System design on weekly updated live game

Discussion in 'PlanetSide 2 Gameplay Discussion' started by Bullborn, Mar 14, 2014.

  1. Bullborn


    It seems to me that the guys responsible for balance (system designers mostly) are a bit too heavyhanded these days. The number changes in the latest patch are rather large.

    Some random examples from latest weekly patch notes:
    • Inner radius blast damage decreased from 1000 damage to 700 damage.

    • Minimum damage increased from 150 damage to 225

    • Magazine size increased from 32 rounds to 70 rounds
    • Flak damage increased from to 38 damage to 45 damage

    and so forth. These are all significant changes if you look at them from a numbers perspective.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm sure there's justification for doing so in a spreadsheet somewhere, and the numbers may well add up as being balanced in said spreadsheet. However, I would encourage you to do these changes in smaller steps.

    Well, on a live game, you have an evil entity known as "players". Players react to your changes tenfold (regardless of whether it is a buff or nerf). What you want to achieve is the players feeling and perceiving your game to be balanced (even if the numbers say it isn't). The easiest way to do this is to do things in babysteps and judging responses from the playerbase. This is very much doable on a game that is updated every week. If you think a gun should be buffed by 30%, then the first week, buff it with 10%. Judge feedback and datamine gun performance, if it is still underperforming, buff it with 10% again the following week. And so forth.

    The advantage of doing this is partially to give yourself time to see what the result of your changes are, and partially to reduce the cries from your players about buff/nerf.

    Currently it appears to be roadmap-driven where everything has to happen in one update. This is just unfortunate planning and no spreadsheet will be able to make it correct the first time around. Balance is impossible to achieve with one broad stroke. It needs massaging of numbers and taking into account all the non-number factors that players come up with. The above number changes do no look like massaging of numbers though. They look like spreadsheet hipfiring. Which is fine in a non-live game, but on a live game, you should take more care to not make abrupt changes. Players tend to not like changes that on a large scale basis change how they play.

    Anyways, this was my plea to the SOE system designers and management. Noone like seeing things like the Lib get buffed too far, then nerfed to oblivion in the following update (which is going to happen). Or to see the Striker lock-on launcher being OP, and then nerfed to uselessness. There is a middle ground, but its hard to find and can only be found by inching closer and closer, not by doing one giant leap and praying you get it right.

    Either way, thank you for a very enjoyable game, and keep on working, its not all bad :)
    • Up x 1
  2. Axehilt

    Eh, as a professional systems designer in charge of balance (on other games) who also knows a lot about PS2, those three changes sound pretty justified.
    • Ranger was absolute trash.
    • Vektor was trash.
    • Dalton was doing extremely well.
    I do generally agree that balance needs to be much more tightly controlled in a live game, but I guess I'm waiting on an example that feels like a bad change.

    The harasser is a better example. When they announced the changes I pointed out that reducing mitigation also reduces the value of repairs, and reducing the rate of repairs reduces the power of mitigation. So I said the double-whammy reduction would likely be too much. Then it ended up being a triple-whammy reduction and harassers have never been heard from since.

    Have they done something like that more recently? (Been gone from the game for about a month due to new job, so I haven't monitored patches closely. Sounds like I need to maybe try out Vektor solo lib again!)
  3. Bullborn

    My point was not whether or not those three changes were justified or not, my point was the magnitude it was adjusted with. I think we can all agree the weapons in question needed changes. It is simply a matter of magnitude.

    Harasser is indeed another example of going too overboard when attempting to balance. Recent Lib update is another, instead of giving it a small survivability buff, they gave it several at the same time. Now the Lib is pretty OP and will have to be nerfed. The only other option is buffing other things by the same degrees of magnitude and that will just break more things. Besides, nerfing something is worse than buffing something too little.

    My point is simply that you don't have to do it all in one big update. Chance of hitting it correct that way is small. Use the weekly updates for what they are worth instead.