Debating is described as a non-violent means of conflict with other players but we have heard many complaints about the system. Three in particular come up very often: 1) it is not possible to compete against players who are mechanically stronger, 2) it is not possible to make someone engage in a debate with you if they are not interested, and 3) it is just a glorified game of rock-paper-scissors with little player agency. These essentially boil down to "there is no point". As such, we are looking to rework debating entirely, changing both how the core mechanics work as well as how they currently fit into revolts, particularly when peaced. While nothing has been set in stone yet, we wanted to present our ideas to you to give you a chance to give us some feedback before we implement them.
The goals we have for this rework are:
* Make it more fun: Ultimately there is no point in spending resources on a mechanic if we don't try to make it fun and engaging for players.
* Make it more strategic: At the highest levels we want to give players more variation in what they can do.
* Keep it simple: At the same time, we recognise that one of the strengths of debating is that it is easy to get into and we want to keep it that way.
* Make it viable in peaced revolts: We understand that peaced revolts are rarely fun, with divert spam being the biggest source of conflict. We want to move the focus back towards debating.
* Level the playing field: We want to remove the advantages players who have particular classes, artifacts, or buffs currently have, so everyone can feel like they can compete.
Let's start with some of the more significant changes. Firstly, ego will no longer be the vital associated with debating. Instead, debates will feature a new resource, named "flair" for now. Everyone will start with the same maximum flair at the beginning of debates, and the goal is to get the other person to 0 flair first. With how debating works, with attacks growing stronger over time, it quickly devolves into a battle of attrition to see who can first get more lucky streaks, and second who can endure the most streaks. This gives people with a larger maximum ego and ego regeneration a significant, and potentially even insurmountable advantage in debates. By divorcing ego from debates, we will be able to start from a clean slate and ensure that players can't get significant advantages just by virtue of stacking buffs or having certain skills like Laetitia or Roulade.
Everything related to debating will be moved to its own skillset. Instead of spending lessons to learn this skillset, players will be able to "practise" and earn progress through the skillset by taking part in debates. There will likely be some limit to how quickly someone can advance through the skillset. While unlocking more skills will give players more options, as much as possible we want to try to limit them as just that; options. Instead, most of the skills needed to compete will be available either from the start or very early on. We are also exploring the option of having some skills be "perks", things players can choose between to give themselves certain benefits, allowing different players to choose between different styles. For example, one player may choose to go with stronger attacks, while another may want to be more tanky and start with a higher maximum flair.
Running from debates will now automatically count as losses. To begin a debate, a player must challenge another player in their room. That room is then marked as the debate room and after 5 seconds, if one player is not in the room then the other player will be declared the winner. All debating skills can only be used on a person a player is currently in a debate with. This means no more spamming fasttalks on other people. We will be reducing the shattered ego timer significantly, and are considering also applying the timer to the winner as well. Instead, in revolts winning a debate against a member of another organisation who is contesting the village will give points towards winning the revolt. We'll be implementing measures to prevent gaming by throwing debates to allies here, but the idea is people can choose to debate or influence, and if it's highly contested it'll probably require a combination of both to win. Outside of revolts, we may even remove the timer entirely to encourage people to try it out more.
As for the actual debating mechanics, to prevent stalling mindsets can only be changed in the same command as attacks. If someone wants to change mindsets, they will need to try to attack too. There will be a handful of new attacks and mindsets, with some that have a cooldown or can only be used a certain number of times per debate. For example, there might be an attack that will do the same amount of damage regardless of the opponent's mindset, or another one that restores a small amount of flair.
Attitudes will continue to act as passive boosts to attacks or mindsets, but we are considering adding tiers to them, with the higher levels conferring a malus in another area as well. On the other hand, fasttalk afflictions will become incurable, instead staying effective on a player for a certain amount of attacks. A maximum of one fasttalk affliction can be active on a player at any time, but this should make them more viable to use beyond just spamming them to overrun the focus enchantment balance.
All in all, we believe this will lead to a more engaging mechanic for all of you to participate in, and also gives us a good base to integrate debating into other aspects of the game.