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Author Topic: Balance  (Read 5451 times)

Thraxian

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Balance
« on: March 01, 2018, 3:45 PM »
Going off a quote on another thread, I wanted to encourage a bit more discussion on the concept of balance. 

I think balance is a myth, anyways. The only balance is 1:1, and you're not going to achieve it unless everyone is exactly the same. Many games balance things around top-tier play, leaving newer, or those less capable (read, 98% of the game population) pretty much floundering about because they can't, or won't treat it as anything more than a game.

What do you think?  Is balance really a myth, or is it actually attainable?  How do you define balance?  As a MUD administrator, what measures do you take to achieve balance?  As a player, what experiences have you had where balance was concerned, and what steps (if any) would you take to improve balance?

The goal here is not to prove (or disprove) Epilogy's statement.  That quote is only provided as a launching point for a discussion on the topic.  I neither agree nor disagree with it - I find it holds some truth, but more than anything, it causes me to think about what the idea of balance, and ways I have succeeded and failed at promoting that idea in the games  I play and/or create.

Tijer

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Re: Balance
« Reply #1 on: March 01, 2018, 4:31 PM »
Proper balance is a myth, balance is only as good as the player is, if the player doesnt have a clue what they are doing then the place looks like its not balanced.
Always HARD to balance a pk mud, because there is lots of different ways to play...

I always try to work things out with a group of pkillers when that is the case.
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Hades_Kane

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Re: Balance
« Reply #2 on: March 01, 2018, 6:08 PM »
I agree with Epilogy... probably no surprise there with being long term collaborators.

The way most players view balance is homogenization, ultimately, and they often view it in much shorter terms and spans of time.

I'm sure on a PK MUD, essentially the only way to REALLY balance is to basically have everyone the same.  Especially a largely stock oriented one...  I mean, what's the functional difference of a typical "kick" skill vs "bash" or even a fireball vs a magic missile?

Even some number crunching players I've seen look at balance from a DPS standpoint, which is more fair than some others, if they chart DPS or even exp gained over the course of several hours.

But in a PVE type of game, especially one with a multitude of classes and many facets to gameplay, I think that balance should ultimately mean comparable difficulty in playing the game.

Take for instance a fighter/warrior type character... by virtue they will likely be among the most straight forward, DPS producing classes.  Stick them in a dungeon with traps, hidden passages, etc. and well, good luck with ALLLLL that.  While a thief/rogue type of class oriented around being somewhat of a dungeoneering type of class will be able to bypass traps, pick locks on doors, find the secret passages, etc.  The challenge and ease of each class is a bit different.  The fighter is more able to bypass the monsters and have an easier time with combat, while the thief is able to progress through the dungeon by taking advantage of other means.

Too many players would simply see the fighter better at combat than the thief and complain that the classes aren't balanced between the thief wouldn't match up combat to the Fighter in a traditional combat scenario.

This isn't balance, this is boring game design.  Good game design should be able to introduce and cater toward multiple play styles, and once you do that, balance starts to mean something altogether different.
-Diablos
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Ateraan

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Re: Balance
« Reply #3 on: March 01, 2018, 9:52 PM »
Depends entirely upon the game in question and the coders/administrators of the game. For example, on Ateraan, the Dahkoar are clerics of Darkness, the Waylumi are clerics of light. Are they equal in powers and skills. No. However, the two balance the game quite well with respect to religious roleplay. Each were specifically made to counter or be somewhat opposite of the other.

There are other guilds built the same way. There are also guilds, gear, relics, and characters that are very different with great ability to go in any direction you want. I would never encourage or try to balance all of the guilds or items exactly so that all things being equal a battle would be equal because that is too scripted and boring.  There are so many special tricks, relics, enhancements, and variations in such an intense roleplaying game that balance does not enter the equation.

Balance? Not really except for a storyline, history, and roleplay sense.
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Tavilyn

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Re: Balance
« Reply #4 on: March 02, 2018, 1:35 AM »
If 98 percent of your MUD is combat, and you have one or more classes that suck at combat while the others are great at it, that's imbalance in my opinion.

Or if you have a class which, stacked against a comparable class, does less DPS and just has less efficiency with no other kickback? That's imbalance too.

So I think imbalance is a very real thing. Which means I think balance is also a thing as well.

That said, I don't think that there is such a thing as -perfect balance.

You don't need every magic class to have precisely the same damage rolls for their spells, nor the same number of overall skills. You need to have comparable advantages and disadvantages which make any reasonable build viable.

I've been on countless MUDs where they'll say something like, "Yeah, anything a thief does, pretty much, an assassin does better", and that tells me everything I need to know about their attention to detail.

Hades_Kane

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Re: Balance
« Reply #5 on: March 02, 2018, 12:18 PM »
"Yeah, anything a thief does, pretty much, an assassin does better"

That's why you make Assassin a promotion class of Thief!   >.>

In all seriousness though, it really depends on if combat is the point on the game that is 98% combat, or if the combat is a means to an end and whether other classes that aren't as combat focused can achieve that end just by different means.

To me, balance means more "comparable difficulty / effort" to achieve whatever the end goal is on the game, versus equality via the same or similar means.

If you have two magic users and other than some sort of "theme" or even just the aesthetics of the spell echoes, they are functionally the same, then what's the point?

Again, if you're a PK MUD, that's a bit different, but otherwise if the functional difference between bash, fireball, or trip is the name, command you type to initiate it, and the echo of the skill... and that's the difference between your classes?

I don't see the point.

To me, anyway, different classes should represent different play styles and drastically different means to achieve the game's end.
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IFamiINIe

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Re: Balance
« Reply #6 on: March 02, 2018, 1:08 PM »
I think people confuse balance with being exactly the same due to the classification we use when saying, "balance" in relation to trying to adjust something in the game.

Balance is more or less trying to make something fair. It's not about making a class the exact same, even in the PK sense. I would say that when talking about PK, you actually would want to do the opposite and make things unbalanced in certain situations to generate challenge (for the opponent) as well excitement (for the attacker), but not unbalanced all-the-time or impossible to overcome (i.e.: god mode) where it completely breaks the game.

While it's true, there is no such things as true balance as there is always something that will separate you and make you either weaker or stronger than something else. The idea is to at least give you a fighting chance so that Thief could still have options to defeat the Warrior in the right situation.



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Ateraan

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Re: Balance
« Reply #7 on: March 03, 2018, 12:19 PM »
..there is no such things as true balance as there is always something that will separate you and make you either weaker or stronger than something else. The idea is to at least give you a fighting chance so that Thief could still have options to defeat the Warrior in the right situation.
This is right on target. There is always a chance to win the fight if you are using your skills, powers, and items in the circumstance that is best for your: Fighting your fight on your terms not your enemies. This is true on Ateraan and I'm sure something similar exists on most games.

The biggest argument I hear all the time is players thinking toe to toe it should be equal at the same level despite guild, race, and background and that is and never will be the case.
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Alex Heartnet

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Re: Balance
« Reply #8 on: March 07, 2018, 4:38 AM »
"Balance". What comes to mind is the very rough balance of Dark Souls, which doesn't even try to be anywhere close to perfect. The result is an impressive variety of builds and playstyles from rookies and veterans alike; there are always suprises to be had both in coop and pvp~
Provide a variety of tools for players to use, and game balance will literally sort itself out as the playerbase figures out what works and what doesn't.

The traditional class system actually gets in the way of proper balance. It restricts player ability to mix-and-match tools and forces a linear power curve where everything has to be fine-tuned against everything else.

Epilogy

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Re: Balance
« Reply #9 on: March 07, 2018, 9:20 PM »
The traditional class system actually gets in the way of proper balance. It restricts player ability to mix-and-match tools and forces a linear power curve where everything has to be fine-tuned against everything else.

To the contrary, it actually enforces diversity. If a "choice" is ever resulting in a perceived "no contest" then it's no longer really a choice. If all can, and will pick second attack, it becomes redundant to even list it.

Classes allow different routes through to the same means. A mage does damage, and so does a thief. A thief uses skills, and implied subtlety, while a mage casts spells to do all their magichattery.

Why bother with spells, and skills as such? Means the same thing as far as the code cares. But I'm not the code, and I do care, and I find the distinction interesting. A little stale by now, but still interesting.

scandum

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Re: Balance
« Reply #10 on: March 07, 2018, 11:42 PM »
Synergy is when two or more classes complement each other, which encourages cooperation.

You can have synergy and balance when each class is mediocre individually. Most MUDs end up trying to make all classes awesome, destroying synergy in the process.

Hades_Kane

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Re: Balance
« Reply #11 on: March 08, 2018, 11:34 AM »
Synergy is when two or more classes complement each other, which encourages cooperation.

You can have synergy and balance when each class is mediocre individually. Most MUDs end up trying to make all classes awesome, destroying synergy in the process.

True story.

We leaned heavy into cooperative play, but without the playerbase to support a lot of the elements we setup, it does work to our detriment at times.  Going to attempt to solve this with an NPC follower system (and we have had to beef up the classes a little and tone down some of the mob values).

But on a game with a hefty playerbase, I definitely think that a heavy degree of and ample opportunities for cooperation between different classes is key, and does help side step the balance issue to a degree.  I view a lot of things through a D&D like lens, too, as far as class "balance" and cooperation.
-Diablos
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Alex Heartnet

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Re: Balance
« Reply #12 on: March 08, 2018, 7:51 PM »
To the contrary, it actually enforces diversity. If a "choice" is ever resulting in a perceived "no contest" then it's no longer really a choice. If all can, and will pick second attack, it becomes redundant to even list it.

Balance can be done badly regardless of what setup you are trying to do. Balance starts when a bit of thought is put into what gets added.

Everyone having second attack would be pretty overpowered, so obviously it shouldn't be weighed equally compared to other, more minor skills. There should probably be some significant tradeoffs to make sure that the player using it actually plans on using weapons. Triple attack should have massive tradeoffs, such as a beyond-reasonable investment in one dimishing-return stat.

Variety starts happening when there is no one clear winner. A good test if you have balance right is to see how often the playerbase suprises you with builds.

Classes allow different routes through to the same means. A mage does damage, and so does a thief. A thief uses skills, and implied subtlety, while a mage casts spells to do all their magichattery.

With the traditional class system I don't get to let my build evolve organically. I am stuck in one path completely unable to switch focus mid-way! Make a mistake at chargen? Nope, too bad, you are stuck with it. I can't look at a mage and say "i am going to learn the sword and focus on weapon buffs" or "i have money now let's try a crafting focus".

The whole point of me adventuring is to *defy* fate, not follow it. The traditional class system does not allow this.

That's why you make Assassin a promotion class of Thief!   >.>

please
Make me choose between "assassin" and "something else" and I now have the ability to switch character focus half-way, covering at least some of what I outlined above.

Synergy is when two or more classes complement each other, which encourages cooperation.

You can have synergy and balance when each class is mediocre individually. Most MUDs end up trying to make all classes awesome, destroying synergy in the process.
please~
In regards to low playerbases there should be a middle ground somewhere~

Epilogy

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Re: Balance
« Reply #13 on: March 09, 2018, 12:46 AM »
please~

I have a hard time taking you seriously for some reason.

Ateraan

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Re: Balance
« Reply #14 on: March 09, 2018, 1:43 PM »
Synergy is when two or more classes complement each other, which encourages cooperation.

You can have synergy and balance when each class is mediocre individually. Most MUDs end up trying to make all classes awesome, destroying synergy in the process.
please~
In regards to low playerbases there should be a middle ground somewhere~
Actually Scandum has a good point and this works well. Cooperative play can work even if only 2 people are on the game.
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