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Mechanics and You - Skill Balance and the Hit Invulnerability Timer

Delfofthebla

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Nov 25, 2012
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United States
#1
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THIS HAS BEEN FIXED AND IS NO LONGER RELEVANT OR ACCURATE.
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This is meant to be a GUIDE for the Balance Team . Nothing more. Feel free to discuss whatever you wish to discuss in this thread, but understand that it is not meant to do anything other than educate the balance team members.
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I talk about this a lot, so some of you are likely familiar with this mechanic, but to those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about, I strongly encourage you read this in it's entirety. It's going to be a giant wall of text (as usual), but I ask that you bare with me here. Even if you know the topic, it would be best to familiarize yourself with it as much as possible. Understanding this mechanic is crucial to being able to properly balance Herocraft abilities. You should walk away from this knowing how certain abilities vary in power depending on the mechanics used to create them, and also understand that certain skills should be treated differently simply due to the presence of this mechanic.

So what am I blabbing on about? Gentlemen I am speaking of the "Hit Invulnerability Timer", which could also simply be dubbed as "Player Damage Immunity". I will explain what it is, how it works, and also explain how Herocraft interacts with the obscure mechanic.

First, you must understand what this Invulnerability Timer is.

Read on~
After sustaining damage from any source, a mob will turn red in color for a short period of time. During this period, any other incoming damage will not be counted against the mob's total health. For instance, if you attack a mob with a Sword repeatedly hitting the mouse button, the sword's rate of fire will exceed the mob's allowable rate of incoming damage, and several of the attacks will not damage the mob even if they land. (It is recommended to wait for a mob to be hittable again before swinging your sword, as the durability still goes down, whether or not you dealt damage). However, if a mob or player is recovering from damage and then receives higher damage, it gets counted. Players are also subject to damage immunity.
Source: http://www.minecraftwiki.net/wiki/Damage#Damage_immunity


This means that there is a "set" amount of damage that any player can be dealt by left clicks or arrows in one instance. Regardless of how hard a player mashes his left mouse button, or however many players are attacking at once, the receiving player cannot be dealt more than one instance of damage per second(ish).

This can be easily tested on any vanilla Minecraft Server, and can be proven to be true on Herocraft as well. However, it's important to understand that Herocraft skills that deal damage, not only bypass this invulnerability period, but remove it as well.

Yes, that's right. Any and all Herocraft damaging abilities allow a player to be damaged more often than normally allowed in Vanilla Minecraft.

What does this mean for balance?
Quite a lot. It essentially means that any and all damaging abilities have the side effect of allowing the attacking player to deal additional left-click damage. While this may not be a big deal for classes that deal low attack damage with their primary weapon, for other classes, such as the Samurai or Ninja, it has an immense effect on their damage output.

I don't really follow.
Let's say we have a class called SuperOPClass. This class deals 100 damage with his sword.

Here's an example of a 3 second period, portraying how much damage he can deal with left clicks in the allotted time span.
[Seconds]
[0.00] Left click 1 - 100 damage
[1.00] Left click 2 - 200 damage
[2.00] Left click 3 - 300 damage
[3.00] Left click 4 - 400 damage

Simple left clicks allow him to deal 400 damage in 3 seconds. Pretty simple, right?

Now let's give him a DoT (Damage over Time) ability that deals 1 damage every 1 second, and lasts for a total of 2 seconds. We'll call this OPDoT. I'll assume that the player is spamming the crap out of his abilities and left clicking as fast as he possibly clan.

[Seconds]
[0.00] Left Click 1 - 100 damage
[0.30] OPDoT Initial Usage & Tick #1 - 101 damage
[0.50] Left Click 2 - 201 damage
[1.30] OPDoT Tick #2 - 202 damage
[1.40] Left Click 3 - 302 damage
[2.30] OPDoT Tick #3 - 203 damage
[2.30] Left Click 4 - 403 damage
[3.30] Left Click 5 - 503 damage

It may be hard to grasp at first, and my "timing" is undoubtedly off a bit, but hopefully you can grasp the picture here. The DoT effect only did a total of 3 damage, but somehow, in (roughly) the same amount of time, the SuperOPClass was able to deal 103 more damage. With just this one feeble DoT ability, he was able to get one more left click inside of his rotation. How about that? So...what if this DoT ticked twice per second instead of only once per second?

[Minutes:Seconds]
[0.00] Left Click 1 - 100 damage
[0.3] OPDoT Usage & Tick #1 - 101 damage
[0.5] Left Click 2 - 201 damage
[0.8] OPDoT Tick #2 - 202 damage
[1.0] Left Click 3 - 302 damage
[1.3] OPDoT Tick #3 - 303 damage
[1.5] Left Click 4 - 403 damage
[1.8] OPDoT Tick #4 - 404 damage
[2.0] Left Click 5 - 504 damage
[2.3] OPDoT Tick #5 - 405 damage
[3.3] Left Click 6 - 605 damage

Look at that. 605 damage. Obviously, the strength of the DoT effect was "doubled" due to the increased tick rate (twice per second for two seconds), but the true power of the effect was that the SuperOPClass got in yet another left click.

It's not just DoT effects that cause this. Any Herocraft skill that deals non-vanilla based damage will trigger this removal of the Invulnerability Timer. (I'll touch more on that in a bit)

I want this concept to really sink in, and I want you to imagine the effect it has on the current Herocraft classes. Let's look at the current Live version of Samurai.

The current Samurai has a total of 3 DoT abilities.
Mortal Wound
Disgrace
Strike


He also has two instant cast damaging abilities.
Bash
Cleave


Just by stacking Disgrace and Mortal Wound, his target has practically no period of invulnerability what so ever. These DoT's will tick at different times, at different rates, and every single tick will cause the target's Invulnerability Period to be removed. His ability to deal damage with left clicks is really only limited by how fast he can spam his left mouse button, and how close he can stick to his target while doing so. Funnily enough, at this point, Strike is no longer a very useful ability. While yes, it would potentially allow him to get in even more left clicks, it's likely that at this point, it won't be as beneficial as the damage that comes with his other abilities.

You see, Bash and Cleave remove the Invulnerability Timer as well, while also dealing a decent amount of damage on their own. For this reason, there is simply no need to use Strike. It could help, sure, but Disgrace and Mortal Wound are honestly enough to give him complete freedom in left clicking his target.

But I digress. It's irrelevant really. Regardless of whether the Samurai uses Strike, Bash, or Cleave, as long as he is stacking these abilities with Mortal Wound and Disgrace, you end up with roughly the same result: A very unpleasant experience for whoever is being attacked by the Samurai.

Those that fight Samurais feel as though they are getting machine-gunned to death--and quite frankly, it's true. They are being obliterated in a flash of only a few seconds. The Samurai's presence is imposing and overbearing--you just can't keep up with all the damage that's being dealt to you in such a short time frame.

What About Heroes Skills That Deal "Vanilla Based Damage"?
So, earlier I mentioned that any Herocraft skill that deals non-vanilla based damage will remove the Invulnerability Timer. I'd like to elaborate further.

The original Vanilla Mechanic of "Hit Invulnerability" applies to all Vanilla Minecraft damage. Sword attacks, smacks to the face with a Shovel, Fire Ticks, Fall Damage, and Wither fall under this category. Any method of dealing damage through vanilla mechanics will provide this brief moment of Invulnerability to the receiving player.

If you think about this, from a balance perspective, it's kind of a big deal.

Let's look at the current Live version of the Pyromancer for a minute. I've already outlined this in a bit of detail here, but I'd like to mention it briefly here in this thread.

The current Pyromancer deals a very large amount of melee damage per swing, has very large damaging abilities, but somehow, in any melee confrontation--he loses the fight. Why is that? Why can't he win in a melee fight against other melee classes? He can, just not if he tries to fight toe-to-toe with them. You see, the Pyromancer has a large amount of Vanilla Minecraft effects that prevent him from dealing large amounts of melee damage.

The entire class is based around Fire Tick and Wither--Vanilla Minecraft Damage. Every single time he deals damage via these methods, it causes their "Invulnerability Timer" to trigger, and they cannot be attacked from any other source for a short amount of time. Sure, the Pyromancer can keep using his skills on the target during this time, but he simply cannot get in those precious left clicks necessary to win the fight.

Wither is the largest culprit here, but the fire tick plays a big role in it as well. Where A Samurai could get out 10 left clicks, the Pyromancer could probably only get 4. This is something that must be taken into account when determining his balance.

OK OK I Get It Already. So What's Your Point?
Simply put, damaging abilities have major balance implications much further than the damage listed on the tooltip of the abilities.

To bring the SuperOPClass back as an example (who deals 100 damage per melee swing), adding a damaging ability that deals 50 magic damage is actually more like adding an ability that does 50 magic damage + 100 (Reduced by armor) damage. This is true for every instant cast active ability that is added to the class, and these numbers are intensified further with every single DoT ability that is added to their repertoire of skills. Granting several DoT effects in addition to active abilities can downright break any notion of balance that the class previously had.

A damaging ability that is added to a class will allow the class to deal the damage listed on the tooltip, but also grant them one more additional "left click" against an opponent. Additionally, each DoT ability added to a class has the potential to double their allotted left clicks in a typical fight.

In closing, The "Hit Invulnerability Timer" is a REAL mechanic that has a LARGE impact on the balance of Herocraft.
 
Last edited:

Kainzo

The Disposable Hero
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#2
Yeah, its an issue of concern - what we can do is spread the DOT ticks out further to make it less noticeable.


Example Skills that can have their period adjusted.

Delfofthebla
Code:
Mortalwound:
  duration: 20000
  period: 5000
  heal-multiplier: 0.5
  tick-damage: 23
Disgrace:
  duration: 15000
  period: 3000
  tick-damage: 30
  damage-per-level: 0
Strike:
  duration: 5000
  period: 2500
  tick-damage: 18
 

Kainzo

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#4
heroes overrides the damage immunity timer anytime a skill, or ability lands. This is intended.
I'm going to increase the period of attacks on most all abilities to counter-balance this a little more. Right now some are firing at period:2000 / 2500... can increase that to make it less noticeable for spam-clickers with high damage weapons.
 
Joined
Jul 24, 2011
Likes
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Location
Portland, Oregon
#5
I'm going to increase the period of attacks on most all abilities to counter-balance this a little more. Right now some are firing at period:2000 / 2500... can increase that to make it less noticeable for spam-clickers with high damage weapons.
Most of the issue is that MC allows attacks even when the animation hasn't completed or doesn't fire.. which is dumb.
 
Joined
Oct 28, 2011
Likes
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Location
USA
#7
I'm going to increase the period of attacks on most all abilities to counter-balance this a little more. Right now some are firing at period:2000 / 2500... can increase that to make it less noticeable for spam-clickers with high damage weapons.
That would be amazing at this stage.
 
Joined
May 1, 2011
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Location
Canada
#8
Good post Delf, I always felt like skills sneaked past that invul timer, but I never knew the technical side of why.

One thing i have noticed is that sometimes TPS can really unbalance things. When the TPS is low, click spamming is almost impossible with the invuln timer being 1-2 seconds if it really bad. This lowers your output to the point where its frustrating. Since skills don't have to deal with that timer, caster classes get a massive advantage.

Though the TPS has seemed pretty solid of late.
 

Delfofthebla

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#9
Yeah, its an issue of concern - what we can do is spread the DOT ticks out further to make it less noticeable.
Can't say I was expecting you to see this and push a change Kainzo, you kinda caught me with my pants down.

Reducing DoT tick rates to what you've posted is going to have a pretty large impact on a lot of classes (Mainly Samurai & Ninja), which is cool, but we'll definitely have a little more work around here to make sure all the classes maintain a good level of balance. I also think this change will slow the pace of combat slightly all around (which is a good thing). I'm interested to see how it will perform when the update comes out.

However, I do feel as though I should mention, these changes will not eliminate the problem completely. It's important to remember that every single damaging ability given to a class will grant them an additional left click. The more damaging abilities a class has, the more bursty they become. We should take this into account whenever adding new damaging skills to a class.
 
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