Is Magic Shield becoming an essential skill a good thing?

edited November 18 in Solomon's Games
*I know it is not the time for Mr. Raptis to do balancing skills and stats but I think it wouldn't hurt to discuss some balance issues within the old solomon game for now. 

We all know that Magic Shield a must-have spell for any wizard in Keep, Boneyard, and Dark. Now here are my questions: Why is it necessary to magic shield and is a good thing for a game like Solomon's Keep to have an essential spell like magic shield?

The main reason why we must have magic shield is that the some attacks are impossible to dodge. In the late game, enemies' damage become so high that you can just die by two shot. If all attacks are dodge-able in some way, you can just believe in your skill or get phasing and completely ignore magic shield. However, some attacks like lightning, Unholy's charge attack, and first few seconds of laser attack, are 100% impossible to dodge what so ever. Also, because poison damage becomes so powerful that one hit completely reduce health into 1 no matter how much health you have. Because of these two problems, magic shield have become the necessity for beating late game levels.

So, is this phenomenon wrong? In my opinion, yes. Solomon games are about the random choices given each run and how to overcome the obstacle given by the gods of random number generators. If for some "series of unfortunate events" you get no magic shield, you can never overcome your fate because things like Unholy and mass lightning mages will kill you not matter what you do. Of course if stoneskin was in the Keep you would have a slight chance with at least lightning mages but due to the terribly long cooldown of stoneskin, it would still be impossible to beat the game. My general philosophy of randomly generated dungeon crawl game is this: no matter how unlucky you are, there must be at least a chance to overcome the obstacle. The current Solomon game, by forcing players to get Magic Shield, is not only fixing the builds but also making the game un-fun in some way.

Then how can we solve this thing in SKHD? Here are the list of things can be done to deal this phenomenon:

1. All attacks by enemies has to be dodge-able in some way. The best example of this would be bullet hell games like Touhou project or Binding of Issac: Rebirth (it sort of is when you fight final bosses). In these game, you get overwhelmed by shower of projectiles that it seems almost impossible to dodge. However, if you look closely and understand the attack pattern, you can learn how to maneuver through the stream of projectiles and even complete the game unharmed if you are good enough. Solomon games, on the other hand, are not like that. It just send enemies with simple movement and simple attack patterns that has little to no solutions other than just soaking the damage with Magic Shield. It is possible to use walls and objects to block some but certain attacks like lightning are completely impossible to dodge. To make all the attacks dodge-able in some way, lightning mages must be shooting lightning like Dire Aliss does (no homing, straight line) and Unholy series' charge skill must be replaced with something more dodge-able. Though I am not really liking the monotony of most enemies attack pattern, they are all manageable in some way and decent for now.

2. Poison damage system needs change. There are two ways to fix poison damage. First is to make Resist poison not only reduce % of poison damgage but also deduct fixed amount of damage as well. For example, if you have level 3 resist poison and get posion damage of 50 per second, you will reduce 10(20% of 50) and 15(fixed amount) thus resulting 25 damage per second. This way, you can make resist poison more useful and make a way to counter poison without the need of Magic Shield. The another way to fix poison damage is fixing how poison work. Instead of poison damage dealing x amount of damage per second, you can change it to deal x% of max health per second. This way, you make sure that the poison damage to be a threatening in some way but not as devastating as it is right now (turning full health into 1 hp in a second is too much). 

3. There should be more defensive options for other mages except frost mage. I know mages are suppose to be a glass cannon of some sort but there has to be some sort of defensive ability to deal with tough situations. Frost has no problem with that for its defensive nature and lightning is sort of okay with it too. The problem is the earth, fire, and ether users. Other than Magic Shield and stoneskin, they have no ways to protect themselves what so ever. Of course, I have an idea for each of them having unique defensive ability. 

Fire should have a life steal(regain health as you deal damage). Because fire is a very aggressive element and require skill to hit enemies, it would be very fitting to have a life steal passive skill for fire attacks. This way, not only we make fire element more reliable but also remove their dependency for Magic Shield. This can also promote more use of health up. How would a fire mage get life steal? You basically consume the heat of enemies and use it to your own health.
Ether should have a skill that give you x% chance to become invulnerable for 1 second when hit by an attack. Considering the fact that ether is involved with phasing and portals, we can say that you instinctively transform into an ethereal form for a short period of time when you feel danger. 
Earth should make the boulder to block projectiles and magic at the cost of it's durability. First, it just make sense. Second, if you know how to use earth mage, you know that your secondary spells are more important than your primary spell. So having weaker boulder as a result would be fine.

What are your thoughts about Magic Shield being essential skill in game? Is this a serious problem that must be fixed in SKHD? Or is this just fine as it is right now? Let me know you guys think about this phenomenon on the comment section.

And as always
Live long and prosper Mr. Raptis


  • edited November 18
    I'm aware of the issue.  One of the problems with the original SK is that at higher levels, the game just increases the power and quantity of the monsters.  In a small room space, with a collision system that could run on an iPhone 1, it essentially takes the "gameplay" away from you and forces you to rely completely on anything "automated" that you can.

    Many RPGs suffer from this.  It's one of the problems with an action RPG.  Probably the only one I've played that dealt with it pretty well was Titan Quest.

    In SKHD I am looking to mediate this a bit.  Now, a wizard WILL always be a frail creature.  Withstanding damage is for Paladins.  Dodging is for Rogues.  The nature of the wizard is to be a siege engine, all about widespread damage but is always at serious risk.

    But simply for variety, yes I don't intend Magic Shield to be an absolute must-have.  This problem is known to me, and I will be working to eliminate the need.
  • @Raptisoft

    How do you think about the 3 solutions I put for the magic shield problem?
  • Well, specifically:

    1, All attacks by enemies has to be dodge-able in some way: Again, more the domain of the rogue.  But since it is a video game, yes, many attacks should be dodgeable (not all) but not all, and not even most-- being vulnerable is the trade off of playing a mage (early game, hard, late game easy).  The previous SK didn't have multiple classes, so the wizard kinda takes on a lot of the other classes' attributes, but it won't be quite the same in SKHD.  I prefer another solution.

    2. Poison damage system needs change: I'll probably tweak it a little, but that'll be a "play it and see" situation.  I won't reduce both poison damage AND time with resistance-- it'll be one or the other.

    3. There should be more defensive options for other mages except frost mage: Yes, frost is a bit unbalanced.  There was stoneskin in Dark, and that'll be back in SKHD, but in general the defensive properties of the mages will be reduced in SKHD in favor of more offense, since beginner players should play the Paladin, and wizard would be considered "expert."  That presence of other classes kinda changes things.  But since original SK was wizard ONLY, it had to be accessible for all users. 

    In general, my philosophy on classes goes like this:

    Warrior: Low difficulty in early game, high difficulty in late game
    Rogue: Balanced difficulty across the entire game
    Mage: High difficulty in early game, low difficulty in late game

  • I feel like glass cannon theme and late game strong theme are conflicting each other.

    I am not sure if late game for wizard would ever be easy if there is a undodgeable attack. In late game, the damage and defense of enemies become so strong that you have to take a hit from each enemies before you kill them. Considering each shot can bring 100% hp to less than 10%hp, a room with just two lightning mages will be completely impossible for wizard to beat unless he has magic shield. This undodgeable attacks are the main reason why magic shield is necessary from the first place. If you really want mage to be strong at late game and lessen the need of magic shield, mage must have some sort of defensive ability that allow them to survive long enough till the enemies are dead.

    As you can see, if you try to think about the glass cannon aspect of mage, the late game easy aspect will have conflict with it and some goes to vice versa. I think you need to re-think about the concept of mage and choose whether you want it to have good late game or be a true glass cannon.

  • Well, I don't generally plan ahead this concretely, Pepper.  When you write a game, all your plans get shattered because actual reality ends up being dependent upon something like, say, what you tweaked the character's acceleration to be, or how wide a collision circle you gave him.

    Thus, I just go with a general idea and find the specifics when I play through the game, which I typically do over two hundred times before I show it to anyone else. :)
  • * I know my rant is really long and you must be tired for it. However, I feel this must be address so that it might help you fix some problem that occurs in old SK and SB
    **dodgeable means it is theoretically possible to be avoided by either moving, using terrain, or destroying the projectile.

    Sir, this is a feedback of an existing game, not some new game that is not completed yet. I don't talk much about paladin or rogue balance stuff because I have never tried them before. Mage, on the other hand, is pretty much all I can try at this point. Considering I have been playing this class since high school, I don't think it's that much of planning ahead. 

    Character's acceleration and collision is NOT the variables that need to be considered in this topic at the moment. The un-dodgeable attacks do not care about how fast a character move or how big the hitbox is. It just hit the player unless the player is invulnerable. 

    Your general concept of "glass cannon late game beast that has little to no defensive capability" generally works on other game like binding of isaac or league of legend but not in Solomon's Keep. 
    In binding of isaac, all attacks are dodgeable in some way that you can complete the game with a character that has 1 hp all the time(The lost). 
    In League of Legend, enemies in the late game does not become tanky unless they build tank items so it is easy for a glass cannon with no defensive ability to kill off dangerous targets before getting killed first. 
    In Solomon's Keep, glass cannon with no defensive ability is an automatic "you lose" because enemies are not only really powerful and sometime undodgeable(Unholy and lightning mage) but also really tanky enough to survive before it kills you. 

    Another downside of undodgeable attacks is that it make player feel the game was rigged from the start. If you look at really difficult games like super meat boy or getting over it with bennett foddy, they give challenges that looks ridiculous at first glance. As you play, you start to learn how to deal with the challenge and feel accomplished in some way. In Solomon's Keep, no matter what you do, you are at the mercy of RNG to not have room full of sneaky lightning mages or Unholy charging 4 times or more in a row. This game should not be some Heartstone where we are at the mercy of RNG or a cosmic horror game where we feel weak and tiny. This is an action RPG that we can overcome whatever the fate gives us if we are good enough. For an action RPG game like this, there shouldn't be 100% undodgeable attacks which can 1 or 2 shot a character.

    My point is that your general idea(two main concepts of mage class) have some serious flaws that will make certain negative aspect(making magic shield necessary and fixing the meta) of the old Keep return into SKHD. Before you reduce the defensive aspect of mages, you must make sure to alleviate some needs of defense for the mage by making all attacks dodgeable, decrease the enemies' power or defense, or just give up and give some defensive skills for mages. 
  • What I'm trying to say, Pepper, is that since SKHD is a rewrite from the bottom up (new collision system, new everything), it's impossible for me to know until I get it into a fully playable state (with all monsters, etc) what needs are going to show up.  I mean, IF the better collision system had some sort of domino effect and things ended up such that Magic Shield could be eliminated completely, I would do so. 

    I know it's hard to imagine that such a domino effect is possible, but in original Keep, you cannot push back against monsters at all.  In Solomon Dark, you can slightly, and in SKHD there's actually a strength factor involved.  These miniscule differences have a huge butterfly effect on gameplay that just can't be predicted.  I've done this many a time-- it results from tiny changes are so chaotic that anything more than general planning is worthless.  And by "general" I mean as general as "let's try not to make Magic shield so incredibly necessary."

    Incidentally, original Keep didn't originally have multiple difficulties.  It was balanced for a single run at Solomon and added difficulties were added lated.  The student difficulty of original keep can DEFINITELY be won without Magic Shield.
  • You are right with the domino effect and i am not disagreeing that. The problem that does not care the collison box and other stuff is the skeletal lightning mage and the Unholy (any other monster besides those two are dependent on the many other factors like you said). Both of them have an attack that never misses no matter what your collision box is or your speed is. My point is those undodgeable attacks by lightning mage and the unholy are one of the reason why magic shield is necessary. Of course there are other reasons for magic shield phenomenon but those are the part where domino effect comes in. I recommend to either remove the homing property of those two attacks or lower thier damage in late game.
  • Well, again, it's something I'll have to actually play to see... another solution might present itself (for instance, pillars, etc, in the rooms that can be used to block line of sight). 
  • edited November 19
    What about the unholy’s charge attack? That is something that you cannot deal with pillars(if there is any) or line of sight unless you have blizzard beam with max chill wind(this strategy is stupid. All you do is push the unholy away so that it does not see you at all. Of course if you hear the mumble of the unholy... you will get charged constantly and die no matter what)
  • @Pepper, you know I'm doing a 100% rewrite, right?  I'm not lifting old code and old behaviors and putting them in, I'm coding it all from scratch. The machines are much more powerful now, more complex behaviors are possible.
  • I am sorry for going too far. I just wanted to help you out in any way i can. I’ll wait and see how it goes when i get to try it. I wish your work on rwk and sb goes smoothly. And also... ... please don’t overdo. I don’t want to see dire raptis for new boss in skhd. :)
  • You didn't go too far-- I just don't know how to say more than I've made a note of this and when the time comes I'll deal with it.  I assume you'll be in the beta, and can weigh in then.  You are identifying real problems, and your solutions are often pretty good, but they're SKOriginal problems, and  a lot of these problems arose out of the memory and cpu limitations of the iPhone 1.

    The new code is going to be so different that a lot of these issues could just resolve "naturally." 
  • I would add for the boneyard, the fact that a character has magic shield as basic skill or not makes way too big a difference. That's the reason why Wazoo is virtually the only used character in late game. Sure you can use the 'magic shield too' perk, but that's one very precious perk slot that you cannot use for something else. 
  • Just tried this and it works - Enabled Creepy Hand Perk (3 rings), wear 3 X 45% Dmg Resistance Rings, and you will get MAX 95% Damage Resistance.

    While up against the 3rd Unholy, he will do so litter damage to you that Magic Shield becomes negligible and I didn't even turn it on. Generally the orbs will be more than sufficient for you to recover your health.

    Downside during that run was my Dmg wasn't enough and i spent more than an hour killing that Unholy. The imps will also STOP dropping any kind of loot including orbs after an hour or so.
  • Here are the problems:
    1. It would be very unlikely to get 95% dmg resist in SKHD for mage cuz of Mr. Raptis' direction of balancing mage.
    2. Poison and Lightning mages on higher level of keep don't give a damn .(I've tried 95% dmg resist and yet they do kill me quite quickly without magic shield)
    3. Some bosses don't make imps like Unholy (Monoculous for example)
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