Continuing the discussion from Evilagram's Feedback, Questions, Suggestions:
I really enjoy these types of discussions so I've splintered it off into a new thread in General so more people can take part
I have mad respect for Sirlin (his podcast is my favorite gamedev podcast and I recently became a patreon supporter to get access to his raw podcast), but I think he's getting tripped up in his own semantics. Sirlin likes to define things -- it really helps him conceptualize the problems he's trying to solve (and it works great) -- but wires can get crossed when he is discussing these concepts with other people who don't share his definitions. For example, I think Sirlin is getting tripped up with EC's use of the term "imbalance."
The "imbalance" EC is talking about is actually the same "asymmetry" Sirlin is talking about (or something very close to it). You can tell this is the case because in EC's hypothetical example, Champion B is only able to rise because it was able to exploit a specific weakness of Champion A rather than a generic more/less powerful comparison. In the last sentence, Sirlin is accusing EC of suggesting that you should basically have two equal characters and just crank up the values on one to make them intentionally unfair, but that's not what EC is suggesting. Before Champion B rose, Champion A was only "little better than average" because the knowledge of Player B's counter hadn't propagated the community yet (there wasn't enough demand for that counter until Champion A was dominating) -- it wasn't due to the designers purposefully making things unfair, as Sirlin thinks EC suggests.
[edit: in the comments, Claytus/Sirlin basically come to the same conclusion]
I also think it's important to give EC some leeway and benefit of the doubt considering it's just a 3 minute video segment. It's not going to be all-encompassing and they don't spend the time clarifying all the possible counter-arguments (meaning, you can poke some superficial holes in it, but it might not be very productive to do so because it still has a very valid point).
EC’s point is simple.
- When one choice becomes dominant in the meta, there’s an increased level of effort going into finding counters
- If the game allows a counter (either intentionally or unintentionally), that increased effort has a better likelihood of finding it
- The newly discovered knowledge will affect the behavior of the playerbase as a whole
You can't debunk that, can you? EC isn't claiming a game will always allow a counter to be found -- EC is describing an ideal to strive for, that they admit is hard to accomplish. A static game with a forever-evolving meta would essentially be a perfect game with infinite depth, but no game is perfect, so the meta will naturally settle over time for static games.
You essentially validate EC's point right after saying the concept doesn't exist. The bolded is basically what EC was describing:
Low-affordance is one reason something might have been underutilized, but another reason could be that there was just less demand for it (there might not be a lot of demand for a counter to Champion A until Champion A starts winning a lot), which is what EC chose to focus on.
And the anecdote EC uses to validate the concept
EC is talking about something you see in the real world alllllll the time. Butcher was added to Heroes of the Storm and everyone was calling for nerfs because he can potentially have insane DPS and just eat through just about any hero. Few weeks later, the community has learned how to counter him and the Butcher has settled into the middle of the tier list and the community went back to calling nerfs for other things.
Also, I think the fact that EC used LoL (and the point about it helping Riot's monetization) and MtG as examples demonstrates that game updates fit within their concept of cyclical imbalance, rather than debunk it (EC even mentions going in and fixing things with a patch or not). Since no game is perfect and it's basically impossible to create an endlessly evolving meta with a static game, the next best thing is to keep updating it with patches. Their 3 minute video segment didn't go into this in detail, but I think it's a pretty safe assumption. In 2015, I think the idea of a static competitive game is pretty much an anachronism anyway -- fighting games, with their roots in the arcades, are basically the last remaining examples and SFV is finally breaking away from that on a fundamental level.
And you seem to agree! You, me, Sirlin, EC all seem to agree -- we're just getting tripped up in semantics and framing.
It's simpler to say "MOBAs" with the understanding that I'm referring to the successful ones, rather than specify which MOBAs in particular every time I want to refer to the successful ones, but you're right.
Right, I was just pointing out that, unlike AoT, DMC cares 0% about facilitating teamwork -- to join my larger point about how limiting options of individuals can encourage more interesting teamwork by pushing them to combine their resources to form a complete strategy.
Multicannon and similar weapons/equip is essentially specializing in having no specialty, which makes the term kind of useless because you could describe everything as a specialization with that model -- eg, "I'm specializing in being a little specialized in X, but otherwise well rounded" really just means "not very specialized."
Your second point is very valid, but also has to do with teamwork. In pubs, players will naturally specialize less because they won't be able to rely on teammates as heavily to fill in the gaps. Different options will become viable when you're playing with teammates you've practiced with. Regardless, you're right that it's something I'll have to keep in mind.
(I wrote this before reading later when you basically acknowledge the same thing) I'm more concerned with the matchups of team compositions, rather than the matchups with individual loadouts. If one loadout is 9:1 vs a different loadout, that's not necessarily a problem at all because it's a 5v5 game. The goal for balancing AoT will basically be to make sure that each weapon/equipment can find a niche in a viable team composition. Maybe a team only needs one instance of that weapon/equipment (like Speed Gates) -- that's fine.
When you look at a chart like this for AoT, my goal is to have a lot of variety in the top entries of that list.
You're completely right and one of the big goals in AoT is to make the weapons/equipment more involved than in other FPS games. Instead of breaking up the Multicannon into 3 different weapons, they're all combined into one. The Teleport Blade not only does great damage up close, but it has its own utility to make getting close more viable (that utility is also useful for flag capping and other things). Again, I'm not at all satisfied with the current meta -- I'm mostly just outlining my goals and pointing out where the current meta may hint at those goals. Right now I also have to keep new player onboarding in mind, so I'm also worried about making these initial weapons too complex -- for example, the Rocket Launcher is supposed to be relatively simple so new players can feel more comfortable with it while they get used to the movement and the rest of the game. Later, when I have the onboarding at a better place, I can continue to explore more high end meta additions that are less limiting.
Comparing it to a MOBA hero, each weapon/equipment should be 2-3 skills/traits -- you combine your weapons/equipment to create a custom hero with a lot of capabilities. These capabilities may compliment each other for specific roles that are meant to synergize with your teammates (specialization) or round out the loadout as a whole (non-specialization), similar to how some heroes are more specialized than others in MOBAs. Part of why I prefer loadouts over classes is that players can choose how flexible they want their characters to be.
Agree , except I do want to break my back over this because it's the sort of thing I find extremely interesting. And yeah, I like the more open ended synergies that aren't so rigidly defined.
Isn't the bolded a play style, though? Dhalsim stays back. Teleport Blade stays close. True, you can still have play styles in something like Quake where you have all the options, but you'd agree that it's to a lesser degree, right? Because you have options for every situation, it behooves you to learn how to use them properly so you can play without sacrifice. Ignoring one of those options to focus on another will generally put you at a disadvantage because you're wasting your resources and your opponent will still be able to respond to you anyway because they have all the options. Ryu is a more well rounded character -- a Ryu that tries to play like Dhalsim (or any other more specialized character) is probably not an optimal Ryu. You can have viable playstyles within Ryu, but the uniqueness of "Ryu Style A" vs "Ryu Style B" will generally be smaller than the uniqueness of different characters.
Don't forget the equipment!
Again, the meta is far from perfect right now, but the Shield and Light of Apollo can already impact a fight to similar degrees as the weapons themselves. Speed Gates can impact the match significantly. Game-changing equipment is another example where I think I can make AoT stand out from other FPS.