Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 1 Levelling the playing field.
02-10-2010, 10:36 AM
As some of you may know, I'm often arguing with people in this forum about learning to distinguish between skill and balance. I feel that it's necessary to play both factions to understand what is right and what is wrong about this game (and there's a lot of both.)

I am trying to provide a voice of reason, amidst what is guarateed to be a lot of selfishness and shortsightedness, frustration and sometimes dishonesty. Most people however are sincere, but sometimes lack perspective.

What I am not doing is trying to posture myself as a great pvper, elite, uber or anything of the sort. What I am trying to do, is to remain humble in game enough to learn from my mistakes and always improve, even if just a little.

I've played both factions now (and am playing both factions) slowly and methodically to T3 so far in release. I've done a lot of pvp on both sides, and seen the good and the bad.

I've come away with a few very distinct observations that I'd like to share, in the hopes that we can some day reach a modicum of consensus about what is right and wrong with this game.

Section 1: The sides are not equal.

Right now, the populations and the intent as well as the amount of pvp experience and the expectations and preparation involved... the two factions are not equally invested in winning a pvp match for many reasons.
First, the federation side has usually has pve content to concern itself with, and is likely to have a pve bias to their skills and equipment. Also, the amount of PVE content available to fed players means they are much more likely to decline their match invitation, creating an initial imbalance on the match map.

Since KDF have so little PVE content, it's unlikely for them to be otherwise occupied, and hence much easier for them to form ad-hoc groups which evolve into teams in pvp.

That being said, the average matchup is going to favor KDF just due to the gameplay situation, without any other factors involved.

Section 2: A breakdown of DPS issues.

Presently, the federation is for the most part limited to using beam weapons on fairly slow turning ships (at least in comparison to their opponents). The burst damage skill for beam weapons drains weapon energy to zero, which severely reduces dps afterwards until this energy recovers, which limits its use to engineers on cruisers (for power recovery/maintenance with EPSPT). Turrets are cannon, not beam which means that career investments are lost on them. Beams are vulnerable to feedback pulse.

The KDF has access to cannons on all of their ships, which allows them to spec into cannons which also benefits turrets. The cannon burst fire mode, rapid fire, benefits cannons and turrets which are cannon weapons. Their career investments benefit turrets. Rapid fire cannon does not drain energy weapon levels, which permist sustained dps after burst fire. Cannons are not vulnerable to feedback pulse. The KDF ships are nimble, and can cloak which guarantees an initial focus fire unless the fed players can break their cloak - which will only happen in a coordinated team with dedicated science players.

Section 3: The Balance of Power

In general, discounting specific oddities such as a lack of t2 cruiser and the odd and not-too-well-tested carrier at t5, the KDF generally relies upon flexible but fairly fragile ships which have cloaking and primarily forward facing guns.

The federation on the other hand, relies upon role-specific ships classified by their bridge officer designation. Each of their role specific ships with the exception of the tactical ship, is better than the kdf counterpart at that specific role. Science ships with aux and shield cap bonuses, and built in subsystem targetting, cruisers with extra weapon slots, high crew complement and heavy defenses.

Because of their role specificity, fed ships are theoretically somewhat more effective in the cross-support role than their kdf counterparts. They may also tend to be geared towards it, rather than geared towards solo effectiveness.

What this leads to is an odd evolution where kdf ships are generally more effective one on one than most fed ships, particularly if they get a good initial attack from surprise, but the fed ships grow stronger as their numbers increase.

Thus, when fights are disorganized, the kdf tends to win easily. When either side is more organized than the other, that side dominates. Knowing this, then finally we have the rare instance where both sides are organized - and then, and only then can strategy begin to emerge - out of both sides learning from the encounters.

It's never been more true that we do not learn much from an opponent that does not challenge us. This is true in game more than anywhere, in that we can be doing things completely wrong but if our opponent is not challenging, we will never improve because there is no need to.

So the interesting question then becomes - what is the game like when both teams are prepared and playing well? That question is still being answered. It sounds like, with a few salient exceptions where things are broken or dumb, that most people feel that when both teams play very well things are reasonably balanced and challenging.

It does seem that at the very top, when both teams are playing their top game, that the feds have more tools for survivability and that this largely blunts the value of alpha strikes. This is offset however by the large population of more casual fed players.

Hence, what we are seeing is a lot of casual fed players being defeated by less casual kdf players, but on the other hand, those less casual kdf players being beaten by well organized fed players.

The cries for nerfs coming from the casual feds are bringing frustrated and angry reactions from the kdf players who having lost repeatedly to well-played fed teams, understand why these casual players are losing, but are unable to articulate it or persuade them to understand.

Caveat: This does not apply to T5, which is up in the air until the carrier is sorted out.

Section 3: Little league vs Varsity

There are people who collectively chose their bridge officers, have a pay-for ventrilo, attendance rules and share gear to optimize everyone's effectiveness and coordinate everything from striking to picking up their dead players to avoid giving free kills.

On the other hand you may have the dude who is a star trek fan, but plays solo and queues solo, is a slow typer and has made t3 through pve and just wants to pvp for fun, and is in a group with 3 guys like himself, and two guys who are 12 and 8 years old respectively.

Those two teams will never be fair, and the dude who is the star trek fan is never going to have a good experience playing in that situation, no matter how hard you handicap one side or another. That casual dude is also in no position to make observations about game balance. His point of view is so distorted by circumstances that he can't distinguish his own failures from the game context, or even the failures of his teammates or the success of his opponent.

Imagine for a moment, a school sports program which had pickup teams in the same rotation as the varsity players. Clearly, the pickup team would lose and be frustrated - and that would be because they usually didn't have a chance to win. They would lose decisively, every time. It would also not be fun for anyone.

That situation is a problem here too. Putting well prepared and organized teams against pickup groups is not going to lead to quality gameplay for either side. The question then becomes - how do we get people of similar motivation and preparation playing against one another?






More to come.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 2
02-10-2010, 10:37 AM
The Solutions

#1: Don't change the player, change the game.

We cannot expect the casual player, soccer mom, high school kid, doctor who plays on weekends, etc. to change their lifestyle to compete with the player who can or will invest more time into the game. Therefore, the playing field in that respect will never be level.

There will be players who will deliberately hold back and NOT level, but instead twink their ships with better gear so that they can play at an advantage in a lower tier.

The game should never be pitting a non full team of pickup players against a full team of guys who has been winning all day. That's going to be miserable for both sides.

The first and most obvious solution, is for the matching system to pit teams vs teams and pugs vs pugs.

A better solution would be to give teams a rating, and offer a slight exp bonus for a higher rating, or a much larger bonus for defeating a higher rating and let teams opt to go only against ranked teams.

#2: Don't rely on balance for gameplay

This sounds counterintuitive, but sometimes striving for balance actualy harms gameplay rather than helps it.

For example, in all of the pvp maps we have, both sides have the same victory goals which appears at the outset to be balanced, except both sides have different tools which leads to some being more suited to the goals of the match than others.

It's possible to create scenarios where each side actually has a -different- goal, which permits much finer tuning in adjusting for the tools that one side may have over another.

For a specific example : The 'split planet' map currently requires 15 kills on either side for victory. This causes some immediate problems, due to many factors including how the players tend to spawn.

An 'unfair' version of this map which might be even more fun would be :

10 feds vs 5 klingons. In 15 minutes, the 5 klingons must kill all 10 feds. The feds cannot respawn, the feds get no credit for killing klingons. In such a map, the side that can cloak will be constantly bum-rushing the feds who AT FIRST will have an overwhelming advantage but as time wears on will lose players to mishap and must find a way to hold out for 15 minutes. With a time limit, all of the problems of cloak-hiding are eliminated and with a majority of fed players, they can spread out and search for the kdf. This is a fairly well-known fps 'bum-rush' type map.

The details can change, but the point here is to create a pvp map design which while incorporating the tools that players have, doesn't get stopped by them (cloaking kdf halting a match)

More to come.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 3
02-10-2010, 11:01 AM
I have a Fed Tac/Escort and I ONLY use canons. I consistently have one of, if not the, highest DPS in the arena. Does that mean we always win? No.

Feds have more class-specific ships which give specific advantages to each ship/player. The biggest difference I have seen as both a Klingon and a Fed is that the Klingons work together much better. Feds all seem to want to be individuals, and they are usually on the defensive all the time ( an inherent disadvantage, tactically) so they will be receiving well thought out attacks as opposed to making those same attacks.

Feds want to be DPS and Tanks, but nobody realizes the extreme power of the Science ship. They can create the surprise attacks and subsequently keep the cruisers and escorts alive.

The main reason things are imbalanced is because players are stupid.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 4
02-10-2010, 11:05 AM
yet another useless babble post dude. The sides are not equal, they are factions. Federation are scientists and explorers, the klingons are warriors. If you want clone teams go play some other game.

Of course klingon ships have more DPS, THEY ARE KLINGONS IDIOT. In exchange we dont have dedicated science ships that can take beatings as well as tank spec cruisers. We have some paper mache origami bird of prey for our science officers.

A ships potential dps means nothing if you are CC'ed or debuffed
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 5
02-10-2010, 11:07 AM
Two things jump to mind as I was reading .
  1. PvE tanking is very different from PvP.
  2. Canons while being able to equip them , isn't necessarily beneificial.

Adressing my first point , unless you're a Fed player that frequently PvP's , you know very well what it involves. I believe the PvE environment leaves Feds with a false sense of superiority to a degree , and when they enter that PvP arena they are shocked and overwhelmed.. This really boils down to mind set, and capacity to realize the two are not equal nor parrallel in set up or abilities.

Adressing the second point , a change has either been implemented or this was always the case , I'm sure . Say I wanted to equip a K'tinga with cannons , which would be about level 6 ? I'm unable to do this , the highest I can do is level 4 . This maybe new or it may have been like this always, again not sure . So level 6 beams for level for 4 canons , which is better ? It really boils down to the Boff skills availible. The BoP is for the Feds the biggest issue , with the battle cloak and the varible Boff slots . Remember Canons are a 90 degree arch that really is not useful on a K'tinga , Vor'cha , Negh'Var , or Vo'Quo , only semi useful on a Raptor.

Another factor is the ability points you get with each level as you put points into that ship type skill tree , which doesn't curently exsist for Klingons. One way to counter this would be to make all klingon vessels with a varible Boff slot . so no ship is specifically slotted , but universally variable.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 6
02-10-2010, 11:09 AM
a misconception is that all fed groups are pve groups. I know plenty fed guild pvp groups that get beat due to imbalance in the T1 and T5 areas more specifically.

I have played both sides as well and I am amazing. Take a look at ground combat and how balanced everything is, per side anyway, and then take a look at space. You see very few complain about Feds or Klinks being OP in ground combat post OB (****ing tribbles) and more posts on space. Why? Because space is very imbalanced that is why. This being said many fed players simply post in hopes the other side will be nerfed and many klingon players post so they will not get nerfed. Very few post for the sake of balance.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 7
02-10-2010, 11:13 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by lunatec View Post
I have a Fed Tac/Escort and I ONLY use canons. I consistently have one of, if not the, highest DPS in the arena. Does that mean we always win? No.

Feds have more class-specific ships which give specific advantages to each ship/player. The biggest difference I have seen as both a Klingon and a Fed is that the Klingons work together much better. Feds all seem to want to be individuals, and they are usually on the defensive all the time ( an inherent disadvantage, tactically) so they will be receiving well thought out attacks as opposed to making those same attacks.

Feds want to be DPS and Tanks, but nobody realizes the extreme power of the Science ship. They can create the surprise attacks and subsequently keep the cruisers and escorts alive.

The main reason things are imbalanced is because players are stupid.
I'd agree except for a few major factors I've noticed:

1: A klingon starting vessel comes readily equiped with top of the tier greens, and they have easier access to tier IV upwards gear meaning they will always be equiped right away for every tier, this disparity means fledging klinks to each new tier will be at the advantage over fledging feds.

2: I know a few of you are avoiding mentioning this but I've bug reported it and hope it gets fixed, Kinetic damage impacts for Full damage against the shield facing its hitting! This means a klink with high yield quantums can take down a Fed Cruisers shield facing with a single volley, Kinetic damage was supposed to only do very superficial damage to shield facings which as I've observed on multiple occasions is NOT the case at all!
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 8
02-10-2010, 11:18 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by DarthVeer
I'd agree except for a few major factors I've noticed:

1: A klingon starting vessel comes readily equiped with top of the tier greens, and they have easier access to tier IV upwards gear meaning they will always be equiped right away for every tier, this disparity means fledging klinks to each new tier will be at the advantage over fledging feds.

2: I know a few of you are avoiding mentioning this but I've bug reported it and hope it gets fixed, Kinetic damage impacts for Full damage against the shield facing its hitting! This means a klink with high yield quantums can take down a Fed Cruisers shield facing with a single volley, Kinetic damage was supposed to only do very superficial damage to shield facings which as I've observed on multiple occasions is NOT the case at all!
yes kinetic damage does seem to do quit a bit to shields in space pvp. I personally think space combat should last a bit longer, and by that I mean they should increase hull or shield strength or both overall to make matches less about burst and more about tactics and sustained focus firing.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 9
02-10-2010, 11:21 AM
i'm under the impression he's still writing, and when hes done i'll read it all and wager in my opinion. and what meat_machine says, you can generally take his word for it.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 10
02-10-2010, 11:28 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fiss View Post
yes kinetic damage does seem to do quit a bit to shields in space pvp. I personally think space combat should last a bit longer, and by that I mean they should increase hull or shield strength or both overall to make matches less about burst and more about tactics and sustained focus firing.
I'd really like that, if not to avoid the insta pops, but just cause it feels more like "Star Trek," slower, more methodical combat.

Right now, it feels like feds, with the slower, lumbering ships and less firepower, are playing a turn based RPG, while the klings, with their much faster, harder hitting ships, are playing a first person shooter. The two go together like oil and water.
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