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So after reading some history and learning about how some countries were allowed to survive by stronger countries, just so that a power gap wouldn't exist. That being said, we can assume that if this power gap did exist, eventually the world will rebalance itself one way or another.

Would that be applicable in games? Can a game (for example, Overwatch or any MMORPG) balance itself over time whether the imbalances are a result of how the classes are built or even the population of people in every faction?

I thought about it a lot and I tried finding dissimilarities between my real world example and games.

  • In games, you are allowed to have many identities. You can essentially have a character in every faction. In a game like OW you can pick any hero. You don't have a fixed identity that defines you like IRL so cloning the idea of a "Country/Nation" in real life to a game is nearly impossible as developers don't have power over how many characters/factions the player can have.

  • Nations have finite resources. All MMOs I played have infinite resources which simply doesn't make sense compared to the real world. Finite resources is what makes nations great whether by smart utilization of said resources or conquering/invading other nations.

That being said, I still have a feeling that it's possible, one day, to have a game that can balance itself over time. But to achieve that, I believe we need to put many constraints on the gameplay to mimic real life constraints that "define" a nation.

What do you guys think? What would those constraints be?

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    \$\begingroup\$ This looks to me like a discussion-oriented topic that might be better suited to Game Development Chat or a forum like those on GameDev.net. I'm not sure we could discern a concise "correct" answer that would fit a StackExchange Q&A. You might find this Extra Credits video on "Perfect Imbalance" and the concept of Intransitive Mechanics useful - in the right scenarios, the player strategies & metagame can shift to neutralize ostensible advantages in a set of game rules. \$\endgroup\$ – DMGregory Jul 1 '17 at 17:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ This is an interesting question, but unfortunately it is far too vague and unspecific for the Q&A format of this website. Maybe you could limit it to one specific aspect of game balance? \$\endgroup\$ – Philipp Jul 1 '17 at 18:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ Possible duplicate of Is it possible to calculate or mathematically prove if a game is balanced / fair? \$\endgroup\$ – Engineer Jul 1 '17 at 19:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ A way too large topic for the monitor in front of me, but i'd like to suggest some reading, about "microsimulation". Check it out, it's interesting! en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsimulation \$\endgroup\$ – Stormwind Jul 1 '17 at 20:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ "Can a game balance itself" In what respect? Class population? Farm spot exploitation? Market pricing? That's very unclear. \$\endgroup\$ – Alexandre Vaillancourt Jul 13 '17 at 13:34
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I think the main issue here is the finite resources that you touched on. Currently basically all online games are based around infinite resources as you have said. However you asked if it was possible, to which I say, of course it is. It's just that no current game has done it.

Some Ideas and examples:

  • As altskop alluded to in his answer, EVE online has something along these lines. It doesn't have finite resources, but it has built an economy of scarcity by adding risk and overhead to the collection of some resources. Basically in order to produce more of the better resources you need to risk a great deal (relative to an average single player, for the alliances it barely factors). This causes the finite resource to be the right to gather not the resource itself.
  • You could design a game with true limited resources. There are some definite challenges present here, such as hoarding of resources and eventually exhausting the amount of players a world can support. It could be interesting to have that be the arc of the game. As players devour the worlds resources it becomes more inhospitable to newer and weaker players. Maybe some sort of "server start time" where you can only create characters on a "new server" with significant server turnover. That way everyone starts on even terms and the game itself becomes a rat race for resources. Such a game would balance itself via market forces until the planet collapses.

Either way someone decides to approach it, I'm confident in saying such a thing doesn't exist yet.

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A game is not at all the same as a natural equilibrium of people's economic actions in an organized society, the difference in complexity between a game and real life isn't even comparable, and the decisions made for game characters and their environment are completely arbitrary.

Balancing really just comes down to testing, and more testing, and then even more testing, along with good intuition; the statistics and the variables you consider. We don't currently have any artificial intelligence which is capable of substituting the anticipation of new variables with the dexterity to properly execute balancing already known variables, and we won't have it for a long time to come either, at least not for 30-40 years with current technological projections.

Perhaps if the game is simple enough, but not for a large RPG.

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I would take a good look at EVE Online. Out of all existing MMOs I think this is the only one that is really close to bring the concept to reality.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This answer isn't helpful for anyone who isn't willing to spend the many hours it takes to really learn how to play EVE effectively. You could improve your answer by describing the lessons which can be learned from it in your own words. \$\endgroup\$ – Philipp Jul 1 '17 at 18:12

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