Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Cardinal Sins of Game Balance

I just needed to write this. Read these please, so as to know how to balance your games better. These are listed from least awful to worst.

#8 - rewarding excessively aggressive behavior
-If everybody is forced to be aggressive, the game will inevitably boil down to ONE skill, in the best case scenario. And usually, it's a dumb body advantage that would be needed.

#7 - rewarding excessively passive behavior
-While aggressive behavior shouldn't be too strong, it is at least possible to fight back against it in general. Passive behavior, however, has the problem that it discourages players from ever attacking. As a result, matches can easily NEVER END (outside an imposed time limit) because both sides refused to attack.

#6 - thinking off-balance weaknesses counterbalance on-balance strengths
-Here's a big hint: NO THEY DON'T! The only time the off-balance weaknesses can be exploited is if the player is ALREADY OFF BALANCE. That means you have to punch through their on-balance strengths, which they will already gladly exploit to death. If you are not more skilled, and even if you are by a considerable amount, you will simply lose as a result of being unable to punch through.

#5 - not keeping intuitive behavior in mind
-Players will do their best to find the most abusive thing to work with. All it takes to manage such abuse is the simplest mistake not being punishable whatsoever. Forgetting about intuitive behavior also is begging for not bothering to develop the creative process as a result of being lazy.

#4 - allowing Mighty Glaciers to be rushed
-Mighty Glaciers are supposed to be able to control one position at a time well, as a counterbalance to having bad control over multiple positions. To make them stupidly easy to beat at their own game is asking for speed favoritism and maybe slippery slope.

#3 - balancing around bad pacing in the first place
-Bad pacing makes the game have bad interaction, which can get really annoying really fast. Bad general mobility is the very reason why fighting games in general turn me off, and they have the nerve to balance around the awful mobility, which allows for the totally sensible scenario of a muscle man getting uppercutted by a middleweight he had just POWER HIT.

#2 - punishing intuitive behavior/rewarding counterintuitive behavior
-This is truthfully a VERY easy way to turn me off from a game. However, it deserves to be very high all the same. If I'll like a game, I'll like it, but do NOT expect players to memorize formulas and whatnot just to have ANY understanding of how the game plays out. If I need to overthink just to stand a chance against other players, you have done something VERY wrong.

#1 - rewarding players for abandoning teammates
-Oh GOD. This deserves to be at the very top, and it doesn't even come into play in duels. No, it comes into play in team battles. Now I tend to be a lone wolf player, but it gets annoying when there's NO way to destroy the organization of an opposing team if I can't rely on teammates. And guess what? Sometimes, the teammates I get are HORRIBLE. They will simply rush and get themselves killed. And if I try to support, I'd have to skew my tactics to keep their pathetic hides alive. The game can easily make THAT fatal too. So I would have to abandon them to keep momentum. That is absolutely dumb. Just let me fight back against organized teams if I have bad luck that gives me bad teammates. Not this "teammates suck, you need to abandon them" garbage. It's a bad lesson for the kids.