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Balancing User Content

Balancing User Customable Units & Avatars
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Allowing users to customise the attributes (eg weapons and armour) of their units or avatar (for fps) in games can give a game great diversity. However, this usually leads to an unbalanced game and so a way of balancing content is needed.

If two attributes such as 'armour strength' and 'weapon power' were able to be modified to different levels (1-10) and each level had an associated cost (1-10) then players could balance them for how they liked to play. A player with 10 credits could have 5 strength and 5 power, or 7s and 3p, etc. However, it is likely that one combination would be optimal and soon everyone would have to play with that combination to have a chance to win.

If the cost of an attributes level increased when chosen, and decreased when less popular, combinations would become balanced over time. So if players always chose high strength and low power then the costs of these options would increase.

Level Strength Cost Power Cost

1 0.5 2

2 0.6 4

3 0.75 6

4 0.95 7

5 1.35 8

6 1.8 8.5

7 2.5 8.8

8 5 9.2

9 7 9.4

10 10 10

This will eventually remove any advantage from any particular combination and allow players to play with combinations that suit how they want to play.

This could be tested with a very simple 2D move and shoot game or a turn based strategy game like Battle Isle. Additional attributes like speed, acceleration, weapon range, fire rate, weapon explosive area, etc could be added to build up the complexity. At some point the maximum of the levels may need to be re-adjusted. The games would have to be multiplayer and the statistics from each game stored online. It would be complicated to adjust the levels for each game so the cost adjustments would be made daily or weekly.

Abilities can also be added, for instance the ability to fly. This would be compared against travelling on land. If one option is chosen more often then the cost will increase, the more expensive options will mean they have less credits to spend on other options and you are likely to end up with low strength flying units. More movement abilities could be added so it is possible to travel on water (boats) water and land (hovercraft), over rough terrain (bipedal), etc. Alternatively abilities such as invisibility, shields, radar, etc could be added. Each of these additional abilities could themselves be editable so invisibility may range from camouflage to full invisibility and could have modifiable duration and cool down times all with prices that vary over time.

This would ideally suit real time strategy games but would work well as a fps too. However, it would become really interesting if the control types were offered as abilities so you could have one player with their super soldier taking on the others army. If the rts option in this case was very unfair then the fps option would be more popular and the weighting would shift until the rts was balanced.

This could also be applied to tps games and games where teams of bots are controlled commanded. Additionally multiple players could be on either side using different control types for a really varied game.

To introduce an element of skill levelling players will gradually be allowed to use more cash to develop their army/avatar and will be matched against players with the same available cash. This would also allow different numbers of players on either side.

There could be three factions human, robots and alien. Each would have access to different combinations of abilities and costings. Which would add another layer of variety. It would nice to allow players to fully customize the look of units but it would become too difficult for opponents to assess how to fight the different units. Instead, as attributes change so their appearance would change. For example as weapon range increased so would the length of the barrel.

Aqua Guy, Oct 29 2010

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       Which game are we in?
pertinax, Oct 30 2010
  

       So, the idea is for some kind of feedback loop to make the game self-balancing, rather than relying on the designers to do it?   

       Of course, this means the designers have to spend effort making sure the loop will stay stable.   

       I'm not sure I really get what you're proposing, though.
Wrongfellow, Oct 30 2010
  
      
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