Author Topic: How's the balance this time around?  (Read 5434 times)

Offline Wingflier

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How's the balance this time around?
« on: February 24, 2018, 12:11:04 pm »
It's no secret that my biggest problem with the first game was the balance, especially regarding the hull system, armor system, immunities and damage types.

It led to a situation of disproportionate power levels not only between bonus ship types (which could lead to huge variations in difficulty level depending on what the AI used), but to problems with the core game fleet and starships as well.

Prior to the Kickstarter there was a lot of talk about a different approach in AI War 2 but I haven't heard much about it.

What do you guys know?
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Offline keith.lamothe

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Re: How's the balance this time around?
« Reply #1 on: February 24, 2018, 01:00:27 pm »
It still needs a lot of tuning based on feedback, but:

A) Most actual ship stats are computed during application-init based on a balance formula that uses categories for stats. A short-range weapon gets 1x dps, a long range weapon gets 0.3x dps (or something like that). A normal-speed ship gets 1x dps, a slow-speed ship gets something higher. A ship with the "MildTank" durability class gets less dps and more hp, and a "MildGlassCannon" gets the other way around.

The difference between a fighter and a golem is the value in "strength" field. At root, that strength number is just a multiplier into the above formulas.

And that "strength" number is also the basic budget unit used by the AI when it pays for things, and it also underlies the resource costs the human players pay.

the hull system, armor system, immunities and damage types.

B) Immunities are gone in general, replaced in most cases with a less-binary approach. For example, a tractor's capacity is now measured in "strength of tractored units" rather than count, and if it doesn't have enough to stop something it will slow it down.

C) As for the hull system, armor system, and damage types, that's all been folded into a new system, which is best illustrated by the example:

1) Many objective units use the "Structure" defense type.
- "Structure" "costs" less in the balance formula than the other defenses, so it's the cheapest way to lots of hp.

2) Bombers use the weapon type "Fusion Bomb" which is good against structural.
- "good against" simply means "does 4 times as much damage as normal"; doesn't matter which weapon type or defense type, it either gets 1x or 4x.
- Fusion Bombs are always short-ranged, but Fusion Rockets (used by MLRS) are medium range, and the Railcannon (used by Sniper) are planet-wide range, and both are good against structure.

3) Bombers themselves use the "Armor" defense type.
- So other bombers don't get a bonus against them.
- Also, the only weapon types good against armor are short-ranged, so it's harder to murder bombers from a distance.

4) Fighters use the "Armor-piercing shell" weapon type, which is good against armor.

5) Fighters themselves use the "Evasion" defense type.
- So neither Bombers nor Fighters get a bonus against them.
- But both there are both medium and long ranged weapon types that are good against fighters, so they're easier to kill from range.
- On the other hand, no short-range weapons are good against evasion, so fighters will tend to out-dps other knife-fighters head to head.
- Also, evasion halves the effect of debuff damage like engine-damage, paralysis, zombification, etc.

6) Missile Corvettes use the "Guided Missile" weapon type, which is good against evasion.

6) Missile Corvettes use "Structure", so bombers are good against them.
- They're also in the "MildGlassCannon" durability class (to keep their dps up despite being long-ranged), so they're very easy to kill.
- Which is why you probably want them to be protected by a nearby Shield Starship.

7) Shield Starships use the "Shield" defense type, which is roughly equivalent to AIWC's forcefield mechanic.
- Shield starships are also in a special durability class that gives them practically no dps but a ton of hp.
- Shields also negate debuff damage (engine-kill, paralysis, etc)
- There are both long-ranged and short-ranged weapons that are good against shields, but the long-range ones only come on large ships and the short-range ones are mostly on semi-exotic fleet ships.
- If a unit's shields are completely down, the remaining hp acts like "Structure" defense type.

8) Siege Starships use the "Plasma Torpedo" weapon type, which is good against Shields
- It's also an aoe weapon, so it can clean up clouds of glass-cannon ships even if they're not shielded

9) Siege Starships are also Structure (and, iirc, full-glass-cannon), so again you'll want external protection for these, and losing one hurts a lot more than losing a missile corvette (which can be replaced in-the-field by the Ark or a Flagship).

To recap, you could think of it as "hull type", but now there are only four: Structure, Armor, Evasion, and Shield. Each of the four is distinguished in more ways than just damage.

D) All those durability classes, weapon types, defense types, and the dps multipiers for each category, etc, are defined in moddable xml. The goal is to balance vanilla, of course, but this makes it easier for players to contribute empirical data on potential changes.
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Offline TheVampire100

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Re: How's the balance this time around?
« Reply #2 on: February 24, 2018, 08:51:09 pm »
I think at some point, probably towards the end of the release, when everything els eis in the game, we should make a big balance feedback thread. Since this is mostly about stats, that can be tweaked really fast which means it can be done close to release and does not have to be done right away.

I also have to say, I like the more streamlined ship balance more in this game. It's simpler, it's easier to catch up on it and the player don't has to read 10 different stats for each ship to understand which one is good against which ship. It also helps to make balancing easier (at least thats what i think) because less complexity means that you only have to tweak a few stats but can still have various strategic approaches and variation in the game.

Offline Wingflier

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Re: How's the balance this time around?
« Reply #3 on: February 26, 2018, 02:04:49 am »
I appreciate that, if the hull types system is staying, it has been streamlined and simplified to the point that it's intuitive and easy to understand.

I'm a little concerned about the "durability classes" system because it seems like it's all happening under the radar, which in itself isn't necessarily a bad thing, but then it's difficult for the players to comment on or provide feedback about the balance effects of a 'hidden' mechanic.

On the other hand, if you make the information public to the players through the UI (the way the damage/hull type systems were in the previous game) you run the risk of making the game overly complicated and needlessly complex.

I do appreciate that the immunities system is gone because that was a frustrating mechanic and it's nice to see it replaced with something more sensible this time.

It seems that you've gone with the Rock-Paper-Scissors formula of the first game (not including "Shields") which I never had a problem with. Hopefully everything can revolve around that and stay relatively intuitive this time.

Still, overall it seems like the system you have is theoretically solid and should provide for an intuitive and reasonably balanced game that still has a lot of room for variety and 'uniqueness' in the different ship and class types (especially as future expansions are released, which always tend to add "creative" ideas to the mix).

Oh, and I'm glad the armor system is gone as well. Good riddance.
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