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[DevBlog] Behind the Streamline Patch (Non-Balance)


#1

Xblade, here. While balance is subjective, and the patch dust is settling, tons of people are starting to understand the patch, why we did it, and the positive impact it had (Yes, there were some balance disagreements, but there are always those – this is not like it’s our last patch ;D).

For those that don’t understand the new new quality-of-life additions that was the biggest reason for the streamlined patch, let me explain more. Tons of stuff here is in bold to skim this blog (it’s not me yelling :stuck_out_tongue: ).

Simplified or Streamlined?

anim

We initially made the mistake of calling the patch ‘simplified’ >> then immediately rebranded it as ‘streamlined’ for what it truly is.

But–you simplified things!

What was truly simplified beyond the Alchemist? While the old Alchemist had more fun buttons to click, most would agree that this was pretty necessary. If additional button options are more important than your own wit, you may be playing the wrong game ;D

…But I digress, we’re talking about simplified vs streamlined. Simplified implies that we watered down the game, while streamline involves making the game more intuitive for not only new players, but everyone.

Ok, well, what did you streamline?

  • We wanted to make the game more intuitive.
  • We wanted to add a consistent glossary of terms.
  • We wanted to remove unintended tediousness.
  • We wanted to reduce RNG (Random factors).
  • We wanted new players to be onboarded faster.
  • We wanted new patches to be easier/faster to understand.
  • We wanted less gamethrowing from new and returning players.

But you aren’t listening to the vets!

But we are! What is the #1 concern from the average veteran player? Gamethrowing. This is a game where you HAVE to rely on your teammates or it’s not fun. It’s a game where your adversaries need to know what they’re doing, or it’s not challenging.

You’re not playing with 5 total people, but 16 people. Every single one of them has to stay inside the game, know what they are doing, and not gamethrow for this to be fun for veterans. By the time you’re a veteran, you don’t really care about gp anymore – you just want a quality game. This means your enemies you even want to be challenging.

THIS MEANS:

  • New players play with veterans. Therefore, new players that know what they are doing = better allies, more-challenging adversaries, less gamethrowing all-around.

  • Vets always wanted their own queue, right? Remember when Casual Mode (RIP) was public? Yeaaaa… about that. We need a constant flow of new players in order for us to even think about something like this or it’ll just be another ‘casual mode’ with a 2-hour queue. New players = potential for future goodies.

  • Don’t forget about returning players. Before the streamlined patch, it was incredibly intimidating to play the game after you haven’t played for ages. We’ve already seen tons of veteran players make their return and find themselves settling in. This patch was tough to learn from an old player, but imagine future patches. Take a break, come back, np.

  • Continuous updates. New players don’t care about updates since they don’t even know the game yet, but veterans do. It can be easy to forget we’re an indie game, and anyone can Google Steam’s share. Then taxes. Then split with the team. Then reinvestment back into the game: In the end, we don’t actually make much. We don’t focus on our microtransactions and don’t want to. New players = devs can continue being full-time. Did you know the only actual programmers are me + Ellie?* If we can’t afford servers/rent, that would be bad. New players = GOOD for EVERYONE!

So, the Yogscast Jingle Jam Charity Bundle… Surprise!

While we were under NDA when we released the streamlined patch, you can probably further understand why it had to be done. The NDA made it awkward that we couldn’t say anything and the average person still has no idea that our population dramatically boosted with new players because of this bundle. Literally about doubled in active population, not even including the +population that activated their key but are yet to play!

This is one of those patches that “you want it, even if you don’t know it yet”.

We have already seen a decline in gamethrowing reports, a decline in “this game’s just too hard”, reviews that complain the game is tough (the major new player complaint is not-forgiving players for newb mistakes), queue times have lowered, and overall has been healthy for the game.

Now, imagine that we donated up to 250,000 charity keys to that bundle and we didn’t have this patch. The first thing on your mind, GO!

Gamethrowing new players!

…this may still be the case :blush: BUT! Certainly not as much as you imagined. Yogs has already raised over $5 million. Even at 5 mil, $5mil / $35 = 142,857 new copies have been given away. There are tons over the holidays to play, so there’s a good chance many of these will be activated in January. Whoa!

Unintended Tediousness? Less RNG?

Without looking it up, name pre-patch every combination of who can occupy, who is occupy immune, and who can override this, even though you’re “immune”? It hurts my brain to even think about it.

These were not intended to be confusing: Just over time, with our changes, this just so happened to end up this way. At launch, you wouldn’t find this confusing mess. It’s not there for challenge - it never was! It was simply “leftover” to add another layer of confusion. Not even the devs remember this, let alone our most senior vets.

Most people just sort of guess or assume (and not in a fun way). The streamlined patch lowers RNG since there’s less of this confusing mess.

Then inconsistency everywhere! Imagine if a card game like Hearthstone had 10 expansions with 0 consistent terms – all named something super unique, 99% doing the same thing but 1% doing something slightly different. While it’s cool that abilities are unique, it limits us severely – things get confusing for new players AND vets (even devs). This is not what anyone wants.

CONSISTENCY = SECURING THRONE’S FUTURE

While the names are certainly COOL and it looks unique, and may even be viable in the first set (pretend those are vanilla). However, what about the future? What about 10 expansions later? What about 5 years later? Imagine memorizing not “Taunt” or “Deathrattle”, but if all of these consistencies didn’t exist. Imagine patch notes, how long it would take to adapt. Imagine that a simple mechanic like “Taunt” was called something different each time. Consistency ensures a future for Throne.

Securing The Future

  • Wanted a new class? It wouldn’t happen before the streamlined patch. We reached a maximum complexity.
  • Want a new mechanic? We already have too many unique ones. It wouldn’t have ever happened. However, now, it’s possible in the future.
  • Want us to explode so we can upgrade our art? Our animations? Our armor and weapons? The environment? It wouldn’t happen because new players and returning veterans are intimidated. New players keep us alive and raise the budget so we have the capability to do these things.
  • Want to bring your friend aboard? Tons of my friends won’t even play the game, even though I made it, simply because they’re intimidated by the complexity (and my buds play D&D! That’s so hard to learn, imo! So much to micromanage). With this patch, you can tell them we finally became more intuitive and easier to understand. While a select few abilities may have been watered down, the majority still remains the same.

TL;DR:

Long story short, the streamlined patch = new (and returning) players = benefits both veterans AND players = does EVERYONE a favor + secures the future of the game.

EDIT: Toss around this short link to this post @ https://toli.es/streamlined


#2

pt1 isn’t the last patch? What a surprise


#3

Can you tell us more about Armae? I think it’s fair to admit that a lot of people are worried about lack of correspondence from developers. Ellie was always active, if sometimes a bit abrasive. I think a lot of people are nervous not knowing where the updates will lead.


#4

So, I certainly understand your point, and I get why some stuff needed to be streamlined, and I agree that new players are good. In fact, I even… begrudgingly… admit that removing some of the unique abilities will eventually be something that no one cares about (yeah HH, I’m looking at you)

However, there are two major things about why I haven’t been happy with the game and the devs since this most recent patch.

  1. I’m just not having fun. There’s really no other way to put it. I don’t know if it’s the patch, or the new players, or a bit of both, but I’m not enjoying ToL anymore. And that means that even if what’s happening is good for the game long-term, I, perhaps selfishly, really don’t care since it’s resulted in me not playing anymore.

  2. Some of the changes were just bad. I have yet to see anyone on this discord who supported the Reaper change for example. And to me, that would be okay normally; I get that you sometimes want to roll out a bunch of new stuff and see what works and what doesn’t. But the “seeing what doesn’t work” hasn’t really seemed to be on the dev’s agendas. So it’s been really frustrating for me to see the devs get feedback about the patch, and then seem not act on any of it besides telling us that we should be quiet and like it. I mean, if you’d have rolled back even a single feature from the “streamlining” patch, I’d at least feel like you cared, but at this point, while I agree you’re still highly accessible devs, it kind of feels like you’re still unresponsive.


#5

This isn’t a good argument and you know it. The concern wasn’t about buttons, but the abilities that each one of them holded.
I’m fine with new alch. I’m not fine with this kind of answer. It is half-baked and childish.
Now go and explain people why the removal of about 3 abilities was necessary for the class, because all we are pretty sure you didn’t have 4 different buttons for healing.


#6

I’ve had so many people tell me that this patch is bad, but I just look at them with bewilderment. ToL was becoming a touch like ToS and honestly, not only is that game worse because of the complexity (4 levels of attack and defense? Seriously?), but also because it has so many classes that do virtually nothing.

  • Survivor: You can become immune for 4 nights (but only to the most basic bitch level of attacks). Nothing else.
  • Jester (ToS’s Fool) and Executioner (Scorned): LITERALLY NO ABILITIES. HOW DO YOU CONVINCE PEOPLE?
  • Retributionist (Priest): You can revive a single town player, once, assuming they don’t leave immediately after dying.
  • Medium (Mystic): You can talk to the dead… assuming they don’t leave immediately. You and the rest of the dead players can also talk to one living person, for one night, when you are dead.

Then you look at some other things that were changed like Occupy Immunity and honestly, it got really frustrating how many classes were occupy/redirect immune. It almost seemed like being a Butler or Drunk was more of a hindrance to BD than to the evils because of it.

That said, I will say some of the changes are… interesting. Reaper and MM immediately come to mind as questionable, but these can always be looked at and tweaked in the future; I’m not at all that concerned about it all. This was a good patch for the future of the game and people saying otherwise, especially after reading this are ignorant or selfish. Gameplay can easily be tweaked but we shouldn’t have so many occ/redir immune classes, we shouldn’t have classes able to pierce said immunity because then we go full ToS mode with immunities not actually being immunities.

Just my two cents on the matter. I don’t want this game to turn into ToS and/or potentially crash and die.

PS: Bring back Reaper Chill. Silence isn’t the same and isn’t as worth it. Reaper really strikes hard in the end-game with taking out up to 2 people from voting. Poss forces a vote onto someone else. Sorc can just bomb everyone. New Reaper only has up to one vote power and only if he gets the reap off.


#7

I think one thing why people dont like this patch is because how it was delivered

I have nothing against Armae but he just came like “Im going to simplify the game” and then these changes happened without Reasoning. I would love to know why the reaper chill was changed because I dont think it was to Simplify the game however I understand that the game had to be streamlined and it was very confusing but some changes were questionable

If I Offend anyone in this comment Im deeply sorry
Have a nice day!


#8

I’m stunned by how amazing this OP is! Very well-written too

BUT like everyone else I still want Chill brought back and the MM change reverted or changed to something like Godfather from ToS (hidden from Sheriff all game, and no new one after he dies)

Because as it is, Unseen is basically a worse Cult


#9

After reading the entire post i have nothing more to say than: “It’s a natural conclusion, that’s all.”

Making game much more streamlined that works for every player isn’t a bad thing and never have been. After all there are a variery of players that are playing Throne Of Lies every day: Casuals, Veterans, Tryhards etc.

Gamethrowing is obviously a top priority for every player that has played for at least a while and i pretty i don’t need to explain that.

Talking about special queues or gamemodes, until the playerbase won’t be big enough there is no point of adding as it would be simmilar situation with Casual Mode (Exists for like a month or two and then removed because lack of players interested in).

Well…It has nothing to do with RNG factor of the game unless we’re talking about the number of messages that can appear each night.

Understandable, especially in situation where mechanics and classes you have to rebalance them again after last patch.

Overall nothing too suprising. New Players are always required if players like it or not in game with quite humble cast. I wish you the best of luck and hopefully your project will succeed.


#10

Although i wonder how much did Blizzard pay XBlade to advertise their card game. :thinking:


#11

7…

…cards


#12

The whole occupation story, the alchemist revert and mindwarp change (sadly without compensation) is something I support for new players, but making the unseen a clone of the cult and taking away something as iconic as a Reaper’s chill are steps in the wrong direction and I can’t see how those moves specifically simplify.

The sentiment behind streamlining is a smart idea, but some of the implementation leaves something to be desired.

#Reaperlivesmatter

I applaud and appreciate the effort to communicate with the community and show some of the developer’s thought processes though!


#13

Things I support.
Hunter not being unique
While I don’t think hunters Mark is strong and I think a nonunique class should only have two uses of bear, I like hunter not being powerful.

Occupation change.
great changes here I disagree with anyone saying the changes with occupation is bad.

Bleed changes
Good here I just wish icons weren’t the same :stuck_out_tongue:

Changes that where bad
Alchemist, while it’s true that its more simple then it was, a lot of people liked a JOAT class which had uses to evils not just bd, it goes with out saying alchemist feels like a physician that’s Neutral. There isn’t a lot of way to help evils yes you have two bombs but half time time you’ll attack evils with it.

SG, SW, Enforcers guard, Jail, change, I really don’t agree with the changes I liked the idea of Sellsword being able to help assassin kill by blocking butlers, while I like the occupation changes I have to disagree with this part, also people knowing who was jailed is a bad thing goes without saying.

Bewilder/icy touch
I don’t get why these where removed people could understand these easily I played with two of my friends (who where new) and understood it

Mastermind changes
This is bad unseen get screwed over too easily now they can either be found early or just die like flies this is worse then Cult and I used to hate cult

Overall a mixed bag I feel like this patch changed too many classes making them simple…

Alchemist is in a bad state right now evils might aswell kill them because Protectives are in high demand of death


#14

I would still like an observation from who did the balance changes of the thought process behing each decision. Bos started doing it in the last patches and it is really great to know the intention of a change so we can do the proper feedback, not making it the way we want the game to be, but suggestions to follow how you guys do. This just feels like a bunch of stuff thrown together because. Explain. More than simplified or streamlined, it’s a lot of stuff to cover with just a word — why change X? Why nerf Y? Why rebuild Z? Not writing logs at stand? Just explain these kind of stuff or the playerbase WILL get frustrated.


#15

Apologies if I can’t reply to everyone, but here are some random ones in no particular order:

This is a post for Armae to answer as it deals with balance (as OP is titled “Non-Balance”). I don’t ask many questions when it comes to this since it’s not really my department, to be transparent. I’ll pass this along to encourage a devblog.

The thing is about balance preps is that it’s often the angry people that shout louder than the quiet people that are content/happy. Tons of people judge it on a single entity without thinking about the whole picture before it’s even implemented. Or if it’s someones favorite class being nerfed, there will often be hard arguing in an unreasonable fashion to protect their favorite class from a nerf, for example.

This is where balance gets difficult to judge early via a community since it’s generally the same ~30 people out 10s of thousands of players. Just brainstorming, I wonder if an in-game survey would get more accurate results of what the community wants. Maybe only show it if you played xx hours to prevent trolls or random clicks.

Not only what a community wants, but also needs to be mixed with the devs insight: Most feedback wants a specific thing changed with considerations of “now”. Devs think about the domino effects of a change with considerations of the future. Needs to have a nice bag mix of the two.

I have so many things on my plate, I couldn’t tell you much since Ellie both hired and manages Armae. Similarly, I have some contractors I have hired that Ellie doesn’t know much about, either (such as our trailer making dude). I don’t ask many questions since it was Ellie’s dept, just like Ellie doesn’t know much about my meta features I work on (and now balance is Armae’s department).

It’s the same: I do my own thing, they do theirs. While I know “high-level details”, I don’t know microdetails. Ellie’s currently taking a community break, but I’m sure she’ll be back later to re-introduce Armae, or as mentioned above I’ll DM her directly and encourage a dev blog + see if she’s willing to do it!

We’re both knee-deep in our own projects, so we usually only need to collaborate with microdetails if we’re working on the same thing (like the report system revamp from earlier this year or Snowcrest stuff).

This is back to balance, and we’re constantly observing both fun factors and stats. Since this patch was named “part 1”, you can surely see a part 2 then “cleanup” patches afterwords. However, we need time for observation. In this case, it’s also holiday season and everyone from Imperium42, even mods, are all asked to take it easy during this time. No balance changes will come until after the holidays.

But like we’ve always done, every single patch with balance has things where people say “I hate this, I hate that”. Well, for the past 2 years, you usually see us change these things, right? :stuck_out_tongue: don’t worry. There’s a pretty low chance for you to even become reaper. Perhaps you’ll be reaper only 1 or 2 times before something changes again. Until then, the win rate didn’t really change for Reaper, but that could also mean reapers have simply had good luck or had to work extra hard for a win.

We get it, we just need time. There are so many combinations that are impacted for every ability change. While balance is important, we also understand fun factors are important, too. We also know Reaper win rate is pretty low, even though it’s been the same for months – but the same … low rate.

Because Reaper is a class that takes many games to get, if Reaper is the main concern, then we’re doing better than I thought :stuck_out_tongue: But I know that’s not the main concern, probably the MM:

We’ve also noted this, don’t worry. The Reaper has a low chance to get, but MM… I understand this effects people more because there’s always a MM, and there’s a good chance to be MM, so it will effect tons of your games.

We’ve noted it and are observing – until then, at least the win rates have significantly gone up (which was needed), which is at least a nice win for now while waiting for future changes.

We don’t expect you to, and that’s perfectly fine (although unfortunate, of course). I’ve quit Hearthstone about 10 times. I’ve quit EverQuest about 100 times. We think this patch will build a solid future where if you return later, you’ll feel pretty happy about things. This patch was a foundation.

I’ll see what I can do to bring her out of her shell. Ellie trusts her, so I naturally trust her, too. There will certainly be high-level reasons for it and I’m sure I agree with you that, similar to this post, it would be better if explained from her perspective.

I’m a fan of icons, but also a fan of consistency and recognition, almost like a brand. You see it and immediately know what it does without even reading it.

However, maybe we can do something like X's Bleed and always have the word ‘Bleed’ inside of it. That would work to allow us to change the icon, but it’d also take away the consistency and instant recognition of the icon. Hmm… what are others’ thoughts on this? Is there an even-better compromise within? How important are different icons to you for the same mechanic? Imagine looking through class cards to see which classes have bleed – wouldn’t it be significantly faster to look for the icon instead of the word bleed?


#16

Please, please give hunter his arrow back. I am enjoying the rest of the game, but that was the most fun element ever. 1000+ hours. Plz.


#17

First and foremost, thanks for this kind of interaction. It may not be mentioned by most but I’m sure everybody appreciates dev communication with their community.

Actually, I don’t think there is much that needs to be done in terms of designing an icon for bleed effects other than one principle:

  • Must contain Red

Looking at all the icons for day abilities, an interesting case is found in regards to ‘killing’ abilities.

  • Both bleed abilities (while being the same image) are predominantly red, showing how they focus on predominantly killing
  • Decide Fate has a large amount of red, symbolizing its huge power. Its ability to kill players on trial outright also goes back to the idea that (in terms of day abilities) killing = red.
  • Political Pressure (and Mind Control) also have red in them.

In other words, killing abilities are easily identifiable by being extremely red. Bleeding follows this same pattern.

Therefore, all that would need to be done to make the ability, as you said,

Would be to make it predominantly red.

To separate the Assassin’s Bleed from the Cult Leader’s, I’d just have the icon be a knife with a swoosh of a red trail following it. The instant recognizability associated with the effect by it being predominantly red would make its effect obvious to a glance.

Of course, this change is not completely necessary, but it would add that extra bit of ‘cool factor’.

or I could just be spending way too much thought on something very trivial


#18

I have an idea that’s the best of both worlds.

A lot of people don’t like Hunters mark and think it’s too fiddly to be in a simplification patch.
Essentially, how about we make Hunters’ Mark this instead:

Hunter’s Mark (Night) - Change the target of your retributiion passive to this player (Infinite uses)

and then, of course, bring back the arrow.

Now the arrow is even more fun because the Hunter controls who it shoots. It will lead to clutch plays and is far from hard to understand; it’s a kill that triggers if the Hunter is lynched.

Of course, for balance reasons Hunter would have to be Unique again, but I’d say it’s worth it for what is clearly a beloved feature to come bakc.

(oh also I agree with xblade on literally everything here but that sentiment has been echoed enough soooo)


#19

the arrow made a fakeclaiming hunter a risk and hunter would have to be unique again if this becomes the case.

personally. I’m fine with this hunter and FoL’s hunter


#20

hunter being unique is fine too.

i like hunter either way.

my main issue with this update is the removal of visit prevention.

it’s a massive buff to butlers and drunks as the scum (not counting converts) no longer have occ immunity.

only BD classes, Invoker and Sellsword have it now