This blog I would like to talk about balancing the different powers in the game and how we do it.
As you know there are a lot of different powers in the game. Up until recently, we didn’t have exact measures for how powerful certain powers were. However, recently we have added more stats, so we can now show you how the powers are currently balanced, and how we will balance them in an upcoming update.
Balancing goes in small steps. This means to us:
a. The power is fun to use
this basically means if the power feels good to use. If it gets players excited.
b. The power doesn’t feel unfair
Unfairness is assessed by determining if a player was able to avoid getting hit by a power. Could he/she counteract it? A good example of this is Laser. In the past, the charge up time of laser was so short, that nobody would be able to dodge a reasonably well-placed laser shot. Laser was hard to use, and it might not steal a lot of points, however, as a victim there was no way to combat it, and thus it was not fun to play against, and people could label it as unfair and quit the game. By increasing the charge up time, players are able to dodge laser if they need to.
c. Estimate correct attack and defense value for new power
Then we do some internal testing and estimate the balanced attack and defense numbers. However, this is hard because we are just a small team. In the end, we bring it to you guys and you can test it out and bring in the data
d. Collect and analyze data
We collect data on powers, like:
- times it is installed in a ship
- times it is used per round
- hits done per round
- hits received per round
- points earned per round
- points lost per round
- survival points earned per round
We collect this data from all users. But for balancing the powers we only look at players who we think are able to handle the powers well. This means players with a rank of over 1400.
An important plot to make is the following plot:
In this plot, the points stolen is set out against the survival points earned. Each bubble is a power and the size of the power is the number of installs / user (counting for players who have not unlocked certain powers). If a power is high to the right, it means that it does well for survivability. One can expect to have jump and brake over there. If a power is high on the top, it means it steals a lot of points. Note that we subtracted the expectation value of survival points from the survival points axis, to better highlight the impact from steals and survivals. A power can be balanced when it earns a lot of survival points and when it doesn’t steal a lot of points. Or when it steals a lot of points and doesn’t earn a lot of survival points.
Note that there is a large spread in points stolen, but a relatively small spread in survivability. So powers have a big impact on how many points players steal, but not on how much surviving is impacted. In general, it is hard to make a power better in surviving, but it is relatively easy in letting a power steal fewer points (or prevent from points being stolen). The latter can be achieved by simply changing the attack and defense values of the power. Also, in general, it is easier to lower the attack value of a power than to increase the defense of a power.
e. Determine perfect balance line
We want to have a balance in the game between surviving and stealing points. This can be represented by a guiding line. A guiding line could be the pink line in the graph. This tells something about how important we want stealing to be. By lowering the pink line we can make the game more about surviving and less about stealing points. To make diverse gameplay we decided to lower the guiding line from the pink to the orange line. This will mean quite some lower attack values for many powers, but still more defense for most defensive powers like shield and brake.
Note that in the past we didn’t have these stats, and that is also why there are so many powers in imbalance before this update.
f. Account for ‘easy’ and ‘unpopular’ powers
If a power is very easy to use, we aim it to be for beginners to have fun with, but not necessarily for pros to use it all the time, as it requires little skill to use. On the other hand, if a power is unpopular at the moment, we might decide to balance it in favor of the power, so that more people will try it out.
What about this update
This update is the first update where we will try to get all powers on the orange guiding line. This means that most powers will see a reduction of their attack value. Some of the defensive powers will be changed not only in its defense but also on how they work:
- brake: shorter cooldown
- shield: shorter duration
- thin: shorter cooldown
- Corner: shorter cooldown
this so that they will become more popular to use.
So that is how we balance the game in a nutshell. Thanks for reading!