Hello everyone! Welcome back to our Developer Diary!
Today we will talk about one of the most important parts in every game and the biggest headache of game developers – Game Balance.
It’s hard to believe but even today there is surprisingly little consensus on what this term actually means. Developers, players and other concerned individuals have endless debates about whether that one specific game is balanced or not. But what does this “elusive” balance really means ?
The answer is rather simple. When you’re creating a game you naturally want to create a positive and fun experience for your players. When your gameplay isn’t providing that experience, your game is broken. That’s it.
So what are the options ? The first thing to do when balancing a game is to come up with a simple formulae for how much power you should get in relation to how many resources you invest. What those resources may be depends heavily on the genre. Some genres rely on time, others on wood and stone, others on food 🙂 .
Beyond our Galaxy
And our game is not an exception. Resources, fleets, weapons, planets, tech and even time – all just different parts of “balance puzzle”. Creating one small ship module may lead to terrible consequences with overpowered fleets.
Even at the very start of the game you have to choose your civilizations. They all have different features, statistics and ships. They all play differently. It is much easier to play as Syntis at early stage. With their indifference to climate and happiness you can colonize almost every planet in your starting system and set taxes on max. But they reproduce much slower than other civilizations. Ripchee on the other hand can increase their population in the shortest period of time and can create fleets without any flagships.
Energy weapons vs ballistic weapons. Big ships vs small ships. Expanding vs upgrading…
There are multiple strategies and paths to play and win. Some of them are better, others are worse. And it becomes much more interesting if you have several potential winning strategies.
Constantly discussing, counting, implementing, testing, fixing – all these takes a huge amount of developer’s time. Currently we are trying to increase usability of early tech, like scouts and small weapons. In one of our previous Diaries you’ve already seen different levels for weapons. Lower levels will cost less, but also they will be less powerful than higher levels. Similar changes will affect scouts.
Other great examples are dreadnoughts. Yes, they should be the strongest ships in the game, but at the same time we’re trying to avoid “Almighty fleet of doom and despair”.
But in the end we return to one question – what is more important, balanced game or fun game. We have seen some games that are fun in spite of being unbalanced. We’ve seen other games that are fun specifically because they are intentionally unbalanced. And we’ve seen perfectly balanced games, but utterly boring… Can there be some middle ground?!
I guess, that’s it for today. Thank you all and see you next time. 🙂 Oh! And what do you think is more crucial for the game? To be balanced or to be fun ?