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CONTEST ZEJ Statistical Contest ~ Iteration 4

Discussion in 'Roleplaying Discussion' started by Eebit, May 11, 2016.

  1. ~ ZEJ Statistical Contest ~

    Welcome back to the ZEJ Statistical Contest. I'm your host, Eebit, and I'm here to (re-)introduce a little bit of friendly, creative competition to the statistical roleplayers of ZEJ with our fourth iteration of the contest!

    Iteration 4: Excess Ability Overhaul

    In this iteration of the ZEJ Statistical Contest, we are going to zone in on a particular element of the profile creation process that I cannot help but feel is often thrown to the wayside. We're going to focus a little more intently on a single facet of the profile creation process, where in past iterations we have looked at the profile as a whole. In this iteration, we're focusing on Excess Abilities, or X-Ability for short.

    Historically, the way we have seen X-Abilities handled is pretty rigid. Formulaic, even. The parameters have been pretty established over the course of statistical roleplaying's lifetime. You know -- 200% Piercing Damage for a single target. 150% Piercing Damage for an area of effect. 100% Piercing Damage for a Range of all enemies. Maybe throw in a "Chance of <x>" for the sake of a little personal flavour. Overall, it's a tried and true formula! But, to me, it lacks some character.

    There are some profiles where it fits just fine! There's really no problem with some profiles having the "standard form" of an X-Ability -- if it makes sense. The 200% Pierce nuke is nice for characters who are offense-oriented and can make use of that. But sometimes, I can't help but feel that it would push the profile just that little bit further if the X-Ability better cohered with the rest of the profile and its established mechanics. We've evolved in how complex our profiles are getting, but the X-Ability has not evolved with us. I think that there is an equal (or perhaps, greater) lack of X-Abilities for those character archetypes that aren't damage-oriented.

    I feel like, with this contest, it'll do us good in better establishing X-Abilities as a fundamental part of the character creation process. And maybe along the way, it'll unearth some wisdom on exactly what a "good" X-Ability looks like to the statistical roleplayers of ZEJ.

    Initially my idea was to make an X-Ability in complete isolation, but I thought that that would be a lot harder to do without the established context of a profile being right there. So, without any further fanfare, let me get to the important stuff!

    1. The TASK: The task in this iteration is to take an already-existing character and design a new X-Ability for them that breaks the mold of the "standard" X-Abilities. By this, I mean that participants should attempt to create something unconventional -- beyond the previously-described "200% Piercing Damage, Chance of <x>" X-Ability.

    I figured that taking an existing profile for the sake of improvement might make for a better sense of collaboration, and provide a "framework" to work within. There are plenty of characters with statistical profiles in our Character Database, but make sure that you ask permission if you would like to tackle a profile that was not created by you!

    A successful submission must:
    - Include a link to the original profile (either directly to a post containing the profile or a Pastebin submission of the profile).
    - Create a new, interesting X-Ability that does NOT follow the "typical" pattern of X-Abilities.
    - Not use the same X-Ability of the previous profile for submission.

    A successful submission could (should?):
    - Cohere with the profile that it is tied to. Perhaps by incorporating the individual mechanics that are laid out in the profile.
    - Attempt to tie in with the overall "direction" of the profile.
    --- For example, a character that tends towards the "Control" archetype might want an appropriate "zone control" X-Ability, while a "Support" character might want one that instead focuses on aiding their allies.
    - Keep in mind that an X-Ability is designed to not solely be about a single burst of Damage -- rather, it should be the manifestation of that character's "ultimate (or otherwise, signature) move".

    3. The DEADLINE: <IMPORTANT> As this is a challenge that has much smaller scope than previous challenges (we're really only focusing on one particular field of the profile creation process), I intend to keep this short and sweet to minimize procrastination. In the interests of maximal creativity, you guys have ONE WEEK -- that is, until MONDAY TUESDAY, MAY 17TH at 11:59pm EST to PM me (@"Eebit") the X-Ability of your character. There will be no deadline extensions.

    4. BONUS ROUND: For an added challenge, I'd like to extend the original challenge to encompass the E-Trigger of the chosen profile as well. Let your imagination run wild and think of a personal, character-specific steroid / buff to maximize their capabilities and push their playstyle to the limit!

    With that all established, I'd like to also mention that if you are planning on participating, please post in this thread (and if/once you have decided on it, include which profile you intend to tackle).
  2. You see some profiles around, especially older ones, that didn't have an X-Ability to begin with (often stating it's LOCKED). To be certain, are these profiles eligible for the purposes of this contest?

    In a similar vein, are profiles that already have X-Abilities that are 'unconventional' ineligible, or looked upon disfavorably for judging purposes?
  3. These are totally fair game!

    No, that doesn't disqualify them from being used in the competition.

    When judging, I won't really be taking into account the old X-Ability or its relative merits -- how the new one fits into the profile is much more important for the sake of the competition~
  4. What about profiles that need the meta revamped to begin with? I've been meaning to remake Mimring for the longest time and the X is a good starting point, but it's not going to match his extremely simple attack meta.
  5. Ah, right. I guess I hadn't quite thought that through for some of our older profiles... a simpler time with simpler concepts presented. For the sake of including those profiles that are "lacking" in particular strategic direction originally (before we had fancy-shmancy concepts like 'archetypes' or really any grasp on a burgeoning meta), I guess I'll overturn my earlier decision to say that I'll gauge how they "fit into" the profile.

    Ideally I think I would advise participants to tend towards a profile that has something to bounce ideas off of -- an Innate, perhaps, or an S-Ability that helps establish an overall direction or role for the profile -- but I won't put a stipulation that says you have to do this by any means. In the case of Mimring's profile, I'd say it's sufficient to just establish what sort of a direction you "see" the profile taking, without actually remaking the entire thing.
  6. Ohho, I'm all about this.
  7. May 17th is a Tuesday...!
  8. Thanks for the correction! I guess being out of school I've totally lost track of the days of the week :^)
  9. Already stated interest in the Skype but posting here as well.

  10. Quick reminder for those planning to participate that there are only two days left! Submissions are due at 11:59p on Tuesday.
  11. I have had like zero time to work on this. .-. Hope I'll manage it in the next 24h
  12. Today's the day! If you're planning to submit an entry, make sure you do it BY TODAY (May 17th) by 11:59pm EST! If you've already submitted (thank you!) but would like to revise your submission at all, I will only be reviewing the MOST RECENT one that you have sent me by the deadline.
  13. Alright, I'll be going through the final submissions over today and tomorrow, and then I'll have results up tomorrow evening. Please wait warmly, and whatnot.
  14. * Keileon waits so warmly that she bursts into flame
  15. "tomorrow for sure"

  16. The Results

    Did I say "tomorrow"? Well, in reality I meant "I'm a piece of garbage and I'll post it when I summon up an indeterminate amount of motivation sufficient for making results worthy of this competition." Yeah.

    (In actuality, I got a little bit busy and more than a little bit sidetracked, but I'll keep the excuse-making to a minimum and just apologize flat out for the delay. Thanks for being patient, guys~)

    Anyway, I had a good time with the entries on this contest! I am very pleased with the level of participation, as well as the level of the competition. Each of the entries, in my opinion, did a good job of following my (admittedly very hazy) directive of "breaking the mold." The creativity displayed makes me very excited for the future of X-Abilities as a more noteworthy aspect of the profile-making process -- and for statplaying in general!

    But enough prattling on. You guys came here for a reason, and that was to see the RESULTS of this competition, as well as me giving my thoughts. So, to start, I'd like to offer up the criteria that I loosely judged each X-Ability against:

    1. Does it break the "traditional" X-Ability mold?
    2. Does it cohere well with the "theme" of the character?
    3. Does it work well with the "focus" or "archetype" of the profile?
    4. Does the X-Ability boil down to an ultimate, concentrated instance of battle-turning power?

    Keeping these criteria in mind, let's go forward. I want to add a little bit more of my 'philosophy' to the discussion, as I'd like this to be just as much a learning experience and an open discussion about the X-Ability and its role in profiles as it is a competition. For me, an X-Ability has a defined place in the profile. I like to treat it as the ultimate expression of a character's playstyle in one concentrated, tide-turning instance. What do I mean by that? Well, to use an analogy with League of Legends, each champion is outfitted with an "ult" -- one move that has the capacity to turn a losing fight on its head, shake up the game, or even control the map a little better. IN GENERAL, these are singular, signature "moves" that don't always do damage, but they are the "crux" of a character's gameplay. A well- and properly-used "ult" should feel impactful, and there is a strong incentive to use it... at the right time.

    How does this translate to statplaying? The way I see it, there are strong parallels between my view on statplaying (particularly in the form of our Excess Processes) and the philosophy associated with League's champion design.

    I've discussed with @Shadow in the past the relative merits of the E-Triggers and the X-Abilities of ShadowSystem. In my opinion, the two have very distinctive roles in the profile -- E-Triggers are your 'steroids'. A self-buff that lasts a few turns and augments the playstyle of your character. It should be more than just slapping a ball of stats and a Doublecast buff onto your character and being done with it. With characters having increasingly-unique mechanics, an E-Trigger should be about extending that power -- putting all the eggs into one basket, and giving the character that extra little push to capitalize on all their "highs" (as well as mitigating their weak points). The power that E-Triggers bring to the table is definitely great; it has a defined role in the profile, and the "rigidity" of that role (that is, keeping them exclusively as a sustained self-buff for the purposes of "extending" the character's playstyle) is crucial for setting up a more coherent profile.

    But this competition is about X-Abilities. I feel that, with the advent of E-Triggers, X-Abilities have been shoved to the wayside - the creativity in E-Trigger creation has not been passed onto the X-Abilities in ShadowSystem. Here's where I'm going to get to my point. The X-Ability does not currently have the same role or "pulling power" to incentivize going past the five X-Levels required for characters to perform their E-Triggers. Our X-Abilities don't have the same PUNCH associated with the ults of League of Legends' champions. Holding onto ten X-Levels should, at least to me, have the concentrated essence of the character built into it. It should be impactful. It should have the capacity to turn the tides of battle in a single instance, rather than over a period of time like an E-Trigger.

    I welcome anyone to continue this discussion in the thread. I think that more discourse about the Excess Processes in ShadowSystem is important -- as I said in the original post, it helps to better establish what the purpose of each is, and how to better decouple them from one another.

    And now, we can get onto the actual results.


    Fourth Place: @"CodasterTheDisaster"

    Character: Jericho (from the roleplay Recursion)

    Cody entered with a souped-up version of one of his first-ever statistical profiles, which is neat because it gives the opportunity to "gauge" just how far he has come as a statplayer with a little bit of experience. I think it's really awesome to see someone get more invested with the system and experiment with things a little more, and this contest serves as a neat barometer for that.

    Here we have a really nifty E-Trigger that I feel really nails what I was talking about earlier. Overdrive (amusingly, also the name of the elusive third Excess Process type) really jives with Jericho's moveset. It's all about augmenting his playstyle, it coheres well thematically with the profile, it capitalizes on Jericho's unique strengths (the Augments he uses), and it soups him up for additional damage with an additional Basic Attack. I think that it is very well conceived.

    Unfortunately, as this is primarily a contest focused on X-Abilities and "breaking the mold," I have to admit that Horus Protocol doesn't really bring as much innovation to the table as its E-Trigger brethren. The visual is kind of neat -- having the character rocket through the battlefield, shunting enemies out of his way all the while is a cool concept, and the element of enabling Jericho to reposition himself is definitely an advantageous one.

    However, beyond that, Horus Protocol isn't breaking any new ground in terms of its effects. Paring it down to its core, it's a standard "Area of Effect" X-Ability -- Piercing Damage that is a little weaker due to the fact that it effects a Range, a lasting debuff... these effects are, unfortunately, a little too "cookie cutter" in the execution for me.

    Third Place: @"Keileon"

    Character: Mimring Thunderscale (statistical profile currently unused)

    Hoo boy. I really struggled with this one a lot, and I already have had a chat with Kuda as to why. So she surely knows it is coming...

    I would really like the E-Trigger... if it was an A-Skill (or a "Burst Skill" if we're looking at Euthora-Roul's unique statplay mechanics). From a philosophical perspective, this is not what I would call an E-Trigger at all. Despite its name of "Light Form", it is a single, isolated move rather than a prolonged buff (or transformation, as it were) of any sort. I feel that it is unfit to call this an E-Trigger, as such.

    Disregarding our fundamental differences in opinion on what constitutes an E-Trigger / X-Ability, Kuda has created a very neat skill that opens a fair few doors for Mimring as a unit. It plays well within the 'balance' of statplaying and in-character interactions -- it is an instant transmission skill that is blocked by objects carrying the Block Property, but allows Mimring through them if they're metallic. The Galvanic Cell setting is cool, as well, as it plays with the idea of conducting electricity if the environment allows for it. Thematically, Kuda shows a great understanding of one of her most historic characters. It's a versatile, unique sort of Movement-related skill that I feel would do well in Mimring's arsenal in the future, despite the absence of E-Triggers in ER statplays.

    As for the X-Ability... again, my definition and Kuda's are different here. Mimring having a "Burst Mode" is more fundamentally tied with the "sustained self-buff" that I associate with E-Triggers. Mimring's X-Ability here is obviously tailored specifically towards a statplay with Euthora-Roul's mechanics in play, so Mimring's "ultimate expression of power" would look a little different there than it would with a "traditional" ShadowSystem profile. These are all defensible points, but it is also a bit of a case of round hole, square peg.

    As stated well above this "judgment", my philosophy for an X-Ability is that it's intended to be the ultimate (or otherwise signature) move of the character. Mimring's used to be a move called Voltage Cross, which I'm certain will eventually reappear in Mimring's arsenal as Kuda advances in her "meta rehaul" of Mimring's profile. But the point of an X-Ability for me is to have a concentrated instance of battle-changing power in a singular move, so I am forced to ding Kuda and dock her a few points to that end.

    Rising Storm, for me, is an E-Trigger - itself a steroid - on steroids. It serves as a potent threat, effectively dishing out stinging punishment for an enemy getting too close with a well-conceived chain of effects -- doubled Int for Lightning-elemental moves, stacked on top of a Lightning-elemental aura of damage. It even plays with Elemental Weaknesses -- an underutilized mechanic these days, to be sure. Again, the thematics are excellent and work well with the "lore" of Euthora's dragons and with Mimring himself... but the impact of the X-Ability here is not quite the "concentrated essence" of battle-changing, tide-turning power expression that the next couple of X-Abilities are, for me.

    All the same, I look forward to seeing Mimring's new profile. If this is the kind of "first step" towards overhauling the profile, then the future holds good things. Good show!

    Second Place: @"Silver"

    Character: Celina Hereward (from the roleplay Styrofoam Clouds)

    I have to say, this was an incredibly close call to have to make. Between Arise, Great Flood and the eventual winner, both were incredibly strong in terms of the thematics and ties to the character in question. I love the idea here -- if you look at the profile in question, Celina as a unit can play with the Water Cells on the Grid instead of MP. The X-Ability here gives her a huge boost in her repertoire, giving her a whole heap of those Water Cells to work with. I like the idea of overriding the Atmosphere, as well. It's an underutilized mechanic, I think, so it's fun for me to see that Silver chose to capitalize on that aspect of it.

    There are a few technical issues that I see with the X-Ability here as a GM myself. First of all, there is a fair bit of ambiguity involved in some of the effects, particularly the setting of the Water Cells. The wording indicates that "Water Cells appear across the battlefield each turn," but it is not stated expressly where / how they appear. I would have liked a bit more guidance on how they should be placed -- that is to say, should I be randomly placing them? Should they grow from these originally-placed random Cells, or should they just continually be placed randomly? Again, this is a relatively minor issue, but it's one that I would like a little more clarity on. It's strictly a mechanical concern, and an easy-to-clarify one at that, but of course I have to judge what I was given.

    When I look at the strategic merits of Arise, Great Flood... I can see that it heavily benefits Celina herself (what, with the Infinite Movement and the slew of benefits that Celina gets from having a couple Water Cells lying around). But one thing I'd be concerned about is that I'm not sure if Silver intended for the Great Flood Atmosphere effects to impact all units (which, in my reading, would include those that are allied with her). Putting the party at risk of Drowning certainly would not make me want to be on her side for the duration of this X-Ability.

    Ambiguity aside, Silver has crafted two very strong Excess Processes that play to his chosen character's strengths AND serve to break the "standard mold," which is exactly the thing I was looking for when I created this contest. It pains me to have to split hairs on such a decision like this, but I am very pleased with his submission and the creativity that he displayed. Great show!

    First Place: @"CerberusLycan"

    Character: Reve Aisling (from the roleplay Oblivion Phantasy ~ Cardinal Sigil)

    And at the end of it all, the three-headed dog defends his throne of "statistical contest" glory. Night Terrors is a very interesting, very different look at Reve that I would not have not thought to take when brainstorming for an X-Ability for him. Much like Celina's Arise, Great Flood, I feel that there is a very strong tie to the character's unique mechanic -- in this case, the Astral Projection. In fact, Cerby went ahead and took it a step further; EVERYONE gets an Astral Projection.

    Night Terrors is something that enemies should be afraid of, to be sure. They will be pit against themselves, and there is nothing that they can do about it. Moreover, their stats will gradually be whittled away to nothing (or, well, halfway to nothing), which could be especially terrifying if their forces are many or are in close quarters. Having a Destruct Damage tacked on for good measure doesn't hurt either. Actually, that's a lie -- it will hurt the enemy party! Heyo!

    One thing that I wonder is why the E-Trigger, Lucid Daydream, was given a Skill Cancellation aura. Thematically, it's the single thing that I'm left questioning -- the rest of the E-Trigger is quite sound, and plays to Reve's strengths as a unit by replenishing his reserves. But again, that is a minor gripe and not one that falls necessarily within the scope of the competition.

    Congratulations, once again, to Cerby, and thanks for participating, guys! Be on the lookout for the next iteration, whenever it pops up~
  17. Knew I was getting docked points and didn't particularly expect to place higher than third anyway, so that's fine.

    I still disagree with your definition of X-Abilities though- I don't see anything wrong with having a sustained buff as an X. Just because you think it "should be" traditionally a single burst (lol) to turn the tables in an instant doesn't mean that something sustained wouldn't achieve the same effect. Granted, it's less useful in a situation where you absolutely need something that turn, but if used properly it gets the job done just as well.

    Besides, I thought the point of this contest was to break the mold we've seen with X-Abilities :p We certainly see few X-Abilities that last multiple turns, and honestly I feel like this sort of meta does its job in bringing some variety to the table.

    In your comparison between X-Abilities and "ultimates", I feel the need to bring up ESO's ultimates. See, for example, the ultimate for the Werewolf skill line: http://elderscrollsonline.wiki.fextralife.com/Werewolf+Skills

    "As stated well above this "judgment", my philosophy for an X-Ability is that it's intended to be the ultimate (or otherwise signature) move of the character."

    -- and Mimring's "ultimate" move is definitely Burst Mode. His signature might well be Voltage Cross, yes, but in no way is it the character's strongest technique. imo, just because it's not a one-off thing doesn't mean it's not a proper X-Ability, or signature move. My definition of the X-Ability is simply "a gamechanging ability" which can happen very easily with something with similar premise to the meta of Rising Storm. To me, E-Triggers are just effects that aren't strong enough to be a viable X but are perhaps too powerful to make a permissible Skill, S, or R. (Or B if you want to get technical... damn unnecessary splits...)

    At the end of the day it's just a difference in design philosophy- not even so much the differences between Shadowsystem and ER's system. That being said, I seem to have differing opinions on Excess Processes in general, because I also disagree with the thought that E-Triggers should be sustained effects and not one-off, skill-like abilities like Plasma Dragon is. Why not both?
  18. I want to point out that there's a difference between a "burst-esque" sustained effect and what amounts to a glorified E-Trigger. X-Abilities should amount to a "spike" or instantaneous increase in gamechanging potential, but the more one focuses on the "sustained" aspect, the more the line blurs between an X-Ability and a glorified E-Trigger.

    Actually, X-Abilities aren't really supposed to be the character's "strongest techniques", since eventually you'll get A-Skills on par with an X-Ability's relative powerlevel (more specifically, fourth A-Ability tier ones). I would say it's more apt to call them signature moves on their own--they are not the absolute strongest thing a character can do, but it's still significantly powerful enough to function as an "ace card", of sorts.

    E-Triggers, in addition, have to follow certain guidelines such as cohesion with the character's overall playstyle in terms of effects, so it's not like they can be any sort of buff that could function as an acceptable X/R/S/B-Ability.

    By no means unnecessary. If B-Abilities didn't exist, the Active effect meta would be virtually nonexistent in favor of the overstacking of Passives. It was a much needed change to the design philosophy of S-Abilities that lets players think in three different perspectives (Passive, Active, Trigger) rather than default to bland and repetitive double-passives.

    There have been a lot of in-depth discussions on the subject and I think it simply works best if we make this clear distinction between E-Triggers and X-Abilities in terms of mechanical role. Functionally, E-Triggers should work as "superpassives" and X-Abilities likewise should work as "superactives". It is much akin to how you're restricted to Trigger effects for R-Abilities, or Passive effects for S-Abilities, and so on. I feel that if the line between these two existing Excess Processes was blurred they would risk entirely falling apart due to redundancy. Why have an E-Trigger if the X-Ability is going to become your go-to powerboost? Why have an X-Ability if the E-Trigger is going to be your default superskill?

    The restrictions simply narrow down the scope of everything and gives players more precise domains to focus on. E-Triggers and X-Abilities should be functionally separate, and their role in battle should not overlap.

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