ovarwa wrote:Mat and I clearly need to be more liberal with the smileys!
I think you just conflated the two, exactly the way you claim I was doing.
I don't think I did... where do you think I mixed those up? I've tried to consistently keep those to apart, but maybe I've been not as clear as I thought in some statements?
The moment a game has a "win the game" card, playing that card becomes an avenue to victory. The moment a game introduces anything that is an "I win" button, playing to deploy that element is an avenue to victory.
Yep, exactly my point.
Game elements of lesser utility are part of a complete breakfast.
Well, yes, of course - game objectives/victory conditions are actually game elements themselves. I just feel the need to distinguish between them more clearly, that's why I think setting them apart also by the terms used to refer to them is a good thing. But in the end that's a matter of choosing proper labels.
When any game element is priced too cheaply it becomes a no-brainer, which makes it a problem; when any game element is priced too dearly it becomes part of a path never taken, which makes it a problem.
Complete agreement on that.
Once appropriate costs have been established, it really doesn't matter how powerful that game element is, because the price is right: If you can muster the cost for a game-winning weapon, you deserve to win. The argument that a very powerful weapon cannot be priced in a balanced way because intrinsically powerful things are intrinsically too good simply makes no sense in a game that already allows purchase of an I Win certificate.
Yes and no - yes, because basically you're right, but no if you fail to make the important distiction between "normal"/"lesser" game elements and game objectives/victory conditions here.
My point is, once you design a game element that is so powerful it actually becomes an "I win" button, and thus acquiring it a game objective, you cannot
"downgrade" it to "normal"/"lesser" game element just by making it sufficiently expensive. You can't properly balance it against the lesser game elements anymore, you can only balance it properly against the other victory conditions.
Which means, you need to decide what you want a powerful game element to be when you design it. If I don't want a certain superweapon to be actually game deciding, I must not make it too powerful, because it's not possible to make it not game deciding by raising its costs. Or reversly, if I want to make this particular superweapon that rules them all, I have to be aware that I actually create something that is a game objective, and have to design and balance it accordingly.
In a similar way, a superweapon that is better than the other weapons but whose costs are properly balanced is not necessarily an automatic I Win button, and is not necessarily even the most important priority.
I guess here is the point where we probably disagree the most. Because even if a superweapon isn't powerful enough to constitute an automatic "I win" button (and thus doesn't qualify as a game objective), if it outperforms all other weapons in the game, it's just outright boring.
Simple because it becomes, as far as weapons are concerned, the optimal choice. So while you might be able
to beat a player that has the superweapon even when you don't (by being sufficiently ahead in other aspects so you can counter the disadvantage of having the inferior weapon systems), why would you go for the less optimal weapons? When you can have your other advantages and
And before you point out the "properly balanced" (as in, you can achieve it not being the clearly optimal choice by getting costs right), that's exactly what I tried to explain in my earlier post: that's only possible up to a certain point
. Beyond that you can't
balance it properly by costs alone
. Because the margin where the costs would be right becomes to small - you'll either get it too cheap or too expensive. You can't get it right. At least, that's my experience.
And even if you could, to me a weapon system that outperforms all other weapons (disregarding the costs) still is boring. I definitely prefer, not only for weapons, but for all game elements/mechanics where the game offers several different paths, that all alternatives/options have their distinct strength and weaknesses. Option A being better at X, but worse at Y, and B being worse at X, but better at Y. And no option C that's better than A and
B both at X and
Y, with A and B viable options only because C is so hideously expensive.
As it becomes less useful, costs need to go down, approaching being free. (Something that offers no game utility ought not cost anything.) As it becomes more useful, costs need to go up, approaching the cost of buying an outright victory. (Something that offers an outright victory effectively becomes Win by Accumulating X Surplus Resources.)
And exactly here the distinction between the two (normal game element and victory condition) becomes important, because apparently you think you can gradually shift from the one into the other category, and that's exactly what I think is impossible. There's a "gap" between the two, where a game element becomes too powerful to be able to properly balance it as a "normal" game element, even if it's not powerful enough to qualify as "I win" button.
For example, if the cannon did only 5 points of damage, but they were efficient points, I think we can both agree that would not be overpowered at all. So *efficient* damage is not the problem
Never said it was. What you describe here is actually an interesting alternative weapons system. Lower damage output than other weapons, but being able to apply that damage more efficiently. It's the combination
of having the by far highest damage output than any other weapon and
being able to apply that damage far more efficiently than any other weapon that would make such a superweapon overpowered to the point where you can't properly balance it anymore.
again, it's all a matter of balancing costs.
IMO a weapon like that would be an example for something where this isn't possible anymore. You'll either get it too cheap or too expensive.
It's another matter if you don't like the aesthetic!
If you mean the fluff explanation, well, as you said yourself in an earlier post, we can practically come up with something for almost everything. If you mean that I might not like the concept of such a weapon (that's better than all other weapons in all regards, only costs keeping it balanced), then yes, that's an additional gripe I have with these kind of things.
I raise the victory condition elements as a counterargument against the claim that a weapon cannot be balanced with high cost if it is very powerful.
Balanced against the other victory conditions - yes. Balanced against "normal" game elements - no.
The Transcendence tech isn't "balanced" at all against all the other techs. After all, it gives you nothing
- no building, no weapon, no device - nothing, and that for an insane price. However, it gives you instant victory, which by it's nature beats everything
. It makes no sense at all to compare it to the other techs for that reason, and it's costs have nothing to do with how the other techs are priced. The costs for the Transcendence tech are actually determined by trying to balance it against victory by military conquest (and, by the way, still failing at that, because that's practically impossible just by adjusting the research costs - the approach to have tech victory just by researching a super expensive tech at the far end of the tech tree is very dull, as LGM-Doyle pointed out).
The counterargument is that in a game where victory can be bought, such as FreeOrion, a big cannon cannot do better than an outright win. So if the cannon grants me an outright win, a balanced cost is the same as that other victory.
Correct. And like the Transcendence tech, the costs for that cannon can't be determined by trying to balance it against the other weapon systems in the game, but by balancing it against all the other ways victory can be achieved. Which is something completely different
To the extent that its utility is less, its cost can be less. Balanced.
Nope, because we're dealing with an either-or thing here. You can't gradually move from "victory condition" to "normal game element". You need to decide, when you design that thing, what you want it to be. Then you know how and against which other game elements you need it to balance.
(Though that could be a fun and amusing tech path. Death Star 1 has lots of design flaws, Death Star 2 has fewer, until you research the Totally Debugged Death Star and win.
Definitely! Actually, I'd really like something like that in the game. Some powerful superweapon, buried in an Ancient Ruin in a remote system, heavily guarded by extremely powerful ancient warships of some precursor race. One way to achieve victory is to get your hands on that weapon and deploy it. Which could be done by having the superweapon be an ancient warship you get like the Dragon Tooth, or you just get some parts and need to unlock their secrets first. Implemented by unlocking certain expensive techs by that Ancient Ruins, which you need to research first, giving you a core slot, very expensive super weapon that is capable to lay waste to vast fleets of the biggest warships with one shot. I LIKE it!
I do like the idea of having some weapon system that is efficient
The idea is actually appealing, at least to me. I've often thought about what different and distinct kind of weapons we could come up. Fighters are great, but I'd like even more variety (after all, the combat aspect is a very fundamental one to this game). A mechanic that allows to apply damage more efficiently. Geoffs idea of Targetting Computer Systems sounds very interesting, and should address some of the main issues you raise here.
(I actually prefer attaching efficient damage to fighters, but that ship has sailed.)
I would not say that. Maybe in the form you might have envisioned, but having techs (like "Fighter Tactics" or somesuch) that allows Fighters to distribute their forces/damage more efficiently across enemy targets sounds very interesting. And it makes much more sense to explain how you can efficiently "allocate" just the right amount of fighters to enemy targets than to think up an explanation how the shot of one big megacannon can be efficiently spread across multiple enemy targets (not that it's impossible, but IMO more difficult, and requiring more ackward/more obviously handwaved explanations
It's just a little more research and a bit of production to make your own black hole.
It is, and I don't like it. It's unbalanced, and needs to be fixed. Like a lot of other things. Well, game in alpha phase...
The better/more powerful/ more efficient a path/element is than all its alternatives, the smaller that "margin" becomes, until you reach a point where you can't balance it properly anymore. You'll either get it to cheap or to expensive, it becomes impossible to get the costs just right so it's viable, but not making everything else pointless. With our game, this problem is even drastically compounded by the enormous
Here's where we disagree. Because once you allow victory to bought (eg Transcendence), if that victory is fair then pricing the element in question becomes much easier, and it should never cost more than Transcendence!
Um, maybe that's what made you think I conflated "normal"/"lesser" game elements and victory conditions? Because my paragraph you quoted here specifically does not
apply to the latter. So yes
, if we're talking about an "I win" button like device/weapon, and only
about something like that (not something powerful that's just not quite
there), I completely agree with you here.
My statement specifically meant game elements which are not
intended to be "I win" buttons/game objectives.
Chess has it easy!
Yep, definitely. Which is why we now have AIs than can beat even the best humans at chess, but we're nowhere near that when it comes to games like FO. Which is a pity, because having an AI which is as strong as a human without cheating would be so awesome