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30

Yes, it's theoretically possible - that's a good part of the game theory which deals with this subject. However, it's only rarely practical, and even then mostly just for games which don't involve a randomiser (Chess, Reversi, Go and so on). Combinatorial explosion ensures that the theoretical time needed for such proofs for more complex games like Magic ...


23

Build yourself an Excel spreadsheet. There you can calculate exactly how much money a player who is placing first each race will have acquired at any point in the game. The same goes for a player at the bottom end of your payout bracket. Once you know the money range for a good/bad player then just ask yourself how many parts do you want them to be able to ...


15

Playtest. No, really, just playtest your balance until you get it right, or rather mostly right (there's no such thing as perfect balance). Write automated tests and run them hundreds of times. Even very simple automated tests, like "level 2 player always hits with shortsword, goblin always hits with club, player should win" can really help, if you run ...


15

Two big helps in difficulty tuning. Metrics Tracking player data can go a long way to making difficult tuning as objective a process as possible. How long are people staying alive, where are the taking damage or getting killed, how many tries does a section of the level take. Getting good metric data can really help your team see where people are having ...


14

I like RuneScape's method (at least, the old method back when the wilderness was PvP). Most of the game world is only PvE, but up north there is a huge desolate area called the Wilderness; it's PvP. When you first cross the clearly-marked border into the wilderness, you see an icon in the corner of your screen and it reads "Level: 1". So you're in level 1 ...


14

One problem with making enemies strength relative to players is that it can make the player feel like they aren't making progress. "What's the point of getting stronger if all the monsters also get stronger at the same rate?" I tend to prefer that enemies have static strength instead of being relative to the player for the following reasons: Players will ...


13

We had this problem with some online CCGs that I worked on. Best solution I've seen: 1) Players MUST connect to the server, not to each other directly, and you should NEVER pass IP addresses of opponents in the data you stream to the players. This prevents denial-of-service attacks where a player forces their opponent offline for the win. 2) Dropped ...


12

This is called "experience." Blizzard has made games before and learned from experience. The heuristic to rating and improving that knowledge is "Is it fun?" In Blizzard's case they are known for iterating when trying to find fun and balance, a lot, and that shows that there is no secret math but just a lot of work. A better question might be "once I ...


12

I highly recommend you to check this AltDevBlogADay article on the very same topic. It basically says that the balancing process can be automatized to some point in a mathematical way. http://altdevblogaday.com/2012/02/17/the-craft-of-game-systems-tuning-rpg-content/


10

It sounds like you are describing an extension of the rock-paper-scissors mechanic whereby every piece/card/token can defeat at least one other piece/card/token. (Your question made me think of Stratego, and specifically of the few pieces like the low-ranked Spy who can defeat the otherwise-top-ranked Marshal and the Miner who can defuse bombs.)


10

Any game requiring strategy requires many iterations to get right. Having worked on multiple games that required balancing, I've learned that you start extremely early during production on the creation of different rules and abilities and immediately start balancing them. There is no "silver bullet" that will guarantee a well-balanced game. Each time a new ...


9

The simplest way to ensure things are balanced is to make them the same. Give both sides the same powers, give them different names and change their visual effects. I agree, that's pretty boring and likely won't give you very interesting game play. However, it's a good starting point. Once you've got a good starting point, with good and evil having very ...


9

I would try to look at hybrids from a different angle. You seem to trying to make a hybrid class fill two different roles. Instead try to make a class fill a single role with the tools of other classes. Lets do an example with amonk. Monks are classic healer-fighters, or a priest-warrior hybrid. If you just give a warrior the ability to heal like a priest ...


8

I'd throw away the first two of your bullet points. It might be a good idea to get some units designed, but isn't going to really help you for balancing. Really what you're going to have to do is just play the game a lot and keep a analytical mind (or set of minds) looking at the problem at all times. Design is a very soft art, there is no iterative way ...


8

Watch someone play but don't talk to them. By not talking to them, you can see things them do things that will make you pull you hair (You: the solution is obvious. What's wrong with you? #$@!). Instead of saying your thoughts aloud, write down what you want to say. Use this as your basis to guide your game difficulty.


7

I can see a bunch of possibilities (most of them should be mentioned by now, I guess). You can use any of them, but they work best in some kind of combination: Make character level / age / equipment have no meaning in respect to the PvP side. This turn your game into a player skill based MMO. An example of this would be Guild Wars - or any online FPS, ...


7

Here's a rough strategy I've used to balance similar systems in the past: Decide on a base metric of balance value. A good first pass if you don't have a better idea is "damage done to others". So a power that only does 10 points of damage is worth 10 "balance points". Now, you need to compare armor to damage in usefuless, so see if you can come up with a ...


7

With a lot of iteration and playtesting. I think this is what makes interesting the job of a Game designer. You can imagine balancing the game is a big part of what a game designer does once the coding has started. I've always found Sirlin's articles very enlightening on the kind of work you have to do. He used to work at Capcom as a game designer. Here ...


7

The most important thing you can do is polish your game, and balance as you polish. I say this because polishing can often encompass balancing. A polished game attracts a lot more attention because it feels and looks better, and shows that the developer paid a great deal of attention to detail. To give an example, Braid could have been called 'finished' ...


7

Play test. Play test some more. And keep play testing. One good metric during play testing for balance is win ratio. A truly "balanced" game would have each side winning 50% of the time. Keep this in mind, as it can help with the "boringness" of equal-but-opposite that Byte56 suggests to a degree. Here's how to expand on his excellent answer: By making ...


6

I had to tackle this problem once in an online racing game where players who were losing would often turn off their consoles to avoid the loss appearing on their records. However it applies very well for any PvP situation. My solution went like this: At the beginning of the match, once all the players have joined and play is about to begin, calculate what ...


6

In Sanctum (tower defence) you get the most damage for your money by building low level turrets. However, depending on how you build your maze not all turret positions will be equal, some will be able to shoot for long periods of time, others not so much, so the optimal strategy would be to build high level towers at the best points, low level towers at the ...


6

There are a few things to point out, balance isn't done exclusively by the programmer, and in most cases shouldn't actually rely (entirely) on the programmer, but the designer instead. Which leads me to the important notice, that it doesn't usually depend on the algorithm itself (unless it needs a big change) but the variables OF the algorithm. For example, ...


6

You should aim to balance the game as much as you have to in order to make it fun. While doing so, you should be conscious of the development cost (whether that be in real money or in opportunity cost) in doing so such that, if need be, you can decide that it is "good enough" to ship and still make a profit. Trying to distill the process down to a numerical ...


6

You are asking ten questions at once, and some of these require whole books to answer. Still, let me try to give you some pointers before the question is closed by a moderator: Try these websites to learn some basics about balancing. Follow the links and book recommendations if you want to learn more: Balance and pacing: ...


5

Actually, M:tG has gone through ups and downs where some expansions were overpowered and some were underpowered. For example, most of the expansions around 3rd and 4th edition were fine but the Tempest expansion made a lot of earlier cards redundant. Maybe they're more careful now but they were still making significant balance 'mistakes' (or deliberate ...


5

To a certain extent, you can use math to manage this process. This is the approach Wizards of the Coast used with D&D 3.x and 4. Figure out how many battles you want between levels, and base how much XP battles give you based on that. Do you want it to be easy to level by fighting lower-level monsters? Then choose a flatter XP curve to make that a ...


4

I think the only way to pull this off would be a matter of the structure of your game. Theres' two ways to make cheating less desirable: punishment or reward. So if you don't want adverse punishment think of ways to reward the player who didn't drop. Instead of the reward from PvP being the loot of the conquered's body (which makes dropping a very bad ...


4

There are a lot of solutions to this, and it's up to you as the designer to choose one (or more) that are right for your game. Making PvP strictly "opt-in" solves the problem directly. Giving temporary "newbie protection" is a lesser version. You can put restrictions on who can fight in PvP -- for example, only allowing players to affect those within 2 ...


4

Server restarts are always a very bad thing, that does not really solve the problem and also makes the game a much worst game in any case. That's lazy design. "Noob protection" and any other kind of arbitrary limitation are also a very annoying and useless thing: again that's not really solving the problem (as you have already noticed). If your game is so ...



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