Enemy creature level and strength seems disjointed

Hello guys!

First off, the game is a surprisingly addictive little gem and this is coming from someone who’s played hundreds of AAA and not so AAA titles since the mid 90s, so my hats off to you, truly an excellent mix of variety, depth and some healthy randomness! Voted for it on Greenlight, you definitely deserve a Steam release.

However the UI or at least some help section will still need some work because the Steam forum would be flooded with questions at its current state. The library is of course a nice touch for those of us with a knack for the immersive or retro feel but people will want to find this info online as well, not to mention all the things not explained by the library.

Most importantly, the way enemies are generated is largely unexplained, yet it seems like the defining factor of how one should play the game. Are they based on your character level? Or your creatures’ levels? If the latter, how exactly does it work? Is it based on the strongest creature in your party (in which case you should try keeping them all evenly levelled, stabling the strong ones until the weak ones catch up)? Or an average of sorts (in which case it doesn’t matter)? Does the size of your party affect the calculation? Do the creatures in your stables count? And so on. Different answers to these questions would warrant strongly different playstyles so people will want to know this.

Take my situation for instance - I’m still pretty early in the game, playing a Life Mage currently at lvl 21 with a party of 2 lvl 25, 2 lvl 24 and 1 lvl 7 creature. I held off on summoning more than 4 creatures until recently because I was under the impression that enemy party size grows to always match mine so summoning a new weak lvl 1 creature might even put me at a disadvantage (unless that creature has a very attractive ability that makes it worth developing).
This impression came from the (probably) coincidence that enemy party size grew from an average of 2 to an average of 4 just when I summoned my 3rd and 4th creatures somewhere during the early levels. I say “probably” because when I went in with just 2 creatures in my party with the other 2 stabled, I still kept meeting parties of 3-4 enemies which seemed to disprove my assumption that they adapt to my party size. That is unless they only adapt upwards OR my stabled creatures count as well. See how many questions can arise here?

Anyway, even on lvl 1 realms I’m now pretty evenly matched by the parties I meet so I started wondering about enemy creature levels.

I bought a scroll of Identify Creature from the vendor in the war room and used it on some mobs at a fresh lvl 1 realm. Lo and behold, the enemy creatures were in the lvl 10-12 range and here’s what I don’t get:

How come an enemy lvl 10 Berserker Fiend has more hp (298) than any of my lvl 24-25 creatures (210-270)? By the way it also did ca. 130 damage per hit so it’s more than a match for anything I have.

Do note that all my creatures are equipped with artifacts, some of which seemed pretty decent to me, compared to the average loot. E.g. my Unicorn Vivifier at lvl 25 has some necklace giving it +56 hp along with tons of luck, speed, some all defense and an on hit effect and even so she’s “only” sitting at 272.

I checked a couple of other mobs and they were all lvl 10-12 and had 210-290 hp. My now lvl 9 Bloodhound has a grand total of 72 hp without artifacts. Needless to say, he rolls over every time one of these lvl 10 demigods looks at him funny. The only time he doesn’t get creamed in the first round is when nobody attacks him. It sucks to be a newly summoned creature in Siralim.

I read on here that unlocking the blacksmith equips enemies with artifacts too, however that still doesn’t explain these differences. The average artifact at my current level gives around +60 hp. So how can these lvl 10 grunts put up such a fight against my hardened lvl 20+ troop?

On a sidenote I personally think that artifacts should be a privilege of the player and some elite/named/boss monsters at best because power progression is a lot more satisfying when you feel like you’re actually gaining advantages as you progress instead of just working down your disadvantages.

I know it technically seems like the same thing, but our psychology just works that way - just like we’re happier for money gained than money not lost, we’re also happier for advantages gained than a disadvantage lost.

If you really must equip the mobs with artifacts then they should be of common quality, not the sort of legendary world destroyers that lvl 10 mobs must be decked out in now to give my lvl 25 creatures such a run for their money.

This is some great feedback - thanks for taking the time to type all of that out!

As it turns out, there is a bug with the Identify Creature spell where it incorrectly displays the target’s level. This has no actual effect on gameplay, but it is pretty confusing. That will be fixed for the next patch. Those “level 10 grunts” are probably much closer to your creatures’ level than what this spell shows.

I know that some of the information is a little ambiguous, but the game is meant to be played in a way that the player doesn’t need to consider any negative repercussions that stem from adding a new creature to your roster or leveling up your character. I don’t think we’re quite at the point where that’s a reality yet, but that’s the goal anyway. For what it’s worth, enemy creatures each scale to one of your own creatures individually. That means that if you have a level 43 creature, one of the enemies will scale to a level 43 creature as well (with some random variance, which is also impacted by the dungeon level you’re in). If the enemy happens to have more creatures than yourself, the “leftover” creatures will scale to the lowest level creature in your party.

Party size is determined by two factors: the number of creatures you’ve summoned so far (including those that are in your stable), and a hard character level cap that forces a certain party size after your character reaches a certain level. Both of these elements are in place to prevent exploiting the system by rigging boss fights and things like that.

Enemies now spawn with artifacts after you unlock the enchanter rather than the blacksmith which was intended to make the early game a little easier. However, I think the early game is still probably a bit more difficult than it should be. I’d like to scale the strength of enemy artifacts in such a way that they are not very strong early on, and grow to their full power after a certain point.

Can you elaborate on what you mean about negating disadvantages rather than earning advantages? The current purpose of artifacts is twofold: 1) to give players a choice about how they customize their creatures’ stats and to build synergies with various abilities and 2) to make each battle more dynamic by varying the enemies’ stats a bit. It might seem like you’re just playing “catch up” with enemies in the early levels, and that’s something that I want to correct. Later on, though, you’ll find legendary crafting materials that grant your artifacts new abilities or powerful on-hit attacks that enemies generally won’t spawn with.

Once again, thanks for your input! I definitely agree with several of your points and I think that re-balancing the early game should be a top priority right now.

The difficulty has been a WIP, it used to be in early versions that you kill a few bosses then they drop unique items and difficulty disappeared but you potentially got curb stomped till then. All that is done through item crafting now because it was useless before but now enemies have more fine tuned artifacts so you WILL get curb stomped.

The difficulty is improving as more players are offering feedback as well as this will likely improve as more features are added or adjusted.

Thank you for the quick and very detailed response Zack!

This explains many things. I’ll save your post into a little makeshift manual because that’s a lot of very useful and important info!

With the advantages/disadvantages bit I meant that in these games players typically start out equal to a baseline enemy which they then try to surpass (gain advantages over) to become equals of higher tier enemies which they then again try to surpass and so on.

For that they use the various power progression features of the game to outlevel, outgear, outcompose, etc the enemy.

However, if the baseline enemy starts out superior to your unit of the same level, then you’re at a disadvantage and until you reach the point of equality any power progression you make is just working off this disadvantage and does not feel like actual power progression eventhough you did become stronger. It instead feels like you merely fulfilled the minimum requirements to becoming combat-ready and beyond that is where the real progression starts, where you actually start gaining power that your enemy does not have, i.e. you gain advantages.

This is what happens if enemies start out with equipment while your units don’t. Any gear you equip that’s only good enough to match the enemy’s is just working off the disadvantage. It’s when you start equipping gear superior to theirs that you begin feeling like you really grew in power.

Now in Siralim this may not be such a big problem if enemies only have common gear, because such gear is easy to find (= minimal effort needed to work off the disadvantage) and there’s also room for progression (= advantage gain) beyond it through finding/making better gear.

My worry was that enemies, had they been just lvl 10, would’ve had to have such extreme top quality gear that the player would have a very hard time matching (= a lot of effort needed to work off the disadvantage) and could only match at best but never surpass (= no room for advantage gains on this front). Glad to hear this is not the case here. :slight_smile:

I’m still concerned about various on-hit effects on enemy gear though because I’ve seen a great deal of variance in their potency (some were very powerful) and they also seem to appear more frequently than how often I find gear with such effects myself.

Even if you leave it this way for the challenge, there’s still the problem that it doesn’t seem to factor into the reward system. An enemy with some extra powerful gear that took a long and bloody battle to defeat gives the same rewards as any other and that spoils some of the sweetness about the victory when you can’t help but think of how wasteful it was on a reward/time investment basis.

It is of course a good point that gear gives enemies a bit of variability in their stats but I agree that it could use some toning down at the early stages. Alternatively you could add some named/elite monsters to these groups and give gear only to these. The proportion of these special mobs could perhaps then increase as you venture to deeper realms. This would still break the monotony while toning down on the progression dampening effects of gear on every mob, especially early on. It’d also make sense lore-wise to have such special monsters leading those wandering parties and also explain who exactly is casting all those spells when we see no leading mage accompany those ragtag monsters.

The latter has been bugging me a bit to be honest - the “enemy casts xxxx”… but where does that really come from? My party can only cast spells because they have me, a spellweaving mage to lead them. There are no such mages leading enemy parties though yet their spells are often far more powerful than my own even at the lvl 1 realm, casting mass confuse, mass damage, mass stun, mass shielding, etc effects that would even cost me precious power balance if I wanted to cast them myself, if I even had them.

I don’t mean to sound negative though, I still enjoy the game and admire what you brought together here, I’m just trying to share my opinion and it’s completely up to you what you do with it. I absolutely agree with your ideas about easing/tweaking the early game somewhat. I had a real blast in the demo levels, got as deep as the lvl 6 realm but at around the time when I unlocked the enchanter I started getting pushed back and now I occasionally get down to lvl 4 but mostly stay in lvl 1-3 and that wore on my enjoyment a bit too. Now I know why. :slight_smile:

I still have a question regarding enemy strength/party size though - you mentioned that stabled units affect enemy party size too. On one hand I’m curious why that is but I’d also like to know if that effect can be eliminated by releasing those stabled units into the wild (EDIT: Tested and the answer seems to be yes, enemy party size goes back down). Also, about permanently removing/releasing creatures, does that also reduce the cost of new summons or is that something that’ll just keep increasing no matter what? (EDIT: The answer is also yes, summoning costs go back down too)

[i]EDIT:

I took the plunge and disbanded all 3 of my high lvl tier 1 units, only leaving my lvl 30 Unicorn Vivifier, the lvl 24 Bloodhound and a lvl 17 Servant Hunter and this changed a lot of things for the better. Enemy parties are now a lot more managable, plus the summoning and other costs also went down significantly.

Enemy gear hasn’t been a problem so far, though I only fought a handful of encounters with this matchup so I’ll need to experiment a bit more but I’m very glad to see the game is so flexible! Will post updates of my experiences once I see how this pans out.[/i]

The balancing act here is different because when you balance the game you are altering a dynamic system, obviously Zack is aware of static difficulty in games like DQM etc… But my impression is that he wants to do things in a different way.

It’s not that difficulty can’t be adjusted in a similar way but when accounting for variables it’s like the difference between a straight track and a track that is a snake trail, if you take the wrong turn your just as likely to derail everything.

Yes, going back to a different party size made me aware of just how interconnected every variable is here. Tuning such a system must be tricky indeed but I assume this is what makes the unlimited levelcap and infinitely generated content possible.

My complaints about certain seemingly imbalanced aspects were based on a large 5-6 creature party of high level bottom tier units but it seems like I was just doing it wrong because I thought them being high level would compensate for the fact that they were low tier when it actually did the opposite - it exacerbated their inferiority to higher tier enemies so that was just an inefficient approach on my part.

I’m perfectly fine with not being able to rock the field with even a bad lineup, but having the finer mechanics of the game explained is incredibly helpful so that the player can tell he’s doing it wrong. :slight_smile: Especially with a complex, non-standard system like this where it’d be difficult to just guess how it works.

The cost of summoning a new creature increases for each creature you already own, but it stops increasing after you have 6 creatures. The cost also scales to your character’s level, but the amount of resources you gain from battle, chests, and things like that also scale the same way so it’s pretty much negligible.

In terms of enemy pack sizes, you can “cheat the system” temporarily by releasing your creatures, but that will only work until you reach a certain level. For example, when your character reaches level 30, enemies will ALWAYS have six creatures.

I’ve actually pursued much the same path. I think it’s pretty much how many of us have played in similar games.

But now I’ve got four bottom tier creatures around level 15, and barely edge out a win in any battle. Enchanter’s available. So what’s the alternative? Go down a few dungeon levels and die constantly in the hopes of acquiring a few partcles? I’m not complaining; just trying to figure out how to play successfully, in effect.

One thing to keep in mind is that you aren’t really meant to be able to jump down to say, realm level 10, right away. The realm level should be viewed as a difficulty level and nothing more. It’s a perfectly viable option to grind on realm level 1 or 2 until you get some new creatures that have more synergy with the rest of your party, or find those last few crafting materials you need to create a powerful artifact.

Another thing to note is that each creature is intended to be viable at all points in the game. If you started the game as a Death Mage, for example, you can use the Lich Priest that you start with forever. Its stats are no better and no worse than any other Lich-type creature. So instead of trying to always have a party of new creatures, you might want to instead focus on building up some synergy among your team by finding creatures with abilities that complement each other. That’s the best way to progress deeper into the realms.

I’m new to the game, and only know many of the first level creatures. (And then, just as nodding acquaintainces. :wink: ) So could you perhaps provide an example of synergistic interplay, aside from the increase of dodging among multiple bats?

I admit, around level 3 to 12 or so were a breeze. After that, with the building of the enchanter, it’s gotten progressively more difficult on the first and second levels of dungeons. I’ve gone no further down.

Another thing to note is that each creature is intended to be viable at all points in the game. If you started the game as a Death Mage, for example, you can use the Lich Priest that you start with forever. Its stats are no better and no worse than any other Lich-type creature. So instead of trying to always have a party of new creatures, you might want to instead focus on building up some synergy among your team by finding creatures with abilities that complement each other. That's the best way to progress deeper into the realms.

So you could make it on low level creatures, provided they’re the kind that work together, and have strong enough artifacts? Perhaps I’m just not playing up the artifact angle enough.

Well, from a basic level, look at your creatures’ abilities and try to figure out what kind of artifact would make them work better. For example, Iron Golems gain 25% additional attack each turn, so it makes sense to stack a lot of +attack on your artifact and you should always get a weapon for this creature since they provide a large amount of attack as a primary stat.

To get a little more advanced, Lich Priests gain attack by sacrificing a percentage of their current health, so it makes sense to get a charm for them and stack lots of +max health. But since this sacrifice is based on CURRENT health, it would be nice if they could heal up a bit, right? So you might get a Priest of Light or a Blood Slime, whose abilities might allow you to heal your Lich Priest so that it can sacrifice more health, and in turn, gain more attack.

Or, maybe you’re using a fragile creature who has low health and defense, but extremely high attack. You might want to get a Pegasus (who will intercept attacks that would otherwise kill a creature) to keep the fragile creature safe.

There are tons of combinations like these that might seem insignificant at first, but as the game gets more difficult you’ll learn to appreciate them more. The stats that you enchant your artifacts with are just as important as the abilities your creatures have, so pay close attention to the ability descriptions so that you can find ways to capitalize on your creatures’ strengths and mitigate their weaknesses. And don’t forget about spells, either - I have a feeling that a lot of people overlook spells, but they’re intended to be used in almost every battle later on.

To get a little more advanced, Lich Priests gain attack by sacrificing a percentage of their current health, so it makes sense to get a charm for them and stack lots of +max health. But since this sacrifice is based on CURRENT health, it would be nice if they could heal up a bit, right? So you might get a Priest of Light or a Blood Slime, whose abilities might allow you to heal your Lich Priest so that it can sacrifice more health, and in turn, gain more attack.

Or, maybe you’re using a fragile creature who has low health and defense, but extremely high attack. You might want to get a Pegasus (who will intercept attacks that would otherwise kill a creature) to keep the fragile creature safe.

This sounds like synergies only become possible with higher level creatures mixed in the party, since I haven’t seen a Blood Slime, Pegasus, or Priest of Light, yet. I can accept that. It’s just that on the first two levels of any dungeon, my creatures are getting their monstrous butts handed to them. That would seem to imply we need to go deeper, earlier, before putting in the enchanter, to get those creatures and their synergies working. Would that be a fair statement?

And don't forget about spells, either - I have a feeling that a lot of people overlook spells, but they're intended to be used in almost every battle later on.

I suspect it’s a combination of cost and performance (or at least, it is for me). Emblems aren’t all that common, and I’m not seeing any definition of a spell–its realm, damage range, etc–on Bynine’s stock. (For that matter, there doesn’t appear to be any definition of anything in the guy’s stock. It’s tough to buy a pig in a poke. What do Robes of the Necromancer, etc, do, and who wears it?) He really needs more spells in stock, and for a lower price, if he wants to keep in business. Right now, my creatures can do a lot more damage than than the attack spells I’ve got, so using a spell in place a creature attack is a mistake. And spells like Petrify and Mind Blast aren’t showing up at Bynine’s. I suspect it’s meant to be that way, but that tends to cause hoarding.

The depth of the realm you visit doesn’t affect the creatures you encounter. To encounter new creatures, you need only complete the proper upgrades using the map in the War Room.

The examples I gave you were just some that I thought of off the top of my head. There are plenty available at lower levels as well.

Spells are intentionally scarce because they’re so incredibly useful that they’d be overpowered if they dropped like candy. The best place to find them is in the Sorcery realm, so if you haven’t already, you might want to unlock that realm next. I definitely agree that Bynine’s shop could use a description window, though, so I’ll make a note to do that for the next patch.

Just to clarify: are you dying frequently on realm level 1?

Last i checked this was something that happened to me but i have not checked in a few versions. With the version discrepancy of groupees as well as people that just don’t check there needs o be some in game notifier of the current installed version and the current available version.

Also your getting feedback/bug reports on versions different than the current build where at times certain issues may have been addressed so that should be a posting requirement as well.

There are a lot of issues with early difficulty and balancing and i think there needs to be a dedicated thread instead of 10 threads in as many different forums. I have a lot of thoughts about making difficulty more interesting but i have not suggested them because i feel the current difficulty issues need addressed first. It seems to be pretty clear that this is the feature players most want to be addressed.

Level 2.

Let me modify that. My units are up to level 20+, and being killed about 25% of the time on level 1.

I have decided to make it so that enemies only have a chance to spawn with an artifact in lower realm levels. For example, in realm level 1, each enemy has a 15% chance to spawn with an artifact. This chance increases with each realm level until it’s at 100%. This will make the early realm levels significantly easier so that you can farm materials, resources, or particles as needed. This will be the only difficulty nerf for now, but I’ll definitely keep an eye on your feedback to see if further adjustments are needed.

Edit: I’d like to add that enemies will still have a 0% chance to spawn with an artifact before you unlock the enchanter.

I like that. It’s sneaky, meaning you’re never sure until several levels down whether the enemy you face at any given time will be run-of-the-mill or on steroids. Keeps you on your toes.

[quote=“Zack, post:17, topic:145”]I have decided to make it so that enemies only have a chance to spawn with an artifact in lower realm levels. For example, in realm level 1, each enemy has a 15% chance to spawn with an artifact. This chance increases with each realm level until it’s at 100%. This will make the early realm levels significantly easier so that you can farm materials, resources, or particles as needed. This will be the only difficulty nerf for now, but I’ll definitely keep an eye on your feedback to see if further adjustments are needed.

Edit: I’d like to add that enemies will still have a 0% chance to spawn with an artifact before you unlock the enchanter.[/quote]

That sounds like a much better balance, i would like for there to be in the long run a modifier based on monster/player level as well as monster enchantments/amount of monsters in the party as well as nether monsters affecting rarity as well.

[quote=“Bazoril, post:5, topic:145”]The balancing act here is different because when you balance the game you are altering a dynamic system, obviously Zack is aware of static difficulty in games like DQM etc… But my impression is that he wants to do things in a different way.

It’s not that difficulty can’t be adjusted in a similar way but when accounting for variables it’s like the difference between a straight track and a track that is a snake trail, if you take the wrong turn your just as likely to derail everything.[/quote]

Why not have both? Perhaps a bunch of static levels leading up to level one hundred, and then have dynamic levels after that.
Scatter 30% of the monsters in these static levels, the rest in these dynamic levels. (of course throw some dynamic levels as you climb to 100)
I understand this is a massive undertaking, but it might be a nice changeup.