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ChronA

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  1. This is very promising. While (understandably) this does not go as far as some proposals, it does open up a new, more streamlined pathway for balance provocateurs to submit modifications to the game and then test the effects of those modifications without jumping through loads of technical hoops. I tend to have more confidence in technological measures that change the facts on the ground pertaining to a problem, over "community initiatives" that call on individuals to adopt a new paradigm without addressing any of the incentives that produced the situation in the first place; and this solution does a bit of that. So... merci and bravo! Whether this will be enough to break some of the gridlock in 0AD's balance development I cannot venture to predict. Probably it will not fix all the problems in one go, but so long as the community maintains realistic expectations, the contributors remain committed to an incremental campaign of periodic improvements, and the main developers are open and supportive to increasing integration with the main mod and other balance-adjacent endeavors in the future, I cannot see this being entirely fruitless. As to the poll questions: would this be enough to get a vocal complainer like me to get off the benches and contribute some skin to the game? I think the answer is yes. This answers many of my objections about barriers to working on balance improvements. I've got some stuff going on right now that would make taking on another project hard, but once that is done I would be open to contribute, insofar as I am competent to. I agree with Lion that discussions must be had about the intended scope of this project. Is this to be focused on minor adjustments to specific balance issues, or will it be open to more radical reimagining of established unit roles and gameplay conventions? (Someone working on fine tuning archer balance is going to be pretty angry if someone else comes along and completely resets the balance relationship between melee and ranged a week later.) Best to have a plan, and maybe (gasp) a design document.
  2. Or collision circles really need to be increased... and if that requires reducing unit counts so the engine will remain performant then so be it. What is the point of having 800 units on screen if you cannot clearly see a single one of them because they all congeal into a single undifferentiable blob of human neutronium?
  3. For that they really need a unique role of their own to fill, separate from skirmishers and slingers. Right now all range infantry are just DPS sources. One of the three types is always going to be better at that than the others unless you make all their stats exactly identical. If they had different roles though, like if archers had bonus damage vs cavalry (there is some historical precedent for this) and skirmishers had extra hack armor on account of carrying a shield everywhere, and melee were actually viable DPS dealers and not just meat armor, you would no longer be comparing the two directly to each other because they no longer would be directly competing. Of course that would require actually designing the game around functioning counter cycles rather than pop-history.
  4. Correct. Likewise to remove resource gathering is <ResourceGatherer disable=""/>
  5. I don't think archer are supposed to be able to fight or escape from a charging mob of javelineers, they are supposed to beat them by staying at standoff range with a meatshield or buildings protecting them from the enemy. If archers could also kite other ranged infantry that would once again turn them into a very hard counter to all infantry units, which does not seem in the spirit of 0 AD. Plus a speed change would boost their economic value and create chaos for civ balance (again).
  6. - Persian women have a bow to defend themselves rather than the conventional dagger. Agree. I feel in general that civilians being melee instead of ranged in 0AD is a nonsensical Age-of-Empires-ism. Giving Persian women their civ's characteristic ranged weapon makes sense to me, and is unlikely to cause problems so long as their combat stats (i.e. the damage of their arrows and maybe their range) are not competitive-for-cost with proper CS archers. And they really should not be, because CS archers would be using proper war bows while civilians would only have hunting bows. - Archers are more accurate than other archers and advance in rank faster Slightly oppose. This is a good suggestion in concept, but as others have pointed out Archers are a recurrent problem unit for balance, and somewhere down the line someone will need to readjust them. Persians having a unique variant will make that person's life very slightly harder. That said, it might still be worth doing. This is one of the most "on-brand" buffs the Persians could get. - Decreases the attack of citizen spearmen considerably, but increases armor pierce. I think there is a much better way to do this: Step 1. Decrease the Persian CS spearman's cost to say 50 Food 30 Wood (because their wicker shields did not require high quality lumber) Step 2. Decrease their attack by 50% and reduce their hack armor from 5 to 3, but leave their HP and pierce armor unchanged Step 3. For eco balance, drop their resource gather rate by 20% to compensate for being able to have more of them. This would make the Persian spear line into a stronger pierce-tank role for cost as you suggested, but better fitting to the historical assessment that Persian infantry were inadequately armored compared to their Greek adversaries and compensated only by weight of numbers. It would also have some interesting late game implications. These spearmen would be slightly supply inefficient, so Persians would likely need to switch to champion Spearmen as they approached pop-cap. Persian CS infantry would also be much weaker to melee cavalry with this change. This might force them to compensate by focusing more on cavalry vs cavalry, which would be an interesting variation to the meta IMO. (It could also just make them completely non-viable vs cavalry, so be careful! That goes for your original variant too.) - All Persian cavalry are available in the CC, except champions. + All Persian CS cav are available in P1. I do not feel like I have a good grasp on the balance of factors for and against cavalry effectiveness in current 0AD, so I cannot predict how this would effect the meta. It seems like other people have concerns so I defer to them. Maybe just proceed with caution.
  7. <Builder disable=""/> I think adding this to your Man At Arms unit's XML template file would do what you want.
  8. Counter (counter) salt! Complaints that a project prioritizes graphics or performance or whatever other area of development over balance are not properly understood as criticisms of the people working on graphics or performance. They are criticisms of project managers for failing to onboard people to work on the problem area. The old fallacy that end users have no right to criticize creators... but let's ignore it and actually dig into that situation. About a year ago Stan chastised me for exactly this, and I thought "Hey they are right! Why complain when I could help fix things?" However as a I dug into what that would actually entail, I quickly realized that the time and effort that would be demanded of me to make a useful contribution were far beyond my current capacity. I'm not in any way a professional developer. (But even I know about GitHub at least.) Like Crynux said, you guys are using this arcane combination of outdated technologies to do your development; and it gatekeeps (irrespective of your intentions). It would have taken me days of very trying consultation with Stan to get up to speed. And then what after that? As has been noted time and again, the 0AD community is profoundly reactionary. What is some no-name noob actually going to accomplish? Spend hundreds or thousands of hours coding and advocating for changes that will be tried once and unceremoniously rejected? No. This is my contribution: to be a cranky wall of text that shines a spotlight on problems and options no one else is discussing, to lend support to minority perspectives and underserved users, and sometimes even to light fires when the forest is desperately in need of a proscribed burn. If I can nudge you or force you to make the hard choices, I will consider that a valuable contribution. So far I do not feel I have succeed, which is why I have no qualms about amping up the pressure of my rhetoric. Well, the truth is 0AD does compete with paid products in the hearts and minds of its community (yours included). We care about whether this project ultimately succeeds--whether it eventually attains a polished and feature complete form--because we are all dreaming of someday playing a good community-made ancient warfare RTS that actually respects history, instead of the dreck Microsoft spits out every year to earn a few more dollars. Is that so impossible? (And lest you forget, we are actually paying for the privilege... crowd funding it if you will, not in money but in time and attention. To many of us these are much dearer commodities than the mere $60 that AoE2:DE and all its DLC sell for on Steam.)
  9. As opposed to receiving an endless stream of complaints about chronic imbalance and irhistoricity? Curious that graphical interoperability is viewed as a critical priority by the developer community, but game design is sanctimoniously ignored for going on half a decade. Let's not pretend that this is a minor crisis just because it has been playing out for slow motion over years and decades. It seems like there have been almost a dozen balance test or rework mods shared in the last two year, but only small, incremental improvements have made their way into EA. All the key complaints are unchanged: there is always one unit type after every patch that is markedly overpowered compared to the rest, the economy and tech buildup beats of a typical match are unrefined compared to other representatives of the genre, the game is missing expected polish and key features like naval combat and formation tactics, and optimal combat tactics have scant resemblance to the historical militaries they are supposed to be depicting. The situation is a breeding ground for toxicity. New contributors and pundits are routinely popping up, excited to share their creative visions, only to slink away dejected a few months later once they realize how intransigent this project and community really is. (Granted, this is actually a healthy state of affairs for a vibrant project with a clear vision of what it wants to be, in order to maintain quality and focus development & organizational resources where they will be most appreciated by the community at large. But I don't think 0AD can be so-described.) And clearly this negativity is taking its toll on senior project managers too. Stan is obviously having some doubts about the sustainability of this state of affairs. If you look at that list of contributors, it's pretty clear the most experienced are actively trying to avoid any work that would touch on the gameplay part of the titular game. That is not good, and if it keeps up long enough, eventually your time and luck will run out and this project will die. Once again I put it to everyone that too much openness and communitarian idealism is the problem here. The whole point of "openness" is to prevent conflict by giving everyone a stake and voice in the process. However in this case we see too many stakes and voices causing gridlock, which is directly creating the biggest ongoing conflict afflicting this project. We have talked at length about technological, organizational, and philosophical remedies to this quandary. It is time for the guiding hands behind 0AD to make some decisions about what they are going to do... and then maybe practice some of that openness (transparency) you guys preach by not asking but telling us what you are planning and doing, so that we can have some confidence that this ship is headed in the right direction, or else make our own informed decisions about whether we want to jump off.
  10. @Sevda had a good concrete-suggestion on another thread: Make it easier to play mods by automatically syncing with the host when joining a modded multiplayer game. Their post implies a host-client simulation architecture that I assume would require completely redesigning the net code (so that is unlikely to happen), but could not the same effect be achieved by just having the players' clients automatically download and install the mod files from the host? (Subject to all parties' affirmative consent obviously.) For very large mods like DE this installation method would take a long time, but for small balance changes it ought to be pretty snappy. From a casual user's perspective this would make playing modded multiplayer content more like having custom map rules. It would allow more people to very easily experiment with new gameplay innovations, without effectively forking the project into two separate versions with the attendant doubling of the code-maintenance workload, as discussed previously. Maybe there are some valid cybersecurity arguments why one would not want to support a feature like that, but this might be a case this requires soberly considering a tradeoff. 0AD is niche entertainment software with an active user base of a few thousands maybe, it's not exactly a prime target for black hats to exploit. Maybe at worst someone with a grudge might think use this nefariously against specific objects of their ire. On the other side of the scale, I think the discussion on this and other threads demonstrate a pervasive consensus that this project is stuck in a creative crisis... Badly stuck. There are too many objectors coming out of the woodwork any time someone suggests serious design or organizational reforms that might let 0AD get un-mired from its dubiously balanced, half-finished state. The only other option you have is to start removing barriers to independent creatives to realize their own visions of the game's future, and then hope that a new consensus organically coalesces around one of these offerings so that it can become the new roadmap for 0AD:EA proper. link to the other thread:
  11. Not necessarily. The problem with CS arises because the optimal total unit composition--when a player needs both economic and military work done as fast as possible--is pure CS, rather than a mix of CS and Civilian units. This means that 1. there is very little tradeoff between economic and military buildups and 2. it is possible to instantly pivot from a 100% economic strategy to a 100% military strategy, and back, with no build-up or fore warning. These factors, combined with 0AD's commitment to soft (i.e. weak) or non-existent counters, makes for a very simplified strategic environment. CS provide your offense, your defense, and your economy all in one place, better than a mix of CS and Civilian. Put another way, CS is just too near parity to civilians in terms cost effectiveness for economic tasks. If they were made less effective at harvesting (and maybe building), or if their cost were increased, that would tip the scales more in favor of making CS + Civilian mixes. Efficiency at economic tasks would then be less of a critical balance point for CS units, once it is no longer one of their primary responsibilities: meaning more freedom to change movement speed or price without breaking the game; resource harvesting and building become a bonus thing CS are able to do when they are not preforming their primary purpose of military action. All without ever needing to abandon the historically authentic concept that ancient soldiers usually performed non-military roles within their societies in addition to their martial service.
  12. Replay data can definitely be useful, especially for answering specific questions--like whether a certain civ matchup is unfair. It can be a little more changing to draw wholistic balance assessments just from analyzing multiplayer stats. There are a lot of confounding variables: like differences in player skill, effects of prior RTS experience, and the influence of the continuously evolving metagame. Basically unless you a tremendous volume of data to work from (and a lot of life experience with multivar statistical analysis), you are going to have to filter everything through some prior conception of how the balance situation works, which is just inviting confirmation bias (ending with reinforcing the status quo and never noticing the out-of-context issues). The other problem for a FOSS project like this is that someone has to volunteer their time to do all that analysis, and then get argued with and accused of bias and/or incompetence because some people don't like their conclusions. Normally you need to pay people large sums of money to put up with that **** for more than a few weeks. Also, I should have qualified on my previous comment by adding that AI driven or scripted scenario testing can be very useful for quantifying the effects of specific balance changes, and just diagnosing what is actually going on with the game's balance situation. I don't want to poo poo automated testing entirely; just point out that such tests usually need to be very cunningly conceived and tightly constrained in order to produce useful information. And lastly I want to point out that game balance is about more than who wins and who loses. It is really about whether the game supports entertaining interactions. A game with exactly one optimal strategy that always results in a draw is "perfectly balanced" but also has a huge balance problem. 0 A.D. is actually seems quite successful in terms of providing a fair contest, but it does so by paring away unit and faction diversity to their bare bone. Consequently there is no slack left in the fabric to iron out the last remaining wrinkles.
  13. AI vs AI testing is not very useful for RTS balancing purposes because it is very difficult to make an AI that plays optimally AND in a human like way. A huge part of the effectiveness of a unit is determined by 1. how it can be micromanaged to avoid threats, 2. how fast it can move between strategically important locations compared to opponent compositions, (i.e. if your force can threaten multiple locations at once, that is a force multiplier,) and 3. how effective it is across the totality of optimal compositions (i.e. a unit you don't usually need to replace when your opponent changes strategies is more valuable than one that frequently becomes obsolete). AI is good at testing precisely none of these factors.
  14. @alre Ah! If you already have an updated version of my old work that's even better! And you are correct, without synergistic changes to other stats, the effects of directional armor might be pretty miniscule. But, there are other ways to amplify it besides nerfing rotation speed, if you don't want to risk degrading unit responsiveness. It should definitely have an amplifying interaction with friendly fire damage, provided your ranged units have enough attack spread to friendly fire.
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