14 June, 2017
The big Stormblood expansion for FFXIV is almost upon us. Lots of changes in store, which is interesting and scary both as a developer and a player. Will my favorite class still be my favorite class afterward? Will everyone just be playing the new classes? Will this be a turning point, where the game gets streamlined and the game no longer appeals to me like WoW did?
One mechanic that is going away is Accuracy. This was a secondary stat that increased your chance to hit monsters, particularly important for raid bosses. In fact, it was vitally important to be “accuracy capped” if you wanted to do the hardest raids in FFXIV.
But, the stat had some problems. Let’s take a look at those problems and the problems with other stats like it, as well as some solutions.
The problem with Accuracy
The problem with Accuracy is that there’s a very specific amount you want; no less, for sure, but also no more. Any amount below the cap means you have a chance to miss and therefore are missing out on your DPS or landing abilities; if you miss 5% of the time, you’re looking at an average 5% decrease in damage. Any points over the cap have absolutely no effect; once you can hit 100% of the time, there’s no need for more Accuracy.
We have to look at how modern MMO gear is designed to understand why too much Accuracy is a problem. Each piece of gear has a “budget” for total stats. This is represented by the item level (or ilvl), which is explicit in a lot of modern MMOs. FFXIV even measures your character by item level, showing the average item level as part of your character profile. Item level ensures that higher item level equipment is better than lower item level stuff. And each stat has a certain weight when added to a piece of gear to make sure it’s balanced with other gear.
What this all means is that the extra Accuracy over your cap counts against an item’s budget, but it doesn’t give you any actual gameplay advantage! Those wasted points of Accuracy could have been more critical rating, more strength, or whatever other desirable stat you might want. And, since there’s limited options in gear, you may not hit your cap precisely; you have to figure out if a loss of DPS from too much accuracy is going to make up for the DPS gain from having another stat.
WoW had the same problem back in prior expansions, where you needed precisely the right amount of “Hit” to hit targets otherwise you were sub-optimal. Like FFXIV, WoW eventually removed this stat.
Other capped stats
The same thing can happen with any other stat, particularly stats that cap out at 100% of something. Another example from FFXIV is gathering, where your Gathering stat translates to a chance to gather items based on the target item’s level. You need increasing amounts of the Gathering stat on your gathering gear in order to gather higher level items. But, too much gathering is pointless, as you can’t get over 100% chance to gather items.
This is exacerbated by some gathering nodes where you can get a bonus to gathering. If you’re already at 100% chance to gather, this bonus is pointless to you. But other bonuses on nodes, such as the chance to get a high quality (HQ) result, still apply; even if your stats only increase the HQ chance to a max of 15%, node bonuses go over that.
This is less of an issue for gathering in FFXIV, because you have less stats to worry about. “Too much” gathering is harder to accomplish since there is only one upgrade path for gathering gear. Combat gear, however, has different options, so you have to choose more carefully.
The concept of overflow
So, how could we fix this stat? We want some way for “too much” accuracy to be valuable and not wasted. Ideally we would want to do this without a massive redesign of how MMOs create gear stats or to the fundamentals of the game. The trials and tribulations of the live team!
My solution is to take that excess accuracy and apply it to another effect. For example, additional accuracy could increase your chance to score a critical hit. This makes a sort of sense, as someone who is very, very precise would be able to score hits against critical areas easier.
This would be particularly appropriate for FFXIV. One of the problems with the pre-Stormblood stats on gear is that the “Critical” secondary stat does double-duty: it influences not only your chance to score a critical hit, but also the magnitude of the critical effect. This makes the stat much more desirable than other stats because it helps in two dimensions: you will crit more often and the crit damage will be higher.
So, offloading the chance to score a critical hit to Accuracy makes sense, while keeping Critical to determine the magnitude.
How I would have designed it
A rough design proposal, using FFXIV as an example.
Every player has a base chance to score a critical hit, regardless of accuracy or other stats. Let’s say this is 5%, but penalized if the character’s level is lower than the target’s level.
Every player has a base chance to hit a target. Let’s say this is 90%, and is adjusted up or down based on the difference between the character’s levels and the target’s levels; as the target’s levels are higher than the character the character takes a penalty, but if the character’s levels are higher, then they get a bonus to hit.
Accuracy gives a bonus to hit based on a calculation. Let’s say at level X that each point of Accuracy is 0.1% chance to hit, so it takes 100 Accuracy to hit 100% of the time against monsters at your level.
As the player has more accuracy than required to hit the monster, the additional points are translated to increased chance to score a critical hit. A formula translates this to a percent based on level. At level X, we’ll say that each additional point of Accuracy over 100 translates to 0.05% chance to crit. Item budgets will make sure this stays within reasonable levels.
And, now we have an Accuracy stat that is desirable and has meaning over cap.
So, what do you think? Have you been annoyed by Accuracy type stats before in other games? Do you like the idea of the stat having a purpose over the cap that gives you 100%?