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The One Man MMO Project
The story of a lone developer's quest to build an online world :: MMO programming, design, and industry commentary
On Balance
By Robert Basler on 2016-09-22 01:50:34
Homepage: email:one at onemanmmo dot com

This is a response I posted to some concerns about balance and progression on Reddit.

The blog post doesn't make it explicit but Miranda isn't a traditional RTS with individual matches. It is a seamless open world RTS with 10,000 players all together on the same map. I'm still figuring out all the ramifications of that reality.

There is always a lot of discussion about balance in RTS, which I can understand with respect to traditional 2 player matches. People want the game to be perfectly symmetrical so that it is only player strategy and tactics that determines the outcome. Yet most games I've played the factions are only superficially similar, and each side has its own optimum strategy, so is that really balanced?

On Miranda you can choose to fight harder, equal or easier targets or run away or hide. The choice is up to you, but the game incentivizes players to battle more experienced players with XP and loot drops.

After about 4 hours of play, Miranda unlocks the ability to custom design units from components so a player can get some pretty cool units fairly early in the game.

Miranda's biggest concession to balance is its unit cap so an experienced player can't just drown her opponents in units. If she want more units in a battle, she'll need to recruit some friends.

You're right that big stat boosts are not viable. I've been thinking a lot this week about the effects of attribute changes on stats and I'm still working on it. The plan is that the largest stat advantage you'll be able to see from attributes and perks is about 10%. Equal units take about 10 seconds for one to kill the other, so I don't think knocking off one second is too big an advantage. Also, with the systems I've implemented so far, players pay for every advantage with a disadvantage. The challenge for me as the designer is to make sure that that disadvantage always hurts and can't just be hidden away in a dump-stat.

My design for unit unlocks is that players will choose the most perks for the unit types they prefer, but will be smart to choose at least a few unlocks from many of the others. ie - you could go all-tanks, but if you don't unlock anti-air and the guy comes at you with planes, then you're screwed. My challenge there is to reduce the likelihood of completely gimped builds.

You're right of course that players will have to fight unit types they haven't used before. But that is a universal fact on Miranda because it isn't a game of specific units, optimum build orders and perfect counters, it is a game of figuring out the best way to use what you've got.

By Sutekh on 2016-09-27 06:09:40
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Something to consider is the typical PvP tactics of focused fire. Look at EVE online, or just about any MMO PvP "Battleground" - where the optimum strategy is all (or large chunks) of your forces all hitting one target to death, swapping to the next, rinse and repeat.

I personally hate this design not only being viable, but being best choice, because it's entirely unlike anything in the real world (generally because hitpoints vs reality's far more likely one-shot-one-kill - which I know as a gamer can be less than fun).

Think of it as the direct damage versus damage over time comparison.

Player 1 has all their units attack player 2. Units individually match up and start whittling down. Player 2 focuses all/many-of their units on P1's unit A, destroys it in one salvo, repeats on unit B, and so on. While P1 is slowly destroying P2's army en mass, P2 is whittling away at P1 and thereby reducing P1's damage output.

It might not be an issue in a 1v1 battle, but when you have multiple players' armies coordinating, it could become the same old song and dance.

I'm hoping that attack distance and blocking at least partially mitigates this for you. EVE and most MMOs permit everyone to co-locate spatially, thereby permitting everyone to be in range of a single target. Yours should permit a limited number of units to crowd around any one target before they start getting in each other's way.
By Robert Basler on 2016-09-27 11:26:41
Homepage: email:one at onemanmmo dot com
Miranda's units can't move on top of one another, but the best strategy is still to have as many units as possible attack a single target because damage does not affect a unit's damage output, only elimination of a unit does. To mitigate this, Miranda's unit AI does not focus fire of all units on a single target so if that is what the player wants, they have to micromanage that. The plan is to add line-of-sight checks so units can't shoot through each other, but those aren't in yet. Units do have an attack range, but that is unlikely to affect this.

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