Survey Says: Weapon Wounds Revisited

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Actually, before we begin we forgot to mention in our last diary that you overwhelmingly felt that Bows should not apply the Bleed wound. so that’s a change away from Day 1 that we’re happy to make for Origins.

Ahem — Greetings Contestants,

Gathering your feedback has been a great help in moving us forward towards the launch of The Culling: Origins. However, you may remember that there was no clear consensus regarding the wounds applied by melee weapons, putting us here at Xaviant in a position where we needed to go back to the drawing board.

A meaty brainstorming session and a couple of dickbutt sketches later, we’ve got a new plan that we’re ready to share.

Before we spill all of the beans, we want to invite you on a game design journey and offer some insight into the discussions that led us there.

Here are some of the concepts discussed:

  • Each type of weapon (Blades, Axes, Bludgeons, Spears) should apply different wounds.

    • This gives meaning to the weapon class distinctions and provides more opportunities to strategize when it comes to combat tactics and perk-weapon combinations.

  • What is a wound?

    • Wounds should be defined as timed status effects applied to the victim (of a melee attack in this case).

  • Wounds should directly affect combat stats, i.e. health, damage input, and damage output.

    • This allows each type of wound to be balanced against the others using math and science, rather than gut feel and witchcraft.

  • New wounds introduced must be balanced.

    • At this stage, the introduction of an all-new wound would be too risky. To do that properly we would need to prototype the wound and stand it up on a test server for testing and iteration. Unfortunately this approach is not feasible in our current timeline. We also believe that whatever system we include in Origins should not be changed post-launch unless small balance changes are required, so this is not the time for risky experiments.

Right off the bat, that sets a few ground rules for our new plan:

  • We need to pull from the existing wounds found in Live and Day 1 (Bleed, Weaken, Cripple, Pierce, Expose)

    • Pierce is not a good candidate because it does not apply a status effect and therefore doesn’t fit our strict definition of a wound. It’s also important to remember that Day 1 armor has fewer hit points than Live, which automatically reduces the value of Pierce.

  • Cripple is also disqualified because it does not directly affect a combat stat. While movement speed is important in combat, it’s very difficult to quantify and therefore difficult to balance.

    • Note that we recognize the value of having the ability to apply cripple to other players and we’re exploring ways to make that a possibility without using it as a melee weapon wound.

  • Bleed has always been problematic because it does not naturally scale across weapon tiers the way Weakness or Expose do.

With that in mind, here is the new plan:

  • Blades: BLEED

    • Victim receives damage per second for 12 seconds

    • Each weapon is assigned a specific bleed DPS based on its Tier, Speed Rating, and Wound Rating. So a Level 2 (AKA ‘Default’) bleed applied by a Tier 1 blade would be 0.9 DPS while a Level 2 bleed from a Tier 3 blade would be 1.2 DPS. This ensures that bleed damage scales appropriately across Tiers and prevents low-tier blades from being inherently superior to other weapon types in the same tier due to Bleed DPS.

  • Spears: EXPOSE

    • Victim is vulnerable to bonus damage (from all sources) for 12 seconds

    • Level 1: 10%

    • Level 2 (Default): 20%

    • Level 3: 30%

  • Bludgeons: WEAKNESS

    • Victim’s damage output (from melee weapons and bows) is reduced for 12 seconds

    • Level 1: 10%

    • Level 2 (Default): 20%

    • Level 3: 30%

  • Axes: BLEED + WEAKNESS

    • Victim receives 50% strength versions of both the Bleed and Weakness Wound, simultaneously

A few of our stray thoughts about this plan:

  • The numbers above are not final

    • Values may change prior to Origins launch based on playtesting and feedback. They might change post-launch based on what we observe in the wild. The key is we’re talking about small balance adjustments, not major functionality changes.

  • In the past we tried to make Expose and Weaken more skill-based and tactical by giving them shorter timers than Bleed. We think a consistent wound duration across all of these wounds will help us maintain overall balance.

  • Weakness and Expose are unique in terms of how they work and what they excel at, but they are straight-forward to balance in terms of the value they bring to a fight, especially now that their timers have been extended to match bleed. The trick is getting them correctly balanced against Bleed, which favors slower fights in terms of getting full value.

  • Axes look a bit like Bludgeons, but they have sharp edges. Giving them a hybrid wound makes a sort of sense in a world where nanites make knives out of rocks.

  • Admittedly, pulling and mixing existing effects isn’t as sexy as rolling out an all new list of wounds, but we’re confident that these wounds will work in a balanced fashion and encourage players to think carefully about their Airdrop and Perk selection, which is a big part of what’s fun about the game.

We know that’s a pretty big piece of design steak to chew on. How do you feel about the new plan?

Please respond to the new survey.

Until next time,

We’ll see you on the Island.

DiaryXaviant