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Archive pour février 2007

Playing for fun and Playing to win

Lundi 12 février 2007

Playing for fun and playing to win, Unconquerable, 2007, about RTS’s and mainly Supreme Commander.

Lately I have seen a lot of people tell me that if they(GPG) are balancing the game for only the top players, the game will lose it’s "fun". The most common misconception that I have heard. What top players view as balanced and imbalanced is different from what a lot of people view as balanced and imbalanced. Most people are uninformed and the biggest problem is, the lack of skill and knowledge makes it so the games that they play in are mostly one sided, full of unexploited opportunities and ineffiency. So in turn they are not able to see the abuses that can be had, the exploits that can happen and the overpoweredness of what certain units can do.

This leads to fear that if they(GPG) listen to the top players as to how to balance the game, the game will be changed, it will become catered to them and they will no longer be able to do 60 minute no rush nuke/experimental(s) only games. This is not true, if you log on battle.net right now with starcraft, you will see many $$$$HUNTERS$$$$ 30 minute no rush games. There is never a lack of newbs in any games, newbs make up most of the gaming population. What makes a good game is something that can be played by everyone. The phrase - easy to pick up, hard to master is very true, especially for RTS or any strategy games in particular. What most good players aim to do is to help create a fair and even playing field, without blatant imbalances and exploits. It has nothing to do with how the game is played at a low level because most low level games won’t reach even a quarter of the potential of imbalances, exploits and abuses that can be use, the pace and efficiency is just not there. This however doesn’t mean that by balancing things according to good players won’t change the game for them, it will change it slightly but I highly doubt the outcome of those low level games will be changed at all. For example, having a 5k hp commander that can’t overcharge enemy commanders probably wouldn’t affect 60 minute no rush games AT ALL because most of the time in those games the commander is spend sitting at the base building or just idling.

Most people say that they don’t want this game to become another starcraft, which I think it wont at all - for example the t1 transport nerf really stops people from using transports as early mobile gunships. A sign that they don’t want extreme detail micro, micro that you see in warcraft3. I think most peopel feel that if they implement top player suggestions, that the game will turn into a micro-fest and lose its "epic" feel. What they dont realize is, if they are playing someone just as bad as them and has no micro whatsoever, there isn’t really going to be a problem since the skill level is even. At the same time, if you are really bad and playing someone really good on open palms - you are goign to get harassed from 3 or 4 different sides while getting bombed and pushed. It really doesn’t have anything to do with how the game is balanced, but with a newb fear of if they change it, it will make them even worse of a player than they are. This is why you balance a game for people who play to win.

If a game is catered specifically to newbs, the game will fail very quickly once it loses its initial "wow" factor. What makes RTS last thru the test of time is good support and balance. Good support means a good matchmaking client, ladder, stats, forums, websites, etc. Balance is the other important piece that I think most RTS clearly lack. Command and Conquer series basically felt off the map after warcraft2/starcraft because of total lack of balance. Westwood was THE RTS company with the C&C series before blizzard released warcraft2/starcraft. Their naiveness of how players should play the game and the emphasis placed on "cool" features over balance, cost them their position and much of their success has gone to blizzard now.

A huge problem I see with GPG is their unwillingness to change their game because it isn’t the way they envisioned it to be played. This thinking is the same as most newbs, that they can’t have their 60 minute no rush games. This will be the game’s biggest downfall if they continue this trend. Players will always find new and different ways to win, ways that the developer didn’t envision and expect. It is up to them to continually patch and update the balance in the game if they want the game to remain successful. Relying on people to play "nice" NEVER works. Just like catching people who use hacks to gain an advantage in the game is an ongoing process.

In closing, anyone that is still reading and has an open mind on how balancing and player(and developer) mentality hugely affects a strategy game, read this section and if you have more time, read the whole site. It is a very educational read for those who are on the tip of RTS enlightenment and the escape from an ignorant mentality.