PVE Queue Updates: Reward & Difficulty Boosts incoming.

Charles Grey and Jeremy Randal just posted an update More Updates to Rewards and PvE Queue Difficulty on the forums.

What sets this apart from previous posts is that they’ve taken the time to describe in detail how the changes will be implemented, including a breakdown of the math.  Kudos to Charles and Jeremy for taking the time to dive us details.

It’s interesting to note that many of the changes for reward are impacting the ‘less used’ queues, and the difficulty are impacting the more popular ones.

The Post:

Another round of PvE queue updates have been made and are making their way to Tribble for extra testing. As mentioned previously, this is an ongoing effort to improve STO and this update (and those that came before) are not the entirety of what will be done.

New to Tribble this week:

No Win Scenario

The No Win Scenario, both Starfleet and Klingon versions, has been removed from the PvE queue list. With the increase in maximum player level from 50 to 60, we no longer feel this queue is accomplishing its job of providing an intense escalating challenge where players really have to struggle to advance to the later waves. We do have plans to revisit this queue in the near future and rebuild it so it can continue to live up to its name.

Mine Trap

The rewards for successfully completing this PvE queue have been increased by an additional 50% above what they have been previously. Additionally, the failure rewards have been increased by an additional 150% above their existing rewards.

Nukara Prime: Transdimensional Tactics

The rewards for successfully completing the Advanced and Elite versions of this PvE queue have been increased by an additional 100% above what they have been previously (the Normal version’s success rewards remain unchanged). Additionally, the failure rewards for the Normal version of this PvE queue have been increased by an additional 50% above their existing rewards (the Advanced and Elite versions’ failure rewards remain unchanged).

Lootcritter Comment:  I found this queue ridiculously difficult.  It seemed on the 2 attempts we made yesterday, any damage taken by the core triggered the optional fail.  Need more information here, or at least a better play-through example.

Vault Shuttle Event

We have fixed a bug that was preventing players from accessing the Advanced version of this queue (using the PvE queue window to enter the Advanced version would take you to the Normal version). Additionally, the rewards for successfully completing this PvE queue have been increased by an additional 150% above the existing rewards.

NPC Hitpoint / Shield Bonus Scaling Changes (Advanced and Elite difficulties only)

Shortly after the launch of Delta Rising, we noticed the effects of what turned out to be a mathematical error in the way multiple Hitpoint and Shield buffing passive powers were interacting with one another. This interaction was occurring only on a small number of NPCs which met both of the following criteria:

– Have a passive Hitpoint and/or Shield Buff that increases these pools above what an NPC of their Rank would usually have.
– Are found on Advanced and/or Elite Difficulty maps.

NPCs meeting both of the above criteria do not scale at the same rate as the rest of the NPCs in the game. These NPCs are mainly the “boss type” NPCs seen in queues, but this change, because of how it interacts with the aforementioned calculations, will effect different NPCs to different extremes.

It will NOT change the Hitpoint/Shield values on any NPC encountered on a Normal Difficulty map. The vast majority of NPCs encountered on Advanced and Elite Difficulty will also see no change, as they do not rely upon additional Hitpoint/Shield boosts other than those supplied by the Difficulty setting.

A few examples of specific high-hitpoint Boss NPCs that will be affected are:

– Tholian Project Leader (Transdimensional Tactics)
– The Spawnmother (Bug Hunt)
– The Borg Queen (Into the Hive, both Space and Ground)
– VSW Implacable (Battle of Korfez)

(It is worth noting that this will not affect the Crystalline Entity, as her scaling is handled in a different manner.)

One of the most widespread issues that this will resolve, is that NPCs on the Ground that rely upon a hitpoint boost to offset a lack of shields (Undine, Bluegills, Salt Vampires, etc.) will see an across-the-board increase in their health after this change. Although this will end up appearing as a 33-50% increase in maximum hitpoints for these types of enemies on Advanced and Elite difficulty, it will actually bring them in line with every other NPC in the game. We will be monitoring this particular aspect of the changes to see if it must be tuned separately.

For those that are interested, I’ve included a section about the math involved in this change below (titled “The Math”).

Increase to Skillpoints and Expertise from NPC Kills Base on Difficulty Modifier

We will also be increasing the SP and Expertise bonus for NPCs killed in Advanced and Elite mode. Numeric rewards in Advanced difficulty will increase from 125% to 150%, while in Elite difficulty they will increase from 200% to 250%.

Charles Gray & Jeremy Randall
Lead Content Designer, Systems Designer
Star Trek Online

The Math

For clarity’s sake, we’ll share the full mathematical issue, and its effects. For the purpose of this demonstration, let’s use simplified numbers to illustrate the point of how this hitpoint buff interacts with the Difficulty Scaling buffs, and the NPC’s base hitpoints (please note these are example values for simplicity, and not the true values in the game).

Base Hitpoints Value = 1
Elite Difficulty Hitpoints Modifier = 3

So here is a simple formula on how a typical NPC would scale:

1 * 3 = 3

So typical critters in Elite mode has 3x as many HP as in Basic mode. Now let’s take the Tholian Project Leader as an example. This boss NPC is found in the queue map “Transdimensional Tactics” which can be played at Advanced and Elite setting, and he relies upon a passive Hitpoint Buff. The passive hitpoint buff on this particular NPC has a very high value. 

Tholian Project Leader Passive Hitpoint Buff Modifier = 12

Under the existing system, as it currently sits on Holodeck, these figures interact incorrectly. Their mathematical relationship could be presented as:

1 * (3 + 12) = 15

This results in the final Hitpoint value on Elite being far lower proportionally than other NPCs. By design, the equation was expected to be presented as:

(1 * 12) * 3 = 36

As you can see, the difference can be fairly drastic. This particular NPC possesses the highest Hitpoint Buff of any NPC in the entire game and is an extreme example. Most Boss NPCs have buff magnitudes in the 1-5 range, rather than being in the ~12 neighborhood.

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