There can be no balance between graphics settings.

Discussion in 'Infiltrator' started by Dr. Euthanasia, Feb 17, 2013.

  1. Dr. Euthanasia

    I was hoping that this could go unsaid, but once again I find myself in the position of being seemingly the only person on these forums who both understands a problem and is willing to speak up about it. Yes, we all know that Infiltrators are highly visible on low graphics. Yes, the developers probably didn't intend it to be as horrible as it is. Yes, it is being considered a bug and is likely to get fixed soon in one way or another.

    This thread isn't about that.

    Simply put, no matter how much they tweak numbers around, our cloak on medium/high settings versus low settings will never achieve balance. The very best we can hope for in this regard is a momentary intersection, where the difficulty in seeing an Infiltrator is equal at one very specific distance. What am I talking about? Allow my assistant NaotaZ to demonstrate:


    Seeing the problem? I'm certain that you're seeing the Infiltrator, in any case. The problem is that the medium/high graphics stealth's distortion effect becomes exponentially more effective based on its distance from the viewer, while its gray silhouette cousin does not. One is completely transparent, and thus reflects the colors behind it exactly as they are (but displaced from where they should be - a displacement which is negligible at long ranges) while the other darkens them in a way which is immediately distinguishable against bright backgrounds, and from all ranges equally. This isn't even just about sniping, though, and keeping something other than the sky to your back won't solve the problem - any terrain whatsoever will do very little to conceal your outline unless it's the exact color of your silhouette already, and as some other images have already shown, you're not always a transparent black. Sometimes you show up as pure white instead.

    So, how do we fix this? Well, I can personally think of three solutions, and they are as follows:

    1. Make the cloak's visibility scale based on the Infiltrator's distance to the viewer. At distances where the Infiltrator should be seen, such as in my close range shot above, he's clearly visible enough on both graphics settings that it doesn't matter which one you're running.
    2. Use the same effect on all graphics settings. This is easy, but presents the problem of whether to screw over people with bad computers or screw over people who use their cloak for sniping. Given how Hunter Stealth was obviously designed for sniping since it sucks so much in close quarters, this is probably a hard question for SOE to answer.
    3. Just make the stupid thing 100% invisible already. No, it won't be overpowered. No, it won't ruin the game. I've gone on about this for months now and I've yet to see a single good argument for why we cannot have a perfect cloak. There is no reasonable demand (such as "sneaking should still involve skill") that it cannot be balanced to meet without still being useful.
  2. iller

    Actually they CAN unify them if they just disable all the extra Shaders & other useless eye candy crap that gets added to the more advanced DX shaders. Or if they can't even be arsed t do that much, simply set it server-side to Null-Model to make them completely invisible (like you said....). And before someone screams "that's OP", the reason that other Developers have gone that route is to foil 3rd Party apps (Cheaters) who would normally see that stealthed class brighter than daylight with their hacks which gives them a massive unfair advantage.

    If the class needs better Counter-Play mechanics, you don't do it with graphics that make people squint to try and spot you while someone else just instantly notices you a mile away on their 30", 3000 res TripleHeads. This is a story as old as Online Gaming itself (20+ years now). Just like they shouldn't be giving a massive advantage on blind corners to one person over another just b/c one of them spent $200 on audio equip while the other one is stuck with an Onboard POS. Footstep and Cloaking sounds in way too many online games have always been COMICALLY and completely unrealistically loud. It's time developers finally realized what a ****** move that is and just how stupid they really are if they can't come up with a more creative means of balancing non-spreadsheet mechanics.
    • Up x 2
  3. Dr. Euthanasia

    This is mostly in response to the people who think that everything will be okay if SOE just drops the low graphics visibility back down to what they think is an acceptable level. Your solution, to unify the settings, is creating a technical balance by removing all diversity from both sides, which is pretty much my second suggestion in spirit if nothing else.

    Regarding complete invisibility being a counter to third party programs, you're not wrong, but it's too much of a simplification. If the cloak is supposed to hide you from other players, why should when it works be in their hands? As a game designer, it's very easy to specify conditions under which the stealth class should be seen - maybe they're standing too close to a bright light, or right in the face of an enemy player. Maybe they're sprinting around like a total idiot and obviously not being stealthy like they're supposed to be. It's more fun for the player if they are only visible when these conditions are met, because it allows them to know when they're in danger and allows them to feel responsible for their own failures, rather than having no control over them whatsoever.

    Nobody should feel cheated for not seeing an Infiltrator. If you didn't, that means they did their job right and got past you. To the contrary, look at how many people feel guilty for seeing through the cloak of Infiltrators who aren't even doing anything wrong. They know that Hunter Stealth is worthless but can't bring themselves to just ignore an easy kill like that. The problems of this class run much deeper than cheaters and graphics settings disparities, but well, you've gotta start somewhere, right?
    • Up x 1
  4. iller

    That's the rub though, you can claim it's situational awareness all you want, but for the average players just barely above the very high skill floor, it's all luck. The TTK in every situation for every infantry class is way too short to even allow for all the constant looking-around required to both Move and and be on-guard at the same time for those "Environmental Hazards" you speak of. Plus the cloak time itself being so limited.... The bases are also so poorly and porously designed that even with invisibility, it's ALWAYS much more efficient to just non-stop flank with a bullet hose (especially if you're the Defense!) instead of constantly uncloaking to fire at someone else who's also always on the move & even looking your direction by the time you've uncloaked. <--- which doesn't even count as entertaining "CounterPlay" by the way. That's just WASD'ing all the time which frankly has always been a poorly designed response to games with much more effective Snipers & Backstabbers.

    I know what you're saying, it's completely correct for the situation. But you're thinking in terms of the Status Quo still. ...which ya'll need to get away from if this class is ever going to going to get out from under the tyrannical Metrics that SOE uses to "balance" everything.
  5. Dr. Euthanasia

    I have a whole, properly fleshed-out suggestion on a new type of stealth here, which I think at least has the potential to be forgiving enough for an average Infiltrator. Regarding the things which would make stealth fail, this is really up to the developers. They can include as many as they think is fair, and every one could come in a different degree of severity, like completely stripping the cloak or simply making an obvious noise. Admittedly, it's hard to have faith that SOE would do this right given their present track record, but I don't think I'm nearly important enough to dictate specifics to them either.

    Still, perfect stealth or not, this graphics settings disparity has to go. It's an indisputable fact that these two modes we have will never function on the same level as each other.