First off let me say that this thread isn't going to be about my OPINIONS on this subject, but will simply lay out facts. If you want to know how I feel about the DHS hooplah you can search my posts in threads about it. I'm trying to keep any emotion about this topic out of this thread, to hopefully educate people, on both sides of this dance.
This analyses will have several sections, and it won't have have a TLDR. If you can't be bothered reading the thing and understanding what I'm on about, then don't bother me by responding please.
And, because someone will accuse me of it because that's what people do, I am NOT a TT purist, I just love game design. In fact I have never played BT TT, as much as I admire many TT games, I just cant sit there and play them, never was my thing. I do play turn based games, something about a tabletop setting just doesn't do it for me is all.
This will now be known as the...
CHAPTER ONE: Is It Hot In Here?
The sections are:
- The Source Material
- Heat as a Resource
- Text to Clock, The Conversion
- "What does this mean, double heat all the way"
- PGI's Design Goal, and the Outrage Over DHS
- The Good, The Bad
- The Question
- Thank You!
- Additional Reading
Section One: The Source Material
Battletech as we all know is a table top game first and foremost. Its stats and systems have been built around several core values in game play, and there are fundamental differences in how mech combat plays on dice, and how it plays in a sim. Since this post is focusing primarily on heat in game design I won't go too deep into this area, but there are certain things that need to be talked about from a design prospective.
- Random hit location (even to the point of making impossible shots)
- Weapons with few exceptions hit only one area on the target
- Player controls more than one unit (effects decision making heavily)
- Range affects Chance to hit significantly based on weapon
- Hit location is player determined (Both attacking and defending players)
- Weapons with few exceptions deal damage over a wide area (in the same period as a dice turn)
- Player IS the unit, cannot have same level of tactical coordination and trust in other units
- Range effects weapon damage output, and some weapons reliability to hit
Now since we are talking about weapon design lets look at some source numbers. I am honestly feeling lazy so we will use ten, but I'll provide the math on what I am doing throughout this post, so if you want to run the numbers on others to try and disprove me or back me up, feel free. For this examination we will only be using whats available to players now, nothing clan tech.
The ten weapons we will be using are:
- Small Laser (Tier 1 Tech)
- Small Pulse Laser (Tier 2 Tech)
- Medium Laser (Tier 1 Tech)
- Medium Pulse Laser (Tier 2 Tech)
- Large Laser (Tier 1 Tech)
- Large Pulse Laser (Tier 2 Tech)
- PPC (Tier 1 Tech)
- ERPPC (Tier 2 Tech)
- AC/2 (Tier 1 Tech)
- AC/20 (Tier 1 Tech)
As you can see, I plainly have no idea how to import graphs to this forum, (or if it's even possible) so that will be the last one I use :<
Note I am NOT using the Gauss in this analyses, mostly because it has no tech one equivalent.
Now these numbers don't tell the whole story about the weapons but as we are focusing on heat for this post, I am choosing to omit that layer in a specific sense. Just know that I'm aware of the range balance consideration, (and that WILL come up again later).
Section Two: Heat as a Resource
(I cast AC/20)
Most people don't know it, but heat is actually mana from a gameplay perspective. Yup, these robots we pilot, they are actually role playing characters.
Bear with me here, let's compare these two systems:
- Every attack you make uses a certain amount
- You regenerate a set amount per turn (or per second) based on items
- You gain a larger pool based on items
- You use mana by moving
- You suffer penalties for using too much mana too quickly, (in TT)
- You lose courteousness (LOL I meant consciousness) if you overexert yourself fully, and depending on how much determines how long you'r out for.
- Getting hurt makes you regenerate mana slower (though this is a function of losing inventory as you get hurt)
The point of a resource system like mana is to restrict the player to the point that they make choices about what they do. Spend all my mana now? Doll it out slowly? Choices through restriction, pretty common in game design.
Oh also, Ammo is charges.
Section Three: Text to Clock, The Conversion
(you know because its HOT?)
I want to start this section by saying that there is no "right" way to convert a turn based game to real time, and anyone that thinks there is, is incorrect and has an overly simplistic view on game design.
That out of the way, lets look at what PGI decided on as a course of action
- Rate of fire increased from 1 per 10 (THIS IS IMPORTANT, REMEMBER THIS)
- Armor increased by a factor of 2.0 per ton
- No RNG based hit detection or aiming
- Mechs now have a maximum of two firing points, the torso or fixed reticle, and the arm or reticle
- Limited information sharing between units, but still, some
- At this point no heat penalty other than overheating at ~100% heat capacity (there seems to be a small amount of leeway, might just be lag/a bug)
Let's look at the weapons in MWO now (info from this thread thanks for re-posting it Glythe!)
Small Pulse Laser______1____1.0______3.0____3.0_______2.25_______0.50______90_________180___1.09___1.09
Medium Pulse Laser_____1____2.0______6.0____5.0_______3.00_______0.75_____180_________360___1.60___1.33
Large Pulse Laser______2____7.0_____10.0____9.0_______3.25_______0.75_____300_________600___2.50___2.25
PPC____________________3____7.0_____10.0____9.0_______3.00________N/A____540(Min 90) 1080___3.33___3.00
Section Four: "What does this mean? Double heat all the way!"
(more actually "Woah that's so intense!")
NOTE: NOT ALL NUMBERS ARE 100% ACCURATE SINCE THIS WAS WRITTEN MONTHS AGO, HOWEVER MOST ARE STILL PRETTY CLOSE OR IDENTICAL (LPL, PPC, ERPPC HAVE CHANGED MOST)
The main stats I will be using here are the DPS and HPS.
Before I get into my number crunching, I will point out some of my reasoning.
- I will be rounding anything I can down, to try and make the numbers less inconsistent. Numbers will be rounded to the next lowest 1/4th
- When I convert these stats back I will be using a 60 second period, that way anything that fires on, say a 3 or 4 second rotation wont throw off the damage per turn numbers (see where this is going yet?)
In MWO the Med laser does 1.25 Damage Per Second, and generates 1.00 Heat Per Second.
Lets take a look at the MWO med laser in the Table top system.
Its total cycle time is 4 seconds, (1sec long shot and 3 sec of CD) , so we divide 60 by 4, getting us 15 shots. Now to find our per diceroll stats. Since a round in Table Top is 10 seconds, as I established earlier, we divide our 60 second stat by 6 to achieve a 10 second average round.
(15*5)/6 (damage) 12.5
(15*4)/6 (heat) 10
Then finally we have to deconstruct the armor change, so divide the damage by 2. To explain here, everything has roughly double HP so in order to show effective damage in a system where HP is half, we half the number. Paul and I had a conversation on the old TS where he said that internals aren't doubled, but I honestly don't know if that is factual and haven't seen any data on it, Paul could you tell me for 100%. <- This is why I decided to round down.
6.25 damage and 10 heat is what we get.
WOW! See that? We just went from 5 damage and 3 heat to 6.25 damage and 10 heat per turn of TT.
Maybe its just the medium lasers, (here is a hint, nope)
Lets jump to the weapon everyone says is useless, the PPC
Using our same formula of:
[(60/ROF)*(D or H)] / 6 = 33.333 Damage (Rounded 33.25) and 30 Heat
Now we take these numbers and plug them into the damage formula
So 16.5 damage and 30 heat per turn.
Now in fairness, the TT rules don't really work in decimals so lets just be nice to PGI and call it 17 damage and 30 heat.
Sorry, that doesn't really help the balance much does it...
To reiterate, that's three times the heat for a 70% damage boost.
The rest of the guns now converted back to a TT turn.
SL............. 5 Damage 6.5 heat
LL............. 10.5 Damage 16.25 Heat
SPL........... 5.25 Damage 10.75 Heat
MPL........... 8 Damage 13.25 Heat
LPL........... 12.5 Damage 22.5 Heat
AC/2.......... 20 Damage 20 Heat
AC/20.........25 Damage 17.5 Heat
ERPPC.......16.5 Damage 43.25 Heat
Just for fun lets convert these numbers back to the TT damage to see what the heat would be, (no rounding here) Formula is simple, divide both numbers by damage, then multiply them by whatever the TT damage is. So damage on this sheet is identical to TT values, heat is extrapolated based on MWO numbers.
SL 3 Damage 3.9 Heat
ML 5 Damage 8 Heat
LL 8 Damage 12.38 Heat
SPL 3 Damage 6.14 Heat
MPL 6 Damage 9.93 Heat
LPL 10 Damage 18 Heat
AC/2 2 Damage 2 Heat
AC/20 20 Damage 14 Heat
PPC 10 Damage 18.46 Heat
ERPPC 10 Damage 26.61 Heat
For kicks, I'd love for a TT purist to play a round of combat of the 8 basic stock mechs (the ones that have the PCGAMER skin available) using these numbers, and see how it plays...
Section Five: PGI's Design Goal, and the Outrage Over DHS
(what is the goal?)
So you can see from the above chart that things are more different then most would think when it comes to the implementation of heat. And this is where things start taking a different path.
PGI hasn't made it clear what they actually want the game play to be like.
Like I said before I have no real attachment to the TT, and while I played the other games, the balance of multiplayer was never a concern to me because I didn't play online. The designer in me absolutely recognizes that changes MUST be made, in order to make the game... Good.
I have a great respect for any game designer that will tout their goals, and in many regards PGI has done this in spades. From the posts on the pillars of the game, and goals for mech effectiveness, I get the overarching theme. But at this point, I don't think I've seen a design goal on how mech combat should actually proceed.
Basically what it looks like to me, is that there was a critical choice made that upset the relation of the different game balance figures with each other, because all these systems interact.
By changing Armor to 2x, they reduced the risk of burst, and made overall DPS more important as a killing factor. This changes some of the power scale between weapons, but to me that's not the point of this post. If people want me to make a weapon relation post I will, just let me know.
Then by changing the rate of fire, they started to change the damage to heat relationship, by an accelerating factor.
There was a lot of clamoring when they changed to double armor that they also needed to double the amount of ammo per ton. In many cases they did, but in others they did not (AC/20, is now sitting at an extra 40% per ton for example) Ammo is a raw measurement of how much killing potential you have, so when you increase armor you reduce the maximum amount of mechs one can kill.
This is also true for heat.
By effectively reducing damage by 50% the design team at PGI effectively made the amount of heat you needed to generate to kill a mech double what it was.
Going back to mana, this would be the same as making a spell do 50% less damage for the same mana cost. That's a pretty rough nerf.
People wanted DHS not because they are over-powered, but because right now, SHS are wildly under-powered. Even though most people actually don't understand that, the desire is strong.
PGI's choice not to implement 2.0 Heatsinks makes total sense, because they allow builds that are beyond impossible with singles, and it would have a huge impact on the games balance. More than that though people would start to feel the interaction between these items better.
Double Armor, Double Ammo, Double HS efficiency. That's how you make matchups between different builds play out in, (roughly) the same way as they would with TT values, while making them take longer. From there you can balance the different weapons into what you want.
Section Six: The Good/The Bad
There are positives of sticking with the current system:
- By lowering heat tolerance, you can make punishments more defined and clear (no 20% penalty etc either you are over limit or not) without as many effects to game balance. This makes things more clear for the average player, and with a learning curve like this game has, every bit counts.
- Lowering the heat limit discourages high power alpha strikes, and helps limit burst potential, which was the main goal of the 2X armor change
- With proper balance you can force a player to focus on a specific role.
There are disadvantages as well
- The overall weapon balance is skewed wildly
- "Stock" mech builds, both with SHS and DHS perform considerably worse than their TT counterparts, even on 'focused' mechs like the swayback and the Awesome PPC varients
- The game can feel frustratingly unforgiving when shooting single shots removes 30% of your mana pool (this is part of player dissatisfaction)
- You effectively disallow the fun of building a heat neutral mech, that is able to keep up with overall DPS (with some exceptions like missiles)
Section Seven: The Question?
(WHATS IN THE MECH?!?!?!?)
"What is the goal for mech combat in this game, BEYOND, the balance between the different weight classes, and why?"
Section Eight: Thank You!
(Electronic world for every boy and every girl)
If you have made it through this series of posts, and have comments, questions whatever, I would love a non emotional discussion to happen here. I know that my thread isn't the first about the heat systems overall, but I think mine might be the most comprehensive.
Let me know what you think, and to anyone on the design team, If you can't talk about these things publicly I would love to talk in a less open way, because as a design enthusiast I am REALLY interested in this.
Oh, also I type too long.
Section Nine: Additional Reading
If you are interested in MORE READING, MunstrumRidcully did a really good post using some similar data to talk about weapon balance. HERE And another about heat optimal battle builds HERE and finally if you are intereted in a dataset like mine but for everything, he has one about the back to TT conversion HERE
Great minds right?
If you have another great info thread, let me know and I will add it to the OP
Also in case you missed them, here are links to the other Chapters:
Chapter Two: The Price of Freedom
Chapter Three: Power to the Player
Chapter Four: Players, Progression, Power, (And Balancing Around Them) 1 of 2
Edited by MCXL, 18 May 2013 - 07:32 AM.