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5.10.1 PTS Refresh #2 (18th of January, 2019)

STAR WARS: The Old Republic > English > Public Test Server
5.10.1 PTS Refresh #2 (18th of January, 2019)
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MattPucevich's Avatar

01.18.2019 , 02:07 PM | #1 This is the last staff post in this thread.  

Technically I think this is refresh 3, but I never posted notes for refresh 2, so we're running with it and just sort of combining the notes. I won't tell if you don't.

Also no chorus of screams from upping the encounter to 252 so.... I guess we'll run with it >.>

More seriously, things seem to be cleaning up nicely. This refresh is more subtle QOL/Readability tweaks, and some feedback items brought up by all of you. I think we might actually squeeze in one more refresh early next week, so that we can get some performance information about our last few FX tweaks... so keep the feedback coming

Hive of the Mountain Queen:

  • The Hive of the Mountain Queen area now has a placeholder loading screen of an operative trying to stealthily sneak past the Royal Guards
  • Royal Guards now see through stealth.
  • Grenadiers now see through stealth and have Alertness.
  • Viscounts now have Interrupt Immunity
  • Fixed a bug where the Viscount's Pheromonic Blast ability was not properly interacting with pre-cracked eggs.
  • Egg VFX (everywhere in the hive) have been adjusted to make them more readable at a glance, and at range.
    • Cracked eggs' crack light shafts now extend further away from the egg, creating a much more pronounced halo of light
    • Empowered (Growth Hormone'd) eggs now increase in size, pulse, and their fiery uh... anger aura (?) is now red.
  • Hive of the Mountain Queen achievements are now categorized under Operations>Epic Enemies to match other lair bosses. The "Hive of the Mountain Queen" category there now correctly shows its name and has a background image.
  • Trophy portraits have been added and hooked up to the boss kill achievements. Traditional, tasteful, and chic; these framed pieces effortlessly accent any decor scheme, while giving your guests a glimpse into your exciting and adventurous night life.
  • Eggs in the hive no longer show nameplates to improve performance and encounter readability (a lot of green text all over everything isn't tremendously helpful). Unfortunately, as a consequence this means you won't be able to track their health bar when they're hit with a caustic dot. I think the pros outweigh the cons here, but if people feel strongly it can be reverted.

Mutated Geonosian Queen:

All Modes:
  • Caustic Drones and Elite Royal Guards will now die when the Mutated Geonosian Queen is defeated. Don't say we never do anything nice for you all. One of these days I'm going to make an encounter that resets if you fail to kill the remaining adds after the boss dies.
  • To aid in at-a-glance readability of the encounter state, Bantling Lacerators have had their toughness reduced to Strong (silver star). Their damage/health values have been counter-scaled so mechanically nothing's changed (well, more precisely, they'll be within 1%, subject to the vagaries of rounding error).
  • Adjusted the Queen's ability logic to ameliorate an issue that causes the Queen to occasionally abort her casts of Pheromonic Blast for no reason. It might still happen (there's technically still a race condition), but it should be much rarer. Note that it's still the case (and intended) that the Queen's cast will still be interrupted if the target dies or vanishes, as it is a targeted ability. If this in itself winds up being too abusable, we can pull the ability back one more step to be untargeted, but that's less fun.
  • Tweaked the logic of Growth Hormone (and Local Growth) to try and mitigate an issue where it could pick eggs for empowerment that were in the process of hatching and/or being destroyed. The changes should decrease the time window where this can happen, though I can't guarantee that it's completely gone.

  • Decreased the damage multiplier of Mass Pheromonic Blast from 0.5 to 0.4. (So it now does 40% of the base damage of Pheromonic Blast, down from 50%). This should make the burst from Mass Pheromonic Blast a bit more survivable.
Matt Pucevich | Designer
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Jerba's Avatar

01.19.2019 , 05:01 PM | #2
Thank you Matt for stopping by and watching our raid yesterday!

We noticed the following issues that IMO must be fixed before the boss is released:
  • After killing the boss, I still could not release to area start; the option was grayed out.
  • The achievement category now has a background image but it is still missing a name.
  • Sometimes, adds would spawn without entering combat; they would remain in their spawn position until we attacked them. As you can see in this screenshot, there are clearly adds standing in the distance but they don't appear as red dots on the minimap. It looks like this was introduced with the newest patch as we had never seen it during the previous patches. I saw it happen to both the adds hatching from eggs and to Royal Guards.
  • Tanks don't receive enough notification when being stunned by Overhead Skewer, so they often forget to use stun break or do a tank swap. Please turn the ability from an instant to a short cast (like 1 second), or add a red raid warning text.
    In theory, players could write a StarParse timer since the stun always happens at the same time into the fight but I don't think that third party mods should be required for a boss fight.

Here are some other issues that may or may not require fixing:
  • We spent a lot of time looking at Pheromonic Multi-Blast (PMB) and we can say with certainty that what's killing us is not the damage from the ability but the amount of adds that are spawning. If DPS positioned themselves correctly, we wouldn't get a lot of adds but in the hecticness of a boss fight, this is hard to avoid.
    A good compromise would be to only have two circles for the first 2-4 times PMB is casted, and then increase it to three circles. This would give groups with low DPS a little more breathing room.
  • We had a long debate on Staggering Strike. It is an overcomplicated mechanic that most groups will not understand, and if left unchanged, will cause many player deaths on the live servers. However, if the group otherwise makes no mistakes, they can just use their battle rezz (and stealth rezzes) and still kill the boss.
    The two main issues we had with Staggering Strike are that 1) Tanks would often lose aggro and the Staggering Strike would hit a DPS player, oftentimes killing him. 2) Players had trouble seeing the Concentrate cast and the subsequent Staggering Strike animation.
    The first issue is caused by the Guard's threat decay buff. The second issue is mostly a L2P issue, maybe amplified because of high latency from Europe to the PTS.
    Nevertheless, we think that the boss is already in a good state and does not need more nerfs. So we'd recommend to leave Staggering Strike as it is.
  • It is still possible to enter the outer poison areas without getting the Hive Goo DoT. You mentioned that an engineer has already fixed it so I guess we'll see it in the next patch. In any case, this is not a major issue as the Hive Goo DoT makes little difference on whether or not a group can kill the boss.

Regarding the other issues you mentioned:
  • Visibility of Egg States: Both the cracked and the red eggs are now much more visible, thank you very much for this change! We tested it in both low and high graphics settings and were easily able to notice the different egg states. The pulsating is not too noticeable from a distance but we can still see the red color. I also really like the bubbles on eggs that were hit by the Caustic Drone spit.
  • Differentiating Lacerators vs Berserkers: While there is a visual difference, in the midst of a boss fight we don't have time to look at the appearance, we can only only look at the nameplates. Changing the Lacerators to strong (silver) made a huge difference, thank you very much! For example, in this screenshot you can easily make out the Berserker from the ten Lacerators; this was not possible in the previous patches. Also, our players found that when tabbing through the enemies to find a Berserker, looking for the golden border is much easier than looking at the name or portrait.
  • Trash Stealth Skipping: This was a great change; it is now no longer practical to skip the trash. I agree that stealth detection is much more natural than adding an invisible wall or similar.
  • Growth Hormone FX Oddness: Thanks for the change, this fixes our concerns with that ability! The small projectile is not very noticeable but thanks to the changes to egg state visibility, we can quickly see which eggs were hit.
  • Queen aborting Pheromonic Blast: This bug no longer occurred so thank you very much for fixing it!
  • Off center Phase Gate Icon: Yes, this was already fixed in the previous patch.

All in all, I'd say the boss is tuned correctly.
SM is on-par with other SM bosses, so it should be killable by all pugs and guild groups. We only tested SM for a short amount yesterday but noticed no major issues. And thanks for mentioning that empty shells are bolstered differently than not wearing any gear; we were debating about that.
VM feels correctly tuned, maybe slightly underpowered but I think we're biased because we already spent more than ten hours on the boss. This is not a boss that should require five raid nights of progression before the first kill. In the current state, it will also be killable by good pugs but that is the case with all VM bosses (outside of Revan, M&B, Monolith, GftM) so I don't think that's a problem. It was definitely a good idea to buff the boss to 252; 248 would have been too easy.
Here's a video recording of our VM kill.

Regarding the loot, we saw three 252 pieces drop in both SM and VM (the same lockboxes players can get from the 10 dailies weekly). In addition, VM dropped the Forgotten Transformer crafting material.
However, we did not see the Monumental Data Crystal weekly quest that you mentioned; it was not on the terminal or any questgivers. I am also not sure if it is a good idea to reward it from a quest AKA turn it into personal loot. While this does solve loot drama, especially since players need to collect two Monumental Data Crystals on the same character to purchase the item, it means that raid groups will only need to kill the boss 4 times before everyone is best-in-slot. IMO, new content is a good return on investment if players run it just enough times before they become bored by it, and they won't yet be bored after 4 kills. On the other hand, players with multiple classes will still have to kill the boss 4 times per class, and the many trash groups before the boss make it feel repetitive.
If it remains a weekly quest, please ensure that players can pick it up without having to play through the Ossus story.
In any case, I really like the new decoration vendor that you added. This is great solution to keep the data crystals relevant after players are best-in-slot.
Scoundrel healer. Raid leader. Guild officer @ Tulak Hord

Eloi_BG's Avatar

01.21.2019 , 09:14 AM | #3
Quote: Originally Posted by MattPucevich View Post

Also no chorus of screams from upping the encounter to 252 so.... I guess we'll run with it >.>

Well here is one: "***" "OMG" "WHYY?!?!?!?"

On a serious note, I didn't say anything about it for 2 reasons: 1 I'm not on the PTS, and 2 I thought it was just a fun PTS experiment cause that's kinda what you said.

Anyway, I'm against this 252 tuning because my raid group was looking forward to new content that didn't require us to run weeklies that aren't operations. I can't judge how hard it is right now on PTS with 248s, but I was really liking the thought that we were going to be able to play this content without farming for 252/258 gear (because let's be honest, this new gearing system is a step backwards after all the good changes that were done to salvage the whole command crates mess).

Don't know if I'll be alone in this, but just wanted to let you know some people don't agree with the 252 tuning.
Nemio the Acceptable Player

Toraak's Avatar

01.21.2019 , 09:36 AM | #4
Quote: Originally Posted by Eloi_BG View Post
Well here is one: "***" "OMG" "WHYY?!?!?!?"

On a serious note, I didn't say anything about it for 2 reasons: 1 I'm not on the PTS, and 2 I thought it was just a fun PTS experiment cause that's kinda what you said.

Anyway, I'm against this 252 tuning because my raid group was looking forward to new content that didn't require us to run weeklies that aren't operations. I can't judge how hard it is right now on PTS with 248s, but I was really liking the thought that we were going to be able to play this content without farming for 252/258 gear (because let's be honest, this new gearing system is a step backwards after all the good changes that were done to salvage the whole command crates mess).

Don't know if I'll be alone in this, but just wanted to let you know some people don't agree with the 252 tuning.
I agree, should be left for 248's. If you made a NiM version that should be for 252, not Veteran mode. I know my guild won't be touching it on VM at all if it's set for 252's. Oh well.
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Huskernutz's Avatar

01.21.2019 , 02:27 PM | #5
Attempted the boss again on VM since the initial version and now have some more concrete feedback to give, so here it goes.

Overall Impressions
  • As far as the aesthetic and feel of the encounter space and boss goes I will say that I very much enjoy the change thematically from GFTM's metallic and droid filled encounter spaces.
  • I will agree with Matt's previous statements about the encounter length and definitely like having a lair boss that doesn't take 9+ minutes like Monolith does.
  • The changes to the VFX on the eggs and the removal of their nameplates is a welcome change from it's original incarnation and made coordinating where we placed the pheromonic blast a lot easier.

Encounter Difficulty
The change to 252, while not too significant a change in my opinion, is something I am slightly concerned about as far as the PuG-ability of this fight is concerned. This is mainly in regards to the execution of mechanics and how failure of them in punished in VM, which comes down the Royal Guards

The Royal Guards
the adds themselves have two main issues in my opinion, that being their Focus on the Present buff and the cast of Concentrate.
  • For the former of the two, this buff as a tank is more of an annoyance than anything and makes it extremely hard to utilize them to destroy buffed eggs around the encounter space. I wouldn't outright say this buff needs to go away or be nerfed, rather I think that as tank you should have the ability in some way to gain extended aggro of the add through taunts or other means such that the add isn't constantly bouncing back to you're strongest burst classes. This would allow for tanks to have some control of what is going on during this phase and make the recoverability from lots of buffed eggs (especially during the second rallying call) much easier.

  • For Concentrate and Staggering Strike, my main concerns with this is the ability to counteract the mechanic itself. Currently as it stands the cast of Concentrate is very fast (somewhere between .5s and 1s) this on top of the alacrity buff that the adds have in VM makes counteracting this cast nearly impossible and essentially makes the only way to stop staggering strike be to stun lock the add to prevent the attack. Allowing the option to interrupt the cast by making the cast longer would, in my opinion, would offer a nice additional bit of mechanic execution for the raid while also keeping the jeopardy of Staggering Strike present. Additionally, offering the ability to interrupt lock the add rather than stun lock them would free up the tanks to more easily move them around the room and destroy buffed eggs.

Small note on the use of adds to destroy eggs
There is currently no indication from either the Royal Guards or Caustic Drones that their abilities can be used to destroy eggs and cause them to not spawn adds other than if you pay very good attention to the visuals of the attacks(our raid group didn't even notice this until one person pointed it out after almost 5 pulls). I would recommend adding some flavor text buff to both of them so that groups learning the fight on live don't need to look up a guide just to know that they can do this.

Tuning wise the encounter itself doesn't feel that hard from an output perspective even with the upped difficulty to 252, I don't foresee many groups have troubles with killings adds fast or not hitting enrage. Rather as I stated I am more concerned about how punishing the royal guards are mechanically and the ability of the raid to recover from lack of destroying buffed eggs in a timely fashion. I also think that the transition to the PMB phase is a little too sudden and causes that phase to become very hectic as the raid not only has to deal with 200% more AoE blasts but also has to deal with caustic drones very quickly after that. I would agree with Jerba's compromise for this mechanic and have it gradually move up to 3 blasts rather than starting at 3 blasts.

Overall the tuning of the encounter is fine from my perspective, however, I think small mechanic tweaks to make the encounter less punishing would help since I personally don't think that this is a boss that VM/MM raid groups should have to spend more than 2 nights progging to start farming as the expected number of re-kills required for MH/OHs is quite high. All in all, I'm really enjoying the encounter (even if a bit frustrating at times) and look forward to pulling it on live.

26/26 Legacy Nightmares 5/5 Timed Runs pre-5.10
5/5 Nightmare Gods & NA First Destruction Incarnate without Jaydenz
5/6 Nightmare Dxun

Jerba's Avatar

01.21.2019 , 04:16 PM | #6
Quote: Originally Posted by Toraak View Post
I know my guild won't be touching it on VM at all if it's set for 252's.
I wouldn't worry too much about it; personally I didn't notice much of a difference between 248 and 252 tuning. Yes, the boss has slightly more HP and deals more damage but it is still killable. And don't forget that SM will drop 252 gear.

I'm not even sure what a 252 tuning is supposed to mean. As we all know, skill is much more important than gear. There is at least a 10-20% variance in DPS values for players with the same gear. In comparison, the difference between 248 and 252 gear is minuscule.
I don't have a strong opinion on whether it should be tuned to 248 or 252. I would be fine with a 248 tuning though I'd prefer the 252 tuning.

To me it feels like we'll finally get a real VM boss and not another hardmare boss like Rav/ToS/Mono/GftM. We haven't gotten a VM boss like that since DF/DP.
The boss requires some coordination but it's in line with what I'd expect from a VM boss. The DPS requirement is not too high, and there's plenty opportunity for healers to deal damage, and you can probably single-tank it if needed.
Scoundrel healer. Raid leader. Guild officer @ Tulak Hord