actually being fun to do so.

I'll also talk about my concepts of where Item Sets should take the game at a later time.


Onslaught Mode

This needs some serious love. Like now. It's been too long Trendy. I get you have a weird fetish-like fascination with Incursions but Onslaught mode needs to be reworked and it needs to ACTUALLY work. I discussed this in length over in my Removing Armor Passives thread, but to give you some key points;

  • Consider making Onslaught truly endless with scaling difficult and scaling rewards. Players want challenges, this is the way to go without just outright releasing new difficulty tiers that players will outgear within a day.
  • Onslaught will server as a true-end game, with this being the definitive way for players to experience the game.
  • Incursion will bring unique experiences, mechanics and weapon rewards and serve more as a boss mode/challenge mode more than anything while Onslaught serves to allow players to cater to their own desires and skill level while rewarding them with higher tiers of armor, trinkets, or pets for significant milestones (like DD1).
  • Also like DD1, I'd like Commander mode back, in which you can only build defenses and can't interact or be attacked by enemies at all.
That's about it. If you want more details, check out the Armor Passive Removal thread.


Also, remove element combos from the game (oil/fire, drenched/lightning, etc.) They're cool, but I think they cause really difficult balancing issues and aren't necessary to make the game a success.




Alright all, that concludes this really long thread. I'm sorry to any Trendy friends who likely won't like the things I talk about here. I hope most of you understand that those opening statements are the result of a lot of personal frustration with the game as well as a lot of observed community frustration. My goal with this thread is NOT to make anyone at Trendy feel unappreciated. I completely understand the difficulties within game development as well as the woes of designing an indie franchise. I truly apologize if anyone is upset by how this thread starts but I felt it really needed to be said.


I also sincerely wish for the success of Dungeon Defenders 2, regardless of my opinions on some of the folks with Trendy. I put a lot of thought and love into this thread not for myself but rather for the entirety of the game at large. There's still a lot more I COULD discuss, but I feel these are the more pressing issues/concerns that should be addressed first and immediately. I've attempted to contact peeps at Trendy to discuss my thoughts with the intent of bettering the game but no dice, which is to be expected. Although I'd love to work on writing lore for DD2 some day. An actual story even.


I hope anyone that read all of this appreciates the time it took to write as I appreciate the time it took for you to read and I will answer any questions anyone may have about my suggestions listed.

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Happy to chime in with my thoughts here.

Hero specialization and passives:

  • DD2 early game makes all abilities and defenses viable. However, as you reach late-game, you box yourself into a single viable defense or ability per hero. Why would I want a hero whose sole existence is to press 7 to place a serenity aura? There are 6 other unique abilities he has, but unfortunately are completely worthless due to how the game's specialization mechanics are structured.
  • Additionally, there's virtually no choice between stat builds. Defense health for walls, defense power + defense crit damage for basically everything else. SAS you max out defense rate + range, put 15 points into everything else, then max out defense health (walls), or defense power (everything else). DPS builds have equally suffocating options. In essence, there's no such thing as two optimal but different builds for a given defense or hero. DD1 didn't do this any better, mind you.
  • In order to resolve this, I agree with the proposal to make all heroes hybrids. Give every tower builder a legitimate reason to actively play them, as opposed to summon & swap or requiring at least two hero cards to fully enjoy them. Ultimately I want to still be using all 8 of a hero's abilities late-game. Stats would not dictate the effectiveness of a given ability/defense, but rather how a given defense/ability is used. For example, Ability power would increase the damage bonus of a serenity aura, while defense power would increase the purge evil explosion's damage. If the upcoming end game changes still leave the majority of my towers/abilities worthless on a given hero, that patch is going to be an utter disappointment in my opinion.

Spheres:

  • Skill spheres and passives are synonymous - every passive could be a skill sphere and vice versa. My only thing to say here is PICK ONE, TRENDY, AND STICK WITH IT. 
  • To resolve the train wreck that is passives/skill spheres, I really like the concept of every passive becoming a skill sphere with the exception of function-altering weapons like the DPS betsy/harbinger weapons. Those can stay passives - move everything else to skill spheres. From there it's simply balancing the skill spheres by nerfing the most-used and buffing the least-used. We might see some genuine and viable alternative builds to heroes if that's the case!

Onslaught:

  • Not even going to touch this one yet. While I acknowledge how terrible the game mode is, there are several other things that need fixing before we tackle this behemoth.

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Judging from this post, I think you're going to like our Phase 3 changes and beyond. Our upcoming changes directly address many of the things you've mentioned in your post. It sounds like we're on the same page. 

I hate giving you a vague answer. We're going to start giving the concrete details very soon. <3

P.S. I miss your Devstream timestamp comments.

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I will say this though. It took Diablo a really long time to come around to its current system, and it's extremely unpopular in a lot of people's eyes.


I enjoy the surge in potency, but holy cow is it limiting on what you can do, and the game effectively tells you what skills you have to use if you want to build around certain gear or attacks if you want to actually push forward.


I disagree with the massive stat nerf on base heros idea  There's gotta be a middle ground imho. Passives should shine, but in your scenario, it's the exact same problem but in reverse. Hardcore players should have something to work towards and casuals shouldn't feel completely useless.


The other stuff I have no reason to argue with. I mostly agree and/or am totally fine to wait to see what they decide to change.

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I agree with most of your points, but i think for the hybrid chars its to late now, because there are people who have 4 of each so you would practically ruin their work. Although you would do that with passive rerolling too.

On a side note, trendy please stop rushing new content, please. The new map is nice, overall one of my favourite patches, but please take the time to think passives through for new heroes and  give all of them different tower skins for level 2 and 4, this really gives off the feeling you just want to pump out new stuff and drop quality instead.

With the revamp so close now i think we should put the pitchforks down for a bit and see what trendy has in store for us. Then we can start complaining about new stuff that bothers players.


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@iamisom quote:

P.S. I miss your Devstream timestamp comments.

Unfortunately I don't have the time I used to have to sit and focus on the devstream. I now watch it live or I'll watch it while doing something else.

As for stage 3, we'll see. I'll always have some optimism and it's reassuring to hear you say that Isom.

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@Jothi92 quote:

I agree with most of your points, but i think for the hybrid chars its to late now, because there are people who have 4 of each so you would practically ruin their work. 


This is Alpha.Players can't expet everything to stay the same. If a wipe happens and they're sad their work's gone. There would be no point them putting so much time into it in the first place

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@Yoeblue quote:


@Jothi92 quote:

I agree with most of your points, but i think for the hybrid chars its to late now, because there are people who have 4 of each so you would practically ruin their work. 


This is Alpha.Players can't expet everything to stay the same. If a wipe happens and they're sad their work's gone. There would be no point them putting so much time into it in the first place

But they're almost out and are pushing that. The groundwork has been laid. Modifications and reworks can be done now without resets and wipes, so doing it now is pointless beyond just resetting everyone.


If they want to move classes to hybrid play, that can be done progressively.

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I dont think its Alpha anymore. 

I havent seen someone say we are in beta but the "Alpha" Tag isnt there anymore.

Maybe im just hallucinating

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@Jothi92 quote:

I dont think its Alpha anymore. 

I havent seen someone say we are in beta but the "Alpha" Tag isnt there anymore.

Maybe im just hallucinating

I have heard the same.

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Warframe (a game with a similar business model) continues to run into most of the listed  problems. Gotta keep churning out new heroes and maps/modes or you don't have a solvent business. It's obvious that this is the case since the moment new heroes or maps release there is often an uptick of player activity.

The only warning I could give is that Warframe has been unable to fix major gameplay imbalances and thosee have slowly crept into the game as normal. This normalization has even made it difficult to actually fix those systems now that the players have placed so much investment into working with these broken systems.

I can only hope that Trendy has some means of creating a pipeline to review it's core systems without jeopardizing the new content pipeline that generates it's revenue. I'm pretty sure that's how behemoths like Overwatch or League of Legends keeps doing both simultaneously. 

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@Jothi92 quote:

I dont think its Alpha anymore. 

I havent seen someone say we are in beta but the "Alpha" Tag isnt there anymore.

Maybe im just hallucinating

It's still in Alpha. The Alpha tag should be on the Main Menu. We removed it from the main HUD because we were trying to reduce the amount of HUD clutter.

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@wandrecanada quote:

Warframe (a game with a similar business model) continues to run into most of the listed  problems. Gotta keep churning out new heroes and maps/modes or you don't have a solvent business. It's obvious that this is the case since the moment new heroes or maps release there is often an uptick of player activity.

The only warning I could give is that Warframe has been unable to fix major gameplay imbalances and thosee have slowly crept into the game as normal. This normalization has even made it difficult to actually fix those systems now that the players have placed so much investment into working with these broken systems.

I think Warframe took a different route - but I do like the comparison. Warframe continued to make NEW content and functions to the game and never bothered to revisit them. I mean look at the now 3 types of pets in the game. I don't play regularly any more but I played for 2-3 years and never once saw a new Sentinel added to the game etc.

DD2 is at least consistent to the point that our new additions are always in the same space - incursions, heroes, maps. The game isn't ballooning leaving old content behind; rather the mechanics are what need attention and fortunately that's not too difficult if someone really wanted to take the time.

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@Charr Legion quote:


@wandrecanada quote:

Warframe (a game with a similar business model) continues to run into most of the listed  problems. Gotta keep churning out new heroes and maps/modes or you don't have a solvent business. It's obvious that this is the case since the moment new heroes or maps release there is often an uptick of player activity.

The only warning I could give is that Warframe has been unable to fix major gameplay imbalances and thosee have slowly crept into the game as normal. This normalization has even made it difficult to actually fix those systems now that the players have placed so much investment into working with these broken systems.

I think Warframe took a different route - but I do like the comparison. Warframe continued to make NEW content and functions to the game and never bothered to revisit them. I mean look at the now 3 types of pets in the game. I don't play regularly any more but I played for 2-3 years and never once saw a new Sentinel added to the game etc.

DD2 is at least consistent to the point that our new additions are always in the same space - incursions, heroes, maps. The game isn't ballooning leaving old content behind; rather the mechanics are what need attention and fortunately that's not too difficult if someone really wanted to take the time.

Damn, I wish we had thought of this sooner. 

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Warframe has recently been reworking a lot of the content and it's such a rollercoaster ride lol.


Also, if TE thinks WE get hostile sometimes, they should go hang out on the Warframe forums after their reworks.

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@Charr Legion quote:

I think Warframe took a different route - but I do like the comparison. Warframe continued to make NEW content and functions to the game and never bothered to revisit them. I mean look at the now 3 types of pets in the game. I don't play regularly any more but I played for 2-3 years and never once saw a new Sentinel added to the game etc.

DD2 is at least consistent to the point that our new additions are always in the same space - incursions, heroes, maps. The game isn't ballooning leaving old content behind; rather the mechanics are what need attention and fortunately that's not too difficult if someone really wanted to take the time.

TF2 is arguably worse.

  • Paint colors
  • Decals
  • The entirety of Mann vs. Machine
  • Territorial Control game mode
  • Medieval game mode
  • Special Delivery game mode
  • Cactus Canyon and Asteroid
  • Halloween cosmetic/weapon effects

I could probably continue this list, but suffice it to say that the game is incredibly bloated with new ideas that were almost immediately abandoned after their introduction. I find this sad because every single one of the above bullet points could be polished into something truly spectacular.

I also agree that TE is in a fantastic position to improve the game. Though the changes are going to need to be drastic, the content in this game could take fundamental restructures without becoming a complete disaster. Take passives/skill spheres for instance - they're a mess right now, but if Trendy plays their cards right, they could make a fantastic system out of it without destroying every other facet of the game. A lot of games I know would not be able to pull that off.

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 Take passives/skill spheres for instance - they're a mess right now, but if Trendy plays their cards right, they could make a fantastic system out of it without destroying every other facet of the game. 


skeleton.png

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all i read in these posts is that something is broken and  i do not  see suggestions being posted .... on how to fix them with STATS numbers or something like that all i am seeing is     fix this  cause i dont like  come up with an idea first  ..... before you start whining imo



sure the sphere system isnt perfect but bashing  that the devs do not wanna do anything isnt going to help  in that regard and coming up with actual idea's might .... 


just saying buffing/nerfing  isnt gonna fix the main problem ....   


and imo  what needs to be fixed is static defence maps

and more maps where u need to do stuff   like catacombs / assassin map    

also  imo       all hp/dmg could be     nerfed by 0 zeroes     stuff doesnt have to do 500k dmmg if monster hp isnt 5 bazillion

*** might as well do 500 dmmg if bosses only have 20k hp for example ....

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@djpatje quote:

all i read in these posts is that something is broken and  i do not  see suggestions being posted .... on how to fix them with STATS numbers or something like that all i am seeing is     fix this  cause i dont like  come up with an idea first  ..... before you start whining imo 

Please see my original post or my previous thread. I never post any complaints without suggestions and would appreciate it if you read and understood the actual post before you post incoherent nonsense. Cheers!

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