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Interview with Doomsaw - April 2014

Interview with Doomsaw - April 2014

Hello there, english-speaking readers!

This month we had the opportunity to conduct an interview with Jeff Donais a.k.a. Doomsaw, an awesome guy, who also happens to be the creative director for Marvel Heroes at Gazillion Entertainment. He answered some of our questions about raids, PvP, itemization and other things in Marvel Heroes.


Will there be a heroic difficulty / Ulduar-style hard modes for raids in Marvel Heroes? If yes, would there be new encounter mechanics introduced in them?

    Yes, the first raid zone for Marvel Heroes will launch with two difficulty modes. The mechanics will be very similar, but the "Red" versions will have a slightly greater challenge to overcome compared to "Green" versions and be less forgiving. Loot drop rates will be appropriately increased for the harder versions. A "Cosmic" difficulty is also being considered but will likely not be required.

Do you expect raids to be competitive in Marvel Heroes similar to World of Warcraft and some other MMOs?

    Yes, the models are fairly similar, although Marvel Heroes raids will require a shorter time investment overall.

Would there be some sort of long-term goals in the raids? Something players would to work towards for quite some time, like Legendary Quest Chain, Glory of the Muspelheim Raider achievement, etc.

    Oh, the memories are flooding back. Yes indeed, we have very similar mechanics planned to interact with our upcoming achievement system. Mini-Surtur pet, anyone?

Are raids going to be tier-based? Example: Raids 3 and 4 are more difficult than Raids 1 and 2 and you probably need to farm Raids 1 and 2 a bit before you could go to Raid 3 and 4.

    Yes, although slightly less forced than WOW does it.

Should players be concerned about the readability in raids? Sometimes it’s difficult to understand what is going on even in X-Defense where there are only 5 heroes on the screen.

    We have designed every encounter to take this into consideration, as you'll see when raids launch. Things like splitting up targets slightly have a very positive impact on the issue.

    We also have more video options coming that will impact obscurement in the game and let you focus more easily.

What kind of plans do you have for itemization in PvP? Can we hope to see some PvP legendaries?

    The first step is a full pass on PVP rings which is finishing up this week. PVP is still in beta, so these rings will be tuned several times until they are exciting for PVPers but not best for PVE players who have no interest in PVP.

    Throughout the PVP Beta phase, we will allow players to refund their rings as many times as they wish.

    Note that when we design PVP rings (and PVE items), we tend to give extra item budget for melee itemization, as one of the many things we do to balance the inherent challenge of melee vs ranged. You can see this in many places in the game, some more obvious than others.

    Once our matchmaking balancing system is in, which is about 3 weeks away, we'll start adding a small chance for Odin Marks to drop for PVP wins and likely a decent PVP Legendary that isn't mandatory but would be helpful in PVP. We hadn't planned that until this interview question.

Are there any plans to arrange PvP tournaments in Marvel Heroes once it gets more balanced? Do you think the game has the potential to be e-Sport-ish?

    Yes, there are plans to support PVP tournaments in a very similar way to other online PVP games, although probably not as fancy.

    We will have weekly tournaments with prizes and will be looking at tech for supergroup PVP challenges.

Will there be a spectator mode for PvP?

    It's on the list of things we want to do. It's a large undertaking, so it won't happen in the next few months, but potentially next year.

Do you have any plans to make a more focused and smaller scaled PvP mode, like an arena or dueling?

    We have plans for larger and smaller sized PVP modes.

    A larger map that is more of an epic playground, like a midtown Manhattan with objectives and 10 heroes on each side.

    We also have a small dueling map on the to do list, with no significant rewards except fun.

Could you give more details of the upcoming item review? Which stats and item types are going to be changed? Will you introduce anything new? Some people are especially interested in the balance of legendaries and the effectiveness of stats like dodge and life on hit.

    The number one priority of the item review is buffing the items that are not desirable for any build of any hero.

    The buff pass includes relics, Legendary items, some Unique items, artifacts, medallions and a few insignias.

    The second priority is to fix any longstanding bugs with items. Certain very old items are just flat out using bugged calculations and are either overpowered or underpowered because of it.

    For example, about 5 uniques are still buggy and not rolling high enough stats for Defense of Damage Rating. About 5 Uniques have the opposite problem and are bugged to roll twice the intended number.

    Buffing the lower ones is easy. Nerfing the ones with double rolls is difficult because we hate anything that results in a nerf, so we take a longer time discussing each one and studying the impact on heroes performance. All of us play and many of us actually use the high-powered bugged items, so we understand the emotional impact it would have if we nerfed them by fixing bugged stat rolls.

    In the end, I expect about 100 total buffs and about 5 very-carefully considered nerfs.

    For future items, we have a longer review process to make sure nothing goes out with any kind of bug, so I don't foresee any problems after this big review is done.

    One of the areas we have been focusing on lately has been melee itemization. You've noticed the new Kung Fu Training Sequence which is aimed directly at giving melee players more options. This review has a solid number of buffs for melee items as well.

    Another area we've focuses on for the review are items for dual-damage heroes. Heroes like Widow, Panther, Ms Marvel will have many more options for items that support both of their damage types.

    One of the things we always do in big reviews is identify the "bar" and bring up everything to hit that bar, rather than just nerfing a couple of things to be in line. This is 100 times more work, but we believe it's worth working a few weekends to buff things rather than nerf. The only time we really nerf is if something is completely ruining game mechanics and therefore making the game boring or unfair for 99% of players that don't have a specific item or power. It's still something that we hate to do and will only do it with no other alternative.

    A good example is Gungnir. Most players who are math-savvy believed we would have to nerf Gungnir during the item review. However, Gungnir didn't have a bugged damage affix and wasn't actually breaking the game in any way, so we left Gungnir alone and worked on buffing every other Legendary item instead. It's a philosophy that just isn't used much by most developers so we want to set an example for games going forward. I've had friends from other companies express their appreciation for this attitude and may try using it for future games.

    You asked about Dodge. In the old days, players had fifty percent or higher dodge and all enemies were tuned accordingly. The common complaint was that players could die in one or two seconds if they got an unlucky dodge roll or two. This was bad gameplay and extremely frustrating. We took the stat called Dodge and made it more of a deflection type mechanic, which cut damage in half (before other calculations which further reduced damage even more). Then we cut enemy damage by fifty percent, which resulted in a massive reduction of one shots and have dodge heroes a much easier time in tough fights.

    A decent amount of players don't understand the change or don't agree with it philosophically, but it's been a huge improvement for the game and it will never be changed back to the old method of zero interaction deaths. We have considered changing the name of dodge for people who don't like the flavor and we've added "true dodge" to several heroes in the form of attack avoidance or missile avoidance.

    As for life leech type effects, I think modern game designers have realized how unfair life leech can be if left with no maximum cap. With no maximum, you are essentially rewarding the glass cannon build with the highest sustain. You are essentially forcing or encouraging players to build for max dps and throw in one life leech source and never worry about death (assuming a minimum level of health so you aren't one-shot). This is pretty terrible for games and is extremely unfair for the players who don't want to build for a life leech strategy. Not to mention you have to balance the game around the high dps / life leech build which puts every other build at a disadvantage.

    The best game design solution is to simply offer a wide variety of options that don't outscale content instantly and don't force one specific strategy, and that's exactly what we're doing. We have about 5 new cores in internal testing, so any type of player will have some option suitable for them. None of them will be a defining and powerful as a pure life leech / max dps build from the past.

    The next focus for the items review is simply filling in itemization holes so everyone has options in very item category. This includes a Physical damage Legendary item, more artifacts to fill certain roles and several more important Any Hero uniques for players using non-standard builds.

    Besides the item review, we have a long list of crafting and itemization options that will come in May and June as the tech becomes available.

What are your thoughts about the “trash” items like whitest, greens and blues? Do you think there should be this many of them? Do you have any plans to make them useful for things like crafting? If not, would there be a feature to filter out the labels on the ground for certain types of items?

    We have plans to make these useful in a variety of ways, but it's lower priority.

    One of the important things to note is that every time a white item drops, it has a chance of rolling all the way up to a unique. Removing them from the game could be fine, but I do think there is some value in players knowing how many items every enemy or chest drops so they can plan their loot hunting accordingly. Hiding them would make that harder, but we may still consider it as an option for the future.

Do you have any plans to revamp the crafting system to make it more convenient and straightforward?

    Yes, we have a list of small improvements that will add up over time. You've probably noticed the improved display for crafting and the fact that we removed all timers from crafting. Both of those are small improvements that add up over time. Not to mention cost reductions for crafting recipes that support players with many heroes and improved stacking levels.

    We get regular requests to not have to split elements or to have the crafting recipe automatically search your stash and do everything for you. We definitely pay attention to those requests (internal and external, btw), keeping in mind that if you automate everything in the game you eventually have no game. Still, I think there is room for improvement and we have a lot of things on the list to improve for crafting.

    My dream is to have a robust crafting app for your mobile phone one day, with crafting minigames that you can do if you away from your computer and can't slay evildoers in midtown.

Will there be some form of item sets in Marvel Heroes?

    I would guess yes, although there is not concrete plan that we are in live with.

    We really like how Legendaries turned out and how StarkTech will turn out. We could do item sets exactly like D2 (it's very easy) but those tend to reduce players options rather than expand it.

    I do believe there is an A+ idea for Item Sets that exists and is yet to be conceived and I'm sure we'll use it at some point.

Have you thought about any improvements for the prestige system? Things like being able to choose the name color manually, choose not to reset Story Mode on prestige and see total prestige levels would be nice.

    Total prestige levels would be very easy to do and is a fine idea.

    Selecting your prestige color is also an idea we like, but haven't decided the most fair and appropriate method yet. Likely it will be a vendor that let's you buy a color of any prestige lower than our current one. It's not on the development list yet, but that's probably what we'll do.

Do you have any plans to give additional rewards for the prestige system? Some people decide to ignore the prestige system in favor of leveling another hero just because they won’t get any synergy bonus through prestige.

    No sir, we want to keep it optional. We will give achievements for it, of course.

Will there be any Feat of Strength-style achievements for things like getting the world first level 60 with a certain hero, logging in on the anniversary of Marvel Heroes, buying the Ultimate Pack, etc?

    Yes, but those feats have not been designed yet. I had many of those feats back in the day.

What kind of features based on the achievements tech can we expect in future?

    The feature set will be exactly as people expect, we aren't going to reinvent the wheel for no reason. We're using the industry standard proven system.

    The Marvel twist will be the flavorful achievements that are directly from Mavel comics lore and history. Luke Cage getting his money that he's owed from Dr. Doom and the love triangle between Emma, Jean and Scott, as examples.

Would there be some sort of rating / ladder / leaderboard system in Marvel Heroes? If yes, which game modes is it going to be used for?

    There will be for PVP this year, for sure. We are also strongly considering it for achievements, prestige levels, X-defense and raids. Mainly just for bragging rights and pride.

What’s up with Limbo and group challenges? Some people still remember your promises to get them revamped. ;)

    The Limbo revamp has slowly turned into an Endless Dungeon mode that is 40% complete. It's the most fun game mode I've seen and I can't wait for it to launch.

    Group Challenges are still on the drawing board, but will likely return will very similar mechanics as before including limited deaths and random bosses, but no difficulty escalation. They will be tough, but rewarding and will use the group finder technology.

Is there anything specific you would like to tease?

    Out alternate advancement system has been in development for quite some time. It's mainly inspired by EverQuest, with some inspiration from Borderlands. D3 developers did their version, but ours will be about four, maybe five times as rewarding, deep and fun. It will be in testing in May.

    We also have expanded the idea of group quests to server wide missions, which are 100% cleaner to implement. They should roll out by end of May, at least for testing.

    Wolverine + motorcycle (60% chance).

    Wasp Team-Up!

    One-Year anniversary mega-celebration!!

We hope you had as much fun reading this interview as we did doing it. You can also check out other stuff we do for Marvel Heroes here (mostly in Russian). See you later!

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