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Reader Comments (21)

Posted: Dec 8th 2011 2:13PM SnarlingWolf said

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Balance - to have equality or equilibrium. That is the actual definition of balance. Since that is the definition, just about every word in this article is wrong on what balance actually is.

Yes, all options/skills in a game should be viable. That is balance. Otherwise skills are...... unbalanced. If one skill always has a significant damage boost over other damage skills, it is unbalanced. Therefore all options/skills being viable is the definition of balance.

Yes all types of options should be fairly equal. It also isn't that hard to do. You can make an attack that hits once a second balanced against one that hits every 3 seconds by making their DoT similar. It still gives different feels and different approaches to the game while being... balanced.

You didn't write an article about what balance means (in fact you wrote an article that was actually completely incorrect on what balance means). You wrote an article on why you feel there should be imbalance in a game and that imbalance makes a game better. That is a perfectly fine opinion to have and one that people have argued both sides of in the past. But you definetly did not write an article that accurately described balance.

Posted: Dec 8th 2011 3:10PM Daeths said

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@SnarlingWolf Balance also includes the difficulty of getting a certain power and how powers as a group work together. The tier 4 powers do need to be more powerful because they require so much to get that they severly limit the other powers you can take. Making a T! power as useful and powerful as a T3 or 4 makes those skills useless themselves because why bother sticking to one or two trees so you can get the powers further up in them?
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Posted: Dec 9th 2011 1:14PM (Unverified) said

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@SnarlingWolf

Balance as an Idea is different from focused balancing on something conceptual beyond a single idea.

Balance as a noun is not always the same as balance as a verb.

Just as the term "balancing act" has the idea of equality in it but doesn't exclude the variables from the concept.
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Posted: Dec 8th 2011 2:34PM ChaosInc said

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I think WAR had the best balance of all time with their Bright Wizards.

/sarcasm

Posted: Dec 8th 2011 2:44PM KDolo said

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You claim that with more choice comes more imbalance. I submit that if certain choices are inferior to other choices, the inferior choices are not choices at all, that is, if you want to enjoy playing a particular game.

Posted: Dec 8th 2011 3:34PM Zyrusticae said

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@KDolo

My thoughts exactly.

Inferior choices are effectively false choices. False choices are, essentially, not choices at all - just traps.

I think the devs are going about balance the wrong way entirely. Rather than trying to revamp entire power sets one at a time, they should be looking at the more overpowered powers and the least-used powers and working to bring them into equilibrium. At the rate they're going, they're never going to attain anything even remotely resembling balance.
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Posted: Dec 8th 2011 2:55PM DancingCow said

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I haven't played it recently, but CO at launch and for quite a long time after was spectacularly unbalanced. And while you chose to focus just on PvP, I don't think you can / should ignore PvE. Balance can be just as much of a problem there.

CO's original character design system was a total mess and it's probably a large part of why balance was absent at launch and why they're now playing catch up. The convoluted stats system and passives created a lot of weirdness, eg. Presence boosting fire damage + healing = uber mage/healer. Imbalance was built into the game at the design level.

Tiers also don't help. Freedom of power selection but... not all powers are created equal. A good build needs to fill those lower tier slots with powers which don't have better higher tier equivalents.

It's all very messy.

Posted: Dec 8th 2011 2:58PM irontroll said

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actually i think he described it fine. If you read the points he was making it comes down to balance being redefined based on the complexity of a system. Not only are there hundreds of options, there are many different playstyles too.

If you make everything exactly equal - then you are not creating different choices - you are just creating different skins/colors/effects. It all becomes the SAME ability. BORING but balanced as SnarlingWolf describes.

If on the other hand you make many options, you allow people to pick and choose what they like to do best. The fact that no single build is better than any other is by definition balance too. Balance does not imply exactly equal - it implies in the MMO sense that there is a build/playstyle that can counter any other build. No one build becomes the ONLY build.

Balance is a fluid dynamic - not an absolute line.

Posted: Dec 8th 2011 3:05PM Van said

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Unbalanced? Don't you mean imbalanced? Anyway, imbalance means there isn't enough (or too much) power. Think of it as Yin and Yang. They must be equal.

Posted: Dec 8th 2011 3:44PM madcartoonist said

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@Van
both imbalanced or unbalanced could work. It looks like unbalanced gets used more for reference to someones mind though that will depend if you are using it as a verb or adjective.

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/unbalanced

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/imbalanced
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Posted: Dec 8th 2011 3:39PM madcartoonist said

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If I have the option to re-pick my abilities in a game (and the cost to do so isn't ridiculously high) then I don't care too much. I'll make mistakes but I can rectify them later once I understand the game mechanics better. If it is cheap enough to do so I can actually buy some abilities just to try out and figure out what I like the best.

Posted: Dec 8th 2011 4:02PM gandales said

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Balance is mainly an illusion. Keep in mind that CO is a superhero game, themed builds are important and not necessarily the most efficient.
Imagine if games needed to balance against melee hunters. I am not saying that there is no room for improvement but asking for any possible build to be competitive is not reasonable

Posted: Dec 8th 2011 5:26PM Zyrusticae said

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@gandales

Sounds an awful lot like an excuse for me.

And - "I am not saying that there is no room for improvement but asking for any possible build to be competitive is not reasonable."

This is a completely useless strawman, as most of us asking for some semblance of balance are only asking for - you guessed it - some semblance of balance! Having a large number of possible competitive builds is MUCH better than having only a handful, that is simple objective fact.

This is a video game. Like any video game, there are numbers behind it. These numbers can attain balance. It is not supposed to be a perfect emulation of unbalanced superhero scenarios where Jack Noir with a gun can't do jazz to the Superman equivalent of the era, it is supposed to be a video game where players can make whatever the hell they want and have fun with it. If that goal is not being accomplished, something is very wrong, and believe it or not, balance has a lot to do with that!
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Posted: Dec 8th 2011 4:25PM (Unverified) said

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As long as a power can be part of a viable build or offers something cool I think I'm happy. Does it really need to be much more complicated?

Posted: Dec 8th 2011 5:17PM kjhasdfjkhk said

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If you ever die to another player in a PvP situation, it means the game is not properly balanced. This is due to the fact that you and you alone are the single greatest MMO player in the world, and if you were to lose to someone else, it has absolutely nothing to do with the other player's skill. I mean, how could another player possibly kill the best MMO player in the world? Simple: because the class the other player is playing is overpowered, and therefore the game is not properly balanced.

Posted: Dec 8th 2011 7:42PM NeverDeath said

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"Balance" has no clear definition in MMOs, because there are too many variables which fluctuate on a case-by-case basis when comparing two spells, abilities, and especially when comparing classes which include often dozens of these spells and abilities.

From my experience creating game experiences, the best way to look at balance is in completely vague terms of ever-changing constants. You cannot compare the damage of two abilities from two different classes/heroes/etc, without first taking the long view of that class as a whole. Because of this, it is important to sit down and decide "this is the vision we have for this class".

There are a lot of ways of handling/arranging variables to make sure that while multiple setups of different or opposite classes, or even a different series of choices within the same class are not entirely identical, that they fit a certain playstyle and a mechanical theme that will fit with your idea of that class or, if necessary, that your idea of that class is morphed along with your ideas. So long as it makes sense in the end and has a specific strength and a specific weakness, from there you can begin to get more specific.

It is entirely possible, for example, to have the idea of a class/hero type which is basically an unstoppable Juggernaut, without making it imbalanced. To those with ultimate, unrivaled power, what is one of the obvious costs that might counterbalance that power? One person might say a lack of speed, another might simultaneously conclude a lack of efficiency with resource economy, another might think that a certain level of exhaustion would be attributed to wielding such power. Those three ideas alone give way to nearly limitless possibilities of sub-systems waiting to be designed to regulate the power of that character.

You could make it so that most of the character's abilities have reasonably lengthy cooldowns, or that its attacks will quickly exhaust its resources until the resources are made available to it again, or that its offenses diminish its defensive strength, leaving it vulnerable. The problem is that often times, a rush of ideas that seem good on paper will come forward and before long, without being refined they are added and you end up with a class or a character that is either nothing like what your original idea was, or that has evolved to fit a different template that you have not bothered to test against other variables.

One technique I found particularly useful was setting a theoretical numerical cap to, okay, what is the absolute most damage X class could do if it had X supporting talents and abilities and X stats, and then I would compare it to other similar abilities for other classes or character types when outfitted with their ultimate numerical values.

I would then determine that due to special properties of given spells or abilities and the mechanics of a class which might create moments of strength or of weakness, and balance them first in terms of necessity. Does this class need more damage here? Play your own freaking game, figure out how it works in practice rather than just on paper, and find out not what would be cool but what would make sense. A nuclear reactor can reach critical mass and a long distance runner is not a sprinter, things have to be put into perspective and a design must include both points of excellence, and points of failure.

I get the feeling that not enough developers put enough thought into their designs, and they their designs often end up running away with their ideas and are never brought to judgment against the guiding standards which originally held the idea for what the class was supposed to be. I feel that games like WoW fell into this trap big time, with making things too similar, too good at too many things, and thus robbing the classes of personality. Too many strengths without enough drawbacks, making everything overpowered is not balance. Warhamer failed too, by failing to raise the level of risk for classes like the Bright Wizard and Sorceress, to rival their extreme level of reward.

In the end, there should be a class for nearly everything. One for players who like to prepare beforehand and bamboozle enemies with a lot to handle at once. Players who like to live on the edge, going either up or down but always in a blaze of glory. The class that defeats its enemies by outlasting them, through carefully bolstering its defense and precise timing to disrupt its enemies' most powerful attacks. Instead, too often all classes end up practically identical, or radically different in terms of effectiveness. Both of these are depictions of developmental failure in bringing diverse options to support the diversity of players.

Posted: Dec 8th 2011 8:10PM (Unverified) said

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Facepalms ...IDF hate much.
IDF isnt that powerful and no it shouldnt be removed.

Your as bad as people how moan about teleport all the time.

Advice check the forums not many people want IDF gone. Its a useful PVE tool.
In Champions we play the hero WE want not one YOU want us to play.

You know what he'll come up with some half arsed reply about how the whole community begs for his help ....yeah right.
Here you go people heres a link to the forums http://forums.champions-online.com/
Check for yourselves what we want in C.O IDF or drones hardly get a blip on the radar these days.

Posted: Dec 9th 2011 12:19AM Dblade said

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@(Unverified) he does check actually. Do a little looking at some of the recent posts.

IDF has had gripes about it. IDF is the biggest reason why munitions as a whole is no longer a viable pvp set apart from sniper rifle, and why many lower damage but faster/multi-hitting maintains are nerf into oblivion. IDF's problem is that it stacks the more people in a team use it, and its flat mitigation can add to already powerful damage mitigation passives.

I'm not sure I get his hatred of support drones though. They don't heal that much, and they can be forced to heal each other. They are annoying due to targeting chaff-if everyone has them, you can waste a lot of time trying to tab or click through them to get to players. he's kind of dead on with travel powers though.
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Posted: Dec 9th 2011 4:18PM (Unverified) said

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@Dblade
bollocks he talks out his arse dont see you much in the forums ..you like brown nosing ...yeah you do.
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Posted: Dec 9th 2011 12:28AM Dblade said

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While I agree with some of your points, PvP in CO is not balanced.

It's possible to make a decent pve build that can do all the content in the game, and then go into PvP and be unable to do more than double digit damage to some toons, and to get one shot by toons outputting 10k spike sniper rifle/ tk lance hits, which is more health than many players that superstat con. PvP in CO forces you to overbuff in it-to stack defensive and offensive click abilities, heals, and passives to survive in it, and there is really a high ceiling to that. Being one shot by spike toons is very easy, especially when you add in knocks, which you havent discussed at all, and which essentially disable and add serious damage to characters.

Balance in a freeform system means you need to have a moderate powerband to frustrate min-maxing, and it just isn't there in CO. The FOTM builds can be devastating to fight against, and are a big reason why imo PvP isn't attracting a lot of players.
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