The New Balance Thread...


#1

This is not an attempt to start a new balance thread, as there’s already one for the current game mechanics. Rather, this started out as an attempt to quantify the value of a hull, and ended up exposing some areas where the game could be improved. I also accidentally discovered exactly what makes The Tribe so over-powered. Anyway, read on…

Hull Values in GSB

  1. The credit is the true resource of the game. Speed, power, offensive/defensive capability are all subject to this. Speed by the number of engines, which costs you credits. Power by the number of generators, which costs you credits. Offensive capability by the number and type of weapons on your ship, which cost you credits etc…

  2. The true value of a hull is in how much money it will save you while still accomplishing your goals, leaving you more money to buy more hulls.

  3. Hull Bonuses are there to reduce(or increase) the cost of the attribute they effect, thereby saving(or costing) you credits.

  4. Hull Integrity boosts are different. They increase the intrinsic hull value of EVERY ITEM added to the ship. This means you increase the value of EVERY ITEM, yet it’s cost remains the same.
    [list=a]
    [*]This is what makes The Tribe OP. Every time you add a module or turret to your ship, you increase the longevity of the ship. If you actually add armor or shields, you STILL add hull points as well. Yes, the armor/shield amount/power is reduced, but it’s resistance is NOT. You get all the benefits of the shield/armor you added in terms of resistances, half the damage absorbable, but have added a full +100% of the hp of the module to your hull. The ships just will NOT die. Their shields will drop, their armor will get pounded, but that’s just the icing on the cake for them. You’ve got to DESTROY them to stop them, and they keep coming at you while you do it. Take any other race and you’ll see their armor or shields cannot stand up to a pounding for even a fraction of the time a tribe hull can, and here’s the rub. The other races have to buy dedicated items to take advantage of their bonuses. Tribe? Nah… We get our hull bonus just by buying crap for our ships, no matter WHAT it is. Nowhere is this disparity more evident than in buying weapons. A weapon increases the offensive power of your ship. A weapon for the tribe increases offensive power AND defensive power. If you want to win, play Tribe… At least until Cliffski fixes this.

  5. If you don’t have tribe, picking a hull with the highest hull bonus possible can give you the biggest bang for your buck.
    [/:m]
    [
    ]The true value of a hull is therefore it’s cost divided by it’s potential cost savings.

  6. Hull Integrity increases the defensive capability with every item added to the ship, so each percentage point of hull integrity carries the highest value.

  7. For armor, power, shield, and speed, use the following paragraph, substituting the word for .

  • On hungry ships, boosts can give you an extra module that you would have otherwise used for another module, but more likely it will just allow you to use smaller, less expensive modules. Most of the time you know how much you need, and will add modules until you get that amount or more. The end result is it saves you some credits, but probably not very many. Each percentage point of boost therefore potentially saves you amount of money, but does not directly add to the survivability of the hull. How much money? Well… read on…
  1. As of right now, my limited mind is unable to work out the true value of a given hull, because I can’t see how you can quantify "x% of boost is equal to z amount of credits. Maybe someone with a better grasp of this sort of thing can figure this out? Until such time as this happens, I will assume that quantifying is not possible given the current mechanics.
    [/*:m][/list:o]

Fixing it:

In my opinion, the value of a hull is really how much money it can save you while getting the job done. You should be able to put a credit value on “10% powerbost”, or “-50%” shield boost". But you cannot, because the modules that they effect, as far as I can tell, don’t cost the same amount per power consumed/created, damage caused, hull points added, etc…

So, if it was known exactly how much each percent boost the above should cost, then hull, module, and weapon values could be computed and assigned dynamically by the game, rather than read from the config file for the item, thus assuring equality. The performance of the game would be the same, all that would be adjusted is the cost of the items.

Perhaps someone really good at this stuff could figure out how much various things should cost… I’ll keep working at it, but I feel like maybe I haven’t had enough math classes…

Comments?


#2

Excellent article Nuke. I have always (in my short GSB experience) found The Tribe to be the toughest to beat in challenges. Now I know why…


#3

It’s probably not that complicated. The tribe bonus to hitpoints is supposed to be countered by the loss in shield strength and armor.

This doesn’t seem to be the case, as the primary use of shielding among most fleets is for resistances, and armor is used very sparingly for the most part and is often defeated easily whenever it is. Their shield recharge rates are also the same as other races, so they can still maintain competent shielding vs low frequency attacks. The only thing tribe cannot do is armor tank with any degree of cost effectiveness.

Besides that, Tribe has a top tier airforce in terms of options and the howitzer is a powerful budget weapon system.


#4

Consider that prior to the Tribe, the most powerful faction was the Rebels, not the Federation (though they were certainly the second-best). What makes the Tribe’s boosts so powerful is not their type, it’s their degree. A faction with +50% speed would be even more broken, due to speed’s exponential effectiveness curve.


#5

Way too simplified. Taking shields, for instance.
Tribe have half strength, another race full strength.
Half the weapons attacking each other are refelctable through shields, the others arent. Its shield killers/armour killers split
Tribe shields will go down first. Now the enemy ships have all their damage hitting the tribe.

Tribe weapons still getting half reflected. Great, now its full damage/full hitpoints vs half damage/doublehitpoints. Same damage per hitpoints.
After a while, its shieldless tribe vs shieldless others.
Only the other race has armour. And tribe doesnt, cause that would be a huge waste of money. (Armour has 0 hit points, tribe get half damage absorbable)

Now tribe are still doing half damage, due to high armour values. But the other guys are still doing full damage. Or if its really tanked, tribe are doing crit damage only. And the other race is just chewing throuhg the ships.
Tribe cant armour tank, and CL being considered the best weapon in the game, this is a big hit.

Other races can get bonus to the modules that allow counters to certain weapons. Highlyarmoured/refelctive shield. Armour lasers will have a hard time. Cruiser lasers will have a hard time.
Hull repairers, best used with armour to keep its resistance. A armoured ship can survive quite a while under concentrated fire like this.
A tribe gets overwhelmed.

And what if you use tribes advantage fully? No shields, no armour? Everyweapon does full dps, every weapon works from its range. Where a long range low penetration laser might bounce off before the shield killing lasers came close, for tribe this doesnt happen. Tribe are actually vulnerable to everything thats out there.

Prehaps they are overpowered. But in the sceme of things, its seems empire is underpowered, and federation only seems to get use because they are the starting guys.
Boost those guys first, then see about a nerf.
Which i would recommend, for tribe, as being 10% cost increase, prehaps 15%. That would be quite a hit.


#6

Truly fascinating argument and counter-arguments here. Well done! I now see the Tribe in a new light. Such perceptive analysis of what lies “under the hood” beyond the immediate gameplay is a big benefit of our forums. :slight_smile:


#7

The point about the Empire is well taken. Given their description I expected far more from them when I played.


#8

This is not a “Nerf the Tribe” thread. Perhaps I should have been clear. I’m trying to figure out how to compute the TRUE value of a hull, and I’m hoping the community can help figure it out. Current game mechanics make it difficult to make any such computation, but, as I mentioned, this might just be my inexperience in doing something like this. On the other hand, perhaps there are some things in the game that could be improved to aid in doing this. My hope was to get discussion going on this sort of thing. And if somebody comes up and says “Hey! You can figure out what you’re trying to do by doing this…” then I’ll be completely giggly. Well… I’ll at least raise a mug to ya… =D

Nuke…


#9

I’m going to create a new thread to respond to this so we don’t hijack my original purpose of the thread…


#10

Hull cost in my mind is dependent on hull load out and how efficiently you can abuse them. So at the end of the day, hull x is good for ship y and not for ship z.


#11

I propose something,
create 2 ships:
tribe one, using tribe weakness (shield, armor)

[code][config]
name = aaa-ttest
guiname = AAA-TTest
hull = Tribe Harmony Cruiser hull

[modules]
0 = cruiser_laser,
1 = cruiser_laser,
2 = cruiser_laser,
3 = cruiser_laser,
4 = cruiser crew_reinforced,
5 = cruiser_laser,
6 = cruiser_armour V,
7 = cruiser_armour V,
8 = cruiser reinforced power II,
9 = cruiser_engine VI,
10 = cruiser_engine VI,
11 = cruiser shield multiphasic,
12 = cruiser_engine VI,
13 = cruiser_laser,
14 = cruiser_laser,
15 = cruiser shield reflective,
16 = cruiser_engine VI,
17 = cruiser power III,
[/code]
same ship using fed hull

[code][config]
name = aaa-ftest
guiname = AAA-FTest
hull = Federation Eagle Cruiser hull

[modules]
0 = cruiser_laser,
1 = cruiser_laser,
2 = cruiser_laser,
3 = cruiser crew_reinforced,
4 = cruiser_laser,
5 = cruiser reinforced power II,
6 = cruiser power III,
7 = cruiser_laser,
8 = cruiser_laser,
9 = cruiser_laser,
10 = cruiser_armour V,
11 = cruiser_armour V,
12 = cruiser_engine VI,
13 = cruiser_engine VI,
14 = cruiser_engine VI,
15 = cruiser shield fastrecharge,
16 = cruiser shield multiphasic,
17 = cruiser_engine VI,
[/code]
make them fight if you don’t know which one is obviously going to win

a few numbers:
tribe total hp: armour 126 (av. 7) + shield 213 + hull 3660 = 3999
fed total hp: amour 252 (av. 14) + shield 483 + hull 2013 = 2748
thats a bit of a advantage don’t you think?

note: in this case shield and armour only work as a hp buffer due the cruiser laser only.

edit: arguing that adding 1 more armour to both ships would make fed win is pointless, because a simple pulse laser would remove the fed advantage.


#12

You know, part of me wonders if it is more armor/shield resists being too easily dispensed with rather than just the OPness of masses of HP

After all CLs + Beams = resists do not matter at all. Resists totally aren’t going to negate 1200 damage with or without being able to take tribe guns offline easier… :-\

Maybe you could make guns so their ROF is linked to their HP since Tribes will be taking hull damage sooner, they’ll lose DPS much sooner…


#13

See my Tribe OP thread… I did just such a test and posted results… Please move the tribe OP conversation there.


#14

As far as hull bonuses go, I don’t think you’re considering hidden costs far enough.

Armor is not only expensive, it is heavy. Weight influences speed, which means you may need an additional engine (and will receive the associated hitpoints + power/crew upkeep) if you want your ship to maintain a set top speed. Modules (including shields) will hurt your armor ratio, so you may or may not want to drop extra ones to streamline the design.

That means, when making an armored design, the following hull bonuses can directly or indirectly factor in:
Power
Speed
Armor
Hitpoints
Shields

Did I miss anything? They’re all tied together in an unholy mush.

When I’m making an armored frigate, I’m eying that 13% speed increase on the Swordfish as much as the 10% armor boost.

Edit:

Weapon ROF already decreases with damage.


#15

I think its impossible to calculate this. Unless exact engine mechanics are know, values we asign particular attributes are based on personal preferences. Also, wouldnt it only be possible if there were a true best setup? Or else you get multiple values for each depending on what its matchup is.

So the moment you do calculate it is the moment we must change it, or have it changed…


#16

You’ve really keyed in on my point, just from a different angle. It is EXTREMELY difficult to balance races(new and old) in the game because you cannot, as far as I can tell, establish a baseline to measure against. If some rule could be established that everything else is based on (Say, 1 credit = 2 Damage Per Second, or 1 credit = 2 damage absorbed) and then applied that to everything in the game, you could then have a fair and balanced game because, no matter what a race’s capabilities, they would have to pay the fair price for that. This would fix all the balance problems between races, and move the responsibility of game balance onto the shoulders of the game, rather than the developer and modders.


#17

Ya. But also consider that cliffski does have access to engine information, which changes alot.


#18

The stats we are talking about are contained in human readable files on our hard drives. They’re not computed. Cliffski’s ability to see the code(which is just a picture of what was in his brain, not the otherway around, btw) doesn’t change that all these settings are static, and not determined by some mysterious mad-scientist algorithm. (Okay, I’m sure Cliffski has put his share of mad-scientist-algorithms in the game, but the stats of the various hulls are not one of them.)

The changes that I’ve suggested are probably too far reaching to easily implement. Failing that, I think the dogthinker’s(apologies if it was someone else) suggestion has merit as well. Some adjustment of the tribe hull bonuses is in order… Cliffski, would it help if we playtested an experimental tribe hull with altered stats, and kept modifying that until it seems right? We could even make it a Tribe Test race or something and just have people install it who want to help with testing… Or, perhaps you’d just rather handle this on your own… Either way, let us know if there’s anything we can do to help… =)

Nuke…


#19

There’s one other issue to consider: not everything is supposed to be balanced perfectly.

Hear me out before you pull out the pitchforks and torches. :wink:

One of the glorious things about a complex non-physical game (read: doesn’t rely on muscle memory to win) is figuring out what builds are better than others. It’s what drives all games to some extent, but particularly competitive Collectible Card Games (CCGs). GSB is comparable to CCGs: the player has access to a diverse field of options, and must figure out how to best arrange them in order to win against a variety of situations. Not all cards in CCGs are created equal, and for good reason: if all options are equally valid, there is no game. The fact that some cards are blatantly OP or UP is a frustrating thing in CCGs because of the collectible financial model, but GSB doesn’t have to deal with that. Figuring out the best configurations is the ludic point of such a game, and once that’s done the game is pretty much over. All there is to do is watch the scenery - which, while pretty, isn’t going to maintain my interest once the mechanics are exhausted. CCGs only remain interesting because they continually vary the field of available cards - which Cliff has already done once in GSB with the addition of the Tribe. I hope that he continues down that road, rather than trying to make the whole thing perfectly balanced.

Trust me; I’ve designed perfectly balanced wargames. They are incredibly boring. Either there are better configurations for particular engagements, or there is no game at all. The degree to which some options are better than others in GSB, and their obviousness, is worth discussing. The trickier it is to figure out the optimum strategies and their optimum counters, the more entertainment that the game provides. I agree that it’s currently too unbalanced and too easy to figure out optimums, though I’m still surprised upon occasion (the last time being laser-guided fighters). Making all options equal, however, would do nothing but kill the game.

TLDR: Gameplay comes from a close but imperfect balance between the various options. When a universal cost formula actually works, you know that the game is dead.


#20

I like this analogy. As a CCG player myself, I read a lot of the development blogs etc, and one thing comes out as far as a really successful game design goes: it has to appeal to multiple types of players. Some folks will play GSB to discover the “ultimate killer fleet”; to keep these players happy, you have to give them new challenges. Some folks will play just to try new things (What if I don’t field anything but missile-happy frigates? What happens then?); for them, winning isn’t the be-all, end-all. And of course, there are the serious problem-solver types who look at a race and say “Everyone seems to think these guys suck. I bet they’re wrong.” and then spend hours looking for the one build that suddenly shoots the offenders right to the top of the stack.

If something about the game isn’t fun for you, don’t use it. It’s probably fun for someone else.