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game balance - 6/8/2013 2:32:59 PM   
Kayoz


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Once the "red flag" bugs are stomped from infestation level, I believe Matrix has to spend some time considering game balance.

1. rail guns
Severely overpowered. As MartialDoctor's analysis shows, there is little or no reason to use any other weapon till about half-way through the tech tree, except for a few isolated cases where long-range weapons pay off.

2. racial growth bonuses
Due to the small starting population bases of non-pirate factions, a high growth rate gives an exponential bonus. If you've played with Securan (or Shandar, Teekan and Gizurean races to a lesser degree), it quickly becomes obvious that their racial population growth rates push them into the economic lead very quickly and vastly outweigh their racial disadvantages. Giz and Sec cyclical growth bonuses have been nerfed somewhat, but it's a band-aid on a much deeper balance issue.

3. pirate income
From what I have seen, smuggler type pirates have a sizable advantage over non-smuggling pirates. Their income is far more stable and profitable, as well as being less dependent on micromanaging raiding of planets. Given equal availability of colonized planets, smugglers can maintain a sizable fleet to do the occasional bit of raiding - where other types of pirates must weigh the raiding cost against the diminishing returns of planets denuded of population to make the raid worthwhile. But perhaps it's just my experience.

I'm sure there are other balance issues which need addressing. But these 3 seem the most glaring and in dire need of balancing.

Feel free to shoot me down if you think I'm being overly critical or outright wrong.

< Message edited by Kayoz -- 6/8/2013 2:42:35 PM >


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RE: game balance - 6/8/2013 2:54:05 PM   
adamsolo


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1. I don't know. I don't usually go with rail guns. However, I do find gravitic weapons to be perhaps a little too strong. Well, perhaps more than a little :) And missiles (especially advanced ones) are also perhaps too strong too, because of their big range. Makes stationary kills just a matter of time. Only me?

2. Definitely agree. I played with the Securans in one of my last games and I felt that their population growth is probably too strong. And, I could keep taxes at 100% for most of my game also because of their happiness bonus. Their upkeep is much bigger though. However, there's already two of us saying this, so...

3. I'm not sure. I do notice that smugglers and mercs tend to rank higher on score than raiders do, but I don't have solid data on this.


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RE: game balance - 6/8/2013 3:17:23 PM   
invaderzim

 

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1. For sure, rail guns are the most annoying weapon to fight against, particularly because the AI fights in a suicidal manner. I don't use them myself because I like to capture ships but if you just want to wipe an enemy fleet quickly, I can't see any better way to it than railguns and tractors.

3. I haven't had much success with smuggling personally. But I to tend to go afk for times and left the AI run the show. Maybe I need to raid more to create resource shortages.

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RE: game balance - 6/8/2013 3:27:56 PM   
Strat_84

 

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I wouldn't really call the rail guns overpowered. They are quite powerful when the game starts indeed, probably wouldn't it be a bad idea to reduce the damage of the very basic cinetic weapon of 1 point, but rail guns are made obsolete gradually when your opponents develop advanced armor types.

I had a game in which I somewhat focused on railguns for some of my ships, regular rail guns (full upgrade) became hardly effective once the pirate I was fighting discovered level 2 armor. I had to switch to heavy rail guns then, taking much more space for a decent, but not that extraordinary result.
On the top of that you may have noticed rail guns need to shoot nearly at point blank to release their full potential, which isn't always easy. Try to shoot from the max range, it misses at least 1 shot out of 2.

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RE: game balance - 6/8/2013 3:53:09 PM   
wasa

 

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Those races has always been overpowered, ever since the original DW, because the population-tax dynamic is the by far most important economic factor - and they get so much of it inherently, they're too strong from start and only snowballs from there. If the numbers are to remain then I'd like to see massive costs in money/corruption/revolt risk/<whatever> really - aligned to massive population growth. Obviously pop growth in the long term should pay off but there should be severe repercussions in the short term just like how it's IRL.

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RE: game balance - 6/8/2013 4:42:58 PM   
ASHBERY76


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Ships costs particularly and maintenance are very cheap and need a vast increase.Even a small empire can field an obscene amount of large ships.

Reputation improves too quickly.

Pirate missions are very cheap for an empire and are not really much of a choice, ie no brainer.

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RE: game balance - 6/8/2013 5:06:55 PM   
invaderzim

 

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When do you use pirate missions? Pirate attack missions seem to take forever to complete and defenders also take a very long to arrive in my experience. I don't even know if attack missions have succeeded because they don't give you much of a report back, just a quick message that gets lost among dozens of other messages.

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RE: game balance - 6/8/2013 7:42:23 PM   
Plant


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1) The railgun, armour, repair bot issue is very complex, as railguns start off strong, but scale badl with other weapon techs later in the game, it isn't certain how exactly armour works, except that it doesn't seem to be working as the Galactopedia describes and repairbots completely throw change armour effectiveness, once last tech armour is reached.

2)In Legends, reproduction was important, but wasn't so spectacularily amazing as it was in Shadows, since everybody started with large homeworld populations. However, as well as the effects of certain wonders, the single most important effect in Shadows is your homeworld income, and the early game determines the rest of the game. When I was playing as the Mortalens, I could barely afford a military, meanwhile the Securans and Gizureans and Shandar and Teekans were weilding massive militaries, simply because they could afford to do so. In the Shandar case, their Utopian government give amazing growth bonuses and in the Teekan case, the have a good growth rate as well a good colony income bonus. Every game I have ever played, the Securans and Gizureans always dominate.

3) As for Pirates, I am not sure. The main problem I have, is that I can destroy and control homeworlds at the start of the game with complete ease, which is something the AI pirates do not do. It feels like cheating, but if they refuse to pay protection, or the protection fee is tiny, then I have no choice. As for smuggling vs raiding, it's difficult since comparing how Pirate earn money isn't as obvious as it is with Empires. It isn't obvious even within your own pirate race even with yearly screens, since you have no idea how much money a single colony is giving you through control or smuggling or mining.

One thing the game needs is a better pirate mission screen. You can have 100 missions, off all kinds, some you want to take, others that you don't, some you want to keep an eye on the time to auction or dates to complete, and you have only 3 you can see at any one time. It's baffling. Please have a scroll bar and a popup screen with tiled icons.



< Message edited by Plant -- 6/8/2013 8:36:29 PM >

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RE: game balance - 6/8/2013 11:14:43 PM   
Kayoz


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Plant
1) The railgun, armour, repair bot issue is very complex, as railguns start off strong, but scale badl with other weapon techs later in the game, it isn't certain how exactly armour works, except that it doesn't seem to be working as the Galactopedia describes and repairbots completely throw change armour effectiveness, once last tech armour is reached.

Perhaps I should have phrased that better. I agree with MartialDoctor that railguns in the early to mid game, are obscenely overpowered. With late game tech, they are nigh useless. But until one gets near the end of the armour tech and has repair bots, they are by far the weapon of choice.

quote:

ORIGINAL: Plant
2)In Legends, reproduction was important, but wasn't so spectacularily amazing as it was in Shadows, since everybody started with large homeworld populations. However, as well as the effects of certain wonders, the single most important effect in Shadows is your homeworld income, and the early game determines the rest of the game. When I was playing as the Mortalens, I could barely afford a military, meanwhile the Securans and Gizureans and Shandar and Teekans were weilding massive militaries, simply because they could afford to do so. In the Shandar case, their Utopian government give amazing growth bonuses and in the Teekan case, the have a good growth rate as well a good colony income bonus. Every game I have ever played, the Securans and Gizureans always dominate.

Exactly my point. The growth rate of those races (Securan in particular) has a snowball effect, which one did not see in previous DW versions due to the larger starting populations.

quote:

ORIGINAL: Plant
3) As for Pirates, I am not sure. The main problem I have, is that I can destroy and control homeworlds at the start of the game with complete ease, which is something the AI pirates do not do. It feels like cheating, but if they refuse to pay protection, or the protection fee is tiny, then I have no choice. As for smuggling vs raiding, it's difficult since comparing how Pirate earn money isn't as obvious as it is with Empires. It isn't obvious even within your own pirate race even with yearly screens, since you have no idea how much money a single colony is giving you through control or smuggling or mining.


I thought I hedged my statement on smugglers. It's near impossible to know which is the precise economic formula, so it's hard to say how pirates balance against one another. I'm merely going on the feel of smugglers as opposed to others. It seem to be much easier with them to maintain an economic base than others. Perhaps it's my play style and the random nature of the games I've played with them.

quote:

ORIGINAL: Plant
One thing the game needs is a better pirate mission screen. You can have 100 missions, off all kinds, some you want to take, others that you don't, some you want to keep an eye on the time to auction or dates to complete, and you have only 3 you can see at any one time. It's baffling. Please have a scroll bar and a popup screen with tiled icons.


Absolutely. The pirate mission interface is a nightmare to work with.


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RE: game balance - 6/8/2013 11:42:40 PM   
FerretStyle

 

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Railguns? I just load up with missiles and kill everything whilst never losing any ships.

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RE: game balance - 6/9/2013 12:13:17 AM   
Kruos


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Wonders could be rebalanced too.

As it stand now, in addition to their global and exclusive bonus, they give a development bonus to the colony where they are built. This way they allow a small empire to compete economicaly with bigger one. The concept is OK I think. The problem comes when it is an already big empire which build one : in this case they are far too powerful. For example in one of my game, whereas my empire was medium and my eco balanced, I was suddenly swimming in money just after completing one wonder (the one which give you +100% HT tech). The +50 dev bonus on my home world destroyed the balance of my eco, and the interest of the game. Very frustrating.

Some things which could be done : remove the devlopment bonuses (or severely reduce them, or replace it by a scenery bonus)


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RE: game balance - 6/9/2013 12:25:07 AM   
invaderzim

 

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I really like the concept behind wonders too as I like the idea of a small empire that can compete with a bigger one. I'm wouldn't remove the development bonus though, I think this hurts small empires more than big ones.

I'm not sure how you can reduce the power of wonders for big empires while still making them useful for small empires. Perhaps you could reduce it's effectiveness as total population or income increases.

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RE: game balance - 6/9/2013 2:30:53 AM   
turtlefang

 

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Rail Guns. I have very mixed feelings on rail guns. While they can be a real killer in the hands of a pirate race if it starts near you, not sure I want them reduced. I think I would prefer ARMOR to work like the Galaxtopedia states rather than the way it really works. That would "fix" rail guns but still provide a strategic option to go with them or not. In any case, to really make rail guns work, you have to build a ship around the rail gun (fast, close quickly, research tractor beams as well, hv shields to get in close). I have counter them with missile frigates/dd/cruisers and grav weapons if needed. Not my prefered approach, but you do have options.

Wonders. Definitely do NOT want the developmental bonus changed. While it can give a large empire too much of a bonus, it gives you the option of going big and expanding OR going tight, small and developing. Changing the development bonus would just about insure that the only viable strategy is the go big. This one simply takes an very viable and entertaing.

I haven't seen the the Securans, Gizureans, Shandar and Teekans creating big military but I have only completed one game so that is not exactly a representative or even viable sample. And I haven't played any of these races. If they are, then again, I have mixed feeling. This gives the AI a set of races that have a good chance of ending up in a strong position and give the player a good run for the money. I just wouldn't play one of these if it is that unbalancing.

The big issue here, to me, is fixing the armor issue and making sure it works like it is said to work. If the rail gun is then still the weapon of choice for most of the game - or even 40% of the game - then it needs to be revisited. Right now, I believe this is more of ARMOR not working correctly rather than rail guns now working correctly.

The Wonders and Race Growth issue isn't as big a concern. If this was a multiplayer game where everyone chose a race, then racial balance would be a bigger issue. But the player can control which race he selects, and can simply elect not build particular wonders if you feel it unbalances the game or makes it not fun.


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RE: game balance - 6/9/2013 3:30:58 AM   
feelotraveller


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I find the way you gain money by retrofitting private bases to be a game breaker.  Short on cash?  Just retrofit a bunch of mining bases (e.g. from one type of cargo bay to another).  [Exploit: When they are done, retrofit them back and do it again.]  No resouces are consumed, it does not require a constructor or any maintenance - free money out of nowhere.

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RE: game balance - 6/9/2013 3:46:32 AM   
FerretStyle

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: feelotraveller

I find the way you gain money by retrofitting private bases to be a game breaker.  Short on cash?  Just retrofit a bunch of mining bases (e.g. from one type of cargo bay to another).  [Exploit: When they are done, retrofit them back and do it again.]  No resouces are consumed, it does not require a constructor or any maintenance - free money out of nowhere.


If it doesn't require resources, then how is it that you can get resource missing notifications when upgrading them? Why don't my mining bases just retrofit instantly when I get a new cargo bay tech or whatever and upgrade my designs? And the money comes from the private sector... which can run out.

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RE: game balance - 6/9/2013 3:52:46 AM   
feelotraveller


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Resources are required but not consumed.  They are locked up in the components.  You need the resources on hand for the components you are adding, but once that is done you get back the resources from the old components you are removing.  (You might need to retrofit in stages depending on the resources on hand to avoid stalling, but any stall will be overcome with time anyway.)

It is true that the money comes from the private sector, thanks for the correction.  Still it means that there is no reason to tax since I can get all that money anyway.  Even without exploitation I think that the mechanic is not well thought out.

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RE: game balance - 6/9/2013 5:19:23 AM   
FerretStyle

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: feelotraveller
Even without exploitation I think that the mechanic is not well thought out.


Yeah, I would have to agree. That is assuming what you said before is correct.

I was under the impression that retrofitting old modules caused the old modules to be scrapped. Also, when you do that wouldn't the private sector only pay for the new modules or do they pay for the entire station?

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RE: game balance - 6/9/2013 9:54:14 AM   
DeadlyShoe


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quote:

Due to the small starting population bases of non-pirate factions, a high growth rate gives an exponential bonus. If you've played with Securan (or Shandar, Teekan and Gizurean races to a lesser degree), it quickly becomes obvious that their racial population growth rates push them into the economic lead very quickly and vastly outweigh their racial disadvantages. Giz and Sec cyclical growth bonuses have been nerfed somewhat, but it's a band-aid on a much deeper balance issue.

this is definitely true

the growth curve is exaggerated in Shadows starts - I find the Advanced Medicomplex to be near-mandatory to compete as a low growth race.

Leader-character growth bonuses are also very powerful.

by the time serious interstellar competition has started, high growth races have maxed homeworlds while human-likes have 4000-6000m.

my suggestion would be making the GDP curve nonlinear, which would also make non-indie colonies profitable sooner

quote:

I find the way you gain money by retrofitting private bases to be a game breaker. Short on cash? Just retrofit a bunch of mining bases (e.g. from one type of cargo bay to another). [Exploit: When they are done, retrofit them back and do it again.] No resouces are consumed, it does not require a constructor or any maintenance - free money out of nowhere.

honestly, this is fiddly and hard to do by accident, and its a singleplayer game.... if you think its a game breaker, don't do it xD

in any case, you can take over the private sector on purpose via Corporate Nationalism if you really want to

< Message edited by DeadlyShoe -- 6/9/2013 9:59:52 AM >

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RE: game balance - 6/9/2013 3:30:15 PM   
Kayoz


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quote:

ORIGINAL: turtlefang
I think I would prefer ARMOR to work like the Galaxtopedia states rather than the way it really works.


Either has the same effect, since armour is the only defense against railguns. Regardless of what is done (nerf railguns, buff armour or both), something needs to be done. And from the direction of Matrix, all I hear is deafening silence.

quote:

ORIGINAL: turtlefang
In any case, to really make rail guns work, you have to build a ship around the rail gun (fast, close quickly, research tractor beams as well, hv shields to get in close). I have counter them with missile frigates/dd/cruisers and grav weapons if needed. Not my prefered approach, but you do have options.


Forget the heavy shields, just put 2-3 on a ship to suck up damage as you race in. High speed is far more important. Sprint for 40 or so, and there isn't much out there that can escape. And when your shields are down, you retreat at cruise speed of 30 or so and blip out.

Have a play with it.

quote:

ORIGINAL: turtlefang
Wonders. Definitely do NOT want the developmental bonus changed. While it can give a large empire too much of a bonus, it gives you the option of going big and expanding OR going tight, small and developing. Changing the development bonus would just about insure that the only viable strategy is the go big. This one simply takes an very viable and entertaing.


I'm not as concerned with wonders as others. They may be unbalanced, but they take time and research to build. Railguns are easy to get by comparison, and racial growth rate snowball effect on Securan or such races is not possible to avoid.

quote:

ORIGINAL: turtlefang
I haven't seen the the Securans, Gizureans, Shandar and Teekans creating big military but I have only completed one game so that is not exactly a representative or even viable sample. And I haven't played any of these races. If they are, then again, I have mixed feeling. This gives the AI a set of races that have a good chance of ending up in a strong position and give the player a good run for the money. I just wouldn't play one of these if it is that unbalancing.


Securans and Gizureans absolutely dominate in the games I've played. They can and do field enormous fleets by comparison to other races. That's because they can easily have several fully populated worlds by the time any other race is expanding to their 3rd system, with the homeworld at a paltry 4-6b. Yes, as you say, it gives potential for the computer to have strong opposition to the player - but it detracts from the game's ability to offer replayability. The racial balance is so skewed in favour of those races that desire to experiment with other races for the differing strengths and weaknesses they offer is severely diminished.

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RE: game balance - 6/10/2013 3:02:44 AM   
feelotraveller


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I haven't played far enough into the end game to see but do the growth bonuses establish lasting superiority for those races? I remember from my games in Legends that the scales tended to slowly tip back towards slower growth races with other bonuses the longer the game went (but that I did not see this stage if I blitzed through the game).


quote:

ORIGINAL: DeadlyShoe


quote:

I find the way you gain money by retrofitting private bases to be a game breaker. Short on cash? Just retrofit a bunch of mining bases (e.g. from one type of cargo bay to another). [Exploit: When they are done, retrofit them back and do it again.] No resouces are consumed, it does not require a constructor or any maintenance - free money out of nowhere.

honestly, this is fiddly and hard to do by accident, and its a singleplayer game.... if you think its a game breaker, don't do it xD

in any case, you can take over the private sector on purpose via Corporate Nationalism if you really want to


So I should leave my starting bases in my home system with small cargo bays, small fuel cells, no shields, no armour, and maybe pulse blasters or seeker missiles for the whole game? Sure I can do this but who would seriously want to, and if I do want to retrofit them...? (BTW Corporate Nationalism rightly comes with some hefty negatives.)

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RE: game balance - 6/10/2013 3:34:28 AM   
Kayoz


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quote:

ORIGINAL: feelotraveller
So I should leave my starting bases in my home system with small cargo bays, small fuel cells, no shields, no armour, and maybe pulse blasters or seeker missiles for the whole game?


I don't think that's what he was suggesting. You did write...

quote:

ORIGINAL: feelotraveller
Short on cash? Just retrofit a bunch of mining bases (e.g. from one type of cargo bay to another). [Exploit: When they are done, retrofit them back and do it again.] No resouces are consumed, it does not require a constructor or any maintenance - free money out of nowhere.


... which is abusing a game mechanic. Just don't abuse it, and it won't be a game-breaking issue.

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RE: game balance - 6/10/2013 3:47:13 AM   
feelotraveller


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Kayoz


quote:

ORIGINAL: feelotraveller
So I should leave my starting bases in my home system with small cargo bays, small fuel cells, no shields, no armour, and maybe pulse blasters or seeker missiles for the whole game?


I don't think that's what he was suggesting. You did write...

quote:

ORIGINAL: feelotraveller
Short on cash? Just retrofit a bunch of mining bases (e.g. from one type of cargo bay to another). [Exploit: When they are done, retrofit them back and do it again.] No resouces are consumed, it does not require a constructor or any maintenance - free money out of nowhere.


... which is abusing a game mechanic. Just don't abuse it, and it won't be a game-breaking issue.


I'm just raising the (non-exploititave version of the) mechanic as a game balance issue. Game breaking may be overstating it as I have not got to the end of a game yet, however at least in the early game I am raking in large amounts of cash by legitimate retrofitting. Assuming that the long term economics of retrofitting do not 'break' the game does not preclude effects on the game balance. For example the player who constantly retrofits their bases to the latest weapons will shift a lot more money from the private sector to the public coffers than the player who just installs fighter bays and then leaves them be. Besides being somewhat counter-intuitive this is clearly an effect on game balance. Or to look at it another way, the constant retrofitter can gain the same income with substantially lower taxes which means higher growth which means...

(in reply to Kayoz)
Post #: 22
RE: game balance - 6/10/2013 6:51:55 AM   
Kayoz


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quote:

ORIGINAL: feelotraveller
Assuming that the long term economics of retrofitting do not 'break' the game does not preclude effects on the game balance.


Granted - it's a problem. But since the computer also benefits in the same way, the benefit you see as a player should be comparable to the computer's benefit. So it can more or less balance out. How unbalancing this can be to a normal player who isn't trying to exploit the mechanic is something that would require debug logs to see how the computer is affected - and that's something only Elliot can do. It should have been done. But has it? I wouldn't bet that such an analysis was done.

I'm sure there are other issues as well. I was just pointing out the most egregious balance issues which should have been addressed before release.


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Post #: 23
RE: game balance - 6/10/2013 5:45:02 PM   
turtlefang

 

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ARMOR, in theory, should impact more than rail guns, just provide better defense against rail guns that other means. I would rather it act like it says it should so that it works on more than just rail guns. Otherwise, it is not that useful.

As far as the sprint goes, have tried, works fine if you attacking. Doesn't work at all if you are defending, which is where most of the action is early in the game where rail guns are the primary weapon. The opposition is blizting the base or spaceport and your ships don't have time to "build up speed". And fleet stances aren't working correctly, even if you have 12 ships around a spaceport, only two or three fire at the attackers.

So when you combine all of these issues - armor, rail gun impacts, and poor fleet stances, the attacker has a huge advantage if you have to defend something. These three work together to snowall the impact of any one of them.

As far as wonders, I prefer it the way it is due to the strategic options but it doesn't bother me that much either way.

And I will take your word on it for the high growth races. Just haven't played as much to see that impact yet.

(in reply to Kayoz)
Post #: 24
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