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Det orginale innlegget

Postet av Estus, 21.10.2020 - 13:13
With all due respect to the team responsible for the game's development, I come here to shout my humble opinion into the void. This post is the result of my dissatisfaction with the current role that Strategies play in the game, going far beyond numbers for nerfs / buffs, but directly touching AtWar's own game design.



Balance in AtWar
Balance is often interchanged with "fairness" in many contexts, but game design requires a higher standard in order for a game to be considered balanced. Balance is a property of a game that involves the relative value of the game's choices. When a game is balanced, players begin with the perspective of their starting goals, each decision holds value and the outcome of the game is revealed during final scoring.

In this post I will not address the issue of Upgrades, which hinder the development of the game for newcomers.

Game design balance covers expansive topic and to assist in breaking it down we have three categories of balance:

  • Internal Balance: related to the Upgrades that the player has, as well as his premium subscription, which grants him access to the General and rare units.
  • External Balance: encompasses the player's intent at the beginning of the game, being composed of all available Strategies.
  • Positional Balance: it is related to the map/scenario to be played, as well as the number of cities and reinforcements.



Design considerations when creating a new Strategy
  • Symmetry: how does the Strategy interact with all the others? Are they very similar or divergent and is this intentional?
  • Internal balance issues: how does it interact with the player's Upgrades?
  • Repetition: does the Strategy offer enough variety of mechanics or is it simply a repetitive back-and-forth sequence?
  • Tactic saturation: are there at least three or four legitimate paths to victory?
  • Pacing conditions: how does the Strategy act when directly confronting or retreating units every turn, or dealing with scenario-only mechanics?



Strategy Complexity
The span of complexity encompasses the entirety of a Strategy from unit stats to the other mechanics and layout to player decision trees. The key areas of complexity in game design is striving for a high depth to complexity ratio and the playing value created through emergent gameplay.

AtWar will benefit if the people responsible for the meta development strives to aim for a high depth to complexity ratio. By decreasing the cognitive burden on players while increasing their opportunity to make interesting decisions, a game will become simpler to balance, more enjoyable to play and generate a better reputation upon every match. This ratio can be improved using two simple methods:

  • Reduction of Complexity: eliminate mechanics and unit stats constraints which contribute a proportionally small amount of strategic depth.
  • Expansion of Depth: extend existing ideas in a way that increases strategic value while adding a minimal amount of complexity.



Emergent gameplay
Games with a high ratio of depth to complexity can sometimes be described as easy to learn but difficult to master. These games feature a simple set of rules and an important game design concept known as emergent gameplay.

Sitat:
Emergent gameplay refers to complex situations in video games, board games, or table top role-playing games that emerge from the interaction of relatively simple game mechanics.


In AtWar, we might define emergent gameplay as having two key components:

  • A simple ruleset (a.k.a unit stats or Ethos).
  • Strategies cannot be fully deciphered simply from knowing the game controls.

Applying emergent gameplay is one of the most difficult tasks in game design. It requires successful playtesting and convergent but harmonious ideas.



Utility
Utility is defined as the usefulness of something, the ability of a product or service to satisfy needs or wants. In a game, the utility might be defined as the "meta".

At the current state, AtWar fails to increase utility through a reduction of complexity, something that, in the long run, becomes extremely counter-productive, even unfeasible.

We can increase utility through the reduction of the length of Strategies, and an expansion of the options available.



Pacing and choices
In my opinion, one of the biggest flaws of the Strategies today is the complete ignorance of the value of pacing.

Pacing has the ability to build focus and motivation in a gaming experience so that the next turn feels more important than the last turn. Since pacing has a tendency to play out over the timeline of a game, a shorter playing time can preclude the effectiveness of many interesting approaches to pacing. The longer a game lasts the more options it can potentially employ to implement pacing. Pacing is largely determined by what players are doing, how efficiently they do it and how they approach the end of a game. Take a look at this article on Wikipedia: Freytag's pyramid.

Much of the AtWar Strategies are not conditioned to the "dramatic arc", they act as cake recipes, where players have only mechanics which encourage chaining actions one after another, it feels like the player has no control/liberty over his own game.



The importance of the Ethos in Strategies
The Ethos of a Strategy can be defined as a clash between theme and mechanics. It must present clever, elegant, or unusual resolutions to in-game issues, showing information in a concise, centralized, or attractive manner. It provides familiarity, purpose, clarity, assurance, parsimony.

The nature of an Ethos can be described in three ways:

  • Supplementary Ethos: weak theme, strong mechanics. Strategies that require changes in order to become used more often.
  • Heavy Ethos: strong theme, weak mechanics. Might be unfriendly to new players or demand Upgrades to be worth something.
  • Inseparable Ethos: balanced theme, balanced mechanics. This is what good Strategies look like, Imperialist, Lucky Bastard and Iron Fist are great examples of that.



Suggestions for the future
I have a series of suggestions and changes that could be implemented after a few playtests, but I prefer not to post them here for now so as not to scare everyone! But at first this is it:

  • Remove self-sabotage: many Strategies have unnecessary nerfs that will just induce players to error.
  • Keep options open: today, most Strategies offer a SINGLE path to victory, destroying other options. When in fact they should offer an EASY way to victory, while keeping the other roads open.
  • Transparency: let everyone see, opine, test frequently.
  • Special units: make better use of special units like Anti-aircraft, Sentry Plane, Buildings.
  • New Strategies: in my opinion, AtWar needs an absurdly high wave of new Strategies, something that may become easier to implement if the suggestions I made above are followed. Think of games like League of Legends or Counter-Strike, players have dozens and dozens of heroes or weapons available, imagine if LoL had only 20 heroes, or if CS offered only 15 different weapons. All players would be conditioned to do the same thing over and over again, saturating the game quickly.



Graph reference

The radar format chart was made to roughly illustrate a comparison between the robustness of all strategies subject to change. All Strategies were categorized through six AtWar intrinsic mechanics: Attack, Defense, Movement, Health, Luck, Economy. I will refer to such mechanics simply as "Attributes". Considering a performance grid that varies from 0 to 5, the default value of the sum of all Attributes is 12. The "None" Strategy has 2 points in each Attribute.

The value of an Attribute does not depend purely on the bonuses and penalties related to the units, as it must also take into account the Strategy orientation and the internal, external and positional balances. Imperialist, Lucky Bastard, Blietzkrieg, and Relentless Attack, were not modified, since they already show good results. The "forgotten" (or abandoned) strategies, such as Scorched Earth and Hold the Line, were not considered, since they require greater care and more time for analysis to have a satisfactory status, something I already started to do more than 7 months ago in the days of Garde. Overview of the impact of the changings I'm purposing:

StrategyAttackDefenceLuckMovementHealthEconomyTotal value
Naval Commander43232115
Desert Storm31242114
Master of Stealth32232214
Perfect Defence24212314
Great Combinator22224214
Hybrid Warfare33222214
Insurrection31222414
Imperialist12222514
Sky Menace41242114
Blitzkrieg21252214
Counter-Insurgency23232214
Lucky Bastard22522013
Relentless Attack31232213
Iron Fist22205213
Guerrilla Warfare20232413
Industrial Powerhouse23322113
None22222212

0 = Terrible | 1 = Bad | 2 = Moderate | 3 = Good | 4 = Excellent | 5 = Unique


Please note that the table above and the graphs below doesn't represent the quality of the Strategy as a whole, many of them are pretty situational, such as Naval Commander and all the ones air/stealth-oriented. Its nothing but a parameter for the exercise we're doing here.



Desert Storm
Orientation: Ground/Air units.
Updates: Make DS more about movement and economy management.


Helicopters
  • Decrease attack bonus from +2 to +1.
  • Decrease range bonus from +3 to +2.


Bombers
  • Remove the range penalty.


Tanks
  • Decrease cost penalty from +30 to +20.
  • Remove defence penalty.



Guerrilla Warfare
Orientation: Ground/Stealth units.
Updates: Slightly increase GW defensive capacity, making Infantry a unit more similar to the Militia, while transports return to their standard expansionary capacity at a higher cost (redundancy removal).


Infantry
  • Decrease attack penalty from -2 to -1.
  • Decrease defence penalty from -2 to -1.
  • Increase range penalty from -1 to -2.


Transport
  • Remove range penalty.
  • Increase cost penalty from +150 to +200.


Air Transport
  • Remove range penalty.
  • Increase cost penalty from +200 to +250.



Iron Fist
Orientation: Universal.
Updates: Considering that the Militia is unable to leave cities (without transport), and that IF is a strategy that makes large-scale movement/detection almost impractical, it's an adjustment for large countries/continents.


Militia
  • Receives +1 defence against Marines and Submarines only.



Master of Stealth
Orientation: Stealth units.
Updates: Submarine becomes a more effective when fighting naval units. Air Stealth is more cost-effective. A few more minor adjustments and redundancy removal.


Submarine
  • Decrease attack bonus from +2 to +1.
  • Decrease range bonus from +2 to +1.
  • Remove critical chance bonus
  • Increase HP by +1.


Stealth
  • Remove range bonus.
  • Increase the critical chance from +2 to +4.


Marines
  • Increase defence by +1.
  • Decrease cost discount from -40 to -30.


Tanks
  • Remove range penalty.
  • Remove defence penalty.


Destroyer
  • Remove all penalties


Infantry
  • Decrease critical chance by -2.



Perfect Defence
Orientation: Ground units.
Updates: Internal balance issue. Adjustment that has a greater impact only on small presets or low-fund scenarios.


Transport
  • Increase cost by +30.



Naval Commander
Orientation: Naval units.
Updates: Attempt to leave NC a strategy with some efficiency on the ground for slightly higher costs.


Tanks
  • Remove attack/defence penalties.
  • Increase cost by +10.


Marines
  • Decrease attack by -1.



Sky Menace
Orientation: Air units.
Updates: Changing it from Supplementary Ethos to a Heavy Ethos.


Tanks
  • Remove cost penalty.


Helicopters
  • Increase attack by +1.
  • Increase range by +2.


Air Transport
  • Increase attack bonus from +1 to +2.


Anti-Aircraft Defences
  • Decrease cost by -200.



Insurrection
Orientation: Ground units.
Updates: Greater synergy with internal balance. Transports return to their standard expansionary capacity at a higher cost (redundancy removal).


Militia
  • Increase critical chance bonus from +2 to +3.


Infantry
  • Remove attack penalty.
  • Increase critical chance by +2.


Marines
  • Decrease attack penalty from -2 to -1.


Submarine
  • Remove attack penalty
  • Remove range penalty.
  • Increase cost penalty from +150 to +200.


Transport
  • Remove range penalty.
  • Increase cost penalty from +150 to +200.


Air Transport
  • Remove range penalty.
  • Increase cost penalty from +200 to +250.


Recruitment Center
  • Increase cost by +400.



Industrial Powerhouse
Orientation: Ground units.
Updates: Attempt to make IP a strategy more focused on luck and economy, forcing a certain defensive posture of the player.


Militia
  • Decrease range by -2.
  • Increase critical chance by +2.
  • Remove cost penalty.


Tanks
  • Remove defence penalty.
  • Decrease range by -1.


All naval units
  • Decrease defence by -1.
  • Increase critical chance by +4.


All air units
  • Decrease attack by -1.
  • Increase critical chance by +4.


All buildings
  • Increase critcal chance bonus from +2 to +4.
  • Increase defence by +2.


Recruitment Center
  • Reduce cost by -600.


Fortifications
  • Reduce cost by -500.


Anti-Aircraft Defences
  • Reduce cost by -300.


Bank
  • Reduce cost by -300.


Radar Array
  • Reduce cost by -150.


Coastal Battery
  • Reduce cost by -130.



Great Combinator
Orientation: Universal.
Updates: This makes GC a universal-oriented strategy, instead of focusing only on land units. It can be as good as IF.


Bombers
  • Decrease attack by -1.
  • Decrease defence by -1.
  • Increase HP by +1.


Destroyers
  • Increase HP by +1.
  • Increase cost by +20.



Hybrid Warfare
Orientation: Universal.
Updates: Incisive attempt to make HW an even more universal-oriented, leaving Militia off balance and correcting inconsistencies with values.


Militia
  • Remove all bonuses and penalties.


Stealth
  • Remove all penalties.


Tanks
  • Remove cost penalty.
  • Decrease defence penalty from -3 to -1.
  • Decrease range by -1.


Bombers
  • Reduce cost by -30.


Submarine
  • Decrease attack penalty from -2 to -1.
  • Decrease defence penalty from -2 to -1.
  • Increase discount from -25 to -40.
  • Remove range bonus.



Counter-Insurgency
Orientation: Air units.
Updates: CI is now less focused on a single unit, having greater gameplay strength. Also flirts with Buildings. It needs another name, "counter" in the gaming world might sound different from the military term, imo.


All units
  • Increase view bonus from +1 to +4.


Helicopters
  • Increase range by +2.


Marines
  • Remove attack penalty.


Submarine
  • Remove attack penalty.


Stealth
  • Remove attack penalty.


Sentry Plane
  • Receives +2 defence against Tanks and Infantry only.


Radar Array
  • Reduce cost by -150.


Fortifications
  • Reduce cost by -500.


Anti-Aircraft Defences
  • Reduce cost by -100.



Note: This study was made based on the MDA framework, which is a formal and iterative approach to understanding games developed in 2004.
23.10.2020 - 09:29
Skrevet av PleaseMe, 23.10.2020 at 04:14

SM tanks are fine, why use a unit that isn't meant to be used for the strategy? With that logic we should buff sentry planes since they're so useless in all scenarios.
Lazy stats for tank indeed but you shouldnt be making tanks as SM anyway, it's an aerial based strategy and no reason to change ground units.

You just figured it out! Lets make it clear: producing Tanks as SM is a bad decision, so you cant PUNISH players for taking bad decisions, a bad decision is a bad decision, that's balance. As I said, it just induces players to error. I dont even call returning SM Tanks back to its normal price a buff, its just redundancy removal.

Skrevet av PleaseMe, 23.10.2020 at 04:14

Also Helicopters have been talked about for SM but we figured let's keep them separate, or else we would need to buff bombers for DS as well and heli's for relentless attack also. We want variety and diversity. You shouldnt be able to utilize every unit unless you go None or IMP. That's the whole point of strategies.

Buffing Heli's for RA makes sense actually, you just have to figure out HOW to do it properly. But how buffing Bombers for DS relates to its Ethos? This is the exact problem I wrote about, you must increase UTILITY by reduction of COMPLEXITY, not the opposite.
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23.10.2020 - 09:29
 LukeTan (Mod)
Skrevet av JUGERS2, 23.10.2020 at 05:02

since defending is way easier

What

Attacking is honestly quite mindless, it's just spamming more tanks and smashing them into the enemy.

I can name quite a few attacking players that have reached 1.5k elo, but still play defensive strats (for eg imp turk) like they have 1.2k elo.
On the other hand, I can't name a single defensive player that has reached 1.5k elo but plays an attacking strat like they have 1.2k elo
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23.10.2020 - 09:33
Skrevet av Dave, 23.10.2020 at 04:38

Some time ago I had had a conversation with @Garde about the latter and (if I remember correctly) he was of a similar opinion regarding power creep... so I'm just saying I don't think we should be afraid of that right now.

You can divide AtWar Strategies in 5 tiers (according to the last metagame survey done in October 2019, prior to RA and Blitz buffs). The intentions of my proposal is to reduce the numbers of tiers to only 3, and at the same time reduce the gap between the tiers (which is huge in my opinion). There is that table I did that shows this.
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23.10.2020 - 09:34
Skrevet av PleaseMe, 23.10.2020 at 04:14

GW has been nerfed in the past and to nerf it again would make it unplayable in any early game situation. Yes OK for late game but you will completely remove it from a lot of game modes by nerfing it even more.

That's funny, other people thought I was buffing it and that's why they didn't liked. Well, the explanation is there.
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24.10.2020 - 11:30
Your graphs are wrong and inaccurate imo. You make NC look like a powerful strat when it's just a "meh" strat. You're also underestimating LB and SM, unless you blindly use your money without thinking properly, yeah I guess you'll have a shitty economy because you don't pay attention to how you're spending your money. Lastly, your graph makes decent strats like GW and IF look weak .
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24.10.2020 - 14:03
Skrevet av T3mpest, 24.10.2020 at 11:30

Your graphs are wrong and inaccurate imo. You make NC look like a powerful strat when it's just a "meh" strat.

Naval Commander is anything but a "meh" strat. As I wrote there:
"[...] the graphs below doesn't represent the quality of the Strategy as a whole, many of them are pretty situational, such as Naval Commander and all the ones air/stealth-oriented. Its nothing but a parameter for the exercise we're doing here."


Skrevet av T3mpest, 24.10.2020 at 11:30

Lastly, your graph makes decent strats like GW and IF look weak .

Not at all, mate. GW and IF had very small adjustments, its all the other strats that got to the same level as them.

Take GC and IF for example. Right now, GC is a very situational strategy, while IF is way more versatile. The updates I proposed would give GC the same versatility IF has, making it equal (or even better) in terms of power/effectiviness.
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24.10.2020 - 14:23
Skrevet av Estus, 24.10.2020 at 14:03


Take GC and IF for example. Right now, GC is a very situational strategy, while IF is way more versatile. The updates I proposed would give GC the same versatility IF has, making it equal (or even better) in terms of power/effectiviness.

GC is perfectly fine imo
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24.10.2020 - 14:28
Skrevet av T3mpest, 24.10.2020 at 14:23

GC is perfectly fine imo

I would use the word "plastered".
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24.10.2020 - 23:53
Skrevet av PleaseMe, 23.10.2020 at 04:44

I think if we were to power creep on some of these strategies it would be easier to deal with a super strong defensive strategy rather than a super strong attacking strategy. Attack strategies have had their time for the last few years now...(Lucky Bastard, Desert Storm, Relentless Attack, Guerrilla Warfare).

Andddd... it gave weaker players a big advantage. The last 4 years everyone was hitting above 1500+ elo only because of strong attack, once LB was nerfed we saw that the overall elo pool for high ranks slowly dropped. So we now know how dangerous making attack strats too powerful can be.


Sorry, didn't saw this message earlier.

I'm not getting your point. Many of those changes doesn't power creep anything, I'm just cleaning a lot of incongruities present on the Strategies and genuinely balancing them as a whole in order to reduce the huge gap between the Strategy tiers.

I can't talk about LB because 4 years ago I wasn't really into atWar as I am now. But based on the wrong things I'm seeing right now, I can assure you with 100% sure that the changes I'm proposing are not like anything done before.
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26.10.2020 - 04:04
Great initiative and the graphs are very nice, gj
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26.10.2020 - 16:52
Skrevet av Estus, 23.10.2020 at 09:29

Skrevet av PleaseMe, 23.10.2020 at 04:14

SM tanks are fine, why use a unit that isn't meant to be used for the strategy? With that logic we should buff sentry planes since they're so useless in all scenarios.
Lazy stats for tank indeed but you shouldnt be making tanks as SM anyway, it's an aerial based strategy and no reason to change ground units.

You just figured it out! Lets make it clear: producing Tanks as SM is a bad decision, so you cant PUNISH players for taking bad decisions, a bad decision is a bad decision, that's balance. As I said, it just induces players to error.


I imagine you put a lot of effort into this but this is where I would disagree with you. You SHOULD be PUNISHED for making bad decisions. At least if it is a strategy game we are speaking about. It does not induce error, it challenges players to actually be thoughtful and carefully consider pros and cons in their selection of strats and the implementation of whatever plan the wish to execute. I think it is naive to expect to make bad strategic decision and not expect it to have a net impact on the performance.The game lays out the stats for all strats and it is up to players to carefully consider the information and make informed decisions.
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26.10.2020 - 17:01
Skrevet av DJ003, 26.10.2020 at 16:52

Skrevet av Estus, 23.10.2020 at 09:29

Skrevet av PleaseMe, 23.10.2020 at 04:14

SM tanks are fine, why use a unit that isn't meant to be used for the strategy? With that logic we should buff sentry planes since they're so useless in all scenarios.
Lazy stats for tank indeed but you shouldnt be making tanks as SM anyway, it's an aerial based strategy and no reason to change ground units.

You just figured it out! Lets make it clear: producing Tanks as SM is a bad decision, so you cant PUNISH players for taking bad decisions, a bad decision is a bad decision, that's balance. As I said, it just induces players to error.


I imagine you put a lot of effort into this but this is where I would disagree with you. You SHOULD be PUNISHED for making bad decisions. At least if it is a strategy game we are speaking about. It does not induce error, it challenges players to actually be thoughtful and carefully consider pros and cons in their selection of strats and the implementation of whatever plan the wish to execute. I think it is naive to expect to make bad strategic decision and not expect it to have a net impact on the performance.The game lays out the stats for all strats and it is up to players to carefully consider the information and make informed decisions.


I just read what Estus said I think that's a really good idea, like how in Minecraft you have slow effect potions? You know how you have negative potions? What if that was represented on atWar? We could make it so that tank production is SLOWER! You see? Great idea I just came up with it. So you'd have delay between the click timeframes. I come up with these ideas so well on the fly the back burner should be filled to the brim with my ideas at this point

Edit: nevermind I support what the other guy said, I thought Estus said that you SHOULD punish people
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