Darkscape Armor Comments/Suggestions

The Darkscape team announced that they want to rework armor, most notably by set boosts as well as linking certain things (first DPS now Prayers) to armor. They also announced the removal of the combat triangle. I think both of these are really great ideas. However, this comes with major dangers and such drastic changes could easily ruin the game for many people. To prevent this, I want to look at dangers as well as offer solutions and suggestions. Before I start, I want to say that everything in this thread is open to commentary and suggestions from readers and that the suggestions should be taken as such. I also have more goodwill towards JaGeX than some and always assume it turns out right. However, I still want to help highlight potential dangers this early in the development phase.

We have 3 major dangers:

- Centralization of meta

- Abolishment of important systems

- Not being effective

 

Centralization of meta is my principal fear. For those that don't know what it means: it simply means making 1 choice the most viable choice in almost any situation. RuneScape 3 suffers heavily from this, because the game lacks hard counters due to lack of PvP, but old style dragonhide armor is a good example as well: it protected alright against melee and ranged and prevented you from being ganked by mages as well as being cheap. At the same time, no armor really offered major bonuses (aside from the time consuming Void and expensive Dharok) so dragonhide became a great choice and using other armor meant taking risks dragonhide users didn't have to face, such as higher cost, no protection against ice spells or damage reduction for you. These things can be fixed and don't 'ruin' the game but this risk is probably the biggest one and make for a very boring game. To solve the centralization, I have a few proposals in the solutions part of the post.

 

The second danger is Abolishment of important systems. This means that certain parts of the game will become useless or very difficult to use with the rest of the game. This happens most often happens with updates that offer direct upgrades to existing systems. For example, if Protect melee is locked behind wearing 5 pieces of armor it will see very little use as everyone suddenly needs to start bringing boots and gloves when fighting which might otherwise not be worth it. EoC also completely removed weapon poison which was a constant factor in the game. The danger here is making things people invested in completely worthless or invalidating playstyles. It's the reason a lot of pures are suspicious of the updates coming, as they fear it would make them useless. The removal of the combat triangle also is a big contender here. This one is a little harder to prevent, mostly because it depends a lot on what the updates will turn out to be. In my opinion, it is important to keep as many valid playstyles in mind when designing the final updates.

 

The final danger is not being effective. This could occur when the updates are underwhelming or wouldn't solve the current problems. RuneScape history is littered with updates that either didn't solve the problem it needed to (remember how Artisans' was the big smithing fix?) or quickly turned out to be useless (so many armor items from superbosses that are only useful against superbosses and too expensive to use anywhere else. Not to mention the short degrade times). The solutions I'll provide hopefully prevent this. If this problem occurs it won't really change anything, but it will mean the community has to continue struggling with their current problems and we will continue to lose faith and players in the game.

 

Okay, so I told you what the biggest problems are. We need a solution that:

- Doesn't force the playerbase in one playstyle

- Doesn't make important styles invalid

- Will have an effect

 

To this end I offer a three-step solution:

 

The first part of my solution is the same thing the EoC did: standardizing. Standardizing armor effects means that every armor will offer a stat boost on a simple curve. For example, the standard could be that wearing full armor with no other effects either boosts damage by a flat 25% or decreases damage taken by a flat 20%, both on top of the defence stat boost. The EoC showed this at least means no armor or anything goes obsolete. It also showed it makes everything of the same tier replaceable with other thing of the same tier. This is because EoC didn't dare deviate from the magical curve. So we move on to part 2:

 

Give almost every armor a special effect that is very different. And I don't mean different in stats, I mean different in kind. With every armor (as well as the weapon changes), try to promote a certain action or playstyle that is different from other armors. For example, since bronze will go to pures give it defensive boosts depending on the difference of your defence and power level. Make a form of ranged armor that does extra damage to people that have their back to you but give it below-standard damage when they face you. Make magic armor that increases ice spell bind time, but also make magic armor that increases its AoE potential. The reason that you also need a standard is to prevent certain pieces of armor overwhelming other pieces. Hopefully, this introduces interesting play and prevents centralization as most armor will only be the most useful in specific situations. However, all of this is pointless without the final part of the solution:

 

Monitor, nerf and buff. With such big differences between armors it is easy to make things OP or UP. So buff armor that is almost never used and nerf armor that is often used. Nerfing can be done in 2 ways: stat decreases or introducing 'hard counters'. Stat decreases are mostly necessary if the armor just provides too much DPS with too little drawbacks. When a certain set of armor becomes the most used but doesn't have that much DPS advantage, it might be time to introduce hard counters: weapons or armor that are specifically good against the overused piece of armor but not great in general. This hopefully causes a constantly shifting meta that allows for as many interesting playstyles as possible without the grey goop the EoC made. Also make sure when introducing new armor that it is not OP or UP, as has happened so often in the past. Try to cater towards underserved playstyles instead.

 

Thank you for reading this. I hope DarkScape has a bright (or would it be gloom?) future ahead of itself with the many changes coming.

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