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StopKillingMe

GamePlay Balance Discussion

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This seems to be a very controversial subject, with what I believe to be an unfortunate amount of emotions involved.  So I'd like to in this thread establish some things, from the player perspective.  I would like to break this down into digestible chunks to consider:

1.  Is balancing gameplay a priority?  If so, when is the target for implementing this?  I don't think that opining that nothing is being done is productive.  As a community we need to be supportive of the established process for making changes.

2.   How will gameplay changes be implemented?  A patch, or in the next Alpha release?

3.  Who determines what is changed?  An expert player?  Consensus from a debate?

 

I believe at least for the first change to balance, it should be from consensus - from the players - and not decided by a single individual.  As such, the things that I feel need to be discussed are the following:

Is 0ad a traditional rock/paper/scissor RTS?  I submit that no, it in fact is not that.  What I believe 0ad to be, is a unique RTS based on historical warfare.  Therefore, in my opinion, trying to change it from that original ideal is a mistake, and a disservice.  What exists right now should be slightly modified, and very carefully.  Not abandoned and reworked.  The CC structure, who can build what, what can train from the CC - none of that should be changed.  So I submit to you that trying to overhaul 0ad is something that should not happen.  Dramatically changing this game in my opinion is for the modders, and should not carry over into a game that has not even been slated for release yet.  In my opinion, the very best thing that can happen to 0ad right now is a code freeze and move into Beta.  

The ideal of Nerfing one or two factions at a time - in my opinion, is the best way to balance gameplay.  A wholesale change to how the game plays will confuse everyone, we should make changes slowly and play the changed game extensively before we decide to change it again.  For an extended period in the game lobby, not in test with just a few people.  Long term competitive play reveals the issues with balance in a comprehensive way, a couple of days of play testing does not.  This is an established process in other RTS games that works, letting the player community expose the game's weakness.

 

Consider AOM, these are the patch notes in regards to game balance:

 

Odin now gets his hunting bonus. The actual change was to increase Odin Villager and Dwarf hunting rate from +10% to +20%.
Thor's Pig Sticker improvement now affects hunting rate. The actual change was to increase hunting rate from +10% to +20%.
Loki's Ox Carts are now weaker instead of stronger. The actual change was to subtract 80 hitpoints from Loki Ox Carts.
Raiding Cavaly have +10% more Pierce and +5% Hack Armor. This should let Norse counter archers more easily in the Classical Age.
Norse Longhouse now costs 110 Wood instead of 130 Wood. This will let Norse make more Longhouses.
Isis Obelisks now cost 10 Gold instead of 5 Gold. This should prevent Isis from making quite so many Obelisks.
Egyptian Barracks now cost 75 Gold instead of 50 Gold. This will prevent Egyptians from making quite so many Barracks.
Ancestors now have 140 hitpoints instead of 180 hitpoints. This makes the God Power a bit weaker, but will also affect Mummy Minions.
Hippikons now take 20 seconds to train in Classical. They remain at 15 seconds in Heroic and Mythic. This should make it harder for Poseidon especially from having such large cavalry armies in Classical.
Helepoli now have -15% Hack armor, occupy +1 pop slots, and have -50 hitpoints. This should discourage the "all Helepoli armies" in Mythic.

 

Then the second balance patch:

Egyptian First Age farming is slower; Plow restores the rate.
Plow takes longer to research. (+10 Seconds. )
Ra’s Chariots and Camelry have a smaller hitpoint bonus. (dropped from 20% to 10%)
Ra’s Priests now empower gathering less than Pharaohs empower gathering.(dropped from 20% to 10%)
Mercenary Cavalry pierce and hack armor decreased. (Hack 60% dropped to 40%, Pierce 70% down to 45%)
Build limits (max number you can have at one time) imposed on Mercenary (12) and Mercenary Cavalry (8).
Mercenary and Mercenary Cavalry lifespans are 5 seconds shorter.
Heavy Chariot, Camel and Elephant improvements are more expensive. (Heavy Camels; Additaional 150 food and 150 gold, Elephant; Additional 200 food and 150gold, Chariot; Additional 150wood and 150gold. )
Chariot speed decreased (Ra's are still faster, but less fast than they were).(-.3)
Animals of Set cost 1 less pop slot.
Heroes no longer get bonus damage vs. animals of Set.
Set's Slingers have more hitpoints. (boosted from 10% to 20%)
Roc hack armor decreased (easier for Throwing Axemen to hit them). (hack dropped 10%)
Roc speed decreased. (dropped by .5)
Cyclops has more hitpoints (+50 HP)
Poseidon's Towers produce only 1 Militia.

 

It's obvious these changes were coming from a place of balancing actual real time gameplay, and not from one person's vision of how the game is supposed to play.  I believe strongly that this is the approach we should take.

 

In summary:

1.  Preserve the original ideal of historically based combat as much as possible. (rock/paper/scissors counter system is not necessary, and out of scope)

2.  Separate game play balance changes from all other dev activities, so that they can be applied via a patch.

3.  Make incremental changes to one or two factions at a time, see how the game plays after it's patched, adjust again, patch again, and so on.

4.  Publish patch release notes, so that players see exactly what is changed and why and can change game play decisions or what faction they want to play accordingly.

 

So having said that, these are my ideas for patch 1.01

 

Increase build time for Celts buildings

Reduce crush damage for all slingers

Change default action to attack from capture on all siege weapons

All melee cavalry get an attack bonus (or increase) vs siege

Slow the movement and attack speed of rams

Speed up research time for wicker baskets tech dramatically

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

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Fundamentally, nothing will change, unless people make the effort to submit patches on phabricator (e.g. https://code.wildfiregames.com/D1762 ). But even then, no guarantees: you still need to convince people your proposal is really an improvement and find team members willing to review and hopefully commit it.

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3 hours ago, Nescio said:

Fundamentally, nothing will change, unless people make the effort to submit patches on phabricator (e.g. https://code.wildfiregames.com/D1762 ). But even then, no guarantees: you still need to convince people your proposal is really an improvement and find team members willing to review and hopefully commit it.

then every single thing needs to be submited separately and it will take ages?

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1 hour ago, thankforpie said:

then every single thing needs to be submited separately and it will take ages?

yes and be patient. that's why we use mods. have nice day. :)

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Welcome to situation normal for all open source projects never enough people actually doing something everyone else complaining your too @##@%&^! slow I have been involved in several project and that has been constant.

Enjoy the Choice :)

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6 hours ago, StopKillingMe said:

In summary:

1.  Preserve the original ideal of historically based combat as much as possible. (rock/paper/scissors counter system is not necessary, and out of scope)

2.  Separate game play balance changes from all other dev activities, so that they can be applied via a patch.

3.  Make incremental changes to one or two factions at a time, see how the game plays after it's patched, adjust again, patch again, and so on.

4.  Publish patch release notes, so that players see exactly what is changed and why and can change game play decisions or what faction they want to play accordingly.

While I could easily agree to points 1, 2 and 4, No. 3 - together with other of your arguments - to me sound a bit like 'We have always done it like this! And our neighbors do it like this!', which, by itself, doesn't sound too convincing to me.

If a sufficient number of people ('regular' players, competitive players and lastly - and I guess most importantly - a ~handful of devs) think there is a 'package' available (the mod your thread is obviously about but you haven't mentioned - and which I didn't try (yet)) that is a step in the right direction, I say 'why not?'.

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the best counter system  I play so far is DE , but i have to have in consideration give a try to Nescio and Borg mods.but yesterday I test again Delenda Est  and Rams aren't OP anymore,

 

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29 minutes ago, wowgetoffyourcellphone said:

You're also referencing the balance notes of a feature complete released game. There is much debate still about the final feature list of the game.

I'm just doing this as an example of how it works.

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1 hour ago, StopKillingMe said:

I'm just doing this as an example of how it works.

Only in commercial environments open source projects only proceed with motivated contributors we are all volunteers no interest/talent no work done at all,that and discussions of this nature occurring about every year:banger::rolleyes:

Enjoy the Choice :)

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13 hours ago, StopKillingMe said:

Increase build time for Celts buildings

Reduce crush damage for all slingers

Change default action to attack from capture on all siege weapons

All melee cavalry get an attack bonus (or increase) vs siege

Slow the movement and attack speed of rams

Speed up research time for wicker baskets tech dramatically

1- You cant increase build time for celts buildings because it is directly connected to the health of buildings, less health, less build time, same for hellenics, more health, more build time, this is part of the original design.

2- I agree, but slinger have 1 crush dmg, there is no reduction here, the best would be to take out the crush dmg.

3- I agree.

4 and 5- If u give a bonus vs siege for all melee cavs, and nerf rams, then  bassically rams were useless. 

6 -I do not see problems with current baskets.

Edited by borg-

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Here's a short list (my opnion).

Reduce damage from all ranged units. (inf melee and cav melee total useless)

Reduce the speed of all cavalry. (inf melee cant counter)

Balance all auras and hero.

Update the technological tree. (there are bonuses that have no effect (kush for example), some units/buildings is missing part "history", among other things)

Disable animation celebration of promotion.

Reduce the speed of the rams.

Reduce the training speed and cost of the champions.

Decrease the price of most techs. 

Balance current techs, many are useless.

Balance priest.

Change the order of priority of the elephant of war, to attack units before constructions.

There are few things, that would be just to start, we would have a a24 a little better.

 

Edited by borg-
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3 minutes ago, borg- said:

Here's a short list (my opnion).

Reduce damage from all ranged units. (inf melee and cav melee total useless)

Reduce the speed of all cavalry. (inf melee cant counter)

Balance all auras and hero.

Update the technological tree. (there are bonuses that have no effect (kush for example), units/builds without historical content among other things)

Disable animation celebration of promotion.

Reduce the speed of the rams.

Reduce the training speed and cost of the champions.

Decrease the price of most techs. 

Balance current tehcs, many are useless.

Balance priest.

There are few things, that would be just to start, we would have a a24 a little better.

 

The only thing I would say to this - is that in 2v2 or 3v3 games on larger maps, at least from my perspective, it appears to be a race to city stage, and spam of siege, with no real way to counter it - in my opinion if you decide to spam siege, there needs to be an effective counter to it - right now people seem to be able to spam siege, and put some massed ranged units next to it, and there is no way to counter it, the game is over at that point..what I don't like about that is, an army made of entirely ranged units should crumble to anything melee.  

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7 minutes ago, StopKillingMe said:

The only thing I would say to this - is that in 2v2 or 3v3 games on larger maps, at least from my perspective, it appears to be a race to city stage, and spam of siege, with no real way to counter it - in my opinion if you decide to spam siege, there needs to be an effective counter to it - right now people seem to be able to spam siege, and put some massed ranged units next to it, and there is no way to counter it, the game is over at that point..what I don't like about that is, an army made of entirely ranged units should crumble to anything melee.  

The current gameplay is the same for 1v1 or 4v4, it is a boom, spam slingers, archers or javelins, get p3, upgrade ranged attack tech, make 1 - 2 rams, or 1 - 2 elephants and attack.

I can beat other players with an average rating of 1600/1700 using other strategies, like melee cavs, but if the player is a similar level like valih or feldfeld, drastically increases my chances of losing, i would say 95%.

Edited by borg-
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1 minute ago, borg- said:

The current gameplay is the same for 1v1 or 4v4, it is a fast p3, spam slingers, archers or javelins, upgrade ranged attack tech, make 1 - 2 rams, or 1 - 2 elephants and attack.

I understand - I am actually playing a lot of practice single player games in anticipation of what the future meta might look like, I am experimenting with the Mauryans, the two things that I think can be used is faster archer training time and the fact that worker elephants are mobile drop off point.  I'm messing with a 2nd elephant start strat...

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Indeed, further complicating things is that ideally we want a game that's enjoyable for single player and multiplayer, casual and competitive players, small and large maps, two to eight players, etc.

10 hours ago, thankforpie said:

then every single thing needs to be submited separately and it will take ages?

Related changes can (should?) go in the same patch, but fundamentally different things should go in separate proposals. Diffs should be reviewable.

1 hour ago, borg- said:

Here's a short list (my opnion).

Reduce damage from all ranged units. (inf melee and cav melee total useless)

Reduce the speed of all cavalry. (inf melee cant counter)

Balance all auras and hero.

Update the technological tree. (there are bonuses that have no effect (kush for example), some units/buildings is missing part "history", among other things)

Disable animation celebration of promotion.

Reduce the speed of the rams.

Reduce the training speed and cost of the champions.

Decrease the price of most techs. 

Balance current techs, many are useless.

Balance priest.

Change the order of priority of the elephant of war, to attack units before constructions.

There are few things, that would be just to start, we would have a a24 a little better.

 

No objections here. If you want to have a chance to see those things implemented, then the next step would be creating some diffs for the svn development version and uploading them to phabricator

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Balance is like clockwork. It can’t be judged with pieces missing.

I am pretty sure scythetwirler worked on a balancing branch and just merged the whole thing once it was done.

Too much trust in the review process. One dev who plays multiplayer on a semi-regular basis. One other dev who can be seen often. Majority of the rest don’t even play the game on singleplayer.

Edited by Guest

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5 hours ago, borg- said:

Reduce damage from all ranged units. (inf melee and cav melee total useless)

Isn't this going to make archers more useless? Or are they useful somehow?

I think a good cycle for balancing the game would be:

- release some new alpha

- people play and start to see where it is unbalanced

- top players make a balancing mod (just changing stats)

- mod is tested and modified until it cannot get better in that alpha

- next alpha incorporate the latest version of the balancing mod.

- repeat...

The engine could even be changed to automatically install the "official" balancing mod, or at least prompt players if they want to install it, so more people have access to the balanced version.

Edited by coworotel

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40 minutes ago, coworotel said:

- make a balancing mod (just changing stats) 

That was said a lot of time and made a reality by former and current devs (by providing the technical solutions).

That's why all the current discussions are kinda irrelevant. Many people use an adblocker, what is the official one? ;-)

EDIT: here is a good place for everybody to discuss of balance though!

Edited by fatherbushido

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3 hours ago, coworotel said:

The engine could even be changed to automatically install the "official" balancing mod, or at least prompt players if they want to install it, so more people have access to the balanced version.

How is that any different from the current situation? settings->mod.io->borg mod

The only thing missing is a notification saying that it is the official one.

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5 hours ago, (-_-) said:

Balance is like clockwork. It can’t be judged with pieces missing.

I am pretty sure scythetwirler worked on a balancing branch and just merged the whole thing once it was done.

Too much trust in the review process. One dev who plays multiplayer on a semi-regular basis. One other dev who can be seen often. Majority of the rest don’t even play the game on singleplayer.

 

i trust borg balance cause he 1vs5 all

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9 hours ago, borg- said:

Here's a short list (my opnion).

Reduce damage from all ranged units. (inf melee and cav melee total useless)

Reduce the speed of all cavalry. (inf melee cant counter)

Balance all auras and hero.

Update the technological tree. (there are bonuses that have no effect (kush for example), some units/buildings is missing part "history", among other things)

Disable animation celebration of promotion.

Reduce the speed of the rams.

Reduce the training speed and cost of the champions.

Decrease the price of most techs. 

Balance current techs, many are useless.

Balance priest.

Change the order of priority of the elephant of war, to attack units before constructions.

There are few things, that would be just to start, we would have a a24 a little better.

 

OK, so let's use this list as a baseline.

"Balance current techs, many are useless."

This needs to be detailed more - what techs are we changing?

 

"Balance all auras and hero."

Again, specifically what heroes are we changing and why?  We should only target OP heroes.

 

Let's get this list fleshed out and start doing a deep dive into specifically what we are changing, and get all of it enumerated.

 

*********

 

I still feel like we need to address the Celts a little bit more specifically - they should be nerfed in some slight way.

Also - killing hunting animals should be a lot easier, early game hunt is important.  I play Ptolomies a lot so maybe its just a problem with the camel archer, but some hunt is ridiculously difficult to take down, to the point that it's an unfair disadvantage.

My reasoning on the wicker baskets researching faster is that on a map with only one group of berries, by the time you get a farmstead up and the research is done half your berries are already gone - maybe even changing wicker baskets to affect the speed of farming a little bit would make them more worthwhile to get early game.  I feel like right now it's a viable strat to skip getting them and go right to upgrading farms.

 

 

 

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15 hours ago, borg- said:

Reduce damage from all ranged units. (inf melee and cav melee total useless)

I think this should be done by slowing down their tootoohigh attack speed (even if the dps is kept relatively constant by increasing the damage per hit).

There are a variety of problems aggravated by it:

Balance problems:

  1. Reduced damage downtime: Melee units get interrupted all the time, they waste time bumping into each other and into enemies, and start approaching targets only to die before getting a hit in. For melee units changing targets is costly and results in huge dps losses.  Thanks to their absurd rate of fire ranged can change targets instantly, making focus fire and hit and run tactics much more effective than anything melee units can pull off.
  2. Negligible 'overkilling', ranged units attack quickly but deal 'low' damage per hit so very little damage is wasted in the attack that kills the target.

Aesthetic problems:

  1. It makes animations look ridiculous and out of place, it is specially jarring because ranged units are almost the only ones that do this. The only non-ranged units that I feel have animations playing at the wrong speed are spear cavalry (looks a bit slowed down) and rams (looks a bit speed up)
  2. It causes the 'projectile hitting armor' sound to play too frequently. You know exactly what sound I'm talking about, you're probably hearing it in your mind now.

Performance problems:

A whole lot of attacks means a whole lot of arrows and stones on the field, the renderer doesn't like this.

 

 

Edited by theotherhiveking
Typo
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