BTA Developer Blog 7: Damage Reduction And You

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BTA Developer Blog #7: Damage Reduction And You

HBS BT has a fairly basic cover system, everyone knows this and intuitively understands it: stand in cover or brace, get damage reduction; have Bulwark and do those things, get more damage reduction; do all three, get the most damage reduction. Simple, easy to understand, functional, boring, not easy to modify. The HBS system works in grades of 20% and gives you a stack of Guarded. Guarded stacks with itself up to 3 times, for a total of 60% reduction. This is fine and basically works. However, we ran into issues with it when we started looking at implementing a new, better, system.

Recently, the question of artillery has come up a few times. Specifically, it was asked if we could make an artillery-specific Damage Reduction effect. The answer turned out to be that yes we could do so. In so doing though, the BTA Team ran into the larger question of where we put such an effect. Do we put it on a pilot skill? That might work, but what if you don't have that skill and you still need the DR? We realized that the most logical place to put it was on the Brace action. We then discovered that Brace is effectively hardwired and we needed to implement new code to make it modifiable. Once we did that, we realized that we had the ability to heavily diversify and deepen the DR system the game put into place. So, we did that.

The "new" DR system works like so: certain skills give a base level of DR, amount and type are variable based on the skills. Further, alongside v13.3's weather system (EnvironmentalDesignMasks or EDM), we diversified the number of terrains that provide DR and how those work. Bracing also gives a certain amount of DR, both normal and AoE. Finally, we cleaned up some gear that provides DR (such as the Null Signature System). All DR sources in BTA now stack together perfectly. The intent of the new system is to make it such that more units have DR more regularly but that the DR numbers are lower in general. This has the effect of slightly increasing the durability of all units while making it harder to make an uber-tank.

  • The skills that provide DR are Bulwark (15% normal and 10% AoE), Sure Footing (5% AoE), Shielded Stance (50% normal), and Defensive Formation (20% normal to entire force).
  • Brace provides 20% normal and 20% AoE DR as well as 50% less stability damage taken.
  • Environmental sources include Forests, Whirlwinds, Destroyed Buildings, and Crystal Fields. Forests/Whirlwinds/Buildings provide 10% DR while occupied *and* for 1 turn after passing through them (to represent that combat is meant to be simultaneous and you were targeted while moving through the cover). Crystal Fields provide 5% DR while occupied and for 1 turn after passing through.

IMPORTANT NOTE: All DR sources stack perfectly, but it is worth noting that they are multiplicative not additive, so you'll see things like 24% DR from a combo of Bulwark and Forests (1 * 0.85 * 0.9 = 0.765 which is displayed as 24% to the player).

The design goal is to encourage mobile play and risk taking (more doable thanks to the more constant DR from things like Bulwark and cover sources) while not making everything a defensive tank (because the numbers are lower across the board). At the same time, if you want to play extremely defensively and form cover-based gunlines (I'm a big fan of this style of gameplay), you still can because Bulwark and cover and Brace still stack well and even can help cover you while you reposition from cover to cover thanks to the sticky effect of the cover sources. There are now also AoE DR sources such as Bulwark and Sure Footing and Brace to help you out if the enemy brought artillery and to give you some level of protection, though not enough to trivialize the artillery.

This change may sound scary or unusual, but I've been playing with it extensively as has the team and we're convinced it's a good gameplay change that mixes things up in a positive and enjoyable way. Your gameplay style hasn't been nerfed or removed and you may find that this helps you generate new strategies that you might not have considered before now. Give it a try and let us know what you think. I've opened #dev-blog-discussion again for conversation about it, please be respectful with your commentary or criticism.