A plan - Symmetrical vehicle combat -> Bringing back counters

Discussion in 'General' started by Tama, Jul 26, 2016.

  1. Tama

    Tama Developer Staff Member Web Developer

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    I have a clear direction I want to take Empiresmod in, and I feel certain that this will make the game much better than it currently is. Please have a read, have a think, and let me know what you think.
    Empires used to be about somewhat harder counters than these days, and I want to balance back towards that, keeping in mind that the player must always have options to choose as well as the commander, and that we must ensure there are counters to every strategy. I have ideas about how to do that, but they need to wait for balanced vehicle combat.

    I think it is impossible with the assymetrical nature of heavy tanks, to make any significant changes without running great risk of making the game unfair to NF or BE in the process. In fact, I would argue that is already the case, but it depends on the situation - I feel that at least when you get to heavies, some maps favour BE while others favour NF. That's why I want to move toward symmetrical tank combat as soon as possible. This opens up a lot more possibilities for strategy, because commanders will no longer be "locked in" to research paths by their faction.

    What needs to be done:
    -both NF and BE heavy tanks get 2 ML and 2 CN slots.

    Could also fix some of these imbalances, not essential:
    -NF CV rescaled to the size of BE, with the handling and physical aspect (physics wheels, scripts) copied from BE
    -NF light tank reskinned to replace BE AFV, exact same handling and hitbox.
    -BE medium and heavy reskinned to replace the NF ones, exact same handling and hitbox
    -NF and BE jeeps should be the same - ideally you start with a 2 seater but have a quick research that buffs the HP and expands it to a 4 seater, with still the same handling and hitbox.
    -NF's APC needs a seat at the top hatch, just like BE

    Why?
    -It will make balancing easier if we don't have to consider the relative merits of vehicles of one team
    -This gives both commanders more choices, because they can choose between cannon and missile heavies. (solves the strategy limiting problem)
    -Knowledge gained on one team will aid players on the other team as well - for instance, your muscle memory in how to 180 the CV can be carried over to the other team.
    -We can pick and choose from all handling sets for both teams, which means we can give all players the joy of riding around in (current) NF light handling.

    Strategy limiting problem explained by example:
    Researching railguns is simply twice as good a choice for BE as for NF. Hence, BE never has to counter railguns. That means absorbant would be less useful to BE (if we still had hard counters)... this ripples on and on through balancing, and that's what locks you eventually down to "there are like 3 or 4 valid heavy tank strategies".

    With symmetrical vehicle combat, the following tentative suggestion for a counter system would be feasible.

    A potential ideal of counters to work towards. This diagram represents how armours and weapons would counter each other. A few things to note:

    Situational influences
    It leaves out a few additional influences that could change the situation:
    -Reactive being high HP low resistance means it takes longer to repair
    -Regenerative by its nature is better against sustained low damage than high damage bursts
    -(homing / guided / dumbfire) Missiles, cannons, nukes and machineguns have different map situations in which they are each easiest to get on target

    Subset cycles
    These situational influences could create a subset of researches that form a cycle of counters. This is okay, as long as (1) the subset is different for different maps, (2) together, these subsets do cover the whole research tree, and (3) for all common situations, the subset should be quite large, so that we see a lot of variety of weapons and armours used.

    Also, I've left out deflective and composite, because (1) I think that the system is complicated enough with 3 armours, (2) every armour having the deflective property will add to the fun and skill of general tank combat, and (3) I feel that they never did have a place in the counter system of old - these two were in my memory only used during patches when they were better in all situations; there was never really a situational advantage to them (except when compo was expensive).

    Mixed strategy Nash Equilibria
    NB; it doesn't matter that some armours have more arrows coming from them, or fatter or thinner arrows than other researches. As long as all pure strategies have a dominating pure strategy, there will be only mixed strategy nash equilibria, which basically means it's best to keep switching armours and weapons to counter the enemy, all throughout the match.

    However, what makes it much more difficult for Empires compared to simple games like RPS is that the situation imposed on you by the map and by the composition and size of your team creates a subgame that must itself still hold the desired property of having no dominating strategies. For common situations while commanding, when the arrows have been adjusted to take into account the situational effects present, every armour and weapon should still have an arrow pointing to it; because that means that for every situation, there is still a counter to every strategy.

    To explain that better, let's imagine a situation where this fails to hold due to situational influences; for example, the situation is that you're playing a map on which reactive and regenerative have been disabled as researches. This is a major situational change, thankfully not one we will need to take into account as a "common situation while commanding", but for the sake of argument; If you remove those armours and their arrows, you get this. With only absorbant to choose, there is no arrow pointing into missiles, which means that missiles are just better, and no variety will happen during this map. Even in this extreme case though, we don't have to try to buff railguns to give BE a fighting chance on the map, ruining the balance in other situations in the process - because both teams have heavies with 2 CN and 2 ML slots, the only unfortunate consequence of this limiting situation is that both teams will go with missiles.

    For a more realistic example, imagine the situation of tight corners where infantry are of great influence to the tank battles. This makes some of the arrows a bit thinner and others thicker, but it doesn't completely remove any armours or weapons.

    I've attached the dia file with which I generated that diagram, so that you can edit it and propose things very specifically. I realise mine is quite limiting, since I've globbed HIT ML and HEMG, two very different weapons; quite likely we will need to list every weapon seperately in order to present the full picture.

    A problem - Comm is playing RockPaperScissors and I'm his pawn
    There's a problem with the counter system as it was previously implemented, due to the fact that a commander's first choices are basically a random guess, since you can't see what your enemy might be getting yet.

    If you just implement rockhard counters, the player will feel like their commander is playing rock paper scissors and they just have to hope their armour is rock and the enemy's is butter. Two proposed fixes:

    A leading research into armours... so you still start with plain, but in order to research other armours, you must first research "Advanced armour". This replaces plain with an armour that is exactly the average of other armours, just as good against each weapon. Later in the game, when a commander sees his enemy's weapons, he can pick a counter armour, with his players always able to switch back to "advanced armour" when they see the fight turn against their specialised armour. This also makes it easier to command, since the situation may make one armour really bad, and a leading armour research means that commanders can't completely screw over the team with armour.

    Another way is to simply dim the differences, so that armours are not quite so different, and you can suffer to wait while your commander goes for a counter armour (assuming that he does). Even with the first approach, of course, we will need to balance the degree of our counter system to make it feel right.
     

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    Last edited: Jul 27, 2016
  2. Lightning

    Lightning Member

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    so "Advanced Armor" being composite?

    Ill be happy to help with any scripting
     
  3. Caelorum

    Caelorum Member

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    I'm in favor of a lot of the changes you propose, but removing asymmetry from the teams certainly is not one of them. I get that it makes balancing a lot easier, but I feel like if you go down that path you should just copy BE to NF and give it a different colour.
    The problem with the current asymmetry is that the BE heavy is just superior in every way to the NF one and the NF LT is far superior to the AFV. I'm sure you can figure out how to balance them without resorting to the easy 'lets just make them the same'-routine that has taken the heart out of the game already.
    resizing to make them roughly the same could work, but so could emphasizing the differences. What about you give the BE heavy more firepower (just keep what it has) and give the NF heavy its superior sturdiness back again.
    And merge the BE APC and AFV and give it a smaller version of the Heavy as a light tank?

    I will respond to the rest of the post tomorrow when I'm less sleepy ^^
     
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2016
  4. Donald Trump

    Donald Trump Member

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    Congratulations, I think you MIGHT now win the award for worst developer to take over empires. Every prior developer would be spinning in their users graves at the suggestions you have. You are taking away the FUNDAMENTAL GAMEPLAY that makes EMPIRES unique. The gameplay is NEVER suppose to be balanced, its SUPPOSE to be asymmetric. It's suppose to be unbalanced and each side is suppose to have its own version of OP that can always counter each other.

    Every dev in the past has known this fact. I can not believe you would come out and say something SO TRAITOROUS to this mod.
     
  5. Spike

    Spike Long Live The King!

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    Im done trying to help this fucking mod, why did i even waste my time with this shit.
     
  6. Señor_Awesome

    Señor_Awesome Member

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    Other way around, lad
     
  7. Caelo

    Caelo Member

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    Trickster did not know, but even he agrees now and would have done things differently.
    Also Donald, the game should be balanced, but certainly not symmetrical in gameplay. Everything in Empires oozes asymmetric gameplay, however with the game becoming more and more symmetrical it just looks and feels wrong. You will have to basically redo every single model on of ine team if you go that route and still it will feel silly. You'd also need to redo every map. I totally agree it is a very silly suggestion to remove asymmetry from the game. However it does need some work to make it somewhat balanced again.
     
  8. Avatarix

    Avatarix Member

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    Okay
    -both NF and BE heavy tanks get 2 ML and 2 CN slots.
    The NF and BE are various factions, with other equipment and tactics. That is the point of Empires - you got TWO FACTIONS, not two "teams". There are counterterrorists and terrorists, llike in CS.

    -NF CV rescaled to the size of BE, with the handling and physical aspect (physics wheels, scripts) copied from BE

    I really dont know how this could help, but it's my opinion that NF CV is a little too big (you have biocomputers in there or what?)

    -NF light tank reskinned to replace BE AFV, exact same handling and hitbox.
    -BE medium and heavy reskinned to replace the NF ones, exact same handling and hitbox
    -NF and BE jeeps should be the same - ideally you start with a 2 seater but have a quick research that buffs the HP and expands it to a 4 seater, with still the same handling and hitbox.

    Look at first point. We don't play Starcraft on Marines vs Marines, there are no John Traynors. Who would research "upgraded jeeps"? Better roll out one APC.
    But the AFV remodel makes sense, the Imperials were the ones with technology and power in hand at the beggining of the war, so they should afford research of better vehicle than badly fit APC redesign.

    -BE's APC needs a seat at the top hatch, just like NF

    +1
     
  9. Caelo

    Caelo Member

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    Tama, instead of solely focussing on gameplay, please consider the atmosphere and feel of the game as well. Keeping what defines Empire, what makes it unique and fun, is more important than perfect balance. Empires is not a game for competitions. It's not Dota. It's not Team Fortress and it surely is not unique in having vehicles and infantry and having an rts/fps hybrid gameplay.
     
  10. Donald Trump

    Donald Trump Member

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    The game is balanced in it's asymmetry. The game back in I believe 2.2 was perfectly fine because it had counters AND asymmetry. This is a solution that Tama is introducing because there is pushback on putting counters back in Currently, but now if we make everything the same SURE THERE CAN BE COUNTERS. This is a retarded idea and I hope Tama gets run out for it.
     
  11. Ωmega

    Ωmega Member

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    I think letting different armours being good against certain types of attacks is an idea that has some merit and we could definitely debate that but the uniqueness of each sides adds a great flavour to the game, I think that the two dfiferent teams should have diferent strengths and weaknesses between each other.

    What you could do if you are very determined to make both sides the same is you could open up two seperate heavy tank research paths, 1 for double cannons and 1 for double missles, however I think if you did this I think that somthing else should be added to make the two factions have their own unique differences. One thing I have noticed is that the 3 slot HMG of DU is rarely used as APC's cannot very easily compete in combat, maybe some way to bring 3 slot MG's to the late game could be explored.
    Please Believe in Empires

    Also Daily reminder that BE's shotgun should be an autoshotgun
     
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2016
  12. Varbles

    Varbles Simply Maptastic. Staff Member

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    I have to say I'm not in favor of stripping out the asymmetry to such an extent, it's definitely throwing the baby out with the bathwater. 2 ML and 2 Cannons for both sides' heavies would be a big enough change to actuate your balance system, going further than that should be off the table. The original empiresmod for bf1942 had both sides just using reskinned versions of the same tank, and it was very unappealing. Going back to that voluntarily would devastate the game.
     
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  13. A-z-K

    A-z-K Member

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    I'm gonna buck the trend here and just put this forward:
    • The game has never been "balanced" not to the point that research really was truly situational
    I agree to symmetrical heavy tanks & I do want to see each faction have chassis that handle comparably.
    I'm not sure I like the idea of pallet swaps though, I like the individual styles of design aesthetically.

    But mechanically one team having access to dual cannon and one tema having access to dual missile doesn't work, never really has.

    I don't think anyone has looked much beyond the nostaglic thought that "Empires is about asymetry".
    There is very little I'm seeing other that hand flailing to make me believe that the asymetrical balance we have, particularly late game, has done anything other than stunt the number & variation of weapons.

    I don't think the "lore" is important (or exists), I don't think that we should continue to suffer having scripts that change monthly, nobody agrees on, everyone ends up doing the same research anyway....
    There is a lot of merit to parts of this idea, though maybe at points it goes a bit far. I'm not seeing much merit in anyones rebuttal.
     
  14. Caelo

    Caelo Member

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    you're missing the point I was trying to make. You we're implying asymmetry rules out balance and it is exactly that kind of reasoning that leads to the 'lets make everything the same kind of thinking. I was just stating you can have asymmetry and still have a balanced game. It is just more difficult to do and requires really listening and being in tune with the actual players (and not just the loud part). Something you can only really start doing if you record play statistics.
     
  15. Donald Trump

    Donald Trump Member

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    Or listen to the community, or re-add counters but both of those ideas have been shot down by the developers.
     
  16. Caelo

    Caelo Member

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    call it lore, call it justification, whatever, but ask yourself this: Would you play Counter Strike if both teams were the same? Would you play Battlefield if both teams are the same? Would you play C&C? Dune? Natural Selection? COD?
    They all have in common a backstory which adds conflict, justification, reasons to want to win. You can ignore and dismiss that all you want, but it does bot make it any less important. Without that lore you quietly dismiss Enpries is not Empires.
     
  17. Donald Trump

    Donald Trump Member

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    Asymmetry is what MAKES this game. A long while ago, there used to be hard counters and it worked AMAZINGLY. I remember winning as NF, I remember winning as BE. It is asinine to assume that symmetry is going to fix this, its the research that has been torpedoed continuously that has caused this issue. Symmetrical combat will be bland, it will manage to destroy the fundamental gameplay that makes Empires combat so fun and rewarding.

    The game is never balanced, NF always has it's research as does BE but back when there were counters, the NF strategy could counter BE and vice versa. Variation occurred in the research, something this development and others have completely gutted.
     
  18. Caelo

    Caelo Member

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    You know what.. When I started playing again. Couple of weeks ago I was under the impression the game was at least as fun as it was when I left around 1.08 and that brief period around 2.0. After realising it wasn't anymore I thought at least the current dev team is trying to bring some of its glory back again.
    However... if this is truly what they think Empires should be like I'm gone again. I do not want to tarnish the hundreds of hours of quality game time I had playing a game that was fun and unique with whatever this is to become. I hold those memories of Empires 1.03 up to 2.0 way too dear to allow myself to do that.
     
  19. Awpolt

    Awpolt Member

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    I'm in favor of asymmetrical gameplay; each with their own unique (balanced) strengths. It allows for far greater interesting strategies to evolve from such implementations.
     
  20. Trickster

    Trickster Retired Developer

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    Of course I'd do things differently, but that's only in the sense that I learnt and broadened my thinking over the time I was involved. My opinions changed as I got more experienced and had actual ingame evidence to make judgements on how my changes were affecting gameplay.


    With regard to the idea of the thread:

    Please stop thinking that making the game more balanced will make it more fun. There are enough things people complain about with Empires, but I can't ever remember a time when either side was so much more OP than the other one that it warranted eliminating all the differentiating depth between the 2 sides. You're fixing a small, arguably subjective problem with a huge fundamental change to the game which will essentially amount to removing content entirely. It's ludicrous and I can't understand where the justification for this comes from.

    Put simply, you shouldn't ever be removing content to balance in any capacity, especially not in such a huge one as this. But even beyond that, it's fixing a problem I don't believe even exists in the first place. It's just butchering the game.
     
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  21. Caelo

    Caelo Member

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    I will just leave this one comment here for anyone dismissing story as an important component of a game, equally important as any game rules and mechanics. Anyone focussed solely on 'gameplay' (actually rules and mechanics) is like an accountant fixed on numbers and thinking that is what defines a company. Numbers certainly are a part of a company, but what defines it are its workers. And I do not mean its robots on the factory floor, but its human workers who are different because they all have a different story. That story defines and is defined by their appearance, their thinking, their rationale, the choices they see, they make, everything that sets them apart from anyone else. The company becomes the common denominator, the aggregate, the more that the sum of its parts, it is unique, because of its workers. The same applies to any work of art including games. The story defines it, alters our perception of it, makes it unique. Makes it stand out, makes it worth the time/money to invest in.
     
  22. complete_

    complete_ lamer

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    im against the idea. like others have said, removing content that works would be devastating and im personally against the idea of "mirrored" teams. and i dont think symmetry will balance empires. i do think there are problems with the nf med and heavy but i dont think the solution is a reskin of the brenodi tanks.
    thanks for at least posting about the idea
     
  23. A-z-K

    A-z-K Member

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    I agree balance is less of an issue than people think.
    My favourite scripts were the ones that you did Trickster, armours, engines and weapons all Felt notably different and required different play styles. Maybe things weren't that balanced but like you've said it doesn't matter that much. A good team can roll past being 10% down on dps or moving a little slower.
    Besides fucking up the Fusion engine so it stalled and wouldnt start, which hurt Physics (At the time people were mostly rushing one tree until meds/heavies) they were good fun.
    Before that I don't remember much, just the Full Chemisty era really.

    I don't remember the meta before then being anything more than Rush full Chem heavies, then dpending on the map you'd dip into another tree. Maybe you'd pickup a counter armor instead of a weapon depedning on who was ahead of the research curve.

    But anyway, I think giving both teams the choice of either Dual ML or Dual Cannon is a good thing. The rest I'm not fond of.
    But Asymmetry doesn't make the game for me. Pocket Engineers and squads make the game.
    It would be a lot less different than people think if teams had access to different chassis is all I'm saying.

    Everyone be liek "You're ripping the heart of the game out" but I really don't see it.
    The bottom line is that the NF LT is pretty much better than the AFV despite another plat of armor.
    The Mediums are kinda same-same, as much as makes no difference (despite the BE one handling like a go-kart and the NF one like a shopping-kart)
    The Heavies.. depending on the map can be pretty imbalanced. Definitely the NF heavy is not fun to use in almost any situation I would have more fun ina BE Heavy.

    I don't see it as being that earth shattering.

    I wouldn't want a re-skin. That does go too far for me.
    I can live with the shitty handling.

    But why we can'tr just add an NF model with 2 cannons and call it quits there I don't understand. That is the most fundamental change mechanically
     

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