Extra Creditz - Balancing for Skill

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Extra Creditz - Balancing for Skill

FromCheng
This post was updated on .
http://penny-arcade.com/patv/episode/balancing-for-skill

Watching this video pretty much describes what happened in ACV to me. It doesn't perfectly cover it but it does a pretty good job IMO discussing the problems of FOO strategies (the CC HRJ in 1.01 and how it can be perceived as the "ubernoobtube"), how skill : power ratio relates to a games mechanic and in some cases, how it can ruin the playerbase/community when it isn't done correctly.

Perhaps more broadly, it describes the consequences of not balancing for skill (obviously :P).

Can anyone think of examples where this takes effect? I'd like this to be a discussion on the topic.

"...in the world, what counts more than talent, what counts more than energy or concentration or commitment or anything else, is kindness... and the more in the world you encounter kindness...the better the world always is. And all the big words; virtue, justice, truth.... [they] are dwarfed... by the greatness of kindness." -Stephen Fry


Armored Core Legacy Dude
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Re: Extra Creditz - Balancing for Skill

Sash
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I totally agree with you that this should be discussed, as it is a very interesting topic and is also a major factor in game design.

One example from my experience is still Starcraft. While not being a Zergrusher, I must complain about how the state of the game has become. EVERYONE will play Protoss. Why? Because their Tier one units are 3 or 4 times stronger than the other races. I have seen little deviation from a strategy (6 gate, robo for reavers) in my Veteran Circuit gaming. It is VERY hard for players to stop a late-game push by protoss, the infamous protoss deathball. Players have to eliminate protoss as fast as possible, because that is the only window wherein ZvP and TvP favors the non-protoss. However, non-pro players have great difficulty executing strategies which will defeat early Dragoon and Zealot walls, so protoss just drag out the game until their massed army can steamroll their opponent. Dragoons, being rather expensive ranged units with heavy armor, resist the attacks of weaker tier-one units like Hydralisks and Marines. The Terran Siege Tank is one of the few things that will defeat a Dragoon in a 1v1 situation, however, Tanks are far more expensive than Dragoons. Zerglings beat Dragoons, but one requires impecable skills to command a huge amount of Zerglings against a huge amount of Dragoons. Attack upgrades are also very easy to get for protoss, and +1 ups will reduce the shots to kill by one or two on nearly every unit for the other races. End result? +2 Protoss are nigh-impossible to stop. Why is this an issue? Less-skilled players all play protoss, and those that don't quit because even for veteran players who cannot contain a Protoss player are eventually wrecked by deathballs.

Starcraft is still by comparison one of the most balanced games of all time, but it seems only in the professional levels. We've all seen those Koreans...
Light can be just as blinding as Darkness. Bring some Sunglasses.
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Re: Extra Creditz - Balancing for Skill

SwiiTcHBacK
In reply to this post by FromCheng
That was a really interesting video. The part about the noobtube in call of duty was particularly relevant to me from my long time playing CoD and made me less spiteful of that little thing. It also does remind me a lot of the initial release of ACV and how I had to try ridiculously hard to fight even horrible players with those gats. The only other example I could provide is probably eddy in tekken .. I want to kill him.. Kind of made it satisfying when I did, but infuriating as hell the 10 times I died prior to that trying :P.
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Re: Extra Creditz - Balancing for Skill

Sash
Administrator
In reply to this post by FromCheng
Heh, revitalizing this, I'd like to complain about Nu-13 in the Original BlazBlue.

The capabilites of the character allowed for constant ranged pressure, pokes, and most importantly combos. Should you not pressure her yourself, you would be stuck in a VERY painful loop of pressure and special attacks. Foo Strat being that you really only had to know a couple moves to be really good with her. Course' your close range game would be trash, but you could just dash to a corner and resume your ranged combos. Hell, you could get an air combo going and still be on the ground.
Light can be just as blinding as Darkness. Bring some Sunglasses.
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Re: Extra Creditz - Balancing for Skill

Parry
In reply to this post by FromCheng
The Problem with Nu was that if someone got too close to her, she was easy to shut down.
"Those who seek absolute power are the absolute corruptible."
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Re: Extra Creditz - Balancing for Skill

raniadoll
In reply to this post by FromCheng
The cycle of assess, iterate, and reassess applies to all design mediums, however we as game designers share in interesting method of assessment as ours will primarily involve our end consumers intimately in the process. The methods used in playtesting between iterations are what makes us have to work harder within our communities to produce solid content. I was at a presentation with a few of the designers from Santa Monica Studio and they stressed two things- Iteration, and actually spending time designing. Something about that last bit included 10,000 hours to mastery, but that's another topic. Getting that valuable feedback is something that is extremely important.
rania
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Re: Extra Creditz - Balancing for Skill

Sash
Administrator
In reply to this post by FromCheng
It sounds like you're pretty knowledgeable about the topic. I know from experience that iterations of the original prototype in a design, be it for a game or for something within said game, are extremely valuable for getting around all the little kinks that occur later down the road. As the designer, you've got to figure out what problems your design will encounter, and how it will avoid or eliminate those problems. Of course, you really can't foresee every little issue.

On the topic at hand, balance is a huge concern. In modern games especially, there are ever-increasing demands for variety in what players want to use in their games, be it items, weapons, vehicles, etc. As a designer, you can't possible take into consideration every little combination that players will come up with, so testing between iterations is a very useful strategy. It might seem tedious, but building off of a previous iteration each time lets you weed out all the little problems as they appear. Try to add one or two new things to the design and see if anything big is flushed out. Hearkening back to the Call of Duty example, the items were likely tested in the order they were unlocked in the game, giving testers an amount of time to play with each cycle of unlocks. The problem arose with the addition of perks later in the unlock cycle that exacerbated the power of something that existed toward the start of the iterations. I don't know what happened in development, it might have been a time concern that some of the iterations were not totally tested, but the example that some later additions ended up augmenting an already questionably-balanced item to a high degree of power shows that proper pacing needs to be exhibited in game design.

Just my two cents.
Light can be just as blinding as Darkness. Bring some Sunglasses.
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Re: Extra Creditz - Balancing for Skill

MythicFritz
In reply to this post by FromCheng
I question the humanity of raniadoll...
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Re: Extra Creditz - Balancing for Skill

Sash
Administrator
In reply to this post by FromCheng
I question your sudden appearance. I also question the mechanical nature of his/her post, if that's an issue.
Light can be just as blinding as Darkness. Bring some Sunglasses.