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Thread: Why Bard must be redesigned for the expansion

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    Ascendant Europe's Avatar
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    Default Why Bard must be redesigned for the expansion

    First of all, I'm not going to yell at anybody about how bad bard is. This is because it's perfectly clear at this point. It's also easier for me, because I never had to play bard. I guess Arizhel can add the rage if he wants to later on.

    Let's start with the less extreme form of the question. Why should bard be redesigned for the expansion? The conclusion to my argument is clearly 'Bard must be redesigned...', so let's reason backwards.

    1. It's not fun to play a bard.

    Now, this is painting with broad strokes, so we need to be more specific to make some sense here. Why isn't it fun to play a bard? Let's also make a note here that this heading isn't going to talk about power. It's usually fun to be powerful, but that's not the same experiential fun that this heading describes.

    For the most part, rogue players would agree that Bloodstalker and Bladedancer are fun to play. This is an assumption, but I believe it to be true. I've played a lot of BS, and had a deep (unmet) desire to play BD for ID content. There is also a new rotation for saboteur, which I have not played. However, I have heard that this rotation is fun.

    Why are these specs and their proper rotations fun? Largely because they are complex, but also because they are rewarding in their complexity (note: sadly not so true for BD). For BS, if you do it right, you do well (for your gear level). If you don't do it right, you do poorly. I understand it to be the same for saboteur; there's tremendous value in it, but if you fail to execute, you do poorly. In this way, we can probably call this 'player skill.' Rotations have player skill when it is possible to execute them poorly and consequently do poorly, and it is somewhat likely that a new player will fail at it. Conversely, when that execution is exact, the player is rewarded for that exactness.

    Now, the player skill component is pretty subjective. Some rotations are difficult for new players, and some rotations are trivial for veterans, even on their first time using them. However, this component does exist, and players seem to value it.

    Does bard require player skill? I suppose you could argue that keeping up debuffs and motifs has a skill component. It seems logical that you can have bad bards and good bards. However, are bards rewarded for differences in player skill? I think the answer is likely no. Bard is more binary than a continuum of player skill. You use your class abilities when you are able to or you do not. So, in this sense, I think you could make a case for bard not being a soul that rewards good players.

    In practice, I think you'll find across many different playstyles, a large number of players view being asked to play bard as either undesirable on playstyle grounds or insulting on ego grounds. That is, many players do not enjoy playing bard because they prefer playing a build that challenges them, or gives them a more direct role in the fight. Instead of debuffing and buffing, in which case there either is 1. not a debuff/buff up or 2. there is a debuff/buff up, they prefer to use souls that react more readily to how they are playing. The ego argument is similar; players do not want to play bard because they (and likely their guild as well) perceive bard as being the province of the poor player. Bards only affect the fight insofar as they are doing their binary duties, and many players can manage these simple tasks. Comparatively fewer players can use a build like bloodstalker or saboteur to great effect. As such, to ask a player to play as bard is often to make a statement about their overall talent level.

    At this point, we should stop and ask ourselves: is the problem that bard is a support soul? Are support souls inherently unfun? I don't think they are. You look at other games, and support souls are/were well-loved. You'll find no more nostaglic group than former EQ1 enchanters. But the difference between rift bards and EQ1 enchanters is that enchanters were on the front lines; there was nothing separating the raid's wiping and the raid's succeeding but you. You had an important job. As a bard, putting up the debuffs and keeping up the buffs does not have the urgency that an enchanter's role did.

    2. Bards are not personally powerful.

    Now, I can see this as being a controversial statement. Somebody might post, "well, just try doing a raid with no bard, then!" and in saying this, they would be right. Bards bring these buffs and debuffs, and they're good things. You want them. But there's a funny thing about buffs and debuffs: even on short durations, they're fire and forget. You put them up, and then what? What are you doing that is important during that period of time?

    The answer is that you're not doing anything important. You could do some healing, or some DPS, but you can't do very MUCH healing or very MUCH dps. It is in the design that your job is to put up those buffs and debuffs, and there is not much else in it for you. It's also worth noting that the healing you do is largely overhealing, due to the way healing works in a raid. Your healers are healing very quickly, often passively; since bard healing is passive as well, it's likely to be simple overheal. Note that this is true not just of cadence but also of coda. Oftentimes, you are simply not doing anything but insulating the raid in case the chloro or some icar is a little slow.

    So even if you can't do anything other than buff and debuff, we come back to the point that they're powerful. Shouldn't you regard yourself as a powerful asset to a raid? Shouldn't others regard you that way? In my raiding experience (and I've been raiding for, jesus, well over a decade), players don't count buffs and debuffs. That is, they're furious when the debuffs and buffs aren't up, but when they are, there is no pat on the back for having put them there. When you fire and forget, so do they. The default state of a boss is not as he is pre-pull, but as he is 15 seconds after; fully debuffed and ready to go. There is no love for getting him there.

    In essence, this is where bards lack power. Bards give players buffs and debuffs that help them significantly, but they are taken for granted. For all other members of the raid, the buffs are always there or there is a new bard. There is no "thanks for the buffs!" and there is no "good job on the healing/dps!" There is only the unspoken understanding that you did your undemanding job while others did the real work.

    What's worse is that items do not benefit bards much. Every other rogue gets to enjoy the underlying basis of the genre: you collect items and progress your character. Bards do not. That attack power and crit is going nowhere. Your buffs and debuffs do not change, and the difference between a naked bard and an ID-geared one (sans bard relic, which is bad idea that I will address later) is miniscule aside from simple HP pool. In this sense, main bards do not even really get to play the same Rift that other players do.

    3. So what?

    I think I've shown that bards aren't particularly fun and aren't regarded as powerful or respected for the power they bring. Some players might say "problem?"

    The problem is that this, along with archons, is a real issue within guilds and raids. Few players want to play bard or even archon, and oftentimes the players who do want to play these support souls are those too incompetent to even manage it. This turns into drama, where a given player might be forced to play bard or archon. and, like I said before, the implication is that you are the rogue or mage that we can best afford to swap out of a more important role. Players get "stuck." Their guilds have mentally labeled them "the bard" or "the archon" when they don't really want to play that role, but they know that they might be looking for a new guild if they refuse. I want to note here that the bard/archon relic idea WAS A TERRIBLE ONE. All these relics do is make pigeonholed players feel guilty about wanting to play something else or, if it comes to it, join another guild who will allow them to play a more fun build. Even then, if their new guild finds out they have that relic, they're back to that role they do not want to play.

    The problem simply comes back to the idea that most players do not WANT to play these souls, but guilds need these souls and find ways to make players play them, even when they don't want to. and, to restate, players don't want to play these souls because 1. they're not fun and 2. they're not personally powerful, both in terms of underappreciated abilities, intentionally underpowered abilities, and the utter inability to scale with gear.

    4. What should be done?

    The solutions are surprisingly easy to list: take most of the support class design decisions from launch, and reverse those design decisions.

    Let's go through them.

    It's fine to make bards and archons buff-oriented, but only if:
    • They are combat-related

      What I mean by this is, you apply the buff by playing your class well in the thick of combat, not just by pushing a button before combat. Note: the archon approach is not enough. Having to cast the spell on the mob does not constitute "playing well." Think about incorporating combos or procs to make the process of buffing and debuffing more interesting.
    • They are affected by gear.

      This is simple. The effectiveness of the raid buffs and debuffs should have a coefficient based on attack and spell power. The better geared your bard, the better your bard is.
    • In order to combat the binary nature of buff/debuff, give both bards and archons more personal DPS or HPS. This combines well with the idea that the buffs and debuffs are combat-oriented. You go through your personal rotation, and in the context of that rotation, are also doing your old job.

      Note: regarding bard healing, either **** or get off the pot. Either bards do appreciable healing or they do none at all. It's not fair to tease players with what is essentially the MMO equivalent of chronic disability.
    • Give flaring power to bards. Take it away from warlords.
    • Bard/archon only items are a bad idea and should never be done again.
    • Above all, make sure it's possible to be a completely average bard or an absolutely fantastic bard at the exact same gear level, and make sure other players can easily recognize that like they can recognize a fantastic tank or a fantastic DPS mage.

    Do these things and you get rid of the climate where nobody wants to play a bard. You do these things and people might ASK to play bard.
    <a href=http://www.trinityguild.org target=_blank>http://www.trinityguild.org/images/signatures/rift/sig_final.png</a>
    I mean, I guess it would just be a guy who you know, grabs bananas and runs. Or, um, a banana that grabs things. I donít know.
    Why would a banana grab another banana? I mean, those are the kind of questions I donít want to answer.

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    Ascendant Europe's Avatar
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    I forgot to include the ultimate justification for the conclusion that bard MUST be redesigned, and it's a simple one: bard MUST be redesigned or people will refuse to play them. Sure, raid guilds will force players to do it, but everybody else will avoid it. It's just not enjoyable, and we can't forget that enjoyment is what it's all about. At Trion, you can say "but their buffs and debuffs make them really powerful!" but at the end of the day, if the gameplay isn't fun, somebody didn't do their job.

    Bard must be redesigned for the rogue souls to be well-designed. I don't mean that as a "F you, Ailion!" comment, but it's simply the case that bard has been unfun for far too long. That's not okay in a AAA MMO.
    <a href=http://www.trinityguild.org target=_blank>http://www.trinityguild.org/images/signatures/rift/sig_final.png</a>
    I mean, I guess it would just be a guy who you know, grabs bananas and runs. Or, um, a banana that grabs things. I donít know.
    Why would a banana grab another banana? I mean, those are the kind of questions I donít want to answer.

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    Ascendant Europe's Avatar
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    Also, this thread has little to no PVP bearing, as I do not care about PVP in any light.
    <a href=http://www.trinityguild.org target=_blank>http://www.trinityguild.org/images/signatures/rift/sig_final.png</a>
    I mean, I guess it would just be a guy who you know, grabs bananas and runs. Or, um, a banana that grabs things. I donít know.
    Why would a banana grab another banana? I mean, those are the kind of questions I donít want to answer.

  4. #4
    RIFT Guide Writer Zyzyx's Avatar
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    Oh look final is still around.

    Quote Originally Posted by Daglar View Post
    When time allows I'll be looking at the issue with the class guys.

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    Excellent post.

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    RIFT Guide Writer TheGrinnz's Avatar
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    Can't speak for Barding but I enjoy Archoning and don't need meters to do so. And when properly played, Archon involves charge management and Bard involves combo points so not sure what you meant by that comment (though proc buffs would certainly be interesting!)

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheGrinnz View Post
    Can't speak for Barding but I enjoy Archoning and don't need meters to do so. And when properly played, Archon involves charge management and Bard involves combo points so not sure what you meant by that comment (though proc buffs would certainly be interesting!)
    Yeah, I tried to be careful to not paint archons and bards with completely the same brush. They share some issues, but archon is largely in a better place than bard is. They have more encounter-critical roles than bard could ever dream of.
    <a href=http://www.trinityguild.org target=_blank>http://www.trinityguild.org/images/signatures/rift/sig_final.png</a>
    I mean, I guess it would just be a guy who you know, grabs bananas and runs. Or, um, a banana that grabs things. I donít know.
    Why would a banana grab another banana? I mean, those are the kind of questions I donít want to answer.

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    Quote Originally Posted by yayoh View Post
    Sucks for us who only pvp.

    But i guess you being the authority on bards is just bad luck for us.

    sarcasm.
    Well, you could post that stuff on this thread so it'll be seen. Of course, people seem to like doing battlebard and builds like that in PVP, so it might not be the same level of terribleness.
    Last edited by Europe; 07-06-2012 at 02:36 PM.
    <a href=http://www.trinityguild.org target=_blank>http://www.trinityguild.org/images/signatures/rift/sig_final.png</a>
    I mean, I guess it would just be a guy who you know, grabs bananas and runs. Or, um, a banana that grabs things. I donít know.
    Why would a banana grab another banana? I mean, those are the kind of questions I donít want to answer.

  9. #9
    RIFT Guide Writer Zyzyx's Avatar
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    Here's the deal.

    There is a HUGE difference between a bad archon and a good one.
    -Power drains timing
    -Arresting presence
    -Interrupts
    -Sheeps
    -flaring power
    -AoE cleanse/purge


    There is little to no difference between a bad bard and a good one.
    - Increased CoJ uptime
    - Increased Motif uptime
    - more dps/hps
    -Interrupts
    -Armor debuff
    Last edited by Zyzyx; 07-06-2012 at 02:49 PM.

    Quote Originally Posted by Daglar View Post
    When time allows I'll be looking at the issue with the class guys.

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    RIFT Guide Writer TheGrinnz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Europe View Post
    Yeah, I tried to be careful to not paint archons and bards with completely the same brush. They share some issues, but archon is largely in a better place than bard is. They have more encounter-critical roles than bard could ever dream of.
    I wouldn't say it's that big a difference. Archons have nothing comparing with Verse of Joy or, well, any healing, and there's a large burst of raid healing they can do (virtuoso+coda of restoration perhaps? never paid much attention) Bards may not get the healing numbers in progression due to stacking healers but once you start thinning out the healers they can hold their own on the raid. Archons get more encounter-critical roles out of the dominator subspec than Archon itself.

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    RIFT Guide Writer Zyzyx's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheGrinnz View Post
    I wouldn't say it's that big a difference. Archons have nothing comparing with Verse of Joy or, well, any healing, and there's a large burst of raid healing they can do (virtuoso+coda of restoration perhaps? never paid much attention) Bards may not get the healing numbers in progression due to stacking healers but once you start thinning out the healers they can hold their own on the raid. Archons get more encounter-critical roles out of the dominator subspec than Archon itself.
    Verse of joy = only needed for rogues
    healing = 15 cloro subspec
    Last edited by Zyzyx; 07-06-2012 at 05:33 PM.

    Quote Originally Posted by Daglar View Post
    When time allows I'll be looking at the issue with the class guys.

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    RIFT Guide Writer TheGrinnz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zyzyx View Post
    Verse of joy = illuminate
    uh no?
    healing = 15 cloro subspec
    Dear god no.

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    One important thing they can do, make bard buffs % increases of the bard's stats and not the raid member's stats. So instead of 5% extra crit motif for example, you gain a % crit buff based on the bard's crit number. It won't change the effectiveness of bard much, but will change how the soul is perceived.
    Last edited by Mayi; 07-06-2012 at 02:50 PM.
    I rite a gooded guide for rouges.

    NB-Sin Guide - http://forums.riftgame.com/rift-gene...-sin-spec.html

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheGrinnz View Post
    I wouldn't say it's that big a difference. Archons have nothing comparing with Verse of Joy or, well, any healing, and there's a large burst of raid healing they can do (virtuoso+coda of restoration perhaps? never paid much attention) Bards may not get the healing numbers in progression due to stacking healers but once you start thinning out the healers they can hold their own on the raid. Archons get more encounter-critical roles out of the dominator subspec than Archon itself.
    The thing with bard is it's completely a background role. When you do your job, it's like you aren't even there. and unfortunately, when it's like that, players think you aren't doing anything. Players want to be perceived as doing things, as really making a difference in the fight.

    Even if you count virtuoso in bard's favor, that's really not enough tools to make the entire role interesting or even particularly effective. There are no fights where you say "okay, bardx, virtuoso! NOW!"

    Verse of Joy is kind of in the same category. It needs OOMPH. You need to know when that bard used VoJ, and not because he has an annoying macro. You need to feel it on your character. If they won't give bards flaring power, I support making Verse of Joy do something in addition to the regen, because the regen itself doesn't really matter for most players. Most characters aren't so starved that the boost really changes the next 20 seconds or so for them. but it should. you should get VoJ and kick *** for a little while.
    Last edited by Europe; 07-06-2012 at 02:53 PM.
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    I mean, I guess it would just be a guy who you know, grabs bananas and runs. Or, um, a banana that grabs things. I donít know.
    Why would a banana grab another banana? I mean, those are the kind of questions I donít want to answer.

  15. #15
    RIFT Guide Writer Zyzyx's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheGrinnz View Post
    uh no?

    Dear god no.
    Oops I was thinking of Jeopardy.

    What mayi said.

    Have the fanfares scale with attack power. Same with motifs.
    Last edited by Zyzyx; 07-06-2012 at 02:55 PM.

    Quote Originally Posted by Daglar View Post
    When time allows I'll be looking at the issue with the class guys.

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