Project Cornucopia: The Unofficial Rebalancing Mod

Devblog 1 - Strategic Balancing

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Cornucopia on Kirmizi Perfect (with another mirror hosting)

This is a thread for the mod’s announcement; as we start making progress in its development, we’ll have a thread dedicated to changelogs/discussions about specifics.

In the future, this thread will also be where we will discuss the mod’s behind-the-scenes development process (as relevant).

What This Mod Is About

The aim of the rebalancing mod will be, as its name suggests, to rebalance the game in a way that makes it more fun, less frustrating, and stay in line with Crate’s overarching vision. We acknowledge that we may have our own biases and a limited perception of exactly what their vision for GD is, but based on their posts on the forums and balance choices so far we are confident in our understanding.

That is to say that we want to avoid completely overhauling any aspect of the game when simple adjustments or slight additions will do just fine. We will, however, overhaul skills that we feel are redundant or have too fine a razor edge to balance properly within the meta we create.

But this Mod is about much more than just skills. Attribute points, constellation stats and procs, Items (including prefixes and suffixes), Mastery Bars, drop rates, quest rewards, monster stats and abilities, crafting costs/rates/blacksmith bonuses, area level scaling, loot tables and more: We will be looking through and touching upon all the above where we feel improvement is possible.

Design Philosophy

Staying True to Crate’s Vision
As mentioned above we want our mod to still feel like GD. Unlike old TQ mods like Underlord and Soulvizier, (which were wonderful) we want this mod to feel almost seamless for GD players. We want to create more viable build possibilities for Ultimate, and make items/skills/constellations more competitive with each other.

To elaborate with a specific example of how this applies: we have talked at length about certain items where one or both of us were puzzled at how it could ever be considered good. Eventually one of us would figure out what we believe the intended build the item was designed to support is, but realize that either a) Another item fills the slot better for the same build, b) The item is not strong enough to support the build, or c) There are not enough other items for other slots to support the build. We can do some great work here.

Don’t fix what isn’t broken
Everything and anything can be “improved” from at least one player’s perspective. But many things function just fine as they are, and those are things we will touch upon LAST if at all. We know many of you may have specific changes you’d like to see, and we will read and consider all of them. We totally want and appreciate feedback regardless of whether or not we utilize it. However, we want to focus on bringing up the quality of lower-tier aspects of the game to viable performance levels before we dare bring already viable things up to great.

Fun > Balance
Let’s discuss this on two levels. The first being that, very simply, we both agree that an ARPG where you have lots of diverse enjoyable playstyles that can get a little OP is more fun than having a few restrictive ways to build that feel very closely competitive. We WILL tune down the most extreme outliers on the spectrum of balance, but it is not our focus. Players should be rewarded for finding smart ways to “break” the game’s meta, not punished.

Secondly, perfect balance is impossible without making the game bland. Some builds/skills/items/etc. will be better, some will be worse. That is the nature of a fun ARPG, but we hope to make more instances where a lower tier skill can be situationally better than a higher tier one.

Stats/Skills>Devotion>Items>All Else…generally
This is our priority of balance order. There is a logic here: Stats and Skills are innate to all players. You start with them, you get points to put in them as you level up, and they stay with you forever. If a class’s kit feels poor, no amount of itemization or constellations will change that. Devotion is innate as well, in a way, but the fact of the matter is you build Devotion around the skills you pick, not the other way around. So they come second.

Items are tertiary for two clear reasons: you can’t depend on getting the item you want when you want. RNG is RNG, and GD’s seems to be anecdotally quirky RNG at that :rolleyes:. Changing any item or affix’s stats will only very rarely have as big an impact on players as changing a single constellation or skill. The second reason is that items build upon your skills, enhancing what you already have. That plus RNG makes it a clear third choice to look at. Perhaps a third reason is that items also allow themselves to be more narrow and niche in scope, allowing us to make some really specific choices that have very narrow targeted impact, and it’s healthiest to attempt this when the first 2 parts (skills/constellations) are in a better place. Items can be the thing that makes a build that looks like it shouldn’t work, work. If we start tweaking too many items immediately, and then start buffing the worst tier of skills and constellations, chances are we’ll end up having to just revert a lot of our choices, as wasted time, because the items we buffed/changed will become even more powerful/become imbalanced when the skills and constellations that benefit from them are also improved.

What You Can Expect

We’d like to state right here, than you can 100% expect that at first this mod will make the game easier. That will be a result of making Ultimate less build restrictive. If we’re improving the quality of “bad” things in the game, the net power on the player-side improves. Some quality of life changes we’d like to make should make the game a bit easier as well.

And we know this will disappoint many of you who like a “challenge.” But hear us out: A stat wall is not the most interesting form of challenge. Having to have ~80% in the majority of your resists, or 10k+ Health, or 2k+ OA to feel even remotely comfortable in Ultimate is not a good feeling, it just feels forced upon us.

Challenge is more fun in the form of enemy mechanics: Reflect mobs with visual indicators of when not to attack, mobs that heal tanky dangerous mobs, mobs and traps with curses and debuffs, enemy tactics, dodge-able damage, etc. A stat wall is definitely necessary, but we think it’s currently too steep.

But rest assured: After we are done improving the player-side of things, we will then start improving the monster side… but still, don’t expect Ultimate to feel like it currently does for non-tanky builds. We don’t philosophically believe that the main story-line should be that restrictive. We might make some side-quests more difficult and more rewarding, to help maintain a feeling of challenge, and we want SoT and BoC to be hard as well, but they are also the main source of farming gear for most players.

The true solution to this will be in our second mod which will add New Content. Part of our second mod will be new challenge dungeons with TRULY punishing features and truly niche and unique rewards. You will experience dungeons harder than anything currently in the game, dungeons that require you to respec your character’s components and items to meet their challenge. Dungeons that truly require thought to conquer. We want the main content of GD to be accessible to a slightly larger player-base than it currently is, but will add in challenges that will sate even the most veteran players later. But don’t get too caught up in that just yet, as that’s a way’s off.

How far off is a way’s off? Good question. We don’t know. Progress consists of two of us bouncing ideas off each other, implementing them, testing them, and then repeating the process for thousands upon thousands of things in-game. It’s an iterative process, and one we’re taking on in our free time, rather than one we’ll be working on full-time. We don’t want to give you a date or even a ballpark estimate, but we figure that if we’re going to give you this great wall of text, you should at least know our assumptions. We think the rebalancing mod could take around a year to complete. If we get it done in three months, great! But that seems unlikely. If we don’t finish for a year and a half or two years, so be it. But we’re going to keep at it and it will finish and wind up in your hands. Our passion for Grim Dawn can only culminate in us making it as great as we possibly can.

Thank you for the read, and looking forward to the road ahead in this development,
adoomgod & Ceno

Questions and Answers

[spoiler]Q: Isn’t this too early to get started on? Isn’t Crate still balancing their game too?
A: No and yes. And that’s kind of the point. If you’ve been following the sly references adoomgod and I have been making throughout the forums to this mod, this mod is meant to be as close to as what Crate would make as possible. If we can live up to this goal, we and Crate are working toward the same end-goal.

Why bother, we’ll just copy paste their mod into the game.

:p[/QUOTE]You joke but I give you full permission to implement any changes I make to the game (just a formality), to the vanilla game. I’d be honored. It’s actually my hope to do a good enough job that you guys will want to implement at least some of it. Last time I checked Ceno felt the same.[/QUOTE]

Q: Are Skills going to be reworked?
A: As needed. We don’t intend to redesign every skill in every mastery, but if there’s some skills that just aren’t functioning no matter which way we try to improve them, a rework is not out of the question. But if we do rework it, we’ll do so in a way that tries to keep the general niche the skill filled - or attempted to fill - intact.

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edit discussion 3
Holy fucking balls guys. I am so excited to work on 3.2. I feel 3.1. is a very awesome version, but it can also look a bit underwhelming to things like skill changes etc. I mean yeah we’re working on 2handed weapons now which is cool, and yeah we messed with DA which is interesting… but just affixes? Well the reason I’m so excited is because it helps sets up a good foundation for 3.2 where we hope to make ALL monster infrequents, when double-rolled green affixes, equal to or better than comparable legendaries.

I mean guys, do you know what this means. Finally after working and thinking through 3 versions we can edit the +skills on items. We can add completely new abilities to lackluster items. We can buff existing abilities as well! One thing we discussed, that we may hold off on until version 5/6 (new content), was making blueprints of lvl 75 versions of legendaries that are lvl 50 or 58. I’m looking at you >.> Obsidian Juggernaut.

I mean I think there are a lot of lower end legendaries that have so much potential and look and feel so cool but just aren’t good enough stat wise, or are weirdly balanced to a point that they don’t see use. And now we get to take those super cool things, and make everyone want to find a build to fit them in! I have felt super passionately about this project from the start, but this is the part I was most excited about. Making cool looking shit stay relevant. And yeah… I guess we’ll take care of augments and components too and whatever. ha.

I think after we’re done with all of version 3 people will understand why we chopped it into parts. Mostly because while version one and two brought weak things up to good, version 3 promises to shift the very meta of GD around. I may be wrong, but I suspect a lot of long time GD players who play Corn will have to unlearn some of the things about GD in order to make the most out of the new possible synergies we hope to create.

I could totally be wrong but if I’m right this really is going to be exciting stuff. I mean making 2 handed ranged weapons is sort of big in of itself, but what we’re pretty excited and nervous about is changing how cunning spirit and physique function a bit. We very well may need a lot of testing help on this one, and our first attempts at this may bork up a lot of characters. (we’ll write a little guide on how to use the trainer to reset attribute points safely). But anything we do to these 3 will have huge impacts on both the player, pets, and enemies… so we may have to redo a LOT of enemy bios (the file that determines how their stats scale with their lvl). Not looking forward to that part, but I hope you’ll be patient with us as we figure out something that we think will make GD a more complex and diverse game in the long run. And hey, if not we just keep physique as king eh? XD

edit discussion 2
I’ll put more here after v2 releases.
So I’ve edited 33 constellations and holy $#!%. What a ride. I mean in many places I did little things like tack on some +hp, but it’s really hard to predict the cumulative effect all these might have. It’s a lot more comfortable editing an active skill than a passive one, because active skills, for the most part, don’t affect each other’s balance. Constellations on the other hand are so tied to everything I get nervous.

Especially when it comes to tweaking affinity rewards (haven’t tried yet) and affinity requirements. It’s hard to say if by opening up the requirements too much I’ve ended up making other constellations obsolete (because you’ll just pick higher ones over them). Hopefully not.

It was a fun challenge to try to stay within the theme of the constellation and make similar tiered constellations distinct from each other. I’m sure I made some too strong, and I’m sure I made some not strong enough, but that’s where you’ll all help. As for any of you testing version 1 and want to be more directly involved. PM me and we’ll figure something out. I need minions!

original post below

Note that anything I post here is stuff that has been agreed upon by both of us. I will try to always point out when a change I’m considering is yet to be discussed between us.

I mainly made this post to add thoughts or whatever I feel like here. I want to add, guys, it’d be really helpful if you told us what skills you thought were bad and why.

If you just thematically don’t like a skill that’s not really what I’m looking for. Maybe Ceno will care… probs not. I’m looking for “this skill is bad because it doesn’t scale into ultimate despite requiring so many skill points.” or just because it doesn’t scale into ultimate lol.

“X skill is bad because it’s comparable to this other skill but much worse.”

Same goes for items but right now feedback on skills you think are shit in the late game, or just always, would be great. Detailed explanations will be more thought provoking and help us figure out not only if we agree, but what exactly the biggest problem with the skill is and what to do about it. Thanks.

i give this the tomodak stamp of approval

if ya ever want someone to test some shit id probably be down

Good luck to you guys in your modding efforts!

Wow thanks,

I hope Bloody Pox would finally be viable as a main damaging skill. :smiley:

Watch the potty mouth honey.

i would not be too concerned with staying “true to Crates vision” of the game.
there are a few basic changes that would make the game more fun to play and more challenging.

Go with what feels good to you and the people who test it for you and you will have a good mod.

Q: Do you have any experience in moding from other games, etc?

All testers are welcome. It’s not like playtesting, we’ll just release versions and get feedback. But if people want to volunteer to test specific things that we’re looking at, that’d be cool too.

We’re not “too concerned” we just want to. Both of us might separately or together make an entirely different balance overhaul mod at some point as well, but we have been discussing GD for some time now and thought we could do some real good for the game following this mindset. Of course whatever we produce will be “our interpretation” of Crate’s over arching vision, and of course we will consider a different vision if we truly disagree with a design choice of theirs.

It’s just a design philosophy we are picking for this mod. The second mod, new content, will be less restricted in this sense.

Simply put: We like Crate’s vision, that’s why we are adhering to it, more than less. At the end of the day we will do what’s good for us, but we believe we can have both.

Hmm, isn’t it very early to start with fanmade balance patches? I thought crate was still doing balancing.

Looking back at TQ the fanmade patch came out since they stopped supporting the game, or am I mistaken?

I’m not trying to burst any bubbles here, but just had to ask: What would be the need for such mod? Is Crate not going to keep balancing it’s own game?

  1. We’ve been able to put in countless more hours than Crate has had time to, because they were focusing on pushing out content, and still are. So we have some insight into certain mechanics on a level they themselves have admitted to being unable to experiment with.

  2. If is any indicator, balance changes are going to slow down, and they will be focusing on content and the expansion. I’m sure the expansions will bring more balance changes but we’ll just incorporate the ones we like.

  3. Crate may have had to compromise in certain areas to try to have something for multiple demographics. We’re focusing more on the theory-crafters, and those who enjoy making many many different characters and builds.

  4. “Why is there a need?” is a silly question. There is no “need” for any mod. The “need” is that there are things we’d like to improve in the game for ourselves, and we feel that many others can potentially enjoy our changes with us, and help give us feedback to make the changes even better. So short answer: There is no need, we just want to have fun making a really awesome mod that improves things in the game:

But I’ll go into more detail here: People have been complaining about bad affixes, crafting costs/rates, bad skills, etc. for a long time. In fact there are many things that people have been complaining about, that we agree with, that Crate hasn’t gotten around to changing. Perhaps Crate disagreed, or perhaps they just didn’t want to spend the time focusing on that area when many others needed their much divided attention.

  1. This mod paves the way for mod 2: New content. We will merge the mods together and release them separately… probably. With new content we will add challenge dungeons, world bosses, secrets, new monster types, new items, etc. enabling new builds and fun choices between gear selection. We both feel like we should improve upon what exists before we add something new, so that there is a proper foundation for our vision of GD meeting even higher potential.

If you feel the game is completely fine the way it is, or that this mod is a waste of time, etc. that’s your business. Even if NOBODY was interested in this mod we’d make it for ourselves. We’ll gamble on there being people who are interested in the kind of balance changes 2 players with over 3000 hours between them would like to make the game.

Oh and just to really specifically answer if they’re going to keep balancing their game? They’ve been doing this for 5 years, and they want to make new content. From their perspective it makes sense to make balance “good” as in “everyone is generally happy” so they can just work on what’s coming next. They are unlikely to spend time fine tuning every skill, stat, item, monster etc. to the degree me and Ceno want. We want to make the balance “amazing”. Though I’m happy to be corrected by one of the developers.

So, they probably have much less plans to balance the game to the extent you might imagine. And we’re fine with them adopting any changes we make that they like into the vanilla version. I mean that’s the point of this mod, to make something that just “feels really good” for our targetting demographic (ourselves and players like ourselves).

And don’t get me wrong, there are many existing aspects that “feel really good” in GD, but also a good deal that “don’t feel good at all.” We’ll be fixing the latter. I hope this answers your confusion.

TLDR: The point is to please ourselves and anyone else who likes our vision.

Can you look into normalizing the drop rates of items at least. I don’t know your opinion on the matter, but i believe all items of equal tier should have equal chance to drop.

We’re considering multiple things on that matter. I have yet to look at the exact numbers myself, but from thousands of hours of play I have concluded that things are definitely weighted weirdly.

At the very least we want to normalize drop rates. In cases where the drops are more RNG based, like double affixes, we may want to increase drop rates, or increase the amount of enemies that provide the drops in any group of monsters…

But also consider that by improving the QUALITY of all drops, the drop rates won’t need to be as adjusted. You may not find exactly what you want but it might be easier to find a substitution. There are some affixes we want to flat out remove, or at least stop from appearing above a certain level.

My personal stance, and last time I checked Ceno agreed, was that it would be nice to weigh different areas slightly differently if possible. And I mean very slightly.

So like, step 1: Normalize drop rates. Step 2: de-normalize them, but differently for different areas.

I think generally it’d be like: The overworld would have 100% normalized drop rates, but some side-dungeons would have improved rates for certain things.

But yes, there’s a good chance we’ll keep thing simple and just normalize them. Key word in your post is “of an equal tier.” Multiple ways to interpret that. We may want to make some rare items that are harder to get for one reason or another. I dunno, it’s something I’ll look harder at after the over-all quality is improved. Ceno may have a different perspective or priority level on this.

If you can tell me more specifically what you mean by normalizing drop rates, like in what way (because I can think of a few), I might be able to give you a more firm stance from me.

I’m intrigued by this project. Can you give us a teaser perhaps of which skills you’re looking at modifying and if you already have an idea, how?

I was just thinking epics/legendaries would be fairly easy to normalize as a start. Obviously rare affixes need some work as well but that’s a much larger undertaking. (if i never saw a pierce affix on a mace again i would be stoked!)

What are your thoughts on completely reworking how skills work? Is that even possible/doable? Would it conflict with Crate’s vision of the game you intend to keep?

For example, making ARR a skill that’s available from lvl 1, with its own mutators and enhancements, like PRM. Or making CT a real Tempest, fire and forget while it wrecks stuff in a large radius around you.

Also integrating quality of life stuff like making crafting materials tradeable/able to be put in the shared stash and adding a credit deposit function like the one in TQ, it still baffles me that there’s no such thing.

Looking forward to seeing this.

Very intriguing. If I might make a suggestion, you may actually want to approach the monster difficulty increase through mechanic’s first. Because depending on what you find you can do, and to what extent you can do it, it could make a huge impact on skill balance.

You might take a bunch of time balancing skills and such just to undo that work by changing what they are balanced against. The monsters.

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@Avyctes I’ll get back to you, there are a lot, but on most we have like 3 ideas on how to improve each skill we think is lacking in the late-game. I can see why developers are hesitant to make statements when they may just change their minds later, so I’ll preface my non-existent reply with: whatever I come back to you with is subject to change.

The question becomes, if you remove too many “bad” affixes from a type of drop, does that type of drop become too reliably strong?

Sometimes you need a bitter pill here and there for the sake of… THE GREATER GOOD. lol, but that’s definitely something I’ve considered, and we do want to cut down on “bad synergy rolls” somewhat. I’m not convinced things need to be 100% normalized, but we will probably make things more normalized. Remember that some things may not be immediately addressed because we plan on addressing it in some way via mod 2. Me and Ceno like the idea that not only will future challenge dungeons we create have unique desirable legendaries and MI’s, but also be weighted toward certain drops. So there’s a decent chance you’ll get what you want.

I like these questions a lot, because I can provide very solid answers, but I’ll do so out of order:

Yes, it’s definitely doable. But reworking is a fun word that can me a couple things. Some reworks are more extensive or extreme than others. We could do all the stuff you listed but we also… aren’t going to. Callidor’s Tempest, for example, is fine. We will only do extensive reworks on skills we feel can’t be made interesting and viable in ultimate via simple tweaks to their numbers. Most skills can be made viable with simple tweaks.

As for making crafting supplies trade-able, I used to be torn on the matter but I’ve come around. I’m currently pro-let-everything-be-traded, but haven’t talked about to Ceno on the matter. It’s not high on my list yet. The credit deposit thing is also possible. I mean you could just use a trainer to remove x amount of gold from one character and add the same amount to another though, so again, not a high priority.

Now to answer my fave part of your question: “Would [reworking skills] conflict with Crate’s vision of the game you intend to keep?”

Not really. And if it does but we feel the skill was so out of place it required it, so be it. Let me give a couple examples, because it’ll address Avyctes a bit as well.

Doom bolt: Me and Ceno had both very different ideas on how to make this skill better. We both agree it’s lack luster and needs a flat out damage buff. Fine.

I wanted to add ~-20% chaos resist debuff to it, Ceno wanted to make it so that it flat reduces enemy’s resistance to life-steal so you can life-steal on ultimate. We both pointed out the problem in each other’s builds: “If you do that, then EVERY chaos build will get it. If you do that than EVERY life steal build will get it.”

That’s not terrible by the way, but I wanted to do better. It’s okay if a skill becomes a go to for a build, but ideally it’ll be more dynamic then a “have to get.” So I tried to think about WHY doom bolt is tricky for being such a simple spell.

Well first of all let’s consider it a single target nuke. Single Target nukes are problematic. Doom Bolt could NEVER be devastation which is a nice multiple hit AoE bonanza of fun nuke. If Doom Bolt did the damage devastation did in one hit it’d be b-r-o-k-e-n. With CDR and chance to 100% refresh skills doom bolt could become even more insane. Devastation is not broken by CDR because you can only have 1 up at once. This is the case of a skill having a potential “razor’s edge” of balance. The line of making it’s damage feel fair for it’s cooldown and cost (mana and skill point/supporting items investment needed) and also fun is tricky.

So I thought of an interesting solution he really liked: What if we made it so that we increased Doom Bolt’s Cooldown, increased it’s damage a good deal, and made it so it had a x% chance on enemy death to do a fraction of it’s single target damage as AoE damage in a large radius?

You get a dynamic skill. One that can be used on a boss for a nice chunk, and one that has purpose against mobs when used correctly. It’s easier to balance it’s damage, because it’s not SOLELY single target high cooldown in nature. Instead of just buffing it’s damage, we can add a feature to it that let’s us tune it in more ways than just it’s initial damage, mana, and cooldown. (In this case we could tweak the aoe’s radius, what % chance on enemy death, and how much damage the AoE does as opposed to balancing the single target aspect)

The second skill I will mention is canister bomb. I like the skill a good deal, but it’s damage (from all reports I’ve heard so far) is just too weak in ultimate. So we could just straight buff it, but what I want to do is make it unleash scaling waves of fragments. So instead of just 1 aoe burst of fragmented fiery death, there is a delay and then a second one, and then a third one. I’m playing with the idea of the second wave appearing at 8/12, and the third at 16/12. I like this because I like how the fragments seem to interact in the game. Apparently multiple fragments can hit the same target, and they bounce of walls, so a skilled player may be able to pull a champion into a corner and get maximum dmg out of it. It also gives me more options in scaling, to reduce or raise the damage I can play with the amount of waves released, the amount of fragments per wave, and the amount of base damage.

I’d consider the change I proposed to cannister bomb to be a very minor rework, since it is almost functionally the same, and the doom bolt change to be a moderate rework, since it maintains it’s original purpose but the AoE on enemy death is completely new. A major rework would be something described earlier where the skill resembles nothing of it’s original form. As you can see Ramiel, I think the original theme of the skill is kept in both.

Oh and Avyctes the changes I mentioned that we’re just THINKING about, are more work intensive changes than most skills will receive. Most lacking skills will simply receive a buff or an additional stat or a change in how it scales in it’s ultimate levels, etc. Like, stun jacks is cool the way it is, maybe we’ll just buff it, or we’ll buff how it scales past it’s level cap, or a bit of both etc.