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  1. #1
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    Default The main reason why Summoning-focused builds are still not viable in DDO

    Inevitably when this discussion begins someone chimes in to note the issues with AI. Yes there are some issues. Like when my healer hireling heal-kills my Kindred Being lich or skeleton knight. Sometimes summons become passive for no apparent reason. But even those issues are mitigated by changing the build around.

    The main issue with summoning-focused builds is that they simply don't scale adequately. They are 99% dependent on feats and epic destiny choices. There are some class enhancements that are available (PM skeleton knight boosts, druid wolf boosts, warlock enlightened spirit) and some class-based abilities (pretty much just druid's "pack" line of spells afaik), but even if you combine the best of all of that, they are still pretty weak, and get wrecked on anything above Hard. The only gear-based boosts I know of are the augmented summoning topaz from feywild (but if you are going for a summoning build this would be useless, as you will need the real feat as a pre-req to get other stuff that's mandatory for the build) and the cry of battle filigree set, which while good, is not going to carry this build by itself.

    To make summoning viable DDO needs one or more of the following, irrespective of AI changes:

    1) Add at least one new item suffix to the random loot table and possible one or more new ones for named items that applies to summoned creatures, hirelings, pets as the augmented summoning feat does.

    2) Make pets scale off modifier of the highest ability score of the summoner in some way. E.g. Increase the PRR/MRR/MP/SP/RP of summons by an amount equal to the modifier of the stat, or some percentage of that modifier. This allows pets to scale better as the key ability score increases.

    3) Add additional pet-related feats. Move Improved summoning down into the higher heroic levels, and add a new Epic Improved Summoning feat in the epic levels.

    4) Modify the reaper cores for one or more tree to passively buff summons per point in the tree. Currently pets are or questionable value in elite, even when buffed to the greatest extent possible, and worthless in reaper no matter the build.

    5) Cause pets to scale off of maximum caster level (as boosted by enhancements or destinies) instead of only natural caster level, either directly or in some percentage.

    6) Add another universal enhancement tree that focuses on a pet-centric build.

    Personally I prefer the options that require me to give up something (a feat slot, an item suffix, a new enhancement tree) to specialize vs just scaling all pets up, but I think I'd be happy either way. As I said, obviously there are some AI things that could/should be addressed, but even if they were, the fact is that summons simply do not scale well enough to be impactful beyond Hard, which is a problem when a big portion (i would say majority) of the population plays exclusively Elite/Reaper quests.

    Your thoughts?

  2. #2
    Community Member Chai's Avatar
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    Won't happen, as it will be regarded as an easy button. ForumDDO™ would not even tolerate charming in reaper, which allowed players to (very temporarily) control properly scaled mobs for a short duration (made even shorter in reaper) - and shouted it down until it got nerfed. Now when you charm a mob it loses its reaper scaling.

    If that situation was not tolerated, I can imagine the level of frothing rage forumites would have if a properly scaled pet was able to be summoned for a much longer period of time, with no risk of breaking charm or losing control of it, buffed to the hilt, and then turned loose in a quest.

    Its clear they have stayed well away from this. Even the hirelings, more recent ones being granted better scaling HP totals, still hit like a feather swung by a toddler, once every few seconds.
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  3. #3
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    I only know of one game where Summoned Focused Builds are viable (There may be more games but very few).

    Even within the DDO community their is a vocal minority who hate the idea that someone else can have fun and "easier" time leveling. These "community members" live to make everyone else miserable and the developers listen to them.

    Now, back to the previous game not named DDO. It was a summoning class and that the "community" for years demanded that the class be weaker than the other casters because they could just AFK while their summon did all the work. And to a point they were correct. The summon could obliterate trivial content. But within appropriate groups and raids the class was near worthless. (End game) Guilds only wanted 1 or 2 active members. And the requirements (gear, advancement, ect) was extreme to join these guilds. Over the years there was a "tug of war" between the players who liked this style of play and the community who actively petitioned the developers to ruin this play style.

    When the developers finally got over their reluctance to make them a viable class...
    • The world still turned
    • People "rolled up" the class and had fun
    • The game didn't suddenly devolve into everyone playing this class replacing the other casters.
    • The "community" was finally exposed for the fear mongers they had always been.


    Now occasionally there was a "Two steps forward one step back" for these Summoners of the Arcane. Yet up until I quit they finally had a role within groups and raids. They were no longer a "charity case" and people actively sought them out to group with.

    In DDO you have multiple obstacles to overcome. The primary one is the community.
    Quote Originally Posted by hp1055cm View Post
    They have been tweaking the game since I started and often I disagree with them. They focus on wrong stuff, over or under compensate and abandon too much stuff. Every once in awhile they get something right, if only temporarily.

  4. #4
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    Nope.. the main reason really is the AI and the AI bugging out by lag

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by AbyssalMage View Post
    I only know of one game where Summoned Focused Builds are viable<snip>
    The only use for summoner build classes should be summoning corpses with tiny coffins, or summoning mana rods and rotating the pile of them until the real casters need the mana from them and use them.
    Edit : Or if you're a female player, there's druid being able to summon the tiny little bear pet for cutsies.
    Last edited by Tist; 01-23-2021 at 03:57 PM.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by ShifterThePirate View Post
    Nope.. the main reason really is the AI and the AI bugging out by lag
    as someone who has attempted to maximize this playstyle in every way in order to make it viable, i disagree. genius-level AI wouldn't fix the scaling problem.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chai View Post
    Won't happen, as it will be regarded as an easy button. ForumDDO™ would not even tolerate charming in reaper, which allowed players to (very temporarily) control properly scaled mobs for a short duration (made even shorter in reaper) - and shouted it down until it got nerfed. Now when you charm a mob it loses its reaper scaling.

    If that situation was not tolerated, I can imagine the level of frothing rage forumites would have if a properly scaled pet was able to be summoned for a much longer period of time, with no risk of breaking charm or losing control of it, buffed to the hilt, and then turned loose in a quest.

    Its clear they have stayed well away from this. Even the hirelings, more recent ones being granted better scaling HP totals, still hit like a feather swung by a toddler, once every few seconds.
    As for the easy button idea, that's an odd one. Easier than the all the builds that can nuke entire packs of mobs in one shot? Easier than all the builds that are so effective that they don't even have to slow down to mow through R4 packs? I often struggle to even physically keep up with reaper groups because everyone is running highly-tuned builds that faceroll everything. Even if summons were boosted to be twice as powerful across the board than they are now, such a build still wouldn't match that.

  8. #8
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    The biggest issue with summoning focused builds sucking is the combination of lag and poor AI, particularly poor pathing AI.

    The idea that there is a problem with them being feat-based or enhancement-based or ED-based is a red herring. Every build you make is feat-based or enhancement-based or ED-based.

    Melees have to take the feat line associated with the style they play and enhancements that boost that style and play in ED's that best suit that style. Mages have to take feats and enhancements and ED's that support their styles also.

    Summoners also should have to take the feats, enhancements and ED's that best support their summons.

    However if lag and AI don't allow for effective summons then none of the rest of the mix matters because a dysfunctional summon isn't going to be worth the build that gets it.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by KoobTheProud View Post
    The biggest issue with summoning focused builds sucking is the combination of lag and poor AI, particularly poor pathing AI.

    better pathing and AI brings more lag, they would need to redesign the AI from the bottom up and the year end AMA with sev he suggested they could look at lower AI summons but having more like a necromancer summoning several mindless skellys

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by apocaladle View Post
    better pathing and AI brings more lag, they would need to redesign the AI from the bottom up and the year end AMA with sev he suggested they could look at lower AI summons but having more like a necromancer summoning several mindless skellys
    State of the Art AI since about 2004 has reduced pathing errors to almost nothing in most MMO's. Lag is a thing only when the servers are either brand new and everybody is trying to use them at the same time or when the server is being DDOS'd.

    Seriously, this should be one of the highest priority tasks on SSG's hit list of things to accomplish in the next year. They're only 15-odd years behind their competitors in this regards.

  11. #11
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    I agree it wouldn't be accepted by the community. Would be viewed as an easy button and is also an anti-grouping mechanic. A summoning build can be played in a game that rhymes with math of textile.

    One thing I may point out - you illustrate rather clearly how a summoning build does work in DDO, it just doesn't work in Reaper. I'm not sure it's even possible to implement the changes you suggest without breaking Reaper. Maybe going through quests with on hard while having your companions do all the work is the trade-off?


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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by merlinfire1 View Post
    Currently pets are or questionable value in elite, even when buffed to the greatest extent possible, and worthless in reaper no matter the build.
    Really, Reaper is the main place it's an issue. Pets are not auto-win, but are valuable in Elite or below.

    Players can partially compensate for Reaper difficulty through their Reaper points. So just straight up make all your Reaper points apply to to your pet too. BOOM! Suddenly the pet has +11 Dodge, +14 to Reflex saves, +24 to PRR, hundreds of extra HP, et cetera.
    Quote Originally Posted by ProducerRowan View Post
    Our final update of 2014 will extend the level cap to 30, which is intended to be DDO’s “permanent” level cap

  13. #13
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    Most summons in this game are likely just static entries in a database. Their stats can be improved by feats and enhancements, but there is nothing that can be done to make the summons a higher level.
    Adding improved AI, control bars and scaling seems like it would take a lot of work that I'm not sure they want to do anytime soon.

    What seems like the easiest stopgap measure to improve summons, would be for someone to go through and just increase the level (and stats) of all/most summons.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nandos View Post

    What seems like the easiest stopgap measure to improve summons, would be for someone to go through and just increase the level (and stats) of all/most summons.
    This would not fix the problem because probably 50% of the time your Godzilla summon would just sit there doing almost nothing until you were almost dead.

    For the effect you want you'd have to give the thing an aura that would make a Warlock blush and then of course everybody else in the group would be ****ed because everything around the beasty died before they got a chance to do their thing.

    All other MMO's that are high fantasy have pet classes with effective pets. One does not.

    The reason that DDO does not have effective pets is that the original engine has been layered on so many times that nothing works particularly well. Given that the code is not all that well understood by the current generation of developers what we are seeing is maintenance mode+. Everybody is afraid to delve too deeply because the devs might suddenly dig up a balrog.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KoobTheProud View Post
    Given that the code is not all that well understood by the current generation of developers what we are seeing is maintenance mode+. Everybody is afraid to delve too deeply because the devs might suddenly dig up a balrog.
    /thread

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by KoobTheProud View Post
    Everybody is afraid to delve too deeply because the devs might suddenly dig up a balrog.
    Really? You mean a balrog might get...{puts on sunglasses}...summoned?
    Quote Originally Posted by ProducerRowan View Post
    Our final update of 2014 will extend the level cap to 30, which is intended to be DDO’s “permanent” level cap

  17. #17
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    There really isn't a main reason why summoning in DDO has always sucked. Rather, it's a multilayered, rich, parfait of reasons that is most likely unfixable at this point.
    Exit, pursued by a bear. ~ William Shakespeare (stage direction from The Winter's Tale)

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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by merlinfire1 View Post
    Your thoughts?
    The ultimate problem is balance, because of how much DDO is about stacking incremental bonuses. Look at all the different channels people use to increase their mainstat, their weapon damage, their DCs, etc. You stack up little bonuses +1 and +2 at a time till you're at +50 or +80 overall.

    That's fine for you as an individual character. That might even be fine for, e.g., a "permanent hireling" model like Diablo 2/3 companions, that you can equip and level up and specialize with their own progression pathways as if they were their own PCs too. I think that'd be a welcome addition to the game, in fact.

    But the problem becomes when the summoning bonuses are based on you, not your summons, and they apply to ALL your summons. Because then things get multiplicative, and that's bad. A summoner without many bonuses would be critically underpowered, it would completely suck trying to level one up. Then you'd eventually get to a point where your summons were decent. But after that, things quickly escalate to OP-land, because every time you add another bonus, it gets multiplied by all your summons. Every time you add another summon, it's like adding on all your bonuses again on top of themselves. They make power creep exponential. And they also create a wide spectrum between "uselessly underpower" and "game-breaking overpower" where its a lot harder to keep them in the goldilocks zone.

    You'd have to fundamentally reinvent the summons system so that you could only have 1 summon of any type out at a time (or functionally one, even if that one might be a "pack of something" cosmetically). Then you can balance it so that one summon does something useful, without making it OP. That's basically what Arti and Druid are now (Druid would need to lose its ability to use Summon Animal too), but I think removing that kind of dimensionality would not be a satisfying solution for anyone who wants to play a summoner archetype.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by KoobTheProud View Post
    The biggest issue with summoning focused builds sucking is the combination of lag and poor AI, particularly poor pathing AI.

    The idea that there is a problem with them being feat-based or enhancement-based or ED-based is a red herring. Every build you make is feat-based or enhancement-based or ED-based.

    Melees have to take the feat line associated with the style they play and enhancements that boost that style and play in ED's that best suit that style. Mages have to take feats and enhancements and ED's that support their styles also.

    Summoners also should have to take the feats, enhancements and ED's that best support their summons.

    However if lag and AI don't allow for effective summons then none of the rest of the mix matters because a dysfunctional summon isn't going to be worth the build that gets it.
    I don't think understand what I wrote. I'm not complaining that summoners have to choose feats. I'm saying that the problem is they don't scale with gear or reaper buffs the way pretty much every other playstyle does.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by merlinfire1 View Post
    Your thoughts?
    They'll give us charm back first, and that won't happen.

    Summoner builds only work in games generally if there's a near equivalent tradeoff to the character power. Essentially, you have to channel the character's power into the summon and reduce it from the character when the summon is active. Do that, and you can get to decent scaling, but ultimately that takes away most of the benefits of a summon build because now you're primary power is at the mercy of weak AI.

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