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Need feedback on Game Balance

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Rendition Game Balance (PVP & PVE): Balance in this game is a lot different from all other games that are currently made. Some subscribe to the rock, paper, scissors kind of balance and some go with Skill a > Skill b and so on. They also buy into the fact that "More Time Played = Better Rewards" which is the final straw that can obliterate any chance of really balancing a game. So we decided to take it into a different direction. Instead of having X build beat XY build and XZ build beat XY but lose to X we went for a system that allowed X,XY,XZ builds to have a 50/50 chance of beating each other. Which means anybody with whatever build they wanted, carrying whatever weaponed they wanted could have a chancee to win no matter what the circumstances. This is true balance but most people could never actually concieve this as being feasable. To start off with this balancing act we removed all character levels and classes. So we get rid of the power gap between players and eliminated them from only having a set path of skills or talents or whatever to pick from. Next we eliminated all the +stam,+agil,+int,+mind and all the other stats on every single item in the game. This takes some of the focus off of the gear ultimately being the deciding factor on who wins a fight and who loses. No more of "your in t8 and you can destroy everybody, then you get in no gear and you could hit the side of a barn." We then replace the stats on the gear with a weight system. This is calculated by the type of material it is made out of and the various additions that you the player will put ontop of it. The weight system works like a give and take system allowing the most freedom a player can have while maintaining a natural state of balance. Here are some examples of how this works: Since everything a player can equip has a weight attached to it, it will affect the players ability to preform actions by various magnitudes. So if you wear lighter weight clothing options, you will naturally be able to run a little bit faster, further and jump a little bit higher than somebody wearing full platemail. This type of system allows makes sense because it is the same one that is embodied in real life so I know it works. armor weight ruleset: cloth being the lightest and platemail being the heaviest Least Protection <-----------------------------------------------> Most Protection Big Jump Height <-------------------------------------------------> Least Jump Height Least Energy Usage <-------------------------------------------> Greatest Energy Usage cloth -> leather -> chainmail -> platemail Takes More Dmg if Hit <---------------------------------------> Takes less dmg if hit Fastest Turning <-------------------------------------------------> Slowest Turning Most agility <------------------------------------------------------> Least Agility Using this balacing system every single possible combination of gear is always balaced versus another set because the more protection they want, the least agility they will get. This goes hand in hand with allowing the player to be able to customize their player with the right mixture of gear to suit their particualr playstyle whether it be a light weight rogue type or a heavily armored mammoth. Its their decision. Ok now that we have the gear and overall character balance in the game it is time to include the forms of combat both offensive and defensive capabilities of the player. Our particualr combat system is the complete opposite of every other game currently on the market. The bulk of combat in this game will be blocking, parrying, dodging and missing. This stems from the fact that it is no longer have rotating x button presses to chip away at your opponents health bar faster than he can chip away at yours. Instead since the focus is no on getting that 1 or 2 hits in to disable or potentially kill your opponent. This is where the strategy of combat comes in. Again normally in games you have the distinct advantages and disadvantages associated with the following types of combat: Melee - Spell/Technique - Ranged/Gun Melee - is good a close range and can do massive amounts of damage quickly if in range weakness: has to be in range of the target to hit them Spell - deal rapid fire weak spells or slow powerful ones that do massive damage weakness : time to cast and deploy spells effectively Ranged - deal powerful damage using their weapons weakness : static damage, the ability to not change damage on the fly like others So instead of trying to go with ranged beats melee but only if melee is not in range then spell is somewhere in the middle and totally botching up the whole natural balance that we are already presented with this model we instead allow each on to have a fighting chance against the other by allowing every player to equip and use every item or spell or gun or weapon in the game. What this does is effectively allow us to counter every build with another build. So if you are predominately a melee fighter but are having a hard time with ranged, then you can find an item such as a shield, or learn a spell shield to help you get closer to the ranged person. Every person will be able to wield melee, ranged and use spells along with items anytime, anywhere in the world. So basically we have shifted the focus of combat being who has x gear and x weapon to what x gear and what x weapon in x situation. We have created situational combat. So if your grenade launcher is the best weapon in a close quarter fight, it will probably be useless if you are fighting in a wide open field. So the key here is to use the correct weapon and the correct gear for each individual situation that you may come across. Again melee fighter that prefer using melee weapons will have more defenses against ranged and spell, while ranged and spell will have more defenses against melee fighters which essentially balances everything out. There will always be 2-3+ ways for people to counter other people and vice versa. This is balance. Weapon Balance Melee: Fast Swing <----------------------------------------------------> Slow Swing Lighter Weight <---------------------------------------------> Heavier Weight Dagger -> Katana -> Axe -> Short Sword -> Broad Sword Easier Control <-----------------------------------------------> Harder to Control Less Damage <----------------------------------------------------> More Damage Control: Momentum from each swing and the ability to change its direction More weight creates more momentum and thus harder to stop Within Each Weapon: Lighter Weight <-------------------------------------------------------> Heavier Weight Copper, Bronze, Tin, Gold, Silver, Steel, Mithril More brittle <----------------------------------------------------------> Less Brittle Brittle: Ability for the weapon to sustain damage, less brittle = can take more damage, deflect larger damages or bullets and is harder to break. Also will last longer in terms of durability. Ranged Damage is directly dependant on what type of gun and what type of ammo you use in the gun. So you get something like this Least Damage <--------------------------------------------------> Most Damage Quicker Reload <-----------------------------------------------> Slower Reload Less Recoil <---------------------------------------------------> More Recoil Handguns, SubMachine Guns, Assault Rifles, Sniper Rifle, Bazooka Lighter <---------------------------------------------------------> Heavier Easier to aim <-------------------------------------------------> Harder to aim Quicker Fire <---------------------------------------------------> Slowest Fire Damage Types: For each weapon Less Damage <-------------------------------------------------> More Damage Distance Ammo, Normal ammo, Armor Piercing, Explosive Greatest Range <-----------------------------------------------> Least Range This allows players to determine which is the best setup for their particualr situation and adjust their needs accordinly. So there is no overall best setup/build on one that caters to the player particular playstyle and for their particular situation.

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I think the balance will depend on how you handle protections.

For instance, if your armour removes a % of the damage, then it won't make a difference if I can hit you multiple, weak times vs your occasional, powerful hits.

However, if protection resists a set amount of damage (like the armour prevents 40 damage each hit), then multiple, weak attacks will be far less effective vs occasional, powerful attacks.

To demonstrate lets take the first scenario where the armour prevents a % of the damage (for the sake of the example lets assume 50%).

So if I can do 10 attacks in 10 seconds each doing 10 damage each give a total of 100. But if we apply the armour resistance to each attack, then I only do 5 damage 50% of 10 = 5) each hit.

Now lest say that instead of multiple weak hits I do 2 hits in 10 seconds of 50 points each. Again, the total is 100 damage over 10 seconds. When we apply the armour benefit we end up with each hit doing 25 damage for a total of 50 damage. The same as the multiple hitter.

But, now lest see what happens with damage reduction of 5 damage points instead of a percentage benefit.

With the multiple hitter, they do 10 hits of 10 damage ever 10 seconds for a total of 100 damage (before armour). When we apply the damage reduction we now only do 5 damage each hit (10 - 5 = 5) for a total of 50 damage.

But when we use the heavy hitter stats, we have 2 hits of 50 damage in 10 seconds (a total of 100), but we reduce each hit by 4 points which means that each hit does 45 damage for a total of 90 damage.

That is a big difference there.

But what is we had the damage reduction set higher (at 25). Then the 10 point hits would not even do any damage at all.

In these cases, a set damage reduction favours heavy hitters. However, if the fast hitters could also avoid taking damage at all (through dodging, parrying, or just our running your opponent), then it will create a balance where player skill becomes important.

If you just use the percentage, then nether is better and player skill does not make that much of a difference (however, the factors that determine the percentage of the damage resisted will become the major factor and any slight difference will lead to an almost foregone conclusion to the battle).

Also, if each hit has a percentage chance of hitting, then the multiple attacks will usually dominate (even if only psychologically as it will put the heavy hitter on the defensive rather than the offensive so they would then attack less and so have less chances to hit).

So, which is "better". Well it depends on how much you want tactics (player skill) or strategy (good selection of defences) to matter. It is also possible to use both (maybe most armour offers the damage resistance but certain magical effects provide a percentage based defence).

Quote:
Spell - deal rapid fire weak spells or slow powerful ones that do massive damage
weakness : time to cast and deploy spells effectively

Is magic ranged or melee? IF it is ranged, then I feel that the best build would be a light armoured character using magic.

It can avoid the heavily armoured characters (slower, can't jump as high so can't get to locations that the lighter armoured character can) and can vary the power of its attacks (so can charge up to take out a lightly armoured character. You could only equal that build not better it.

This means that the system is not balanced (as why would you what to take any other build? and all the effort that went into making those other builds possible would be wasted)

Balance in this game is a lot different from all other games that are currently made. Some subscribe to the rock, paper, scissors kind of balance and some go with Skill a > Skill b and so on. They also buy into the fact that "More Time Played = Better Rewards" which is the final straw that can obliterate any chance of really balancing a game. So we decided to take it into a different direction.
/quote]
I think the reason that Scissors Paper Rock is the favoured method of balancing rather than the A -> B (or other systems), is that it give the player a reason to use all the content that the developers put so much effort into developing in the first place.

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Instead of having X build beat XY build and XZ build beat XY but lose to X we went for a system that allowed X,XY,XZ builds to have a 50/50 chance of beating each other. Which means anybody with whatever build they wanted, carrying whatever weaponed they wanted could have a chancee to win no matter what the circumstances. This is true balance but most people could never actually concieve this as being feasable.

Sure it would be balanced, but it is pretty bland. If there is no difference in my using one build over another, then it isn't much of a choice for the player. It becomes an aesthetic choice rather than a gameplay choice.

If the choice is now just aesthetics rather than gameplay, why go to the effort of building gameplay around it?

To make a game fun, the choices the player makes must have some impact on the gameplay. A choice you make should effect other choices you make.

Quote:
This allows players to determine which is the best setup for their particualr situation and adjust their needs accordinly. So there is no overall best setup/build on one that caters to the player particular playstyle and for their particular situation.

There is a lot of variation, but variation alone does not make interesting gameplay.

Also, the more variation you have the harder it is to balance.

One thing you haven't included is a price. If I can select anything freely then there is a best build. If all is considered equal (and as you have stated it should be), then any range build should be superior to any melee build (simply because you can out manoeuvre them) and skirmish. As for which ranged build is bets, it would be down to how you handle the attacks. If it is a percentage chance of hitting, then it will be based around that. If it is player skill that determines hits, then it will be the build that maximises speed and range (I can avoid being attacked by you while still attacking you).

SO I would choose: Light Armour, Ranged (if magic is ranged then I would take magic as it is more versatile and appears to have less equipment and thus weight), Hand Gun, Distance Ammo.
As for the material, well it would be one that gave me the most reliability for the least cost. If money is not used and I can freely select weapons at almost any time (even if all I have to do is go back to base), then I would take the lightest material (as I could just avoid you and then get the items).

Sure, if you get me into melee I am dead, but the build is so light I will be able to get to places that a heavier build couldn't, and so not have to enter melee with them, or I could just run away (being lighter and faster you couldn't catch up).

This system, as it stands, is not balanced at all, there would be no reason for me to take one of the other builds as it would be worse than the one I have (and the main reason for balance is so that it create more variety for the player in the game and so that the effort we put into content is not wasted).

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Thank you for responding to my post however I also see that gamedev cut half of my original document off so I have to fill in some blanks. Here you make some good deductions based on what you have read and how you typically play in game. You play style is one much like myself in terms of other games where you try to min/max everything that you can to achieve the ultimate build and thus in most games succeed in make best builds or the only build really.

Knowing that I and many other play like this this system was designed to inhibit people from doing that specifically in certain reguards. More of the chances of winning are left in the grey area that is player skill and less of it ny sheer number crunching. You can possibly do chance to win by statistics but the sheer number of variations almost makes that immpossible to take everything into account on what a player can bring into battle with them.

First I need to address the combat system and how attacks are made in the game. All attacks are based off a real-time swing and hit module. Think of oblivion sword swinging and fps style shooting a possible examples but it is tweaked to fit more of a mmo setting. Every attack is based of a 1 second rule meaning no matter the attack everything must take 1 second minimum. This helps the issue of latency and takes away from the twitch style game play that many mmo'ers don't like. Again we want to focus more on combat strategy instead of who does more damage or thinks they have a better build. All attacks are manually aimed and can be aimed in a 360* radius which basically means that ability to attack in any direction just like in real life. So there is no chance to hit/dodge/parry/attack/crit/miss or any of those in this game.

This game is also not level based. So we have gotten ride of the huge power gap between people.

The beauty of this game is that no matter what build you pick to decide if you are ranged, melee solely depends on your particular playstyle and the game will automatically cater to that nautrally. Again I can't stress this enough but every character can learn every skill, every move, drive every vehicle, go everywhere in the world and use every weapon/skill/spell/gun etc..

Depending on how you build your character there will natural pros and cons with your playstyle. But and that's a big but, it doesn't mean that your character is weaker or stronger than any other playstyle. Sure, in your mind you may feel that being a light weight ranger is the best build but its only the best build suited to your particualr playstyle because you find it easier to avoid players and attack them from a distance. Where as a player like me finds the best build for my playstyle is one that allows a melee fighter to manuever quickly and essentially end the fight in one hit. I don't know why I favor this build but I am simply better at dodging incoming attacks to get in range to fight against ranged attackers. So which build is better you say, well in other mmo's ranged will always have the advantage of range, but you can reduce that advantage by giving the melee fighter choices and defenses for himself. And just because I'm a melee guy and get in ranged of a gunner doesn't mean that the melee automatically wins either.

You will win and lose fights based on your strategy for over coming your opponents strategy. Not because you have better gear, or items, or weapons, or vehicles. To win, you simply have to out-smart your enemy. That being said having more protection doesn't mean that you are automatically harder to kill, you don't just reduce damage as if it protected your whole body. We don't want wow style combat mechanics because frankly they suck hardcore. Armor in this game only protects what it covers. So even if a guy is wearing full platemail from head to toe, if he gets stabbed in the neck with a dagger, he is going to die plain and simple.

When picking your armor players naturally have different playstyle of which they favor and they can adapt their build to best suit how they play. So the guy who is wearing platemail really doesn't want to move around alot and hope and dodge and prefers to be able to stand there and take more of the brunt damage head on while he dishes his own out. Where a speedy character likes to dodge and manuever out of the way because they like running that fast. What both characers are trading is protection for agility.

In this game statistically a bazooka is a stronger weapon than a sword for obvious reasons but how do you determine who is going to win in a fight. We with out more information you can't. This is due to the fact that combat is more complex than stricty what gear/weapons one has than another guy. It is about how they use their weapons and gear given their current terrain conditions to their best advantage. The one that does this the best will normally win the fight. Its like in all the old war movies where the little army is vastly outnumberd and out gunned by they can use their wit to out-smart the enemey tactically and turn the tide against them. So in this game it is also possible for a few people 1-2 to take out tons of people 10+ in a fight if they use everything to their best advantage. Number crunching can't determine a fight in this game, there are just too many different possiblities. This is an example I've used before but if you have a bazooka and found it to be the most effective weapon in a close quarters area (cave) and you can destroy anybody as long as they got in range of you, does that make the bazooka that best weapon? What if that same guy with his bazooka was but into a wide open field with no walls? Is the bazooka still the best? Just because one weapon may be superior in one situation doesn't mean that it is better or worse, again it is soley on where you make most of its advantages tactically.

Going on to other points you made, you talk about using rock, paper, scissors balance because it gives players incentive to use more content. Well that is true only if you like playing different playstyles. In those games to switch how you play you have to re-role a different class and tweak its build. In this game all you have to do is switch gear. Much simplier if you ask me. And their is nothing stopping anybody from getting different gear but again, it will change their playstyle because it is inheriently different from the one they just had. And as far a choosing a build for the player it is not only an asthetic choice but also a gameplay one because what they pick will determine how they will have to play their character to maximize it.

Actually in this game balancing it if far easier than trying to do so in leveled based games such a World of warcraft or AoC or anything else. It is because we have gotten rid of the bulk systems that prohibit you from actually balancing a game. Yes, what we have to balance is how much damage certain armor types can take. (ie. cloth should take not protect as much as leather) but that is the only real numbers you are going to be tweaking. Because everything else is automatically calculated for damage. For swords it is based on weight of the sword, what it is made out of, how strong it is, how sharp, and the characters strength to swing it, and where it lands on the opponents body.

And for the last point about the ranged being > any melee build I ask you why is that? Yes, it is true that they have an advantage of being further away from their target when they start their attacks. But what if you can't hit the melee? or the melee defends against your bullets with shields, or gravity grenades, or magnetic repulsion devices, or pulls out a gun himself and starts to shoot you. Or can cast spells to create barriers or to make a smoke screen? What happens if he's in a armored vehicles driving towards you where you can't hit him until he gets out? And taken from real life is there places people can't go simply because they can't jump higher? Even if you are heavy build or light build you can always get to where ever the enemy is. There is always a way to do so. There is no best builds overall in the game meaing that a melee build is not superior to any spell and any range is superior to x, but each build has its own unique advantages and disadvantages in various situations. Again you can maximize your build to your playstyle but that doesn't mean that you are any stronger or more leathal than anybody else based soley on what you carry on your character.

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One basic problem I have is that in reality plate armor is really effective and offers a great range of movement in melee combat. You may not be shooting a long bow with plate armor on but if you come across someone in melee wearing any of the other armors you will have a distinct advantage.

So you really need magic to justify not wearing plate armor or the use of specific weapons like the bow.



Also your "control" progression is not very accurate. European swords were very well balanced and easier to control than an axe(one or two handed). You are also comparing the one handed short sword to the two handed katana. Doesn't make much sense to me.

Also the katana could do a lot of damage against someone in cloth but against plate it would do a lot less. In fact any slashing or cutting weapon against plate would probably not cut the person but the force of the blow would be felt.

A katana also has a sharp end that could be used to try and pierce armor or find cracks in the armor.

Also ranged damage still has to be balanced against melee damage based on a wide assortment of scenarios. So balance is as elusive as it was in any other system.

BTW I have an excel spreedsheet with almost the exact same outline for balance. After further consideration I wrote it off as a dead end. There are still serious balance and gameplay issues without all the interesting stuff you can find in other games.

The problem is that it doesn't really get at what makes the combat interesting. You can include a lot of those variables I suppose but I think you need to have a really solid idea about how different templates will fight against one another. Something I don't think you established all that well.

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I think Edtharan nailed a lot of it. It might all sound pretty good (if rather bland), but once you start putting actual numbers to things. Its going to be a different story.

For example:
Quote:

armor weight ruleset: cloth being the lightest and platemail being the heaviest

Least Protection <-----------------------------------------------> Most Protection
Big Jump Height <-------------------------------------------------> Least Jump Height
Least Energy Usage <-------------------------------------------> Greatest Energy Usage

cloth -> leather -> chainmail -> platemail

Takes More Dmg if Hit <---------------------------------------> Takes less dmg if hit
Fastest Turning <-------------------------------------------------> Slowest Turning
Most agility <------------------------------------------------------> Least Agility


Put some real numbers to that. Not vauge general notions. Exactly how fast is fastest turning, how slow is slowest turning?

Keep in mind the larger the range of difference between the extreams. The more valuable that becomes when players make decisions.

So if a completely unemcumbered player can run around at 25MPH, but a fully encumbered player can only top out at 3MPH. Then degree of encumbrence is important when players are evaluateing gear. But then, why use the heavy stuff if you can't get out of your own way?

The smaller the difference in range, the less important it becomes. If a nude player can run at 20MPH, and a fully encumbered one at 17MPH. The difference is so small as to rarely factor into player choices. So then, why not use the heavy stuff if it has such a small effect on mobility?

I think what you will find (especialy given the action module and one second time slice) is that most of the players will stick with gear that fits right in the middle of such extreams. It provides the best protection and responsiveness for the cost to other actions. It also provides the most reasonable middleground against players more left or right of the extream with out the need to regear every encounter. But maybe you want a game where most of the players have nearly identical gear equiped. Certainly one of the best ways to generate game balance is by makeing player equal...if by designer choice or thier own, the game is the same.

Its also a bland uninteresting balanceing system. Doesn't promote player specialisation, which helps promote teamwork in a MMO. The whole rock-paper-scissors approch works because each is specialised to beat one at the cost of looseing to another. And there are plenty of ways to do this without forceing players to commit to a predefined class.

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Interesting ideas that you've clearly put a lot of thought into but you'll still need to balance the items as you introduce new ones.

You have your slow but damaging sword.
You have your quick but weaker dagger.

So far balanced, but now you want to reward the player with new items.

Your magic sword is faster and just as damaging.
Your magic dagger is just as quick but does more damage.

Oh dear, you've just upset the balance! Eventually, if you don't do any balancing you end up with the Uber Claymore of Awesomeness.

Uber Claymore of Awesomeness stats:
<------*> Damage (nuclear explosion)
<------*> Speed (lightning fast)
<------*> Weight (less than a feather)
<------*> Durability (like titanium)

Now all other weapons are obsolete. To maintain your 50% balance as you introduce new items will be just as hard as traditional balancing and the more variables you have the harder it is.

And there's the paradox. If you manage to keep all items perfectly balanced, there won't be any incentive for people to upgrade their gear/toon/etc. So how do you balance that?!

Overall your method of balancing (nothing wrong with it btw) faces the same issues as strategic game balancing. I think because your game combines RPG and strategic game elements, you're unsure how to solely apply strategic game balance as you've decided against any RPG balance.

The much bigger question you need to ask yourself is this: is your game really a strategy game rather than an RPG?

Essentially it appears you're balancing a complicated version of Chess/Starcraft except your army is a party of adventurers and you get to micromanage each unit's characteristics. Your game will face the same balancing difficulties as all other strategy games.

[Edited by - loom_weaver on July 9, 2008 9:05:18 PM]

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Quote:
Going on to other points you made, you talk about using rock, paper, scissors balance because it gives players incentive to use more content. Well that is true only if you like playing different playstyles.

As you specified your game is an MMO (this works even for just multiplayer games too), then although a single player will be able to specialise and only use one style, you will want other styles to be interesting too. It is more true for an MMO where you want players to feel a sense of ownership to their avatar and have that avatar reflect their game style.

Remember "experiencing" more content it not necessarily having that player use that content, but it might be that they fight along side someone who is using that content, or that they fight someone with that content.

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You play style is one much like myself in terms of other games where you try to min/max everything that you can to achieve the ultimate build and thus in most games succeed in make best builds or the only build really.

That is a natural behaviour of a player who want to do well in a game. They will try to maximise their chance at success. Also, it is an important part of balancing a game, you try and see if you can break the balance with a specific build/set of choices.

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You can possibly do chance to win by statistics but the sheer number of variations almost makes that immpossible to take everything into account on what a player can bring into battle with them.

What you need to look for is a Dominant (or near dominant) strategy as well as dominated (or near dominated) strategies.

Now you could brute force the solution, but as you said the sheer number of variations will make it hard (but they will do it). However, I just used simple chunking to arrive at my build.

What I looked at is that player skill is what determines the outcome of the battles. Then I just looked at the options that minimised the number of attacks on me and maximised the number of attack I would get on the enemy. As this would mean I have more chances of hitting the enemy than they have of hitting me and if I could avoid attacks altogether, then I could not loose.

I do know that just getting the lightest equipment will not be the perfect solution, but without the numbers to crunch (and as I have narrowed down the general build I don't have to crunch all the numbers, only for those close to my build) that was the best solution I could come up with. What I do know is that the dominant solution will be the solution that can prevent (or nearly prevent) all attacks on me, while giving me the most attacks upon my enemies.

If you have a dominant or a dominated solution, then you system is not balanced (for PvP play)

Quote:
First I need to address the combat system and how attacks are made in the game.

So hits are not based on a random number system, but on the timing and accuracy of the player (player skill). That is what I assumed based on what was available. However, I still addressed the possibility that you might have a random to hit system.

Now that this is cleared up it makes my build even more powerful in certain respects, but weaker in others.

It is weaker in that once a player has a certain level of skill, the ability to dodge an attack becomes less relevant (at what point is dependent on the nuances of your game engine). Then it becomes a matter of protection vs damage rate.

Either way, in this system range dominates all other builds as long as you can still out run them. Melee does damage only]/i] if they can get close enough. A fast character that can reach places a heavier character can't go will always be able to out manoeuvre the heavier character and a faster character will always be able to avoid getting close to a slower character (this is of course assuming that both characters know the level and that the level provides manoeuvring room for the characters).

Quote:
The beauty of this game is that no matter what build you pick to decide if you are ranged, melee solely depends on your particular playstyle and the game will automatically cater to that nautrally. Again I can't stress this enough but every character can learn every skill, every move, drive every vehicle, go everywhere in the world and use every weapon/skill/spell/gun etc..

It doesn't matter if they can perform any skill/use any item in the game. If a certain choice of items/skills/actions give an advantage, then players will exploit it (or if they don't they will whine that other builds needs to be "nerfed").

Although your system seems to offer different play styles, it doesn't allow players to exploit them in a strategic to tactical manner. Each build being equal doesn't allow players to work together to achieve a synergy between them, what is called "combined arms". So in reality your game doesn't really offer different play styles, but offers different appearances for the characters.

About the only difference in play styles is the one between ranged and melee and ranged beats melee (that is ranged can just run away form any melee enemies). This does allow the setting up of ambushes (ie several ranged offer themselves as easy prey for melee, but this is only to draw the melee characters into a location where then can be attacked at range from the flanks, or such).

Quote:
how do you determine who is going to win in a fight. We with out more information you can't.

Actually, there is a theory that deals with this. It was originally designed for real combat, but it was too simplistic (although it can be used as a estimator for real combats). This theory is called "Lanchester's Laws" ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lanchester%27s_laws ).

Basically, in Melee you can attack one and be attacked by one enemy at a time. This results in a linear relationship between the two sides and the number of survivors.

But, with ranged weapons, any one player will be able to target multiple enemies and be targeted by multiple enemies. This results not in a linear relationship, but a squared relationship between the combatants and the number of survivors.

This means that a group with range will always dominate a group with melee.

Just think of the number here. If you had 100 melee players on one side and just 10 ranged players on the other side, then these teams would be equal.

However, for guaranteed victory you would want a force/power ratio of 3:1. So you would need 300 melee against 10 ranged to guarantee victory, but you would only need 18 (actually 17.3) ranged vs the 100 melee for the ranged to be guaranteed victory.

Now you might think that numbers would be able to be tweaked to fix this, maybe make ranged weapons do less damage than a sword, or may be they will cost more. However, doing this will only work for a specific number of people. Any more or less would break this balance.

For example, just say that ranged cost 10 times the cost of melee weapons (and assuming that they did the same damage as each other). If the melee weapon build cost 10 gold each, then to field 100 melee would cost 1000 gold. And if the Ranged weapons cost 100 gold each, then fielding 10 ranged would cost 1000 gold.

Lets see if you only fielded 50 melee, then the cost would be 500 gold. The Ranged force to equal this is only 7 (well 7.07) and this would cost 700 gold. So in smaller groups melee has the advantage of being cheaper to field.

But if we increased the numbers of troops to 200 melee this would cost 2000 gold and you would need 14 (14.142) and this would only cost you 1400 gold. So in this case Ranged is much better than before.

What it means is that if you have these kinds of set values use to balance melee and range, then if you change the number of players then you balance is destroyed. If you could guarantee that pre-set number of players in each battle that's fine, but if you can't then you can't use those systems to balance ranged vs melee.

What you need is something that is better than ranged, but does not dominate melee (and so can be beaten by melee). But then this just creates a Scissors/Paper/Rock system (Ranged beats Melee, Melee beat X, X beats Ranged).

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And for the last point about the ranged being > any melee build I ask you why is that?

I hope I made that clear in this post :D .

Actually I saw this as the major concern about you system's balance. Ranged will beat melee because they can attack melee without being attacked by melee in return. Also, because multiple ranged can target multiple melee and melee can only target individual ranged, ranged will have Lanchester's Laws on their side.

The only way you can really bring balance into this is to design levels so that ranged don't have an advantage (all locations are easy to reach and there are short blind alleys and corners. But then winning is taken away from the players and placed into the level designers (and as you want the players skill to be the determining factor, this is not a desirable outcome).

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But what if you can't hit the melee? or the melee defends against your bullets with shields, or gravity grenades, or magnetic repulsion devices, or pulls out a gun himself and starts to shoot you.

If they pull out a gun, then it is not ranged vs melee, but ranged vs ranged. And yes, there can be defences against ranged, but the ranged should be able to get around them (and if going with the light ranged build, then they will be able to get places that the defenders can't reach and so get around the defences that way. Also, if there are goals that each team has to achieve, then turtleing up behind defences wont allow you to achieve those goals, but the ranged players would be able to then dominate the area and achieve their goals.

Actually, if you specifically designed defences to counter ranged, then this would take the place of the X type and create the Scissors/paper/rock system. Ranged beats Melee beats Anti-range Defences (ARD) beats Ranged.

The ARDs could use them to prevent the Ranged from attacking them until they or their allies get into combat with the Ranged, however, the ARDs would be unable to defend themselves against melee (as their defences don't work against melee attacks only ranged attacks).

One suggestion for an ARD would be stealth or jamming tech, that doesn't work against nearby enemies, but distant enemies would be subject to it.

So your only solutions to change the dominance of ranged is to either go ranged or to introduce a Scissors/Paper/Rock relationship with a 3rd build type. Which was my point altogether (that you could only equal my build - ranged vs ranged - or have to introduce a S/P/R relationship).

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Different Builds will not just be defined to a single type, such as ranged or melee. Instead you have a blend of combat types across the board. For this example we will describe some possible fighting against a ranged fighter and a melee fighter to make things more clear.

Ranged Fighter: He is equipped with the lightest gear, focusing on having the ability to shoot the longest distance to maximize his ranged and evade the target at all costs.

Melee Fighter: Is a typical melee fighter that will only use melee weapons in this fight for test purposes. Melee fighter knows that his weakness is against ranged enemies. Therefore he will prepare to fight against those to even the odds.


Ranged Fighter Pros and Cons: Ranged build has tried to maximize his advantage of keeping the enemy far away. Thus he has built his character to be able to out run all other builds. But by doing this he has sacrificed his damage signifigantly because he cannot equip the heavier more damaging guns and has opted for the longer distance ammo which again does less damage. Since this build only maximizes range he has probably cut his damage output by 50% or more compared to the average ranged person. What this build allows the Ranged Figther to do is the ability to choose wether or not the want to engage in a fight. He has given himself that option by being able to out run the enemy. So he will be hard to kill because most enemies simply cannot catch him. Another disadvantage that the Ranged Fighter has against him is that the further away he gets from the target, the harder it will be to hit the target due to outside forces and the requirement of manual aiming. To ensure that he can actually hit the enemy he has to stay close enough for his aiming ability to damage the target or he runs the risk of not being able to kill the enemy. He also has his damage working against him because he will have to hit him multiple times to peck away at the enemies health or get a very very lucky vital shot that causes them to die. So to maximize this build the player has to be a good shot to take advantage of the build he created. Shooting at maximum range is possible but highly unlikely to be effective at killing his target. In return for this, he has to get that much closer to his enemy thus lessening his advantage over the target.

Melee Fighter Pros and Cons: Melee has chosen to only use a melee weapon as his form of attack, even though he could change weapons thus changing advantages and disadvantages but he won't for this scenario. To begin the melee knows it is very likely for him to go against people that want to use range to their advantage. For his build he has focused on a middle build where it allowed him to sustain some damage but keep him mobile enough to be agil and able to dodge most attacks. For this, I would say his is wearing a type of leather armor which has enough resistance to stop most small arms fire. This will be typical for most melee. Seeing this build the melee knows that he cannot catch his ranged opponent in a foot race because they can out run him because they are lighter and faster. So chasing the ranged is a waste of time. Some times this may not always be true. But for this example it will be true. His main disadvantage is that he cannot damage his target unless he finds a way to get in range of his enemy.

So who wins this fight? We lets break it down for you.

To further this scenario we will put the Ranged Fighter taking full advantage of his range and sitting up on a elevated ledge at maximum range against the Melee Fighter. And to put the odds even further against the melee we will say they are both in a open plain with minimal cover for the melee to use to avoid being fired upon. So the melee can only use what he has equipped or the items he has brought with him.

Now lets compare damage that the range could possibly do against the melee fighter. Since the Ranged Fighter has opted to increase his range for less damage the starting damage is 50% less than normal. Add in the factor that the melee is wearing some armor the ranged possible damage is thus further decreased. So the range has a harder time killing his enemy because he does minimal damage even if he does get a hit in. Combat in this game allows players to dodge,block,parry over 95% of the time because combat is geared toward strategic hits. So the ranged has about a 5% chance to get a hit in normally but is probably even less because of his extreme range on his target. But lets say he has perfect aim so it stays at 5%. So in the 5% of the ranged shots to actually hit his target and do damage, he has to face the fact that when he does do damage he will not signifigantly harm the target. If the melee does even a decent job at blocking the Ranged Fighters attacks then the range his have a very very hard time killing the target. By the same token because the ranged fighter is built for speed the melee will have a hard time catching and killing the Ranged Fighter because if he so chooses he has given himself the ability to run away. So the ranged can't kill the melee unless he either gets a very lucky shot or get closer to increase his chance of getting more hits on the target. So if the ranged stays at maximum range and the melee just wants to block and or defend in some way, this fight is pretty much a stale mate because neither can signifigantly damage the other enough to kill them.

But now lets say that the melee goes on the offensive. Lets say for the sake of argument the melee fighter has a smoke grenade with him. He uses it and the whole place goes up. Now the Ranged Fighter loses track of the melee fighter for a split second. This will be the time for the Ranged Figther to switch to Infared vision and the time to re-locate the melee fighter. During this time the melee fighter has a chance to take advantage of his made opportunity and advance or if he is really good he can advance and remain hidden from the Ranged Fighter. This all came about from simply using a simple smoke grenade. Or instead of using the grenade he can start slowly advancing to the ranged fighter also known as turtling. Well if the ranged fighter sees this happening he can either do the smart thing which is to retreat and re-establish his range advantage or keep trying to pluck away at the melee fighter thus giving up some of his advantage. If he loses sight of the melee fighter then he doesn't know where the melee fighter is and thus has lost his range advantage completely. If the range fighter is smart he will retreat and live to fight another day. If he stays where he is and continues to scout the area he runs the risk of being caught by the melee fighter and possibly killed.

Now if both targets are very capable of knowing when they have lost the advantage, then a smart opponent will retreat because his odds of losing are greatly increased. But there is always people who will not fight based on the odds and continue to do so anyways even if it eventually leads to their characters demise. When fighting if the melee cannot over come the advantage of fighting against a ranged fighter such as blocking his attack then he will lose. If the range, the way he is built can't keep his opponent away from him and gets caught then he will lose. This situation doesn't take into account the fact that traps could be set up ahead of time but simply that a ranged fighter starts firing on a melee fighter standing in a open field. Again there are many more ways for a melee fighter to overcome the advantage of range, but there will also be ways for the range to keep his advantage such as the infared vision or other possible tracking. The range also has the ability to use his own shields or smoke grenades.


Melee Fighters Defenses:

- Blocking ability with sword (deflecting bullets) %chance based on various factors like skill and velocity
- Personal Shields
- Deployable Shields
- Disrupting vision (smoke screen, blinding, walls etc..)
- increase speed to close in on target (sliding on ice, sprinting, vechiles etc..)
- armor he is wearing to reduce damage
- Running speed (makes him harder for the range to hit him)
- Terrain (tree or other structures to hide behind)

But even here you can see that combat even if the range maxes out his ability to keep ranged he will have to sacrifice his damage to do so. Even them the melee fighter has several options to lessen this advantage. It is more of a question of tactics involved in the fight than the actual starting advantage the ranged fighter has which is to keep the melee fighter out of range unless he slips up or is too bold in some situations. But I don't think that a fight between a fighter and a melee in any situation will be clear cut and just because you have a build to out run the enemy where he can't catch you in a foot race that doesn't mean you automatically win nor does that mean that he will automatically loses. Its more of a grey area and relies more on each players strategy and taking their advantages and maximizing while still being able to kill their opponent and minimizing their weaknesses so as to not be killed by their opponent.

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You've put forth some thought, and that'll go a long way, but not the whole way. You need play testing. EvE's got a problem this year, because there's a way to min/max your ship configuration (on some ships more than on others) to go really, really fast. So fast, in fact, that nothing can kill you. You outgun missiles, gun turrets can't swivel fast enough to track you, and combat drones chug feebly along behind you, eating your dust and failing to engage. There are supposed to be drawbacks to these setups, like larger signature radius (easier to target, take more damage from certain attacks) and loss of effectiveness of your own weapons and defenses, but the speed is so, so powerful that nothing else matters. SUre, some slower ships are tougher, and can withstand your attacks, but you're so fast you can just go away if you start to lose.

That's the sort of thing you really can't plan for. You've just got to try it out, and see what works. Make a mock-up, either in code or just on paper, get some friends together, drink a few beers and try to break the system, then reinforce the parts that break.

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So who wins this fight? We lets break it down for you.

As part of that scenario is that both players take full advantage when they have it and if they don't they will try to reacquire it.

For the ranged to gain advantage, all they need to do is spot the melee. For the melee to have advantage they have to move very close to the ranged, but because the ranged always has the speed advantage this will never happen (ok, yes it can happen if the player makes a mistake or a trap is set, but we are considering best play here not a lucky break play).

This means that you can only win if you take Ranged as the ranged always has the ability to completely cancel the melee advantage (run away/tactical withdrawal) at no cost, but the melee needs to expend items to do so (also, if the melee can use those items to eliminate the range advantage, the range can also use items to negate those items - so using items like this is a draw). So even if the ranged can get the occasional advantage, the melee can never gain the advantage so the ranged wins.

If you can never win (or will usually loose) with the melee, why take it?

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But there is always people who will not fight based on the odds and continue to do so anyways even if it eventually leads to their characters demise.

When balancing a game you have to consider the optimal choices that a player makes, not the sub optimal solutions. IF the only way you can win is if your opponent is a n00b (or lets you win) then that means that the game is not balanced. Balanced means that players of equal skill have an equal chance of winning.

Yes, this means that in n00b vs n00b winning will usually be because the other made a mistake, but in veteran vs veteran , you can't bet on them making mistakes. With veteran players, if one choice is better than another, they will take that advantage. If the game is unbalanced for veteran players, then they will stop playing it because it is no longer fun (there are no interesting choices).

New players will be attracted by the theme and the "shock of the new", but they will rapidly learn that one build is better than another (and thus progress from n00b to veteran) and this will remove most of the interesting gameplay that was available to them.

Imagine a game that once you reached a certain proficiency it would then remove 80% of the content and choices you could make. What would you do with that game?

This is why you don't consider mistakes that player might make as a means of balancing your game. Because with every "might" there is the "might not".

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But I don't think that a fight between a fighter and a melee in any situation will be clear cut and just because you have a build to out run the enemy where he can't catch you in a foot race that doesn't mean you automatically win nor does that mean that he will automatically loses.

Yes it does. If the only way he can win is to beat me (fast ranged) in the foot race, and I have other opportunities to win, then I will never loose and have many opportunities to win. Even if the chances of me winning are infinitesimal. Infinitesimal is infinitely bigger than 0.

Look, you asked for feedback on the balance of your design, I have shown that your system, although on the surface might look balanced, it is in fact not balanced at all. I have given a couple of suggestions on how to balance it, but the rest is up to you. You can either take my advice that you asked for, or leave it.

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