[PATV] Wednesday, June 27, 2012 - Extra Credits Season 4, Ep. 19: Power Creep

DogDog Registered User, Administrator, Vanilla Staff admin
edited June 2012 in The Penny Arcade Hub
image[PATV] Wednesday, June 27, 2012 - Extra Credits Season 4, Ep. 19: Power Creep

This week, we finally get around to talking about the trouble with power creep (with special guest)! In addition to being awesome, Scott makes a webcomic called <a href="http://www.fanboys-online.com/&quot; target="_blank">Fanboys</a>. You should read it!<br /> Details about our community shirt design contest <a href="http://extra-credits.net/news/site-news/extra-credits-shirt-design-competition/&quot; target="_blank">here</a>!<br /> Come discuss this topic in the <a href="http://extra-credits.net/episodes/power-creep/#discuss&quot; target="_blank">forums</a>!

Read the full story here

Dog on


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    aveikenaveiken Registered User new member
    edited June 2012
    Wooohoo comments!
    I feel... I don't know what to add, really.
    So... anyways
    excellent video as always. BTW, is alice OK? Just a normal vacation?

    aveiken on
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    SandstormSandstorm Registered User new member
    A shame they bring up LoL and not DotA or DotA2...

    Still, VERY eye-opening! :D

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    Ratstail91Ratstail91 Registered User regular
    Is anybody thinking "Dragon Ball" right now? Also, I think that most of the users in a game will usually be low level/newbies. Therefore, after a game has been out for a while, the designers should actually go over the beginning of the game again, to make sure that the beginning reflects/is balanced with the overall quality of the game. Not just with power creep either. Try playing Fallen London, unless you know what you're doing, it's hard to finish the tutorial in one sitting.

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    adsf92xadsf92x Registered User new member
    @Sandstorm you clearly did not listen to the context of how they were showing the game. They only used it as a example of one of many games that people may play that they can relate to. LoL has one of the biggest online community's on the internet. So many people can relate to this and understand this better.

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    aldowynaldowyn Registered User new member
    @Ratstal91 Blizzard did that to World of Warcraft with Cataclysm. Just saying.

    As an aspiring designer this was a very interesting episode. I've noticed power creep before, mostly in relation to Magic: The Gathering (the sets system you discussed seems... complicated). Some of the newer cards I've seen seem blatantly overpowered compared to my 9 and 10th edition cards (back when the editions had numbers), but even then I still have a chance. It's especially interesting because persistent games are becoming more common in more areas, whereas before it was pretty much just MMORPGs.

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    mazloummazloum Registered User new member
    If WoW did the whole legacy servers thing, I'd be back in a heartbeat. That's such a brilliant idea.

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    Aaron_OAaron_O Registered User regular
    @Sandstorm I prefer LoL to DotA2 precisely because it handles design issues better. It is geared towards making the experience better while DotA2 is married to tradition.

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    zoinkzoink Registered User new member
    The powercreep phenomenon is less prevalent in MOBA games like Dota, LoL, and HoN as compared to persistent world games like MMORPG's. MOBA's are incredibly dedicated to balancing their characters and pretty much will have a template when they introduce new characters ( like say limiting the damage of any spell at level 1 to 100, then decreasing it further if it has extra effects like stuns or slows)

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    nadrewodnadrewod Registered User new member
    Anyone else think that TF2 is also a good balance of incomperables? I mean you have 9 classes, probably 10-20 weapons per class, hundreds of possible loadouts (not even including hat combinations), and yet many players still play using Day 1 content (AKA "vanilla loadouts"). Everyone looks forward to new content, and sometimes said new content can temporarily seem to break the game at launch, but with different patches constantly balancing out old issues and dropping in new fan-made content that has been play-tested by Valve, the game is still a blast to play over 4.5 years after launch.

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    TwoflowerTwoflower Registered User regular
    There's one drawback to Incomparables which isn't addressed here -- overpowered combinations. Team Fortress 2 had one very strong example of this with the Enforcicle, a Spy combination which granted stronger pistol damage, brief immunity to fire, and near infinite disguising. All three items are suitable sidegrades, but when put together, the negatives cancel out and leave you with a set that's overall stronger.

    Still, to Valve's credit, they do look for these overpowered combinations and make tweaks and changes along the way to ensure that most weapons are generally distinct but equal. Some are less popular because they take more finesse or rely on teamwork, but under the right circumstances they're all valid choices.

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    8ftmetalhead8ftmetalhead Registered User new member
    edited June 2012

    8ftmetalhead on
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    8ftmetalhead8ftmetalhead Registered User new member
    I agree that tf2 goes with this quite well. There are SOME elements of it that suffer from perhaps improper balancing (ie whatever the banned loadouts are in competitive play, I don't follow it so don't know), but it does seem to quite happily keep all the classes rather balanced. Meet the pyro in 4 hours should see some things shift out of balance for a while, though. Hah. It'll be a fun thing to wake up to.

    As for magic, in some cases they'll release a card that seems fine in testing, but then absolutely dominates until it's rotated out. TITANS. SO HARD.
    But because of this rotation, it keeps power creep in check. And in terms of the older tournaments, because of the fact that once you move out of block it's possible to take almost any combination of cards and make something that can combat another, then it sort of balances out in that regard. at least, from what I've seen in the short time I've played.

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    EvenprimeEvenprime Registered User new member
    I expect powercreep to (intentionally) happen in Diablo 3 with the next content update/expansion pack. Which will make a ton of players who bought items from the real money auction house very angry, although they really should've known better.

    A game based on numbers and searching better gear like Diablo 3 really has no other option than to throw more and more powerful items at the players over time.

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    gmolgmol Registered User new member
    I'm not an expert, but I think in some games power creep is useful as it sometimes enables new players to start playing the game and not feel left behind or useless. I'm going to use two examples from the show, which are namely WoW and more or less any Zynga game I've ever played. In a Zynga game you don't have a lvl cap, so if I start playing a Zynga game right now as a lvl. 1 character, I'll be competing with players who are lvl. 2000 and still getting stronger and no matter how much time I spend playing, I can't beat them if they play as well (unless I invest $, but that has been discussed in other shows). In WoW a "veteran" player, who has invested a zillion hours of gameplay is almost unreachable for a new player - at least until the new expansion. With the new expansion and new, stronger gear, veteran players and new players (at max. lvl before expansion) are evened out in terms of gear because of power creep - new green gear from new quests is stronger than old epic gear from top lvl. raids and pvp. Right now WoW still gets a big boost with every expansion, because new and returning players know that they won't be outgeared by people who have been playing the game since launch. On the other side, old players continue playing the game because of new content. I still agree that some of the old content gets overlooked and abandoned, but as you said, heroic difficulties kind of fix that problem, and hopefully they will continue adding new heroic versions of old content.

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    [toast][toast] Registered User new member
    I totally see this as the most obvious business choice (at least from an initial development and profitable standpoint). I'm sure we can all agree that such a decision will only upset the fanbase and prove <puts on tinfoil hat> the conspiracy of Activision only using Blizzard's name to milk consumers for money. I actually hope that should they put this in place it fails miserably and puts up red flags around the industry as a major no-no.

    The only alternative I could think of would be to not increase the level cap (which I believe was mentioned by Jay Wilson) per expansion, and instead add new content like extra acts, sidequests, prologues/epilogues. Expansions could also introduce alternative tiers of gear (eg, tier 4b/7.5/etc) and new affixes, instead of just going WoW's route and stacking new tiers.

    Diablo (and similar games) would I think benefit from not increasing the new maximum, but adding to it. Gear randomization is so diverse that you could perpetually add new items, affixes and content where the only invalidation of prior content would be the fact that with more random items to pool from, there is more of a chance to have a better role on a "perfect" item (though it could also do the opposite).

    I suppose only time will tell.

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    SaladfaxSaladfax Registered User regular
    League has been getting better about their balancing lately, but overall their design in terms of both aesthetics and champion abilities has been pretty stagnant. Yes, there are a few notable differences (especially in the last few), but then again some of their more interesting ideas are more or less watered-down versions of existing Dota heroes.

    I actually stopped playing League in favor of the Dota 2 beta simply because, at least in my opinion, the game contains many, many more elements (making it more challenging to learn), but even with much higher complexity, it seems to be much more balanced. Though I've been quite impressed at how Riot has improved some of the more obvious issues, they still don't seem to quite have a handle on how to fix something. Well, besides hitting it with the nerf-hammer or throw in the occasional buff, both via a pile of community complaint as opposed to intuitive design and balance. The result of this is a fairly large pile of champions who have been sitting at the bottom for months upon months: champions who are completely outclassed by characters who can play the same role (with even similar abilities) in a much better way.

    I do hope they continue their path of improvement in the game, however. The markets between League and Dota are different enough to allow both to thrive just fine (with apologies to HoN as probably not sustaining for a whole lot longer).

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    Xyz_39808Xyz_39808 Registered User regular
    A lot of these analogies are lost on viewers who never took the time to learn/play Magic.

    Might as well pulled a FOOTBALL reference.
    (Though it does give a small impetus to learn it now)

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    Canis_AnubisCanis_Anubis Registered User regular
    The fundamental underlying assumption that completely undercuts the points made here is that progression games/persistent games should still be finite. It's the cold-hearted business types who drive the demand for un-ending recurring revenue. It has nothing to do with delivering better games.

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    wraphwraph Registered User new member
    Actually if you watch LoL competitive scene, there's a very small hero pool being chosen by professional players. Why is that? Simple: some heroes are only useful for one specific role in the game at a specific time in it (for moba it is early/laning game, mid-game and late-game). Obviously competitive players will always chose what's considered and proved to be the best overall in these terms, so for LoL that's around 1/3 of the total hero pool.

    Now take a look at Icefrog and what he did with DotA for years: introducing new heroes with really balanced abilities that changed the metagame completely without breaking it neither for public nor for professional gamers. And these new heroes found their spots in the competitve DotA, and on top of that, some of old 'unused' heroes tend to pop out as "unusual" picks. In Lol that's not the case (not to mention what S2 is doing with their HoN, that's just a joke).

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    curintederycurintedery Registered User new member
    This happened with Runescape (yeah, I know, no one likes Runescape... but I was a fan). They destroyed Runecrafting by making it incredibly incredibly easy to get high levels with a new gameplay feature... it made my high runecrafting level meaningless, and annoyed me greatly.

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    StMichaelStMichael Registered User new member
    I'd love for you guys to do an episode on Incomparables, as I think that is the key to class balance that has been lost to most MMOs and other PvP games.

    Think about, for example, the difference between a Paladin and a Warrior tank in world of warcraft. Once blizzard finally got around to making Paladins a viable raid tank in Wrath of the Lich King, there wasn't a whole lot of difference between the two classes. They both had their own tools for pulling from range, holding AoE threat, buffing raid damage against the target, mitigating damage on a continual basis, avoiding large amounts of damage in an emergency, and so on. The two classes were comparable in their function as a tank, and as a result if one was able to do job X better, there was proof of it and there was a legitimate claim of imbalance.

    Now try contrasting that same idea of a comparable class to Team Fortress 2. Which class is better at assassination, the spy or the sniper? Can't say, they specialize in different things. Who's better at base defense, demos or engineers? Again, can't say for certain, because they defend in different ways.

    That's why I cringe whenever I hear about a new MMO that attempts to get around class imbalance by breaking down class barriers. They're only making them more comparable, and thus easier to find imbalance.

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    srboyceboatsrboyceboat Registered User regular
    edited June 2012
    @wraph, the thing that I find interesting to counter that point is that, with the LoL competitive scene, the best teams are often willing to do the weirdest things in order to make a game work. I doubt we'll see a team of 4 assassins and a tanky fighter any time soon out of, say, Moscow 5, but they were happy to completely eschew the Meta in at least one ranked tournament and play their own game and play it better. All sports have a degree of this, too, but I think it's a fair point to make that running a non-meta team in competitive LoL would be like running a Wildcat offense in the NFL. It used to be unheard of. The Dolphins did it for a season, and then it was all the rage for a while. Now players and coaches understand it and it's less popular due to its reduced effectiveness, but not impossible if the players on the field are good enough.

    That's what an incomparable is, and League is incredibly good at introducing those. What most people complain about with power creep in LoL is that the champions are overpowered -on release- and then are nerfed two patches later after everyone has gotten super excited about them and spent the money. This happened with Darius and to a lesser degree Volibear (whose execute was sort of crazy awesome out-of-hand when he first launched).

    I think THAT'S a fair complaint, but talking to some of the guys at PAX this year, it seems like they're working hard to be more aware of situations they might generate this way.

    srboyceboat on
    Picture is Dave Dorman's (http://www.davedorman.com/)
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    DedwrekkaDedwrekka Metal Hell adjacentRegistered User regular
    If anyone's kept up with any of the various flavors of Warhammer from Games-Workshop, and their continued evolutions, these guys are the standard bearers for this subject. Not only are the games largely a numbers game, but they also continually introduces a number of incomperables, and that has had continued issues with power creep.
    Things like enemies getting back up after being wounded (necrons) versus an entirely different system of moral (Tyranids) or extremely powerful but slow infantry (Chaos Warriors) versus extremely powerful artillery (Dwarfs).
    The balance issues have always come from the underlying numbers game of point balance. In video game terms it would be comparable to the amount of time required to earn a certain item through different paths in a game. Sometimes a single path is out of balance with another. So, for instance it would be one army in Warhammer being cheaper for the same amount of damage compared to another, or a casual dungeon in an MMO earning better gear faster than a hardcore dungeon. It's the underlying numbers game of investment (be it time, points, or money) that tends to create imbalance

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    dlochinskidlochinski Registered User new member
    This reminds me of the show Dragonball Z, in where they kept up the power scale, and actual characters got left behind since they weren't strong enough to keep up. It go so ridiculous that it just wasn't fun to watch seeing it be just as constant oneupmanship.

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    GundiGundi Serious Bismuth Registered User regular
    Alison is working at Retro Studios now? That's awesome! They're some of my favorite guys in the industry. Hope the guys and gals in Austin treat her right.

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    PMAversPMAvers Registered User regular
    edited June 2012
    Part of me wonders how feasible it'd be for other MMO's to use a LOTRO-style approach for dungeons where they scale to your level.

    Actually, that could be interesting for WoW, since there's so many old dungeons & raids that never get run anymore. Have all the dungeons scale to the highest level of the players in the party, and instead of worrying about itemizing each & every boss, have the bosses give currency/JP/tokens for a level range that can be traded for gear for your level.

    Maybe let the bosses drop their signature/unique-looking weapons & armor as cosmetic items you can transmog your current gear into.

    Getting the numbers right for boss abilities & health would probably be the hardest part.

    PMAvers on
    COME FORTH, AMATERASU! - Switch Friend Code SW-5465-2458-5696 - Twitch
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    Punk RexPunk Rex Registered User regular
    As a fan of Shounen manga im all to familiar with the problem of power-creep...

    Yay first comment, don't know whys it took me so long to sign up, I love EC vids.

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    Mihen5574Mihen5574 Registered User regular
    This is exactly what happened to Final Fantasy XI, eventually. I always preferred how XI worked over the style of World of Warcraft, but they both they their strengths. The game remained balanced for years and years while making additions to the game that really only served to loosen up some of the time sink. But then...They released Abyssea. Everything become obsolete. Even the Relic weapons, which basically required you to make the game your full time job for a few years. For me, the game became completely unplayable and mostly annoying. The leveling system wasn't design for you to reach max in a week. You had to spend a solid three months partying at least every other day for that to happen. For me, it took a couple years because I played very casually. Next thing I know, new players are max level within days of grinding, and the skill base of the players as a community severely dropped. You couldn't find people to take on difficult missions, or defeat notorious monsters. So in answer to the complains from these players, they just continued to make the game easier and easier and easier...

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    TheSpyderTheSpyder Registered User regular
    OH wow, the art in this is ..I dont know how to say it, but its a lot more animated, and there's almost no use of "funny" internet meme pictures and other dumb stuff. Great guest artist.

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    WimbleWimble Registered User regular
    I appreciate extra credits, but the image macros and narrator voice modulation has bothered me sometimes. So I am glad to see one of these issues being gone (for now, at least :P)

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    kram_llegdubkram_llegdub Registered User new member
    You guys are THE smartest show on the internet. Thank you for all your hard work and hours of entertainment!!!

    Keep up the good work,

    Non-Troll commenting guy

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    KisaiKisai Registered User new member
    This is why I quit Mabinogi. The monetization was all about power creep. Once you got past level 300, you were permanently locked into "advanced" mode, and at level 1000, "hard mode"

    So you can't play the storyline anymore because the storyline requires playing at your locked in mode. I'm not paying 25 cents per minute to play the game by constantly paying for revive tokens.

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    MolybdenumMolybdenum Registered User regular
    TF2 is the king of "sidegrading".

    Steam: Cilantr0
    3DS: 0447-9966-6178
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    grigjd3grigjd3 Registered User regular
    It's hard to think about power creep without thinking about paper and pencil rpgs, designed to keep providing more power for the character in order to give you a reason to buy more books.

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    CombobreakerCombobreaker Registered User regular
    I like how Fighting games or RTS's arn't mentioned for incomparables in game design and balance. They live and breathe on incomparables and skill based mechanics. I know there is frame data for fighters and build orders and attack timings unit composition and blah blah blah, but seriously, Why are the only games mentioned RPGs?

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    AnthanAnthan Registered User regular
    There was something unmentioned here, about why it is 'sometimes' necessary.
    In WoW, for example, the level cap was 60, a lot of people got to this level so it had to be increased to keep the progression. Thus more powerful weapons had to be created to be equipped by the now higher level characters, this is natural progression of levels. And shouldn't be considered a bad thing.
    Where it usually goes wrong when it goes wrong is, when weapons more powerful are introduced for equally leveled people.
    tl;dr: A weapon which gives +5 stats equipable by level 30+s, then a weapon is introduced which gives +7 stats equipable by level 40s, is a good thing.
    While a weapon which gives +5 stats equipable by level 30+s, then weapons are introduced which give +7 stats equipable by level 30s and one which gives +9 stats equipable by 40s, is a bad thing.

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    jlwiza1jlwiza1 Registered User regular
    I like how the guest artists decided to make more what amounted to keyframes it felt very animated

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    SilverspudSilverspud Registered User regular
    Holy DeWitt! The man behind my favorite webcomic assisting my favorite weekly web broadcast.

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    Zachary AmaranthZachary Amaranth Registered User regular
    M:tG still has a lot of power creep, though. The Type 2 format for official play may be somewhat safe (And I emphasise somewhat), but EVERYTHING ELSE is a problem.

    Otherwise, good episode.

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    SamokoskeSamokoske Registered User regular
    Zach, legacy, EDH, vintage, and even modern all have their archetype decks in their respective colors that either work as rock/paper/scissors decks or have their own weaknesses. Dredge sure is OPed but a mindbreak trap in any color deck outright kills dredge.

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