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Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
_____My name is Joseph, otherwise known as the infamous Faithborn in Star Trek Online. Newer players may not know me, but I was the original founder of the fleet ‘The Spanish Inquisition’. Back before I quit playing STO about one and a half years ago I was a very polarizing figure. People either loved me or hated me, depending on whether or not their opinions differed from mine. After all, I was the leader of TSI and the owner of the Organized PvP channel, I popularized the Healboat cruisers, and I was one of the first people that used Scramble Sensors before it became ‘oh so very frustrating’ to deal with. I was also abrasive, rude, and arrogant (and I still am).But enough about that, people don’t want to hear me harp about old times. I’ve since quit playing STO in favor of other PvP games, but I’ll always remember flying around with my science ship scrambling everyone or my cruiser keeping everyone in tip top condition (much to the frustration of players everywhere). I spent more than a year of my life hopelessly addicted to this game. I gave my blood, sweat, and tears to get good at this game and have fun. I post this now because of the growing concern by my fleet that STO should no longer be our call to honor.

_____I’m not going to talk about top tier gameplay, or which skills are overpowered; I’ve been away from the game for far too long to make those types of calls. What was strong in my metagame is no longer strong in the current metagame, and vice-versa. What I am going to talk about, however, is the fact that perfect balance is a myth. Even if it did exist, that's not a good thing.

_____I’ve invented a new game, it’s called take a rock. There are ten rocks on a table and we each take turns taking a rock. The winner is the guy with the most rocks. Does that sound like fun? Hell no, but it’s balanced. Each player has an equal chance of winning, so why isn’t it fun? The answer is actually pretty simple, there’s no room for creativity or human interaction. That’s a perfectly balanced game and, to be honest, that isn’t what developers should look for.

Developers should be looking at the ways to maximize fun for their players.

_____Fun is not the same thing for everyone, and it can be a variety of things; role players have fun role playing, collectors have fun getting big items, pvpers have fun pvping. If I had to list a single thing that draws me into pvp, it would be moments of triumph. There are moments where your clutch interaction created a great victory. When you succeed in destroying your opponent’s ship, you feel wonderful. When you land that clutch extend shields and save your teammate from certain death, you feel wonderful. Fun is feeling nice.

_____One of the problems with pvp, however, is that every positive feeling for one player creates a negative feeling for the opposing player. No one likes being destroyed in combat, it feels terrible. No one likes having their kill denied from them either, it’s straight up frustrating. Enjoyment is all about give and take. Ultimately, in order to have fun, someone must experience a measure of the unfun.

“But Faithborn,” you ask, “Doesn’t that defeat the purpose of balance? How can you create large amounts of fun without creating large amounts of unfun?”

_____Sort of. Anything that is ‘fun’ for one player is ‘unfun’ for the person on the receiving end. But not all aspects of ‘fun’ create the same amounts of ‘unfun’. Mechanics that push interactivity, for example Extend Shields, create large amounts of fun because both players have clutch options that create large amounts of fun. The defending player creates fun by saving a teammate from death, the opposing player can create fun by pushing them outside of the extend shield maximum length with a skill like tractor beam repulsors. On the flip side, some mechanics are incredibly unfun. I don’t gain much pleasure by scrambling your sensors – but you feel absolutely terrible. I can just shrug and then scramble them to shut them down while they can’t do anything and are forced to rely on a teammate to bail them out of a sticky situation.

_____How much fun is generated by nuking someone with a high yield torpedo? How much fun is lost by being on the receiving end of a high yield torpedo? How much fun is gained by scrambling someone’s sensors? How much fun is lost by having your sensors scrambled? These questions need to be asked and addressed before any major update, rebalancing, or release of content. If I don't generate much fun by doing something, but it creates a large amount of unfun, then we have a problem. The overall experience isn't positive, it's negative!

_____In short, maximize the aspects of the game that can create a large amount of fun, even if they have that unfun backlash. Minimize the aspects of the game that don't create much fun, but have a massive amount of unfun attached to them. Seek balance changes to give players more fun in the game, give them more interactivity, give them big fun moments where they can feel that satisfaction of triumph. Make the pvp memorable, make it fun.

_____There will always be something overpowered, underpowered, and ‘middle of the road’ in pvp – regardless of the format. In Magic: The Gathering, if you were to strip the entire game down to hill giants and shocks, people would argue that the shocks were overpowered (and they would be right). There will always be something more powerful than something else, and perfect balance is impossible to achieve. The point is that balance doesn’t necessarily mean fun. What’s fun are the player interactions, the multiple ‘highs’ experienced by making a clutch play and the ‘lows’ of having a clutch play used against you. In that perfectly balanced game I mentioned, there was no room for player interaction, and thus it is not fun. There was no fun generated… at all

_____The point of design should be to maximize the amount of fun possible inside of a game while minimizing the amount of unfun. I’d call it anti-fun if the net change in fun experienced is negative – and that needs to be avoided as much as possible.

_____Now that said, balance is pretty important. A game without balance creates large amounts of anti-fun simply due to the fact that it isn’t balanced. Balancing simply for the sake of balancing shouldn’t be a reason for balancing, though. It should be to maximize fun and minimize the unfun. Balancing should be applied cautiously as a way to keep players in the game, not drive them away.

TL;DR – Balance for the sake of creating enjoyment, not to create perfect balance.

~ Faithborn

p.s: would you believe I missed a paragraph when I originally posted this?
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 2
05-11-2012, 06:25 PM
LoL! I am wondering how you played this game for two years when you left two and a half years ago and the game is only two and a quarter years old. At least I know who to blame for TSI, ha ha.

I agree that alance is NOT all important, but environment makes up for a lot. For example, in many FPS games a sniper is very underpowered, but the environment is designed to give him ways to use his skills to kill more powerful opponents with one shot. My main gripe is the arenas in STO where we just circle and shoot. We need complex environments with cool objectives to enhance the fun of different builds/styes/professions.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 3
05-11-2012, 06:27 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by faithborn
TL;DR – Balance for the sake of creating enjoyment, not to create perfect balance.
i'll read this a bit later but for now, this above is why i want balance. its not because of some autistic obsessive compulsive need, its because the game is most fun when its balanced. currently almost every death make me feel like i was cheated, by all the hilariously broken abilities and pets.

theres 10 different ways to completely shut someone down until killed, every time. in addition to balance, these things should be reduced to say 1 or 2 ways, because they suck the fun out of everything.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 4
05-11-2012, 06:37 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by BuccaneerDTB
LoL! I am wondering how you played this game for two years when you left two and a half years ago and the game is only two and a quarter years old. At least I know who to blame for TSI, ha ha.
Eh, the dates tend to run together. I remember playing this game for a damn long time, and then giving up on it. That's the important part.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 5
05-11-2012, 06:48 PM
If you bring anything down to basics, yes it becomes unfun in terms of balance, (the whole rock game) however the more complex something is the more you can fine tune balance. My opnion is that, in order to have balance there must be gaps in what players can create and use in the game and for them to use this to what ever advantage. One player should not be able to kill everything, there should be weak points to every build depending on were the player specilizes in. For example, One player creates a build that is specifically designed to do DPS however another sets up the same ships to debuff a DPS build, or another sets up to be a threatening build but can't do either but is able to bounce in and out, and so forth. Each one has a weakness to the other, Like rock, paper, scissors. Then you make it more complex by adding more players, different abilities, and anything else (the more the better). I do believe the the developers grasp this concept, and will be bringing many more variations such as ships, consoles, skills, traits, and factions/species.

Even if there were 3 factions all of them with the same type of ships, the players and there builds, powers, and play style would determine the victor on any PvP. The problem is that everyone seems to run the same idea of a build and this is due to unfocused balancing. Instead of listening to the players complain about this or that being over powered then nerfing what ever it is, the players need to diversify and explore ways to counter what ever they see as OP. Players determine the balance in a game, they complain about something that they don't want to use is OP and only want to hit the easy button for there enemy to die, giving no thought to tactics or there build and to change it.

I give you one example, 2 players running the same build, ship, class and character, Who will win and how? Answer is the one that knows there build and uses the right tactics. you must know how to use the tool before you can fix something then you must know how to fix it. Many players barley know how to use the tool let alone how the fix what the tool is used for.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 6
05-11-2012, 07:13 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Umrathama View Post
If you bring anything down to basics, yes it becomes unfun in terms of balance, (the whole rock game) however the more complex something is the more you can fine tune balance. My opinion is that, in order to have balance there must be gaps in what players can create and use in the game and for them to use this to what ever advantage. One player should not be able to kill everything, there should be weak points to every build depending on were the player specilizes in. For example, One player creates a build that is specifically designed to do DPS however another sets up the same ships to debuff a DPS build, or another sets up to be a threatening build but can't do either but is able to bounce in and out, and so forth. Each one has a weakness to the other, Like rock, paper, scissors. Then you make it more complex by adding more players, different abilities, and anything else (the more the better). I do believe the the developers grasp this concept, and will be bringing many more variations such as ships, consoles, skills, traits, and factions/species.
Ultimately, the 'take a rock' game isn't unfun because of balance. It's unfun because there are no player interactions. Intricate player interactions are what creates the highs and lows in fun and unfun experiences. Some interactions are good in this aspect, but some are also pretty bad. A strong mana burn, for example, is a pretty bad mechanic for creating fun because the character doing the burning doesn't actually feel any pleasure by draining their opponent's mana. Conversely, getting all your mana drained and not being able to do anything while your opponent wails on you really ****ing sucks.

The point is that balance teams and developers need to look at their interactions and maximize the good ones while minimizing the bad ones.

Quote:
Even if there were 3 factions all of them with the same type of ships, the players and there builds, powers, and play style would determine the victor on any PvP. The problem is that everyone seems to run the same idea of a build and this is due to unfocused balancing. Instead of listening to the players complain about this or that being over powered then nerfing what ever it is, the players need to diversify and explore ways to counter what ever they see as OP. Players determine the balance in a game, they complain about something that they don't want to use is OP and only want to hit the easy button for there enemy to die, giving no thought to tactics or there build and to change it.

I give you one example, 2 players running the same build, ship, class and character, Who will win and how? Answer is the one that knows there build and uses the right tactics. you must know how to use the tool before you can fix something then you must know how to fix it. Many players barley know how to use the tool let alone how the fix what the tool is used for.
I'm not even addressing player skill in this thread. That's saying something, especially if you actually remember how much I argued that player skill was all that mattered.

Screaming bloody murder over something largely stems from ignorance - not stupidity, but ignorance. Sometimes a player does need to step up to the plate and get over it, but it's not always the case. If you're getting murdered over and over again by the same exact thing, gradually the unfun experience will begin to magnify. It's the principle of diminishing marginal utility, except twisted in that you can't stop getting that experience, and it gets worse every time.

Take Scramble Sensors, for example, Anyone that used it before it got cleaned up remembers how often it was banned in organized gameplay. It wasn't fun to play against, people hated it, Even when the tactics to 'counter it' were well known (and broken). It was a frustrating experience whenever you got scrambled, because your opponents tossed it around like butter and you couldn't do anything about it.

If you need to play X amount of games to play, but X-Y games is enough to drive you away from the game, why would you stay? If it's not fun, why play? Now, obviously this argument can be used for just about anything, but that's because it works.

~~ edit: Just for the record, I loved Scramble Sensors. I was complaining about it ever since launch - everyone else told me it was a crummy skill, but I rolled a science captain specifically to abuse it. Ask Maicake, I seriously had the entire final build planned before I even rolled my captain.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 7
05-11-2012, 07:24 PM
The game is fair if the rules are the same for everyone: Hoyle's Law

When one side has an ability for which the other side has no counter, when one side has access to items which the other side has not, when one side can do something with one button against which only concerted effort form the other team can counter, this is imbalance. This violates Hoyle's Law.

The difference in winning and losing should be preparation and performance.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 8
05-11-2012, 10:20 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by faithborn
Eh, the dates tend to run together. I remember playing this game for a damn long time, and then giving up on it. That's the important part.
Yes, I was joking about the way the wording could be seen in a different light.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 9
05-11-2012, 10:41 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by brian334
The game is fair if the rules are the same for everyone: Hoyle's Law

When one side has an ability for which the other side has no counter, when one side has access to items which the other side has not, when one side can do something with one button against which only concerted effort form the other team can counter, this is imbalance. This violates Hoyle's Law.

The difference in winning and losing should be preparation and performance.
Doesn't this infer absolute homogenization though? If you are consistent in the application of this concept, musn't all players, at the game mechanic level, be completely equal?
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 10
05-11-2012, 10:45 PM
The one problem with PvP in this game is the need for pretty much for every team to be made the same. In other words there are maybe 3-4 team builds and rest fall by the wayside quickly. This game when it lauched used the term IDIC, Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations, we know that was hyperbole but to have 3-4 team builds that everyone needs to run to be competitive is absurd. I know some team builds fail and I know some team builds need to be good to make PvP more fun for the majority you need team builds that really do fall in the middle. Team builds need to be so diverse that it is almost impossible to find the few ones that really suck and the ones that really work and everyone is in the middle like a bell curve. What will happen eventually is tactics and strategy will make teams better and bring the skill level of the whole game up.
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