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Is game balance really so important?

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Hello. This is my first post here. I’m a very long time lurker. Registered since nov of 05. I wanted to ask you fellas about game balance and why you think it is so important. Personally, I feel artificial balance within a game is lame and boring. It is very one dimensional and I am wondering if I am the only one. I started as a mod maker for HL and now a good friend and myself are working on another project. We’re using Ogre3d for this. This project is a capital ship battle management simulation. Full 3d. multiplayer only. You are the captain of a capital ship and run it in it’s entirety via quick and easy context menus that allows you, the captain, to issue commands instead of actually doing everything yourself. It’s nothing so complicated as Battlecruiser 3000AD. Not even close. The goal is to make the game as useable and playable as possible. We have 3 tiers of vessels and each tier is a mirror image of the next only the ships have more mass. They are simply larger. You and your stats are persistent but the universe is not. You gain experience and as you gain experience over time you’re offered a promotion to a higher mass vessel. My partner asked me “Why? Aren’t they all the same?” I said no. I know the escort and the frigate are the mirror of the destroyer and the cruiser. So, whats the difference? I’ll explain. The larger the vessel the more room it has internally for more component modifications. The larger the vessel is, the larger the weapon systems it can mount. The larger the vessel is, the larger the power plant and the larger the engines which means it A) produces more power per cycle and B) since the engines are bigger it can push more mass and still maneuver and accelerate effectively. So a frigate is better than an escort. A destroyer is better than a frigate. A cruiser is better than a destroyer. A battle cruiser is better than a cruiser and a battleship is better than a battle cruiser. So anyway, that’s how it works…in my head anyway. A battleship should always beat a battle cruiser on paper in a one on one situation. Since this is multiplayer only, a situation like that can happen an awful lot. This got me to thinking about balance issues. To me, balance is not an issue. Just look at my first project. The HL1 mod “Hostile Intent” which I designed and managed. It’s a very tactical FPS. The game, on the surface, is unbalanced as hell sometimes. But underneath the surface the game evens out and becomes balanced. I personally have no problem with 1 sniper clearing out the enemy team round after round after round. Why? Well, I used to say “Because that is realistic. Deal with it.” That still holds true somewhat but my reasoning now is “It’s up to you lazy guys to figure out a way to take that sniper out. If you keep running at him and getting killed you deserve to die. Go play Tetris.” That’s my theory behind this game too. If all that is left in a server are 3 escorts and a destroyer and your going up against a battleship that can launch 200 anti-capital ship torpedoes at you every 4 minutes from 120,000 kilometers away and they accelerate at 80,000 gravities…deal with it and figure out how to take that sucker out. Think tactically and be smart. Be sneaky, dirty and underhanded. And if you cant win, then leave the server because damage will cost you to requisition points which you’d rather use to upgrade your ship. Leaving is a viable option. I guess I am bringing this up because ive been reading a lot about game balance and the rock/paper/scissors theory which is for every rock you can cover it with paper. For every scissors to cut the paper there is a rock to smash it. Or for every barbarian the is an archer to kill it. For every archer there is a knight that can close with it quickly. For every knight there is a barbarian that can cut the horse out from under him. You see this in EVERTHING. It was in Homeworld. It is in every RTS game. It’s showing up with FPS’s now too. I don’t like it. I think its lame and boring. Players don’t have to think tactically. It’s like this “OH NO! a big tank is coming to destroy my base…ill just send my fighters.” I hate that. I really really hate that. What’s worse is that it continues along that path. The attacking tank has mobile AAA support so it’ll kill my fighter. So I’ll send lightly armored vehicles to move quick and kill the mobile AAA. But he has infantry with rocket launchers that will kill my quick, yet light armor. So I’ll send attack dogs to kill the infantry. But he brought steak to distract my attack dogs! OH NO! I guess I’ll research “Vegetarianism” for my attack dogs!! I WIN! That’s not how battles are fought. Battles are fought with cunning, planning, quick thinking and tactics. I agree it works well for what it is, but I personally do not enjoy that. So I am just wondering what other people think. Am I way off and totally wrong? It works for Hostile Intent. They still have serious and dedicated fans who love the idea of making the game work for them. Of knowing that if they have to face overwhelming odds, they have to think and fight. Not just fight. It’s a thinking mans game. That’s what I want my new project to be. But am I wrong? Can I break Fleets? I’d really like to know what the much more experienced developers think. Thank you. Charles

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Good points. For the type of game you are designing I agree that tactics are what should dominate the game play. In other types of games, such as single player RPG's it would be very bad to start the person out in the game facing the nemesis. At least it would be a very short game. You objective should be to entertain the player not torture. Good luck.

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Balance doesn't really mean that every unit has a counter. Balance would be Halo weapons compared to Doom weapons. Give me a shotgun in Doom and I can kill everything. Everything. Yet in Halo, I found myself prioritizing my arsenal depending on what was waiting around the corner. I loved sniping the little guys with pistols, but then blowing up the elites with needlers or plasma grenades. Yet I thought it was much easier to blast the green shield guys with a charged up plasma pistol than any other weapon.

I had a lot more fun with Halo's weapons than I did with Doom's. That is good balance. A diversity that adds a lot of flavor. If one unit kills everything better, why even bother making the other units?

There's nothing stopping you from balancing the game in other ways. One unit could be more powerful than any other unit, but require more fuel or ammo. Anything to offset the fact that it is superior.

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I think as long as there is a way to kill a superior Unit its ok if the game isn't balanced ... but in most games you just don't have enough freedom to kill an enemy with "tatics" only ...
And leaving the server would just suck in all games i know ;)

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Yes, you REALLY need to create a way for individuals to make sure that they stand a chance. Even the Death Star had a weak point that enabled an X-Wing to launch proton rockets or whatever they were in a hole and destroy the whole thing. You have to let everyone a chance to win.

If you decided that the bigger the ship, the more indestructible it became, and that you only got a bigger ship by winning encounters, it basically means that the best player in your first ten registered will be the ultimate fighter. Always, because it will have an edge from the beginning, and nothing will allow others to overcome that edge, BECAUSE THE EDGE IS BUILT IN.

What you COULD do is, the bigger, the least manoeuvrable. You definitely have more power to move more mass, but it also means more acceleration, and momentum. You need more space to accelerate, decelerate or turn about. You also need more time.

Even if you decide to allow for more dock bays in a battle cruiser, and more weapons, odds are that you'll have ENERGY weapons, which, by definition, will require energy to be used. You'll have to choose whedre to divert your energy to: the shields, the weapons, the survival maintenance systems or the thrusts. You can decide to get a very fast and manoeuvrable battle cruiser at the cost of putting more generators and thrusters in the cargo, but that means that basically you've made the biggest light fighter in the universe. And that your battle cruiser light fighter is also the heaviest, hence the least manoeuvrable of the light fighter category, while being the biggest target.

You may decide to put all your weapons at the front of your ship, but that means that once a ship gets past your prow, you're doomed, because you can't turn around.

All in all, you have to make room for downfalls for every tactical choice the player can make.

You can choose to be a light fighter, but that means you cannot take out on your own anything bigger than a frigate, no matter how much skill you put into it.
You can choose to run a frigate, because that means you can probably survive any encounter, be it Battle cruiser (you outrun it) or a light fighter (you destroy it). Plus you can probably make some serious damage on a cruiser.
You can choose to command a Battle Cruiser, but, because it has more cargo, it also has more options on how to customize it, and therefore more possibilities to go wrong with the customisation. You have more security, but also more spendings on repairs, because you are the biggest target in known universe.

And so on and so forth...

Plus remember. In deep space, there is not that many places in which you can hide to snipe people. And although, technically you CAN use projectiles, it means that you have to use your thrusters to counterbalance the thrusters of the projectiles, and tehrefore spend fuel or energy...

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Wow long and interesting thoughts Charles.

You're saying 'artificial balance' is boring and I agree. I think a game with a natural balance is much more satisfying. But I get the impression that you don't want to think about game balance, which I find slightly naive.
I think you missed the real purpose of game balance because you've seen so many use it rigidly: in an easy RPS solution.

Let's say we got
the Tank, which does extra damage against light vehicles
the Humvee which does extra damage against infantry
and infantry that have anti-tank weaponry that is good against slow tanks but very slow and awkward to use against Humvee's.

The tank and humvee superiority are very artificial. In some games these advantages make very little sense and are ground rules that have to be memorized (Warcraft III has this to a degree and Battlegrounds in the extreme. Check out the battle refference and see remember this is an RTS so that you absolutely do not have the time to check it out during the game.
(http://battlerealms.strategyplanet.gamespy.com/strategy-battlereference.php)

But the Infantry superiority is much less artificial. It's advantage is not based on some stat, but the ease with which the tactics can be pulled of. A humvee has to keep moving to easily dispose of infantry. But if the infantry is being controlled right and attacks the ground in the direction that the humvee is moving, they can still come out victoriously. This is a much more natrual advantage. You don't need the numbers behind the game to understand that you want to keep dodging that rocket or that you want to attack in front of the humvee.

To return to your naval game... If a ships is 100% superior to another ship, then how is that imbalance decided? Luck of the draw? I know very little about naval tactics, but I would like it if smaller ships have more options in where to go. They can get closer to shore and maybe use some shortcut rivers/canals that a massive battleship can not pass through.

Some designers push balance as far as they can, which results in a complex game where it's very hard to win for either side. In any war, did one of the sides scream 'IMBA!' as they were being ambushed by a more clever opponent?
You got this point perfectly and I see that point now and have learned from your post.
Just don't forget what balance is really about... if you get the choice between a small accurate revolver or a rusty unreliable one, you don't really get a choice at all. If you get the choice between a knife and a pistol, the choice gets depth. Is 6 bullets enough? Will you find more? How important is stealth?

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Is game balance really so important?

Short answer: Yes it is.
Slightly longer answer: You wouldn't mind a team game where one team has a button labelled "Win", and the other doesn't? That's unbalanced.

Very long answer:
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Original post by CharlesFXD
I wanted to ask you fellas about game balance and why you think it is so important. Personally, I feel artificial balance within a game is lame and boring. It is very one dimensional and I am wondering if I am the only one.

Define artificial balance, and tell me what's one dimensional about it.
Can't comment otherwise. :)

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I’ll explain.
The larger the vessel the more room it has internally for more component modifications. The larger the vessel is, the larger the weapon systems it can mount. The larger the vessel is, the larger the power plant and the larger the engines which means it A) produces more power per cycle and B) since the engines are bigger it can push more mass and still maneuver and accelerate effectively.
So a frigate is better than an escort. A destroyer is better than a frigate. A cruiser is better than a destroyer. A battle cruiser is better than a cruiser and a battleship is better than a battle cruiser.

But should it be better at *everything*?
Let me give an example from Eve Online, for a second. Yes, a battleship is much more powerful than a frigate, but the frigate still has its advantages, and the battleship still has weaknesses:
- The frigate is small. Smaller targets are harder to hit.
- The frigate is fast an agile, it can literally fly circles around the battleship, making it harder for the battleship's cannons to track the frigate.
- The frigates' weapons have no problem hitting the battleship

As for the battleship:
- It's huge. Huge targets are ridiculously easy to hit. Of course, it's got more armour and shields to compensate, but it's still easy to hit.
- It's slow. Slow targets are easy for your guns to track. So you can't hope to dodge incoming fire
- Its guns tend to be huge. Huge weapons have a larger "spread", meaning if they hit a tiny target like a frigate, only a small amount of the total damage will be dealt. If they hit a big target, full damage will be done.
- Bigger ships take longer to lock on to a target, making you unable to fire back in the early stage of the combat.

What this means is:
If you're in a frigate, fighting against a battleship, you're pretty much screwed. The battleship is just more powerful.
But that doesn't mean there's nothing you can do. You can put up a fight, you can try to survive. You can exploit your larger enemy's weaknesses. Or you can maybe beat the battleship if you gang up with a few other people in frigates. The battleship isn't well suited for fighting these tiny opponents. The frigate has no such handicap against larger targets (other than its tiny weapons and low armor/shields)

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A battleship should always beat a battle cruiser on paper in a one on one situation. Since this is multiplayer only, a situation like that can happen an awful lot.

But should it be better at *everything*? And how much more powerful should it be?
And what about people who don't have a battle cruiser? Wouldn't it become a bit boring for them if the entire game consists of fleeing from everyone else?

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But underneath the surface the game evens out and becomes balanced. I personally have no problem with 1 sniper clearing out the enemy team round after round after round. Why? Well, I used to say “Because that is realistic. Deal with it.”

That makes no sense.
Realism != gameplay. The real world is not balanced.
What do you want? A game or a simulator? Something to entertain, or something to reproduce real world situations?

Assuming you call it a game, what's to stop everyone from just playing snipers?
If you have an answer to that, the game isn't all that unbalanced. If you take refuge in "it's realistic", I'd go so far as to say you're not a game designer.
Realism has its place, certainly, and can in many ways improve some games. But it's not an excuse for disregarding other parts of the game.

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That still holds true somewhat but my reasoning now is “It’s up to you lazy guys to figure out a way to take that sniper out. If you keep running at him and getting killed you deserve to die. Go play Tetris.”

Lets go back to my initial example. One team has a "win" button, the other doesn't. Now it's up to the "loser" team to figure out ways to defeat the other team? Again, if that's your attitude, you're not a game designer.
You need to ensure that there *are* ways to take that sniper out. They don't have to be as easy as sniping is, but they have to be there. If you haven't designed them into the game (or made the game sufficiently open-ended and freeform to allow it to happen without being explicitly part of the design), then you've failed.

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That’s my theory behind this game too. If all that is left in a server are 3 escorts and a destroyer and your going up against a battleship that can launch 200 anti-capital ship torpedoes at you every 4 minutes from 120,000 kilometers away and they accelerate at 80,000 gravities…deal with it and figure out how to take that sucker out. Think tactically and be smart. Be sneaky, dirty and underhanded.

How, exactly? If the game designer can't think smart himself, how are the players supposed to? So I assume you have a few ideas for how *you* would take out that battleship. Let's hear it then. You just accused the players of laziness. Surely, you're better than that. [wink]

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And if you cant win, then leave the server because damage will cost you to requisition points which you’d rather use to upgrade your ship. Leaving is a viable option.

A game where quitting is an option, a part of the *design*?
Is the player meant to come back again? And if so, what would make him do that?

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I guess I am bringing this up because ive been reading a lot about game balance and the rock/paper/scissors theory which is for every rock you can cover it with paper. For every scissors to cut the paper there is a rock to smash it. Or for every barbarian the is an archer to kill it. For every archer there is a knight that can close with it quickly. For every knight there is a barbarian that can cut the horse out from under him.

Depends on how literally you take it. There doesn't have to be *one* archer for every knight. There just has to be a way to fight off a knight charge. If there isn't, everyone will use knights, and then there's not very much fun left in the game.
Please, show me a game that had no element of this whatsoever. One where one unit, weapon, playstyle or whatever was clearly and simply better than everything else. Better at *everything*.

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Players don’t have to think tactically. It’s like this “OH NO! a big tank is coming to destroy my base…ill just send my fighters.” I hate that. I really really hate that.

What should have happened instead? Would you prefer "Oh no! A big tank is coming to destroy my base. There's nothing I can do"?
Or how about "Oh no! A big tank is coming to destroy my base. Good thing I've been building big tanks too, because all the other units in the game are worthless"?

How would you have liked the player to "think tactically"?

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The attacking tank has mobile AAA support so it’ll kill my fighter. So I’ll send lightly armored vehicles to move quick and kill the mobile AAA.

But he has infantry with rocket launchers that will kill my quick, yet light armor. So I’ll send attack dogs to kill the infantry.

But he brought steak to distract my attack dogs! OH NO! I guess I’ll research “Vegetarianism” for my attack dogs!! I WIN!

That’s not how battles are fought. Battles are fought with cunning, planning, quick thinking and tactics.

How exactly is the above example different from cunning, planning, quick thinking and tactics? You have to react to what your opponent throws at you, you have to do so quickly, and you have to have planned well enough to have the right units ready.

It doesn't have to be as rigid as in your examples, and the fact that you don't even *realize* your own games have some form of balance doesn't really bode well.

Your spaceship game is balanced. It'd be unbalanced if the tiny frigate you start with is the most powerful in the game.
But as it is, there is some rudimentary form of balancing:
"The more powerful a ship is, the harder it is to get."
That's balancing too. Personally, I'd have gone with something a bit more complex, something that opens up some opportunities for player skill, for thinking, for using tactics, but your game still has *some* form of balance.

Balance doesn't mean "everything is equally powerful".
And it doesn't mean a strict "rock scissors paper" relationship between every unit in the game.
It just means that there has to be a use for everything. If one unit is superior in every respect, the game isn't balanced. There's no reason to build other units, and there's no way to apply tactics. Tactics is facing overwhelming odds and winning, by exploiting your strengths and the opponents weaknesses. But that obviously depends on the opponent having weaknesses, on you having strengths.
The opponents weaknesses may be tiny and subtle, while you are basically one big walking weakness, but they still have to be there, or there's just nothing you can do.

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I think as long as there is a way to kill a superior Unit its ok if the game isn't balanced

If that's the case, I'd say the game *is* balanced. More or less, anyway.

Games are about choices.
One symptom of unbalanced games is that the choices aren't there.
Choosing between, like someone suggested above, "a small accurate revolver or a rusty unreliable one" isn't a choice.
Choosing between the big tanks that can kill everything, and the tiny jeep that can do nothing isn't a choice.
Choosing to play on the team without the "win" button isn't a choice.
Choosing to kill or be killed isn't a choice.
If the outcome is determined in advance, and the player doesn't even get an opportunity to change it, then the game is unbalanced.

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I wanted to ask you fellas about game balance and why you think it is so important. Personally, I feel artificial balance within a game is lame and boring. It is very one dimensional and I am wondering if I am the only one.

Yes artificial balance is boring. It is usually coded in such a way that Unit A does 10 damage to Unit B but 3 Damage to Unic C, etc. This kind of artificiality can be very boring.

But considder this example:
The archers are a moderately fast unit as they lack heavy armour. Also they have the ability to shoot at range.

Pikemen have heavy armor and are therefore the slowest unit in the game, however their pikes are long enough to enable large groups of them to work together in ranks (so more than just the units in base contact can attack a target.

Knights are fast and have resonable armour.

If all units had the same Health/Hit Points, this creates a more natural balance.

this is still a Scissors/Paper/Rock balances (Archer beats Pikemen beast Knight beats Archer), but there is a bit of tactical thinking nessesary.

The archers can only beat the Pikemen if the Archers can retreat. Box them in and they are just kebabs on the ends of those pikes.

The Pikemen are only good against knights when the Pikemen are in groups. A single Knight would most likely be able to kill a single Pikemen, but get a group of 6 Pikemen against 6 Knights and the story is different, also if you put in a rule that Pikemen can only use their greater reach in a forward direction, then you can flank them with Knights (they are fast) and then have an advantage.

Archers might be able to beat Knights by sacrificeing some of their numbers to keep the knights pinned down in melee while the rest stand off and shoot from their long range.

So there is a S/P/R balance, but it is not hard coded and has a lot of flexability in it. This knid of system might also have modifiers for terrain, elevation, etc. The S/P/R might be a good base, but it should not be the "Be all and End all" of a combat system.

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What’s worse is that it continues along that path.

The attacking tank has mobile AAA support so it’ll kill my fighter. So I’ll send lightly armored vehicles to move quick and kill the mobile AAA.

But he has infantry with rocket launchers that will kill my quick, yet light armor. So I’ll send attack dogs to kill the infantry.

But he brought steak to distract my attack dogs! OH NO! I guess I’ll research “Vegetarianism” for my attack dogs!! I WIN!

In the end here you havent though balanced. You have included a "Best Choice" where if you take that choice your opponent can do nothing to win. So of course this doesn't work. In debating circles this type of example is called a Strawman as like the Sword Training Maniquin, it is created for the sole reason to be easy to beat, and it is not a real opponent.

If there was somehting that the player could do to counter the "Vegetarianism for my attack dogs" then it would be a better example, if the player did not make that choice, then they would have been defeated by tactical and strategic decissions.

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That’s not how battles are fought. Battles are fought with cunning, planning, quick thinking and tactics. I agree it works well for what it is, but I personally do not enjoy that.

What about using diversionary tactics by sending out one type of unit that would normally be defeated, running away and then ambushing it with units that would win. The example that you presented is full of tactics, where as your sniper example, has a distinct lack of them (ie: it is only player skill rather than tactical ability that can resolve it). The sniper example requiers quick thinking and reflexes, but not tactics or strategy.

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And if you cant win, then leave the server because damage will cost you to requisition points which you’d rather use to upgrade your ship. Leaving is a viable option.

So by this you are saying that you don't wnat people to play your game. Is that right?

You will get a few players (most likely 1) that will be able to stop anything that anyone can throw at them and the others will leave because they have no chance at winning. You now have just 1 player playing your game and then because no one will play with him/her they will then also leave and all your effort is now wasted.

Now balance is not just the S/P/R system. You can balance a game by using the Achillies Heal priciple (also know ans the best at and worst at system).

In this you make a particualr choice the Best at something and also have it the Worst at something else. As an example: Archers are "Best At" attacking without being attacked, but "Worst At" surviving if they are attacked.

For your Space Ship example: You could have the larger ships being the "Best At" taking and dealing damage (ie better Weapons and Armour), but worst at manouvers (ie slow to turn). This means that in a head to head fight the bigger ship will win, but if the situation is changed slightly (say in an asteroid field) the smaller ships will be able to dodge the asteroids and then use them for cover to attack the bigger ship, also the smaller ship can manouver into weapon arc shadow (places where less (or no weapons) weapons can hit them) of larger ships (like near the engines) and the larger ships can not manouver and shake the smaller ship.

This Achillie's Heal means that every unit should have some form of disadvantage. And not just price or experience costs, it should have gameplay disadvantages otherwise you get a broken balance and the game becomes "Who has this one best Unit/Choice/Etc.

For a Sniper a "Best of/Worst of" could be: The sniper is Best at hitting a target at a long range, but the sniper has the worst rate of fire and they can't hit a close, moving target very easily. Thus in an area where the sniper has a good view over a long distance, they will be a good choice, but on a map with lots of cover and close quarters fighting, they will most likely be a hinderance.

The problem with this is that it is dependant on the map. This means that if someone realy likes to snipe, they can design a map that has a large tower and open fields so that no other choice is viable. A better solution would be to have some other weapon/item (like smoke grenades or flares) that would obscure the sight of a sniper and thus allow a group to avoid beign directly targeted by the sniper.

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We have 3 tiers of vessels and each tier is a mirror image of the next only the ships have more mass. They are simply larger.

This is a very bad way to balance a game, just making then "Mirror Images" is not a good idea. Youo also claim that a R/P/S system is not found in the real world.

It is. It is called Combined Arms Theory and S/P/R is just one result of it.

If you want more infomation on games, have a look at Game Theory too.

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Leaving is a viable option.


Not if you want people to play your game rather than hunt for viable servers or just quit out of annoyance.


Personally, I think you're completely off base. Sure, games could (and should) allow a few weaker forces to win via craftiness. The problem comes that you're assuming that only the weaker force will be crafty. In the practical world, that's not true. Often the better, craftier player is the one winning the battles, which grants mightier forces, which win more battles, which grants....

Great fun for the winners who can bully around all comers who've no real chance. I think that such design is an abomination, though the millions of Counterstrike players probably disagree.

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I think your design sounds like crap. Sorry, but I wouldn't play a game that sounds like that.

Few things from history. Battlecruisers were for the most part junk. They were big targets, slower than smaller targets, with the guns of a battleship but lacking the armour. Yes, they could have done great as raiders, however once they were spotted they could quickly be taken out.

Battleships were junk. They were big, slow targets.

Ever hear of a PTboat? Little boats, usually with heavy machine guns to take out aircraft, sometimes a light cannon, and torpedo tubes. These little boats were fast, and packed one hell of a punch, I can't remember if it was true or just a story, but one of these little wooden boats could have taken out a hulking battleship.

Of course, that is all before modern firecontrols and radar systems. These days larger boats with more field staying power firing anti-ship missiles are king.

So, where does this lead us? Away from your totaly linear "Bigger is always better" to a cyclic "ships that are just a bigger are likely to win, but if too big and too specialised for big ships small ones will take them down"

Examples:
A)50tonne, 100km/h torpedo/missile boat
B)2000tonne, 60km/h Corvette
C)5000tonne, 45km/h destroyer
D)20000tonne, 30km/h battleship

A stands a fair chance of scoring a deadly hit on D without getting hits, the large, slow guns of D are unlikely to score a hit before A has its shots off and is running away.

But A isn't immune, B with fair speed and faster, lighter guns stands a fair chance of taking out A which has almost no staying power. Also B can be deadly to D with a little more luck, but being slower and a larger target makes it easier to kill.

D can stand a fair chance of taking out two or three Cs, but still a fleet of 6 As, 6 Bs, 3 Cs and a D are going to be able to handle just about anything smaller.

Battleship going against the fleet? pull the destoyers back, they're too big of targets while not having the armour to stand up to them. Screen your Battleship with the Corvettes, giving the attacker lots of targets, flank him with your PTs and hit him hard with your own battleship. Your destoryers and a few Corvettes guard your flanks against surprise attacks from smaller ships.

I'm sure this is basically what you were saying, but real life is a lot different than "bigger ship is better and needs less 'sneakyness' to win". The bigger the ships you have, the more careful you have to be. If you are someone walking around with a small cord in your pocket that you use to choke people to death in back alleys, you're hard to know you are a threat. If you are sailing around in a few thouand tons of iron and cannon, your intentions and threat is fairly clear and much easier to spot.

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Balance is all important, at least thats my opinion. Balance is right up there with 'good features', its that basic:P

But what balance is, and what is balanced, is often more abstract though. But in the case of your sniper example, that is tactical, and you can't hope to compensate players for their own terrible decision :P [like constantly running into the snipers field of view, and be shocked when he shoots them] But if your biggest battle ship can run circles around anything smaller than it, hit from drasticly farther away, and destroy anything smaller before that smaller vessle even has a chance to fire back [which is the case if it can outrun it in all situations]. Where is the tactic in that? Hell, where is the game in that? A game is more than a neat interface, and stacking all but one of your players against absolutely impossible odds will assure that you're going to end up with no players left.

"i have a bigger hammer, i win, and by winning can afford an even bigger hammer, assuring i will always win." <-unbalanced, unfun.

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I *highly* suggest that you try EvE Online, even if it's just the 14 day trial. The type of 'balance' in EvE is much different than in most other games. You can pilot different types of ships, all of which are somewhat realistic in their abilities and vulnerabilities. Even the most 'powerful' ships get taken down - in fact, the MOST powerful ships don't last ten minutes because rival corporations quickly move in to eliminate the *Very* dangerous threat. So, each ship in the game - frigate, cruiser, battleship, etc - has a place.

But in a one on one? Yes, the battleship is damn well going to take out the frigate.

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A key point everyone seems to be missing:

Quote:

A battleship should always beat a battle cruiser on paper in a one on one situation.


However what chance does that battleship stand against 10 battle cruisers?

THAT IS WHERE YOUR BALANCE IS!

In Chess a Queen has more moves at her disposal and thus more power...but even the best Chess player can loose a Queen to a small army of Pawns...even though a single Pawn has little chance outmanuvering and takeing a Queen.

Game balance is not just limited to each unit being tacticaly equal to another.



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I'll put in two seperate points.

The first is on balance: Players like to win because they actually did something right (except cheaters), and at the same time (likely even more) they like to lose because they did something wrong. Losing not because of your own mistake (even if the mistake was taking on a level 10 player without first leveling yourself up to level 10 too) but because of bad game mechanic. For example snipers win in all possible situations, making certain game options like choosing a different class *always* the wrong choice. Providing a choice to the player that is *always* the wrong to make is bad (providing choices that are usually bad and are never really great, or choices that don't have any real effect, are just bad polish).

On that note, you can make your game "unbalanced", so long as there is at least one "right" choice a player can make in their defense against an "unbalanced" element (rock-paper-scissors is the simpliest, and thus the easiest and most obvious way of ensuring this, but there are other more subtle ways)

The second note: Big ships should manuever slower then smaller ships. This isn't just about balance or meeting player expectations (players *expect* the big ship to be slow, and violating that breaks their immersion in your world just as if ships could suddenly bend like rubber), but also about realism.

Think of the small and big hand on a clock (or think of points on the surface of a CD if you have to). Assume that they both make one revolution per minute. The tip of the small hand will be traveling at a certain speed, while the tip of the big hand will be going faster (pi*r2). The bigger the ship is, the farther it's edges will be from the point of rotation. Thus the G force due to acceleration on these edges becomes exponentially bigger the bigger the ship is. While the stress placed on a 1m ship turning 180 degrees in 5 seconds may be tiny, the stress placed on a 100m ship trying to turn 180 degrees in 5 seconds would be astronomical. The exponential growth in g force due to acceleration means that you can't simply scale up the beams holding the ship together - while the ship increases in size by a factor of 10, the g force will increase by a factor of 100. And we haven't even considered the crew or other items onboard the ship that might not deal with 200G's a force that well.

Now of course this is not to say that big ships can't go faster. As there is no friction in space many of the surface area vs volume problems that allow for smaller=faster on earth go away, though you may want to still consider two facts: Smaller ships also tend to sacrifice range (less fuel and weapon capacity) to give them their speed, since they can rely on larger ships to supply them. Also there is the notion of scale - on a tiny fighter, the engines and fuel supply (of which the supply doesn't last very long) to make it go so fast are enormous in relation to the size of the craft. While you could make a battleship go just as fast, the engines would be enormous, and the equally giant fuel tanks would be exhausted in a single battle.

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Balance isn't just "rock paper scissors". As others have said, you already have some balance in your game in that you require the player to grind away winning lots of battles before he gets the good ship. This is standard practice in RPGs, RTSs, and most persistent online games. It's fine to have a better weapon that requires investing more time; most games have that. But most games combine the "time-based grind" with an element of "rock paper scissors" as well. In a grind-based game like this you need to think about two things:

1) How fun is the grind up to the endgame? In your case, I would rate it as "intensely annoying", as you are basically playing with the deck stacked against you; after a month, everyone else in the game will have battleships. You are pitting newbies, who are fragile, don't know the game, and still deciding whether they want to play, against people who have played the game and know it inside out. And you are giving the experts an invincible ship and expecting the newbie to somehow be incredibly more tactical than the older players. This is not going to happen. The noobs will constantly be destroyed, most will quit your game out of frustration.

2) Once you're done with the grind, what's left to do? At this point, you have your battleship, and you basically just shoot at other battleships. Occassionally you blow up noobs, which isn't a challenge, but I guess might be fun for your ego. So the only time player skill and tactics really becomes a part of the game is in battleship vs battleship fights. In this case, you need to question why you are putting all this development into all the other ship types.

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Quote:

You are pitting newbies, who are fragile, don't know the game, and still deciding whether they want to play, against people who have played the game and know it inside out. And you are giving the experts an invincible ship and expecting the newbie to somehow be incredibly more tactical than the older players. This is not going to happen. The noobs will constantly be destroyed, most will quit your game out of frustration.

Ah, but you're forgetting, leaving the game is a valid option, and a vital part of the game design... [lol]

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I'm telling you, EvE takes all these suggestions and works them into a game. I didn't care for the game, but that was certainly not because of the balanced system it used!

There's still the trick of adapting an effective system to different types of games; I won't deny that. But I really don't think it should be that difficult.

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...this turned out to be entirely to long...lol.

My god. I knew posting here would be a great idea. Firstly, thank you guys for all the great and very well thought out posts.
Quote:
Original post by Fournicolas What you COULD do is, the bigger, the least maneuverable. You definitely have more power to move more mass, but it also means more acceleration, and momentum. You need more space to accelerate, decelerate or turn about. You also need more time.


You’re right and I should have stated this in my opening post that this is how it will be.
The mass of a vessel is very important in that the more of it there is, the less maneuverable your space vessel will be and the longer it will take to accelerate to an acceptable velocity. But if you accelerate long enough even a battleship will can have the velocity of a fighter craft but we’ll cap it somewhere.

The engines of a battleship are bigger and more powerful but that is because they have to be in order for the vessel to be combat effective. The big engines are trying to compensate for the very high mass but are not 100% effective. I never intended for the battleship to gain G as fast as the escort or frigate and I should have stated that.

Also, the more you add to your vessel, especially heavy weapon systems and armor plate, the more mass you will have and the less maneuverable you become.

Almost everyone brought this up and yes; I guess there is the balance in that regard. I didn’t think of it as balancing. Just common sense. BUT, you’re all right. That is balance.

Spoonbender asked “if you were a frigate fighting against a battleship, what would you do?” or something to the effect.

I’d probably run and try to find other allies no matter what their mass. Barring that I’d try and stay at extreme range and if I were loaded out with a torpedo room I’d try and trade shots with the battleship for as long as I can with torpedoes and hope that my point defense systems and maneuverability helped stave off my destruction.

If I started loosing that battle, and there is no doubt I would, I would try and close with it and really use my maneuverability to my advantage. But running straight at a battleship is probably not a good idea. I’d absorb too much fire and loose my ship.

One aspect of the game we’re talking about is the ability to run silent. Shut most of your systems down, cover up your heat sinks, and hope that his sensor package does not have an active ping that it’ll pick you up. In that case I’d close with him, slowly, then power up and try to at least damage his engines. Then I’d get the hell out of there. Call for back up and hope that the rest of us can pick him apart, praying he doesn’t have buddies coming to rescue him.

Alternately, move through an asteroid field so that it will cover your movement. Or hang at the polar region of a planet and hope he passes by, jump out and tag him.

I guess that is balance. I just never thought of it as balance before because its not rock/paper/scissors. Or is it?
Great question Spoonbender. Good thought exercise,

It’s using your environment to your advantage. Using your higher maneuverability against his higher mass and weapons load. Rock vs paper? I guess it would be.

What I truly want to stress in this game is what we stressed and actually succeeded in with Hostile Intent. Teamwork.
Quote:
original post by MSW what chance does that battleship stand against 10 battle cruisers?


Not a chance in hell more than likely and thank you for bringing that up. TEAMWORK. It’ll trade shots for quite a while and it may take a few with it but I think the battleship will ultimately fail.

Quote:
Persuter from our development forumsWhat most of those people on gamedev failed to notice is that since it's a persistent game, losing bigger, more leveled up ships is worse. If it takes you, let's say, typically two weeks of frequent play without dying to get a battleship with an all-elite staff, then you're damn sure not going to be risking that ship by flying it around solo, especially since there is a numerical balancing factor -- several small ships can defeat a larger one.


What I like to do is force players into situations where alone they can not succeed, generally, but with a group of players they can.

I want the combined arms approach to be paramount in this game. Someone already mentioned combined arms earlier and that has always been my goal. We bill the game as a “Capital ship battle management simulation.” (I know, sounds about as much fun as a spread sheet..lol) and combined arms is just a small part of the battlefield management theory.

It’s not just combat vessels either. We have various strike craft carriers which can launch and recall squadrons of fighters and bombers and there are Utility Vessels. You can think of them as the engineer class in Team Fortress Classic.

I’d hope the players would learn to work together by being forced to choose between one of two options. Either work alone and more than likely loose your ship or work together and more than likely succeed. Or at least survive.

A couple guys picked on this one point :D
Quote:
A game where quitting is an option, a part of the *design*?
Is the player meant to come back again? And if so, what would make him do that?


Quote:
Ah, but you're forgetting, leaving the game is a valid option, and a vital part of the game design...


I’ll stand by this. Yeah, its part of the design.

Your vessel, it’s stats and its weapons, equipment, sub-systems, crew and components, are persistent. As you play you grow. The experience points you earn are called requisition points which you use to requisition repairs or refits.

If you worked for 3 or 4 solid weeks and gained promotions through a career total of requisition points and captained a battleship you spend another 3 weeks refitting to just the way you wanted it and then you find yourself in an unwinnable situation faced with 10 battle cruisers vs just you, I’d run. You don’t have to die to know that a battle is lost. Retreat is a viable tactical option. Warp out of the server and call it a day because you don’t want to loose all those requisition points on repairs. I would be greatly pissed off at the game designer that forced me to stick it out in a server where I was going to loose.

And visa versa. An escort vs a battle cruiser or a battleship should run if he’s alone. But he should not be alone to begin with. The universe is not persistent. Only the player’s ship is so every time he joins a server there will be objectives to complete.

Makeshiftwings, you bring up wonderful points.

Quote:
1) How fun is the grind up to the endgame? In your case, I would rate it as "intensely annoying", as you are basically playing with the deck stacked against you; after a month, everyone else in the game will have battleships. You are pitting newbies, who are fragile, don't know the game, and still deciding whether they want to play, against people who have played the game and know it inside out. And you are giving the experts an invincible ship and expecting the newbie to somehow be incredibly more tactical than the older players. This is not going to happen. The noobs will constantly be destroyed, most will quit your game out of frustration.


I don’t think this will be a problem and here is why. Let me know if I am way off base.

A newbie player in an Escort would get waxed if he rushed out alone to the enemy controlled territory.

But the Escort has a very specific role. It is a small attack vessel. Quick but lightly armed and armored.

The battle scenarios in the game are mostly about mining minerals in deep space for your corporation. The players don’t do any of the mining themselves. Each team is assigned to protect AI mining fleets that simply go through the motions unlike Homeworld where the player was in charge of the actual mining.

The mining fleets are great targets of opportunity for the quick Escorts (newbies) and they can also act as scouts. Talroth brought up PT Boats earlier. That is essentially what an Escort is (although they were hardly effective in direct surface combat during WW2. Alone, they were often waxed themselves.)

This got me thinking about the R/P/S example in my first post (the one with the vegetarian attack dogs ;)) and Fleets basically has the same thing now that I think about it.

If the mining fleets are ill protected by themselves and are great targets for the smaller Escorts, then I would expect to find higher mass vessels patrolling around the mining AO. A small task force of Escorts would be sitting ducks against a defense force of several Destroyers and Cruisers.

In that case, I’d up the anti. I’d request that some of the strike carrier captains assigned some of their lot of strike craft and bombers to us Escorts [Protect my Target] and maybe I’d be able to get a few destroyers of my own.

Each vessel chassis should have a role to fill.
Escorts are light and fast attack attack.
Destroyers are light support and attack.
Frigates are fleet support/first tier fleet defense.
Cruisers are heavy attack/fleet defense vessels.
Battle Cruisers are Battleships are core fleet vessels. They need the smaller vessels surrounding them. Good at leading attacks but not alone.
Strike, Assault and Command carriers are Battlespace support.
Utility vessels build structures and mooring stations (starbases/outposts for refits and repairs).

Each class has a role and has its ups and downs. The way things are shaping up I think I’d get to the Frigate or the Cruiser and stay there. You don’t have to take a promotion to a higher class vessel.

Do we have any former Navy men here that can comment on the classes and their roles? I’m sure there is some redundancy here. Battle cruiser and battleship for one.

Right now I’m taking traditional surface naval tactics and applying that to space vessels. It translates very well actually.

Avatar God, I will try eve online at the risk of being too influenced by it ;) Our modeler, Baheno, gave me a 14 day trial. Now I just have to get someone to watch my daughter for 14 days :D

Hey guys, thanks a bunch. This turned out to be a great brain workout for me. I really appreciate the replies so far. Your all getting excellent ratings from me :D..hey wow. i just noticed my user rating went down and i just got here...LOL

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Quote:
Original post by Telastyn
Quote:

Leaving is a viable option.


Not if you want people to play your game rather than hunt for viable servers or just quit out of annoyance.


Personally, I think you're completely off base. Sure, games could (and should) allow a few weaker forces to win via craftiness. The problem comes that you're assuming that only the weaker force will be crafty. In the practical world, that's not true. Often the better, craftier player is the one winning the battles, which grants mightier forces, which win more battles, which grants....

Great fun for the winners who can bully around all comers who've no real chance. I think that such design is an abomination, though the millions of Counterstrike players probably disagree.


[sarcasm]

You mean...you shouldn't have artificially loaded material advantages for winning games?

Are you trying to suggest that everyone should have an exqual competetive footing and that competition should be decided on the real merits and abilities of the players, instead of extraneous handicaps?

Wow...that's not fair. I spent all this time playing this game, I should get to beat everyone all the time because I picked the better unit!

[/sarcasm]

Yes, millions of Counterstrike players would disagree. They all want the AWP, as long as no one else has it and they have to stay far away at range. Although, in this particular case, it would help if the other weapons were viable though...too many stacked encounters. Shoutgun WILL win in close quarters, sniper WILL win at range. That's not balance. The guy with the shotgun should just have to use different tactics at long range, the guy with the sniper should have to use different tactics in close range - the fight should never be decided by the surroundings alone - that might be how it works in the real world, but that's unneccesary in video games. People created "rules of engagement" and ethical codes for warfare (albeit often times these "codes" were self-serving...), people create morals for everyday life - for the purpose of balance. Balance is neccesary, otherwise there is no conflict, no competition, and no game.

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The whole point of games like counterstrike though is to be team based, and as a team you use certain parts of your force on long range, and certain parts on close range. 1 on 1 it would be pretty bad, but in a team, you're supposed to use your team in a way as to defeat the other team. Its [usually] not a game of one player vs' some force [the exception of course being those insanely good players with the 10400 kills per death ratio :P] A balanced map for a game like counterstrike, would allow certain regions to be dominated by certain forces [like a sniper in that long hallway], but key points to either be slightly tilted toward the defender or the attacker [depending on objective, like a bomb site or a hostage room].

@ original poster
Admittedly your game is sound a lot different than you initially described it as, and a lot better now than it did before. Honestly it sounded more like conflicts that would be a more-or-less direct shootout between one force that is insanely more powerful than the other, in each and every conflict. Though you might want to give a bit of thought [or, moreso, might want to let us in on the thought you likely have already given to] the issues of what happens when a player logs out. Does this huge bigger-than-anything space station just *boop* disappear into thin space? Is there a timer [inwhich case just leaving isn't always a viable option, since a battle ship could surely decimate anything in the time it takes to disappear]. Are there log out places? [and log in places, might want to consider log in spaces with regards to <deleted>'s who like to camp spawn locations], can you just warp out of the conflict? [thus removing the risk of ever being in a conflict]. How quickly can you leave? [disappear before that huge cluster of missles has time to reach you? and reappear just after it passes?]

sounding a lot neater though, now that its not sounding so 'to hell with the player!'ish


The legendary 'awp' though, oh jeeze that was a lame weapon [though 'unbalanced' is another question, awp was the weapon of lame players though :P]. One hit kill regardless of where you hit your enemy, and absolutely no deviation between where you shoot and where the bullet lands? Have seen people use weapon steady tricks [like zooming in really quick right before firing] to treat that sniper rifle more like a pistol with a one hit kill :P

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Hey thanks. I know it was really vague. On one hand I didn’t want to go into a dissertation about what Fleet’s is because of the length and for another I’ve thought about and talked about this game for 6 months before we actually began work so I kinda half describe everything at times. My bad.

Quote:
Does this huge bigger-than-anything space station just *boop* disappear into thin space?

No, they don’t. Structures like space station, turret emplacements, outposts, and strike craft refuel/resupply pads are built by players who choose to captain Utility ships (we call them UTE vessels) for their military career. The player using a UTE vessel can leave any time but his structures will stay until the end of the round.

Quote:
Is there a timer [inwhich case just leaving isn't always a viable option, since a battle ship could surely decimate anything in the time it takes to disappear].


I think there ought to be. The vessels shouldn’t *boop* into thin space. The vessels will be able to make short jumps through hyper space and in order to do this they have to spool up their jump drives. 10-15 seconds ought to do it then you see their vessel *woosh* away. They either jumped away or they jumped out of the server. They left because they lost the fight or because their daughter needs a change of diapers. Who knows ;)

If there are 150 enemy anti cap ship torps coming at you and your ships computer is telling you that your point defense system is only expected to kill 90% of them and you want to jump, but they are only 8 seconds away…I guess you’d be screwed. Sometimes you’ll be caught with your pants down like that. Next time maybe you’ll think 3 or 4 steps ahead? :D

Quote:
Are there log out places? [and log in places, might want to consider log in spaces with regards to <deleted>'s who like to camp spawn locations]…


You mean the gui for signing into a server or do you mean when you finally enter Battlespace where will you spawn in?

Personally I prefer an out of game server login myself. Something small and simple. I don’t know about anyone else but I don’t always like having to initialize the game and then go through the options front end and choose “multiplayer”. But it depends on the game I guess.

As for spawning into the server yeah, we thought of spawn campers :D
Each team has a “base” of sorts outside of the star system itself. We call it a Warp Ship and it’s a big mother of a ship. [technobabble]The ships of the fleet cant make extra system warp jumps because the size of the drive unit is relative to the distance it can jump a ship. So huge warp ships were designed and built with large drive units for system to system jumping and the fleets dock inside the ship itself.[/technobabble]

So anyway, when you enter a server you’ll fly through the bay doors of the warp ship. If you get anywhere near the enemy warp ship to spawn camp it’ll simply eat you alive.

The Warp Ships come into play a lot in the campaign scenarios (claim and lock down systems from the enemy fleet). Not so much in what I’ve been describing so far which is what we call a Battle Scenario (the battle takes place in a single system. Short and sweet). In a campaign your allied fleet of players can jump from system to system to attack and defend the mining fleet operations throughout a star cluster of maybe 5 systems or so. You get one warp ship to share between your allies of other players so I hope that communication and planning becomes important. We’re thinking of adding a communication delay between players in other systems too dependent on the distance between star systems. That may just tick people off though.

And I don’t want to piss players off. Games are meant to be fun. But I do want players to think 4,5,6 or a dozen steps ahead and have plans of action and contingencies ready for situations.

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Quote:
However what chance does that battleship stand against 10 battle cruisers?

THAT IS WHERE YOUR BALANCE IS!

Actually no. If one side can have 10 battle cruisers, the other side can have 10 Battleships.. What chance would they have then?

If this is a MMOG this kind of imbalance will be explosive. If one group starts to get the better ship you will have a run-away-leader situation (by this I mean that a small advantage grows to a large advanatge and there is very little that can be done to change it).

Most balance systems operate on a Negative Feedback Loop. Positive Feedback Loops are what cause imbalance and run-away-leader situations.

A simple feedback loop could be like this: The more Foxes there are the more Chickens they can eat. The less Chickens there are the more Foxes will starve.

This is a negative feedback loop.

If Chicken numbers increase, then the numbers of Foxes will increase, this will Lower the numebr of Chickens which will result in a lowering of the number of Foxes, which leads to an increase in Chickens, and so on, and so on.

In S/P/S this is a 3 entity negative feedback loop.

I posative feedback loop might be: Killing Orcs increases your level, The higher your level the faster you can kill Orcs.

this will lead to a situation where the player gain levels faster and faster (and if they are on a game where the Orcs will respawn indefinitly then you will rapidly see the problem).

In the proposed game you have given the players the advantage of getting better ships for killing other players. These ships will increase the ability to kill. Thus you have a positive feedback loop which inevitably leads to a rapid increase of a small number of players to an extremely powerful point where they can't be touched.

Here is a simple remidy for such a problem:

The main problem is that the longer you play the more powerful you get. What about aproaching it from a different angle. How about the longer you play the more specialised you can get.

This would mean that new player will have an advantage of flexability in their strategies and so not have to rely on a social network to provide them with their initial victories. The players who have been playing longer will get access to ships that are more specialised (think a New Recruit vs a Special Ops) and powerful in limited areas but have distinct weaknesses.

This allows the players who have played for a longer time and built up a social network the ability to coordinate better and have much more defined roles. The New players are able to slot into any group easily and so increases the rate that they intergrate into the social network of the game (this will increase the chance that a player will want to stay).

this is a fairly radical aproach to player advancement, it almost turns the concept of advancement on its head. However, because the players specialise, it encourages players moving to a role and series of choices that enhance their style of play and allow them to explore the other options available at the start.

Also it is not an artificial construct. Usually someone new to a job will be given tasks that can be used in many different aspects of the work, and as they learn they are given more specialised tasks to do.

Just some random thoughts that might help you to make a better game.

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No. she’s not an MMOG. Christ, I cant imagine the content creation workload for one of those let alone the server overhead! How many indie developers can scrape together that kind of cash? Pray for venture capital! HA! Not this guy.

This is just a multiplayer game. Maybe a total of 32 players per server. 64 max would be nice but that may be a bit too much.

The only persistent thing here is your stats and your vessel.

I see your analogy about the positive feedback loop and it does make sense.

In my first post I mentioned 3 tiers of vessels.

Tier 1.
Escort
Frigate
UTE vessel mk.1
Strike Carrier

Tier 2.
Destroyer
Cruiser
UTE vessel mk.2
Assault Carrier (strike craft and assault craft are different. Think of assault craft as the corvettes from Homeworld. Heavy gunships. The strike craft are fighters and light bombers.)

Tier 3.
Battle Cruiser
Battleship
UTE mk.3
Command Carrier

If one fleet was made up of mostly tier 3 vessels, I am not so sure they would be as effective as a good mix of all 3 tiers. Or at least a mix of tier 2 and 3.

In any wet navy a super carrier is a formidable foe. But she still needs her support and screen ship. She can not survive without her destroyers and frigates to screen her and she doesn’t have the offensive punch to be effective without ships of the line like Battle Cruiser Battleship.

At the same time the wet navies of today need to have screening forces for their ships of the line as well.

I said earlier that a Battle Cruiser would probably always loose out to a battleship on paper in a one on one situation.

But I think a few frigates, escorts and a cruiser with a strike craft escort would have a field day with a single battleship. Or even a small group of tier 3 vessels if they played it smart i.e. take out the engines and systematically target individual weapon systems. Pick them apart piece by piece.

On the other hand Edtharan, specialization as you grow is a fantastic idea. Actually it is genius.

Perhaps 1st tier vessels are generic. Gets players geared up and set. Decent all around. 2nd tier vessels may ask the player to begin specializing their vessels based on weapon systems and sub systems. One battleship captain may choose to outfit his vessel as a long range stand off platform loaded out with long range torpedoes whereas another battleship captain may wish to outfit his vessel as a close support vessel with a lot of point defense. Great protection against strike craft. Park her next to a command carrier or an important mining operation.

Is this what you mean?

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Quote:
Original post by CharlesFXD
Spoonbender asked “if you were a frigate fighting against a battleship, what would you do?” or something to the effect.

I’d probably run and try to find other allies no matter what their mass. Barring that I’d try and stay at extreme range and if I were loaded out with a torpedo room I’d try and trade shots with the battleship for as long as I can with torpedoes and hope that my point defense systems and maneuverability helped stave off my destruction.

Wrong answer. You just said the battleship has bigger weapons, which means they have longer range, which means you're dead if you try that strategy. [wink]

Quote:

If I started loosing that battle, and there is no doubt I would, I would try and close with it and really use my maneuverability to my advantage. But running straight at a battleship is probably not a good idea. I’d absorb too much fire and loose my ship.

Heh, reminds me of Eve. [wink]
But yeah, now it gets interesting. If you have superior manouverability, that's good. Then there is some kind of weakness even to the biggest nastiest ships.

Quote:

One aspect of the game we’re talking about is the ability to run silent. Shut most of your systems down, cover up your heat sinks, and hope that his sensor package does not have an active ping that it’ll pick you up. In that case I’d close with him, slowly, then power up and try to at least damage his engines. Then I’d get the hell out of there. Call for back up and hope that the rest of us can pick him apart, praying he doesn’t have buddies coming to rescue him.

Oooh, so it's possible for a frigate to do enough damage to at least disable individual components on a battleship? Again, interesting.
One little problem though. Wouldn't the battleship use active sensors to detect you? I mean, it's not like they'd be able to hide anyway, so what would they gain by not doing it?

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Alternately, move through an asteroid field so that it will cover your movement. Or hang at the polar region of a planet and hope he passes by, jump out and tag him.

So you'd magically turn the terrain to your advantage? What if there's no asteroid field nearby, or if the opponent is as bright as you and decides to use it for the same effect? [wink]
That's a fair bet, isn't it? A guy who's managed to get a battleship probably isn't entirely dumb.

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I guess that is balance. I just never thought of it as balance before because its not rock/paper/scissors. Or is it?

Isn't it? Frigates have an advantage against battleships that they don't have against other frigates. That advantage probably won't be enough to allow them to take out a battleship on their own, but it's there, and it at least makes things more interesting. It means a fleet of frigates would be proportionally more dangerous to a battleship than they would to other frigates.

No, it's not entirely straight r/p/s, but the principle is the same. The basic idea is just that your strength should vary depending on what you're fighting. And there should always be something you're weaker than usual against, and something you're stronger than usual against. Note I say weaker and stronger than usual. It doesn't have to be able to defeat the guys it's strong against in one on one. It just has to, well, be a bit more powerful than it would against other enemies. Even if it just means it'll be able to do 500 hp's worth of damage before it dies, instead of the 250 it'd manage against smaller ships.

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It’s using your environment to your advantage. Using your higher maneuverability against his higher mass and weapons load. Rock vs paper? I guess it would be.

We should probably keep the environment out of this though, since that's not an advantage for the frigate especially (or is it? Won't a battleship be able to use the environment to the same extent?)
If it's just something any clever player can use, then it doesn't help, because the guy in the battleship will probably be quite clever too... [wink]

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What I truly want to stress in this game is what we stressed and actually succeeded in with Hostile Intent. Teamwork.

Then there's more to that game than you explained above. Because that didn't sound like there was a place for teamwork. Just for snipers.


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Persuter from our development forumsWhat most of those people on gamedev failed to notice is that since it's a persistent game, losing bigger, more leveled up ships is worse. If it takes you, let's say, typically two weeks of frequent play without dying to get a battleship with an all-elite staff, then you're damn sure not going to be risking that ship by flying it around solo, especially since there is a numerical balancing factor -- several small ships can defeat a larger one.

So what you're saying is that battleships will never be encountered alone! So the hypothetical example of 10 battlecruisers vs one battleship will never happen, because there'll always be 10 battleships to begin with?
That game mechanic might actually work against you. [wink]

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What I like to do is force players into situations where alone they can not succeed, generally, but with a group of players they can.

I want the combined arms approach to be paramount in this game. Someone already mentioned combined arms earlier and that has always been my goal. We bill the game as a “Capital ship battle management simulation.” (I know, sounds about as much fun as a spread sheet..lol) and combined arms is just a small part of the battlefield management theory.

It’s not just combat vessels either. We have various strike craft carriers which can launch and recall squadrons of fighters and bombers and there are Utility Vessels. You can think of them as the engineer class in Team Fortress Classic.

Oooh, TFC. [grin]
Anyway, then you should keep this in mind:
How do you encourage players to work together across ship classes?
It's not much fun if the best option is always just to group a bunch of battleships together. But, like you say, combined arms would be more interesting. What if a battleship backed up by destroyers, frigates and support ships would actually be *more* efficient than the same size fleet consisting of 100% battleships? What if, under certain circumstances, it's actually *better* to fly a smaller ship?
Or more importantly, how do you as the designer achieve this?

If teamwork with 100% battleships beats everything, then you've failed.
If teamwork with, say, 30% battleships is a more powerful combo, the game becomes much more interesting.

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A game where quitting is an option, a part of the *design*?
Is the player meant to come back again? And if so, what would make him do that?


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Ah, but you're forgetting, leaving the game is a valid option, and a vital part of the game design...


I’ll stand by this. Yeah, its part of the design.

Then you need to consider this:
Why should the player come back? A game where you frequently need to pull the plug on the game to survive might just be seen as frustrating (for both sides. Having an opponent just wink out of existence because they pulled the net cable is always annoying.)

If you want the ability to instantly disappear from the battle, then why not code it in, and give each ship a "retreat to safe haven" button?

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you find yourself in an unwinnable situation faced with 10 battle cruisers vs just you, I’d run.

But do you want people to run from their opponent or from the game?
Because your example is about the former, but the way you say you'll implement it (or not implement it) points to the latter.
I'd say the latter is a really really bad idea. When people have to flee out of the game, they get annoyed. When they get annoyed, they might not come back.
If you want to make it possible ot flee from a lost battle, then make it possible to flee from a lost battle. You're the designer, that's your job.

When the player decides "I want to play a game", it's your job to make sure there is a game for him to play. If your answer is "sorry, not now. You'll die if you log in. Come again tomorrow", you've failed as designer.

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I don’t think this will be a problem and here is why. Let me know if I am way off base.

A newbie player in an Escort would get waxed if he rushed out alone to the enemy controlled territory.

But the Escort has a very specific role. It is a small attack vessel. Quick but lightly armed and armored.

The battle scenarios in the game are mostly about mining minerals in deep space for your corporation. The players don’t do any of the mining themselves. Each team is assigned to protect AI mining fleets that simply go through the motions unlike Homeworld where the player was in charge of the actual mining.

The mining fleets are great targets of opportunity for the quick Escorts (newbies) and they can also act as scouts. Talroth brought up PT Boats earlier. That is essentially what an Escort is (although they were hardly effective in direct surface combat during WW2. Alone, they were often waxed themselves.)

So, bigger ships are *not* just mirrors of smaller ones then? [wink]
Keep in mind, though, newbies tend to not have extensive social networks in the game. Will they be able to join up with a fleet of battlecruisers and other ships? Or will they just wander off alone and get killed because they don't know what else to do?

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Each vessel chassis should have a role to fill.
Escorts are light and fast attack attack.
Destroyers are light support and attack.
Frigates are fleet support/first tier fleet defense.
Cruisers are heavy attack/fleet defense vessels.
Battle Cruisers are Battleships are core fleet vessels. They need the smaller vessels surrounding them. Good at leading attacks but not alone.
Strike, Assault and Command carriers are Battlespace support.
Utility vessels build structures and mooring stations (starbases/outposts for refits and repairs).

Okay, but how do you ensure this is the case?
What prevents a battle cruiser from playing the role of first tier defense?
Why would I want ships for light attack/defense? Why not roll out the heavy versions right away?
How exactly do battle cruisers or battleships depend on other ships?

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Do we have any former Navy men here that can comment on the classes and their roles? I’m sure there is some redundancy here. Battle cruiser and battleship for one.

You don't need any. Blindly copying reality won't give you a good game. All you need is to think about how you can meaningfully implement these roles. If you can't make light attack ships *uniquely useful*, you might as well cut them from the game. But if you can construct the game so that these ships will sometimes be useful and able to do things a heavy attack ship couldn't, then the class deserves to be in the game.

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Yes, millions of Counterstrike players would disagree. They all want the AWP, as long as no one else has it and they have to stay far away at range. Although, in this particular case, it would help if the other weapons were viable though...too many stacked encounters. Shoutgun WILL win in close quarters, sniper WILL win at range. That's not balance. The guy with the shotgun should just have to use different tactics at long range, the guy with the sniper should have to use different tactics in close range

I disagree here. That's just an example of specialization. The player makes a choice that makes him very powerful at some circumstances, but makes him dangerously weak at others. That sounds balanced to me. Of course, it depends on a few things, such as the map providing opportunities to use the weapon you choose, or at least on the player knowing the map in advance so he can choose something that will be useful.
But specialization is usually a great way of balancing a game.
A long range weapon shouldn't "just require different tactics at close range", it should be well suited for long range, and lousy at short range. Otherwise all the weapons are basically equal, and you might just get rid of all but one of them.

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Why have requisition points?

It seems like they're just something to force a grind, to (overly) reward good players, and hurt (reward less) the worse (or good players with a bad team/day). If all the ships are supposed to be viable, why not just let players design their own and try things out? Then let skill/teamwork win, not who's grinded the best.

This I think would leave 3 options.

1 - Just let players pick ships, ala Team Fortress/Tribes.

+ Freedom to pick and choose, adapt to the situation.
- Might be a bit unbalanced.

2 - Let players build ships based on resources/Victory Points, ala Allegiance.

+ Makes players work as a team, provides automatic smallship/bigship mix.
- Perhaps not as combat or capitol ship oriented as desired. People fight over who gets the big ships.

3 - Pre-Launch weight limit or point limit, ala BattleTech. Players pick ships, and then teams are picked by 'captains' or automagically by server or limited by map, but required to be balanced (+- 5-10%) either by weight or by 'points'

+ Provides a balancing agent over ships which might be more or less powerful.
- Tedium in pre-game if not done well.

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