Regarding reload perks (Destiny)

by CruelLEGACEY @, Toronto, Friday, May 22, 2020, 17:46 (125 days ago) @ INSANEdrive

You've been posting alot these last few weeks, and I would like to say, I've been very impressed by your capacity to elucidate. To explain or clarify. Your capacity to do so is a refreshing light, and is honestly something I aspire to. Your posts as of late have been some of the best we have at DBO. SO thank you.

Awe, shucks. Thank you :)

...now to the topic...

It’s true that reload perks are generally more desirable than many other perks. But the problem with taking a dispassionate, birds eye view of the perk pool and saying “let’s just slow down the bonus effects of all reload perks” is that it doesn’t take “feel” into account. Reload perks have one of the most noticeable impacts on the feel of a gun out of all the perks in the game. And for most players, there’s a threshold that a reload speed can hit where it just becomes too long for a player to want to use the gun. That threshold will certainly vary from player to player, gun to gun, but at a certain point it doesn’t matter what other perks a weapon has; if the reload is too slow, in just not going to use that gun. And many guns in D2 are already in that state, unless they have some kind of reload perk.

So the issue is the how the base reload feels without a perk to push it up? If perk feels SO GOOD that it's a MUST, then that is broken. Is the issue than with the base archetype? I'm not sure we can test that.

I concede for the moment. I don't know the answer. I don't know what answer to give.

I'm not sure I could give a flat, 1-size-fits-all answer either. But I do feel that Destiny right now is absolutely missing that person on the sandbox team who has the guts and instincts to say "this feels great, lets do it. This feels like crap, lets adjust it." Like, who on the team could possibly have played with the new Crit damage system that was implemented in Shadowkeep and said "yes, this feels better". And yes, I know a lot of this stuff is fuzzy and subjective, but some of it really isn't that complicated.

In other words, reload perks are required to make many D2 weapons viable, because their base reload speeds are too slow. Reduce the effectiveness of those reload perks, and all Bungie has done is shrunk the pool of weapons that I will ever use.

As has become a running theme of mine over the past year or so, this looks like yet another example of Bungie making design choices based on data, rather than feel or fun. Sometimes, a certain perk/weapon/ability being used more than all the others is evidence that they got that perk/weapon/ability RIGHT, not that it is too good and needs to be reigned in.

As mentioned, perks alone should not be making weapons viable. That is broken. For Data Vs Fun though... well, one is arguably universal, and one is... per person, yes? Why the game feels as it does is not something I've heavily looked into, so forgive me as I work to extrapolate.

Say, your job is to balance out all this kit; what are you going to go on? What can you prove to your boss? I guess the question I'M asking is, can fun be codified? Can "feel" be codified? I don't know the answer to that either. I suppose so, I mean look videogames. Something is going right. Are there folks who don't like how, say, Rose feels to use? I don't know, but I guess you'll be able to see by how much in the data. Which, taking that line of thought... would be rather comforting to work with. It might not be the right way to do it, but it's definitely something tactile that can be far more easy measured.

I don't disagree on your read, but I'm not sure what I would give to Bungie as an alternative, provided they listen at all.

So, there's a story I heard about the US Air Force which I think applies nicely here. I have absolutely no idea if this story is true or not (perhaps a fellow DBOer can confirm/correct me here), but even if the story is completely made up, I think it illustrates a point quite well.

It goes like this:

At some point in the 80s, the air force was testing some new fighter planes that featured brand new, state of the art cockpit designs. These cockpits were a fare bit more complicated than previous models, so the designers were going to great lengths to make sure that all the controls were optimally placed for ease of use and comfort. They did a bunch of detailed research on average measurements and proportions of their pilot force, and generated a very detailed model of the average pilot's build, including arm and leg length, finger length and reach, joint flexibility and range of motion, etc. And they arranged their cockpit layout around these measurements.

But during initial live testing, something strange happened. Experienced test pilots weren't performing as well as usual. Mistakes were happening, and even a couple fatal accidents. After collecting as much test data as they could, including feedback from the test pilots, they soon discovered the severe mistake they made. They had designed these cockpits to perfectly fit the "average" pilot. But the "average" pilot doesn't actually exist. There was no single pilot in their test program who had the exact proportions of their generated "average" pilot. So one test pilot might have found the front panel was beautifully laid out for their arm length, but their knees were pressed into the housing above their legs. Another pilot's legs would fit well, but they struggled to reach certain controls on the dash. The solution was to make the cockpits more adjustable, so that each individual pilot could position themselves in the way that felt best for them.

Back to Destiny.

At a high level, Bungie did a great job of creating a weapon sandbox that would offer a wide range of options for players. Some people like a slower firing, harder hitting hand cannon, while others prefer a hand cannon that is faster and snappier. No problem, Bungie created both extremes with a couple archetypes in between. Rather than finding out what the "average" player wants, Bungie provided choice, with well thought-out tradeoffs as you go across the range. Slower-firing HCs had longer range and hit harder, but generally had smaller clips and took longer to reload. That's cool, because they're designed for players who prefer to keep their distance. As the RPMs increase, the damage and range got slightly lower, with clip sizes increasing and reload speeds getting faster. It all made sense. But then, somewhere along the road, Bungie's design brain fell out the window, and they started making design choices based on usage numbers instead of thinking about what they were actually doing.

So now, we have 4 Hand Cannon Archetypes: 110s, 140s, 150s, and 180s. They all have the same range (the difference between a minimum range 180 and a max range 110 is something like 2-3 meters... barely worth mentioning). And while they still have different damage values, the differences often aren't meaningful. Many red-bar enemies will be left with a sliver of health after receiving a crit hit from any hand-cannon. That sliver of health may be a slightly different size depending on the HC archetype, but it's still a 2-shot kill either way. Then there's the odd state of most 180 HCs, which do the least damage, but usually have small clips and really slow reloads. It just doesn't fit the playstyle which 180s seemed to be designed for.

Things get even more confusing in the Crucible. 150 and 140 hand cannons are practically identical in terms of effectiveness; same range, same optimal shots to kill (3 crits), similar average reload speeds. BUT, 150s fire faster, have less recoil, and better average handling. So why would anyone ever use a 140 in the crucible, aside from emotional preferences (aesthetics and such). There is no playstyle or situation where 140s are as good as 150s. And the other 2 archetypes can't really compete either. But with Bungie's current approach to sandbox tuning, they'll just say something like "150 hand cannons are over represented in the crucible, so we're going to increase their recoil to create a more interesting choice* for the player when choosing a hand cannon". It's the Luna's Howl situation over and over again. Luna's Howl and Not Forgotten were the only 2 good PvP hand cannons on console, so they were over represented in usage, so bungie gutted them. Meanwhile over on PC where hand cannons worked well, LH and NF weren't even in the top 5.

*That's a fun little bit of code language that Bungie likes to use. Any time they describe something as "interesting" or "thoughtful", they're saying "we're going to make these 2 things suck in opposite ways, so there's no clear choice for the player".

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