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The problems with downscaling (and how to fix them)

adinosiiadinosii Member, NW M9 Playtest Posts: 4,294 Arc User
edited April 2019 in Player Feedback (PC)
The downscaling in Mod 16 is broken. I am not talking about the current bugs (like unpredictable fluctuations), but rather the underlying design, which is just wrong.

It seems the current design has the following two goals (even though they might not be clearly stated as such).

Goal 1: Higher level players should find all content to be challenging

Specifically, higher-level players should not be able to vastly outperform lower-level players. There has been a real issue with the leveling dungeons, where developers attempted to solve the issue of queues not "popping" in a reasonable time, by encouraging higher-level players to run the content for daily rAD awards.

This led to actual low-level players, of appropriate level for the dungeon being left behind, and just feeling plain bored while the higher-level players just rushed through, killing everything in sight. (Or worse, when they rushed past the mobs, leaving the low level players to deal with them and die over and over).

Nor fun. So, Mod 16 attempts to fix this by equalizing the players - scaling down the high-level players to the point where they feel and perform like a low level player doing the same content. This may "solve" the problem just described, but there is a cost to that solution. The effort required was increased, but not the reward.

The thing is, the reward/effort ratio has a significant impact on which content people do, and how much they enjoy said content. If you are going to increase the effort, you need to increase the rewards. If the rewards do not improve, the motivation to do the content decreases, as does the hard-to-quantify "fun" that many players get out of the game.

In other words: If I want to do hard, unrewarding work, I do not play a computer game, I go out and dig a trench and then fill it back in. This is a game - it is supposed to be fun, and a challenge without appropriate rewards is not fun.

The most obvious solution would be to modify the loot tables to give more "level-appropriate" rewards.

Goal 2: Decrease performance differences between players

While this goal is not expressly stated as such, it is pretty clear. Anything from the removal of buffs requiring coordination, through the removal of choices to making enchantments and boons much less meaningful basically leads toward the situation where the difference between any two characters of the same class and level is much smaller than it was before.

Perhaps this is done to reduce the difference between "good" and "bad" groups, and making sure people do not feel "unwanted" just because they have inferior gear, but this ignores one important fact: For many players, the improvement process is what motivates them to play. If the benefits from improving your character are reduced, the motivation to play and spend money on the game is reduced too.

This is most clear regarding the downscaling - which is not really "downscaling" as such, but rather "capping". The basic idea is OK - it is just the implementation that is wrong.
  • When doing lower-level content, a "well-geared" player and a "super well-geared BiS" player will end up pretty much equal. Again, this reduces the motivation for people to improve their characters. Why bother? Why spend time, effort and money if you get nothing out of it.
  • Because of the way the capping is implemented, a player may find lower-level content to be generally harder than the highest-level content. This is just wrong.
    If you level up from 70 to 80 and improve your gear a bit, you may find that level 70 content becomes harder than it was before. Anyone who thinks this is acceptable or "working as intended" should not be allowed to come anywhere near game design.
The downscaling can be fixed, but at the "cost" of accepting a wider performance gap between players of the same level. Well, IMO, that is more than acceptable - that is how it should be.

Here is an example of how it could be done.

Let's just look at a single stat (and yes, I am ignoring the fact that scaling is done on a per-item basis - in the example below I will just look at the total rating, which is much more logical IMO - it really should not matter where your stats are from.

Let's consider Armor Penetration, for example, and imagine we have 3 level 80 players

Player A is a "BiS" player with an ArPen rating of 75000 when standing in the Yawning Portal.
Player B is a "reasonable" player with an ArPen rating of 50000.
Player C is a brand new, "low-geared" player with an ArPen rating of 25000.

Now the "high target" rating for mobs in a level 80 area is 60.000 so Player A is significantly above that, Player B is below it, but should be able to handle the content, and Player C is significantly below the target and would probably get slaughtered.

This is actually just fine.

Now, consider what happens when those players go to a lower level area like one where the mobs have a target number of, say 50000 (the L80 area has a target of 60000)

Player A and Player be would both get downscaled to about the same value - probably around 40000, while player C would not get affected much (well, actually with the "per item" capping he could get affected significantly, for example if his only high-level items are his bonding runestones, but I will ignore that for now.)

The first problem is that Player A and Player B end up pretty much the same. This means that player B has little motivation to improve his gear to get to the level of Player A.... seriously, why bother if top-tier gear only has an effect in top-tier content, but not where most people are "supposed" to be spending their time?

The second problem is that from the perspective of Player A (and to a lesser degree Player B ) the Level 70 content is suddenly harder than the level 80 content. (This is because while Player A was above the 100% target number for the level 80 content, he is now significantly below the target for the level 70 content). I am not impressed with this design to say the least.

Here is how it should work. I propose a two-tier proportional scaling with a "floor".

Basically, if your rating is less than 100% of the target for your level (60000 for a L80), you get downscaled proportionally. In the above example, Player B with a rating of 50000 is at 83.3% in a L80 area - he would get downscaled to 41666 (and still be at 83.3%). A player with 60000 (100%) would get downscaled to 50000 and still be at 100%.

If you are above 100%, the additional ratings you get downscaled more aggressively - for example player A, who is at 125% might get downscaled to 56250, so he would be at 112.5%

Think of this like a higher tax bracket - there is still a benefit to improving your gear, it just diminishes the higher you go.

Finally, a "floor" would be implemented, so Player C would not get scaled proportionally as much, or even not at all. The idea would be to give him a fighting chance to complete the content, and not just punish him for having reached L80.
Hoping for improvements...


  • karvarekarvare Member Posts: 249 Arc User
    Digging a ditch could lead to a hernia, if you are unlucky enough. Which does sound like a typical Cryptic RNG reward result.
  • nemesrichnemesrich Member Posts: 85 Arc User
    adinosii said:

    In other words: This is a game - it is supposed to be fun

    If they cared about this game being fun, they shouldn't introduce mod 16 in the first place.

  • karvarekarvare Member Posts: 249 Arc User
    The scaling will definitely affect my dungeon habits, no more PUGs and the possibility I may disengage entirely from anything before mod 16. Which could lead to disengagement from the game itself over time. You never know tho, I may come to like Under Mountain so much I do not miss the rest of the game.

    Maybe, mods 17 and 18 bring 2 dungeons and a skirmish each with no increases in difficulty. Say 17 adds to masterworks and 18 something else. With 2 dungeons each at equal difficulty to LoMM we could then have 5 dungeons which could give us a new random queue aimed at current end game players. Then the level appropriate can run the lower level dungeons, or not with numbers now less in queue line, while level 80's would have a queue of their own. That would put off the scaling of under mountain a few more mods and allow everyone to have quality/rewarding content to play.

    You don't even have to look far for the content. Take an old dungeon or two, depopulate, re-purpose for level 80 content,
    repopulate and add a loot table. Hell, at this point you could even just allow for queued content to scale to level 80 for an all 80 group.
  • mordekai#1901 mordekai Member Posts: 1,598 Arc User
    edited April 2019
    The problem with scaling is the same as with almost everything that Cryptic try to fix.

    The intention is always a good and noble one. I don't buy for a second these Goofball Bloggers' click bait bull HAMSTER conspiracies about how "They" are trying to kill the game, or drive experienced players away, or put stuff in the water to turn the Frogs... sorry, wrong Bat HAMSTER conspiracy theory...

    If something is considered too powerful, they don't reduce it to a level that would be more appropriate, they slash it.

    There are loads of examples of this, many of which are manifestly obvious in Mod 15's "Class Balance".
    (By the way... if Cryptic KNEW the Overhaul was coming in Mod16, why the hell did they allow that half arsed mess to go live, completely unfinished, and badly broken, in M15 knowing it was going to be completely overwritten by... it's Cryptic... there is no answer...)

    But just for example this is the sort of thing I mean...

    Clerics' Daily; Anointed Army used to be way over powered. This was because it was broken somewhere in the code.
    The tooltip (correct me if I'm wrong on the precise details, I wasn't maining a cleric at the time...) suggested that it reduced damage by something like 90% and instead it effectively acted like Batfinks Wings with an extra force field. So... instead of fixing it to where it was supposed to be, they "Fixed" it by slashing the power. Never even TRIED to get it to work as it had been intended to do.

    I think that somewhere in Cryptics hive mind for something to be "Balanced" it has to be reduced to a comparatively negative level of what it was when it was over powered.

    "Ok... the ideal power level for this would be... 100. It's currently running at 120... so to balance it we need to drop it to... 80! There! FIXED IT!!!"

    I call it the "Lump Hammer of Balance" and see it applied at almost every opportunity.

    Scaling is just another example of it being swung as if it's being wielded by a Dothraki on crack.

    I read the blog and thought "Yeah... a bit more challenge on old content... I can live with that."
    Then I saw the numbers... "Oh... they fixed it with the Lump Hammer of Balance... wonderful..."

    Companions have been battered up hill and down dale with the Lump Hammer of Balance this past month or so.
    "Mod 16's on Preview... what happened to companions?"
    "Companions are too good!!!"
    "Companions are HAMSTER!!!!"
    and so on...

  • mordekai#1901 mordekai Member Posts: 1,598 Arc User
    From the point of view of the long term viability of character progression, things needed to change.
    Power Creep was getting to the point where the gaps between the typical "mid range" L70 and the BiS End Game L70 was almost impossible to close for most people. Meaning that genuine "End game" content was only really viable for most people when it was out of date by a couple of mods.

    So, I agree that the system needed an overhaul.
    It's my belief that the first and biggest mistake they made in this endeavour, was only going into the closed testing with ONE new system instead of at least two, and possibly more.
    This meant that there was never going to be a "Version one works better than version two on element A, but if you took element B from version 2, then you'd have..." and the only thing that could be realistically achieved from the closed testing was a tailored version of ONE idea based on confirmation bias.
    I don't know what the development process went like and have no idea if there was only ever one idea proposed for the overhaul, but if there were more ideas, then they maybe should have run them by some of the theory crafters and experienced players the community has at its disposal for feedback, And if there was only ever one system, then they should have probably spent some time trying to think up others even if that was only to prove the one they were working on was the best available. Again, there are a LOT of people they could have approached in confidence within the community to help with this.

    (And I'm not suggesting I would have been any help... I wouldn't have had the first clue how to fix it.)

    The biggest issue this created in open Preview was what would happen if something turned out to be broken...
    When that happened they suddenly had to overcome a major issue, resulting in the stat/percentage ratio changing, and the switch to monsters having different stats instead of a fixed spread of identical numbers across the board.

    Had they not had to rush through this major change, (and frankly, I'm not convinced that sufficient testing beyond, "yeah, that seems a lot better" has been done to establish the long term viability of this new, altered, model... but that's another matter entirely) they would have had a LOT more time and resource available to spend on tinkering with the various scaling models that could have been tried giving more time for testing and feedback, etc.

    I understand that the release date had to be kept, but it's a shame that they couldn't have spent the right amount of time fixing Scaling, because as I'm sure everyone who has looked at it agrees... it doesn't work the way it is now.

  • delta2119delta2119 Member Posts: 27 Arc User
    It's unbelievable that the dev team implemented a "scaling" this way, this just killed all - lower than your level - content, and that in my case is 90% of the game (I got to level 70 in a week, newbie account, bad gear). Now I may solo to level 80 and get stuck in that "undermountain" place. Is this a farewell Neverwinter situation already? Anyone else has any reason at all to do lower level content, beyond role-playing? It's best to remove scaling, until is done properly, not ending far weaker in lower level content than on those at your level.
    Also all classes are changed into something new, it's like a new game now. What about all those about 50 character bound currencies, spent on a character that no longer can solo the content you liked before? It is this the time of switching to a new character and starting all over? I have just a week, can quit in peace if so, but what about those having years of work wasted, because their character is something completely different, companions bought for a reason the same, gear no longer fits into the new builds, the new play style is not something you ever wanted? There are plans to exchange all gear into something with proper stats for the new build or even another, new class?
    Change can be good sometimes, but this change will be? There were reasons, as described in those blogs, but if this ends in making players start over from nothing, could be a game over for them.
  • silverkeltsilverkelt Member, NW M9 Playtest Posts: 4,235 Arc User
    I have never liked scaling any any mmo I have played.. and while I think there was alot of room to fix improperly applied stacking of things.. instead of doing so.. they hammered it all to nothing.. then added this nonsense on top of it.

    I for one, do not at all believe 3-4 year content should be challenging.. what the heck was the point of getting all the gear, spending on that money.. getting all of those zen comps for? Nothing?

    Besides scaling (which is probably the worst idea they have had.. they shouldve just put a segregated queue into the system 70+ can only queue together and less then 70 couldve queued together. Sorry if they didnt get anything to run.. not our fault , not at all. In fact , we have told them over and over.. you want a 30 only level run.. PUT one together.. that was the way to solve it.

    It took all of like 1 week to get to 70 anyways.. if poeple were just pushing through.. so it was ridiculous it was even a half of a thought issue.

    I hated the concept in swotr , I hate it now.. there is no reason this vast different of levels should have to run together.. at least not as this game is built.

    I also am struggling with this idea that we were all too fast, so they had to go and remove all the speed modifiers.. plus the combat changes where everything feels like it takes 10X as long to do.

    YOUR game has TOO MUCH garbage to add in more time.

    I am not in love with like 80% of the changes.. 10% is ok.. and 10% is actually nice.

    Too much junk changes to like how this game is atm.

  • gripnir78gripnir78 Member, NW M9 Playtest Posts: 374 Arc User
    Are you certain that it affects equipment/enchants only and its not level based?

    Cos if yes there is "simple" solution.

    Keep all level 70 equipment you use.
    Put it onto another loadout.
    Fill it with rank 8-10 enchants/bonding/runestones.

    But if there is any other scalling mechanisc - it wont work.

    What a mess....
  • tharealcuber#2975 tharealcuber Member Posts: 28 Arc User
    This was all mentioned in preview board a lot, and they say it WAI.
    Lets hope they realize it is not ok like this and fix it before console release.
  • silverkeltsilverkelt Member, NW M9 Playtest Posts: 4,235 Arc User
    I think generally level scaling is the biggest complaint.. it really puts a damper on everything.

    Im 100% opposed to scaling outside of dungeons in general, even in dungeons you need to be a tad more careful.

    Did a random leveling queue today. My dc arbitar still pretty much had to solo it (5 million damage to like 300k to the next) the only thing the others were useful for, was for me to pull mobs into them to disperse hit points, so I wouldnt die, so they are basically only useful to me as much damage they can take =P My DC isnt even that great.. which pretty much shows how bad the other 4 players are.

    Scaling has the opposite effect of what they think it will be, most normal players are pretty bad (like really bad) and they wont be able to get through stuff, the good players, are those that seek out advice and altar themselves to do content.. but that is like 30% of all players.. that means upwards of 70% of players dont read anything, dont test anything, dont ask anything. They queue up in a random state and think everything is fine.. but its not.

    atm.. most people wont be able to do a random RIQ.. forget RAQs. You will have to do pre mades just to finish 4-5 year old contents. If I just sat around and did nothing in the leveling queue, Im not even sure those other 4 wouldve been able to do it, Im being honest here.. most of the died 4-5 times .. I almost died myself (got down to like 10% of my hitpoints) but managed to finish it off pretty much solo as the others were coming back.

    As much as alot of this stuff was geared for casual players, to reduce them testing, thinking, reading, clicking and change the progression curve to make it that advanced players do not rolf stomp everything.. the curve also has a opposite effect, so many players are so horrendous, it literally makes content un-playable.

    Could players learn to play better? yea sure, I guess, I doubt it though.

    YOU MIGHT as WELL dump RANDOM queues again.. and just allow everyone to pick parties. This is what you have effectively done anyways.

    Scaling is overly harsh, and while I think its a bit ridiculous you could auto solo so much.. they went to far the other way, a veteran player should be able to carry a team on content from years ago. Most mmos would allow that as well. Right now you will need at least 3 or 4 or so good players to make it through a RIQ and 4 or 5 to make it through a RAQ (well most of raqs)

    I shudder to think even about a random tiamat now.. just lol. The amount of coordination and effort needed will be very funny. Again im not saying its not doable, it is.. it was back when we all had to make premades for stuff, its just , your game was designed not do pamper to premades, and you basically made it a premade again.

    Im sorry this game puts new dungeons out slowly, but now we all have to put up with scaling to make old content seem fresh again.
  • adinosiiadinosii Member, NW M9 Playtest Posts: 4,294 Arc User
    gripnir78 said:

    Are you certain that it affects equipment/enchants only and its not level based?

    Cos if yes there is "simple" solution.

    Keep all level 70 equipment you use.
    Put it onto another loadout.
    Fill it with rank 8-10 enchants/bonding/runestones.

    But if there is any other scalling mechanisc - it wont work.

    What a mess....

    This doesn't really work. I mean, even if you did something like this, you would still be undergeared/underpowered in low-level content. Going from bonding runestones that give tou 65% ofcompanion stats to runestones that give you 24% will affect you. Big time.

    Hoping for improvements...
  • mebengalsfan#9264 mebengalsfan Member Posts: 3,169 Arc User
    I dislike scaling system. They all have issues. Instead of trying to scale gear, enchantments, etc... I rather see a stat cap system with a a rising stat cap based on the player IL.

    Here me out, our IL is suppose to be an indicator of our capability as players to do content. If a player has a higher IL, than he or she should have an easier time in content as the IL rises. With that said, players who worked hard to achieve a higher IL should get some benefit when going into lower zones.

    Using Dread Ring as an example; it is a lower level 70 zone. A player who is 10-13k should not have their stats adjusted. A player who is 18K, 19K, 20K, etc... should be able to cap out the stats required for their role and given their higher IL/effectiveness these players should get a boost in their stats to ensure they are able to go into this content and beat it without to much trouble.

    Capping stats may seem like it would hinder players more but it won't if the player is 80 and doesn't even have the max stats. As a DPS my HP or defense tends to be lower than a tank but if I am IL 20K and go into a lower zone I will have more HP/defense than a level 70 character and these extra stats will make this older content a bit easier for me do to having higher stats.

    I have seen stat clamping and stat scaling and the later always causes some type of problems; where as stat clamping is better for the longevity of the game and it still allows higher tier players to feel some what powerful if stat clamping is implemented correctly.
  • arkai#8115 arkai Member Posts: 191 Arc User
    I totally agree clean and easy mebengalsfan. We need a hotfix imo
  • elreydelleon#1256 elreydelleon Member Posts: 1 Arc User
    edited April 2019
    I wanted to type my thoughts last night, but it was late, and felt a new day would serve my subjective perspective better.

    I have been playing Neverwinter for approximately one month. Although I am (obviously) pretty new, I have played enough video games within multiplayer communities to know significant material when I see it.

    I've played D&D once. It was a session of about four months. I was quite into the idea at the time, and embraced it thoroughly with genuine passion, because I felt the need to engage in such an activity with like-minded friends who also enjoy gaming.
    Even though I didn't understand everything, and found it rather difficult to learn initially, my friends were very helpful and supportive, even to the extent of occasionally tailoring situations to provide me the opportunity to learn in a very practical way! Eventually, I had conceded to the fact that I wasn't quite cut out to fully adopt tabletop dungeon-crawling as it were as a totally established hobby. I understood the concepts, but was unable to execute them properly, leading a lot of frustration from my colleagues.

    Now, I shared that story to provide a bit of background on where I am coming from. Again, I iterate I have extensive experience in multiplayer atmospheres, and despite my lack of experience in this one specifically, as soon as I played a single instance of a randomly queued dungeon, I immediately understood what happened.
    To be clear, I am NOT BERATING the efforts of developers involved in the introduction of new revamped content. Sometimes, a little breath of fresh air does a game some good.
    Initially, when I logged in, I found that the skill system was COMPLETELY overhauled, but not to my demise. DESPITE the fact that I JUST spent two retraining tokens the day before the update (I was preparing to dive into a new experience with a slightly deeper understanding of the system as it was prior), I didn't jump at the throats of the developers, and just decided to relearn it all. I reminded myself that I was still new and learning, and countless players likely "lost" a lot more. So I read it all over, reconsidering my approach to a useful healing-focused, damage-when-helpful Cleric.

    I then proceeded to do my daily queue for astral diamonds. I ended up doing a dungeon crawl, even though I was hoping for a Skirmish to really put my new approach to the test. I found that even though it took a bit longer than normal, I did my best, and left as usual after it was all said and done. Left dissatisfied with my findings, I queued up an actual Skirmish; I chose a favorite of mine, being Master of the Hunt, so I wasn't found completely in the dark in an event I have never done with a new system I was relearning. My findings were, surprisingly, confusing.
    I felt like I was actually useful! Fellow characters were sustaining notable damage, my actions made a genuine difference in prolonging the life of my party, and I had a really difficult time focusing on their longevity whilst preventing myself from dying! I had a real, engaging, fun experience!
    But... then I thought about it... WHY on EARTH were such experienced players (the other four) having such a difficult time doing significant damage and progressing?! Instead of feeling like I was a hold up on the team's efforts, now I felt like I was leaving them behind. And I wasn't even doing half their output!

    This is not the way a game is supposed to feel. Okay, it's a new mod: I get that. Maybe it wasn't properly tested: I get that.
    But I really, really, REALLY hope that someone sees this. Even if only a single employee associated with Arc that happens to note this thread and share it with the team. Even IF my comment goes unnoticed. please do NOT let this critically crucial feedback go unnoticed!!!

    I believe that a feedback forum was set up for the sake of feedback, and the opportunity it provides developers to reconsider their work. As I stated before, a breath of fresh air is good for a game now and then; helpful even, in the interest of growth. But I feel that not all the updates made were supportive of that notion. Maybe improvements to the wheel helped society as a whole progress in some ways, but reinventing the wheel is just not practical. I am certain beyond any doubt that even if only the head of the development team understands this, then I needn't elaborate any further on that point.

    For the players' sakes here... for the sake of all that is virtual... do not make the same mistake EVERY other once-great MMO has made, and please hear your players!
    Worst-but-most-effective case scenario (And yes, I know what a sunken cost fallacy is...), roll it back!

    [As a side note, I actually learned a great deal about the game, it's general mechanics, and a bit of history like an old queue system. I am a fast learner to say the least, but I learned a lot more in this single thread than I did in my first week of playing)
  • frogwalloper#6494 frogwalloper Member Posts: 821 Arc User
    I'm against level scaling unless it's offered as a choice for higher rewards, and in that case instead of nerfing player stats, enemies ought to be scaled up

    But when it comes to leveling queue. High IL players don't belong in there to begin with.
  • adinosiiadinosii Member, NW M9 Playtest Posts: 4,294 Arc User

    But when it comes to leveling queue. High IL players don't belong in there to begin with.

    In the past they didn't go to the low-level content.... the rewards were not worth it. Then the lower-level players started complaining about queues popping too slowly, and in order to fix that, the rAD rewards were added for random queues to basically, well...fill them up.

    Solving one problem introduced another.

    Hoping for improvements...
  • auron#6793 auron Member Posts: 374 Arc User
    scaling is horrable now. a lvl 80 in chult gear should not be getting killed if hes doing daily quests in chult.
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  • silverkeltsilverkelt Member, NW M9 Playtest Posts: 4,235 Arc User
    I cant think of one mmo that scaled open world pve items.. Ive seen some dungeon scaling (usually tier set ups.. where you scale up and increase ranks on rewards)

    That I can live with.

    But to make content years old, feel hard to progress through, even if you have all the highest buables.. seems just plain wrong.

  • gphxgphxgphxgphx Member Posts: 184 Arc User
    edited April 2019
    After knocking off a few noncombat quests and dinging 71 I decided to start Mod 16 with an instanced, repeatable quest in the Pirate area, the one with the female NPC escort. What could be easier?

    The mobs were level 71 but the game leveled me down to 60, 11 levels lower than them.

    After the first quick death and Soulforged resurrection the mobs camped the respawn point leaving me no choice but to exit the game after having been repeatedly and thoroughly pounded into a bright red injury puree.

    It was neither challenging nor enjoyable.
    Post edited by gphxgphx on
  • adinosiiadinosii Member, NW M9 Playtest Posts: 4,294 Arc User
    gphxgphx said:

    It was neither challenging nor enjoyable.

    This particular bug was reported 2 months ago. Hopefully it will be fixed soon.
    Hoping for improvements...
  • tyfud#3254 tyfud Member Posts: 24 Arc User
    edited April 2019
    I'll chime in with a huge agreement here. Scaling has been frustrating, broken, and felt very wrong from the beginning. Recent fixes and statements from the devs that this is how they expect it to work are really missing the point of playing an MMO. When you level up, you become more powerful. For everything. This has been a constant in all MMOs. While some might scale you down a bit, so you're not breaking the encounter or game, there's still this feeling that older content is significantly easier to move through.

    That's not the case here. I am significantly weaker doing a level 74 scaled instance at level 75, than I am at level 74. This tells us that the scaling formula is broken. When I lose 30% of all of my stats for gaining a single level beyond the dungeon that I'm getting scaled down to, alarm bells should start going off.

    It'd be different if it added to the fun or challenge factor in some capacity. It doesn't. It's like being gas-lit to avoid leveling beyond an area's scaling. You don't want to do it because you know the second you get bumped even one level beyond, all of the gear, stats, and boons, companions, and character additions you've worked so hard for for months/years, will go out the window and you'll be weaker than you've ever been when you do that instance.

    It's not fun.

    @asterdahl did a great job IMO of bringing the fun back to the Fighter after the initial launch of Fighters on preview in Mod16, and I give him huge credit for his attentiveness, responsiveness, and incorporating all the feedback pragmatically and with genuine care to address one simple, and major complaint:
    The game wasn't fun.

    A lot of good progress has been made since Mod16 went up on Mimic. This is one of the things that has been called out, over and over and over again. When nearly ever player/user is telling you that this mechanic isn't fun, rewarding, meaningful, fair, enjoyable, etc., then you've got two choices:
    1.) Trudge ahead and hope they'll eventually agree with you (not much evidence of this happening based on months of feedback and testing)
    2.) Consider that the assumption, while founded in good intentions, might have had a flawed execution and address it to improve the fun factor of your game.

    I'm not suggesting that all player feedback is good and should be listened to, the game still needs to be challenging, but I believe @adinosii addresses the crux of the issue. The execution/implementation of the "level scaling" approach to make older content more challenging has been poorly done.

    That's ok. I'm a software dev, and sometimes we don't know what we don't know until we get a release in front of some clients and get some negative feedback so we can evaluate it and address it.

    To that end, I hope that @asterdahl and the other Devs/Balance leads truly consider the current Level Scaling implementation, approach, and philosophy and ask if this is the right execution of that idea?

    Many of us have ideas, but we don't have all the insight to the mechanics and math that you, the developers do. So our suggestions might seems naive, or worst case, self-serving. In most cases, that's not the intent. We're not here to try and take over and do your balancing jobs better than you can, but to provide feedback so that you can do your job more effectively. That only works if you truly listen to us and take our feedback with the intent and attitude we intend.

    In this case, the specific mechanism for how level scaling works isn't as important to us as the fact that it fairly reward people who have invest a significant amount of time, effort, energy, (and in my case, $$$...) into improving our characters. Without that, the entire incentive for continuing to invest time, effort, energy, or $$$ goes away and the game loses it's greatest feedback mechanism: gear progression.

    Thank you for your time!
  • aimthemaster#2402 aimthemaster Member Posts: 2 Arc User
    The previous posters have great points and I agree with almost all of them, but because I think that the scaling in mod 16 is the most controversial aspect in the, so I also wanted to chip in and get my thoughts and observations out in the open what i rarely do.

    I'm a casual player and rather new. I have been playing for two months and was a DC lvl 70 and 12k IL (mainly using professions gear bought from AH) before mod 16. As a casual player I have been ploughing through the content rather slowly, so I just finished Sharandar and Dread Ring yesterday after the mod 16 launch (got the last boons). So to compare the game difficulty I made the general notion that I could be done with most mobs (3-4 enemy groups) with one or two encounter powers rather nicely. Granted that the new mechanics and powers are so different that doing comparisons with this short experience with mod 16 may not be justified, but any case my initial observations were that okay, I can still do mobs with two encounters in Sharandar and Dread Ring (as DPS cleric build). So the difficulty level seemed about the same as before. But then I did other areas too and started noticing that scaling is not scaling properly so I could be in real trouble in one but doing mobs with single encounter or just at-wills in others. And that kinda got me worried. So there might be some issues after all.

    Then I did the random queues as healer cleric, because the other big thing with mod 16 was that healing should be more important again. So random leveling queue was Master of the Hunt and that seemed pretty ok. I could notice the scaling, because it took longer to take down the enemies (longest run of MotH I've ever had), but it was on proper level. Then I did the epic random queue that was Demogorgon and that was almost a disaster. I think almost all players died several times me included. Before mod 16 I could do Demo without dying usually. But now we were mostly helping others on near death state at first and dying ourselves while helping, but i guess people realized that it wont work and it would be more beneficial to pound on the demons and let the dead rejoin the fight after releasing. But as a healer it was not fun at all, because it seemed that clerics do generate a lot of threat even if they do just healing... or maybe it was just that demons were running out of targets lol. But in any case as a pure healer you really don't have any reasonable way to defend yourself and you rely on the dps players to fight off the enemies.

    So things worked fine in Master of the Hunt, healers (we got 2 in that group) kept everybody alive and could restore everyone to full health between the waves, but in Demogorgon the two healers were outgunned and could not keep healing the others fast enough, especially when it seemed that most got one or two hit deaths. Was this because of scaling not scaling properly or not? I don't know, but it definately was not enjoyable. I literally got three demons turning away from dps players simultaneously to fight me when I was only healing them and not doing any damage and when that happens healer dies and then everyone else dies. So maybe some rework of healer's threat generation is needed at least.

    But on the scaling in general. In dungeons it is generally ok IMO. Just because the issues already mentioned in the previous posts: 1. high level players dashing through the dungeon and leaving low level players fight the mobs alone; 2. high level players do all the work leaving low level players feeling bored or inadequate. So both take away the fun from the low level players and the first one even from the high level players because they get frustrated waiting the low level players. Scaling is a viable solution to both of these. The first one could also be prevented with adding more "wait on group" gates in the dungeon to make high levels wait close by and make it more beneficial to go back just a bit to help "the stragglers" ie. prevent speed running in random queue. For the second one I can't easily think an alternative solution to scaling.

    But to have fun for all the scaling should be predictable and it should not take away all benefits of improvement. So if the player has e.g. 120 % of the stats of lvl 75 enemies in lvl 75 content and if that would be let's say 250 % of level 35 enemies. If the scaling is done evenly the player is scaled down to 120 % of the stats of level 35 enemies when playing level 35 area content. But I think that for most of the players some part of the fun playing old content is the fun of squishing the enemies that used to squish you when you were leveling/gearing up and playing the content the first time. So to add a bit extra to that the player should be scaled down to maybe 150 % of the stats instead of all the way down to 120 %. And this boost could also change depending on the level difference between the player and content (larger boost for larger difference). And this kind of scaling could also work in campaign content too (actual percentages could be something else). To e.g. prevent farming getting too easy if that would be an issue.

    That kind of scaling seems pretty simple to do, and i guess most of the players would find that kind of fair scaling acceptable at least in group content, so how did the scaling seems to have gone wrong and is definitely the most hated thing in the mod 16? I can think of two reasons: "character demographics" and (small) errors in item scaling. In a mature game, like Neverwinter is IMO, the character demographics is probably top heavy i.e. there is more above average characters than below average characters playing at the time (average as compared to the content). So when randomly drawing players in random queue or players forming groups by themselves the groups tend to be above average. So the larger number of above average players/characters can carry the few below average players and the content plays alright even if the newer content might have skewed to somewhat above average to compensate the top heavy character demographics. So now in mod 16 if the above average players are scaled down close to the average and if the content is thought to be average, but is instead skewed to above average the scaling easily goes too far and the total group level drops below average while the content stays above average and thus becomes unplayable.

    The other possible reason is the errors in item scaling. As I understand it the scaling is done on the item level. So all the stats of the individual items are scaled down before they are added together. This type of scaling is susceptible to cascading effects. So small "errors" in item scaling factors can compound to far larger/smaller total scaling than intended. This would explain why i found some content more harder or easier in mod 16 than it was before... or present as weird fluctuations as described in the earlier posts. More robust way to scale would be to keep the item stats as they are and scale the summed up total stats. And IMO that kind of scaling scheme would be much more easier to maintain too in the long run.

    But I guess that's my two pennies worth on the subject. I hope you guys still have some fun with the game and hope things get better. I'm not giving up the game that easily. As a long time D&D player and fan i do love the old favourite content locations and references to old D&D campaign modules.

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