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  Click here to go to the first staff post in this thread.   Thread: Playing Field Fairness for Everyone

  1. #1

    Playing Field Fairness for Everyone

    First order of the day is to give a thanks to everyone in the community for being so nice since I returned after my hiatus.

    I notice our beloved game has a relatively small (but cosy) community at the moment. I also realise that when the single player version of the game launches we will get an influx of effort from stoic (although its ok if you guys start sleeping again once chapter 1 is done) and an influx of old players and backers coming back and new players too, and any changes we may suggest or plead for will come later not now.
    What I would like though to be honest is a level playing field, no grinding for units. Id like team compositions to be entirely up to the discretion of the people making the teams. Its not fun to lose because you have the wrong units. Its not fun to win because your enemy has the wrong units.
    At the very least id like tournaments to be this way. It would encourage tournament play and also make it more fair. I guess I am a hardcore gamer, the cost of things in renown means nothing to me as I can just spend 40 hours each week making more if I so choose, but I dont think everyone else feels the same. So I would personally like to see all of the units available to everyone so that our small community can always find games, and at the power levels of their choosing. I realise there is a financial aspect of the game to worry about, but in my opinion any competitive game should sell cosmetics only. I find people can get wildly excited about cosmetics, although to me they are irrelevant.
    I also acknowledge this gives people nothing to work towards. For me though, competitive games are for people who enjoy the spirit of competition, not people who want achievements and whatever else it is that people want from games. Chess never would have taken off if you had to earn the pieces one by one while playing masters who already owned them all.
    Sorry if that was rambly. I am not much of a writer. Have a nice day everypony.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Wordplay's Avatar
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    Interesting post, and welcome back.

    I think that it raises two main issues, firstly fairness, and secondly, the amount of grinding required to get units. I don't feel that these are as strongly connected as Khitchary, but I could be wrong. It's difficult to judge a number of things at the moment, because the typical player on Factions usually has a large stable of units, experience with how best to promote them, and often a chunk of spare renown.

    On the issue of fairness:-
    It feels like a pretty fair playing field to me already, in terms of matching with opponents with equal power teams. You may not be able to choose the units that you want right off the bat, but you can build all the rank 1 units quite cheaply. I don't think that people are being disadvantaged by their choice of unit...well, maybe beginners who choose a bad promotion strategy, but even then, it can be quickly rectified. Restating units is free now, and that smooths out a potential difficulty. Furthermore, aside from the issues with the Bowmaster and the Warleader, the units are pretty well balanced, so a promotion will almost never be fatal, or useless. So...if it is a problem, I don't think that it's too bad.

    I think it's rare that people lose because they have the wrong units. I think people usually lose because they either have the wrong build on those units, or the wrong strategy for those units.

    On the issue of grind:-
    I liked it in the beta when we could choose whatever units we wished, but I have to say that I like having to work a little bit for each unit. It's pretty much the only thing to work for, apart from tournament and ranked status. Then again, I'm at the stage now where I can run almost any team power 6-12. It took me some time to get there, and it could be a little frustrating at times. I think the biggest problem with levelling units at the minute is that there are peaks and troughs at the speed at which renown is earned, because there are peaks and troughs in the most popular power levels.

    As to the point about competitive play vs achievements: I guess I value my units as a way of keeping score, in a way that my ranked status and tournament wins don't. My ranking can and has been taken away from me over time, but my units are left as a tangible sign of the effort that I've invested. That is their strength as a metric. I suppose that I could just buy colours for them with renown instead, and there's something in that, but it's not quite as tangible. Like Kitchary, I have little interest in cosmetics.

    The other side is that I quite like the roleplaying aspect of naming units, levelling them, and looking at their histories. This would be diluted quite strongly if we could simply summon up whatever unit we wished, as units are then valueless. Even if we can keep names and records, it's still not as strong, or as fun.

    If people wish to focus solely on the competitive element, that's fine by me. Each to their own. However, I enjoy some of the other elements as well, such as achievements and roleplaying. If those lose support, then I think I'd be much less interested in Factions. Might still play it occasionally, but wouldn't devote anything near as much time to it as I do now. I suppose my point would be that different people like different things, and that they like different things about the Banner Saga.

  3. #3
    Superbacker netnazgul's Avatar
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    The problem with "play with any units you want" system is that then a) higher power levels will be flooded by people who don't know how to play the game and b) there would be no power levels at all, cause there would be no point in power levels
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  4. #4
    The only point in power levels is the game feels different netnaz. An everyone playing at the same level was the whole point of my post. Id rather that then I have to keep putting together level 4 teams to help people level (I dont mind doing it a bit but it does get a little old)

  5. #5
    Yeah tbh Wordplay I did not feel like the roleplaying aspect of this online pvp game was really that strong. Thats kind of what the single player was for I thought. In regards to people losing due to having the wrong units, I am certain that happens. I might want 3 x rank 2 raidmasters for a fight, but I have 3 x rank 1 and 3 x rank 3. So, if im to play at power 12 I cant use 3 x rank 2's and rank 2 everyone else, even if I want to. I feel these kind of things can affect players. Also a lot of new players have not the best idea on which units to buy, if they buy the wrong ones then they end up having to grind out matches with a setup they dont even want to use.
    Last edited by Khitchary; 11-08-2013 at 08:00 PM.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Wordplay's Avatar
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    I with Kitchary that the RP aspect isn't particularly strong, but I still appreciate having it.

    The point Kitchary makes about new players sometimes making poor choices is fair enough - perhaps we could allow a class change for a small renown cost. However, I'd worry that people wouldn't really learn how to use the units if they're not forced to stick with them - and that would reduce the number of builds in the metagame down to the few that are easiest to learn.

    I can see how someone might wish to have three rank 2s in addition to three rank 3s and rank 1s, but unless you're playing the top ranked players in a ranked match or tournament, then you don't need three. At any rate, in that situation, you can still play the best players at powers 6 & 18 with the fiercest builds.

    I appreciate that playing the best players competitively with the fiercest builds is what Kitchary (and I) want to do. But that's not necessarily the case for the vast majority of new players, nor is it necessarily what they want to do.

  7. #7
    Skald Aleonymous's Avatar
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    I am a hardcore gamer, the cost of things in renown means nothing to me as I can just spend 40 hours each week making more if I so choose, but I dont think everyone else feels the same.
    That is a big question that its hard to answer: Hardcore -vs- Casual players. What percentage of the playerbase falls in which category or how would each player class themselves. For example, I'd say I am 33% competitive and 67% casual. Perhaps incorporating some sort of a statistic poll into the game (or here at the forums, or the steam ones) would help better understand how the playerbase feels so that the changes made are better for everybody, in an average sense.

    The other side is that I quite like the roleplaying aspect of naming units, levelling them, and looking at their histories. This would be diluted quite strongly if we could simply summon up whatever unit we wished, as units are then valueless. Even if we can keep names and records, it's still not as strong, or as fun.
    I agree 100% with the above. Frankly, I'd even love to have some sort of leaderboards for the character-units themselves and not just the players! Also, I'd like to have more statistics for the units, e.g. how many battles they have finished alive or how much is the average (e.g. per match) AB they deliver, the STR-damage they inflict and the WP they consume. Things like that add a lot to the roleplaying as well as provide valuable info to help build strategies and identify your key units etc.


    Finally, some thoughts on the power-levels.

    As I see it, power-6 is meant as the first competitive level for entry players while power-12 is meant for mid/high experience players. Power-6 is quite easy to reach (just 3-4 hours of play, I guess), and its also fairly easy to expand your portfolio of choices, your "stables", as Wordplay put it. Now, power-12 allows for the largest number of mixed-ranks combinations and is in this respect the power-level that mostly reflects any balancing issues. Finally, all other power-levels are for fun, training or just helping people grind & learn at the same time.

    I agree that getting a decent amount of different options in p12 takes a lot of grinding. That could be solved by another renown deflation, i.e. having promotion & recruiting cost drop. However, removing costs altogether at this moment seems kinda unfair for people who have invested time & money (i.e. Rally Boost) in the game. I'd proceed to such changes (a) when more units and especially more vanity options, colors etc, come into the game and (b) when the competitive and casual playerbases have been clearly divided and made self-sustainable at the same time.

    As to what would boost the population in tourney, please be reminded that matches against unequally skilled opponents are usually unfun, for both sides. I will not comment on the inequality of builds of the same power-level, as this is (a) a balancing issue to be resolved by Stoic when they come back to Factions and (b) an matter of skill & experience. Some builds are easier to play with, and win, and that's why they are preferred; but, you can do fairly well with any build (if the balancing issue is addressed).

  8. #8
    Member Tatski's Avatar
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    All I can say is that TBSF is still a work in progress. I think some people tend to forget that and are sometimes too critical on judging the game. On the topic of fairness. I think it's pretty balanced for now, and I think power levels adds to depth to team composition. When you have enough units, that's were it becomes fun and interesting. Bringing the "wrong" team still happens but it's rare and it is certainly not an unwinnable situation. When creating a team you have to have some sort game plan/niche. Between simlarly skilled good players I think the "wrong team" thing will not happen. Getting steamrolled on a match is generally due to failure to adapt and/or execute your gameplan or you just committed too many mistakes. Although I agree there are still mismatches between lineups, I think the main reason of team mismatches is the limited slot per team, I think it will be a little bit more pronounced when the new units are released (but tweaking, experimenting with lineups, turn orders and stats is also a huge part of the fun) When the matchup does not fall on your favor it can be an uphill battle. Not sure if this has been suggested or not, an interesting remedy would be to add a 7th "sideboard" slot where you can swap it for any unit during deployment, with exeptions of course(It can't be swapped with a unit with lower power level than him and it must be within the unit restrictions). This will allow some sort of "fix" since I'm pretty sure most of had an "I wish I brought this unit" moment when seeing the lineup that we're up against. It will definitely make things more interesting.

    As I see it, power-6 is meant as the first competitive level for entry players while power-12 is meant for mid/high experience players. Power-6 is quite easy to reach (just 3-4 hours of play, I guess)
    One thing I noticed about this game, is that it's not very accessible for newer players maybe because its surprising depth and learning curve. I know it's kind of easy to get to a lvl 6 team but getting a team that you fits your playstyle or strong enough to play competetively is a different story. In my experience reaching a good amount of promoted units requires a significant amount of work, specially when you're new. Assembling a good team requires a fair amount of trial and error and when you don't have enough units to play with, getting to a decent pool can be a bit grindy. The thing about this game is that you have to use the unit repeatedly to the get hang of it and incorporate them better to your playstile. Watching videos helps a lot but you discover bits and pieces on utilize them better when you use them. In my experience, early/learning stages is the most painful part and then it picks up and become very rewarding when you reach a good amount of units to play with. But maybe the road is a bit too long for some to appreciate how awesome this game is. This is one of those of games that has a steep learning curve but very rewarding once you learned it. It is also double edged, people who dedicate their time and make effort to learn and be good at it are greatly rewarded, but it has tendency to sacrifice accessibilty.
    Last edited by Tatski; 11-16-2013 at 12:06 PM.

  9. #9
    Administrator Unconfirmed Account Myll_Erik's Avatar
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    Interesting stuff - any more opinions?

  10. #10
    Senior Member roder's Avatar
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    I don't think we should be changing the renown system based off of the low-times of Factions, when it is hard to find games. I think once Chapter 1 is released, the community might be revived. The renown system should be based off of trying to ease beginners into the game. I think the argument is actually the opposite - newbies do not want to face veterans. There should be space between a beginner who just got the game vs a veteran who has 100+ hours of playing time, and that space is upheld by power levels. Even then, when veterans have to switch to a p0/p1 team to find a game with low levels, it isn't really optimal for either player. Beginners want to play beginners, and not be crushed by vets. And veterans want to try out their new p12 team, but no one online to play with.

    If you want an honest level playing field, you do not want beginners being matched with veterans at higher lower levels. And that is what your suggested renown system does.

    In terms of this system being for tournament, it actually makes the tournament worse and less competitive. Everyone at p6 tournaments should be experienced enough to play with a full p6 team. If you have a beginner enter, who hasn't even played long enough to earn a p6 team for themselves, it would just inflate the tournament ratings because everyone who gets matched with a newbie would win. This should not be considered for tournament play.

    As for your chess analogy, it doesn't translate. Renown buys you better units, not a better team. You're matched based on total level of team, not of units. So even if someone gets a rank 3 unit, to face another p6 player they need to downgrade the rest of their team. What your analogy would really be like is someone earning a queen, but to use it they need to remove 2 knights and 1 bishop (queen is worth 9, each minor piece is worth 3).

  11. #11
    Skald Aleonymous's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rodereve View Post
    If you want an honest level playing field, you do not want beginners being matched with veterans at higher lower levels. And that is what your suggested renown system does.
    Indeed. This should be the core of matchmaking.

    Quickmatching has kinda killed that, hasn't it? I believe it was better when it was only Ranked/Tourney/Friendly. But, in these hard times, an unequal (wrt to skill, not team-power) match is better than no match, right?

    rod -- check also KD's thread, with a similar topic here.
    Together we stand, divided we fall.

  12. #12
    Member Yth's Avatar
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    My impression of the power curve / barrier of entry for Factions back when it originally released (Feb 2013 was it? Almost a whole year ago???) was that it was relatively easy and undemanding to achieve a full power 6 team. Eventually, specific classes were allowed to rank up to levels 2 and 3, until several months later (before Summer if I recall) all classes were available at level 3. Around that time the team power level for tournaments was changed from 6 to its current 12.

    Getting a team to power 6 took me less than a week, and that was before several promotion requirement reductions were put in place.

    In my opinion, new players should be completely competetive at power 6 within 3 weeks or less, while fielding decent teams of 12 might take a few months depending on the new units.

    I for one would enjoy having the tournaments downshifted to power 6 for the opening period after the SP game goes live, both as a change of pace and as a chance to allow the newcomers to compete.

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    Developer raven2134's Avatar
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    I computed based on casual gaming time, and you'd get 1 p6 team within a week on a 50% win ratio.

    A current issue now though is not everyone can find newbie battles at p>6

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    Skald Aleonymous's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yth View Post
    I for one would enjoy having the tournaments downshifted to power 6 for the opening period after the SP game goes live, both as a change of pace and as a chance to allow the newcomers to compete.
    Wouldn't that mean that all those veterans coming back from retirement would steam-roll over noobs, killing their appetite to stick with the game? Just saying. Splitting Tournament in 2-3 different skill (Elo-ranking) levels is the way to go, in my opinion. If not, just leave it at p12.

    Quote Originally Posted by raven2134 View Post
    I computed based on casual gaming time, and you'd get 1 p6 team within a week on a 50% win ratio.
    How much is casual gaming time?
    Together we stand, divided we fall.

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    Junior Member Slimpy's Avatar
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    Perhaps it might be best to limit promotion options to rank 1 until you have a full squad (i.e. six that can be used at the same time) of rank 1 units. This prevents the possibility, to some degree at least, that new players will promote themselves into a "bad" build.

    Personally I don't think the current renown/promotion system is particularly flawed, but I can imagine it's a bit crap to use all your renown on a promotion without fully appreciating the implications.

    As far as fairness goes, matchmaking and balancing units are the only consideration imo. Eliminating power entirely, particularly at rank 12 battles, removes a huge amount of the tactical variation in team build. (i.e. 6 rank 2 vs. 3 Rank 3 and 3 Rank 1). Maybe friend battles (which offer no renown as far as I'm aware) should allow some team flexibility to try units out?

  16. #16
    Member Yth's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aleonymous View Post
    veterans ... steam-roll over noobs
    How is this different from any tournament structure where everyone starts at the same baseline Elo for that tournament? Even at power 12, good players will crush poor players, regardless of how big their barracks are. If we are concerned about the play experience of brand new users, we need to find a way to segregate them from being matched against highly experienced players. That's what the Elo system is usually for. In the case with Factions, I believe the matchmaking system was extremely broadened due to the (relatively) low player count - and this issue will be fixed by a larger player base.

    From all the reviews and previous of the single player game, I think it is safe to say that The Banner Saga firmly pushes the message "life sucks and sometimes you get crushed, deal with it as best you can". While I disagree that this message is the best one to have in your game if you want droves and droves of happy players, it is certainly an interesting stylistic choice. Moving the tournament power rating to 6 will remove the high barrier of entry which new players might consider unfair... but it certainly won't alleviate the issue of new players being crushed by experienced ones.

  17. #17
    Skald Aleonymous's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yth View Post
    How is this different from any tournament structure where everyone starts at the same baseline Elo for that tournament?
    I was always curious as to how the Tournament match-maker works. Does it search comparing the (a) All-Time Elo or (b) Tourney Elo of the player?

    If (a) is the case, then that high-ranked player would never get a match. Another consequence would be that low-ranks would fight only between themselves, so a new&good player might actually win a tourney with a "perfect" 25/25 streak, compared to a "near-perfect" 23/25 that a high-ranked might get. If (b) is the case, then that experienced player will steamroll over all opposition. Other issues emerge too, like queue-dodging or sniping etc.

    In my experience, it must be a "mix" of the two Elos, so something in between (a) & (b).
    Together we stand, divided we fall.

  18. #18
    Member Yth's Avatar
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    The only tourney structure which makes sense is to match purely based on the newly assigned Elo of that given tournament. Especially as each player is limited in the number of games he is allowed to play over the course of the tournament, it would be extremely unfair to use any Elo from previous games / your normal Elo rating to determine who you are matched against.

    Let me put it this way, if I log in on a second steam account which does not have a high ranked / normal Elo, but does have barely enough games for my desired P12 team, I should have exactly the same chance to win as if I was logged in on my fully kitted out account. Your option (b) is the only one which works and is fair(ish), and my experiences have indicated that this is how the system works.

  19. #19
    Superbacker netnazgul's Avatar
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    Ingame it's (b) that is used indeed
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    Developer raven2134's Avatar
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