I apologize that this response is so delayed, it's been super busy around here! To answer your question properly it requires a bit of history, so this is a little lengthy.
The decision to have only a single damage stat, but two defensive stats, was one that we arrived at through quite a bit of experimentation and iteration. At the root of the issue is having Magic and Physical damage. Very early on in development everyone did one damage type, there was one damage stat, and there was one defensive stat. It was all very clear, which was great, but we found it put some awkward constraints on us from a balancing perspective that we weren't super happy with.
For example, burst mages like Amarynth get really shut down by Magic Resist since small differences in percentage mitigation mean a great deal. Items that have Magic Resist and Health on them are especially problematic, as this provides a multiplicative effective health increase. If a full spell combo from Amarynth takes someone to 25% instead of 0%, its the difference between her succeeding or getting destroyed. In comparison, if after several seconds a ranged carry like Mikella takes someone to 25%, it's not a huge issue, she just auto attacks them again and kills them.
The way that different characters deal damage, and the associated risk vs reward with burst vs sustained damage, meant that from an itemization perspective we needed the flexibility to do different things. Such as (these are high level generalizations, we break these rules in some cases): avoid MR + Health, but allow Armor+Health combos. Make MR should difficult to itemize for in general, such that an upper-bound of MR is ~200, whereas Armor is allowed to be much more easily itemized, such that you could have an upper-bound of ~300.
So why do we have people do Physical vs Magical damage if it creates the above itemization needs? Well, basically for the same reasons. For the burst cast archetype to scale well and succeed, we need to limit the amount of mitigation you can get such that they can still effectively burst you for a good chunk even if you have some defenses. With only one defensive stat, it meant that you either couldn't build a sufficient amount of it to protect against sustained damage of ADCs and the like, without shutting down burst casters or that you would protect decently from burst casters but then get vaporized by ADCs.
The above is just one example of many. Another example (and the reason why all basic attacks do Physical damage, even on mages like Amarynth) is to help balance ranged shapers vs melee ones in lane. Basic attacks in lane are very powerful, as they're not cooldown or resource limited. To help protect against this, we provide scaling Armor on every shaper in the game. We didn't want this balancing against basic attacks to have an effect on casters though, which is another reason separating the damage types provides flexibility. Additionally, melee shapers by nature of their close range requirement often have to go into range of enemy abilities as well as soak up incidental AoE damage more often than their ranged counterparts. This is why melee shapers gain per level MR, but ranged shapers do not.
There's more examples as well, but to keep this from going on for too long I'll summarize with we eventually decided on having some characters deal Magic Damage and others Physical, with Magic Resist and Armor to go along with them, for the purpose of giving us better levers to balance the game with. Now, when it comes to the stat that your damage scales with, that was independent of your damage type, such that we could combine that into one without creating any issues. In fact, not only was it not problematic, it was often very beneficial, as it allowed for more flexible itemization where more items were viable on more shapers.
It also provided one of my design goals which was to make basic attacks something that mages could still take advantage of. One of the aspects of Dota I really enjoy is that my auto attacks and ability to orb walk are meaningful, even on a character like the Queen of Pain. Likewise, in League of Legends when I am playing a mage I am often sad that the auto attack is basically removed from the kit, as it is a fundamental part of the game and an enjoyable ability to use. This is often why Xypherous, the designer of some of my favorite LoL champs, has the passive of pretty much 100% of his characters be something related to making the basic attack remain interesting. For some LoL characters, like Katarina, they accomplish this by having magic damage scale with AD (remember 5 BF sword kat?) but this has its own issues such as no AD items that have Magic Penetration on them. Another example is AD Assassins, who due to AD scaling naturally scale their autos and can take advantage of AD + ArPen items, but they have the issue brought up in the beginning of this novel where naturally high scaling Armor and easy Armor itemization shuts them down, leading to resorting to extremes like Kha'Zix's really high base values, or Zed just getting 20% increased AD for free just to make them viable.
TL;DR: Damage Type and Damage Mitigation had big impacts on balance, where as where that damage scales from and how you penetrate a defense did not. We simplified where we could in order to provide more flexibility in itemization without sacrificing game balance.
Last edited by Gasty; 06-12-2013 at 09:44 PM.
That was very detailed, thanks Gasty!
The reasoning sounds good, but if we are going to go with just power but the two types of defense, we need a method of signalling who is doing what without having to memorize every character or die to see the damage types.
To use an example of bad signalling from LoL, I direct you to Nidalee spears. Her auto attack is a spear and deals physical damage, so her Q which is just a big spear deals physical damage too right? Nope, it's magic damage. The only way to figure that out if you don't know is to die or look at guides.
There are 13 heroes and no plans to increase that number. What's the problem?
I think one way to fix the problem between physical and magical damage is to have the damage numbers have a different color. For example, physical damage can be red, while magical damage is purple.
Wrong. What the hell are you smoking?
Originally Posted by ziralix
Firstly, releasing a MOBA with 13 heroes and no plans to release more is just asking to be laughed at and fail.
Secondly, Waystone has already confirmed they have more in developent (not that a confirmation was even needed it was so obvious they are making more)
Zwill's favourite shaper right now is actually an unreleased one.
Last edited by SooperSte; 06-18-2013 at 08:30 AM.
Dying is a good way to figure out what things do - as with most games, the more you play the more you know. In Dawngate, you die and then you get a death-recap to see how you died.
Just make skills magical or physical depending on what they do... For example Voluc.
Sentinel Strike? Should be physical cleave, as it's still a physical strike with his sword.
Curse of Weakness? Well, he shoots out a shockwave, seems logical for it to be magical.
Devour? He... sucks... something out of enemies in front of him... seems magical to me.
Damnation? Damaging aura around him... implies magical.
So in my opinion using Voluc as example only one of his skills has any reason to cause confusion, and it is something I believe should be changed: Why does the cleave of physical damage turn into magical damage?
Based on what you wrote, Gastly, would it make sense to just have a single magic resist item that doubles your base magic resist when maxed, and doesn't stack?
Yeah, it sucks having some cusp where a few points of MR are the difference between living and dying, getting a kill or not getting a kill.
If there is only one item, then you know that's exactly what you need when facing strong magical nukes. Conversely, as someone dealing magic damage, you know exactly the threshold of mitigation that you're up against.
There could be one other item that does the same thing in an aura, that's a lot more expensive. Then you run the issue of "Do I wait for our support/tank to farm that up 5-10 minutes from now, or do I get my own now and sell it later?" which is a good issue to have because it adds depth and strategy.
I'm really against having so many items that are just a bunch of nearly mirrored stats, and the snowballing stats themselves are mainly what the item is for. This includes having so many items that are giving MR. I'd do away with MR on items entirely, accept for one or two that simply double it when maxed. Keep everything more focused.
I also agree with the above, that abilities should do the damage of what they LOOK like. They shouldn't do just physical because you're playing an auto attack Shaper, or Magical because you're playing a mage.
LoL started to really go down hill when they decided almost every AD hero should do physical damage AND with AD scaling on all their abilities.
It was much more novel in the beginning, where you had Marphite with his unique armor scaling, and Ashe with her unique physical scaling ability (volley) while her ult was still magic. Now it's a mess of same same same, and there are no longer stages in the game. It's just laning phase, and end of laning phase.
I do agree with mages needing to have powerful basic attacks. That really bothered me in LoL, that they don't, accept against towers.
Last edited by innociv; 06-23-2013 at 03:52 AM.
I play a lot of Amarynth, and I would say that I don't think the separate stats really help her that much. Also, I find that my auto-attack as Amarynth is always pitiful in any situation that doesn't involve minions or towers (and even then, it is still noticeably weaker than what others can do). Against another player, if I find myself auto-attacking, that means I'm about to die.
Gasty, rather than having armor and magic resistance, did y'all ever consider giving mages like Amarynth true damage on her abilities? If she didn't have to worry about the magic resistance of enemies, she could ignore penetration items and really focus on haste and power...which should make her quite competitive. I'm sure this change would require rebalancing, but I think it might better achieve what you're after with the split defensive stats instead of one approach.
As it is, Amarynth isn't going to wow anybody with her auto-attack damage or speed (regardless of what she does to boost it), so if she is going to live and die by her abilities, then she might be better off if they just get the job done no matter what type of tank the enemy has built. Though, I suppose if someone is really worried about Amarynth, then they could always just ignore armor and go for as much health as possible.