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The gaming community and "balance"


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Just thought I'd share some thoughts I've had lurking these forums since game release.

 

I see all these posts about balance whether it's about classes, difficulty or abilities. I was just wondering how we have all got so tied up in balance, especially on single player games.

 

I remember being a young lad and playing baldurs gate. Didn't have Internet then or if I did we had 10 hours use of dial up so these issues never arised.

 

We took games as is and did what we could with them. Baldurs gate gave you the DnD rules and we went with it. We "role played" the classes. Their was always classes that were the power houses but we still made other characters because it is a game after all.

 

Maybe we decided to make a stalker sub class where a assassin or fighter/thief was way better. Maybe we made a bard because no one ever does. We tried sub par parties just to see what we could do. On character creation some decided on ability dice roll maximum amount of rolls instead of rolling 100 times for that 95 or higher.

 

Ever since the mmo era began we the players seem to expect game makers to tell us what to do and try to find that " holy trinity" of the game and exploit it.

 

I still remember getting Diablo 3 because I grew up on the first 2 and seeing endless post about class balance and blizzard patching and nerfing certain classes. This blew my mind especially since it was single player/ PvE.

 

I see here people complaining about PotD especially. Why would we expect game makers to change it. Why can't players decide, "hey, I use this spell a lot, maybe I'll shelf it and try another combo".

 

The game makers gave this game a pretty awesome attribute system in my mind where all combinations are viable. Maybe their not ideal, but their viable.

 

Maybe we all need to just step back and enjoy games for what they are and this is in my mind a masterpiece that I can see kids picking up in 20 years like their doing with the old IE games now.

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Hear hear.

 

I've given up on plenty a MMO since everybody expects you to use this pre-designed builds that they tested for maximum use. And generally end up with the most boring gameplay known to man repeating the same stuff over and over. I don't want to do that, if that's all there is to a game I rather play another.

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^

 

 

I agree that that is such a stupid idiotic pathetic garbage hateful retarded scumbag evil satanic nazi like term ever created. At least top 5.

 

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 I was just wondering how we have all got so tied up in balance, especially on single player games.

 

Because playing with god mode on is boring. Overpowered classes/abilities/whatever are the same thing in principle, just less extreme. I play games because I like being challenged, which is not happening when something's overpowered and makes the game a cakewalk. Likewise, it's not fun to find you're failing only because you picked the useless class, which you had no way to know when you were starting out.

 

 

We took games as is and did what we could with them. Baldurs gate gave you the DnD rules and we went with it. We "role played" the classes. Their was always classes that were the power houses but we still made other characters because it is a game after all. Maybe we decided to make a stalker sub class where a assassin or fighter/thief was way better. Maybe we made a bard because no one ever does. We tried sub par parties just to see what we could do. On character creation some decided on ability dice roll maximum amount of rolls instead of rolling 100 times for that 95 or higher.

 

 

Yes we did because the game wasn't that hard, so even if your main char was literally a retarded monkey with one arm, the rest of the team could easily handle everything without you. That doesn't mean it's fine to design some class to have the power of a retarded monkey with one arm.

 

I see here people complaining about PotD especially. Why would we expect game makers to change it. Why can't players decide, "hey, I use this spell a lot, maybe I'll shelf it and try another combo".

 

Because it's the devs' job to cut overpowered stuff out of the game, not mine. All I should be doing about combat in the game is trying to win it, not worrying about how hard and in what ways I need to gimp myself so the enemy has a chance.

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I see all these posts about balance whether it's about classes, difficulty or abilities. I was just wondering how we have all got so tied up in balance, especially on single player games.

 

The idea is to feel like you can play the game however you want and not be either uber-overpowered or gimped.  It's different than competitive balance.  I would say that some people probably take it too far, but the game does have some serious balance issues that actually affect the quality of the game overall (though it's still great).  If those are improved the game gets better.  That's the root of this balance talk.

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Let modders take care of balance.

 

Yeeaaah.. no. Have you tried modding PoE?

 

 

Man I wish values could just be edited in a text editor like some games.  Would be so awesome.

 

Item stats can, many ability stats can, tons of stuff can be modded.  It just requires an expensive program to do it :(

 

Or maybe Disunity can somehow, idk.  Need to actualy be able to modify .unity3d files to make changes which links to the other crap.

 

Failing that, there are always those maniacs with Cheat Engine or hex editors who have the patience to go through numbers entry-by-entry to see what does what in a file.  

Edited by Nerdwing
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No well-designed game should require self-policing.

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"You're a fool if you believe I would trust your benevolence. Step aside and you and your lackeys will be unhurt."


 


 


Baldur's Gate portraits for Pillars of Eternity   IXI   Icewind Dale portraits for Pillars of Eternity   IXI   Icewind Dale 2 portraits for Pillars of Eternity


 


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Let modders take care of balance.

 

Yeeaaah.. no. Have you tried modding PoE?

 

 

Man I wish values could just be edited in a text editor like some games.  Would be so awesome.

 

Item stats can, many ability stats can, tons of stuff can be modded.  It just requires an expensive program to do it :(

 

Or maybe Disunity can somehow, idk.  Need to actualy be able to modify .unity3d files to make changes which links to the other crap.

 

 

That's my point.  I'm saying you can't just edit them in a text editor.

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Let modders take care of balance.

 

Yeeaaah.. no. Have you tried modding PoE?

 

 

Man I wish values could just be edited in a text editor like some games.  Would be so awesome.

 

Item stats can, many ability stats can, tons of stuff can be modded.  It just requires an expensive program to do it :(

 

Or maybe Disunity can somehow, idk.  Need to actualy be able to modify .unity3d files to make changes which links to the other crap.

 

 

It's not that easy; you can't just use a text editor and you can't do it straight-up just because you've got Unity. To edit most game files you need to extract .cs-files from a .dll, edit them, and recompile it. And even then, editing the .cs-files is ****ing crazy unless you learn the language. I've done some simple modding like this in my life, but most of it was easy. Here, I couldn't even figure out how to change the Attribute bonuses properly.

 

And don't get me started on editing Talents or Items. Touching them seems to break them and you end up having to hex-edit the files by hand.

 

**** that ****. Modding PoE is a horrorshow compared to most other games that I can think of that has even basic modding support of any kind, including games that were never intended to even be modded, like the Infinity Engine games.

Edited by Luckmann

t50aJUd.jpg

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Let modders take care of balance.

 

Yeeaaah.. no. Have you tried modding PoE?

 

 

Man I wish values could just be edited in a text editor like some games.  Would be so awesome.

 

Item stats can, many ability stats can, tons of stuff can be modded.  It just requires an expensive program to do it :(

 

Or maybe Disunity can somehow, idk.  Need to actualy be able to modify .unity3d files to make changes which links to the other crap.

 

 

It's not that easy; you can't just use a text editor and you can't do it straight-up just because you've got Unity. To edit most game files you need to extract .cs-files from a .dll, edit them, and recompile it. And even then, editing the .cs-files is ****ing crazy unless you learn the language. I've done some simple modding like this in my life, but most of it was easy. Here, I couldn't even figure out how to change the Attribute bonuses properly.

 

And don't get me started on editing Talents or Items. Touching them seems to break them and you end up having to hex-edit the files by hand.

 

**** that ****. Modding PoE is a horrorshow compared to most other games that I can think of that has even basic modding support of any kind, including games that were never intended to even be modded, like the Infinity Engine games.

 

 

Pretty much.  I've modded quite a few games in my life but I'm probably never going to mod PoE.

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That's my point.  I'm saying you can't just edit them in a text editor.

 

 

That hasnt been doable in most games for a darn good while though.  It almost always requires some modder to make a tool to set stuff up in an editable and recompile-able framework.

 

Since this is an RPG forum, anyone here play Arcanum: of Steamworks and Magic Obscure?  Remember the item editor for that?  There wasnt one originally.  You used a hex editor.  I originally learned hex solely to make firearms early-game not awful in Black Mountain Mines :p

 

But then, some guy made a UI for it that automatically allowed you to change item stats very quickly without having to sort through a metric ****-ton of hex code and it'd spit out a file right there for you using Java, I think.

 

And then on top of that, a totally different dude made a freaking web editor.  You could enter the crap on a website, and it'd pop out your file right then and there.  Both of these required alot of effort from the modders, presumably.  They werent easily editable, until they wanted them to be.

 

EDIT: @Luckmann, yeah I agree with you there. The nuts-and-bolts fundamental stuff isnt accessible, which is a god damn shame because thats what'd let people do some really cool stuff.  

Edited by Nerdwing
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That's my point.  I'm saying you can't just edit them in a text editor.

 

 

That hasnt been doable in most games for a darn good while though.  It almost always requires some modder to make a tool to set stuff up in an editable and recompile-able framework.

 

Since this is an RPG forum, anyone here play Arcanum: of Steamworks and Magic Obscure?  Remember the item editor for that?  There wasnt one originally.  You used a hex editor.  I originally learned hex solely to make firearms early-game not awful in Black Mountain Mines :p

 

But then, some guy made a UI for it that automatically allowed you to change item stats very quickly without having to sort through a metric ****-ton of hex code and it'd spit out a file right there for you using Java, I think.

 

And then on top of that, a totally different dude made a freaking web editor.  You could enter the crap on a website, and it'd pop out your file right then and there.  Both of these required alot of effort from the modders, presumably.  They werent easily editable, until they wanted them to be.

 

EDIT: @Luckmann, yeah I agree with you there. The nuts-and-bolts fundamental stuff isnt accessible, which is a god damn shame because thats what'd let people do some really cool stuff.  

 

 

Divinity: Original Sin I do the modding in Notepad++. Civilization: Beyond Earth, I do the modding in Notepad++. With the Infinity Engine, I could do much of the modding in Excel.

 

The nuts and bolts stuff is the most important stuff, but it's also the stuff where I can't see anyone possibly making an editor of any kind. Talents / Items? Maybe, at some point, if there's interest (and with the game in this state and with this level of modding, I doubt there will be).

 

Hell, I can think of games where I can edit the savegame files themselves in Notepad++, come to think of it. What game? Wasteland 2 of course.

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Because playing with god mode on is boring. Overpowered classes/abilities/whatever are the same thing in principle, just less extreme. I play games because I like being challenged, which is not happening when something's overpowered and makes the game a cakewalk. Likewise, it's not fun to find you're failing only because you picked the useless class, which you had no way to know when you were starting out.

This sounds very reasonable and if not for one small fact, I would believe you. The fact is this: it has experimentally been proven to be completely wrong by the very existence of series such as Baldur's Gate. I don't remember BG1 too well, but BG2 was most certainly not balanced. Even the default spells and abilities included some which were extremely powerful, but if you knew how to combine them, you could get some that were so ridiculously overpowered that MMO players should probably be sitting down before they are discussed. You'd think this makes the game boring, but BG2 was awesome. PoE, with all of its attempts at balance, is decent, but IMHO not as good.

 

In fact, one of the things that BG2 had that PoE does not was great items. It's been over a decade since I've last played it, but I still remember them: the Robe of Vecna, the Flail of the Ages, Carsomyr... there were a lot of items that would never make it into a modern game because they were ridiculously overpowered. Maybe I haven't gotten to them yet (currently near the end of Act II), but PoE does not have such items. It has a few named items that have enchantments which you can't add yourself, but none that really make a significant difference to the party as a whole. Hilariously, the most discussed item on the forum appears to be a pair of gloves that add +2 to Mechanics (people have a hard time finding them since it's random loot).

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That's my point.  I'm saying you can't just edit them in a text editor.

 

 

That hasnt been doable in most games for a darn good while though.  It almost always requires some modder to make a tool to set stuff up in an editable and recompile-able framework.

 

Since this is an RPG forum, anyone here play Arcanum: of Steamworks and Magic Obscure?  Remember the item editor for that?  There wasnt one originally.  You used a hex editor.  I originally learned hex solely to make firearms early-game not awful in Black Mountain Mines :p

 

But then, some guy made a UI for it that automatically allowed you to change item stats very quickly without having to sort through a metric ****-ton of hex code and it'd spit out a file right there for you using Java, I think.

 

And then on top of that, a totally different dude made a freaking web editor.  You could enter the crap on a website, and it'd pop out your file right then and there.  Both of these required alot of effort from the modders, presumably.  They werent easily editable, until they wanted them to be.

 

EDIT: @Luckmann, yeah I agree with you there. The nuts-and-bolts fundamental stuff isnt accessible, which is a god damn shame because thats what'd let people do some really cool stuff.  

 

 

I've modded a ton of games that could be directly modded via text editor or simply needed to be decompiled and then edited.  This doesn't fall under either category.

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That's my point.  I'm saying you can't just edit them in a text editor.

 

 

That hasnt been doable in most games for a darn good while though.  It almost always requires some modder to make a tool to set stuff up in an editable and recompile-able framework.

 

Since this is an RPG forum, anyone here play Arcanum: of Steamworks and Magic Obscure?  Remember the item editor for that?  There wasnt one originally.  You used a hex editor.  I originally learned hex solely to make firearms early-game not awful in Black Mountain Mines :p

 

But then, some guy made a UI for it that automatically allowed you to change item stats very quickly without having to sort through a metric ****-ton of hex code and it'd spit out a file right there for you using Java, I think.

 

And then on top of that, a totally different dude made a freaking web editor.  You could enter the crap on a website, and it'd pop out your file right then and there.  Both of these required alot of effort from the modders, presumably.  They werent easily editable, until they wanted them to be.

 

EDIT: @Luckmann, yeah I agree with you there. The nuts-and-bolts fundamental stuff isnt accessible, which is a god damn shame because thats what'd let people do some really cool stuff.  

 

 

Divinity: Original Sin I do the modding in Notepad++. Civilization: Beyond Earth, I do the modding in Notepad++. With the Infinity Engine, I could do much of the modding in Excel.

 

The nuts and bolts stuff is the most important stuff, but it's also the stuff where I can't see anyone possibly making an editor of any kind. Talents / Items? Maybe, at some point, if there's interest (and with the game in this state and with this level of modding, I doubt there will be).

 

Hell, I can think of games where I can edit the savegame files themselves in Notepad++, come to think of it. What game? Wasteland 2 of course.

 

 

Huh, and Wasteland 2 is also Unity, so that's odd.

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Best example I can think of in recent times was the Levitate spell/potion in Morrowind.

 

Want to break the game?  Go ahead, run straight to Red Mountain you rascal Neverrar, you!.  I never once did it, but the option was there and people enjoyed it.

 

My only concern with stuff like that is there are some folks who take that as "the game balancers slacking" and respond with stuff like "How the hell did this make it through Q&A????" etc, when sometimes a little bit of absurd power is fun, if the player is the kind to moderate or not abuse it.

 

EDIT: sorry, this was in response to Althernal

Edited by Nerdwing
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Let modders take care of balance.

 

Yeeaaah.. no. Have you tried modding PoE?

 

 

Yes.

 

Yes I have.

 

But my point really was that Obsidian can't win with balance -- whatever they do is going displease people in that regard.

 

What they should focus on, instead, is making it easier to mod the things we'd like to mod.

Edited by Daemonjax
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Here's the thing though: You can tell someone that if they don't want to break the game, then simply stay away from anything that's too OP, but I don't think a player should ever have to make that choice in the first place. I think any instance where a player has to either deprive themselves of an element of the game, or to trivialize content is an instance where the game designers have done something wrong. In an ideal game, a player should always be able to make use of any the game's mechanics and optimize their characters while always being reasonably challenged, and while it may not be possible to achieve that 100% of the time, I think it's for that reason that balance is very important even in single player games. 

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Look over the achievements; they amount to setting arbitrary limits on what you can do, and the only difference between them and house rules is that they're sanctioned.  What else is a solo run in a game designed for a party of six other than "depriving yourself of an element of the game". 

 

Maybe I want to do a run with no spellcasters or no tanks; that's not depriving myself of game elements, it is a choice.

 

Now there are some areas where I think balance is appropriate - for example, if one spell at a given level is overwhelmingly better than all of the others, or some are so weak that no one uses them, then you're losing actual choice.

 

But campaigning to have, say, entire classes crippled because they're "too powerful" in a single player game?  What that really amounts to is some players who want to dictate the game experience of other people, and that's rarely going to end well.

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In reply to the opening post, I feel your frustration. Sometimes it feels like internet critiques mentioning "balance" want to discorage variety and make everything the same.

 

However, I don't believe such individuals are very good spokespeople for balance, because balance isn't about making everything equal, it is about making unequal things into equally valid choices.

 

This might seem like a trivial difference, but it isn't. For example, let's look at two very old Blizzard RTS games: Warcraft 2 (1995) and Starcraft: Brood War (1998). Warcraft 2 presents two different races to choose from, and almost everything about the two races is the same, while Starcraft offers three race choices where each race is radically different from the others. Yet, Warcraft 2 is seen as have imbalanced race choice, while Starcraft is seen as balanced. This is because the very few things different in the former are seen as clearly favoring one side, so despite 95% sameness there is a clear edge in one choice. But with Starcraft, there are so many unique advantages and disadvantages that determining a clear winner is impossible. (Chess, the oldest strategy game in the world, shares Warcraft 2's problem.)

 

Hopefully that is a lesson on how sameness and monotony is not the ally of balance, but instead its most insidious foe. True balance is about offering exclusives to mutually exclusive options, forcing players to compare apples to oranges instead of apples to apples, and creating meaningful choice. All sameness does is limit design space for balancing, as all attention shifts towards infrequent differences.

 

And, yes, I also get the idea that you can play however you want and set up your own external objectives for a playthrough. However, good gameplay experiences are about fusing three things together: a legitimate challenge posed by the game, players answering these chchallenges with creative use of the tools given them, and receiving feedback from the game which corresponds to the quality of the player's execution. When you have all three in spades, that's good gaming, regardless of genre. I'm not saying every strategy should win (especially not in a self-imposed brutal difficulty), but it's important that winning can adopt a variety of forms rather than suffering a lack of diversity. The truly balance-minded among us are concerned that winning too often means doing the same as everyone else, and/or the same things over and over.

Edited by scrotiemcb
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... snip ...

 

Hell, I can think of games where I can edit the savegame files themselves in Notepad++, come to think of it. What game? Wasteland 2 of course.

 

 

Huh, and Wasteland 2 is also Unity, so that's odd.

 

 

 

Unity does not come with a stock standard save game feature, which means that everyone generally has to roll their own. So not every Unity save game will necessarily be the same.

 

As hard as it is to mod this game, I hope it does not perpetuate the myth that all Unity games are hard to mod. This issue is entirely on the developer's shoulders whether to embed game data in the code or to put it in easily-accessible text files. The fault is not with the Unity engine itself. You could make a native DirectX game that is just as hard to mod as PoE, or a Unity game that is driven entirely by text Lua scripts.

 

Oh and to the OP, I agree. Complaining about balance in a single player game is annoying.

Edited by FalloutBoy
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... snip ...

 

Hell, I can think of games where I can edit the savegame files themselves in Notepad++, come to think of it. What game? Wasteland 2 of course.

 

 

Huh, and Wasteland 2 is also Unity, so that's odd.

 

 

 

Unity does not come with a stock standard save game feature, which means that everyone generally has to roll their own. So not every Unity save game will necessarily be the same.

 

As hard as it is to mod this game, I hope it does not perpetuate the myth that all Unity games are hard to mod. This issue is entirely on the developer's shoulders whether to embed game data in the code or to put it in easily-accessible text files. The fault is not with the Unity engine itself. You could make a native DirectX game that is just as hard to mod as PoE, or a Unity game that is driven entirely by text Lua scripts.

 

Oh and to the OP, I agree. Complaining about balance in a single player game is annoying.

 

 

So basically you are saying Obsidian dropped the ball on the modding front?  That's disappointing.

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In theory, if you know your C#, you could be ok I guess.

 

 

Thats a huge I guess.

 

 

And thats a huge could, with a pretty big ok :(  Either way, its a hell of alot more work than editing text files as doable for other games.

 

 

Problem is thats stuff way above the skill of the vast majority of users.  And it being made doable via tools to help those users is an even bigger task.  Plus it may or may not require professional-level tools, which are cash-only.  All this boils down to a very very thin pool of people willing, capable, and equipped to even consider the task.  

Edited by Nerdwing
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