MCV Balance Playtesting

this is coming from the guy who abuses them the most

Discussion about the game and its default mods.
zinc
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Post by zinc »

If you want to take away too much power from base defence and base pushing here is an idea: go back to the original game and get rid of the seperate build of base defence.

Now actually, I like this game development. So don't really get rid of it. But rather have it as an option to be selected.

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Assist
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Post by Assist »

I'm confident to say that at least 30% of teams games are won in the first 5 minutes by deploying your MCV inside the enemy base. There is really little skill in that. I think this style should be completely removed from openra engine as it's all about immediately moving your MCV inside enemy main then placing barracks and defence structures in the middle of your enemy base, and game is finished in 5 minutes. Even late game MCV drop in middle of your enemy base has the same concept. I'm not against moving your MCV forward towards enemy 2nd or 3rd ore patches and claiming that from the start. I'm talking about moving your MCV to enemy first ore patch or just inside the enemy base.

MCV in TD is perfect. You can't just drop your MCV in the middle of your enemy base and expect to win the game. It is not something easily affordable, risky to expand with, requires more micro and strategy and comes with a generous cost. Gentlemen, the opposite is true in RA.

Thank you Mr OMnom for bringing this issue up.
Last edited by Assist on Tue Dec 13, 2016 6:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Doomsday
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Post by Doomsday »

Assist wrote: I'm confident to say that at least 30% of teams games are won in the first 5 minutes by deploying your MCV inside the enemy base.
I think what you are describing is a different problem altogether. Every type of early game rush is powerful if the opponent doesn't see it coming. I don't think there is a proper way to address that issue other than players learning to scout their opponent early and often.

If we find a way to remove/nerf early base push rush, I assume same players complaining about it will complain about early grenadier rushes or other hyperoffensive strategies.

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FiveAces
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Post by FiveAces »

I completely agree with the topic on hands.

In the recent weeks, I've played against OmNom a couple times and tried to figure out strategies to stop his basepushes that don't involve basepushing myself - to no avail.

The real issue is, in my opinion, that base defenses simply overperform relative to their cost.
As stated previously, one pillbox costs as much as a rocket soldier and a rifleman - yet it can cull dozens of them.
And their supposed hardcounters, namely tanks, barely dent buildings (compare how fast a medium tank, $850, can kill a pillbox, $400 - it takes ages).
My solution would be really simple: Keep the power level of defenses, but make them _significantly_ more expensive.
I'm envisioning $800 for a pillbox, in which case the build time would increase proportionally as well.
Blackened's assessment is completely correct: to me, the game feels best when it's about mobility, flanks and raids, and I think I'm not alone in this.
Basepushing is the exact opposite, and hence a playstyle I try to stay away from.
In most RTS, I have to decide what to invest into: Do I want a mobile army or turtle with defenses?
In the current state of OpenRA, base defenses are the single most cost-efficient asset, with infantry being a close second.
Hence there simply is no tradeoff for investing into a basewalk - why build air or vehicles when I can just lock down every single vector of attack with a trench of pillboxes?

Imo, we should address this issue by upping the amount of cash and time you have to invest into a basewalk
(also, on the same topic, how about nerfing barracks HP and upping their cost slightly?)

Let's make this a game about armies again!

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Doomsday
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Post by Doomsday »

Personally I wouldn't make cheapest defensive structures more expensive than $600. If we up defense cost too high, people will not afford them in their early game build orders. It will lead into more easy wins from unscouted early rushes.

If we think it would be alright, yes please. I'd certainly be fine with early cheese getting an indirect buff. ;)

OMnom
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Post by OMnom »

Blackened wrote:
Murto the Ray wrote: Until people can decide on what the issue actually is, testing solutions should be put on hold; its obvious that there isn't only one opinion here.
Bingo. There a so many balance issues and directions this game can go.
Completely disagree. It's by only experimenting with changes that we can figure out what is good and what is bad. If everyone in here tests their solutions and post their results, this discussion would end in weeks instead of months. With only rudimentary coding experience, I've managed to make my own playtest maps with the help of anjew and the github repository.
Assist wrote: I'm confident to say that at least 30% of teams games are won in the first 5 minutes by deploying your MCV inside the enemy base. There is really little skill in that. I think this style should be completely removed from openra engine as it's all about immediately moving your MCV inside enemy main then placing barracks and defence structures in the middle of your enemy base, and game is finished in 5 minutes.
This is more of newer players not knowing what to do against early base pushes. Literally, all you do is 2ref opening and wall them off, while building rocket soldiers and boosting your eco. Worst case, you have to give up your starting position....in which case, moving to a different ore patch is really not the end of the world.
FiveAces wrote: Blackened's assessment is completely correct: to me, the game feels best when it's about mobility, flanks and raids, and I think I'm not alone in this.
Basepushing is the exact opposite, and hence a playstyle I try to stay away from.
In most RTS, I have to decide what to invest into: Do I want a mobile army or turtle with defenses?
I agree that mobile, constant raiding should be a playstyle that can beat basepushing. My position on this, however, is that I would like both styles of play to be viable. I think it brings a unique dynamic and contrasting styles of play, and forcing people to only play one style does not seem like it would make this game better. Most people play this game with a chess mentality (cost efficient trades), while I play it with a Go/Weiqi (Territory) mentality.
___________________________________________________________

I've played 4-5 games versus decent players with my radar dome to defense tab edits. So far, putting the Radar Dome in the defense tab and making the SD a prerequisite for Radar has had some positive and negative impacts. Obviously, this needs a lot more testing, but the early results are promising.

Pros

+Game progresses a lot more quickly and fluidly, with tech coming out much sooner, hence being much more useful. So far, Tesla tanks and radar jammers are the the main beneficiaries of this.

+The amount of money it takes to sustain a base push is increased versus tech units. All of my base pushes failed because tech units took away all my money. If I spent more money on base pushes, I would get pushed back by my opponent's tech.

+Combating a base push with higher tech armies is possible since now they are more easily accessible.

+Overall, less static defense on the field because games are quicker and there is less time to build static defense. about 90 s goes into teching for dome and tech center = 6-9 less pillboxes in the game per side by the 10 minute mark.

+With higher tech coming out quicker, we have more mobile armies capable of defeating static defense

+Tech snipes and MCV snipes hurt a lot more, because it's harder to defend without static defense

Cons

- Artillery and V2's are even stronger, and even higher tech units/abilities have difficulties dealing with them.
-Tanks are overshadowed by the effectiveness of artillery units
-Soviets have a difficult time combating air units
-Have not tested the hind/arty/rocket base push versus the faster tech
-Have not tested the changes on different maps

Complaints and Suggestions
-Tech comes out too fast
-Static D spam is not nerfed enough
-Pillbox price is still too low
-This change is too drastic
-Put refineries in defense tab, and put tech/production in the other tab.
-Move everything to 1 tab
-Have not tried out the changes in 2v2 or team game scenarios

If someone can help me fix corrupt replays, I will post the replays of my playtest.
edit: I got two of them to work. Use the following map: http://resource.openra.net/maps/17592/. There are a lot of mistakes in the games that don't make them "perfect" for play testing, but I hope to show that faster tech is now possible, base pushing is nerfed but still possible, and the overall spam of defensive structures is lower. Both replays are of Soviet mirrors...the allied ones are corrupt and deleted.

Quick Recap
The goal of this experiment was to raise the opportunity cost of MCVS/buildings and to lower the opportunity cost of tech in order to curb the effectiveness of static defense and base pushing. Since MCV's are directly tied to the deployment and effectiveness of buildings, a nerf to one is a nerf to the other.
By moving the radar dome and tech center to the defense tab, the opportunity cost of pillboxes has definitely increased by some degree; if someone wants to keep spamming pillboxes, they're going to fall behind on tech. If someone doesn't build enough pillboxes, they're going to die to a strong attack. In the current game, the opportunity cost for pillboxes, regardless of it's actual monetary cost, is next to or close to zero (i.e, it's always good to be building more pillboxes).

At a glance, increasing the opportunity cost of the pillbox decreases the effectiveness of MCVs, basepushing, and pillboxes. More testing is needed to come to a definite conclusion.

I will also make a separate edit with only pillbox price increase to 600/800 for normal/camo, that way, we can test out the price changes in a vaccuum and not with SoS' other edits.

And since there are several other suggestions that no one is willing to test out for themselves, I'll take the liberty of testing them as well, if it's possible. A lot of the traits people are suggesting to change are very difficult to find on github, specifically, the deploy time of the MCV and how to implement a delay with placing buildings with the MCV...can someone direct me to the right trait or help me make a map with those traits?
Attachments
Radar dome to defense test .rar
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zinc
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Post by zinc »

Don't know how it's done, but it was maybe 3 or 4 releases back that a small delay was added to the mcv deployment before you can build. So I'm assuming it's easy enough.

zinc
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Post by zinc »

Yeah moving an mcv forward at the start of the game isn't really a problem from what I have seen. Well maybe if your team mates are noobs it's a problem but then you will probably lose anyway. Use concrete and put a rush on V2, artillery, and teslas. Moving foward and investing in turrets early game has a cost to it. If someone moves too far forward you may well get an mcv kill out of it, or otherwise, they are forced to move and you can take out a lot of their and their team mates forward buildings.

zinc
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Post by zinc »

OMnom wrote:
Complaints and Suggestions
-Tech comes out too fast
-Static D spam is not nerfed enough
-Pillbox price is still too low
-This change is too drastic
-Put refineries in defense tab, and put tech/production in the other tab.
-Move everything to 1 tab

Actually, it would probably be better to keep the defence tab for walls and even nukes etc., but just move some or all of the base defence proper over to the main tab. That way, if someone wants to build turrets against you, you can just easily put up a defence wall, and have the advantage of building extra whatever while they are building turrets.

Note that I'm only suggesting this as a lobby option to be clicked if desired. I think the game should be flexible enough to support different styles of play, even styles of play that some consider "boring" or whatever.

lucassss
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Post by lucassss »

note that artillery and tesla can shoot over walls (allied base walk with artillery is still useful, with base defenses acting to defend arty)

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Smitty
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Post by Smitty »

I’ll play devil’s advocate here.

Wasn’t there just recently a really entertaining game on 5a’s channel that featured incessant base pushing by one player and heavy reliance on V2 spam by the other? ;) The two play styles we tend to complain about most?

The goal for me is to make all playstyles viable, but not overpowering. Tech, eco, timing attacks, early aggression, and even base crawling and cheese should all be parts of the game. They don’t have to show up in every match, but they do need to remain as an option.

For pillboxes I’m at 600/800/800, and if that’s the only balance change made in the next release, I’d be happy. I feel too many try to balance pillboxes vs the flametower, but don’t consider the bigger picture i.e. V2s > Arty vs. the base crawl.

I believe this game is much closer to balanced than people say. If it was broken and in need of a large rework I wouldn’t play it as much as I do.

Another much needed change that will alleviate the stale game issue is something us players actually have some control over; better maps. I believe a new map making contest is in the works, which will give us an opportunity to introduce more maps that are conducive to the flowing gameplay that we want. I’m personally hoping for an ‘upgrade’ category to the contest, in which we could address current maps with choke point issues like Winter Storm, Desert Rats and Dual Cold Front.

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Wippie
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Post by Wippie »

Smitty wrote: I’ll play devil’s advocate here.
The goal for me is to make all playstyles viable, but not overpowering. Tech, eco, timing attacks, early aggression, and even base crawling and cheese should all be parts of the game. They don’t have to show up in every match, but they do need to remain as an option.
I think balance is about being able to adapt during a game to beat a strategy. What FiveAces is saying, that no matter how he adapts to Omnoms playstyle, he is not able to beat it, even though knowing exactly what's coming.

And yes, you are right about the game being very balanced indeed, but when players are developing and learning, some disbalances become more clear. But we need to be very careful making changes.

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SoScared
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Post by SoScared »

Great thread!
Smitty wrote: Maybe this should be its own forum post, but how the heck are balance decisions made? Who are the ‘deciders’?
Technically there are none. The "deciders" is the consensus of PR reviews done by whomever visits the PR (mainly contributors on GitHub). Here's a search for all balance PR's (containing word 'balance') on GitHub, both opened and closed: https://github.com/OpenRA/OpenRA/pulls? ... %20balance
Balance PR's have more or less been treated as any other PR concerning fixes, new features etc.
OMnom wrote: Before you guys start shouting out "lower the cost of X" ,"change the build time of Y", or "lower the speed of Z", please consider the following:
This is a recurring trend among balance posts; OP posts to discuss a certain problem and possible solutions and the replies are a series of 'what if's' instead of adressing points made by OP. It's a bit problematic because these discussions often fades into nothing.

I love that you're getting more involved with testmaps and looking into repositories. As with the past couple of releases, future balance issues (TD and RA) on GitHub are increasingly settled with being able to demonstrate effect vs pointing to the whims of discussions and polls. The latter is important in order to highlight balance issues but ultimately someone will have to put it the test. Official playtests have functioned well as bug nets but less for demonstrating effects of balance changes due to the low player numbers and limited time before the official release.

As the community and competetive scene is growing we're seing a higher demand on playtesting. Being open source we don't have a set pool of beta testers or paid staff to deal carefully with balance issues so practically ORA's balance issues are more dependent on contributers/players willing to spend time experimenting, playtesting and gathering data.

the-zoidberger
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Post by the-zoidberger »

Assist wrote: I'm confident to say that at least 30% of teams games are won in the first 5 minutes by deploying your MCV inside the enemy base.
I've noticed a correlation between players who randomly quit/abort mid-game and players who launch an unsuccessful blitz within the 3 to 5 minutes of a game.

Have other players observed this behavior?

Blackened
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Post by Blackened »

Smitty wrote: I’ll play devil’s advocate here.

Wasn’t there just recently a really entertaining game on 5a’s channel that featured incessant base pushing by one player and heavy reliance on V2 spam by the other? ;) The two play styles we tend to complain about most?
Who's complaining about v2 spam? I'm actually just curious about that.
I believe this game is much closer to balanced than people say. If it was broken and in need of a large rework I wouldn’t play it as much as I do.
I don't think it's as much as an imbalance issue in the sense that both teams can base push effectively(after the nerfs next patch at least). The problem is there is zero versatility to combat base pushes other than base pushes. It's a bit silly that the hard counter to base pushes is to base push yourself. Plus there isn't really a soft counter. Raiding eco and power currently isn't feasible and you can't maneuver an army away to attack somewhere else without getting your seiged base steamrolled.

This causes games to end on the same path. I feel like it gets super boring super quick.
When winning strategies get whittled down to just a few it takes a lot of the excitement out of the game.
Another much needed change that will alleviate the stale game issue is something us players actually have some control over; better maps. I believe a new map making contest is in the works, which will give us an opportunity to introduce more maps that are conducive to the flowing gameplay that we want. I’m personally hoping for an ‘upgrade’ category to the contest, in which we could address current maps with choke point issues like Winter Storm, Desert Rats and Dual Cold Front.
New maps is always good thing but like I mentioned earlier there is only so much you can do to a map before you limit viable strategies.

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