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Some Quick Fixes to Improve Game Balance

 
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Some Quick Fixes to Improve Game Balance - 8/15/2013 4:05:09 AM   
Icemania


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In a couple of threads I've raised the topic of empire homeworld troop strength as a relatively simple change which would help make the game more balanced.

In my last few games on Extreme Difficulty in the early game I've focused on building sufficient troops to invade the nearest couple of homeworlds as quickly as practically possible. No military ships are needed beyond fast troop transports.

Those homeworlds provide many benefits. Apart from massively increasing population and industrial capability, they also provide empire benefits (e.g. conquering the Teekans provides income/mining boosts) and colonisation benefits (as I can now colonise worlds native to the conquered homeworld before having the technology researched).

They can be used to fund a huge exploration and construction fleet in parallel with a massive military, crashing all research, building every wonder, a colonisation program, a population growth program, and still have funds left over. This approach can also be used with a Harsh home system start when all other Empires are Excellent (even if you have to go cashflow negative to fund it).

While this megalomania is fun I would argue that on Extreme this should simply not be possible. Compromises should always be necessary i.e. forcing choices between military, research and colonisation rather than being able to do them all in parallel.

Now obviously I can simply implement a house rule to stop myself from invading homeworlds in the early game. I see this sort of retort a fair bit on this forum. This is not what a Strategy game is about, if it's in the game I should be able to use it, and if it's unbalanced it should be fixed.

The troop strength of the first three enemy homeworlds conquered early game with 1.9.0.10 was 250k, 450k, 1000k. Let's say that was increased by 3-5 on Extreme ... a really simple change to make. With the increased homeworld troop strength, it now would not be practically possible to invade homeworlds until later in the game, and I would be forced to make those choices.

There is a similar argument with Technology Selling. Like many I follow a house rule to avoid selling technology as it is so easily exploited. With Technology Selling I can literally spend the entire early game with 0% taxation to optimise population growth and still fund almost everything else. The imbalance can be improved fairly easily by reducing the prices significantly, I would say by a factor of 10. I would then be quite comfortable using technology selling in the game, as I can use it to top-up available funds only and would need to think more carefully about how much technology I really want to trade.

I'm interested in your thoughts and any other suggestions that could be easily implemented, keep in mind the size of the development team, anything difficult will probably have to wait for DW2. I'm also aware these ideas are not new, plenty of posts around the forum on all this, so as someone who is late to the party and only really getting into it for Shadows, I'm a little confused as to why they haven't already been implemented.



< Message edited by Icemania -- 8/15/2013 4:15:01 AM >
Post #: 1
RE: Some Quick Fixes to Improve Game Balance - 8/15/2013 5:30:29 AM   
VorteeX

 

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eXtra bonus to defend homeworlds, like 100%, other worlds after 10 year = +10% so after 100 years of colony present will be 100% same as homeworld. Becose population have more desire to defend own land and after evry another generation settlers fell more devoted to planet where they live.

Or even bigger bonus, this also in later games force players to make serious planet bombardment before invasion.

< Message edited by VorteeX -- 8/15/2013 5:36:55 AM >

(in reply to Icemania)
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RE: Some Quick Fixes to Improve Game Balance - 8/15/2013 6:45:57 AM   
Canute

 

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Ohhhh Someone saw a very nice and sweet fruit at the neightbours garden and can't pick it ! :-))

I don't see a reason to change anything. Yes a Homeworld is a valueable resources, the planet and the population.
You still can bomb the planet populations down to a amount you can conquer it with the troops you can affort.

But until you got the defence of the planet down, you realy have time, a few ships are enough to keep the planet from building new defence/ships. This give you time to recruit troops and build troop carrier.

If you like to get this nice fruits, play a Pirate ! Then you don't need to conquer the planet to get the income.

And honnestly i never got any trouble with cash, except at the beginning when i need to pay some pirates for protection.

(in reply to VorteeX)
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RE: Some Quick Fixes to Improve Game Balance - 8/15/2013 7:14:57 AM   
Icemania


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Canute, LOL, you need to read my post again! What I'm suggesting is the complete opposite i.e. those early game homeworld fruits are far too easy to pick.

As for the approach you suggest ... why build military ships, or bomb the population, that spoil some of those fruits, when I just need some fast troop transports?

(in reply to Canute)
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RE: Some Quick Fixes to Improve Game Balance - 8/15/2013 8:25:37 AM   
Yarasala

 

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About tech trading: I don't find techs too expensive and generally am content with the current system with the exception that foreign empires give away their techs too easily. But apart from that in my games the other empires don't have enough money to pay for techs most of the time, tech trading is mostly exchanging techs.

About home world troop strength: I agree that it should not be possible to invade a planet (not only home world) with a single troop transport. But instead of increasing defending troop strenght (that costs a lot of maintenance) force troop transports (and other ships that have troop compartments) to lower their shields for a significant time before ejecting troop pods so it would be very risky to attack defended (by ships or star bases) planets in this way. Additionally change the priority of defense forces so, that troop transports are always attacked first.

(in reply to Icemania)
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RE: Some Quick Fixes to Improve Game Balance - 8/15/2013 11:08:38 AM   
Strat_84

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Yarasala
Additionally change the priority of defense forces so, that troop transports are always attacked first.


Ooohhh no, that one is a very bad idea. It might help with planet defence but it would surely mess up the space battles.

(in reply to Yarasala)
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RE: Some Quick Fixes to Improve Game Balance - 8/15/2013 12:00:47 PM   
jomarmont

 

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About tech trading: maybe the problem is that we get single offers and the economy should be more dynamic. As far as I see it when any given empire offers tech for sale (or any other commodity as a matter of fact) it should get low prices as offers if any at all (there should be a "system" controlling interest in any given tech by any given race). When any given empire wants to buy tech it should get expensive offers as the transaction happened as an initiative of the buyer. It is as simple as that: if I shout out loud that I am buying others should try to get as much money from me as possible and if I shout out loud that I am selling then others try to pay as little as possible.

About troop transports: maybe it could be a selectable option whether planetary defence forces in space(fleets and spaceports) should target troop transports first (you know...as a stance). Then of course you may establish an exploit where you start an attack with empty troop transports as bait to keep local defence busy...that is why it should be selectable.

(in reply to Strat_84)
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RE: Some Quick Fixes to Improve Game Balance - 8/15/2013 12:21:03 PM   
Icemania


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Yarasala
About tech trading: I don't find techs too expensive and generally am content with the current system with the exception that foreign empires give away their techs too easily. But apart from that in my games the other empires don't have enough money to pay for techs most of the time, tech trading is mostly exchanging techs.


I certainly agree that technologies are available for trade too readily. I thought the past suggestion below from Shark was so good it was worth repeating ...

quote:

ORIGINAL: Shark7
One suggestion I might make is that the only way you can trade techs, bases, planets, etc is if you have an MDP with the empire you are wanting to trade with. This I think would curb a lot of the problems. Trading your technology should be something you do with only the most trusted of allies.

In fact, here is exactly how I would do it:

Tech trading criteria:

* must have MDP agreement
* for techs 2 levels or lower than current, relations at +75 or higher
* for techs 1 level less than current, relations at +90 or higher
* for equal level or advanced techs, relations at +100 or higher
* for special techs, relations at +125 or higher


With trade values, after getting familiar with Distant Worlds I now always play Extreme, and other Empires have plenty of money for trading. Before banning technology selling I've played a number games where I've set tax to 0% until maximum population and simply funded my empire with technology. This clearly requires some balancing. When selling, consider the cost of the technology to develop it (research base maintenance costs are minimal) ...

quote:

ORIGINAL: Yarasala
About home world troop strength: I agree that it should not be possible to invade a planet (not only home world) with a single troop transport. But instead of increasing defending troop strenght (that costs a lot of maintenance) force troop transports (and other ships that have troop compartments) to lower their shields for a significant time before ejecting troop pods so it would be very risky to attack defended (by ships or star bases) planets in this way.

The delay time idea would probably work early game when the troops transports are weak. That said, it seems a bit artificial, why should there be a delay? On Extreme the other empires should be able to easily fund the maintenance costs.


< Message edited by Icemania -- 8/15/2013 2:37:31 PM >

(in reply to Yarasala)
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RE: Some Quick Fixes to Improve Game Balance - 8/15/2013 12:37:01 PM   
Icemania


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quote:

ORIGINAL: jomarmont
About tech trading: maybe the problem is that we get single offers and the economy should be more dynamic. As far as I see it when any given empire offers tech for sale (or any other commodity as a matter of fact) it should get low prices as offers if any at all (there should be a "system" controlling interest in any given tech by any given race). When any given empire wants to buy tech it should get expensive offers as the transaction happened as an initiative of the buyer. It is as simple as that: if I shout out loud that I am buying others should try to get as much money from me as possible and if I shout out loud that I am selling then others try to pay as little as possible.

Good idea. Implementation would probably need some thought by the developer, not sure if it's the sort of thing they could do via a patch. Either way, the technology sale prices are completely disproportionate to the cost of developing those technologies.

quote:

ORIGINAL: jomarmont
About troop transports: maybe it could be a selectable option whether planetary defence forces in space(fleets and spaceports) should target troop transports first (you know...as a stance). Then of course you may establish an exploit where you start an attack with empty troop transports as bait to keep local defence busy...that is why it should be selectable.

It won't work. I attack with troops transports only and the first the enemy empire knows about my treachery is when the troops have already landed. If they then destroy my tin foil early transports, fine, I'll just build more for the next empire to conquer.

(in reply to jomarmont)
Post #: 9
RE: Some Quick Fixes to Improve Game Balance - 8/15/2013 2:43:46 PM   
Jeeves


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I think that people who try to make the normal game harder to win are missing the point. For a strategy game to be salable, it MUST be winnable on normal setting, providing a challenge to experienced players when they select increased difficulty. To make it harder to win would reduce the customer base once the game is finally noticed. I play the game on normal settings even though I know that I am going to win, usually in 12 years at victory 95% of 95/95/95. I do this because in every game I experiment with different strategies. In my current game in the middle of the ninth year, I am just now getting around to my first war, where I previously started warring in years 5-6. I suggest that if you want a challenging game, try NEVER invading a homeworld for those victory conditions...

Lonnie Courtney Clay


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Live long and prosper!

Lonnie Courtney Clay

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RE: Some Quick Fixes to Improve Game Balance - 8/15/2013 3:26:10 PM   
Plant


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Isn't the problem is that you are just technologically advanced in the early part of the game due to a combination of only having high tech labs and expensive research? Expensive research increases the time difference to warp technology. I remember you commenting in you AAR that the first homeworld you conquered haven't even have hypersapce technology. Also is excerbated by trying having tax rates as low as possible for greatest future potential on an excellent homeworld, which actually gives you an economic start which is about 20 years ahead of normal. So the best fix would be to change how technology research is conducted, perhaps to that the technology cap for each technology type to be independent of the other.

In the end the problem is that the AI isn't developed to follow human attempts to win; they are totally constrained by attempting to provide an interesting backdrop.
Also some wierd game mechanics such as diplomacy and technology.

I suppose it is failry wierd though that the AI doesn't seem to bother spending money. It seems obvious that if an AI have money, they should spend it automatically on anything they would think militarily useful, be it more ships, or troop upkeep.

< Message edited by Plant -- 8/15/2013 3:31:24 PM >

(in reply to Icemania)
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RE: Some Quick Fixes to Improve Game Balance - 8/15/2013 3:40:24 PM   
Icemania


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Jeeves, there is much that could be readily done to help new players with the early learning curve which would help awareness being better converted to sales e.g. more advanced tutorial videos showing people what experienced players do, providing more information on game mechanics in Galactopedia, a Master Guide summarising the best of the forum such as many of your posts etc.

The game is extremely winnable for new players on normal settings. It doesn't need an in-built exploit like the current technology prices to be very winnable. But fine, let's leave normal alone. As you said, it must provide a challenge to experienced players when they select increased difficulty.

So I'm going to say it ... winning on Extreme is an absolute cakewalk. Even though I don't sell technology and the biases file has been changed so most races hate me and as a result technology trading is limited, in every game, I'm ahead in every measure as soon as I invade the first homeworld, and before long the gap is massive. All we seem to have is yet more player driven handicaps e.g. don't invade homeworlds with a victory condition well past the point of galactic domination etc.

I'd like to explore ... and have others propose ... a few quick fixes to make the game harder on the more difficult settings particularly Extreme. I know I'm going to win but at least it might not be a cakewalk. On Extreme I should not be able to fund my Empire with technology selling alone, I should not be able to easily invade homeworlds at low cost in the early game.



< Message edited by Icemania -- 8/15/2013 4:12:57 PM >

(in reply to Jeeves)
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RE: Some Quick Fixes to Improve Game Balance - 8/15/2013 4:06:56 PM   
Icemania


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Plant
Isn't the problem is that you are just technologically advanced in the early part of the game due to a combination of only having high tech labs and expensive research? Expensive research increases the time difference to warp technology. I remember you commenting in you AAR that the first homeworld you conquered haven't even have hypersapce technology. Also is excerbated by trying having tax rates as low as possible for greatest future potential on an excellent homeworld, which actually gives you an economic start which is about 20 years ahead of normal. So the best fix would be to change how technology research is conducted, perhaps to that the technology cap for each technology type to be independent of the other.

In the end the problem is that the AI isn't developed to follow human attempts to win; they are totally constrained by attempting to provide an interesting backdrop.
Also some wierd game mechanics such as diplomacy and technology.

I suppose it is failry wierd though that the AI doesn't seem to bother spending money. It seems obvious that if an AI have money, they should spend it automatically on anything they would think militarily useful, be it more ships, or troop upkeep.

Plant yes the settings on my "fun" games like the AAR include an equal start. It is true that even without invading anyone else it's possible to get way ahead of the AI's technologically and economically on Extreme. So let's talk about starting disadvantages.

Firstly, starting with a Harsh homeworld when all other Empires have an Excellent homeworld, a huge economic disadvantage when the game starts. Same strategy works, build troops and fast troop transports, and when big enough, invade a homeworld. Change Capital, now I have an Excellent homeworld, disadvantage nullified. Now consider increasing the troops on those homeworlds by 3-5 on Extreme, as you said they can fund it. Funding an invasion of a homeworld when my homeworld is Harsh is likely now not realistic and with limited funds the game instantly goes from cakewalk to interesting.

Secondly, let's add to Extreme and Harsh Homeworld and now add all other empires starting Tech Level 5 and Mature (and any permutation in between) while I'm starting Prewarp. In some games you'll die in 5 minutes, but if you get past that, it's game over. How? Invading isn't practical, obviously. So keep a low profile and beeline research for the Racial Technologies, or anything Tech Level 6 that they are unlikely to research. Since they are valued so highly and even on Chaos there are normally a bunch of empires prepared to trade technology if you give them rights and gifts, you can literally trade to catch up completely to Tech Level 5. Disadvantage nullified. Now implement what Shark suggested where technology trading requires an MDP and the game instantly goes from cakewalk to interesting.

A fundamental change to the AI is going to have to wait for DW2, and I don't want to be critical of the AI as this is a complex game and a small team. In the meantime, there are a couple of pretty easy changes that can be made, so experienced players can find Extreme interesting.

< Message edited by Icemania -- 8/15/2013 4:14:14 PM >

(in reply to Plant)
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RE: Some Quick Fixes to Improve Game Balance - 8/15/2013 5:04:45 PM   
Fenrisfil

 

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In my opinion the trouble with tech selling is that there are no restrictions on your ability to do this except those you impose yourself. Nothings to stop you selling tech for 0 credits to your worst enemy, not that you would do that, but it shows the problem.

The design seems to be based entirely on the point of view that tech trading is supposed to be used for purchasing technology and not selling it. As a result it is expensive so you can't just leap up the tech trees without investment and you have to be on good terms with a race for them to offer you their tech. What needs to change is that your ability to sell tech needs to be restricted as if you were an AI race, this would be controlled by your factions general opinion of the faction you wish to trade with.

That change would be so much better than the current on/off setting which only offers a solution to exploitation by forcing a nerf on diplomatic playstyles.

A second if more difficult to implement change would be to make factions less likely to accept a trade for technology that they have little/no interest in. For example at moment I can sell generic engines to one of the races that have access to unique engine modules, they won't be researching them so they make an easy target for abuse. Perhaps the game could just check what the next 5 items to be researched are likely to be in each sub-section for a faction and only purchase those technologies along with any unique tech offered.

As for the homeworld invasion, well to be honest launching attacks at close neighbours in the early game is always going to be a valid tactic, especially in a (galactic) pre-warp start scenario. With troops being more expensive to maintain these days perhaps the strength added by populations should be increased and the zero troop=instant win rule should be removed. That would go some way to balancing things, but it won't eliminate the problem.

(in reply to Icemania)
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RE: Some Quick Fixes to Improve Game Balance - 8/15/2013 5:42:12 PM   
Icemania


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Fenrisfil
In my opinion the trouble with tech selling is that there are no restrictions on your ability to do this except those you impose yourself. Nothings to stop you selling tech for 0 credits to your worst enemy, not that you would do that, but it shows the problem.

The design seems to be based entirely on the point of view that tech trading is supposed to be used for purchasing technology and not selling it. As a result it is expensive so you can't just leap up the tech trees without investment and you have to be on good terms with a race for them to offer you their tech. What needs to change is that your ability to sell tech needs to be restricted as if you were an AI race, this would be controlled by your factions general opinion of the faction you wish to trade with.

That change would be so much better than the current on/off setting which only offers a solution to exploitation by forcing a nerf on diplomatic playstyles.

A second if more difficult to implement change would be to make factions less likely to accept a trade for technology that they have little/no interest in. For example at moment I can sell generic engines to one of the races that have access to unique engine modules, they won't be researching them so they make an easy target for abuse. Perhaps the game could just check what the next 5 items to be researched are likely to be in each sub-section for a faction and only purchase those technologies along with any unique tech offered.

Some interesting ideas here Fenrisfil. What if selling technology was limited as per Shark's suggestion for trading?

quote:

ORIGINAL: Fenrisfil
As for the homeworld invasion, well to be honest launching attacks at close neighbours in the early game is always going to be a valid tactic, especially in a (galactic) pre-warp start scenario. With troops being more expensive to maintain these days perhaps the strength added by populations should be increased and the zero troop=instant win rule should be removed. That would go some way to balancing things, but it won't eliminate the problem.

Yes I agree it should be a valid tactic but at the moment it's way too easy and should cost a great deal more to pull off. Adding more strength by population is a great idea Fenrisfil so long as it's significant, and the idea makes sense ... given the history of warfare just imagine how many troops you would need to conquer 28B and keep them in line!



< Message edited by Icemania -- 8/15/2013 5:44:32 PM >

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RE: Some Quick Fixes to Improve Game Balance - 8/15/2013 5:54:17 PM   
Icemania


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quote:

ORIGINAL: VorteeX

eXtra bonus to defend homeworlds, like 100%, other worlds after 10 year = +10% so after 100 years of colony present will be 100% same as homeworld. Becose population have more desire to defend own land and after evry another generation settlers fell more devoted to planet where they live.

Or even bigger bonus, this also in later games force players to make serious planet bombardment before invasion.

You could probably tie this together with Fenrisfil's suggestion. Extra strength from both population and time held. In my view the total increase has to be more like a factor of 3-5 (a homeworld with only 250k strength on Extreme when invaded is ridiculously weak).



< Message edited by Icemania -- 8/15/2013 5:55:17 PM >

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RE: Some Quick Fixes to Improve Game Balance - 8/15/2013 7:44:08 PM   
Jeeves


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I agree that the troop contribution from population should be much higher, making homeworld conquests much harder without adding the expense of extra troops. Good suggestion. But the population should surrender when the last troop is dead, just be very angry at being conquered the way it is now, forcing you to leave troops there until the population accepts the situation.

Lonnie Courtney Clay


_____________________________

Live long and prosper!

Lonnie Courtney Clay

(in reply to Icemania)
Post #: 17
RE: Some Quick Fixes to Improve Game Balance - 8/15/2013 8:47:55 PM   
Fenrisfil

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Icemania

Some interesting ideas here Fenrisfil. What if selling technology was limited as per Shark's suggestion for trading?


Very similar idea and I'd be happy to at least try that, though flavour-wise it seems less realistic. It does have the advantage that you have more direct control over the pacts than you do over your general populations opinion of another faction. Perhaps a Free Trade Agreement would be a more realistic cut off with Unique (and perhaps high level) techs restricted to MDP. If that was coupled with a reduction in trade costs in general (I've always thought the prices made any trade a sellers market) I think we'd be on to a winner.

Ultimately if it comes to it I would take game balance over realism so I'd vote yes on that if it was the only alternative to the current on/off system.


quote:

ORIGINAL: Icemania

Yes I agree it should be a valid tactic but at the moment it's way too easy and should cost a great deal more to pull off. Adding more strength by population is a great idea Fenrisfil so long as it's significant, and the idea makes sense ... given the history of warfare just imagine how many troops you would need to conquer 28B and keep them in line!



I've always thought the game underestimates the capabilities of civilians. I know some don't agree that the population alone should be able to fight, but I feel it's realistic (perhaps with a minimum population level to do that though). Historically a large population has always been more than capable of holding out against a small army and the theme does pop up a lot in science fiction too. You could probably also make an assumption of some kind of military presence such as cadets, territorial army, military pen pushers, police officers, mercenaries or retired soldiers. Chances are in a population of over a billion there would be some ability to create an organised resistance regardless of official troop levels.

Anyway, even if they still can't stand alone, a significant increase in strength from population would certainly make the game more interesting, balanced and realistic. As a side effect it would make independent planets slightly less of a pushover too (at least you may need more than two troop units). Really it's win/win.

< Message edited by Fenrisfil -- 8/15/2013 8:49:41 PM >

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Post #: 18
RE: Some Quick Fixes to Improve Game Balance - 8/16/2013 2:23:25 AM   
Icemania


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The opinion of each faction to other factions is really built into the starting racial biases settings. If they dislike you it will be a harder to get to an MDP and +75 etc. Personally I would implement Shark's approach or a variation thereof (which I consider very realistic) but combine this with your other idea i.e. make factions less likely to accept a trade for technology that they have little/no interest in. For those with little interest, reduce the values etc. I would also put more variation in the values in the default biases file.

I'm sold on a significant increase in troop strength from population particularly on higher difficulties and look forward to a response from the developers.

Outside of Homeworld Troop Strength and Technology Selling/Trading, what other simple changes could be made to improve balance and difficulty at least on the higher settings?


< Message edited by Icemania -- 8/16/2013 2:38:59 AM >

(in reply to Fenrisfil)
Post #: 19
RE: Some Quick Fixes to Improve Game Balance - 8/21/2013 1:55:18 PM   
Icemania


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Let's talk Ships.

In my current game the Gizurean, due to their natural population growth, have used their spare cash to produce a huge number of ships (~500). It's still fairly early game as they haven't colonised another planet yet (early 2112 in a Prewarp Start Expensive Research like AAR). Technology selling allowed in this game for a laugh.

All of their ships are Escorts and Frigates. I cannot find one ship that is bigger. They have firepower ~ 20 shields ~ 200 Size 159.

A good fraction of their ships have no fuel. With so many ships it looks like there is no hope of them keeping up with fuel demand.

While they've only just finished hyperdrive they have had warp bubble generators for at least six years. Not one ship has warp. Since they are building and retrofitting so many ships it's look like they just can't keep up.

Looking at other empires they all have small ships. Refuelling and retrofit bottlenecks vary depending on the races and the excess funds they have.

In contrast I have 0 escorts and 0 frigates but have 5 fleets of 14 Size 400 ships hunting for Pirates to exterminate and about 50 Size 400 military ships for new colony/base defence. Even a small group of Size 400 firepower ~ 200 shields ~ 1200 can stomp even the largest groups of the AI's small ships.

All the AI's have very few Explorers while I have 79. On Extreme there should be a race to get those goodies first.

All the AI's have very few Construction ships while I have 31. On Extreme there should be a race to repair ships in debris fields etc.

Now I know there are many different play styles but I would suggest:

1. The advantage of Construction research is so large that all AI's should research Construction technology (at least to Size 400) as any early game top priority.

2. Remove the recent changes allowing the AI to build more frigates and escorts when they have spare cash. Balance this by allowing them to build more large ships from cruiser and above. The larger the ship the larger the likelihood should be that spare cash is used by the AI to build them. This would hopefully prevent the AI from building more ships that they can possibly refuel or retrofit efficiently but help make them nastier and nastier as the game progresses. I'd love to see big fleets filled mainly with Capital Ships and Carriers!

3. The AI should build many more Explorers and Construction Ships. The number is of course debatable depending on style ... maybe the AI races should vary similarly.

Supplementary, is it also possible they can't build larger ships because Cruiser and above AI Gizurean templates require Fleet Countermeasures and Fleet Targetting that they don't have researched yet?


< Message edited by Icemania -- 8/21/2013 2:01:58 PM >

(in reply to Icemania)
Post #: 20
RE: Some Quick Fixes to Improve Game Balance - 8/21/2013 2:45:20 PM   
Anthropoid


Posts: 2549
Joined: 2/22/2005
From: Secret Underground Lair
Status: offline
Haven't read the whole thread but . . . why play on Extreme difficulty? Moreover, if you are playing on Extreme difficulty, how could you possibly have anything useful to say about "game balance?"

I would think that the game is "balanced" if it offers an average user (meaning not an expert like yourself Icemania) a fun challenge but a reasonable prospect of victory on Normal Difficulty.

Difficulty settings like "Extreme," and "Insane" and "Masochistic" are there for folks who have 'beat' the game a few times and want extra challenge.

ADDIT: sorry man, your first post is a bit hard to follow. Are you basically saying that "Extreme difficulty" is not hard enough? and moreover that: (a) it shouldn't be so easy to invade homeoworlds early in the game; and (b) sell Techs, because it makes the game too easy?

If that is the case, then my previous comment is not so salient.

I have to add here though that, part of this is how a player approaches a game. Some players like to approach games they play with a "How do I beat this" attitude, and there is nothing at all wrong with that. This playstyle lends itself to playing at higher difficulties, and making clever use of game dynamics to achieve rapid non-linear effects, like exponential tech growth or crushing military victories. After I spent many hundreds of hours playing Civilization, I slowly evolved into this style of gameplay. In fact, some of my most warmly remembered moments of gaming were times when I executed this style of gameplay in play-by-email games. There is nothing quite so satisfying as taking your human opponent _completely_ by surprise and crushing him in the span of two or three turns and bringing a long multi-month PBEM run to a decisive end! Sadly though, what this style of gameplay reflects is that, the player has truly and fully "mastered" the game. The ecology of the game is so fully intuitive that it is mundane to achieve victories that might have felt like major challenges when you first started.

Another style of gameplay that I _highly_ recommend if it is not something familiar, is the 'laid back' 'getting my monies worth' style. Whenever I buy a new game, I always tend to play it this way for as long as possible, for a couple of simple reasons: I enjoy it (which if you don't you shouldn't force yourself to play this style), it maximizes my utility of each game I own.

I've noticed that this style of play seems to be a bit foreign to some younger gamers or else gamers who did not start out from a strategy gaming background, though that may just be anecdotal. The real key to this style of game play is to strike a balance between three factors: (i) staying 'in-character' relative to the tone, style and content of the game in question; (ii) learning the games ecology, including developing an intuition for all the quantitative interactions in the game (e.g., in DW that would be ship parts, ship design, colony economies, technology growth rate, fleet ops, etc.); (iii) trying to 'win'

< Message edited by Anthropoid -- 8/21/2013 2:59:35 PM >


_____________________________

The x-ray is her siren song. My ship cannot resist her long. Nearer to my deadly goal. Until the black hole. Gains control...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IkIIlkyZ328&feature=autoplay&list=AL94UKMTqg-9CocLGbd6tpbuQRxyF4FGNr&playnext=3

(in reply to Icemania)
Post #: 21
RE: Some Quick Fixes to Improve Game Balance - 8/21/2013 3:05:35 PM   
Icemania


Posts: 1244
Joined: 6/5/2013
From: Australia
Status: online
Antropoid, balance applies to all difficulty settings. As you say, on "Extreme", I want extra challenge, at the moment it is far too easy (unless you setup a game where the others are so advanced you die in 5 minutes which is not balance). In contrast I lose about 20% of games on CivV Emperor difficulty and mostly get crushed on the higher difficulties.

The purpose of this thread isn't to debate difficulty setting preferences. There is a thread I started a few months ago on Shadows Difficulty Settings which partly tracks my journey from Normal to Extreme. In this thread I'd like to explore practical ideas that the developer may realistically consider in a patch to balance higher difficulties.



< Message edited by Icemania -- 8/21/2013 3:09:39 PM >

(in reply to Anthropoid)
Post #: 22
RE: Some Quick Fixes to Improve Game Balance - 8/21/2013 3:23:01 PM   
Icemania


Posts: 1244
Joined: 6/5/2013
From: Australia
Status: online
quote:

ORIGINAL: Anthropoid
ADDIT: sorry man, your first post is a bit hard to follow. Are you basically saying that "Extreme difficulty" is not hard enough? and moreover that: (a) it shouldn't be so easy to invade homeoworlds early in the game; and (b) sell Techs, because it makes the game too easy?

Yes. I normally stop myself from doing early game homeworld invasions and selling because it is so imbalanced. I believe a better solution is to continuously improve game balance particularly when they are easy to implement. Every now and again I'll play a game with these allowed for some fun and a laugh (like my current game).

quote:

ORIGINAL: Anthropoid
I have to add here though that, part of this is how a player approaches a game. Some players like to approach games they play with a "How do I beat this" attitude, and there is nothing at all wrong with that. This playstyle lends itself to playing at higher difficulties, and making clever use of game dynamics to achieve rapid non-linear effects, like exponential tech growth or crushing military victories. After I spent many hundreds of hours playing Civilization, I slowly evolved into this style of gameplay. In fact, some of my most warmly remembered moments of gaming were times when I executed this style of gameplay in play-by-email games. There is nothing quite so satisfying as taking your human opponent _completely_ by surprise and crushing him in the span of two or three turns and bringing a long multi-month PBEM run to a decisive end! Sadly though, what this style of gameplay reflects is that, the player has truly and fully "mastered" the game. The ecology of the game is so fully intuitive that it is mundane to achieve victories that might have felt like major challenges when you first started.

Another style of gameplay that I _highly_ recommend if it is not something familiar, is the 'laid back' 'getting my monies worth' style. Whenever I buy a new game, I always tend to play it this way for as long as possible, for a couple of simple reasons: I enjoy it (which if you don't you shouldn't force yourself to play this style), it maximizes my utility of each game I own.

I've noticed that this style of play seems to be a bit foreign to some younger gamers or else gamers who did not start out from a strategy gaming background, though that may just be anecdotal. The real key to this style of game play is to strike a balance between three factors: (i) staying 'in-character' relative to the tone, style and content of the game in question; (ii) learning the games ecology, including developing an intuition for all the quantitative interactions in the game (e.g., in DW that would be ship parts, ship design, colony economies, technology growth rate, fleet ops, etc.); (iii) trying to 'win'

I play games in various ways depending on what else is happening in life. At the moment I consider Extreme a "laid back" game. When in "How do I beat this" mode I go back to Strategy games that I played well before Distant Worlds and for far longer. I'd like to include Distant Worlds in this category hence this thread.



< Message edited by Icemania -- 8/21/2013 3:30:02 PM >

(in reply to Anthropoid)
Post #: 23
RE: Some Quick Fixes to Improve Game Balance - 8/21/2013 3:37:02 PM   
Anthropoid


Posts: 2549
Joined: 2/22/2005
From: Secret Underground Lair
Status: offline
Ah okay! I gotcha

Totally reasonable to argue for better balance at the high end of the difficulty scale, if that is what your experience has led you to observe.

I myself am still just a fledgling DW player :)

So I'm curious, are these two 'exploity' things (Bum Rush on the Homeworlds; Tech Mongering) a problem in normal difficulty?

quote:

ORIGINAL: Icemania

quote:

ORIGINAL: Anthropoid
ADDIT: sorry man, your first post is a bit hard to follow. Are you basically saying that "Extreme difficulty" is not hard enough? and moreover that: (a) it shouldn't be so easy to invade homeoworlds early in the game; and (b) sell Techs, because it makes the game too easy?

Yes. I normally stop myself from doing early game homeworld invasions and selling because it is so imbalanced. I believe a better solution is to continuously improve game balance particularly when they are easy to implement. Every now and again I'll play a game with these allowed for some fun and a laugh (like my current game).

quote:

ORIGINAL: Anthropoid
I have to add here though that, part of this is how a player approaches a game. Some players like to approach games they play with a "How do I beat this" attitude, and there is nothing at all wrong with that. This playstyle lends itself to playing at higher difficulties, and making clever use of game dynamics to achieve rapid non-linear effects, like exponential tech growth or crushing military victories. After I spent many hundreds of hours playing Civilization, I slowly evolved into this style of gameplay. In fact, some of my most warmly remembered moments of gaming were times when I executed this style of gameplay in play-by-email games. There is nothing quite so satisfying as taking your human opponent _completely_ by surprise and crushing him in the span of two or three turns and bringing a long multi-month PBEM run to a decisive end! Sadly though, what this style of gameplay reflects is that, the player has truly and fully "mastered" the game. The ecology of the game is so fully intuitive that it is mundane to achieve victories that might have felt like major challenges when you first started.

Another style of gameplay that I _highly_ recommend if it is not something familiar, is the 'laid back' 'getting my monies worth' style. Whenever I buy a new game, I always tend to play it this way for as long as possible, for a couple of simple reasons: I enjoy it (which if you don't you shouldn't force yourself to play this style), it maximizes my utility of each game I own.

I've noticed that this style of play seems to be a bit foreign to some younger gamers or else gamers who did not start out from a strategy gaming background, though that may just be anecdotal. The real key to this style of game play is to strike a balance between three factors: (i) staying 'in-character' relative to the tone, style and content of the game in question; (ii) learning the games ecology, including developing an intuition for all the quantitative interactions in the game (e.g., in DW that would be ship parts, ship design, colony economies, technology growth rate, fleet ops, etc.); (iii) trying to 'win'

I play games in various ways depending on what else is happening in life. At the moment I consider Extreme a "laid back" game. When in "How do I beat this" mode I go back to Strategy games that I played well before Distant Worlds and for far longer. I'd like to include Distant Worlds in this category hence this thread.





_____________________________

The x-ray is her siren song. My ship cannot resist her long. Nearer to my deadly goal. Until the black hole. Gains control...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IkIIlkyZ328&feature=autoplay&list=AL94UKMTqg-9CocLGbd6tpbuQRxyF4FGNr&playnext=3

(in reply to Icemania)
Post #: 24
RE: Some Quick Fixes to Improve Game Balance - 8/21/2013 3:56:06 PM   
Icemania


Posts: 1244
Joined: 6/5/2013
From: Australia
Status: online
quote:

ORIGINAL: Anthropoid

Ah okay! I gotcha

Totally reasonable to argue for better balance at the high end of the difficulty scale, if that is what your experience has led you to observe.

Very cool ... appreciate the dialog!

quote:

ORIGINAL: Anthropoid
So I'm curious, are these two 'exploity' things (Bum Rush on the Homeworlds; Tech Mongering) a problem in normal difficulty?

It's been a while since Normal but a homeworld rush should be easier as they have less troops and you can afford more earlier.

Technology Selling can also easily provide a lot of cash on Normal. However, as the AI's have less money on Normal, it can arguably be exploited more on higher difficulties. That said, with the latest patch, the AI uses more spare cash for ship building, so seems to have less money for technology selling. Either way my experience is that it provides heaps of cash.


< Message edited by Icemania -- 8/21/2013 3:57:24 PM >

(in reply to Anthropoid)
Post #: 25
RE: Some Quick Fixes to Improve Game Balance - 8/22/2013 1:39:10 AM   
Fenrisfil

 

Posts: 215
Joined: 6/2/2013
Status: offline
I have noticed a lot of strange things going on with the AI of other factions when starting from pre-warp:

Often they have a tonne of ships with no warp capabilities (before and after they've researched it). This is probably because the AI builds too much too early.

Other times they build hardly any military ships (often none at all) and far too many civilian ships.

Occasionally a faction (often one that actually has energy/construction focus) will lag insanely far behind in researching the warp bubble. This seems to be due to a failure to explore their own system properly as usually spawning them explorers around the appropriate ruin will help solve the problem.

Finally if you run on fully automated and watch what the AI researches from pre-warp you'll notice it doesn't prioritise very well. The AI will ignore standard fuel cells for ages, not bother with target tracking (even if you have that as a priority in the policy file) and obsessively try and reach stealth technology as quickly as possible (even if the faction is never going to use it) and it always researches troop/passenger transport first thing (as if it has anything to do with those elements prior to having a warp engine anyway. Oh yeah the AI loves it's warpless troop transports). It is painfully slow to get around to researching certain unique technologies, often researching a more advanced vanilla version first and almost outright ignores the race file/policy setting for "Raw Power/Efficiency/Speed&Agility" choices. I've had a race set to Raw Power in both and the AI researches all the "Efficient" options in Energy/Construction before going for the "Power" ones. With the AI doing such a poor job of research, it is always at a disadvantage against a human player.

In short while the AI may have improved in some ways in Shadows it seems to be worse than ever for managing it's economy and planning it's research objectives. I think if those two elements were improved the game would automatically become more challenging at every level.

< Message edited by Fenrisfil -- 8/22/2013 1:46:14 AM >

(in reply to Icemania)
Post #: 26
RE: Some Quick Fixes to Improve Game Balance - 8/22/2013 1:10:53 PM   
Icemania


Posts: 1244
Joined: 6/5/2013
From: Australia
Status: online
I completely agree Fenrisfil.

With research there is a simple solution where the developer could give each AI race a complete research standard build order that it must follow. The proposed build orders could be published on this forum and comments invited from experienced players. There will be a mix of strategies from those comments that could be reflected across the races but also common themes e.g. pre-warp every empire should prioritise warp research and construction research early, races that prefer Beam Weapons in ship weapons would have those high up in their build order, racial technologies would be researched earlier etc.

Such an approach would massively improve AI research. Only once that is working effectively would you introduce other factors e.g. race build orders adjusted by government type etc.

In those standard build orders the developer could also provide race specific technology purchase and sale prices to sort out the technology selling exploit i.e. vastly reduced from current prices but also aligned with the build order and racial characteristics.

I've also never seen any evidence that AI empires do any meaningful technology trading with each other. If another known empire is getting ahead on research the probability of AI empire trading should increase.


< Message edited by Icemania -- 8/22/2013 1:12:38 PM >

(in reply to Fenrisfil)
Post #: 27
RE: Some Quick Fixes to Improve Game Balance - 8/22/2013 3:27:11 PM   
Anthropoid


Posts: 2549
Joined: 2/22/2005
From: Secret Underground Lair
Status: offline
Seem like good suggestions that actually wouldn't be too difficult to implement; esp. if users put together the draft files.

_____________________________

The x-ray is her siren song. My ship cannot resist her long. Nearer to my deadly goal. Until the black hole. Gains control...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IkIIlkyZ328&feature=autoplay&list=AL94UKMTqg-9CocLGbd6tpbuQRxyF4FGNr&playnext=3

(in reply to Icemania)
Post #: 28
RE: Some Quick Fixes to Improve Game Balance - 8/22/2013 10:52:42 PM   
Trev_lite

 

Posts: 23
Joined: 7/12/2013
Status: offline
all of the research and ship design logic should be moved into the moddable files so that some genius on the forum can make an uber balanced mod.

(in reply to Anthropoid)
Post #: 29
RE: Some Quick Fixes to Improve Game Balance - 8/23/2013 1:01:16 PM   
Icemania


Posts: 1244
Joined: 6/5/2013
From: Australia
Status: online
That would be very cool Trev_lite!

(in reply to Trev_lite)
Post #: 30
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