Major Design Flaw: Long-duration Buffing

Ranmere

Dalayan Adventurer
First a question for staff: What is the long-term vision for buffs/buffing classes? How do long-term buffs fit in class balance? I haven't been able to find an explanation of this even in a bare bones "this is the goal/direction we are aiming for." I would really like to hear this.

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Long-duration buffs are a legacy design flaw from Everquest. The basic problem is that the power (buffs) of some classes can persist for hours after the class is not around. This encourages buffbotting (the use of characters that are not participating in content to make that content easier) and discourages grouping (particularly when combined with strong incentives to monopolize loot).

The kind lady was a bandaid for this problem -- it leveled the playing field for all players and made going to do content vastly more efficient (which is why it was so popular). Kind lady was also vastly overpowered as implemented. My own experience with her buffs -- at low levels kind lady buffs allowed me to solo many adepts with relative ease. That was pretty ridiculous.

BUT, she did provide a very, very, very attractive QoL improvement to the game. At all levels she provided less downtime / time spent getting ready to "play the game" and more time doing content (this is a good thing, and I imagine why she was left in for so long). On the low-level front this was mainly in the form of run speed buffs and higher dps/less frequent deaths. On the high-end front she made buffbots obsolete. Fresh 65's probably benefited the most, like they were gifted a full set of buffbots.

Even if they don't agree, I think most players can understand the reason kind lady was removed (how much free power she gave characters) and I imagine most staff can acknowledge how well received from a QoL perspective she was (if most of the high-end players are using buffbots anyway... kind lady saved a lot of collective annoyance). Personally, I think it was a mistake to take her out without much explanation of how the problem she was a bandaid for will be addressed in the future.

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What alternatives are there?

First, to head off the question: Do people need ALL THE BUFFS to do content?
-- Generally speaking, most content probably does not need them. But if buffs exist and they make doing content more efficient, then they will always be desired. If you leave long-duration buffs in game, on the high-end of things there will always be the use of buffbots (which I think is a design problem). On the low-lvl end of things, Everquest tends to be a very slow start -- e.g., getting around zones without SoW can be painful; auto-attack as your sole dps is boring, etc. (also a design problem). The kind lady buffs (melee proc & SoW) did help with that on the low end immensely.

My suggested alternative to long-duration buffs
Eliminate long-duration buffs & redistribute the power characters gained from those buffs elsewhere.

I would distribute the power from those buffs to several different areas depending on the type of buff. Buffs in my head are grouped into three basic categories. (1) those that increase dps; (2) those that increase survivability; and (3) those that decrease downtime in game (time not spent engaging content).

For class 1 and 2 buffs (increased dps/survivability) -- I recommend distribution between short-duration synergist debuffs/buffs, new alternate advancement options, spells/melee stances, itemization, and consumables. The particular redistribution depends on the buff being replaced -- for example melee haste I would definitely redistribute in a way that melee classes can have access to it without needing to rely on another class being present (doing content on a melee class w/o haste is generally awful in any flavor of Everquest) but melee attk boost I would redistribute towards short-duration debuffs/buffs. The general principle being that max dps/survivability will always require a group or raid, but there are ways for individuals who solo/box to further progress their character outside of raids.

For class 3 buffs (those that decrease downtime) -- I recommend distribution in new alternate advancement options, making the buff inherent, itemization, and consumables. The basic principle here is that decreases in downtime are almost always a desirable thing design-wise, and so they should be relatively freely available. Examples are things like faster out of combat mana/health regen, or translocators (ideal world you make these dynamic plat sinks and eliminate static plat sinks, but that's a whole other post).

I won't be more specific in this post since that's a very long class and item balancing discussion. It is definitely a huge undertaking but if done right it will be a greater boon than the kind lady ever was.
 

totw

Dalayan Adventurer
this has been an issue (frequently called out) since i rolled my very first character almost 9 years ago. for some, even longer. maybe some fresh eyes calling it out will do some good. good luck and thank you.
 

Ranmere

Dalayan Adventurer
I mean it's a big project & it would significantly change the Everquest character/feel (for the better in my opinion), so I can understand why it hasn't been done even if suggested.

Some added utility (and balancing issue) from this would be freeing up buff slots for various mechanics that would use a buff slot, where now that wouldn't be too acceptable.
 
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