Few balancing issues

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Few balancing issues

Recently I have been wondering about the few balancing issues in the game and after reading some of the posts on the forums, I've compiled a list. Those are not bugs per see, and might not be important enough for Dan to invest time in those, but are having, in my opinion, a negative impact on the balancing of the game. So for the sake of hearing what others think about those, here we go:

Flaws- two especially are not doing their work:
- Myopia - right now it's negative influence on character is so minor that many players actually consider it as a positive trait because it allows to choose another skill, almost for free - can be basically "cured" by finding binoculars/scope.
Suggestion - should give a massive (-80% ?) penalty to hitting with the ranged attacks and a medium one (-25%) for attacks in melee over 0 range.
Optional - could instead make enemies auto-hidden during combat, without the chance of finding them via Search move, if they are more than 10-15 units away making "Shot in the dark" (the random one) only range attack available in that situation (as well as making correct enemy identification a problem).

- Insomnia - similar to the Myopia problem, right now can be easily ignored by simply spamming the Sleep button, sleeping pills serving more for the player's convenience rather that for character survival.
Suggestion - if the character does not have a full, uninterrupted 6 hour sleep session per every 24 hours/turns, he will suffer from "had a bad night/didn't slept well/slightly confused" condition, giving him a small but persistent penalty to both combat (to hit, more likely to trip on terrain) and scavenging (all bars lower than usual - less concentrated and more prone to accidents) until he finally sleeps well again.

Skills - there is much that can be done with almost all of them, but one obviously works not as people expect it should.
- Hiding - this should be one of the most useful skills, next to Trapping. Instead it's has a problem with mechanics - even if player hid successfully on the map (which should happen a bit more often), there is a chance that enemy will stumble across him by accident. Or player can stumble upon enemy by accident himself. Once that happens, all the enemy has to choose from (if he does not see the player) is to try and escape or Search. Search needs to be nerfed a great deal, as it almost always works on the first turn.

But there is another problem - enemy who does not know that player is in the same hex, should neither try to run nor search for a fight. He should continue to do what he did, unaware.
Suggestion - a "unaware of player's presence" combat status for enemies that do not know that player is near when combat encounter starts. It could make them use different set of moves instead of standard aggressive manoeuvres:
- Travel Further (just like Retreat, only non combative, not always available),
- Walk around the Camp (moves randomly 1-2 either towards or away from player, low chance to detect player - he simply walks around his camp),
- Do Something (stands still preoccupied, very low chance to detect player, chance to become vulnerable - he is taking care of something: eating, boiling water, repairing gear, watching stars, etc.)
- Stay watch (observes the surroundings, high chance of detecting player, not always available - dude is not complete idiot, he sometimes looks around, just to be sure)
- Go Sleep (lies down to sleep, only when tired (?), not always available, becomes fallen, chance to become unconscious - dude goes to sleep).

Anything other than Sneak Closer, Sneak Away and Hidden Retreat form player would have a great chance to alert the enemy, but Sneaking close enough would allow a attack with greater damage and to hit chance.

A.I. post-retreat silliness
- Enemies often escape combat, only to move around like nothing had happened, walking to and fro or even returning and engage again on their next move (and run away yet again).
Suggestion - NPCs could stay "afraid" of player and keep on running away for another 1-3 turns after Retreating from combat (players being chased by enemy they don't want to fight do exactly that after all). Exception could be made for Dogmen - just assume they "circle around the prey" like a pack of wild dogs/wolves would do.

Dogman Fur Coat
a.k.a. the "ultimate" clothing - it lasts forever (decaying 0.1% every 10 turns - 416 days from 100%), is worth a lot ($225), is relatively light (only 2kg), scares the enemies and wearing it means you don't have to wear any other clothes to stay warm. And all of this right of the bat. While it needs a specific skill to be acquired, it is one of the most (if not the most) useful skill in the game, so player does not really sacrifice anything. It simply is too good item.
Suggestion - re-styling it into the "Crudely Treated Dogman Fur" (you make it in a very short time with a glass shard or a pocket knife only, after all): weight up to 4kg and the temperature isolation should be a little less (it does cover only part of upper torso and back) - so player would need at least pants to stay warm at evenings and still got a little cold at nights. Even while wearing a modern-day, winter coat a person would still get cold if having nothing else on himself.
Optional - wearing it could give a small chance to become sick (it is crude un-tanned fur that smells and most likely has fleas/ticks/flies, not to mention the rotting parts of the dogman's last victims).

Pack-mule combat style
Carrying a weapon in one hand + Backpack in the other, allowing player to carry a lot of gear without any consequences (also making ranged hit'n'run tactic a bit too powerful).
Suggestion - additional "both hands occupied" status when both hand slots are filled by a big enough non-single-handed-weapon items, giving a penalty for hitting in melee and also making player unable to use bows, sling, rifle or shotgun (but not affecting pistols, giving them more purpose and sense).

There is also a problem with over-abundance of meat, but other than implementing a sickness simulating the rabbit starvation, I have nothing else here.

<--Mighty (mini)Mod of Doom-->
DeviantArt Gallery of MoD Sprites

These are some very good suggestions, but I would like to say two things just really quick.

1. I disagree with your idea of having the Dogman Fur Coat have a chance of infecting the player with a disease. It seems like a very arbitrary punishment for something that's supposed to be a relatively end-game item, and while it is admittedly attainable almost immediately in the game, doing so requires taking two specific skills that basically define what you're character is going to be about and locks you out of a lot of other options. There should at least be a way to clean the coat to avoid this.

2. Rabbit Starvation seems like it would be fairly rare. All you need to do to stave it off is to eat the fat from your kill as well. Of course, this doesn't stave off all forms of malnutrition so perhaps there's some way to make a variety of foods a necessity. This would also serve as a reasonable nerf to Botany, as that skill basically renders food and water a non-issue.

*Waits patiently for the addition of Carroltron*

- Myopia: For simplicity's sake I'd say reduce hit chance with ranged weapons by 50% and leave melee weapons unaffected. Enemies shouldn't be made auto-hidden in my opinion, that would be a bit too harsh. But the spy button should be disabled.

- Insomnia: Can't say much about it, its inconvenience is reason enough for me not to take it. ;-)

- AI: It makes sense if a creature without a ranged weapon flees from a player with a ranged weapon in open areas, but trys to attack him in a forest, for example. But aside from that I agree.

- Dogman Fur Coat: Should rot much faster since untanned and warm less. I also like the idea with the fleas, but I doubt if it's good idea.

- Combat: I can't use off-hand items as a shield, so I don't see a justification for a penalty (in case of one-handed weapons).

Ran around with a clown mask before it was cool

Thanks for the feedback mates.

1 - I listed the disease-causing as a optional, however I do basically disagree with the notion of "end-game" items in very principle. While the items should, of course, get progressively better as the player ventures further into the game, the "ultimate" items should still not happen, or they will kill the "survival feeling". For me, preferably every equipment choice should be a pros vs. cons dilemma for the player, allowing him to specialize in one thing at the cost of something else.

For example, if the laser rifle would be just simply an ultimate weapon, I would be extremely disappointed. It can of course offer best fire-power bar none, but it then still needs to have a drawback, to be fun for me, like for example having a battery that needs to be worn at the backpack slot.

Want to be a "bad-ass laser-blazing ultimate-commando killer"? Better learn how to fit all your gear in your pockets, cause there will be no more hauling tons of shit around for you, in that case... That kind of thinking.

2 - The only thing I can think of to upgrade the idea of rabbit starvation, is a addition of a Fat (Lard?) item as a separate food drop from hunting Deer (and sometimes, at random, form other big things like Horrors or Dogmen). It would work on the assumption that most creatures are pretty thin, due to constantly living in a state of near-malnutrition, and only herbivores like Deer can actually stay well fed for long enough to have a "spare" fat on them.

- Myopia - remember that in place of the Trait, you can choose some very useful skill, so it needs to be harsh. Frail and Feeble are a good examples of Traits, they are harsh as they basically make character useless in combat but at the same time allow him to become good at something else. Traits like Myopia simply cannot be a minor nuisance only, unless the possible gain would also be minor.
- Combat - with my proposal I am following the logic that trying to fight while being un-balanced due to bad equipement placement makes fighting harder. Simply put, its harder to hit someone with a cleaver slash when holding a bag filled with ten kilograms of meat/electronics in the other hand.

Of course, a positive effect of the off-hand load could be implemented as well ("the shield effect"), but unless caused by an actual shield-like item, it should also cause a massive Condition loss to the items used in that way. And since that would be problematic to implement, I assume, I left that out.

<--Mighty (mini)Mod of Doom-->
DeviantArt Gallery of MoD Sprites

Hi, I'll just throw what I think. Just ignore me if it doesn't seem to work.

Myopia: First of all, Augments should do nothing with initial Traits. You said "...can be basically "cured" by finding binoculars/scope..." but it can be COMPLETELY cured by Augments. Sure it's expensive, but currently money is easy to gain and there's nothing else to invest so... you know.

Another problem is that sight range itself isn't important. Radius are reduced in dusk/night anyway, and even in daytime, there's always a chance you miss something/someone in blind spots (non-adjacent forest, for example). And if I'm combat-ready, I don't have to worry about what is hidden in the first place. I know it is very difficult, but making hiding/spotting more critical for both the player and the enemies will make things interesting.

But for now, slight combat penalty and making it non-curable seem okay.

Insomnia: I think your idea is fine.

Hiding: Yes, definitely Hiding has to allow the player to hide. Skilled survivor actively hiding being discovered by someone unaware of the survivor but seen by the survivor is not just awkward, but kills the game mechanics.

Fur Coat: I agree it has to be nerfed. But if I may talk about a bigger picture, providing other types of clothes that don't take care of temperature, such as armor for combat or utility vest for item carrying space, will make anything non-ultimate. I know I'm going too far, so, yes, nerf it and that's it for now!

Pack-mule combat style: Your suggestion seems perfect! :)

Meat: Let's make Dogman and Horror's meat poisonous or something risky. Especially Horror... does it look edible to you!?

I think Strong, Melee, Ranged is too good and can be nerfed. Maybe bow/spear making can be left for Mechanics, and attack hit chance and damage bonus should be a bit smaller. When I meet Dogman, I'd like to feel fear and wish to have Hiding skill rather than to think "oh, another meat!".

Hey guys, some excellent observations and suggestions here! I've taken notes, and I'll hopefully have some time to make adjustments.

For skills and trait balancing, my first choice will be to add bonuses or penalties to each, making them more balanced. However, my fallback plan for imbalanced skills and traits is to adjust their relative sizes and spaces. So if I'm unable to make Myopia worse, I can at least reduce the space it offers (e.g. 2x2 instead of 4x2)

Thanks for the insightful feedback!

Dan Fedor - Founder, Blue Bottle Games

Alright, slightly late to the party, but here's my take on it. Things not mentioned can be understood either as 'I agree wholeheartedly' or 'I don't have a strong opinion on this matter and can't see any problem with the suggestion'.

- Myopia - From suggestions mentioned, I like the identification problem. I'd also simply decrease character's search ability - both in case of scavenging and searching for enemies. Penalties in fighting I find too harsh - not only they could make myopia one of the worst traits, going to the opposite extreme of what we have now, but seem somewhat lacking realism - even someone with bad eyesight can learn to maintain a decent aim at any but the longest range and spot targets from quite far. The issue lies in the fact that said targets will be lacking detail, their movements blurry, their vital spots obscured - they'll be just some spots moving at the distance, but ones you can still take well-aimed shot at with some practice.

- Insomnia - I like the suggestion, though I'd make it something like 2x4 per every 36 hours. Once sleep cycle (4 hours) is somewhat regenerative and healthy adult can pull only one for a few days, albeit with quite some discomfort. Incidentally, research suggests that in the past, having a couple of 4 hour sleep periods per day with few hours in between was how people slept and it's natural sleep cycle for humans, simply twisted nowadays by easy access to light at every hour and devices that allow 'daily life' at nearly any hour.

- Dogman Fur Coat - I'd increase weight, yes, but leave it's stats largely similar, maybe with slight durability reduction so it will still last long, but won't be nearly eternal. I don't think there should be a risk of disease - it could possibly make sense, but given the state of the world and - presumably - personal hygiene in most places outside DMC, if bugs are to be a noticeable issue, they're already issue for everyone in the wilderness, no matter their clothing. Granted, I can agree with the idea that there shouldn't be just some ultimate item - but I have nothing against a choice of late-game items that are simply better than average, with their cons reduced or pros expanded upon, if only for the sake of balancing Kaaven's 'survival feeling' with feeling of progression, improving character's relative capabilities, the same way people are happy right now to find a rifle simply because it's very useful and reliable item packing - with proper ammunition - a great punch over longest distance, even if rather expensive in use.
Protection from cold I am simply unsure about - on one hand, yes, the coat doesn't protect legs too well but during cold, places needing protection from it are limbs (mainly hands, feet), head and whole - also lower - torso. While arms, lower legs etc can also get some frostbite over time, especially if there's not even thin protection from the wind, if previously mentioned bits have decent temperature, it will be fine for a period of time.

- Pack-mule combat style - That may be good, if simply it would be impossible to fight with some weapons held only in one hand (or at least, at very big penalties). It may also, as mentioned, help with balancing some most popular and effective weapons (rifle, bow, spear).

As for overabundance of meat, I think that recently it was balanced well - devoted cannibals will suffer consequeces of their diet anyway and the meat itself lost much of it's worth because of character's inability to trade with it. The only thing I'd like to see here is changing deer AI a bit so the animals will stay clear of DMC and won't spawn anywhere near it (simulating results of active hunting that we may suspect would be practiced in the area).