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Balance Isn't What You Want


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#1 mistlynx4life

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Posted 14 May 2018 - 05:49 AM

Everybody's talking about game balance like it's a thing MWO can achieve. There are so many variables in play - and one is patches a few times a year that drastically change gameplay - that it's just not possible. Maybe other games with other companies do it. Not MWO. It's perpetually unfinished. If every weapon did the same amount of damage and every 'mech had the same quirks and armor and hardpoints and every player had played for the exact same amount of time and every map was completely symmetrical and drop team composition was exactly the same on either side... you'd still have some folks using controllers or stepping on each other in the first few seconds of a match or launching LRMs within minimal range or driving Assaults to Epsilon or making a silly YouTube video. You can't balance that. If what you're looking for is: I want my chances of winning a match to be as equal as everybody else's, then congratulations! That's true right now! You, yourself, might have to engage in a Tactical Death with your 'mech or sacrifice damage for a good squirrel but your chances are as equal as they can ever be. In QuickPlay. I don't mess with FP/GP or Solaris, lol.

If the latest buffs/nerfs don't make the game fun anymore, please just... like... don't play. Take a break. We all understand.

::considers adding balance to his sigblock::
/takesbreak

#2 thievingmagpi

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Posted 14 May 2018 - 05:58 AM

PGI has done a pretty damn good job of balance across a hugely disparate series of classes, weapons and styles.

Sure there's meta, but really most play styles are viable and there are only a small number of useless weapon systems.

For all the criticism, it's actually very impressive. Kudos

#3 El Bandito

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Posted 14 May 2018 - 06:00 AM

Even if complete balance is out of PGI's reach, the least they could do is to finally balance the faction tech. Instead they are content in keeping IS tech inferior, and using quirk crutches to prop up IS mechs.

#4 mistlynx4life

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Posted 14 May 2018 - 06:36 AM

Oh, I'm not criticizing the game, just to be clear, or even PGI. I'm almost a thousand hours in and I have no complaints. I'm just saying I think there are a lot of really vocal folks who don't understand what they're asking for under the guise of 'balance'. I do understand that there's an imbalance between the Clan and IS stuff but I don't pretend to know enough to speak well on how to address it.

#5 Luminis

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Posted 14 May 2018 - 06:39 AM

View PostEl Bandito, on 14 May 2018 - 06:00 AM, said:

Even if complete balance is out of PGI's reach, the least they could do is to finally balance the faction tech. Instead they are content in keeping IS tech inferior, and using quirk crutches to prop up IS mechs.

And it could be easy if PGI wanted to. Make the IS XL survive ST loss like the CXL, make the LFE survive ST loss with no penalty and make STD engines give structure boosts to all the torsi.

That leaves heat and duration and CD and such to offset the discrepancies in weight and crit slots of IS equipment. Much easier to do if the engine disparity is out of the picture, in my opinion.

#6 Mystere

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Posted 14 May 2018 - 06:44 AM

View Postthievingmagpi, on 14 May 2018 - 05:58 AM, said:

PGI has done a pretty damn good job of balance across a hugely disparate series of classes, weapons and styles.


I say balance changes going full circle several times over is not a sign of a "good job". Instead, it shows a lack of foresight and planning. <shrugs>

#7 Asym

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Posted 14 May 2018 - 06:54 AM

Again, the title is correct OP.... It's contrary to the entire game concept: of another take on the "Cold War" in the real world.

One side had the tech and open field tactics and the other had the brute strength numbers, linear tactics and effective but somewhat limited weapons.... Who would prevail when they met?

That is the MW universe: with mercenaries doing the dirty work for both sides..... Balancing that would be the down fall of the story line and then, equal becomes boring and there ceases to be a real story of conquest by being smart enough to use what your strengths are, where and when they are best served and, you get your butt kicked if you goof.....

#8 Bud Crue

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Posted 14 May 2018 - 07:15 AM

Can someone please define this whole balance idea?

Is it that every variant has a role and a game play capability within the various modes of the game, so that each is equal to that of every other variant?
Is it that a Spider 5V should have the same value on the team as a Death Strike assuming both are competently built and played?
Is it that Clan tech and IS tech have the same performance values on average?
Is it that any mech if properly built could be the new meta at any time without PGI intervention?
Is it a state wherein no mech is meta and all mechs are meta?

What is it? PGI has never defined it, except in terms of idealized goals. But without knowing what it actually is, how is it that we are all apparently concerned and convinced that PGI can’t get right, or have gotten it as good as it can be, or whatever? I used to think I knew what balance was. For example, after skills tree when Chris said chassis to chassis balance was within 8% on average and Clan to IS tech balance was within 6% on average I thought that meant that balance was pretty close overall; that balance must be the average performance of whole classes or at least chassis of mechs relative to others. So by that definition balance was pretty damn good right?

Well, I guess not, because after that we have had an almost uninterrupted year (November was the only pause) of balance adjustments to nearly every weapon in the game, some of them being hit multiple times, and to a lot of mechs as well. So balance if it was so close last May must be near perfect now, right?

Well, then comes this month’s rather impressive proposed changes to clan lasers (among the other changes), which suggests that balance is so out of whack that we need this level of nerfing to get it closer. Huh. That seems odd given the last year and PGI’s various assertions regarding the matter of balance (Paul, Chris and Russ have all written tweeted or stated on multiple occasions in the last six months that balance is as good as it has ever been, or words to that effect).

So just wtf is balance if PGI can’t define it, can’t consistently explain why they need nerf after nerf for nearly a year to get it better than their claimed 8%? At this point I have no idea what they are balancing. In the current state of the game I play less than a third of my 200 plus mechs regularly including most of my supposed OP Clan laser vomit mechs. Why? Because as far as I can tell that third are better than the other 2/3s. Be it by comparative weight class, tech, relative to other mechs period. So is that balanced? No? Maybe? I have no idea, but it seems pretty ****ing clear that neither does PGI.

Edited by Bud Crue, 14 May 2018 - 07:19 AM.


#9 process

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Posted 14 May 2018 - 07:41 AM

To me, balance simply means that an average 50 ton IS mech should be able to compete with an average 50 ton Clan mech. IS shouldn't need a tonnage handicap, and the asymmetric tech bases should work themselves out internally.

Before weapons can be balanced, PGI needs to figure out their foundation elements. Engine characteristics, heat mechanics, IS and Clan strengths and weaknesses.

Don't use outliers to balance the whole. Metas can exist, but shouldn't be substantially better than non-meta builds.

#10 mistlynx4life

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Posted 14 May 2018 - 08:07 AM

Now we're getting somewhere! You have to define balance before you can achieve it and, so far, that hasn't happened. Again, this is in a QuickPlay context - I agree that a 50t IS against a 50t Clan should be a pretty fair fight in that whatever one lacks it also makes up for in another area (range, heat, damage, armor, mobility, etc.) but that's more a FP consideration. So... should the balance be attempted/achieved in Faction Play and let QuickPlay just be the unbalanced free-for-all then? Intriguing thought. You can't have both.

#11 Tarl Cabot

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Posted 14 May 2018 - 08:08 AM

View PostMystere, on 14 May 2018 - 06:44 AM, said:


I say balance changes going full circle several times over is not a sign of a "good job". Instead, it shows a lack of foresight and planning. <shrugs>

Goals keep changing due to bringing in fresh eyes, discussions at the table with fresh idea, player and stat feedback, as well as HOW the players are using the systems in ways that the devs would not have used them, aka before Ghost Heat - 6 PPC stalker, firing all, shutdown with no damage, etc.. at the time 60pts of PPFLD..

One of the first big changes happened when F&F complained/voiced their concerns that it was taking too long to fire their weapons (cooldown aka weapon delay), due to being set closer to Solaris 7/MPBT delays. THEN they voiced their concerns that TTK had dropped dramatically, which then PGI requested that armor points per ton be doubled, but the coders simply made the change to internal structure points first which then carried over to the armor points. For those players not familiar with BT. Max Armor points equaled to 2x of the internal structure points of a specific weight, but ignore PGI's MWO cockpit numbers, that was also increased also due game necessity.

Then think of how PGI introduced the Clans and THEIR XL. Initially the ONLY penalty was when a Clan mech lost BOTH side torsos. And EACH time they added or increased non-lethal penalties it was as a place holder for a potential fully functioning engine crit system. /chuckles....

Edited by Tarl Cabot, 14 May 2018 - 08:31 AM.


#12 Luminis

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Posted 14 May 2018 - 08:14 AM

View Postprocess, on 14 May 2018 - 07:41 AM, said:


Don't use outliers to balance the whole. Metas can exist, but shouldn't be substantially better than non-meta builds.

That's one of MWO's biggest issues, I fear: The best and worst Mechs of either tech base are so far apart regarding their power level, it's hard to believe they're part of the same tech base. Even if you break it down by weight class. That's what quirks should be for but alas...

#13 process

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Posted 14 May 2018 - 08:23 AM

View Postmistlynx4life, on 14 May 2018 - 08:07 AM, said:

Now we're getting somewhere! You have to define balance before you can achieve it and, so far, that hasn't happened. Again, this is in a QuickPlay context - I agree that a 50t IS against a 50t Clan should be a pretty fair fight in that whatever one lacks it also makes up for in another area (range, heat, damage, armor, mobility, etc.) but that's more a FP consideration. So... should the balance be attempted/achieved in Faction Play and let QuickPlay just be the unbalanced free-for-all then? Intriguing thought. You can't have both.


I consider FP to be more of an outlier in the many cases. A competent, organized team is so much more potent than the sum of their builds.

Edited by process, 14 May 2018 - 08:25 AM.


#14 MadBadger

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Posted 14 May 2018 - 08:39 AM

We talk about 'balance' in a lot of ways, but the things we refer to generally break down to a couple categories:

Level Playing Field: when you enter a match, players expect a reasonable chance of winning it. Most players would probably define 'reasonable' as a match whose weighted performance average does not give one side a 50% or higher chance of winning than the other side (roughly a 60/40 chance split). This is generally a MatchMaker issue, but can also be a tech base issue in Faction Play, or a division grouping issue in Solaris.

No 'Obvious' OP choices: if any mech, weapon system, or faction advantage becomes so overpowered that it becomes the obvious choice (for people who understand the advantage) to take when you want to win/achieve high scores, then it is a balance problem. This was the issue with some previous nerfs, such as Gauss+PPC or poptarting.

Preserving the Quality of the Gameplay Experience: this relates to keeping the game entertaining and promoting variety. MWO is already quite limited, being confined to shooter-deathmatch on a small number of maps. If one or two maps are always chosen, or one strategy is always the obvious choice, or one style of combat (poke, peek, brawl, fast harasser etc) is the only competitive option, then gameplay enjoyment suffers. It would also relate to why LRMs were repeatedly nerfed... not because they were 'too good', but simply because they led to a non-fun playstyle.

Overall, I have to agree that current game balance is 'not bad'. There are no mechs that I simply dread to see or cannot face on the battlefield, there is no weapon combo that repeatedly hits me hardest - although I do admit that Clan laser vomit, while not being a big problem, is the one thing I feel does the most damage to me overall.

Faction balance is still an issue... not big enough to be a problem in QP; but when you put a pure IS team against a pure Clan team in FP it is noticeable. Not huge, but noticeable. And Clan/IS balance is hard to deal with because Clan tech was created superior. I actually think PGI has done a pretty good job narrowing the IS/Clan gap.

Mostly, I find the overwhelming 'problem' issue to be the consistently-poor or even (in FP) non-existent matchmaker. PGI has not overly improved their matchmaking results ever, as far as I can see. In fact, I had better consistent matches back in the early days (when we had more players) than now, where every second QP match is a steamroll. I can easily lay out an MM algorithm (and have done) that would give 'more fair' matches... but PGI seems incapable or unwilling to do so.

As the population decreases, the matchmaking gets worse, which leads to lower pop, which leads to worse MM... it's hard to see why they wouldn't address this most glaring effect on gameplay. PGI decision making works in mysterious ways.

#15 mistlynx4life

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Posted 14 May 2018 - 08:44 AM

View Postprocess, on 14 May 2018 - 08:23 AM, said:

I consider FP to be more of an outlier in the many cases. A competent, organized team is so much more potent than the sum of their builds.

I agree. And you can't really balance competency or organization, you can only incentivize it through things like [myriad rewards for assists, lance in formation, etc.] and hope for the best. I would like to think most folks figure out that #teamworkisop but sometimes I wonder... lol. So a big part of defining balance for MWO is to determine what the goal is - an optimal Faction Play experience, QuickPlay experience, Solaris experience, etc. You can't balance them all the same because they are such different dynamics (consider, for instance, the lack of consumables in Solaris which brings augmented skill node selection, etc.). This, then, leads to how much weight lore should have in balancing, etc.

Edit: I agree, MadBadger. I think it'd be nice if we could say that, over time, folks would all figure out what works best for them and would all represent an equal influence towards team victory for their team... but that simply isn't realistic. Events pull in different playstyles, some folks enjoy one arena more than another (QP/FP/Solaris) and rarely but occasionally dabble in others, some like to own and play all the 'mechs EVAR and some prefer only a select few chassis (regardless of 'meta-ness'), etc. The Matchmaker... *sigh*. Would we be better without it? Would divisions like Solaris but for QuickPlay really be a good idea? Or the ELO part anyway? I dunno. It's a mess.

Edited by mistlynx4life, 14 May 2018 - 08:49 AM.


#16 FireStoat

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Posted 14 May 2018 - 09:25 AM

Balance is a really open concept to talk about with this game, honestly. A quick example. I can hop into my Marauder 3R and feel pretty confident about taking on almost any other Clan heavy mech in a duel. The outcome isn't certain by any means, but it's a super good mech and I feel like I have at the very least, an even shot. But that's a portion of balanced involved with dueling. What about issues of balance with a mech meant to do extended range support, for a community warfare drop? Or mechs intended to be only moderately mobile, but pack an extreme weapon load for a team (rather than solo duel) effort? The Clan Kodiak and Dire Wolf are intended for this use - how do they measure up to Inner Sphere answers like the Atlas, Annihilator, or King Crab?

I could go on with different uses of mechs within the game with scouting, etc, but you get my point. As for my actual opinion on the matter... If someone was paying me money to work on this game, I'd be so strongly tempted to just make the technology bases nearly identical and give the middle finger to stock lore builds for Clans and the players expecting a 1 to 1 table top translation, and THEN introduce quirks to mechs with target profile problems or hardpoint problems. Making this game a table top translation with stock builds intact was a huge mistake, I believe, but one that PGI found necessary for old crusty farts to fund the thing in the first place to assuage their feelings of nostalgia. I'm honestly uncertain how you can make a Clan player happy when you sadly tell them "Hey. Half weight missile systems and reduced tonnage cannon / energy weapons... Yah. They need to come to an end."

#17 Stridercal

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Posted 14 May 2018 - 09:31 AM

View PostEl Bandito, on 14 May 2018 - 06:00 AM, said:

Even if complete balance is out of PGI's reach, the least they could do is to finally balance the faction tech. Instead they are content in keeping IS tech inferior, and using quirk crutches to prop up IS mechs.


IS tech is SUPPOSED TO BE INFERIOR, freebirth! The fact that it is this close in MWO is already a travesty.

View PostLuminis, on 14 May 2018 - 06:39 AM, said:

And it could be easy if PGI wanted to. Make the IS XL survive ST loss like the CXL, make the LFE survive ST loss with no penalty and make STD engines give structure boosts to all the torsi.

That leaves heat and duration and CD and such to offset the discrepancies in weight and crit slots of IS equipment. Much easier to do if the engine disparity is out of the picture, in my opinion.


NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO. Just no. If you don't want to play this game, play something else. Don't bastardize the rules until you get what you want.

#18 El Bandito

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Posted 14 May 2018 - 09:33 AM

View PostStridercal, on 14 May 2018 - 09:31 AM, said:

IS tech is SUPPOSED TO BE INFERIOR, freebirth! The fact that it is this close in MWO is already a travesty.


The simple reality is that your logic does not work for a multiplayer only arena game, where each side has the same amount of participants. Therefore both tech must be balanced against each other. If MWO was a single player campaign game, I wouldn't have given a damn.

#19 Tom Sawyer

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Posted 14 May 2018 - 09:33 AM

View PostStridercal, on 14 May 2018 - 09:31 AM, said:


IS tech is SUPPOSED TO BE INFERIOR, freebirth! The fact that it is this close in MWO is already a travesty.



NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO. Just no. If you don't want to play this game, play something else. Don't bastardize the rules until you get what you want.


If you are going to haul that out then remember too that clans bid for action, drop with less mechs, and honor is all.

I seriously doubt PGI could ever get that into the game after 5 years

#20 Jay Leon Hart

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Posted 14 May 2018 - 09:48 AM

View PostAsym, on 14 May 2018 - 06:54 AM, said:

Again, the title is correct OP.... It's contrary to the entire game concept: of another take on the "Cold War" in the real world.

One side had the tech and open field tactics and the other had the brute strength numbers, linear tactics and effective but somewhat limited weapons.... Who would prevail when they met?

Except this isn't TT or a strategy game, it's an FPS where 1 player controls 1 'mech on equal numbered teams. As such, balance needs to come first, lore second.





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