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Thread: December Battle Pet Update And Tournament Postmortem

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    Default December Battle Pet Update And Tournament Postmortem

    After the first Grand Tournament, what I’ve seen from the data is some pets that need a little adjustment. With one exception, which is a rather nasty bug, things are surprisingly reasonable - even the most overpowered combinations have lots of potential counters. The problem is that you go into the tournament facing completely random opponents, so which overpowered combo do you prepare for? You can’t beat them all with the same pet, and you can’t know who you’ll be facing. So some things do need to be a little easier to counter.

    But first, a report on how our first tournament ever went! We learned a lot from this. The first thing was WOW. We didn’t expect the insane amount of ticket sales, and thus absolutely mind-blowing 17million Gem grand prize. We definitely would’ve run it differently if we had planned for that. Of course, almost none of the tickets that were sold got used, which means the upcoming tournaments are going to be very low-value, since people can just buy tickets off of other players that never used them! Like everything in Growtopia, everybody starts out going nuts without thinking, and then it settles down. As I look at the upcoming tournament, I see we have a nice sane 147,000 gem prize so far - looks like only people who actually have battle pets are buying tickets this time. You just have to ride out the craziness to get to where things work right in Growtopia.

    Of course the tournament began with everybody cheating, big time. We had to ban dozens of players because they farmed points on alts, or paid people to lose. This is a PVP tournament, it doesn’t need to be explained that cheating to win is not allowed. The sad thing about this cheating is that the top-ranked cheaters were people who would’ve fairly easily held the exact same rank if they had played fairly. They had great combos, and knew how to use them. It’s like pro athletes using steroids, they just can’t resist going for that edge to push them from 95% to 100%.

    As the tournament went along, we found and fixed several issues with how it was run, so it basically wasn’t really working the way we would like until the last day and a half. We reduced the number of tournament worlds drastically, so that people would find a lot more matches (and have a much harder time battling only their own alts), we made it so that losing a battle would teleport you to another random Tournament world so that the pool of players would mix up a lot more (and again, it’s harder to fight the guy you want to if you’re cheating!), and we implemented behind-the-scenes code to reduce the effectiveness of using alts.

    There was also one major mishap - it’s my fault, but my defense is that I was on serious painkillers for back pain at the time. For about half a day, winners would receive zero points if the loser forfeited (the loser would still lose points). This was a disaster, as you would immediately realize if you were sober: everybody who was about to lose instantly forfeited, just to keep the winner from getting points. I apologize for that, it was bad.

    But it wasn’t very damaging in the long run thanks to the rating system we use. It’s the Elo rating system, which is used in chess. Under this system, as players noticed quickly, it becomes extremely hard to actually gain rating after a certain point. That’s because you’re not just racking up points by winning - what you’re doing is reaching your “skill level”. Once you get to it, it’s hard to move away from it. Your Elo rating is the score at which you will win 50% of matches against other people with the same score. So if I have a rating of 2500, and you do too, we’re equally likely to win. Exactly how those odds shift as your scores differ, I’m not quite sure, but suffice it to say that as your rating goes up versus your opponent’s, you are predicted to be more likely to win. It doesn’t take a lot of fights to reach a reasonably accurate rating (but of course fake fights - people losing on purpose - completely throw your rating off, which is why cheating has such a serious effect), and if you do fight a lot, your rating still doesn’t change much. That’s why we don’t have a set number of battles in the tournament - fight all you want, your score will still be your score!

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    So that’s the tournament. Now on to the pets themselves...

    All pets were mathematically balanced, in terms of damage per second, when they were first made, so imbalance really comes down to special effects (including being unblockable/undodgeable) rather than raw damage. Many pets that players think are too good really aren’t, and the top players know lots of ways to deal with them (that’s why they’re the top players!). But there are definitely things we saw in the first tournament to require some changes.

    The big thing we find is that players absolutely obsess over the raw damage number. Doesn’t matter how long the cooldown, or whatever downside it has. The bigger the number, the more people like it. If I were playing in the tournament, I’d think about that and plan accordingly... and maybe look at some of the low-damage, low-cooldown pets.

    We’ll include an explanation of the reasoning behind each change so you have an idea of what we’re thinking.

    Glossary:
    DPS = damage per second (just divide the damage of an attack by how long the cooldown is)
    DOT = damage over time (effects like Infection that inflict damage every so often, for a set amount of time)

    Pet changes:

    Eye of Growganoth - Bug fixed - no longer resurrects.
    Rationale: Other than the bug, this is just a nice defensive power that requires good management to use well. I think it will be powerful and popular, but not overpowered, with the fix.

    Death’s Scarf - The duration of Doom increased to 20 seconds.
    Rationale: This combo was easily the most powerful in the tournament. The fact that you can almost guarantee a kill of somebody’s second pet with Doom is intended (if facing somebody with Doom, you’re supposed to swap often so that you don’t have one pet die much earlier than the other), but the fact that you can combine Doom with two ‘stun’ type effects to leave your opponent a 1-second window of escape was just too good. With this longer duration it still has the same power it always did, but there is no combination of stun effects you can use to lock somebody into an early Doom (well... not without using up ALL of your slots).

    Legendary Dragon - Damage of BURNINATE reduced to 40, cooldown reduced to 40s.
    Rationale: This pet actually did very very low DPS to begin with, but it proved to be one of the top pets in the tournament anyway (several double Legendary Dragon teams were at the top), because by swapping, you could vaporize one of your opponents right off the bat with no chance to block or dodge, leaving them with a lot fewer options for the rest of the fight. So now the damage is low enough that you can only *mostly* kill an opponent. As compensation, the cooldown is now low enough that you actually might get another BURNINATE off later on! It could turn out this makes it still too powerful as a result, we’ll see.

    Pet Burrito - Stubborn effect changed to reduce damage taken by 25%, instead of by 2 points.
    Rationale: This is a complete change! This pet has always been maligned by players. It was extremely effective against DOTs (many DOTs were reduced to zero damage completely by this effect). But people aren’t really using DOTs (perhaps they’re not good enough? We don’t have the evidence yet), they’re using big damage hits almost exclusively. And -2 damage has no impact on 30 or 40 damage. I’m expecting -25% damage to be approximately as good as the Mini-Mammoth, because of the additive way percentages work. There’s no way to directly compare. Weirdly, this change makes the Pet Burrito a complete waste of a slot against DOT opponents!

    Precision Strike/Crush/Attack and Critical Strike - These attacks are all receiving a slight damage decrease to put them more in line with BURNINATE. Also, the formerly 30 damage one has 2 more seconds of cooldown.
    Rationale: These skills already do significantly less than standard DPS, but it looks like we aren’t punishing the damage of attacks that are both unblockable and undodgeable enough. The damage boost they get for people trying to block them doesn’t seem to be the issue, just their raw damage (specifically, Precision Crush, since it’s the highest damage one - and it has almost no bonus for being blocked anyway). I look forward to one day seeing people use these in a clever way instead of just big hits - nail them when they try to block (especially with Critical Strike, for a 50% bonus)!

    Mini Mammoth - Health bonus raised to 30%.
    Rationale: We’re buffing some passives. Not much, but to justify the loss of versatility you get from only having 2 active skills, they do seem to require a little more.

    Yeonnalligi - 20% chance to dodge raised to 25%.
    Rationale: Same as above, but this one makes me nervous... it’s already REALLY good whenever I try it out in testing.

    Summer Kite - cooldown reduction increased to 2 seconds.
    Rationale: This one scares me to do, but we’ll just see if it becomes popular in the tournament. A Summer Kite build is all about skills that already have short cooldowns, so 2 seconds removed makes a big difference. I’m scared this brings up some issue with freezes or stuns, but I’ll give it a shot and we’ll see. We’re not changing this to a percentage because that would completely change the intent of the skill - it’s not about speeding up your long cooldowns.

    Mini Growtopian - Punch base damage is now 8 instead of 4 (still goes up by 4 per Grow).
    Rationale: This is SUCH a weird skill that I can only guess at how effective it will be. It may be that you can just build up into an unstoppable monster with it and plow down the other team, but since it doesn’t seem to be doing that yet, I’ve raised the damage to a less pitiful level.

    Tumbleweed - Increased damage of Needles from 4 to 5.
    Rationale: Well, nobody’s using him, maybe they will? This is a skill that is most effective against enemies that do a lot of little hits instead of one big one, and that’s not what people are using these days. May have to revisit in the future with returning a percentage of the damage you suffer.

    Those are all the changes we’re making this time around. Since we have 146 (!!!?!?!!!) pets, I’m sure there are many others that could be enhanced to get more use, and probably even others that need nerfs and we don’t know it yet, but let’s keep the changes small and see where they go rather than just make a huge mess of things.

    Lastly, there are of course going to be new pets released before the next tournament (who’s ready to face Mini-Peng?), which should change up the game a bit as well.

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