What is balance to you?

With some of the chatter about balance testing mod going on now, I have some questions.

What does balance mean to you? How is a game balanced in your opinion? Specifically, what makes for a balanced HWR game? I think that individuals have their own ideas and preferences regarding this.

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Over a large enough sample pool, taking into account player skill, the win rate for all sides is equal.

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Generally, that well formed tactics will win out over spam every time.

The counter of one ship over another should be effective enough that consistently countering results in a high enough survival rate of your units that you can have a decisive win, but not so much so the enemy has absolutely no chance of come back. That’s a fine line to ride.

Micromanagement being used to your advantage should be encouraged by not required to win. On this front I would advocate the directional armor damage multipliers be increased slightly on all ships to reward maneuvers that utilize attacking from above, below or behind. Perhaps above/below more than behind to incentivize vertical gameplay. (Which maps should do more often too, what if everyone’s secondary patches were above or below them? Only a few maps do this at all.)

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First and foremost, the game should be balanced so as no one faction has a direct advantage over any other faction (no rock paper scissor mechanics between factions). A players ability to win should be a direct reflection of his competence as a commander (just getting that^ out of the way)

This is a tough question because it has a lot to do with our perception of what the functions and behaviors of an individual unit should be. Regardless, I think that the backbone of any fleet should be the frigate class. Beyond that, I believe Balance has to do with fleet organization and ship design. I’ll try to give examples.

Disclaimer: Much of what I believe has been influenced by tank combat with regards to armor and shell caliber size.

Kushan Multi Gun Corvette

It’s intended role is anti-fighter.
The placement of the weapons around the hull should allow the ship to acquire any target in a sphere around it.
The caliber or the weaponry should be small to reflect it’s pure anti-fighter role.
Finally, the armor should be even around all sides to reflect how it’s target(s) might attack from any side.
It should be a very well rounded and pure anti-fighter platform.

Taiidan Multi Gun Corvette
image

This ship exhibits a very different design.
All of the weapons are forward facing with slight ability to pivot.
Additionally, the weapons appear to be of a larger caliber and should do more damage.
Because the ship is required to face it’s target to fire, the armor should be distributed toward the front of the ship

Both Kushan and Taiidan Multi Gun Corvettes should perform as anti-fighter platforms, however the Kushan should be superior to the Taiidan for anti-fighter, while the Taiidan because of the greater frontal armor and larger caliber guns should be a superior makeshift anti-corvette platform

Hiig&Vayg Destroyers


These ships are interesting because of their combat behavior (turning it’s side to the enemy) This goes against the normal tactic of facing the front of your ship toward the enemy for best protection.
Because of this behavior, the greatest amount of armor should be on the side. The symmetrical nature of the Hiig destroyer makes me think it has even armor on both sides while the Vayg destroyer is asymmetrical and so i think should have its side armor skewed to one side (prob the side the missiles face).
This would make destroyers good for protecting the flanks of fleets.

Hiig and Vayg BC (last Ex.)


The overall design of these ships armaments aside, are very similar (the ship of your choice it sideways compared to the other)

The most important thing these ships can add the the fleet besides raw firepower should be the subsystems you build on them. as large as there combat role it, they should have an equally important support role

The vastly different combat mechanics of these ships should differentiate how they function in there supper cap ship role. They compare in a similar fashion to the preveously mentioned Multi Gun Corvettes (Hiig to Kush & Vayg to Taii). The sphere of fire on the Hiig BC shows that it is expected and prepared to face an attack from any and all sides while the Vayg BC has to be facing its target, and to reflect that, it should have massive amounts of armor in the front. In practice you might use the Hiig BC as a countermeasure to a flanking maneuver, while the Vayg BC is the centerpiece of your fleet dealing substantial amounts of forward damage from behind your frigates.

The most important thing for balancing is the first thing I said. With that in mind ships should be balanced by there design and made for an intended role.

I hope the examples helped to make my opinion clear.

Cheers

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“no one faction has a direct advantage over any other faction (no rock paper scissor mechanics between factions).”
Ok, we don’t have to kill ourselves discussing, but, while you might not like rock-scissor-paper mechanics, it’s still a balanced game mechanic. Let’s not make confusion.

Another conceptual problem is the definition of “direct advantage”. Vaygr has an early direct advantage over Hiigarans - it just don’t last enough to overwhelm the Hiigs.
Maybe you should state “no one faction has a definitive advantage over any other faction”, this way you still can have “transitory” advantage.

“Regardless, I think that the backbone of any fleet should be the frigate class.”
Acknowledged, as long as if anybody else prefer the destroyers to be the backbone (for example), you will still consider the game balanced.

That being said, I want to remember one issue: “balanced game” is a game development requirement (or gameplay), not a warfare requirement. Generals and Admirals don’t want a balanced game, they want to win the war by any means.

For me Game Balance is a function of the number of factions available.
If you have 2 factions, any top player, working with both, will have a 50% distribution on each faction, for victories and losses, in the long term. That will change to 33% if you add another faction and so on.
On a side note, top players might have an advantage using one faction simply due to personal preference or gameplay style. Also, that reminds me that in a group of top players, if everybody is using the same faction to play their games, this can be a sign that the game is not balanced.

By last, I want to suggest Extra Credits on this matter: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e31OSVZF77w

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Rock paper scissor is great in game between units (Flak kills bombers kills Cap ships kills Flak). That’s fine. What I wouldn’t like is Vayg kills Hiig kills Kush/Taii kills Vayg.

I think frigs should be the backbone. I wish that Destroyers had slightly greater speed and similar maneuverability. that way they could keep up and effectively move with large frig formations

All I’m really trying to say is that I want ships behavior, strengths, weaknesses, balance, to be a reflection of the ship design, and the play style of the faction to be a reflection of the factions character.

I think it would be a more varied and interesting experience. Maybe a more handcrafted experience

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Rock-paper-scissor mechanics applied to races would to me imply that, for instance, Zerg generally beats Protoss, Protoss generally beats Terra, and Terran generally beats Zerg. Since you can’t tech-swap to a different faction, that means that the game would pretty much be decided as soon as the game starts. I wouldn’t call that a good RTS, personally.

RPS between units is a rather different matter.

Thumbs up!

RPS between factions is stupid, I agree, but it wasn’t the only RPS type it could be thought about.
So, no problem, just clearing things out.

Getting into more detail here, I don’t think Frigates should be the backbone for Vaygr. That should be their swarms of fighters and corvettes being cycled through their carriers, while their Frigates perform a more screening role around their capitol ships. Their Destroyers and Battleships should be another power spike.

I’d almost champion the idea that Vaygr have an increased “squad-craft” population limit, and a reduced Frigate limit. Currently, you can make only 18 fighters, 16 corvettes, but 21 (!) frigates. In the age of modern computers, I don’t think we need to be concerned about computing power the larger swarm that would create.

Rock, paper, scissors is fine among units, but not fine between “races”.

Information warfare should also be strongly supported, hiding from sensors in clouds, flanking in the Z-plane or any other tactic should be rewarded. For this reason I hate “ping” :acmrage:

However in HW1 those ships were almost identical in armor distribution, weapons power and coverage, giving them front facing weapons with identical weak anti-fighter weaponry.

But the general idea is pretty good, and that is exactly how HW2 worked, and it was very good at it.
I just feel that GBX went too far changing the HW1 ships to fit HW2, and the worst thing making those changes part of the Campaign “ruining” the experience (personal opinion). HW1 and HW2 should have been kept separated for MP, but if mixed they should let the players choose which type of balance should be used in a match.

Ranting aside I wish that GBX would have used the HW1 ships specs when making them match their HW2 counterparts, that way civilprotection1 would not be asking for faster destroyers because he would have those with the HW1 races which consequentially are faster than Ion frigs but slower than assaults.

There are many more things to mention, but I already gave up on the devs and made my own balance mod.

Factional RPS could work in the sense that different races do different things better, so that if any two different races utilize the same tactic one race will consistently win over the other, but each race has superiority in another tactic which should be used to counter. As such your counter to any given tactic/strategy must factor in the opposing factions.

I should note that the Vaygr Destroyer doesn’t always face the same side to the enemy when firing, so in your example both sides would have to have equal armour; the same as the Hiigaran Destroyer.

What I said about the armor distribution on the Vayg destroyer was based on the ship design. The behavior and orientation in combat could be revised so that the destroyer always turns to face the most armor toward its current target

The way it was explained to me, there is only 2 possible sides to a ship, most are set up for front and everything else. There is no top bottom side rear. Top bottom side rear are the same.

Balance I hope to see would avoid 2 things

Progression of hulls removing the need for smaller hulls thus leading to a race to the top. I.E. Cruisers > DDs > Frigates > vettes > fighters without any of them circling back.

The ability to spam one unit type or one simple unit combination to victory in most situations. E.G. Built nothing but Assault frigates and win.

What I would like to see is every unit have a viable place on the battle field. That doesn’t mean you must use every unit available. But no unit should be so useless that a it can’t play a pivotal roll in the right situation.

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I’m reasonably certain that the engine knows about front, side, and back. It doesn’t know about left vs right or top and bottom, though.

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I believe that effective utilization of mixed fleet battles would be ideal. Of course, tactics is super key important.

I’m all about micromanagement. The better you are able to maneuver your fleet during engagements, the better your success rates should be. It just makes sense this way. The player that can control their fleet units more effectively should be the one that has a higher chance of coming out on top. It’s not as though I’m talking Eve Online micro, battles should be fluid enough.

Just because you are outnumbered, lets say with strike craft meant to counter each other, excellent micromanagement skills should help to offset some of your outnumbered disadvantage than someone just bandbox attacking and forgetting.

Your effort and time spent micro-ing takes away from other aspects of the game, so there should be a give and take type of situation here. Also, it makes for a more immersive gaming environment. You should care about the lives of your units.

A more developed armor model would make positioning of ships more important but there would be other mechanics that would needed to fully utilize it

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So, there are different types of balance.

There’s the balance of the first kind where when you go into a match you can reasonably expect that you have an equal chance to win given equal skill. Some small deviation is expected with any sort of asymmetric gameplay though. Perfect balance of an asymmetric system is inherently impossible, but symmetric systems aren’t nearly as interesting.

Then there’s the balance that refers to the ships and how useful they are compared to each other. If, hypothetically, one race remained competitive because they only have one ship that is useful, while still being balanced in the first kind, then that would be a good case of this sort of balance issue. Players would be forced to build that one ship and strategic options are limited.

Then there’s the balance that refers to asymmetric execution. This one doesn’t come into play much with Homeworld due to the low skill floor and ceiling, but it would refer to when one race is easier to play than another in specific scenarios, whether or not it is balanced in the first kind.

Then there’s the balance that is more of a misnomer of design. This is when people say the game is uninteresting due to not having an interesting game dynamic. For instance, if a race has an early game advantage and a late game disadvantage, that can sometimes be an example of a design problem. Again, it could still be balanced in the first kind, but the games themselves are frustrating or uninteresting. The race would be forced to rush every game, and if the rush fails then they lose.

There are many different examples of design problems and they’re probably the most common and most misunderstood. You could argue that any balance problem that isn’t of the first kind is actually a design problem, but the definitions are so up in the air sometimes. I feel like most of this thread is talking about design though, that some ships should perform a certain way, or that “well formed tactics win over spam”. The game could be balanced in all three kinds and “spam” could still win over “well formed tactics”. How could a tactic be well formed if it loses? It’s an oxymoron, and a naturally subjective statement. What that’s really saying is “I don’t want to be punished for playing the game the way I want to play it as opposed to playing it the way that it actually is.”

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As long as one faction doesn’t dominate and one tactic doesn’t dominate, I generally consider a game to be balanced.

TA was close. Flash rushes were pretty common, though.
HW1 was very good, but that’s to be expected given the symmetry.
HW2 not so much, due to HC’s.

In hw2 , specialization (vay) vs adaptation (hig) concept was interesting, despite alot of the statistical imbalances

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