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Nexus Clash :: View topic - Morality - What's the Purpose?
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Morality - What's the Purpose?
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Kallas
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 08, 2021 6:45 pm    Post subject: Morality - What's the Purpose? Reply with quote

So, a little bit of an 'I'm annoyed' thread, so apologies if I get off track here.

The main point of this is to ask: what's the point of Morality?

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TL;DR:
Morality impacts 'good' characters, especially Angels, far, far more than others, and 'evil' characters have a significant advantage as they don't have to work to actually maintain their morality; so what is the purpose of the morality system?

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Currently, it only really has any kind of effect on Angels. It restricts who you can attack (and/or forces you to pay a CP tax on Hand of Zealotry/Holier Than Thou), or else lose your class abilities.
Demons do lose their class abilities if they become not-evil, but actually becoming not-evil takes more actual thought: it requires you to do supporting actions (eg, healing others).

Some neutral classes have some effects that care about MO (Nexus Champions' Tattoo of Balance/Equilibrium and Tattoo of Opposition) but even they have effects at almost all points on the MO spectrum (while Balance/Equilibrium and Opposition can have no impact in certain situations, the MO of the NC doesn't cause the loss of all NC abilities).

Are Angels intended to be definitively more powerful than other classes, but be more restricted? As someone who played way back when in NexusWar, I vaguely recall that this may have been the intended design paradigm, but I'm willing to bet my memory is blurred on anything NW related.

In the current form of NC, are Angels actually more powerful? Infernal Behemoths have some disadvantages against, say Seraphs - Seraphs are insanely effective tanks, and Advocates can be solid tanks; but IBs hit very hard. The difference between Angelic, Demonic and neutral damage dealers appears to be pretty minimal.

So here's one of the big examples I have about MO being decidedly 'anti-Angel' and not actually a useful mechanic. Raiding a neutral faction with a Lightspeaker - I first off have to dismiss my Aethersprites, because they will heal the enemy's "good" neutral characters. Then, when we get to the grind, my Judgemasters won't even attack the "good" neutral characters. I literally cannot use my class's only capabilities (ie, pets: the LS has two skills that do not deal with pets, and that's Verdant Sling and Wings) to fight, because a neutral class has done a few good things recently.

These neutral characters get to do some temporary things and be classed as "good" - despite having chosen to align themselves with neutral Elder Powers (or no powers), as well as joining a neutral faction that means they are actually actively opposed to the good Elder Powers. Yet the "good" Angels cannot do anything about this because it's an 'evil action' and actually trying to defeat them will cause them to lose MO and eventually their class abilities.

Huh? That...just doesn't make much sense.

So, what's the point of Morality? In what way is it a useful tool to drive the combat that's supposedly at the heart of NexusClash - that being factional warfare? Factions are a declaration of support for a certain alignment.

We already see that Stronghold tiles dictate certain alignment changes (eg, being inside an Evil Stronghold means you cannot benefit from the Morality shift towards good for, say, healing), and that makes a certain amount of sense, logically: if you're attacking an evil faction's "good" character...it doesn't really matter, because they've aligned themselves with an organisation dedicated to the cause of evil, so why should you be punished for attacking them. As a note, this is something that actively helps evil characters: they can maintain their evil morality alignment in an evil faction even when they're doing 'good' actions (eg, healing others). So, for instance, an evil morality Demon can actually heal up their neutral-class faction mates...without having to worry about losing their class abilities.

We can also see that in some raid situations it's entirely possible for a character to accidentally hit - or even kill - a faction mate. In this circumstance, an Angel killing another Angel is massively impacted by a large MO penalty; evil character? Doesn't care (morality-wise) because they're already evil and can't go lower; so their accident is entirely irrelevant (as it matters to their morality: obviously they probably didn't want to kill off their faction mate!). So this is another example where 'good morality = a negative' and the opposite is not true.

Let's look at the mid levels too. A good character must be careful to not engage with enemies that will cause them to lose MO: so a Paladin is limited in what targets they can attack...but a Pariah is not. A Pariah is free to attack and kill whoever they feel like, because attacking any character (bar a Redeemed who actually has their Mask of the Penitent active) won't cause them to gain MO and risk losing their class abilities. Just from a fundamental viewpoint, this gives evil characters a decidedly easier time with the combat element of levelling up. When it comes to healing, Demons might have a disadvantage, as healing themselves doesn't grant XP (but that's true for good characters too) and they can't provide XP for non-Demons that might otherwise benefit from healing them. In this case, what's the point of Morality? All it does here is hinder who good characters can attack and inconveniences the friends of Demons (more than the Demons themselves). In fact, in this instance, it's even worse for good characters: a good MO hitting a good MO character is penalised even more than a neutral/evil MO character doing the same.

Morality shifts trend towards making a character evil. There are, using the wiki's page on Morality as a guide, far more things that cause a character to lose morality than there are to gain morality. As a good character: 14 things are 'evil' while only 7 are 'good; for neutrals that's 11 'evil', and only 7 good again; for evil characters they have 9 'evil' and only 4 'good' actions. So being evil is far, far, far easier. Now, that's obvious, and also pretty reasonable...but what's the point? If Angels and Demons are roughly on par, power-wise, why is it so much easier to be a Demon? You don't risk losing your abilities even nearly as much, yet you have approximately the same kind of raw power.

Hell, let's talk support. Obviously Angels have quite a few buffing capabilities, and Demons conversely have a good amount of debuffing abilities (especially the DO). Demons obviously can't get outside healing, but what they can do is generate healing (and MP regeneration: Blood and Soul Ice) which they can share between themselves and other allies - oh, and Angels using them lose MO, because of course they do! So Demons can actually generate resources for themselves and allies. Angels can do some great buffing with the Advocate (Anoint/Holy Transfer) but that's using up resources; there isn't actually any Angelic ability that creates a new resource (besides Alchemy, which of course every alignment gets).

So, uh, what's the point of Morality?

It's something that forces good characters to be good, or lose the whole point of their classes (and that's kind of fine); but there's no significant penalty to being evil, aside from being a target for good factions - which you were going to be anyway. I guess that's the only positive for a good character (and by extension, a good faction) is that other good factions don't raid you? Honestly, doesn't seem like much.

I'll be honest, I don't really have an alternative to suggest right now, or some kind of fix - this is part rant/part appeal for help making the system less broken. I'm not advocating for OP Angels (in fact, I feel like Seraphs could do with a bit of a tone-down, but that's not for this thread), and I'm not asking for neutered Demons - but I don't see how the Morality system is beneficial in driving good-vs-evil (and also neutral?) combat when it only actually benefits evil characters. Yes, there's something to be said for the morality-play-type tale of, "good characters do good things without expecting anything" - but this is a game, and this is a game mechanic that serves to negatively impede a specific portion of the playable classes while serving little to no hindrance to the other end.

If a good morality is supposed to be 'better' in some way, what way can that be expressed in the game? Obviously assigning numerical values to a nebulous concept is difficult.

Or is the good morality supposed to be equal to the evil morality (from a gameplay perspective)? If they are supposed to be equal, then how do we balance them out, because as it currently stands, being a good morality character is just a flat harder game experience.[/b]
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Lagn
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 08, 2021 7:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Being evil (well, demonic) actually does have some major drawbacks, such as the inability to be healed by others and being barred from the use of certain items like Angel Tears.
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Kallas
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 08, 2021 8:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lagn wrote:
Being evil (well, demonic) actually does have some major drawbacks, such as the inability to be healed by others and being barred from the use of certain items like Angel Tears.


Sure, there are some drawbacks to being a Demon - but I did actually mention the heal issue (and that Demons can actually generate a resource that cannot be used by Angels without morality concerns). But there's still the issue of evil Transcended. What's their penalty? They can be healed by others; and they can use Angel Tears. What's the downside here?

This is kind of my point. Yes, Demons do have some mitigation, but I don't consider the healing penalty to be a huge one - it's more of a problem for Feral Demons, than for factioned ones, who can readily share their healing resources.

Also, you didn't really touch on the point: what's the point of the system? Is it because Angels are considered to be significantly more powerful, and is that really the case?
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Fellis
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 08, 2021 10:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Morality system should just be removed and the game mechanics should be adjusted. Give a timed debuff for angels hitting people in neutral factions unless they have HoZ, and they can hit good factions if they have HTT, but take a harsher debuff for angel kills.

I think the only other class that has morality considerations is Nexus Champ, and they could use some rework anyway. 2/3rds of the game doesn't meaningfully interact with morality and unless this is changing in b5, I think all of this is pretty valid.

I wouldn't want angels to get more powerful in exchange for a more stringent morality system or anything though, I think that historically led to angels just being more oppressive in the meta and pounding evil because they were safer to hit. Angels are already more powerful than demons imo, but I think the two sides are in a good shape (except for fallen and howler which should be mercy killed)
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Kallas
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 08, 2021 11:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fellis wrote:
[stuff]


I agree with everything Razz

I just don't see where the value is in the current system.
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SaltedSalmon
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 09, 2021 6:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Okay so, I just want to say a few things.
The system we have now is pretty bad, since its awkward in how it grades people as good-evil, so I'd like to have it reworked.

But not being able to kill good people is great. I mean, maybe not right now, but I imagine that by next breath (Assuming everything goes as I understand, but even then) it will become a great thing. Now , nearly half of the game's playerbase is discouraged from killing you, and not being able to kill them won't be a big deal since there will be more ways to earn EXP without killing people.
Hell, I wonder how evil could possibly win the breath considering the demon-to-angel population is nearly 1-1 but the latter doesn't spend AP fighting itself.
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oath2order
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 18, 2021 11:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fellis wrote:
Morality system should just be removed and the game mechanics should be adjusted. Give a timed debuff for angels hitting people in neutral factions unless they have HoZ, and they can hit good factions if they have HTT, but take a harsher debuff for angel kills.


What bothers me about HTT is that it only works for angels who are lesser morality than you. Which 9 times out of 10, other angels are going to have max morality. So you lose morality. Which I feel should be changed to be less than or equal to.
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 18, 2021 1:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

oath2order wrote:
What bothers me about HTT is that it only works for angels who are lesser morality than you. Which 9 times out of 10, other angels are going to have max morality. So you lose morality. Which I feel should be changed to be less than or equal to.


Whereas I fervently disagree with this. Lorewise, there is no way the Good Elder powers would allow an angel to attack a paragon of good morality without repercussions
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Xshu
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 19, 2021 5:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Redeemed would have to be completely reworked if they got rid of the morality system. I'm not necessarily saying that's bad, I'm just saying it's pretty integral to their abilities. The Nexus Champion, Fallen, and Advocate would also need some of their abilities changed/replaced.

I feel like the individual demons are a little stronger than the angels, having unusual powers angels don't get like stealing pets or ignoring soak (not to mention Unholy damage is just plain better than Holy), but angels are better at raiding and defending because they have more cooperative abilities.

Angels:

Cloak of Divine Resolve
Absolve Suffering
Heal Others
Energize
Blessing of Inspiration
Anoint
Holy Transfer
Healing Aura
Sin Eater (Not actually useful in a raid but still support. Also kind of awful?)
Aethersprites
Lamp of Clinging Purity
Ultimate Suffering... Sort of? This also seem pretty bad.

Demons:

Life/Soul Vampire, sort of.
Scream of the Banshee
Curse of Blood
Agony Curse
Intimidating Aura

In addition, while demons have easily the most powerful AoE attack in Keening of the Damned, the only other AoE attacks they have are Wail of the Dead and Explosive Murder. If you're not the Doom Howler you have to blow yourself up to do it. Meanwhile, angels have Wing Shards Flurry, Cleansing Flame, Static Burst, Volcanic Blast, Song of the Word, and Radiant Storm. You could argue that the submachine gun and flamethrower are more geared towards demons since angels don't have gun support, but that would still leave the angels with more — and Transcended characters have gun support as well, so good Wizards and Eternal Soldiers can use them in good factions.

The good aligned guilds also encourage cooperation, while at least one of the bad guilds can actually kill your entire faction if it cascades.

As for your actual complaints:

Kallas wrote:
Currently, it only really has any kind of effect on Angels. It restricts who you can attack (and/or forces you to pay a CP tax on Hand of Zealotry/Holier Than Thou), or else lose your class abilities.
Demons do lose their class abilities if they become not-evil, but actually becoming not-evil takes more actual thought: it requires you to do supporting actions (eg, healing others).
Isn't that kind of the point? It should be harder to be an angel than a demon. Evil is easy because you can do basically whatever you want. Good is more rewarding because it discourages other good factions/characters from attacking you. I've avoided going neutral as a feral Revenant specifically because I want the limited protection staying good offers, but this means passing up some targets.

Kallas wrote:
So here's one of the big examples I have about MO being decidedly 'anti-Angel' and not actually a useful mechanic. Raiding a neutral faction with a Lightspeaker -
Doesn't seem like a very good thing to do, but alright. I guess Namm would approve; probably not the other two.

Kallas wrote:
These neutral characters get to do some temporary things and be classed as "good" - despite having chosen to align themselves with neutral Elder Powers (or no powers), as well as joining a neutral faction that means they are actually actively opposed to the good Elder Powers.
The neutral powers are not actively opposed to the good powers, they are neutral. Only Namm is actually hostile to the neutral powers, which is the purpose of the Hand of Zealotry skill. You are not supposed to attack neutral characters as an angel. If you attack a neutral faction as a good faction, you bear the moral burden of doing so. You seem to want the game to be a free-for-all where angels can dish out divine justice to whoever they want. I am strongly opposed to this.

Kallas wrote:
if you're attacking an evil faction's "good" character...it doesn't really matter, because they've aligned themselves with an organisation dedicated to the cause of evil, so why should you be punished for attacking them.
If a person goes out to save lives every day and is constantly thinking "man I'd sure love to eat these people" but never actually hurts anyone, are they a good or bad person? Nexus Clash seems to be taking the consequentialist position: they're good because they do good things, regardless of what they support.

Kallas wrote:
We can also see that in some raid situations it's entirely possible for a character to accidentally hit - or even kill - a faction mate. In this circumstance, an Angel killing another Angel is massively impacted by a large MO penalty; evil character? Doesn't care
This is not Reds vs Blues. It's Angels vs Demons. A demon wouldn't really care about harming an ally; an angel would. I don't want the game completely divorced from the lore in the way you appear to be advocating for.

Kallas wrote:
In this case, what's the point of Morality? All it does here is hinder who good characters can attack
Good! Why in the world would a good person be allowed to attack anyone they want? Evil is supposed to be the easy path. If you don't want to be evil but you want to be able to attack whoever, there's plenty of wiggle room as a neutral character.

Kallas wrote:
Angels can do some great buffing with the Advocate (Anoint/Holy Transfer) but that's using up resources
Unless you're talking about MP, I'm not sure how Holy Transfer uses resources.

Kallas wrote:
there isn't actually any Angelic ability that creates a new resource
Well. There's Ultimate Suffering, but it's pretty bad.

Kallas wrote:
So, uh, what's the point of Morality?
Near as I can tell, it exists to enforce the lore. Baraas and especially Alonai would be furious if angels were running around lopping the heads off of neutrals. Good and evil aren't just team names, they represent actual practices. How would angels and demons be any different if they were both murdering an equal number of neutrals? The cannibalistic nature of evil and the relative difficulty being good are built into the game. Being evil means you're a target to everyone and being good means you're attacked less but you have to pick your targets.

Kallas wrote:
I'm not advocating for OP Angels (in fact, I feel like Seraphs could do with a bit of a tone-down, but that's not for this thread)
Ehhh. Seraphs have a lot of powerful abilities, but they're extremely CP hungry. They only get OP if you grind out a million badges for them, imo.

Kallas wrote:
If they are supposed to be equal, then how do we balance them out, because as it currently stands, being a good morality character is just a flat harder game experience.
That's simply not true. I just hung out for two weeks grinding books as a good character in Elysium without going back to base. Do you know how often I died there? Twice. I just slept near the vault of enlightenment with other characters, searching and helping non-factionmates with Sol Invictus. I've done the same thing in Stygia while looking for Lore of Haldon among a bunch of good characters and pets who were not my factionates, and it took a few days before anyone broke up the party. As a demon, I can't spend thirty seconds standing in one place outside my stronghold in Stygia without dying, and it's not because of the imps.
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Kandarin
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 19, 2021 10:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Xshu wrote:
The Redeemed would have to be completely reworked if they got rid of the morality system. I'm not necessarily saying that's bad, I'm just saying it's pretty integral to their abilities. The Nexus Champion, Fallen, and Advocate would also need some of their abilities changed/replaced.


As someone who can see and regularly interacts with the codebase, I should expand on this.

Removing the morality system would require tearing a lot of extremely basic aspects of the Nexus codebase up by the roots and completely redoing them. It would be by far the largest coding undertaking ever done in Nexus, easily eclipsing all the work done for B5 so far. That is to say nothing of coding a comprehensive new replacement and attaching it to everything, which would be an even bigger task.

Doing so would also mean getting rid of an enormous amount of B5 content in the works that uses the morality system (including carrot incentives to be evil), deleting years of dev work in the process. The mechanics in the works, some of which flesh out gaps missing in the current system, would have to be killed before the playerbase ever got to play with them. I cannot imagine any current dev wanting to continue on or invest work and energy in future development after such a sudden about-face that disregarded their efforts so far.

In short, a new Breath would be delayed even further by a large amount of time, and it's possible that it would be the thing that finally killed Nexus development forever. This is no small undertaking, and to do it the case would have to be made that this is Nexus' single largest issue that needs to be prioritized above all else - and to the exclusion of all else. I can't speak for every dev, but I'm not seeing that case.

As for what the point is, a couple of core design goals of Nexus are at play here, namely:
A) The game is a battle between Good Angels, Evil Demons and the Free-Will-focused Unaligned.
B) Things that are true in the lore should, whenever possible, be reflected by in-game mechanics.
C) Different classes and sides should offer a meaningfully different experience of play from one another.

Most criticisms of the morality system, one way or another, seem to come down to an argument that B) isn't being reflected well enough. And these are often fair criticisms. Namm is easily fooled. Aethersprites are (or were until recently) kinda dumb when it comes to actually looking out for the well-being of angelkind. Morality doesn't impact enough stuff. The Dark Powers don't offer a lot of incentives to actually be evil. We are always looking to improve these things as need and opportunities arise, because a lot of the ways some things work are simply carryovers from a bygone age that haven't been addressed yet. The nature of Nexus development post-2018 is continuous improvement.
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 21, 2021 9:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kallas is first and foremost out here stating that Lightspeaker should get the same treatment as other Good classes when it comes to fighting people who are Good MO in an Unaligned or Evil faction inside that faction's stronghold, or for that matter with raiders who happen to be Good MO attacking the Lightspeaker's stronghold (less relevant as the tank should have drawn all aggro but still)... and we've got people out here saying that they want 'a FrEe fOR aLL' and also 'iT'Ll kIlL NexUS ClaSH DeVelOpmEnT fORevEr'.

What a fucking bruh moment.

The Aethersprite change was nice and don't get me wrong, it was much appreciated, but it's the lesser half of the whole. Fix Judgemasters, and for that matter other Good-locked pets and AoEs so that they can actually hit people who're Good MO when they're inside their Unaligned/Evil faction's SH.

You know what that would make Lightspeaker (and Fire HC) like?

Exactly like every other angel attacker with the mandatory Hand of Zealotry, who can attack through the Unaligned/Evil stronghold with impunity.

There's nothing to be argued there and that is not negotiable. Without some hard-ass evidence, I can't see ANY way that it's some massive or unimplementable fix to change pet and AoE targeting to work-off the MO applied by stronghold overrides; like everything else does (just to reiterate), as opposed to the ''''''''''true'''''''''' MO characters have individually.

I'm not interested in a load of concern trolling or, in fairness, a wider MO rework because I accept that it wasn't put on the table early in B5 development and now it's too late to implement it. It wasn't put on the table early in B5 development because of crappy prioritisation, since it was/is so obviously a major issue, but it is what it is now and we'll have to live with the current MO system jank and hope for it in particular to be incrementally improved by B5 additions; ideally all the new toys brought by B5 will more than make-up for that disappointment anyways, since honestly it is true that it's impossible to fix every single historically bad Nexus Clash mechanic in one megapatch.

But none of that is relevant to Lightspeaker and Good AoE targeting (Song of the Word, Cleansing Flame etc.) inside strongholds. That just significantly nerfs the viability of those two things specifically, and isn't even a weakness shared by angels in general - it's shitty mechanical jank on the back-end, which makes Lightspeaker unable to reliably get its main offensive job done - mid-late raid cleanup after the direct attackers have consumed most of their AP. This is one of the most annoying and meta-impactful bugs that still exists today.

Fix it.

I mean I'll say please if I have to, 'fix it, please' out of courtesy, but come on, this big bug is years old now.
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 21, 2021 4:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Alyss wrote:
Kallas is first and foremost out here stating that Lightspeaker should get the same treatment as other Good classes when it comes to fighting people who are Good MO in an Unaligned or Evil faction inside that faction's stronghold, or for that matter with raiders who happen to be Good MO attacking the Lightspeaker's stronghold (less relevant as the tank should have drawn all aggro but still)... and we've got people out here saying that they want 'a FrEe fOR aLL' and also 'iT'Ll kIlL NexUS ClaSH DeVelOpmEnT fORevEr'.


Kandarin only said that in the context of "remove morality overall"
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 21, 2021 8:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There's a pending set of changes on the devserver (which worked when tested) that should apply Good and Unaligned stronghold morality overrides for angels to pet and AOE attacks. It'll be in the next patch. Looking at the code suggests that most of the framework for this was in already, and just wasn't applied to all the places it could have been when it was applied to direct combat in 2018. This is the kind of incremental change I'm talking about - we know the system is limited and improve it as issues arise.

To my understanding the original argument goes much further than that and argues for "remove/replace morality overall". And to that argument - yes, it may seem nonintuitive to people who can't see the codebase, but it really was a choice between A) "pull the entire morality system out by the roots and reconfigure the whole game either completely without it or with a totally new morality system" and B) "Literally every piece of B4 and B5 development we've made since some time in early 2018".

I think most would agree that, development time being a limited resource, B) was the correct choice. The nature of the world being tied deeply to morality is a pivotal element of the setting and one of the core design principles of the game. That's not changing.
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 22, 2021 12:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would just like to remind you that one of core themes of the game is the struggle between Angels, Demons, and Transcendents, and that automatically implies the existence of the Morality character statistic.

We can argue upon the specific mechanics (e.g. which character actions should change Morality and how) but I think the core concept of there being the Morality stat should never be purged from the game, because if it did ever get eradicated we would actually have a completely different game that just shares the "Nexus" word in its title.
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 27, 2021 5:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kandarin wrote:
To my understanding the original argument goes much further than that and argues for "remove/replace morality overall".

Yeah, I don't know how anyone could possibly read OP and come away with the idea that they were "first and foremost" asking for a lightspeaker bugfix. There was one paragraph about that. The topic was clearly about the MO system as a whole.
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