Walking the Plank: Ship Outfitting is a Balancing Act
The most recent Devlog from the folks at Pirates of the Burning Sea looks at the art of item balancing, and some of the changes that will be made in version 1.5 of the game.
Since moving from the content department to design, I’ve been tasked with maintaining balance among the various outfittings available for your ship or avatar. As a result, I’ve modified the majority of items in the game to one degree or another. Most of these changes are minor, but they are also far-reaching. In this devlog, I’d like to explain why I made these changes and how they’re going to improve your game experience.
Balancing all the hundreds of items in our game was a daunting task. To get a handle on it, I had to break the process down into discreet goals. We have a formula for evaluating items by assigning a point value, and my first goal was to identify those that had values well outside of the range for their level. While some players may reap the benefits of these items, they have a number of damaging effects on the game as a whole.
The most obvious problem is that it’s no fun to be sunk by a player simply because they have managed to stack a number of overpowered pieces of outfitting to achieve absurd stat bonuses. These items tend to generate a “golden path” so that you must have them equipped in order to be competitive in PvP. The consequence of these “must have” items is that all other items become “must not have.” Outfitting your ship is not so much about making choices based on strategy or play-style as it is about discovering and obtaining those few select pieces of gear. Instead, we’d much prefer that all items in your level band are useful. There should be an endless number of interesting and powerful combinations when outfitting your ship, not a single “golden path.”
The second part of my task was to make sure that the stat modifiers given by different game items apply a consistent standard for a given level. Nobody wants to spend two hours hammering away at a difficult quest, only to discover that the piece of outfitting you get as a reward is only half as good as the items you got ten levels ago. This consistency will not only make many of these items more useful, but also make questing more rewarding.
In 1.5, you’re only going to see these changes to ship outfitting. The changes to avatar outfitting will come later in 1.6. We’re doing this for a few reasons. For one, it gives you the players more time to adjust to these changes. Secondly, it gives us more time to see the effects these changes are going to have on the game as a whole and allow us to fix any problems that pop up.
I hope you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the benefits of a more rigidly applied balance system brings to the game. You can look forward to lots of interesting choices when outfitting your ship as well as powerful quest rewards. Of course, if you have any comments or criticisms, I encourage you to send them directly to Taelorn. I will be happy to provide his personal email address upon request.
Read the article at its original source here.