A Solution to Damage Scaling and Game Balance that I'm sure you'll all hate

One of the newer threads got me thinking about game balance and it became pretty clear to me that it wouldn’t be very hard to balance the game and eliminate power creep by doing the following:

Regardless of the weapons and gear a character has equipped and skills, enemies should have their own mechanism like health gating. In this case no damage, be it DOT, melee, splash, or basic projectile inclusive of critical hits, should do more than a set percentage of damage to the enemy. The percentage value would decrease with each additional player (including pets/ minions) so no matter how many attackers there are, the rate of damage stays the same.

What this would mean is top gear and builds would all have the same ceiling, and inferior ones would under-perform in comparison, but the degree of difference wouldn’t have to be as extreme, and HP values wouldn’t have to be adjusted so much. If the intent for a particular boss fight is for it to last through x number of phases, so you see all the varying attack animation, and it last a certain length of time, sans immunity phases, this would be a method.

Yes, this means there would be no more one-shots or any boss melting, and combat balance could be set so a variety of skills and gear are viable from early game to end game. The cost would be losing that ability to play the game as if you’re in God Mode if you have the right build and gear. But balancing like this would also make for a more varied playing experience in terms of gear and builds if handled appropriately. Using the same mechanic in the Dueling system (or BL1 style arenas if they ever come back) would make those modes better as well.

Thoughts?

Imho old mayhem 4 was going the right way

What ruined it in M2.0 is the weaponscaling…

They could just throw scaling out the door again but then there also is a need to rescale mayhem.

Something like Diablo 3’s difficulty scaling

But at this point in time i don’t see GBX reworking mayhem yet again.

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Something like I’m suggesting would be across the board for all difficulty levels. The damage cap on an enemy would be a percentage or their listed HP. Each Mode (Easy, Regular, NVHM, TVHM, Mayhem 1-11) could have a different percentage value set. The challenge would be first setting fixed Max HP and Damage values, and then working backwards from there. Start with what you want the toughest Enemy to be, and what the best weapons to use against that enemy to be, and then work backwards in reasonable increments to assign values to every weapon and boss less powerful than that.

That would be the way to balance a future game, or an eventual remaster or remake of an old one. But setting a fixed damage cap/ or multi-stage health gate on enemies could be something developers could plug into the existing game to nerf OP builds without touching individual weapons.

Think of it as lowering the damage ceiling globally. That would also make it possible to raise the damage floor for whole classes of weapons without boosting the OP ones in those categories.

You’re kinda right. I don’t exactly hate it, but I do dislike it and don’t think it’d work very well.
So, instead of nerfing outliers and balancing gear, you suggest capping damage, which would instantly make all gear above a certain point worthless - gear like the high mayhem exclusive and dlc exclusive gear, such as monarch and plasma coil - but you’re doing it in a weird way. Instead of just setting a max output, you’re scaling it to enemies, so if I have a max level, max mayhem VH with the best gear, every attack I make would do the same to any enemy, whether its a level 1 grunt or a level 72 badass? It’d do 5% of HP, for example, and no more?
So, weak enemies would be even more worthless and ignorable, while the biggest bosses would be easier in comparison and people would focus on them. Takedowns would suck, while save-quit farming would be the meta. That’s the nightmare borderlands has been trying to get away from in the past couple of games, so hell no.

Also, we already have enemies like this, bosses with immune phases. You do massive amounts of damage, but their health only drops to the next immune phase, and then you carry on. Most players seem to dislike it, so I’m not sure why you’d do something similar with all enemies, especially when it’d be so much easier to remove most scaling in the game and just balance all the gear.

But more than that, if you cap damage, all you do is shift the meta (all metas, for all VHs) away from slow-and-powerful weapons (Jakobs) to fast-and-weak ones (vladof), since they’d now do the same damage per shot but fast weapons would fire more shots. You’d still need to rebalance all the gear in the game, but even more so, because suddenly fire rate becomes the best stat.

3 Likes

i will one up you on a good solution

you ■■■■■■■ balance the gear for unscaled game and then introduce a daamge reduction slider %bar and everyone can choose how much harder they want their game to become via yeah yeah yeah making enemies tankier

and then people would be able to host a game naming it 100% DR or 200% or whatever and evryone who joins the game has same level gear that does same damage but if their build and synergy is not good enough they can not deal with the hosts selection and leave or if they can deal with it everyone has fun co op experience

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Well, the slider idea is neat, but is there really an issue here? If the game is proving difficult for you, play at a lower Mayhem level. You aren’t required to play at Mayhem 10. Some gear is gated to Mayhem 6, but it’s not required. Stay where you are comfortable, and work your way up if you feel like it.

If the game is too easy, there are lots of things you can do to adjust the difficulty.

  1. Turn off Guardian ranks and/or abilities. This can make a huge difference at higher Mayhem levels.
  2. Play at Mayhem 10 with random modifiers. Don’t pick and choose what you are comfortable with.
  3. Use gear from lower Mayhem levels. I do this when I play with friends who are not comfortable with higher Mayhem or don’t have super effective builds.
  4. Use non-optimal gear. You don’t need a plasma coil on every character.

The options are there to find the difficulty you like. Unless you’re Lazydata. There is no difficulty level high enough for him. :smile:

Edited for typos and addition of point 4.

5 Likes

way to completely miss the point this is all designed against gear scaling a guy who plays m8 can not join and play someone’s m10 co op with adequate gear

also i dno why you bring it up but i have already done many self gimping in bl3 and it is not a way to create difficulty and you do not have to be lazy or anyone there are plenty of players who can and do obliterate content

You’ve got the mechanic a little confused, and that may be the fault of my explanation because I did talk about two aspects of what I thought would work:

A max cap on damage for any particular damage output across the board (but not for every weapon, just a limit to what can be done in general).

A max cap on how much damage can be done to an enemy at a point in time (instance of damage inflicted as in a shot or melee strike) to reduce the impact of multiplicative damage. That number would be a percentage of their total HP, and would vary with enemy types based on their expected difficulty tier. The games have damage reduction based on being being under-leveled, this would be along those lines where each enemy can only be hurt so much at xyz rate. It’s basically me trying to suggest creating a ever-present DPS regulator that varies with enemy types to tune their difficulty. This is independent of the Max Damage Cap, but set with that number in mind so enemies aren’t annoying bullet sponges and no fun, or boring loot pinatas that burst in one shot (when playing on level with on level gear) unless they are intended to be that way like Mother of Dragons or The (other) Traitor.

The goal would be to keep gear from getting OP to the point of being game-breaking (the source of much of the power creep) and also making enemy encounters feel appropriately lengthy &/ or challenging.

Between these two ratios the DPS is regulated, but not flattened. Max level “best in slot” gear would remain the top of the food chain, but as I said, the ceiling would be lowered so that gear wouldn’t be OP, it would be very effective. So instead of one-shotting bosses and having damage output that in exponentially higher than any enemy in the game, the best/ meta builds and gear will result in minimal difficulty if you aren’t goofing off and playing super reckless.

What I would be proposing is removing immunity phases altogether. This is a way to make bosses melt-able across the board, but the rate at which they melt would have a set speed based on the difficulty they are assigned by developers. My goal with this scaling idea is for the game play to be continuous, but also to showcase the game play mechanics in the game that get overlooked when people speed through enemy encounters that are intended to be more engaging without them being artificially extended by immunity phases or excessive amounts of HP being assigned to enemies to counter easily exploited weapon and skill synergies.

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Absolutely get rid of immunity phases, but don’t do this either.
People wrongfully harp on skill points for killing build diversity, but this would be a silver bullet to the brain.

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Sorry, misunderstood what you were looking for. I do believe the game scales for players of different level in a group, but doesn’t scale based on the Mayhem level of their gear.

And been hearing way too often lately that “B3 is too easy” and went off on a bit of a tangent
there. :slight_smile:

Isn’t this just sponge enemies with extra steps? They could also introduce m12 where all gear stays at m10 but enemies get some ridiculous health booster.

Either way, the problem is less about the damage you can do or the damage enemies can take and more about most fights not actually being difficult.

I would happier accept enemies doing m10 damage again or if we’re talking future games, have insane number of mobs (ala Outriders) and actually challenging bosses (the 1st boss in GTD has a somewhat interesting fight mechanic, the dragons from BL2 - any raid Boss from BL2, really).

:grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

The way I am thinking, this would increase build diversity. There would be no OP builds to push people towards using them, and off-meta builds that are weak would benefit from the increased number of skill points so additional boosts can be cherry-picked to make them more practical.

If anything the goal of this idea is to just curb anything being so OP it pulls the game in that direction (a weakness of BL2 and BL3) so that people change the way they play the game across the board. It would probably make the game play loop more consistent for everyone if implemented correctly, but the weakness and strength of builds and gear would still be proportional, sans the OP outliers. And encounters would be of reasonable length to showcase all the work that went into their design.

Actually no. This isn’t a arbitrary amount of HP to extend a fight because damage scaling is totally out of whack to make it seem like a substantial enemy encounter. It’s a way of pacing the enemy encounters without stopping the action so players can get the full experience.

So, instead of having a free-for-all, and using speed bumps, I’m saying have a maximum and minimum speed limit and regulate the speed of street legal vehicles so we can drive at high rates of speed, or slower speeds, and not wreck the gaming experience.

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That still sounds like a way to extend the fight duration. Maybe I’m misunderstanding the approach.

In my thinking it’s a ratio we are setting, and based on how that ratio is set, it will definitely effect fight duration, but only to showcase dynamic phases of a boss battle, but for the sake of drawing it out. If there aren’t dynamic phases of a boss battle with unique play loops and animations, in my opinion it shouldn’t be extended. That would just be boring. As suggested before, adding multiple enemies or mobs to the boss encounter would be how you extend that battle to make it more varied.

I’m no mathematician but here’s how I’m thinking:

So let’s say the Seer is meant to be the more durable boss in the game. And it’s got the highest total of HP, and that number is 10 million HP (I am just making that number up).


As a gameplay designer I’d want to establish that the most powerful weapon in the game can kill the Seer with one critical hit. That weapon will be the R.Y.N.A.H.

So a crit with the RYNAH is going to be 10M HP

A standard impact from the RYNAH would be 10M HP reduced by the critical multiplier, lets say x2 (200% of a noncritical hit).

So the base damage for the RYNAH is 5M

The ammo cost of the RYNAH being 8 Rockets the base damage of a standard rocket launcher would be 5M/8

So a single shot from a launcher that costs one round would do 625K damage.

Every subsequent weapon class would tiered based on how comparable they are to a shell from a launcher, and does not exceed it. So:

Launcher = L
Sniper = 40% of L
Shotgun = 35% of L
Machine Gun = 30% of L
Handgun = 25% of L
Sub Machine Gun = 20% of L
All ratios are for a single round

With all applicable perks, multiple rounds, elemental bonuses, skill boosts etc, no single shot from these weapons shouldn’t exceed 10M HP.


Now as for the enemy health gate… well if our tankiest boss has 10M HP, and we determine that he can be downed with a Crit doing that amount of damage, our limitations use the values for the most powerful weapon (the RYNAH) as the limits on how much damage that boss can be dealt at a single time.

Crit damage is capped at 10M (this is also the global damage cap)
Non critical attacks are capped at 5M

each subsequent enemies’ damage caps and HP as scaled proportional to how difficult/ strong they are supposed to be compared to the big boss. That’s what I mean by applying a DPS regulator.

Doing this allows for the fight mechanic to be influenced more by the movement speed of an enemy, the accessibility of their crit spots, placement and use of cover etc. It makes gear and builds impactful, but not altogether game breaking. They augment the nature of the encounters, but the encounters become showcases for actual game play, and not just mathematics.

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Ah, just what we need, enemies to take even longer to kill and be even more tedious! To force a limited power ceiling on players so that they can never be stronger than the devs believe they should be!

I am of the opinion that they should get rid of health gating and simply reduce enemy damage numbers to the player. Give enemies interesting defensive/mobility abilities such as physical shields, body armor, teleportation, elemental damage trails etc. so that enemies are unique and have their own interesting mechanics instead of simply giving them a crapton of HP as their only means of defense along with the ability to deal more damage than you have health and shields in a single blow. Giving enemies enhanced versions of the only thing that keeps players alive is not going to help anything given that a major problem with most bosses is that, after a certain difficulty level, they have so much HP it takes literally 10 minutes to kill them with nonstop fire.

Don’t build a ceiling with people who break the game in mind. Build a game that everyone can play and have fun with. Who the hell cares if someone uses a broken build to kill a boss in 20 seconds. Let them play their way.

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This.

Let’s say you cap the damage a single instance can do. You still have to account for Shot Fuse, bonus elements, hollowpoints, bonus elements applying on top of hollowpoints, UTD DOTs, ■■■■ like Ionic Disruptor Moze which uses a melee nova to create a melee DOT that feeds into a gun damage DOT that procs Short Fuse.

Point being, there are plenty of ways to do billions of damage in more than 1 instance in rapid succession.

2 Likes

My last reply addresses that. The idea of a cap is limiting all damage of any sort to the cap. If max damage HP is 10M, that’s what it is no matter how you build to it. The excess is fluff. But getting to that max wouldn’t be impossible, or the meta.

Since acceleration and whiplash don’t apply in this metaphor, I’d rather drive at 100mph in 5 second increments, than a consistent 30mph.
With this kind of damage cap, you’re forcing a Ferrari to hold back enough for an Oldsmobile to keep up. When there’s a cap, how good your car (build) is matters significantly less.
The solution isn’t longer roads (spongey HP), red lights/speed bumps (immunity phases), or speed limits (damage caps). If there IS a solution, or even improvement, to be had in regards to game difficulty/balance, I believe it lies in figuring out the game equivalent of the “S-turn” and other skill-based obstacles. But that would require investing in dynamic AI and probably better code/coders.

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Sorry man, I think i hear where you’re coming from, in that you want everyone on the team to be able to participate - instead of 1 or 2 players doing all the damage and others si.ply being there - but the approach you recommend would result in more fights like the raid version of the hag of fervor.

I played that fight with full group and we were all equally tickling her. Phrasing aside, it was as if we all had a cap that we could not go over so in a way, we were all participating but it was boring as hell. The hag didnt pose any danger, neither of us died. It was 30 minutes of continuous shooting. It was boring.

I second Jordan’s sentiment that we need more enemies with interesting mechanics, and I stand by having enemies do m10 damage or higher to create challenge for min-maxers and open up possibility for less damage outputting players to play support.

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In the third section of my next to last post that’s what I’m getting at.

I think the presumption everyone has is that the ceiling is being set by Broken gear, and the floor is going to make white rarity gear viable. That’s not balance, so what I am getting at is, what makes gear and builds broken is their ability to output more damage than the enemies in the game can absorb. To balance this we have seen nerfs, power creep, and bullet sponge bosses being added to the game.

Instead of going through that ridiculous cat and mouse game*, design the scaling so the pace of play can be balanced. Set high water mark, and gear and builds are scaled from there downward relative to how strong they are intended to be. In that sandbox people can do what they want, and if they are skilled enough, they can find a way to reach that damage cap and it will be extremely effective, but also require some skill to make use of.

Using my example, hitting the Seer with a Crit from the RYNAH would be the bar for a one-shot kill in the game. The most damaging thing you can do in the game, which would also require some skill depending on how they decide to engineer the mechanics of that fight. Maybe the Seer’s crit point is only accessible during a particular animation, or phase of an attack? Maybe it’s only open via a chain reaction cause by an environmental variable, or a damage animation to a mob enemy? I don’t want Master Gee, or anything resembling that.

Actually the opposite. There shouldn’t be any bosses that are that bloated with HP. My thinking with this is that if you have on level gear the HP for a boss should be reasonable and the only thing extending the fight is the quality of that gear and your build. But it shouldn’t make it a snorefest chore if you don’t have legendaries and an off-meta build. So rather than making everything a Raid because of power creep, eliminate power creep while preserving power and build diversity? Maybe my methodology is hamfisted? But the idea is to make it so you can play the game with anything on level and with skill/ strategy in how you actually play, win an enemy encounter. One that will seldom end in unplanned one-shot, but should never take forever, unless done so by intention like some oddball challenge run to melee kill the Ruiner or something?

*(which from a business perspective, probably increases player engagement over longer periods of time in newer games with shorter shelf lives)

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