Survey Says: Melee Weapon Wounds

Greetings Contestants!

Your feedback has been exceptionally helpful in helping to shape some of what The Culling: Origins will become. You’ve asked for the opportunity to talk about the real, nitty gritty, under the hood stuff — we’re ready to scratch the surface.

In a future post we’ll be going into detail about the entire arsenal of melee weapons in the game and how they’re balanced, but before we get to that we want to lay some groundwork by talking about the wounds melee weapons apply.

A quick dive into our archive reveals the following history lesson:

On Day 1, Blades and Spears both applied a Bleed wound that dealt damage over time.
Axes and Bludgeons on the other hand dealt a Weakness wound that temporarily reduced the victim’s damage output.

Shortly after launch, and all the way to Live, we made a series of changes as we attempted to make a better, more balanced game.

We experimented with nerfs to Bleed and buffs to Weakness before replacing Weakness altogether with Cripple (which reduces the victim’s movement speed). And, after some further experiments, we added Pierce (which does bonus damage against armor), as well as Expose (which makes the victim susceptible to bonus damage for a brief time).

Eventually, we ended up with the Live scheme, where Blades Bleed, Spears Pierce, Axes Expose, and Bludgeons Cripple.

Got all that? Good.

After taking a long look at Day 1, we see the value of that system as follows:

  • Bleed is easy to understand and fun to use

  • Weakness is less intuitive, but it works effectively as a more defense-focused wound

  • Having only two wounds means there is only one point of balance - Bleed vs. Weakness

  • Having only two wounds makes everything simpler to understand in general, which is nice because wounds were originally meant to be a flavor-adder, not the key ingredient for winning or losing fights

While the above may seem relatively straightforward, we did find something curious when we looked at the Day 1 balance numbers:

Weakness (reduces victim’s damage output by X% over 5 seconds)

  • Tier 1: 5%
  • Tier 2: 20%
  • Tier 3: 30%

Bleed (deals X points of damage over time for 12 seconds)

  • Tier 1: 0.5 dps (6 damage over 12s)
  • Tier 2: 1 dps (12 damage over 12s)
  • Tier 3: 1.5 dps (18 damage over 12s)

As you can see the Weakness wound makes a bigger jump from Tier 1 to Tier 2 than it does from Tier 2 to Tier 3; where the Bleed wound improves at consistent increments through the tiers. We believe the Weakness wound deserves the same treatment, so we’re planning to boost the Tier 1 Weakness wound to 10%.

While we still see benefits to a 4-wound system in terms of differentiating the weapons, that approach complicates things. It’s much easier to get off track and to become unbalanced with 6 wound combinations and we feel a more concise wound system still serves the role of adding nuance to combat.

We also feel that Cripple can be problematic as a wound that can be applied by melee weapons. Inhibiting movement speed can be especially frustrating and changes the mechanics of combat. When this occurs, we’re no longer in the territory of ‘wounds add a bit of flavor’ and we’ve gone into full Guy Fieri mode.

Welcome to frustration town!

Another issue we find with the Live system is that Pierce and Expose are trickier to understand than plain old Bleed. While having a variety of wounds is may seem appealing on paper, we want players to clearly understand how they work and how to make the best use of them. We don’t want you to avoid an entire class of weapon because the wound it applies isn’t intuitive or doesn’t seem useful.

To recap, our current plan is to stick with what works. We’re planning to move forward with Day 1 wounds, slightly buffing Tier 1 Weakness so that it competes better with Tier 1 Bleed. We think that structuring wounds in a simple and effective manner offers just enough diversity to keep things interesting while being concise and understandable.

Easy to learn, difficult to master.

Those are our thoughts, but we want to know what you’re thinking. What are your thoughts on weapon Wounds?

Please take a look at our latest survey and give us your feedback.

Until Next Time,

We’ll see you on the Island!

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