Larian LeQuella’s Buffbot Manifesto
I don’t Hate them, I want to Make there be a Risk associated with them!
Summary: Buffers inside
PK's, Keeps, Relic Keeps and behind Realm Gates (in general, any area where
they would influence RvR without being in direct danger) would have their buffs
go gray (they would still be there but they would not give the benefit) on a
person after the buffer stayed in that location for X minutes, AND if the person
that they buffed is Y units away (in this case, X and Y are both variables
definable by Mythic).
What this means is:
1) Buffers in open-field RvR have no range on their buffs.
2) Buffers in keeps either defending or attacking are able to keep their groups completely buffed.
3) Buffers who buff their groups in a PK/Keep/etc don't have to recast these buffs if they stay in that location for a long time (like staging for a relic raid).
First, let me start out by saying that I am not against buffbots per se, but rather the way they are implemented. Whether or not they have a great or negligible effect on RvR combat bears no real relevance to the discussion (except in one on one encounters), but rather the effect they have on the game itself is why I feel so passionately about this issue. The most damaging factor of buffbots lie in two populations. Those without buffbots, who feel constantly outclassed and as if they are the underdog (whether they truly are or not). The second population is any potential new customers to the game. As it is, investing in a new game is a daunting task, but to be told that now you need tow copies of the game, all the expansions, and the subscription, and that customer may very well look elsewhere.
So how do we keep buffbots as paying accounts, while minimizing their impact? Well, as Mythic employees have repeatedly said, buffbots really don’t have that much effect on the large scale RvR that the game is geared towards, however, how do the customers feel? This is probably the trickiest part, since feelings are not measurable in any accurate sense. I will just draw from my 2 ½ years of playing DAoC and reading many forums, and talking to many players. People either loathe buffbots or they love them. The folks that don’t care about them one way or the other of course, tend not to share their opinions, so they fall outside the scope of this manifesto.
Thos who love the buffbots must in some way believe that they do indeed provide an advantage to them. Why else spend all the time and money to have one? Even if it is a marginal benefit, it is still a benefit! Thos that loathe them, do so not because they provide a benefit (they will acknowledge that), but that it provides an unfair benefit. It goes against the Spirit of the game so to speak. And remember, perceptions are sometimes more powerful than reality!
There is also an argument saying that there really aren’t that many bots out there. I would wager to say that this is a delusional reaction on the part of the company. I know a LARGE number of people who own bot accounts. Within my guild alone, there are at least 4 bot accounts. In many other guilds, there are even more (an average of 5-7 accounts per guild). That of course is just counting the folks who admit to it! Just on my server alone, in my realm, I personally know at least of 120 bot accounts (and I am not a particularly “connected” person online either, so my knowledge would only be a small percentage of the bot accounts)! Also, one no longer needs 2 computers to play a bot, just one that is particularly powerful (with alt-tabbing and parking the bot in a small room, you are free to create havoc all over Emain while feeling like superman).
Well, how do we allow the players to have their cake and eat it too? The solution is to allow those who loathe buffbots the opportunity to have an effect on those who use them. Having the buffbot as a risk free benefit grates on a sense of fair play and justice. While some may argue that buffbots are vulnerable to things like Volley or a Trebuchet, the mechanics of both those are so cumbersome as to make the buffbot all but immune. Also, with the changes to border keeps, those areas are indeed totally immune to enemy player repercussions. At the same time, make no penalty to those who actually DO play their characters.
Now, I am not a game designer, but I do believe I have stumbled upon an elegant solution that should help those who feel slighted have an effect, while still allowing buffboting people to use them. The elegant part is that it should have minimal, if any effect, on active support classes.
This idea does require some explanation, and of course, I am not a game designer, so there may need to be some refinement, but overall, it should be implemented as soon as possible! The basic premise of the idea is that since there are such powerful magics involved around the Border Keeps and the Portal Keeps, concentration based casters are unable to hold their concentration for extended periods of time. The implementation is simple. Within a certain radius of Keeps, Border Keeps and Portal Keeps, once a concentration based buff is cast, a timer starts. If the caster of that buff remains inside the “disruptive zone”, and the target is outside a certain range, over a certain period of time, they lose concentration and the buffs Grey Out until they leave the zone (or recast them, starting the timer again). To further assist folks that play active support classes, while supporting the concept of Risk vs. Rewards, the disruptive fields only take effect once the target of the buffs is further than a specified number of units away (and outside the time limit). This would prevent bots from being parked in held keeps or Relic Keeps as well. Making the timer at about 10 minutes would be enough for folks to buff up a group prior to moving out, while waiting on a relic raid or whatnot, but still not allow a buffbot to sit at the keep with impunity. The distance doesn’t need to be too great since it takes a combination of both sitting in a keep and distance to activate the effect. Perhaps 5,000 in-game units as seen on these maps?
Included are a couple of diagrams to show where these “disruptive zones” are located at. Since I am most familiar with Emain (who isn’t?), I’ll use that as an example.
The red areas show the zones around the Portal Keeps (and for normal keeps and such, the border can conform to the boundary that defines when you enter that keep). If someone from Midgard or Albion wanted to buffbot in Emain, they would have to find an out of the way place to “hide” them. While it makes it significantly more difficult for an invading realm to buffbot, that is really as it should be.
As for a home realm buffbotting, that will take a little more. Since going from the home lands to the frontier doesn’t require zoning, an additional step is required. There will still be a “disruptive zone” around the border keep (as in this image):
Again, it works the same as the Portal Keep, but to prevent the bots from being inaccessible to other players, there are “curtains” of disruptive magic at each Border Keep (Druim Cain and Druim Ligen) that effectively strip off all buffs as if the person just zoned (they “Grey Out” until you get beyond the disruptive zone [assuming you get too far away from the buffer], or they are recast, starting the timer).
The red lines here are the “curtains” that effectively strip the buffs from a player (if they are too far from their buffer). Effectively, the player and their bot need to pass through the curtain, get the buffs, then travel beyond the disruptive zone in order to be botted effectively. And of course, active players can still muster at the frontier side of a Border Keep, buff their party, and have 10 minutes (or however long) to move out. Thus, there being a transparent effect for those support classes that are actively played.
This can also create whole new strategies and ways of hunting, that could revitalize some aspects of RvR. While it will not “eliminate” buffbots and such, it does give the non-buffboting character a chance to have an effect on the situation! That is where the biggest frustration lies in my opinion.
Of course, I have NO IDEA how Frontiers will effect my ideas, but again, I see this being a good step in the right direction. Buffboters are able to continue using them (albeit with some restrictions or modifications), new players coming to the game are enticed because they don’t feel helpless in this aspect, and there can be “Bot Hunting Squads” to affect the game as well. Please feel free to provide me feedback at Larian@LarianLeQuella.com on how I can make this document better and more clear. Also feel free to pressure Mythic to implement this idea. Thank you for reading.
Some additional discussions from E-mails and such that I have received.
Thank you for your feedback. As I have often said, I don't want to make Buffbots useless, so it takes a combination of Time in a Keep AND Distance to cause the buffs to grey out. What it means is you just need to be smarter in using your bot. As long as the bot is NOT parked in a keep, there is NO range associated with a buffs.
Hide the bot in the terrain, bushes, amongst friendly faction mobs, etc. The whole Idea is to place bots into the same Risk vs. Rewards system that everyone else must work under. Hope that helps.
From: Kajin Stormbear
I agree that something needs to be done about buffbots.
My fear is that they will wind up simply making all buffs have a range (like the Midgardian End Buff) and call the problem solved.
I was wondering if you could, as you have a far better grasp on balance than I, review he following solution and perhaps, if it is to your liking, pass it on.
First Rule (self imposed):
ANY solution to fixing the 'buffbot issue' can neither hurt, reduce, or lessen the impact and/or role a active buffing class plays on the battlefield. (active buffing class = non-bot)
Lets be frank. Folks that spec to buff typically can only do that. buff and heal. (and in midgard, it's not good healing either :P). Reducing the potency of these classes that are already very weak in anything outside of their core skills is just a bad idea. People that play a buffing class like to be able to feel like they can make a real difference.
Somethings these are small, but Str-buffing a person to hell and back so they can transport wood for a ram, or to repairs doors. While they may not be part of my group, as a buffer, I can lend a hand there and feel good knowing it's my buffs that are what is carrying that load.
Ranged buffs would take this away.
But, this does not mean that buffbots are not actually an issue, as they ARE and anyone with half a brain knows they ARE.
What we need is a solution that meets the criteria above but
1: Discourages use of buffbots.
2: Incents more people to play active buffing classes.
Cause a certain percentage of RP's a person gains (3-5% or adjust as needed) per conc. buff to be culled and transfered to the buffer from the buffee.
This means that someone who fully buffbots will be sacrificing anywhere from 20-45% of the RPs they gain simply to be buffbotted.
If the buffer is not with-in 1-2 zones, the RPs are not transfered, they simply vanish.
If the buffer is grouped with the buffee, standard RP group split rules (equal split for all members) apply.
This could potentially make for 'stronger buffbots' however, as buffs have a hard-cap, after MoA4 you are all done anyway and RP's do buffbots very little good.
1) Changes group dynamics to incent groups to use an active buffer. It makes buffing classes wanted and needed in groups.
2) Makes it very painful for buffbot classes to progress.
3) Makes playing a buffing class more rewarding in RvR. You'll feel very good seeing messages like: "Your buffs on XXX have earned you 42 RPs and 1 bountypoint!." as death-spam rolls by.
I'd like to get your thoughts on this potential solution, and if you like it, to press forward with it as you see fit.
From: Some Guy (I guess he wanted to be anon)
Why not let people pay extra to get a buffbot type NPC (especially if they don't have a powerful machine or an extra box)?
Pay Mythic a Fee of like $25 to "Activate" your account. Then you have to pick from a menu of spells (I'll use Hibernia since I play a Bard) that adds to the monthly total that they have to add to their account. Like this:
Might of the Redwood - $2/month
Superior Skin of the Redwood - $2/month
Dexterity of the Wolf - $2/month
Redwood's Girth - $2/month
Hunter's Assault - $3/month
Strength of the Timberland - $3/month
Zephyr's Dance - $3/month
Nature's Vision - $3/month
Spinesprout - $3/month
Nature's Fend (Warden BT) - $1/month
So in order to have EVERYTHING, a guy is paying Mythic like $24/month extra! You can even restrict it, so that you can only tag this on ONE character per account if Mythic really wants to make a ton of cash (since that's all they care about!)
You basically put some sort of NPC at each Portal Keep and Border Keep that they click to get all the buffs from, and then they are off on their merry way.
What do you think?