Open RA Unit Balancing how to

Unit Balancing how to

Discussion about the game and its default mods.
dzine
Posts: 73
Joined: Fri Nov 13, 2015 2:13 am

Open RA Unit Balancing how to

Post by dzine »

Interesting video on design principles 1:07
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rdH8Kuku9tA



Unit Balancing how to


WYSIWG rule, form and function

We play games with tanks, ships, men etc rather than little dots or 01010001

Its called reality, Its called imersion, its called common sense

A mammoth tank should look and behave like a mammoth tank

ANY unit which does not behave in a reasonable manner is a unit that needs tweaking



Player choice, freedom of playstyle

IF there are only a narrow range of viable possibilities then the chances are something is over or under powered to excess...OP shock troopers a prime example..aka needs tweaking



Dont just tweak in isolation, consider real world effects AND player clickrate

Consider micromanagment loads. As a rule one click is often one click too many...on rare occasions a unit should be 'difficult to use' but tweaks should mainly be in the direction of reducing player burdens.

It realy is as simple as that. Common sense !









SOME ALTERNATIVES that worked very well in my playtests


Yaks's armed with parabombs, flame type. Inaccurate slow bombs yes! but lots of fun and add skill to both defence AND attack. Try it you will love it

The sight of slow but very heavily armoured yaks criss crossing a base or navy is a sight to behold...the slow fall rate of the bombs allows some ground units to scatter to safetey.

Longbow helicopter armed with a 'single' very long range & very powerfull 'seeking' missile...used againstt ships buildings and other aircraft!....in playtests ive spent many seconds trying to get my Migs to shake the missile....lots and lots of fun, a real favourite.

Radar Truck Fires ground to air missiles, slow missiles but with long range.
Mig's will probably out run the missiles but enemy helicopters will have to bob and weave to escape....Currently Its an unused unit, lets put it to good use !!!, it also looks the part.

The 3 weapon systems above have one thing in common...they do not exist in game but do exist in real life..., the slow speeds and long ranges add counterplay/avoidance opprtunities....grin factor garanteed !..there is nothing quite like seeing your well aimed missile insert itslef in the tailpipe of an enemy plane or badly dent a cruiser and watch it scurry home for repairs !


Great things can be achieved by paying attention to all aspects/factors/stats of weapons, you can use X factor from say an infantry weapon to alter a Y factor in a delivery mechanism.

Note: I spent 100s of hours tweaking the original rules.ini file 20 years ago.
I know what works, why it works and what to do when it isnt working.
Last edited by dzine on Mon Nov 16, 2015 8:44 am, edited 6 times in total.

dzine
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Joined: Fri Nov 13, 2015 2:13 am

Post by dzine »

Units that are currently OP Overpowered , UP underpowered and my fix it advice

RELEASE 2015 0919


Tanya, far to killy vs other inf, to the point of being ridiculous

Reduce the rate of fire by approx 30%
Additional Viable tweak, Reduce Hitpoints by 20% but add self healing at a slow rate.





Light Tank
, just too wimpy vs almost everything, an almost pointless unit. It should be a go to unit early, mid game

Increase firing range by 1
Add a crappy machine gun as secondary weapon

Safe tweaks that make it sit comfortably between the Jeep, APC and Medium tank.




Medium Tank, dies just a little to quickly
Increase firing range by 1
Add a couple of hit points, just a couple




Tesla Inf, totally OP mid to late game, no defence method in many circumstances
Reduce hit points
Reduce speed, any inf with a heavy back pack should be slow




Mechanic

A reduction in price of $25 or $50 is probably all that is needed here.




Civilians
Can we have our WORKING pistol back please ! , no unit should be without arms


Money Truck A great addition to the original yes, but it can also be used to carry troops. I sugest 4 or 5 troops. The current speed of the truck would have to be reduced. Make it equal to tanks so the truck can run with the tanks and not overtake them.


Mig's
In a perfect world they would have a speed boost BUT fast units are unweildy to control.
My suggestion is to give them a BIG armour boost AND self healing.



Yak's, Hinds, Longbow
Self healing at a low rate...if planes are bing used as suicide weapons its mainly because they are too mach hassle to repair. Self healing would return aircraft tactics to sanity....a self healing plane is an idle plane...so its not going to make them OP.



Yak
Reduce speed, make them easier to control BUT boost armour.

Murto the Ray
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Post by Murto the Ray »

Firstly, no; secondly, most of the current unit stats a have been decided by the community in some way or another and the changes you are wanting introduced don't tweak the game so much as totally change it.
dzine wrote: Dont just tweak in isolation, consider real world effects AND player clickrate[/b]
Consider micromanagment loads. As a rule one click is often one click too many...on rare occasions a unit should be 'difficult to use' but tweaks should mainly be in the direction of reducing player burdens.
Micro helps to produce the skill ladder that is in RA at the moment; if all units could hold their own when players weren't there to control them then all RA would be is a macro game; boring!
dzine wrote: Player choice, freedom of playstyle

IF there are only a narrow range of viable possibilities then the chances are something is over or under powered to excess...OP shock troopers a prime example..aka needs tweaking
Games are essentially lists of rules and stats, of course there are going to be optimal strategies. The thing that divides players is micro whilst pulling off those strategies; the thing which you seem so adamant to get rid of.
dzine wrote: WYSIWG rule, form and function

We play games with tanks, ships, men etc rather than little dots or 01010001

Its called reality, Its called imersion, its called common sense

A mammoth tank should look and behave like a mammoth tank

ANY unit which does not behave in a reasonable manner is a unit that needs tweaking
Reality does not make a good game, i'd rather not pay taxes on my yaks and have to decommission my nuclear arms due to protests within my base.

klaas
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Post by klaas »

Opinions are always good.

I'd suggest you try the playtest, and give feedback on the next unit stats instead of the current stats. Some of the things you mention (shocktroopers) are know to be overpowered, and will be nerved in the next release.

Also, you need to release that many people expect the old RA game to some extent. Giving units completely different weapons is cool, but will not be accepted by many people.

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Graion Dilach
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Post by Graion Dilach »

Murto the Ray wrote: Micro helps to produce the skill ladder that is in RA at the moment; if all units could hold their own when players weren't there to control them then all RA would be is a macro game; boring!
That's probably true, but keep in mind that the original engines were focused on macro - in pre-Generals games most of the abilities were reasonably low on amount. You can also feel free to see RA2 Soviet vs Soviet games (A-moving/returning Rhino Tank masses and the only micro is do deploy Desolators or maybe the Crazy Ivan-Flak Truck-Conscript combo)

The addition of fog of war and stances were two major steps to increase the importance of micro, but without a unit special ability bar, I'd guess this game still relies on macro mostly.
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Murto the Ray
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Post by Murto the Ray »

Graion Dilach wrote:
Murto the Ray wrote: *Snip*
Yeah, OpenRA would be more of a macro game than micro but macro isnt as complex as a game such as starcraft so micro takes a more important role; sorry i didn't convey that well with my very small statement

dzine
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Post by dzine »

Micro managment burden

Q what do we want our brains to be focusing on when playing a game like openRA ?



In a team game 'situational awareness' and 'co operation with team mates' is important

In 1v1 head to head games the burden of 'co operation with team mates' is removed


So here we can clearly see that micromanagment levels that are acceptable in a 1v1 game played on a small map might be burdonsome on a 4v4 game played on a large map.





When redalert was invented 20 years ago things were very differnt


multiplayer gaming was virtually non existant, the extra burden of multiplayer games a rare experince

computers were slow, a game played on a large with many units got slower as the complexity of the battle increased...to the point of it almost grinding to a halt

computer screens were smaller

the resolution was lower, the units where much larger as a proportionn of screen size

all these things tended to skew balancing desisions in favour of 1v1 gameplay on small maps.

Today the situation is completley differnet. The way people play games has changed and the emphasis also has to change...reducing micromangment will in most cases open up greater opportunities for 'player styles' and 'game styles'

Note: Games which are heavily skewed towards 'paper scissor stones' type balance might at first glance seem cool but ultimatley they lead to 'reduced player choice' and 'reduced game styles'

dzine
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Post by dzine »

Realism and scale

Realism should be brought to the table where ever it is 'practical to do so'. Realism reduces 'brain strain' it allows prior knowledge of the real world to be put to good use in virtual worlds. Realism and natural instincts are bedfellows, aka 'True to life'

Q how many films suck becuase they push things beyound the bounds of plausability.


Scale openRA like many RTS games are a real spaghetti soup of scales.

Consider the sizes of the ships, they are about 100x smaller than they would be in real life.

Shrinking ship sizes by such afactor was an unavoidable sacrifice. The redeaming factor is that side by side the Gunboat, Destroyer and Cruiser have proportions 'close enough' to real world expectections....the sub is oversized and could perhaps be shrunk by 10 or 20% and still be made managable.



Battleship in all but name

The cruiser currently fills that role, indeed it should have been called a battleship because it actually looks like and baheves like one. (anti aircaft ability aside)

In my opinion the Allied navy as it currently stands makes for interesting gameplay.
In reality a Battlship or cruiser would have extensive anti air capability, here the heavy armour of the cruiser helps us ignore that broken aspect of reality....if that heavy armour were not present then reality would have been seriously breached not once but twice and players would bitterly complain and ask that the cruiser be significantly upgraded.


Take home point 'Break reality' once and you can probably get away with it, break it too many times and you break the game.



Take a look at each and every unit and building in the game

Ask yourself how many times is 'reality broken' ...the call to nerf or buff stats is invariably linked to 'abuse of reality'

learning to ask the right questions and learning to see the problem in the right way is key

dzine
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Design from Principle

Post by dzine »

Design from Principle

Zoom out, look at the fundamentals.

Dont design from 'bias' or 'personal experience'

Dont design 'as a reaction' to a problem..."the cause of most problems is quick fire solutions"


Think broad and deep
...and keep thinking until 'the fundemantals' and 'their weights' are second nature.

dzine
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Redalert Depot as an example

Post by dzine »

Mobile units are complex, its worth looking at simpler static things like buildings and considering traffic flow and how unit agility will be influenced. A good understanding of buildings is essential to mobile unit balancing.



Redalert Depot as an example

Why is is the way it is ?

Its an octagon, has eight sides, its flat.

This allows vehicles with 8 angles of turning to drive on and drive off. No doubt this was the basis from which it was originally designed. Perhaps it was a rush job, an afterthought but it works. It has become an iconic shape. Its shape allows it to stand out from the rest of the buildings.

Clarity and style, form and function.



Powerstation as an example


Most likely modelled on battersea power station. An iconic shape also used in a Pink Floyd video. The red fire brick look. The chimneys truncated for visual clarity. Base template size 2x3 and 3x3 , you can build a nice neat horizontal line of them. Like most redalert buildings the foreground section is a muddy path. This gives a sense of being part of the map rather than a thing plonked onto it.

One of the strengths of redalert buildings is there compactness. The ability to build in a row at least in the X axis. Many other RTS games have failed simply becuase they used large buidlings that ate up vast swathes of the map and cause considerable problems with choke points and traffic flow.

Visual clarity is key
Traffic flow is key
The ability to build a 'wall of buildings' is key
The ability to build tight compact bases is key....to at least have that as a 'player choice'


Designing something in isolation is Designing to fail





Radar Dome as an example

Google images 'radar dome' and you get that iconic shape. Using iconic shapes reduces player learning curve and increases battlefeild clarity. It is especially usufull when the iconic shape also has an iconic colour and isnt fighting design or stylewise with other buildings.

You can allways break the rules, but every step takes you closer to the edge of the cliff.

noobmapmaker
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Post by noobmapmaker »

Nice posts! They set some borders for those who are looking for proper ways to think about balancing.

One thing that I recall from a gamedesignbook: when you try to balance a certain value then first make a guestimate what it should be. Then playtest. If you need to adapt then adapt it more than you think it needs to be adapted. Playtest again. And readjust backwards towards the best value.

Somehow shoving up a little notch everytime is an inefficient way to balance a value, according to that book.
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winftw
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Post by winftw »

@dzine

Aircraft: I 10000% agree with this. They're too fast and die instantly if they move 1 pixel too close to AA. In their current state most people just use them as passive scouts = idling above your own artillery, which is boring and unfun. Especially soviet aircraft is too hard to use. I like your aircraft ideas a lot.

Tanya: Also agreed. Tanya is often used in frontlines to instantly kill a 100 enemy infantry which is definitely not the original role of this unit. Tanya should be a sneaky commando, NOT rambo. But I wouldn't remove her hitpoints. I'd just reduce firing rate enough to give a group of riflemen a chance to kill her.

Mechanic: Mechanic shouldn't be both cheap and also able capture husks, he should just be really good at repairing and repair landed aircraft as well. So if mechanics were cheap they shouldn't be able to capture husks. Because capturing mammoth and mcv husks for free makes no sense.

Money truck: 5 passenger seats would most definitely make this unit worth building. The soviet truck maybe doesn't need passenger seats because they already have the APC.

All other stuff written in this thread sounds reasonable aswell.

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Graion Dilach
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Post by Graion Dilach »

The nonspecific unit design stuff he posted are stupid and makes no sense though.

RTSes can run on different principles - they're not needed to be realistic, etc. Rock-Paper-Scissors can still give you options if you added at least two other classes then make some crippling overspecialized units along with average-vs-more-stuff ones.

Designing as a "reaction to a problem" will work if you're running a role-based design, where the armaments are just visuals on the design board and the units will be decided by the role they'll have on the battlefield - it's called as filling the missing roles. These systems also allow you to design individual counter units to specific tactics then as well.

100% realism will break games completely - it's not just "break reality once, okay, do more breaks, you're busted". RTSes need to be unrealistic otherwise the games would be completely unplayable due to costs, ranges, scales and a lot of modern RL military gizmos which would prevent them modelled into a game without a heavy iteration of dumbing down.

dzine, if you want to pretend you know something, then prove it. Don't spam these boards with farfetched ideas - especially when I can see from some posts that you have no idea what you're talking about - and do your own mod. You claim you playtested your changes etc - you're free to upload a playtest map to the resources site or even launch your own mod á lá Insert_Name with his TD navy one.
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Ripsn
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Post by Ripsn »

Dont be so harsh
it is great that there is conversation driving change (or no change).
Dzine you can simply create your own map with your own unit specific balancing.
i would be keen to try anything you come up with and give you some feedback

but as stated above, please slow down the messages. one long thread is better than 100 small ones.

Keep up the progress.
Do it for the soup

dzine
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Post by dzine »

this is the take away line

Realism should be brought to the table where ever it is 'practical to do so'. Realism reduces 'brain strain' it allows prior knowledge of the real world to be put to good use in virtual worlds. Realism and natural instincts are bedfellows, aka 'True to life'


Making a good game is just like making a good movie...a lot of 'right stuff' has to come together. That kind of magic is hard to rustle up on demand.
We all bring our chisel to the table and chip away in search of the magic.

The main problem is that writing 'good code' is realy hard
so hard that 'good design' is often an afterthought. It also means that "unit balancing' also ends up as an afterthought.


Its a thankless task
Spend 3 days squishing an obscure bug buried deep in the code and few will know who or what to cheer. Drop a clanger on Unit Balancing or the UI (user interface) and the whole community of players groans & complains.


openRA has allready reached a stage where its on par with the original game (at least in terms of core gameplay)
Now is the time to 'focus a bit more' on polishing up the finer details. UI tweaks, Unit balancing tweaks etc and that is why ive wriiten a few posts related to these matters. Of course there are many features and functions still to be added one must not forget the 'core idea', its a game people play for enjoyment.


Its a good day when
The main topics of debate focus round things like unit balancing, colour pickers and misc wotknots...becuase this is a complementary reminder that the bulk of that thankless invisible code work has allready been done!


Myself ive been designing games for 40 years, and writing code for 30 of those. I have an interest in war games & RTS games in particular. Redalert a good case study

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