Heard a little late about the whole DD2 pre-alpha thing, and figured I'd give a write up on what I felt DD1 did right, what it did wrong, and what Trendy can learn from it to make DD2 fantastic, and get input from other community members on these points, and bring up more. Also, it's great to see Iamisom's back. :D
A little background on my DD experience, though. I bought DD1 and the shards dlc about... halfway between Mistymire's release, and Moraggo's. This was when Nightmare assault was insanely difficult. I initially played locally, co-oping with my brother. Was tons of fun! barely made it to Nightmare difficulty. Eventually, I played ranked solo. And man, I had a blast. Figuring out builds, tweaking, etc. It was my style. I eventually quit playing DD1 a few months ago, for two reasons. The first was lack of further interest. I just burned myself out on it I was in NM, with a nice hitting Barbarian, with twin ultimate steamsaws. I had a good 3k-4k stats on my toons on their relevant stats (life and attack for DPSers, defense life for waller, etc). The second, is how annoying some maps got, especially later maps in nightmare survival. Sky City on NM survival I could faceroll, unless I got a really unlucky Wyvern/Djinn spawn or something.
Now then, onto the write up. This may be a bit long, fair warning. And do note, a lot of this is written under the assumption that DD2 will have similar RNG, and other systems.
Dungeon Defenders is one of my favorite games on PC. And for a good reason. It's a perfect blend of 3 genres I like, Tower Defense, Hack n' Slash, and RPG. Each of these, at it's core, is executed very well, in my opinion. However, when you start getting deeper into the game, it gets so flawed, it isn't funny. Dungeon Defenders as: The RPG
During the Mistymire only period, stats on gear were actually somewhat tame, in terms of rolling, and RNG goofing up. Mistymire itself was a challenge, but if you beat it, you were rewarded. Of course, this was during the whole "Squire was really OP because he did like, 200% or something more damage" bug period, so people could beat Mistymire by spamming squire towers, backwards blockades, some auras, and a gas trap here and there. The reward from beating the Spider Queen was, of course, access to Misty's survival, as the rewards for beating the campaign were utter garbage. Which made no seense, since at the time, the spider queen was actually reeeeeeeally hard.
Since the rewards for beating Mistymire's campaign were so lackluster, it was pointless to farm it. Fastforwards to Aquanos, and Sky City's releases. They gave fantastic loot! you could get Transcendent Steamsaws from Sky City's Insane Hardcore campaign! It was great! Aquanos gave some great monk weapons sometimes, too. Aquanos and Sky City had much better rewards for what you had to go through.
However, the Goblin Battle Ship was, IMO, significantly easier than the Kraken. As long as you kept up your fire resists, the ship was fairly harmless. The Kraken still presented a fair bit of danger, even with capped resists. This was due to the Kraken rushing at you, and attacking fairly fast, while the battleship was significantly simpler. It shoots missiles, spawns mobs, then electrocutes the deck after it's taken enough damage.
When I had stopped playing, people farmed Sky City campaign for good steamsaws, Aquanos and Sky City survival for good gear, King's Game NMHC for great, and fantastic gear, Aquanos survival/campaign for XP, and Akatiti/Winter Wonderland for accessories. I haven't played the Tinkerer's Lab stuff, though, so I am not sure about what you can get from that. And when farming, you had to pray to the RNG gods that the Mythical, Transcendent, Supreme, or ultimate didn't have one of the stats overflow, and go negative, or have the wrong stats, or not have enough upgrades.
Not only that, but last time I read about the RNG, it had THREE go negative rolls. If this is wrong, please correct me, my memory on that is a bit fuzzy. This is why I say pray to the RNG gods. The broken RNG ruined a big rule of games; Consistent rewards.
DD's biggest problems with the RPG aspect, was it's lack of a proper RNG, lack of consistent rewards, and really weird risk versus reward pattern.
So, what can trendy to to really improve on these?
Trendy can improve upon the RNG by not only keeping all statpoints on armor worth equal quality value, assuming they keep the whole quality system, but also by taking a look at what Diablo 3's upcoming "Loot 2.0" does with the Smart Drops, actually. Before you yell at me for mentioning Diablo 3, I do not own it. I do, however, like the idea behind Smart drops. For those of you who don't know what the smart drops are, the upcoming Loot 2.0 for D3 has a system called smart drops, which, when an item is generated to drop, has a small chance to be a smart drop, and get affixes that are better tailored to your current class. you still get, say, garbage items, wizard items as a Demon Hunter, etc. Dungeon Defenders' loot drops are a perfect place to use a smart drop system.
A Smart Drop, I propose, should, at a small % chance whenever an item drops, pick the 3 highest stats of the character, or character's defense (If you have an inactive builder, and it's defense killed a mob, then the builder's stats are used, not the active character's). Apply a bonus (With a max on gear, of course, based on what the current map defines as the max stats an item can drop with), then apply an additional, smaller bonus to the highest stat the character has to that item. The map should also define a minimum quality threshhold to prevent garbage items from getting smart drop status.
Campaign rewards should be far more consistent with the risk, provide good enough stats that the player can possibly use the item(s) they are rewarded, and not hop around in difficulty Vs reward. Especially true with, say Karathiki jungle. Campaign had poor rewards overall, and the survival reward was outclassed pretty easily. Rewards from campaign should be applicable to be a smart drop, with whatever character is out getting the bonus on the gear.
Maps should have defined minimum item quality, maximum possible stat roll, minimum and maximum upgrade slots, with difficulty and modifiers increasing those amounts. More modifiers that do special things, like mobs are sturdy, mobs deal constant fire damage, lots of ogres, player deal less damage, defenses are slow, and such can help add some more difficulty, and more variety, as well as more customizeable challenge, like completeing a map with all modifiers on.
These would help with progression by adding more consistent rewards, less really weird risk v reward, and much less chaotic RNG. Players would still be at the mercy of the RNG, but finding an upgrade wont be annoying due to really strange RNG. I seriously had a Steamsaw on my Barbarian for almost 500 hours before I could find an actual upgrade to it that wasn't screwed over by overflow, or terrible RNG.
Overall, players should be rewarded consistently, maps that are extremely dangerous should give the best loot, and be very unlikely to drop things like cursed items, damaged, etc. Dungeon Defenders as: The Hack n' slash
One of my favorite things to do in Dungeon Defenders 1 was to go monk, activate my hero boost aura, then just go rip things apart with my ranged attack. You know why I used the ranged attack? Because in late Nightmare survival, using Monk as a melee character was a really easy way to get killed. IT was possible, for sure, but mobs started dealing such insane amount of damage, that the squishy monk would get stomped fairly fast. My Barbarian, though, had really high life, and had turtle stance. He could take a huge beating and just shrug it off. Jester was a really nice character, she could take a fair bit of damage, and had nice damage output. My DPS EV did some nice damage, lowerr life than a Jester, but still decent damage.
This was a good thing, at a glance. Certain classes were better at things than other in combat, some were nice and average. What wasn't good, though, was how bad the other classes were in combat, or from their abilities. When I quit, I had only ever seen one DPS Huntress, and even then, I could out damage her with all my DPSers, even my moderately geared jester. I had never seen a DPS Apprentice, adept, or initiate. Their abilities, life pool, and overall potential DPS were pitiful. Apprentice was incredibly squishy, adept was even squishier. The initiate was a bit squishier than the monk, which wouldn't have been a big deal, but her abilities were utter garbage.
Actual player combat was hindered in late game survival due to monster scaling getting out of control. I had capped generic, fire, and lightning resist, as well as 70% or so poison resist, and got instagibbed from nowhere on my barbarian once in NMHCMM Sky city. How it happened, I'll never know. Mob damage gets out of control, especially in Mixed Mode. You get ogres that are really weak, to ogres that will crush you by sneezing at you.
PvP was a thing in DD1 that, while played by some people, was heavily flawed due to Dungeon Defender's 3rd core aspect: RNG. Gear was a huge deciding factor. The guy with 2k hero life and 2.5k hero damage (assuming similar weapon damage), is more likely to beat the guy with 1.5k hero life, and 2k hero damage. PvP should give players pre-determined gear sets based on their level, for that PvP round only. this would keep PvP fair, prevent the guy who got some lucky drops from being the best, and make PvP much more skill oriented.
Overall, DD's PvE combat was fairly good, but suffered from mob scaling. PvP was poorly executed, mostly due to the nature of the game. DD2 would need ways for players to further reduce damage after their resistances if mobs damage scales extremely high. Players that like getting their hands dirty should be rewarded. Players that play PvP should play against others in a level playing field. Dungeon Defenders as: The Tower Defense
My favorite part of the game. Do you know what I like the best about Dungeon Defenders? That you can tweak your build for maximum effectiveness. What I didn't like was how glitchy mobs could be at times, and the balance of mobs.
Ogres are a very notable, glitchy mob. Strong at first, then laughable later on, then a strong, but laughable one in later maps. I can hold them back with EV walls, backwards blockades, or a wall of minions. Of course, they could also just phase through them because they felt like it. you know why they phased through? If you were using EV walls, or blockades, it's because they do a little hop to help them get unstuck if they were. If you were using blockades, or minions, then it was probably because he either hopped over a spider, or just phased through.
Spiders are in interesting mob, mostly because I have no problem with them. They are a very dangerous mob to ignore, due to them webbing you, and your defenses. They are, however, extremely predictable. If you pay attention, you can find all their relevant drop points, and build around that to keep them under control. These guys are an example for a balanced mob. A strong ability, but a grave weakness.
Djinn are a slightly broken mob, due to their buffing ability, which also had some hilarious effects on it's release. Like the 2 billion life, killeverythinginonehit spiders in Mistymire only glitch. In their current state, they aren't too dangerous. You have a good enough amount of time to either stop them yourself, let your minions stop them, or just gas trap them. There were various ways to stop them from nuking a defense, but it was still a threat if they managed to wander behind your defenses. They were a big problem at first because they were essentially flying half ogres. They could take a fair bit of damage, though they could be stunned. Their most dangerous ability is mob buffing. Ever see them buff a Wyvern that ended up shrugging of every defense you had up, then 1shotting a core, even when it was in a strength drain? Yeah, these guys are aggravating. A nice mix up, though.
Sharken are another fairly broken mob, to slightly OP, with an interesting, but poorly executed concept. Sharken will charge at your defenses, pushing them aside. This can be countered by hero damage, IIRc, which can come from heroes themselves, pets, or Minions. Unfortunately, they don't charge at minions very often. Inface, I've only ever seen it, like, 5 or so times. And if you gas them while they're winding up for a charge, they will still charge while stunned. It was absurd. Sharken were poorly implemented, though neat mobs. Every mob should have a reasonable counter.
Now, Copters. Copters were something on release. If you didn't know what overpowered was, then you'd find these guys in the dictionary. They would nuke your defenses from miles above, hit absurdly hard, were buff-able by Djinn, and the ogres they dropped were insanely powerful. They got some deserved nerfs, thankfully. No longer buff-able, max firing range, and if you killed them while they were holding their ogre, the ogre lost a large portion of life. The ogres they dropped were insanely powerful. Still are, actually. Strength Drain auras and buff beams are basically required in late nightmare survival. By the way, did I ever mention that Copters can cheat? I once had 3 reflect beams, in front of eachother, with about an inch of space between them, and the copter threaded a missile right under all 3 of them, then hit a minion.
Mobs need to have clear counters, clear strengths, clear weaknesses, and clear abilities. Introducing them in a safe environment, then letting the player face them in more dangerous area. For example, having spiders start appearing in the second through fourth mission in normal, then Djinn in the next act, then Sharken in the next act, then copters in the shards DLC areas, with them starting to appear an act earlier in the next difficulty. This would slowly introduce players to the enemies in a safer environment, allowing them to experiment and discover how to counter these enemies.
These enemies also brought another problem; They forced players to build in a very specific way. There wasn't a whole lot of room for experimentation if you wanted to succeed. You definitely could, and people have. Look at solo core builds for Sky City. but those builds rely on exploits. Players should be encouraged to experiment with their builds freely. the Shards DLC mobs were too restrictive.
Speaking of these DLC mobs, let's talk about the main DLC characters, not the gender swaps, though. Barbarian, Series EV, The Summoner, and Jester.
The main DLC characters are all OP, except Barbarian and Jester.
Barbarian and Jester are both niche character, but very useful. Barbarian is obviously a pure DPS character, and his abilities and stances clearly reflect that. Jester is a good DPS character, support character, and a good builder. Very nice life, good damage output, the Wheel of Fortuna ablity is excellent for both defense babysitting, and mob clearing. And as a builder, she is either really good, or absolutely horrible, depending on how patient you are. Both are very nice classes.
When Moraggo was released, it was a fairly challenging map due to Djinn. After a while, the Series EV class was released, and set a precedence; A class was released after EVERY shards DLC. Barbarian after Mistymire, EV after Moraggo, Summoner after Aquanos, and Jester after Sky City.
EV made Moraggo a significantly easier map due to her buff beams, reflect beams and her walls. Her walls were pretty tanky, adjustable, and can be one, or multiple units. this helped a ton with squeezing out extra spare Defense Units. Her buff beams helped you get more DPS from your harpoons, more range and power from your auras and traps, and more tankyness from your walls. These things helped save DU, or you spent a bit extra from somewhere else so you can get a stronger setup. Reflect walls made keeping your defenses and the core safe from mages, ogre spitballs, and archers. They were insanely cheap, too. 1 DU for a small reflect? Yes please. This led to future maps basically requiring her to do in late survival, unfortunately, since her defenses made maps much easier.
The Summoner is, without a doubt, the most OP of the building classes. you know why? Because you can have tanky, self healing, enemy damaging walls. Even more OP when paired with EV and Monk. And do you know why else? Summoner essentially doubled your available DU. Every map became infinitely easier due to the addition of the summoner. You can have a defense that worked pretty well, be turned into an insanely hard to destroy, afk defense due to the summoner. Of course, it still wasn't an insta godmode defense class. If you made a garbage build, you'd get stomped. but making a working build became even easier than the EV made it. The response to this, unfortunately, was to make things even harder. Thankfully, the jester wasn't made powerful with ease, you needed patience. Still a nice asset to a defense.
If you wish to add more character, they need to be balanced amongst all previous classes, need to add something interesting, and not make the game significantly easier. They should be balanced with all maps, current mobs, and classes. Dungeon Defenders 2: The Free2Play
Since it seems DD2 will be Free to play, I really want to add on a few things that I think Trendy should really consider about F2P, what they should and shouldn't do.
Free 2 play is quite a term. Think about the term, actually. when you say it, and really think about it, what comes to mind? What game? Do you think it's F2P system was fair? Unfair? Do you think it was priced well? overpriced? The major things that Trendy really needs to consider when choosing what they're gonna do with their microtransactions, is what should players pay for, so that you do not segregate your community? So that you do not give paying players an advantage against not paying players, which may drive them away.
A good example of an F2P with bad microtransactions, is Maplestory. In maplestory's cash shop, you can buy cosmetics, you can buy exp and droprate boosts, you can buy items to prevent exp loss, items to reroll your gear that you (currently) cannot get without paying, etc. Maplestory's cash shop provides a distinct advantage to paying players. Normally you'd think, "they gave money, why shouldn't they have an advantage?". Because to get new players to keep playing, and possibly pay, you'd need to have attainable goals, that can be reasonably achieved by anyone. Dungeon Defenders 1 was actually guilty of this, due to Nightmare being startable by a shards DLC owner, though joinable by anyone, and the best items and character being DLC only.
Now, an F2P with a good F2P system, is Path of Exile. No gameplay affecting advantages sold. Only cosmetics, and stash tabs. No selling of power, no map selling, no character selling. Infact, they released a class (The scion) that is unlocked once you beat the game once! Everything can be attained by playing. Dungeon Defenders 2 should follow in it's footsteps. Sell cosmetics, Defense skins, alternate skill effects, sell increased stash inventory, maybe sell early map access in bundles. All of these are nice benefits to a player, but not outright advantages!
That's about it. It was quite a write, too. Apologies if it's sort of all over the place, I don't do a lot of this. Sorry about the great wall of text, but I really wanted to talk about this. It would have been longer if I went into maps, but I'll probably add it in later. But I really, really hope that DD2 is miles better than DD1. Good luck, Trendy. I hope to see a great game.