Trion’s Balance Update Shows They Get It


Trion shared their proposed class/spec balance update today, and they are planning to:

  • Re-work (balance) Pyro Mage’s Ground of Strength. It its current incarnation GoS provides total CC immunity indefinitely for the Mage plus the ability for their spells to stun, and this is rather imbalanced in PVP
  • Increase Rogue melee and Marksman damage

The timing of the balance update makes sense – there has been sufficient time since 1.1 went live for the community to get its arms around the changes and to identify problem areas.

To date, players have often framed their feedback quite negatively. E.g. some players have been equating Trion to “Failcom” (aka Funcom, the maker of Age of Conan) and to Electronic Arts / Mythic Entertainment (the maker of Warhammer Online).

Both are unfair comparisons, but players have been badly burned since 2008 by games that were over-hyped but under-delivered, and Trion is experiencing the backlash from players who are now understandably wary of game developers.

While I am not going to predict what degree of commercial success Trion will have or whether Rift is the fabled “WoW Killer” (and as I wrote elsewhere that’s the wrong question to ask), Trion’s actions with and after launch show me that they get it. I have high confidence based on what I’ve seen and heard that Rift will continue to improve and that Trion is listening to the community.

Hopefully over time the majority of Rift’s players will perceive that as well.

As I have stated previously, Rift has been by far and away the best MMORPG launch I’ve seen in over 2.5 years, including Warhammer Online, Aion, and Allods Online. What has made Trion’s launch of Rift successful? Multiple, synergistic actions:

  1. Trion didn’t launch until the game was ready. As Exec Producer Scott Hartsman said to me at WonderCon 2011, they were not going to launch until the game was sufficiently stable and had sufficient content
  2. Trion has been unusually communicative about upcoming changes with the community. Examples: the Dev Tracker forum functionality to track all posts by Trion employees, Trion’s participation in 3rd-party fan podcasts, and their honesty in answering my questions in person
  3. Trion is willing to make the tough calls to bring classes and specs into balance, even if the decisions are unpopular in the short term. I’m not going to tell you the balance in 1.11 is perfect. It’s not. Balance is an iterative process, and considering that we are ~7 weeks from launch, balance is reasonably good, even better than what I experienced as a 2k Arena Protection Paladin in World of Warcraft’s Cataclysm expansion Patch 4.0.6

Class / spec changes for the sake of balance can be hard on the community, but they are absolutely essential for the long-term health of a game.

UPDATE (2011/04/22): OK, maybe I spoke too soon. On the Alpha 1.2, the CC immunity and 30% stun proc for Ground of Strength have not been touched. /sigh

UPDATE (2011/04/29): before I forget, the stun proc was removed from GoS in the first update to 1.2 notes published on 4/26. I think the indefinite full CC immunity is still an issue.

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Posted in Aion, Allods Online, Business Analysis, PVP, RIFT, Warhammer Online, World of Warcraft
10 comments on “Trion’s Balance Update Shows They Get It
  1. Darker Muse says:

    I think you may have a point there, about people being burnt. I also think that people have pre-concieved notions of how XYZ class should perform, or what it should do.
    I think other games (tank/heal/dps holy trinity-‘m looking at you!) have tainted the way gamers approach MMO’s nowadays, they seem to have trouble taking each title on it’s own merits.
    I’d agree that Trion are having a mighty good crack at this and I am inpressed with how they go about their business, I’m finding joy in pvp again! Now if only they could make people understand objective based pvp….

    • taugrim says:

      I think you may have a point there, about people being burnt. I also think that people have pre-concieved notions of how XYZ class should perform, or what it should do.

      I agree.

      Most players don’t understand the concept of a “tank” in PVP, especially if they are coming from WoW. Warhammer opened my eyes in terms of the possibilities – tanks were one class where Warhammer truly innovated IMO.

      I’m finding joy in pvp again!

      I really enjoy PVP in Rift – all the way from the 10-19 level bracket to 50.

      Now if only they could make people understand objective based pvp….

      Players need to learn the mechanics of each match, and that comes from watching out (experienced) players and time.

      I was clueless in Port Scion for a bunch of matches until I began to understand how/when to cover Church vs the Bridge. Port is so different from any other BG I’ve ever played. It’s kind of like a hybrid that combines concepts from Warsong Gulch and Alterac Valley together.

      I still don’t understand the wardstone world PVP mechanics LOL.

  2. Dallin says:

    I think people need to honestly stop saying what Trion should and shouldn’t do. Everyone on those forums think they can flip a switch and magically fix any problem.

    I ran a dungeon recently with 4 Rogues and myself healing on my cleric. None of the rogues were the same spec. Not one. We had a tank, melee dps, ranged dps, and a Bard. It was incredible. The flexibility in Rift is unheard of. In other games, classes are so linear with spec choices, it’s incredibly sad. Esepcially in WoW where they “streamlined” talents to the point where there really is no flexibility anymore.

    If your spec gets nerfed in WoW. It’s game over or deal with it. In Rift, you have tons of other choices within your class type. Not to mention none of them play the same. I think Trion is doing a great job overall. Even with balance. Trion should start cleaning up their forums. Too many trolls and kids crying on them to bother reading it anymore.

    • taugrim says:

      I ran a dungeon recently with 4 Rogues and myself healing on my cleric. None of the rogues were the same spec. Not one. We had a tank, melee dps, ranged dps, and a Bard. It was incredible. The flexibility in Rift is unheard of.

      If your spec gets nerfed in WoW. It’s game over or deal with it. In Rift, you have tons of other choices within your class type. Not to mention none of them play the same.

      Yep, this is the #1 differentiator for Rift compared to any other game I’ve ever played. The last thing I want to do is expose myself to spec-nerf risk which would make my time investment in a class/spec moot. And I simply don’t have the time to level multiple toons to endgame, which is the oft-recommended strategy by WoW players, as a hedge in case of nerfs.

      Trion should start cleaning up their forums. Too many trolls and kids crying on them to bother reading it anymore.

      My guess is that Trion has spent a lot of time talking internally about their approach for managing the forums, and that their allowing so many QQ Trion-flaming threads is very intentional.

      The forums were flooded with negative whine threads in the week or two after 1.1 launched, but the volume of those threads has subsided, and my belief is that they will continue to subside as balance changes are implemented and as those whiners who genuinely de-subscribe stop posting on the forums.

      Right now a lot of players are expecting Trion to pull a “Failcom” or “EA” on them, but given sufficient time and consistent delivery from Trion, those negative (unfounded) expectations will fade.

  3. Excelsior says:

    I really do like the proposed changes. Rogues to me are the weakest of the PvP callings. I can routienly take on multiple rogues, even when sapped and come out the victor with my Riftblade. I support the DPS increases to Clerics, but I do hope the tick downward the effectiveness of healers in general. Some of the battle royals at the black garden and Port Scion bridge can last many minutes, with the few people who actually die able to respawn and return to the fight multiple times. It drags out matches and give a major advantage to the side that stacks ridculious amounts of healers.

    The Trion forums are a cess pit of trolling and personal attacks. I used to the read the PvP forums but quit after see nearly any constructive posts get trolled nearly instantly. The post are insensitive at best, and down right mean spirited far too often. It is simply not a good place to gain insight into the game, and really that’s what it needs to be. Hence my participation in this blog’s article comments :)

    • taugrim says:

      I support the DPS increases to Clerics, but I do hope the tick downward the effectiveness of healers in general.

      I agree that healing is a bit too strong right now, but at the same time, it’s nice to be in a game where Healing specs are very popular right now across classes. If healing output is nerfed that may change.

      The Trion forums are a cess pit of trolling and personal attacks.

      Hence my participation in this blog’s article comments

      I believe the Trion forums should get better over time, especially if the unhappy people actually quit as they are threatening to.

      We’ll see though, according to this excellent article, not many people who threatened to quit actually did.
      http://www.eldergame.com/2008/06/taming-the-forum-tiger/

  4. Capleton says:

    hey taugrim this is my first time posting on your blog i also have the exact same build rb/paly and all the mechanics ive learned about how to play the class came from your tutorials and videos,im having alot of fun with it. i have a question regarding the ‘weaving’ auto attack concept that you showed in one of your earlier Aion vids does this work at all with rift? maybe you could post some information on how to do it? thanks.

    • taugrim says:

      i have a question regarding the ‘weaving’ auto attack concept that you showed in one of your earlier Aion vids does this work at all with rift? maybe you could post some information on how to do it? thanks.

      Auto attack weaving in Aion was an important mechanic to understand, because ability uses would cancel an auto-attack. So one needed to learn in Aion how to allow just enough time for auto attacks to fire before using abilities.

      That isn’t the case is most MMORPG’s, such as Rift or WoW or WAR. So it’s not something you need to be concerned about in Rift.

  5. taugrim says:

    OK, maybe I spoke too soon. On the Alpha 1.2, the CC immunity and stun proc from Ground of Strength have not been touched. Yikes.

  6. Bowser says:

    Heh, the 1.2 notes left GoS CC immunity intact, which says to me that they have not gotten it. Either that, or whoever is the mage/pyro advocate on Trion is schooling everybody else in debate, we should have him in politics instead of game balancing. IMHO, they could even increase the damage mitigation on GoS if they give up the CC Immunity and stun proc.

    Considering who they got to do the balancing, the mind behind Bright Wizards from Warhammer, what else should we expect? It’s like asking a pedophile to babysit your kids, you’re asking for it.

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