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The Pub at MMORPG.COM  » The unbalance of balancing a game

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21 posts found
  Occultimate

Novice Member

Joined: 3/20/13
Posts: 7

 
OP  3/20/13 7:50:45 AM#1

I have made an account specifically for the purpose of making this thread. Infact this whole accounts existence aside from the small discussions I will make here and there on this forum, only exist because I needed to discuss this topic with others and get opinions from others.

 

First off I would like to just say that I completely understand that some mmo's need to make money to keep their servers running, even free mmo's. I understand that this is the main reason why mmo's tend to the masses and don't always target a specific audiance or end up targeting a specific audiance at first, finding out that they could get more money by tending to the mass general public instead, and then end up changing the game based on the audiance that begins to play the game later on and no longer focus on the initial group that was targeted by the game in the first place, creating great disappointment to those people and making a new community populate the game instead.

 

Before I reach the main point I created this topic for, which is my views on why balancing a game is actually not balancing the game as much as the game designers believe it is, I must say that whenever a game ends up tending to the larger needs of a larger community instead of tending to the larger needs of the initial community that was targeted, it ends up destroying the game and the old version of the game is never released playable again to the old community that was there in the first place. A good example of this would be runescape, although they clearly learned from their mistakes and understood that there is more then one community that made the game up in the first place. People incorrectly believe that this is an asymetrical state of matters. If this was an asymetrical state of matters then everyone would be exactly the same, like exactly the samething, and there would probably only be one game to tend to the needs of everyone which updates based on what 100% of the community would agree on because they would all be exactly the same.

 

People like different things and a community based on a specific thing that those people like should stay about what those people like. Imagine if the majority of the world found economics and marketing to be fun, but, everyone who liked economics and marketing also liked mmorpgs, however not everyone who liked mmorpgs likes economics and marketing. Because the larger amount of the community at mmorpg.com ends up liking economics and marketing, a vast majority begin making topics about how awesome it would be if there was more topics based around economics and marketing and because it is the vast majority, the forum slowly begins turning into a "lets talk about economics and marketing most of the time" and will decrease the amount of people actually dicussing video games that they enjoy video games and not economics and marketing. It might not seem like a big deal to the reader, but, because everything isn't always black and white, it would completely alter the way that this forum works and how people socialize about video games including people disagreeing with eachother most of the time because half the community likes something the other half doesn't and attempts to force that community to change because they are the bigger community.

 

Back on topic, I have noticed in most of the games that I play, the character that I would be the best at would end up getting "balanced" as the game designers proclaim, in order to make up for the lacking abilities of the other characters in the game. Here is the two main things that are looked at in a character when balancing a character. First is the characters ability to have a fair fight, second is the characters ability to perform their specific task that they existed for in the first place. We will take team fortress 2 for example. The medics job is to heal and support, The snipers job is to kill things from a distance that are out in the open, The spys job is to decieve the enemy team, The engineers job is to create stationary defense weapons and maintain them, The pyros job is the ambush specific classes of vulnerable enemies, the demomans job is to set up traps for the larger and less vulnerable enemies, the soldier and scouts job is to assault the enemy, and the heavy is a mobile defensive weapon that is mobile at the expense that it is not a machine like the engineers defensive weapons. Each of these classes have a specific task and the game is not just a normal first person shooter, but, a tactical team effort to win the game, hints team fortress 2. Each person in the world might be very good at one class while not so good at another class in the game. In every event in the game, the main objective, no matter what it is, will involve the killing of the enemy team or enemy units. Because every class has a specific purpose in the game, not all classes in the game will be able to have a fair fight in a combat scenario. Because not everyone can use other classes as effectively that would give them an advantage in combat, a majority of people end up demanding that the assault classes get weakened and that the non-assault classes get stronger to make up for the lack of combat abilities, while still maintaining their special abilities in the game. At the end of it all, all the characters in team fortress two stand a fair chance against eachother in a fight, while defeating the whole purpose of them having the unique abilities in the first place or being a unique class in the first place. This is another example of tending to a different community then the initial community, being as the game actually changes to tend to the needs of the "new majority".

 

Imagine that I created a program that tested the skills at first person shooting that a player has. Imagine that the program also can rate a players ability to be successful in a game. The program breaks the community into percentiles, making the top five percent stand out to the lower ninty-five percent. Alright, now imagine that a new game came out with multiple classes and everyone was allowed to use any class they wanted to use. As the game continues becoming popular, it begins a "tend to the masses" effect and the game begins to get balanced and the initial purpose of the game begins to fade or become ruined. After the tend to the masses occurs, the top five percent of the people who are successful in the game decide that they are going to select a specific class out of all the "perfectly balanced classes". This is the class that they will use a majority of the time. Let us say that there are 32 classes in the game for whatever reason. Before, an equal amount of players had selected each of the classes to play as a majority of the time. Now, the top five percent and most hardcore tabacco chewing sigar smoking wine drinking gamers are now rocking only one class and no other class on purpose. Because all of the classes are balanced in combat effectiveness, it means that at the end of the day, its all about your real life skill and ability to succeed. Because the top five percent of an entire community rock a single class, guess which class is now over powered to the 95% of people who don't know how to play a game? Thats right, the 5% class. That means that people will be losing most of the time to a specific class and that when they play as that class, they won't actually get better results because the class is actually balanced perfectly with all the other classes. So now what?

 

"Game developers, there is a specific class that is over powered and you guys need to nurf it"-95% of the gaming population. Thats correct! The class will just get nurfed and become a weaker class, at which point if this theoretical 5% of cowboy boot wearing, fedora sporting, leather jacket weilding game masters could easily switch to a new class that they will be using, and rock the class that got nurfed and everyone else at the same time.

 

So what am I trying to say about why balancing a game is actually unbalancing a game? It destroys the community and you are only tending to the majority of people, who unfortunantly weather you like it or not, are no good. When you tend to the masses, you aren't just tending to players that are no good at the game in the first place, but, you are also tending to players that might be good, but, are also from a different community which likes two things at once and not just one thing.

 

My proposal to the MMORPG community

 

I didn't just come here to gripe for a long long time and I know this will probably either be a hit or miss thread, but, my proposal is that if you like a game balls deep when it first comes out, that you should "push" it upon the forum and game developers of that game to make a topic specifically for "hardcore" fans of the "initial" game as to preserve it for its original state of balance and segregate those who like the initial game from those who like the "tend to the masses" version of the game. It is true that some games really are unbalanced, but, I do not understand why you should destroy the initial community through means a liminality instead of accepting that we don't all like the same thing and making a "distinction" in the different members of the community from the balls deep fans to the just the tip fans.

  Edeus

Novice Member

Joined: 6/10/10
Posts: 513

3/20/13 10:05:11 AM#2

Here is what he said in a Non verbose version:

 

What do you guys think developers changing an already established game to be more friendly to the masses.

 

My bet is that the community does not approve, Star Wars and vanilla wow will get thrown around, and everyone will be left wondering if team fortress 2 counts as an MMO.

Taru-Gallante-Blood elf-Elysean-Kelari-Crime Fighting-Imperial Agent

  Xiaoki

Advanced Member

Joined: 3/07/04
Posts: 2436

3/20/13 10:48:10 AM#3


Originally posted by Edeus
Here is what he said in a Non verbose version:

 

What do you guys think developers changing an already established game to be more friendly to the masses.

 

My bet is that the community does not approve, Star Wars and vanilla wow will get thrown around, and everyone will be left wondering if team fortress 2 counts as an MMO.



It all depends in how its done.


Too much change in a small amount of time is bad(SWG) but gradual change over the course of years is good(WoW).


Because existing MMOs DO need to change. Like all things in life you have to change with the times or you get left behind.


Old MMOs will lose their core base over time through attrition and if they dont make steps to appeal to new players then they die.


People constantly complain about the changes made in WoW but how else has WoW remained popular after 8 years?

  Axehilt

Novice Member

Joined: 5/09/09
Posts: 7213

3/20/13 11:11:15 AM#4

That's a lot of text for a flimsy-sounding point.

The factors are pretty simple:

  • Games want to be fun.
  • Interesting decisions (are one way to) make games fun.
  • Good balance changes create or improve interesting decisions.
  • Wrong or too-frequent balance changes frustrate players.
  • Once your demographic settles in, they're the only ones left playing your game, so targeting a new demographic ends in disaster (SWG)
  nariusseldon

Elite Member

Joined: 12/21/07
Posts: 19496

3/20/13 11:19:58 AM#5
Originally posted by Axehilt
  • Once your demographic settles in, they're the only ones left playing your game, so targeting a new demographic ends in disaster (SWG)

Does it?

Look at WOW. I would bet WOW caters to much more hardcore gamers in the first 2-3 years then when it is at its height of 12M players. No it does not always end in disaster.

  Axehilt

Novice Member

Joined: 5/09/09
Posts: 7213

3/20/13 11:36:52 AM#6
Originally posted by nariusseldon

Does it?

Look at WOW. I would bet WOW caters to much more hardcore gamers in the first 2-3 years then when it is at its height of 12M players. No it does not always end in disaster.

Unless you count losing a very trivial amount of the most extreme hardcore WOW players, you'd be hard-pressed to convince me WOW's demographic has changed.

  nariusseldon

Elite Member

Joined: 12/21/07
Posts: 19496

3/20/13 12:06:48 PM#7
Originally posted by Axehilt
Originally posted by nariusseldon

Does it?

Look at WOW. I would bet WOW caters to much more hardcore gamers in the first 2-3 years then when it is at its height of 12M players. No it does not always end in disaster.

Unless you count losing a very trivial amount of the most extreme hardcore WOW players, you'd be hard-pressed to convince me WOW's demographic has changed.

The ratio of hardcore gamers is much higher in the first year of WOW. Does that consistute a change when the ratio is almost zero now?

  Occultimate

Novice Member

Joined: 3/20/13
Posts: 7

 
OP  3/20/13 12:38:05 PM#8
Originally posted by Loktofeit
Originally posted by Edeus

Here is what he said in a Non verbose version:

 

What do you guys think developers changing an already established game to be more friendly to the masses.

That's his rationalization of what happened. His real issue appears to be that his character got 'nerfed' in a game and he's upset about it.

Edeus was pretty spot on with what I said. Diablo 3 is a perfect example. Take diablo 2 and realize the community that played it liked the things that were in the game or else they wouldn't of played it in the first place. Diablo 3 changes a lot of the things diablo 2 had in it and thats why it almost ended in disaster if the "die hard" fans didn't purchase it and realized they couldn't get a refund.

  BahamutKaiser

Novice Member

Joined: 3/08/13
Posts: 297

On hiatus for a while guys, MMOs still aren't interesting me.

3/20/13 9:00:41 PM#9
I actually read all of that. I feel the same way about LoL, I played since beta til last year, and the games just not the same. The character I liked the most got nerfed to hell because bads fail even though it was balanced vs competitive players, and the one character with the complete lack of mobility, CC, little reach, and ambiguous role was nerfed to have similar survival to everything else when it has a glaring lack of utility.

The game changed so much over the years that its just not the same game I paid money on years ago. And unlike classic DotA, I can't just play the game build I prefer til they accept that ppl prefer it. No, change was forced.

A lot of stuff was nerfed just because there is a large community which can not negotiate certain tactics, and just play mindless engagement battles.

In MMOs it is even less acceptable though, I'm not gonna spend forever describing abstract solutions, but balance needs to be openly communicated with players, they need to be educated so they know when a mechanic is balanced and they are not playing effectively. And tactical variety should be a bigger part of MMO characters rather than team roles. Designers also need to take charge of balance and find creative ways to make gameplay more fun when there is a problem rather than directly altering the content players are complaining about. It just leads to crowd pleasing and makes the game crappy for more and more players as they screw with almost every role, one at a time...

Before you criticize someone, walk a mile in their shoes.
That way, if they get angry, they'll be a mile away... and barefoot.

  Kinchyle

Apprentice Member

Joined: 9/20/10
Posts: 264

3/20/13 9:30:15 PM#10
Originally posted by Occultimate
Originally posted by Loktofeit
Originally posted by Edeus

Here is what he said in a Non verbose version:

 

What do you guys think developers changing an already established game to be more friendly to the masses.

That's his rationalization of what happened. His real issue appears to be that his character got 'nerfed' in a game and he's upset about it.

Edeus was pretty spot on with what I said. Diablo 3 is a perfect example. Take diablo 2 and realize the community that played it liked the things that were in the game or else they wouldn't of played it in the first place. Diablo 3 changes a lot of the things diablo 2 had in it and thats why it almost ended in disaster if the "die hard" fans didn't purchase it and realized they couldn't get a refund.

 

They didnt make D3 to be more friendly. Just made it different. And the ADD kitties QQ'd Todays gamers cry if their chair is cold when they wake up.
  aRtFuLThinG

Advanced Member

Joined: 4/30/09
Posts: 1011

3/20/13 9:34:49 PM#11

I think the OP is just flat out wrong, because I think that people nowadays care too much about balancing in an mmorpg.

 

Rpgs are NOT supposed to be able balancing all the time, it is supposed to be about the lore, the world and the player's role in that world. That's why it is call "roleplaying game".

 

Rpgs nowadays have bastardized too much towards the direction of MOBAs instead of the RPG that they are supposed to be. The characteristics of a RPG game nowadays has become too confused by players.

  aesperus

Elite Member

Joined: 1/04/05
Posts: 4739

3/20/13 9:38:09 PM#12
Originally posted by nariusseldon
Originally posted by Axehilt
Originally posted by nariusseldon

Does it?

Look at WOW. I would bet WOW caters to much more hardcore gamers in the first 2-3 years then when it is at its height of 12M players. No it does not always end in disaster.

Unless you count losing a very trivial amount of the most extreme hardcore WOW players, you'd be hard-pressed to convince me WOW's demographic has changed.

The ratio of hardcore gamers is much higher in the first year of WOW. Does that consistute a change when the ratio is almost zero now?

 

Just because there were a larger percentage of hardcore gamers, doesn't mean that was WoW's target audience. If you look at how WoW was designed at launch, and follow ALL of the decision choices up to today, you'll see that WoW has consistantly moved in the direction of 'making the game as accessible as possible to the largest amount of people'. Hardcore gamers don't tend to sit well w/ that philosophy, and so they all left. WoW's target audience has always been casual / core gamers. Blizzard caters fairly heavily to this demographic. Even starcraft is following the same trend, inspite of how competitive it can be.
  Wizardry

Elite Member

Joined: 8/27/04
Posts: 6673

Perhaps tomorrow will be better.

3/20/13 9:54:24 PM#13

To save the elongated hassle of argument,there is no such thing as the term "Community". Every single gamer is in there for themselves.They are not an organized group of 1000 gamer's all bent on the exact same ideas and are asking for them to be met. Even if you had a community all on the same plane of 1000 players,no game is going to cater itself to keep 1000 players happy,they are more interested in 1 million or more.

 

There are three areas of concern for balancing and it all depends on the game.

1 Solo game play.You need a balanced player so that everyone that plays a different class can all enjoy the game.

2 group play.In this case you need only the balance of the group to take on content,you do not NEED the balance of each individual.This would be your typical Trinity grouping design.

3 PVP ...This is the worst blemish on mmorpg's because you need every single player to virtually be identical.When i say identical i mean as in performance.This part can be tricky to explain but basically it is VERY simple math. Example Mage max spell dmg=200 but takes 100 dmg from the same level mob. Warrior max ability dmg=120 but only takes 20 dmg,so the tradeoff is the same. A developer can play with the numbers by using timers and weapon delays,but it always adds up the same.

I prefer option 2,no balance at all,you choose how the group is setup,it can be a massive zerg with death looming close or a simple spank and tank with everything organized and relatively safe.You could setup an all mage ,bounce hate around group if you wanted,or a Kiting group or a STUN/Nuke group,the choice is yours.

http://www.youtube.com/user/Napolianboo#p/u/15/rCYLLQCNc1w
Samoan Diamond

  Axehilt

Novice Member

Joined: 5/09/09
Posts: 7213

3/21/13 2:08:11 AM#14
Originally posted by aesperus 
Just because there were a larger percentage of hardcore gamers, doesn't mean that was WoW's target audience. If you look at how WoW was designed at launch, and follow ALL of the decision choices up to today, you'll see that WoW has consistantly moved in the direction of 'making the game as accessible as possible to the largest amount of people'. Hardcore gamers don't tend to sit well w/ that philosophy, and so they all left. WoW's target audience has always been casual / core gamers. Blizzard caters fairly heavily to this demographic. Even starcraft is following the same trend, inspite of how competitive it can be.

It's true hardcore gamers are often verbally against it, but honestly some of these changes benefit them more than most.

A hardcore gamer is best suited to identifying when a game is completely wasting their time -- such as excessive travel time or excessive death penalty recovery time.

A hardcore gamer should also theoretically be better-suited to knowing which decisions in a game are deep vs. shallow.  But in practice if you spam a bunch of mathematically-solvable passive talents in a complicated-looking talent tree, they'll fall in love with it -- even though the true number of decisions-which-matter in a complicated system can actually be the same (or fewer) than a simpler system which is better balanced around playstyle choice.

Honestly if the "hardcore" weren't so easily fooled by complexity masquerading as depth, or timesinks masquerading as difficulty, better game designs would have an easier time showing up. 

  jbombard

Advanced Member

Joined: 11/06/08
Posts: 461

3/21/13 2:56:15 AM#15

I think if you try to balance every aspect of the game, what you end up with is everything feeling the same.

 

The more choices you give a player the harder it becomes to balance.  I think the best a game to do is give a player the tools to make a character play how they want it to.  But everything you choose comes with the sacrififice of not being able to choose something else.  IMHO even though not an MMORPG Path of Exile has an excellent system, incredible flexiblity, choosing where to spend your points requires thought and sacrifice.  You are always going to have some OP builds and some seriously WTF builds.  If you try and make it so their are no "wrong" builds you end up where WoW is right now.  Classes with no flavor and no flexibility.

 

At the end of the day, so long as you don't have any classes that are inheritenly broken, flavor is far more important than balance.  

  Axehilt

Novice Member

Joined: 5/09/09
Posts: 7213

3/21/13 3:16:41 AM#16
Originally posted by jbombard

I think if you try to balance every aspect of the game, what you end up with is everything feeling the same.

 

The more choices you give a player the harder it becomes to balance.  I think the best a game to do is give a player the tools to make a character play how they want it to.  But everything you choose comes with the sacrififice of not being able to choose something else.  IMHO even though not an MMORPG Path of Exile has an excellent system, incredible flexiblity, choosing where to spend your points requires thought and sacrifice.  You are always going to have some OP builds and some seriously WTF builds.  If you try and make it so their are no "wrong" builds you end up where WoW is right now.  Classes with no flavor and no flexibility.

 

At the end of the day, so long as you don't have any classes that are inheritenly broken, flavor is far more important than balance.  

Do you feel all the races in Starcraft play the same?

Do you feel all the champs in League of Legends play the same?

Balance doesn't mean everything is the same.

  phumbaba

Advanced Member

Joined: 2/27/08
Posts: 86

3/21/13 3:25:44 AM#17
Originally posted by Axehilt

Honestly if the "hardcore" weren't so easily fooled by complexity masquerading as depth, or timesinks masquerading as difficulty, better game designs would have an easier time showing up. 

Correct. However, I'd say many hardcore players unfortunately enjoy "apparent balance": games that allow them to play gods and dictators saying how other people should play. A complex system without depth and not good enough balance allows this very well.

A bit more on topic, it is true that there is no such thing as perfect balance. What mmo's imo should go for is reasonable balance in e.g. following aspects: character build balance, class balance, group composition balance, balance in gear progression, balance in dungeon loot tables. Emphasis on reasonable and I guess it needs to said that each aspect that is being balanced has unknown factors such as player preferences, group behavioral aspects and in some cases even cultural aspects that should in optimal conditions be taken into account when balancing a game "on paper".

Some things are easier to patch later than others, but OP is correct that the earlier it's done, the better. After certain point, large changes will hurt more than do good. However, the effect in the very long run might still be for the best. Suffice to say, sometimes it's obviously necessary, sometimes it seems pure evil. However, I doubt any1'd do it for fun as it's almost always bound to hurt them too at least in the short term. A good example I suppose is Allods.. huge balancing after several months of open beta. Huge playerlosses. Game still going and very difficult to say if it was worth it. Seems to be doing ok these days.

  Aeolyn

Novice Member

Joined: 11/23/08
Posts: 136

3/21/13 5:44:44 AM#18
Originally posted by Wizardry

To save the elongated hassle of argument,there is no such thing as the term "Community". Every single gamer is in there for themselves.They are not an organized group of 1000 gamer's all bent on the exact same ideas and are asking for them to be met. Even if you had a community all on the same plane of 1000 players,no game is going to cater itself to keep 1000 players happy,they are more interested in 1 million or more.

 

There are three areas of concern for balancing and it all depends on the game.

1 Solo game play.You need a balanced player so that everyone that plays a different class can all enjoy the game.

2 group play.In this case you need only the balance of the group to take on content,you do not NEED the balance of each individual.This would be your typical Trinity grouping design.

3 PVP ...This is the worst blemish on mmorpg's because you need every single player to virtually be identical.When i say identical i mean as in performance.This part can be tricky to explain but basically it is VERY simple math. Example Mage max spell dmg=200 but takes 100 dmg from the same level mob. Warrior max ability dmg=120 but only takes 20 dmg,so the tradeoff is the same. A developer can play with the numbers by using timers and weapon delays,but it always adds up the same.

I prefer option 2,no balance at all,you choose how the group is setup,it can be a massive zerg with death looming close or a simple spank and tank with everything organized and relatively safe.You could setup an all mage ,bounce hate around group if you wanted,or a Kiting group or a STUN/Nuke group,the choice is yours.

Hmm, this sounds like the perfect argument for either separate servers for pvp/pve or pvp toggles so masochists are able to float their boat if they wish and those who don't like feeding the earth for someone else's jollies don't have to.  Too bad too many devs seem to be the same players that pve'rs want the toggles for.

  GroovyFlower

Apprentice Member

Joined: 5/12/11
Posts: 1252

Skyrim

3/21/13 6:09:18 AM#19
Originally posted by nariusseldon
Originally posted by Axehilt
  • Once your demographic settles in, they're the only ones left playing your game, so targeting a new demographic ends in disaster (SWG)

Does it?

Look at WOW. I would bet WOW caters to much more hardcore gamers in the first 2-3 years then when it is at its height of 12M players. No it does not always end in disaster.

Becouse WoW is for mass they dont even notice, many other mmo's target bit more hardcore fanbase and when you then change trying to get masse most of time this fail.
For that matter comparison to WoW is not valid.

  Quirhid

Hard Core Member

Joined: 1/28/05
Posts: 5511

Correcting wrongs on the Internet...

3/21/13 6:24:30 AM#20
Originally posted by Wizardry

To save the elongated hassle of argument,there is no such thing as the term "Community". Every single gamer is in there for themselves.They are not an organized group of 1000 gamer's all bent on the exact same ideas and are asking for them to be met. Even if you had a community all on the same plane of 1000 players,no game is going to cater itself to keep 1000 players happy,they are more interested in 1 million or more.

 

There are three areas of concern for balancing and it all depends on the game.

1 Solo game play.You need a balanced player so that everyone that plays a different class can all enjoy the game.

2 group play.In this case you need only the balance of the group to take on content,you do not NEED the balance of each individual.This would be your typical Trinity grouping design.

3 PVP ...This is the worst blemish on mmorpg's because you need every single player to virtually be identical.When i say identical i mean as in performance.This part can be tricky to explain but basically it is VERY simple math. Example Mage max spell dmg=200 but takes 100 dmg from the same level mob. Warrior max ability dmg=120 but only takes 20 dmg,so the tradeoff is the same. A developer can play with the numbers by using timers and weapon delays,but it always adds up the same.

I prefer option 2,no balance at all,you choose how the group is setup,it can be a massive zerg with death looming close or a simple spank and tank with everything organized and relatively safe.You could setup an all mage ,bounce hate around group if you wanted,or a Kiting group or a STUN/Nuke group,the choice is yours.

I think you're erroneously simplifying the matter.

There is 1v1 balance, group vs group balance, balance in what you do and how you do it. The point of balance is to have the widest possible selection of interesting and viable decisions available. This applies both to PvP and PvE, group and solo play - basically in all aspects of the game. This is closely related to game depth.

In no way does balancing require everyone to be the same but it does imply that everyone is equal. Equal =/= same. Usually, this means one build is good in one thing but weak in the other, for example.

I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been -Wayne Gretzky

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