Why we balance the way we do...

Generic, on-topic discussion about Colonial Marines.
User avatar
Posts: 6878
Joined: 22 Aug 2014, 18:05
Location: Ice Colony
Byond: Apophis775

Why we balance the way we do...

Post by apophis775 » 08 Jul 2016, 19:21

So, the question of Balance comes up fairly frequently. It was suggested to me, by one of the heads that we should make a sticky topic about what our balance is, and why it is the way that it is. Anything with a * after it, will be explained at the end of the post in greater detail.

Firstly, I want to state that just because we have the balance one way, does NOT mean we are partial to a specific side. Personally, I try to play both sides equally and get a feel for how the game is playing and everything is working. That being said, the server IS balanced towards Xenos being stronger. This is because, we strive for our own version of "perfect imbalance*" , and the "Marines" are the main character. They are the ones the story follows, and they are the focus of the game. The Xenos, are the antagonists. They are the red-shirts and the unnamed baddies to be thrown onto the bullets of the good guys. As a result, the marines need something stronger than them to fight against.

So, because the Xenos are the antagonists and not the "main", we had to allow room for the formation of many FOO (First Order Optimal) strategies* as well as make their game-play MUCH more forgiving. The strategies, are a way to bridge the gap between skilled and unskilled xeno players. They are meant to be ways for anyone as a xeno to be able to effectively fight against and engage the marines, and that if they die, it's not a total punishment. The counter-side to this, is that the game is intended for marines who die, to come back as Xenos, however, because so many people refuse and play "Marine only", this has resulted in not only FOO strategies for the Xenos, but also the necessity to make them stronger. Mainly because, it's very difficult to "balance" xenos against marines when the primary weapon of the Xenos is numbers. So, we have to "amp" up the xenos to be able fulfill their role if there are 5 or 50. At the same time, the fact that the Xenos are supposed to be the "bad guys" and "expendable" is why we don't let them use custom names or numbers and use a lot of randomness is designation. The focus of the story, should usually be on the Marines.

Moving onto the marines, their focus is to have a continually changing "meta"*. They should always be trying out and coming up with new tactics based on the marine compliment and available weapons and equipment, and if you look at our tactics/gameplay from a year ago to now, you can clearly see the change in tactics and play. Our goal with marine balance, is to reach the point where the new tactics are developed without us having to make balance changes and adjustments. But balance on the marine side is very hard to achieve. It's very easy to make a minor change and skew the entire thing sideways. But, if you want the marines to ever be "OP" and "Always winning" You'll never have that.

Our personal goal, is for about a 75% Xeno winrate during HighPop times. Which again, is because we want the Xenos to be an opposition, and give a feeling similar to the one the marines had the in Aliens movie. The marines at the start should feel like they can easily push against the aliens, but as the game progresses, it should feel more and more like they are just "holding them off" or "slowly falling back". The most interesting rounds and stories, come from when a group of marines is valiantly holding the FOB waiting for rescue, or when the marines are holding the bridge for a last-stand (or the escape pods). These are the moments that are the most fun, and what we are trying to create. Even people who are dead cheer and jeer when the marines are doing a last-stand hold somewhere and winning or losing.

We will still strive to make balance changes and adjustments to make the game as fun as possible, but it's a long process that takes a lot of work.

So, here's the explaination of the * terms for those of you who don't know:

Perfect Imbalance: Balancing the game based on the principle of intentionally leaning the balance towards one side or another to generate conflict within a game. Typically, balanced against the main character or player in order to make the game more engaging. Can be very difficult to do in multiplayer games.

FOO Strategy: An easy strategy or tool that is used by players that are new or unskilled as a way to level the playing field against players that are more skilled and experienced. An example of this, is the "Noob Tube" in COD. These strategies, are typically simple to execute and can bridge a skill-gap allowing less skilled players to not be overwhelmed. However, they are typically not as effective as more intricate or difficult strategies.

Meta: Meta has MANY different meanings. In this case, the "meta" refers to the standard tactics and play of a game. Metas typically change over time and adjust to encompass new gameplay mechanics. In our case, the meta has changed based on alien adjustments from the FOB being at the Nexus, to the T-comms as players tested and realized it was a better location.
flamecow wrote: "unga dunga me want the attachment" - average marine