Casual vs Pro Game Balance


#21


#22

As a competitive person, I’d make it tailored towards higher level of play.

I’d probably make less competitive mods (with they’re own balance maybe) for more casual players, but the mode that I would hope the game be acknowledged for would be tailored towards being competitive.


#23

I dunno what all I can add to this convo so here I go.

I can play competitive if I wanted to or if I felt like there was a purpose for it but really I liked to just jump in the game and simply enjoy it like a “casul” most of the time.

Whether it’s casual playing or competitive a good player will always beat the lesser skilled player (save for a few minor hiccups like bugs or just a fluke or something but for simplicity you know what I mean).

I mean yeah you can always try to do some sort of handicap system but depending on the nature of the system it will either be pointless to begin with or it just irritate the player that is winning (or both) when you’re being punished for doing better with your own style and skill.

Honestly the whole thing can be looked at like this…

Stage 2 is for casuals.
It is simplified and easier to understand and more forgiving on both ends and all the little things like random wildlife spawns are all consistent in the same locations and what not.
Damage and jetpack usage is simplified and you pretty much always know where the Monster is at all times and everyone can trap the Monster.

Legacy is far more “complete” and competitive.
More wildlife and it’s more or less random.
More foliage and things where the Monster can hide.
Stealth is an actual thing in the game as a whole from the Supports and Lazarus.
Jetpack usage must be heavily considered.

Overall, and god I’ve said this so many times, if Stage 2 came out first as the “Casual” playing field where everyone can “safely” learn the ins and outs of the game and then be able to go to Competitive play with Legacy settings it might have overall worked out far better for Evolve and its lifespan.

Stage 2 did a good job on its own for making matches appear close simply just by balance changes.

Future games should consider this sort of formula for their games where they make the game they want but simplified in casual play where everyone can learn it easily (or at least easier) overtime and THEN after that make the game that was meant to be played in the Competitive setting.


#24

Then there is a larger jump between casual and comp and people will feel forced into one or the other.

I don’t play ranked r6s I’m just not a fan of how seriously people take it but if it played a specific way that I preferred I’d be stuck between playing with chill randos or play the type I prefer.


#25

So I’ve read a few things…

That largely depended on the individual, and you’re correct, it largely had to do with how the monster was designed rather than how much power it had. This can also be applied to the initial concepts of the tier 4 hunters and Wasteland Maggie before the nerf(s). It was largely how their kit played that the community had gripes with, as even before the end of Stage 2, Sunny was a scourge to Monster players, and Slim was rage-inducing at times.

There’s nothing wrong with handicapping the players, it’s just that the team needs to earn it before it comes into effect. That is largely the issue presented here imho. I’ll be perfectly frank, when I was playing Evolve regularly, Stage 2 had far more close matches than I ever did in Legacy. Those types of matches where I can say “Well fuck, I lost,” and still have a smile on my face, because at the end of the day, they had one hunter left, the rest of the team was dead, and I had a sliver of health left, only to lose it to a stray bullet, costing me the match.

That feeling of, “I could have won that if I played slightly differently,” is a good feeling for most people, and that’s what we’re trying to go with here.

Getting back on-topic, the point I’ve seen so far is largely “RT balancing is a bad thing,” that’s not necessarily true, and like I said; it needs to be earned. You do X to gain Y on either team. There’s obviously several ways to implement them, but the other team can deny it as well, at a cost. As far as nerfing or buffing individual characters based off of modes of play; going between modes of play could be jarring to say the least, it’s something I’d rather avoid doing.

I’d argue differently, to be honest with you. Stage 2 was more action-oriented (as Legacy should have been imho), Legacy was better environmentally, but as it was designed; it’s an inferior product to Stage 2 through and through, yes some things should have been implemented from the get-go (univ dome, Planet Scanner); but overall, I’d take the gameplay from Stage 2 over Legacy any day. The levels on the other hand: I’d rather Legacy in that regard.

That said; I’m largely against dividing up the map pool & making things function differently in different game modes, it would

  1. Divide the community. Big no-no right there.
  2. Be more difficult to develop. Would need 2 versions of every map and put contingencies into every program about what table to use (doubling the work).
  3. Make the experience moving from Casual to Competitive that much more difficult. The experience would be more jarring, and as a result you’d need to learn new shit to complement the crap you’ve already learned.

TL;DR: You need to design the mechanics around low-level play (getting into it), but design the characters around high-level play.

A good example of this is the Hunter Jetpack system in Evolve; it’s non-forgiving if you just use your fuel haphazardly. It doesn’t regenerate quickly. If it was changed slightly to give more distance in a dodge, halve the number of dodges, and make it regenerate rapidly, and a couple of other QoL changes, the system would be better for newbs to get into the game so they can waste their jetpack more and not be stuck in a situation that gets them boned as often, and it increases the skill ceiling since players have less of the resource at their finger tips.

Changes like this are largely what I’ve considered in terms of mechanics and making the game differentiate itself out from the others in the crowd.

An example of Character balancing that I would do would be, using the Wraith as an example - and using her kit in Legacy; the Big Alpha version of it - as was intended before the nerfs, would be like this:

Warp Blast: would have been slightly slowed down to allow players to dodge, numbers from Stage 2 would have been used.

Abduction: No changes aside from the damage being buffed heavily.

Decoy: Extensive changes; Ability doesn’t regenerate while the Decoy is active, Decoy has a health bar and is destructible, Cloak remains in effect until timer runs out or player brakes it with priming an ability, melee attack, etc. movement options (warping) would still be available to the player to use as they see fit, hard cap the amount of damage it can do, and make sure that the synergy between SN & Decoy is hardcapped as well (you do more damage if you hit them yourself).

Supernova: Radius is the same, Duration is halved, Hard-cap the amount of damage output (flurry cap), and making sure the ability doesn’t regenerate while it’s active.

That’s just the kit, obviously some other things would change (such as the amount of distance she covers with a traversal) and fine-tune it until it comes to the butter-zone. With those kit changes and core changes (such as Stage 2’s 5 min domes), the player would be forced to fight rather than run around the dome for 5 minutes.


Let’s keep this in mind, the game balance has multiple factors in the formula: Location, Character, how good the MLA is of each team, and a bunch of other stuff I’m likely missing.

Given it’s impossible to account for everything. To be honest with you, I’m seriously leaning toward an objective handicap system that only one team can do, and the other team can deny said handicap at the cost of lost time & Health (if the other team is good enough it’s a balance between cost vs reward - you’re still stuck with the problem of MLA/Avg Glicko). There’s a price to pay to get that handicap or deny it.


#26

Unpopular Opinion:

99 out of 100 games need to be balanced for Casual, very few games can survive otherwise. You need to capture a large enough audience at launch.

Evolve was not that 1 game and never could be.


#27

Mostly agree with @Chickenprotector with regard to implementation preferences, though if you want an objective with a bonus, the reward should have continuous scaling with whichever metric you use. If there is a breakpoint, gameplay might distort around achieving/denying it: e.g. a monster that could have evolved at 3:05 might just stall until 3:31 to deny the 3:30 early Evo bonus.

Certain games (those with continuous development) can “cheat” this problem by having casual-ish balance at launch but adapting the balance as the playerbase learns.


#28

Unpopular maybe, amongst vocal crowds at least, but absolutely spot on.


#29

Let me challenge you on this.

Fortnite is a great example of how this is not necessarily true. Recently it has been getting a lot of flack for implementing, and in some cases even just considering, changes to the game that people see as aimed at the more casual player. A lot of the Pros and people in the competitive scene feel like they are being shunned in favor of the Casual crowd.

Simply put, if the Pros can be considered the cream of the crop, the top of the playerbase pyramid, then there are many more players below them. In a game that has a continuous development or “live service” the number one priority is to make money. There are always going to be more Casual players to monetize than Pros and even though it may not seem fair, Devs need to be able to bring in new players and bring back the more finicky players.

Overwatch
Destiny 2 (compared to Destiny)
COD
BF

All these games do it. It’s just how it is.


#30

Absolutely. As you said @TomsMeatPlatter , it’s not popular in places like this where people are obviously more deovted, more passionate, more involved and interested in a game… but the reality is that it is actually a pyramid scheme of sorts. You want as many people playing an online multiplayer as possible because you know only a fraction of those people are going to devote serious time to it, and of those only another small fraction are going to actually end up at a level where they want to compete regularly.

I 100% understand the need for potentially balancing the game differently at a competitive level (or as an option for custom games), but I always find the argument that a game has to be balanced first for the pros to be a logically correct yet economically catastrophic one. Make the game fun for the churning masses, then your population is higher to see more people seeded into more advanced play, and from that you nurture your “pro” scene. You don’t do it top down, it’s not sustainable unless you just happen to also have a game that is fun for the casuals at the same time… perfectly possible in a symmetrical system, but almost impossible in an asymmetrical one IMO.


#31

I would also like to expand upon my previous thoughts.

To game publishers, Esports is astronomically expensive. It is most likely why 2K gave it a shot with Evolve and then abandoned it. Going back to what I said earlier, if there isn’t a large enough playerbase to support that, or enough people interested in watching to attract those sweet, sweet advertising dollars then it makes no financial sense to continue.

Another reason trickle down balance won’t work in a large amount of games is the nature of the fixes. Most of the things Pros in Evolve wanted balance were nominal to most players. Data values, Combo Resets, and other things all matter to devoted players, however Joe Blow that plays with his buddies on the weekend wouldn’t appreciate how much has changed if he even noticed at all. All that development costs money and time, which all but the biggest game devs can’t always afford.

While Pro’s input is valuable and appreciated sometimes I feel like it goes a little over the top. While the outspoken nature is mostly a sign of passion, Casuals will just say screw it and stop playing, as evidenced by huge playerbase drops, for every “I’m done with this game” post on Reddit or Forum, there were probably hundreds of players that just quit.f


#32

I won’t deny that, but let me make a point of my own.

These things cost money, but the most expensive thing is always changing existing content, especially things that weren’t designed right from the get-go (E.G. Wraith or Sunny). If you design the core concepts around casual play, but make the more in-depth mechanics built into the characters, you have a better game.

Evolve attempted to do this with the unlocking of characters (Goli -> Kraken -> Wraith), but it didn’t hammer these points home enough, and the game was fundamentally very difficult to get into. Do you have any idea how much time I spent playing alone before I even attempted my first multiplayer match after the 1.0 launch? About 20 hours, and even then my playstyle sucked, I eventually got my playstyle with the Wraith right after about 500 hours of experimenting. It goes to show you how difficult it was to get into, and that’s just the monster side of things.

There was a number of factors as to why Evolve did not grab hold as much as we would have liked; poor marketing by 2K, poor design decisions that looked good at the time (only to turn out terrible later on), and a whole slew of other things.

First impressions of the game matter a lot if the community is going to snag it or not. As much as I hate to admit it, Evolve dropped the ball on that; but that’s a side-topic to this discussion.


I am of the firm belief that designing the core concepts and characters around casual play and going from there is the key to competitive gameplay. If the game’s easy to get into and play, some players will devote the time to learn the more complicated mechanics and learn more characters.

It’s a matter of balancing it out properly and allowing for maximum flexibility, so the average casual can play the game with little stress and the pro-level teams can enjoy the game themselves.

TL;DR: Build it from the ground up and design it around being newb-friendly first, then move onto pro-level stuff.


#33

I’m glad we share the same thoughts


#34

I think you misinterpret me - isn’t this because it is going in the “opposite” direction? Of course any attempt to casual-ify later on will be met with heavy opposition. I was saying that it should attempt to start off in a rather casual state so it can drift a little towards pros as the initial playerbase learns. But only a little, since some people don’t learn and you still want new entrants.

Is it “perfectly possible”? I have yet to see a game that is well balanced at all levels of play. Some mechanics just curve differently with skill level, so they can’t be equal at all levels unless everything in the game is nearly identical.

“A” does lead to “B”, but is not the only way and is probably the harder route. Essentially, this is a retention problem, how does a difficult game keep players long enough for them to learn it properly?

To balance around them, while still making high-level balance possible, is your answer, which is frankly quite difficult. I would like to propose an alternative, which is not necessarily superior but is a very strong contender, not least because it actually has a good chance of success.

To keep newly-joining players long enough for them to learn, it is not necessary to make the game also balanced at their level, though this is ideal. They “merely” need to have fun even though they haven’t learnt yet. Then they will stick.

There are a few ways to do this but since we are discussing balance the closest would be the “noob tube” concept (I think there was a extra credits video on it). Basically, have a way for new players, who haven’t learned everything, to compete with experienced ones.

While obviously at a lower power, it can occasionally take a game or a mini-victory (like a good dome result) against them. This allows them to taste victory (and fun) early on, and thus keep them playing, while still encouraging them to learn properly as the noob tubes are of low viability in higher level play.

Now this isn’t a great answer as it does have its flaws, mainly having tools/characters in the game designed to have low maximum skill. But it is rather practical and might be the only doable solution to a prickly and wicked problem.


#35

Yes, and counterstrike is the most obvious example of this. AWP and AK use were clearly something that got more powerful the better, more experienced, and more macro-happy you got. But in general you could have fun at almost any level of play because while certain weapons were more deadly in more expert hands, it was only a complete skill mismatch between teams that would lead to you not being able to enjoy what you were playing. Usual caveats apply, people that always get stressed at not winning, or can’t operate calmly without their team firing on all cylinders, will never have fun unless everything feels perfect for them and we can’t ever satisfy those people reliably


#36

Fair. A counter-point that you mentioned and one I’d like to reinforce is that no one solution is going to be a catch-all, that much is obvious. A combination of solutions (earned/denied handicaps, designed solutions) is likely what’s going to happen. It’s also worth mentioning that you can’t satisfy everyone as @niaccurshi mentioned.

The toughest thing I have to go with is as stated: Keeping the skill ceiling high while making it accessible and fair. The balance is going to be the most daunting things about making an asymmetrical game. DBD removed part of the equation and Stage 2 got it close before the plug was pulled. Subtle changes to make it easy to grasp, and ways to allow newbs to learn the game in a safe environment is the best overall method imo, but there’s nothing wrong with having multiple solutions.

Aye, and in fact Stage 2 had this - Markov, Bob, Goliath, Hyde, etc. The issue with that is making sure those characters can bring that to the table and still compete with the higher-tier characters. That’s going to be the tough part with that.


#37

When I said 99 out if 100 games

This was the 1