Belisarius†, on 01 April 2012 - 07:00 PM, said:
Quick reply because I think we have a basic difference of opinions here.
I'm not sure we do. I think we both agree that the pod-based omni concept that I outlined could work for MWO and would be preferable to the omni-slot method of MW4 or the gunbag method of MW3/MW2/CBT.
The only thing we're disagreeing on is how to balance it. In a way, we're both wrong. We're both making balance judgements based on past games. In your case, you're thinking mainly about MW4, and in my case I'm thinking more about CBT. We just don't know what balance will look like. Maybe 4xERPPCs will be instant death. Maybe they won't and the heatscale will be prohibitve (side note: the MW4 scale was simulataneously not as prohibitive toward mechs with too few HS and not as permissive to mechs with lots of heat sinks, as compared to CBT).
Aesthetics and CBT asside, I of course agree that game balance must be paramount. If this means breaking symetry (i.e. only allowing the B4 pod on one NG arm, and only allowing the E4-E4 pod on the other arm), or eliminating some CBT configurations (i.e. the jumping DW C), so be it. However, we won't know that untill beta testing.
Can we at least agree that the pod system I outlined is superior to prior models and could work?
Now, as for a few of your points:
I'm only using MW4's examples because they're familiar to us both, and we're both able to recognise the power of a jumping 75 ton 60 point alpha in that game. I'll probably keep using them for that reason, but it's important to point out that the principles aren't limited to MW4 in the way MLs and SLs were limited to MW3.
If we premptivly balance ERPPCs in the same way MLs and SLs were premptively balanced in MW4, then we risk making the same mistake twice. As for MW4, I didn't really think that the 4xERPPC mechs were all that bad. Sure they packed a brutal punch, but at least they required some leading and had an obscenely long recycle time (giving a LBX infighter plenty of time to disect them).
I could just as easily have imagined a world where UAC2s or ERLPLs were broken and pointed to the six-gun nova cats that your symmetry permits. The thing is that something is going to be boatable; boats are inherent in the customisation system, not just MW4. The culprit might be ERLL again or it might be machine guns and narc beacons, it doesn't really matter.
There's guaranteed to be configs that you'll want to restrict for the sake of diversity, and hardpoints are your first line of defense. I just don't like the idea of giving that up without a really good reason. In this particular case, I don't consider vague aesthetic symmetry to be a good enough reason to almost double the number of configs available to chassis that were gunbags to begin with.
Fair enough. I could see the reasoning for restricting the B4 to one arm on the NG, or the AC pod to one arm on the NC. That said, I don't see an inherant problem with weapons boats. IMO, if boating a weapon is problematic, then there's a problem with the weapon, not the mech. Weapons balance should take into account a weapon en-masse and in a mixed configuration.
Same thing with switchable jets. If jets are good enough to take, they might be good enough to take often. That's not really an MW4-limited statement. I really don't relish a world where 75% of dires and 95% of novacats are jumpers because one rare variant was allowed jets. If nothing else, compare the ncat and the ngyr under that system. Because the cat barely uses its torsos, it doesn't care at all if they're locked. It actually becomes a better jumper than the night gyr, because it's free to take the jets off if it wants.
As a general principle, people are much more receptive to buffs than nerfs. If you start with fully jumpable ncats or 4xERPPC night gyrs and they turn out to be broken, you get an outcry when you take them away. If you start without them and the clans end up desperately needing a big jumpsniper, you loosen the restrictions and people thank you... mostly.
Frankly, my bias with Jets would be to make them always fixed and not poddable. Same with MASC. Also, point taken on the buffs vs nerfs.
The key, for me, is not in stopping players from modifying mechs but in retaining tools that the designers can use to control the way they do so.
Building as many customisation options as possible into the hardpoint loadout of each 'mech allows granular control of which chassis to balance up and down. In particular, you really don't want to take risks on major mechanics like expandable slots and then have to rescind them. It's not about restricting customisation from the get-go so much as it's about making sure the designer can, and without screwing up the whole game.
You make good points. I guess my reaction is mainly against what happened in MW4 with the MLs and SLs.
MLs and SLs were dominant in MW3 for three reasons: lag shields, unrestricted configurations, and weapon convergens. Because of MW3's unplayable lag, lasers were the only way you had a hope of hitting anything (and even then you had to lead several mech lengths to hit). Unrestricted configurations meant that you could fit any number of MLs you wanted, and weapons convergence (with CBT damage and armor values) meant instant coring/death.
MW4 fixed these problems with acutal playable netcode, hardpoints and a revised armor/damage model that didn't use exact CBT values. In fact, even if they had just fixed the netcode, they would have fixed the ML's dominance (the limitation of other weapons was your ability to actually hit), but not the problems of ridiculous configs and instant kills.The problem is that they overreacted to the ML's dominance in MW3 and killed its damage output.
So in short, I'm concerned about balancing a problem based on previous games. IMO, I would go with a more free and open model for beta, allow for a generally open beta for maximum player input and restrict from there. Taking your points, maybe the modifications based on beta should be more restrictive with an eye toward opening things up in the future based on how things turn out.
Also, sorry about the JVN-10F thing. I had to take care of a baby issue and never got back to finishing the post.
Short version: a JVN-10F would have the following layout for configuration (note: I'm reducing crits based on size using the simplified model discussed earlier):
RT/LT: E2-E2-ES(6) (ES(5) in the RT)
The 10F adds some armor, but I don't remember how much. Lets pretend that it doesn't and, when stripped, has the same available tonnage as the 10N. This gives it 8 free tons.
With 3025 tech, you could only carry 1 LL and 3 more HS (total of 13). This would allow you to jump an fire the LL with mild heat buildup. It would be impossible to carry more than 1 LL due to weight. Moving to 3050 tech, you still couldn't carry more than one IS LL, ERLL, or LPL, but an upgrade to DHS would allow you to pack the ERLL and some MLs with moderate heat buildup. The only way you could fit more than one LL would be if you found 2 cERLLs. However, even with DHS, the heat buildup would be monsterous while jumping and prohibitive even when standing.
My only point is that just because slots look monsterous when allowing for expansion (i.e. E2 -> E3), that doesn't mean that the mech's chassis actually allows you to make a monsterous configuration.