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Quizzical

How are they going to balance factions?

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Let's suppose that a campaign starts, and players are distributed among factions however they are.  After a while, it becomes clear that one particular faction has more and stronger players than the others.  Everyone figures this out and knows which faction is probably going to win the campaign.  Theoretically, the other factions could prevent this by ganging up on the strongest faction to deny it a victory, but the individual incentives are such as to make this impractical.

Once everyone figures out which faction is going to win, the people who join the campaign late overwhelmingly join that faction.  Or if they're blocked from joining that faction, they don't join the campaign late at all. Worse, the people on the losing factions leave to go play some other campaign instead.  That guts all but the strongest faction, so then you have one dominant faction that controls everything, no one else has any chance, and it's boring even for the winning side because they're nearly unopposed.

How do they plan to prevent that from happening?  If they don't, it will wreck the game.  As I see it, there are really only two ways:

1)  Make it so that in most campaigns, most factions have a legitimate shot at winning right up until near the very end.  That doesn't merely mean not yet mathematically eliminated, but actually has a real shot at winning so that it wouldn't be that surprising if they pull it out.

2)  Make it so that if you're part of a faction that is obviously going to lose, both:

a)  The best loot you can get is from sticking it out and finishing the campaign with a loss, rather than abandoning it to join some other campaign where you have a chance of winning, and

b )  It's still fun to play out a campaign even if you're obviously going to lose, rather than being frustrating.

The problem is that I don't see any good way to do either of those.  The easy way to do (2) is to make it so that it doesn't matter who wins a campaign, but that seems contrary to the design goals.  It probably isn't practical to do (1) without making it so that the overwhelming majority of what you did in a campaign contributes nothing to victory, outside of a brief rush at the very end, or worse, something so weird that it seems stupid to base victory on it.

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Will they need to? Once the game launches I doubt Faction campaigns will be little more than a sideshow for the (IMHO) vast majority of the population who will be in Dregs with their guild. Faction will be for brand new players and people who refuse to or can't find a guild.

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I spent many years in WWII Online, a side V side campaign style game that experienced the problems the OP states.  Over many years the game tried to address population imbalance with a plethora of mechanics designed to give the under pop side hope of turning things around.  Side Locking / Spawn Delay, faster captures for under pop, more equipment availability, etc.. etc..

None of these 'handicapping' mechanics solved the problem and virtually all were not well received by the player base regardless of the side they were playing.

IMO there are really only two things that work ...

-  Shorter faction V faction campaigns in general

- A mechanic that ends the campaign if a side achieves an 'overwhelming'  lead ... however that is determined or calculated.

It is the start of the campaign that provides the opportunity for a fresh start, making new alliances, encouraging other faction players to join your cause. Players will eventually re-balance.  A good example is the rise of Chaos these past couple campaigns.  They did a forum marketing blitz and have picked up new players.

A lot of people on these forums dismiss the faction V faction play, but I believe it is still an important part of the overall game.  The game needs modes that make it easy for players to get into the game, join a team, and learn the game at their personal pace.  etc...  I view faction as a crucible for eventually creating more players who want to play dregs.  So I don't think we can dismiss it and certainly need to make it a fun experience as well.


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23 hours ago, DocHollidaze said:

Will they need to? Once the game launches I doubt Faction campaigns will be little more than a sideshow for the (IMHO) vast majority of the population who will be in Dregs with their guild. Faction will be for brand new players and people who refuse to or can't find a guild.

It's interesting that you assume that nearly everyone will be in the dregs.  I assume just the opposite:  a handful of elites will slug it out in the dregs while the overwhelming majority of the playerbase (by number of unique accounts that log in per month, not by hours played--and yes, that makes a huge difference) will avoid it.  If you are correct, then that just moves the question to being how to balance the dregs, and that strikes me as completely intractable.

If there aren't limits to faction sizes in the dregs (or guilds or whatever you call the relevant concept), then the stable situation will be a small handful of enormous factions, and you have to either join one or abandon all hope of winning.  In some campaigns, it could be just one major faction, which would be stupid and boring, but having more than two meaningful factions would never be a stable outcome.

If there are limits to faction sizes, then the benefits to filling your faction with highly active players are both obvious and enormous.  If one faction is full of players who play 5 hours per week, and another has the same number of players, but they play 40 hours per week, then the latter faction is going to beat the former because they'll pretty much always have far more players online.

The stable outcome in this situation is that eventually the handful of players who play the most join factions or guilds or whatever with each other.  The handful of players who can get into such guilds can compete with each other in the dregs.  Everyone else--that is, the overwhelming majority of the playerbase--will know that they have no hope of ever winning anything in the dregs, so they'll avoid it.  Most people wouldn't find it fun to play a PVP game where you know up front that you'll never have any chance of having any outcome besides losing horribly, and that's all that the dregs would have to offer most people.

The only way that I can see to avoid that in the dregs is to have so many dregs campaigns and such large player caps per faction that there are generally only a few significant factions in a dregs campaign, and they're always starved for players, so that they'll accept just about anyone.  Otherwise, you'll get a cascading effect where the worst players can't get into a viable faction and quit.  Then the next worst players are now the worst players and subsequently quit for the same reasons.  The playerbase then dries up with one tier after the next quitting when they realize that they have no hope of being competitive until all that is left is a handful of elites at the top.  Maybe it would take several months for that to play out, but if you design a system where that's the only stable outcome, it's a question of when, not if.

That's not to say that the dregs are bad.  Rather, it's a simple acknowledgement that top-tier PVP is inaccessible to the overwhelming majority of the playerbase in just about every game ever.  If the entire game is unplayable for everyone else, then the game will predictably be dead on arrival.  The tiny sliver of elites who are the very best aren't enough to sustain a game unless they're all whales in a pay to win game, which doesn't seem to be the plan here.

If the game is to be commercially successful, then you can have the dregs, but you also need to have something that works for everyone else.  Which returns to the original question:  how do they plan to balance factions?  That seems easier to do than trying to make the dregs viable to more than a relative handful of hardcore players.

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12 hours ago, Cosian said:

I spent many years in WWII Online, a side V side campaign style game that experienced the problems the OP states.  Over many years the game tried to address population imbalance with a plethora of mechanics designed to give the under pop side hope of turning things around.  Side Locking / Spawn Delay, faster captures for under pop, more equipment availability, etc.. etc..

None of these 'handicapping' mechanics solved the problem and virtually all were not well received by the player base regardless of the side they were playing.

IMO there are really only two things that work ...

-  Shorter faction V faction campaigns in general

- A mechanic that ends the campaign if a side achieves an 'overwhelming'  lead ... however that is determined or calculated.

It is the start of the campaign that provides the opportunity for a fresh start, making new alliances, encouraging other faction players to join your cause. Players will eventually re-balance.  A good example is the rise of Chaos these past couple campaigns.  They did a forum marketing blitz and have picked up new players.

A lot of people on these forums dismiss the faction V faction play, but I believe it is still an important part of the overall game.  The game needs modes that make it easy for players to get into the game, join a team, and learn the game at their personal pace.  etc...  I view faction as a crucible for eventually creating more players who want to play dregs.  So I don't think we can dismiss it and certainly need to make it a fun experience as well.

It's important to distinguish between how players will behave when they're just messing around and know that a wipe is coming versus how players will behave after launch when they're trying to progress as fast as possible.  A lot of players will try to progress as fast as possible, as proven by pretty much every MMO ever.  A forum marketing blitz that might work today would be much less likely to work a year after launch.

It's also important to realize that players will get much better with experience at quickly recognizing which faction is going to win.  That can make situations where one side is somewhat behind quickly turn into a rout as the side that is behind gives up.

If campaigns are short enough that they usually end before it becomes obvious which side would win if the campaign were to go on for another month, then yes, that would fix the problem.  But that creates other problems of its own.  For example, that could force campaigns to last no more than a week.  Or only a day.  I'm not sure what would be typical, but it will probably be much quicker after launch when players are trying to min/max for the best rewards than when they don't really care because they know a wipe is coming.  If they end too quickly and most players rarely to never reach level 30, that creates new problems of its own, as then, the game just wouldn't play how it was intended to play.

Maybe they could scale up the speed so that you level faster, get mats faster, and everything faster so that a full campaign cycle can happen faster.  Or maybe not.  More likely, it will take a lot of tinkering and doing things that get people squawking about one tweak or another.  But letting most campaigns consist almost entirely of playing out the string after everyone knows which side is going to win is a recipe for disaster.

On another note, this forum is pretty severely broken.  For some inexplicable reason, it lets me post a reply from a private browser window, but not from a non-private browser window.  I'm on an unpaid account, so I have restricted forum access, but that seems like a really stupid restriction to implement intentionally, so it's probably a bug.

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7 hours ago, Quizzical said:

It's important to distinguish between how players will behave when they're just messing around and know that a wipe is coming versus how players will behave after launch when they're trying to progress as fast as possible.  A lot of players will try to progress as fast as possible, as proven by pretty much every MMO ever.  A forum marketing blitz that might work today would be much less likely to work a year after launch.

The rallying cry works quite consistently no matter how many years the game has been going on.  It can actually be more effective as the game progresses.  Of course you can't do it every campaign and its more than a rando posting 'hey we need more guys'. 

In games that run for a long time like EVE, SB, or WWII Online for that matter, storied players, clans, corps, or groups will be known.  These folks have will have developed larger networks of players and their leadership skills in making thing happen is established.  The marketing blitz is generally more than a forum post.  Phone calls are made.  Emails are sent.  Posts are made on guild websites.  People respond as its a lot more fun when you know a side is bringing some leadership, organization, and numbers into to a campaign.

  


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I think once DREGs are released and all the players from the old SB go there maybe the DEVs really have how to modify the Factions system to have an effective balancing system. Many VET players do not want to really compete and are looking for a victory as easy as possible. The faction system would work if there were competition across multiple worlds and the sum of the faction points in each world would be used to determine the winner of the campaign. That is, even if you were not at the end of the campaign, you would have made an important contribution. Perhaps a friendlier system for new players can be implemented when the "hardcore" players migrate to the ShadowBane 2 (Dregs) and kill there until the server closes again.

Edited by hamon

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perhaps the solution from keeping guilds like W and HoA and their future live counterparts from overstaying in factions for too long for the ez wins the devs can implement what i think is the best part of eso, pvp ranks. you can tell who is a major threat at a glance and both healers, dps, and tanks all could level it fairly easily with a group, eventually since they are vastly superior to the average new player W and HoA will out level all of its players past a certain rank allowed in factions lets say 10 and are then forced to compete in higher tiered faction campaigns or dregs, newer players can fight up but higher players cant fight below, once the game has enough populace adding a campaign that has a minimum rank requirement like 50 having it last 1 week with huge win rewards for non stop pvp action would also be a pretty nice benefit and be enough incentive to encourage the top players to cannibalize themselves regularly 


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