7.22.2016

State of the Game: July 2016

By Steve Superville

Hey Paragon Community,

July has been a big month for Paragon with the launch of our PS+ and our continued march toward Open Beta on August 16. To our (many, many) new PlayStation players, welcome to the community! From our perspective, it has been amazing to see a competitive community be so engaged, passionate, and welcoming.

Paragon is in Early Access and we are using this time to make pretty sweeping changes. Going back to early online tests in January, we promised to communicate these changes to you early and often. With v.28, we didn’t live up to that. As we try to make things right, we’re going to give you some perspective on v.28 and look ahead to next week’s changes in v.29.  

Real talk: balance is hard. We aren’t always going to get it right immediately, but we will always adapt and work to improve.

Casters (and Gideon)
We’ve read a lot of conversations expressing disappointment around the Caster balance changes in the v.28 release.

We are currently working on foundational class balance and systemic setup. This is why you’re seeing large swings in balance passes. We are doing this work now because it is necessary plumbing for future balance work, and it will get progressively more difficult as new Heroes are added #EveryThreeWeeks.

Our goal is for Casters to derive their impact from their Abilities rather than their Basic Attack, have strong wave clear relative to other classes, to be dominant in the mid-game, and to fall off (relative to Ranger/Carry) in the late game. During a team fight, we often observed Casters chasing down enemy players and securing kills with their Basic Attack. This goes against the goals of the class. Therefore, we reduced the Basic Attack damage scaling off card power (0.4 from 0.7) for the entire class. This had the desired impact in team fights by forcing Casters to secure kills through Abilities at the cost of their Mana pool, but affected Caster ability to last-hit minions earlier in the game. 

Therefore, we are increasing the Basic Attack per level damage from 1 to 3 in the v.29 update next week. This means that Casters will be doing an additional 28 (+2*14) damage at max Hero level. Casters will find it easier to last-hit minions in the early game, but won’t dominate late-game team fights with their Basic Attack. 

Gideon, however, was out-of-line from all the other Casters. Since we are working our way toward a robust Hero roster to eliminate mirror matchups, we look at non-mirror matchups to evaluate if a Hero-level change is warranted. If only one Gideon was in a match, the team with Gideon had a ~60% win rate. We view this as outside the bounds of acceptable impact - there was no competitive reason to select any other Caster. 

Therefore, we made an adjustment in v.28 (removal of shield from his Ult). Additionally, at a systemic level, we decided, crowd control immunity during an Ult is unhealthy gameplay; it limits Hero interaction when applied to the Hero without use of a Card or some other mechanism. Therefore, we removed it from Gideon’s Ult, as well as future Heroes. Recently, Gideon has been at a ~49.5% win rate in non-mirror matches. 

All that said, we are also finishing up a task that will improve the opportunity for Gideon players to impact the battlefield. We will share more in the coming weeks! :)

Rangers (and Twinblast)
Rangers were partially held in check by Casters having stronger Basic Attack output. Now that Casters are no longer able to trade Basic Attack blows with Rangers, Rangers have been asserting their dominance earlier in an unhealthy way.

To help tilt Rangers back toward late game, we are decreasing their starting and per-level Health (380 from 400 and 85 from 100, respectively) in v.29 next week. This means they will be more susceptible to ganks, particularly early game, without itemizing Health. Additionally, offensive card stats are being nerfed to limit the effectiveness of damage-only builds; affecting both Damage (6.5 from 7.5) and Attack Speed (5.5 from 6.5). This is a roundabout buff to Casters in general - Rangers and Fighters will have reduced wave and damage throughput - and Muriel specifically, because of her Shield abilities, will have a greater impact.

Finally, we’ve seen a trend toward massive amounts of LifeSteal equipped in favor of Health or Health Regen. We are dramatically reducing the amount of LifeSteal per point (2.5% from 4%), putting pressure on other survivability stats - Health, Health Per Second, Physical / Energy Armor, and Shields. 

Twinblast, like Gideon was for Casters, is the one-and-only-go-to Ranger. In non-mirror matches, his win rate is ~63.5%. We believe the reason is his extreme mobility and free Attack Speed, relative to other Rangers. To bring him back in line, his mobility tool is getting nerfed by reducing his evade distance significantly and his Nitro (Attack Speed pump) is getting an overall decrease in damage output. We may need to look at a kit rework for him in the future.

Fighters … oh, and Rampage
Like Rangers, Fighters will be affected by the offensive stats nerf also, but should be kept in line relative to them since we are not adjusting card scaling. Fighters are intended to be tough to deal with early game, and give way to Casters and Rangers in the mid and late game, respectively.

Rampage… or Rampagé as some call him when in Ult form … is a bit strong, no? His win rate above 60 percent says yes. In v.29 next week, his Ultimate will see a reduction in both duration (12 from 15) and Health Regen (50/125/200 from 100/175/250). He should still be a beast, as that is the heroic fantasy of playing him, but he should be more manageable when diving towers in the mid-to-late game.

Bad Actors
As our population has grown, and knowing PS+ was coming, we spent time on improving tools for penalizing players who harm the experience for others. One of most harmful is the AFK player, who ruins the experience for nine other players. 

Since PS+ started we have sent out:

  • 26k one-day ban
  • 1k three-day bans

Penalties are enforced with escalating severity, so that offending players have a chance to learn about the rules and understand what to expect. We are committed to improving the play experience for our dedicated players.

Invalid Matches
We recognize the frustrations of having players AFK early on in a match and be stuck playing a 4v5 for 30 minutes. To help alleviate some of the pain, we are working on an “Invalid Match” solution that will allow the remaining players to leave and re-matchmake without penalty. This feature is currently scheduled to hit as soon as v.31.

Match Length
Match durations significantly improved in v.28, as we adjusted our in-match economy and balance. We are not at our target goals but we are much closer, with game times reduced by 5-7 minutes. The 50th percentile of games finish under 36 minutes, 75th under 45, and 90th under 53. Again, not quite reaching our target, but certainly an improvement over the frequent 1.5 hour matches of v.27. We will continue to adjust the game in a number of ways, keeping an eye on match length and work to balance shorter matches against the desire for strategic opportunity and comeback potential.

What’s the Future Look Like?
We always have a huge task list of improvements to work through and not enough bodies to do it all. Now that we have done a bunch of it to prepare for Open Beta, we are able to shift to addressing some of the larger tasks we know need to be done. One of those is…

Card Crafting! The design and UI teams have recently begun working on our Crafting system, and while there is not a lot to share now, we hope you are excited to know that it is coming. It is an involved task, will take some time to complete (as we can’t avoid work supporting the live game!), and we will have more details in the coming weeks.

We’ll dive deeper into that and other topics in the coming weeks, including:

  • Matchmaking
  • Banners
  • Competitive Play

 

We continue to read and process all the feedback that the community provides, smile at the encouragement, analyze the criticism and do our best to be a part of the conversation. We hold fast to our belief that the best games are created by a partnership between developers and players.

GLHF,
 

Steve Superville
Creative Director / Paragon Team
Epic Games

Epic Games/Twitter: @EpicGames
Paragon/Twitter: @Paragon
Superville/Twitter: @SteveSuperville


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