Design Update 6/21/2012

AI Difficulty Reductions

The following changes have been implemented to help address AI difficulty. These changes will go live with the upcoming patch. Please understand that this does not represent the full scope of changes that are planned, just the changes that could be made quickly to begin addressing some of the most concerning problems being faced.

  • Elite enemies have had their DPS and health boost reduced from 300% to 220%
  • The benefits provided by the old Star Techs to defensive structures have been granted for free when questing (not in Champion Mode PvP):
    • Fortress, Guard Tower, and Wall health has been increased by 25% (PvE Only)
    • Fortress and Town Center damage has been increased by 20% (PvE Only)
    • Guard Towers cost has been decreased by 20% (PvE Only)
  • Level scaling, which automatically scales DPS and defenses for enemies, has been removed for quests that are one or two levels above player level.

More changes are planned, and we would like to share a bit about what we know and what changes are in development or being reviewed.

Changes to Enemy Gear

Enemy gear usage was significantly modified for the Summer Update. We allowed enemies to keep pace with player gear levels (up to a point), and we also applied gear in a more consistent manner to our enemy character data. Meaning, we added gear where it had not been before, and we ensured that gear generally applied to core stats like health and DPS. Unfortunately, we now believe the gear we granted enemies was too powerful. The following changes are in development for a second patch, when we have an eta on when that patch will be released we will let you know:

  • Enemies who are designed to use Uncommon or Rare gear, will now use gear that is generally 5-10 levels lower than player level (before it was 2-5 levels lower)
  • Enemies who are designed to use Epic gear are being reduced slightly as well, although to a lesser degree. (These enemies did not experience much of an adjustment in gear quality with the Summer Update)

Quest AI Changes

Generally speaking, we think the Summer Patch AI changes were an improvement. There are some specific areas of concern we have already begun to address. The following changes are in development for a second patch, coming soon:

  • We have shifted some of the AI economy management to be less efficient by default. The enemy will not be as effective at gathering resources, by about 20%. As the game progresses, if players are doing well enough to trigger the AI to escalate, this economic efficiency is restored.
  • We have adjusted the attack intervals to be longer by default. Attack rates will be about 15% slower than before. However, as the game progresses, if the AI detects that the player is doing very well, the faster attack rate will be restored.
  • Enemy usage of siege has been throttled to train less Siege units, especially AOE ranged units like Catapults, Palintonons, and Ballistas.

The quest AI will continue to be under review and additional changes are very possible. For example, we know that quite a few specific quests have issues that are not able to be addressed by these broad-level adjustments. These changes will take time as we hand-craft solutions.

Elite Enemies

Elite Enemies will continue to be under review until we are satisfied that their original design is back to working as intended. The reason for their increased power in the Summer Update was a combination of factors involving the tech tree and our new enemy character data. We will be looking closely to see if the reduction from a 300% boost down to a 220% boost is enough. Elite enemies are intended to be challenging, but not overwhelming mini-bosses. And in legendary and elite mode quests, we use them to add a layer of insanity to our most challenging content. We do not plan on removing them, but we do plan on generally avoiding elite enemies as a major component of new quest designs. There are many other fun ways to introduce challenge.

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