Topic: Some thoughts on game balance feedback

In a few months, Teeworlds as we currently know it will be two years old.

We've already passed the "half-way mark" of the 0.5 release, and we're routinely hitting 1000 simultaneous players -- even in weekdays. That's a pretty strong statement in and by itself, but it also means that there are more people out there with their own ideas of what Teeworlds is, and what it should become.

For each new release, literally since 0.1, we always get a host of players who claim that "the last version was better" and that "you broke the game." I'm sure you can see how that gets old after a few releases, and that using stronger words doesn't make your opinion carry more weight. It does, however, make it look like we don't give a shit what you think, or that we favor one particular group of players over the rest.

Nothing could be further from the truth. A vast majority of gameplay changes are made after getting input from all ranges of players, watching hours of online gameplay and actually trying things out for ourselves. We would be pretty lousy game developers if we didn't.

So, while you are encouraged to post your opinions please realize that everyone has one, and that we're trying to make the game enjoyable for all players. Aside from brain surgery and designing the LHC, game balancing is one of the most intricate and unintuitive crafts known to man. It takes insane amounts of time, data and patience, and none of those come in infinite amounts.

Give each new release ample playtime (and I'm not just talking about hours or even days) and when constructing your feedback, try to pinpoint as accurately as possible what you would like to see improved.


Re: Some thoughts on game balance feedback

I find this is very significant and definitely something that needed to be pointed out clearly, even [or especially] so early into development. Good post, I agree with everything in it and wish everyone can try to be a bit more optimistic about engine changes in the future.

Not to drag that other debate into this thread, but for example the change in the hook's pull strength is very slight. Yes, it took skill in 0.4.x and yes, it was fun, but I find that the complaints about it are based purely on the fact that a difference can be felt; nobody's talking about whether the difference was for the better or for the worse here on the forums. Perhaps we should try that sometime. tongue


Re: Some thoughts on game balance feedback

I really often see "0.5.0 iz-b-shit-it -$uxx0r$$$-kiddies" running around and whining. Don't know why. They cry about having no new weapons... Even the moderator on GIGA TV was "dissapointed" that no new weapons are there.


The only thing I don't like is the vote function. I even knew before 0.5.0 released that this will be a bad idea. And yeah, actually it is a bad idea. I get kicked because I lead the game with 67 points (the second place wth 34) and someone says "cheat0r!!!111one" and I get kicked.

I really don't know what you can do against this. Maybe i'm just too pr0. wink

Hooker's collection of the most Tee-ish skins!

4 (edited by Captain AMN 2009-01-17 23:37:14)

Re: Some thoughts on game balance feedback

Yo teetow is the kind of developer we wanna see here!
The only thing that really sucks about 0.5, is that i must see all those little whiners complaining in forum and ingame chat. Get over it! New release rocks. Thank you so much matricks & co.

BTW; Teetow, i think you should mention some names in the news page release notes.. The volunteer map makers and artist for instance. smile



Re: Some thoughts on game balance feedback

I agree with the message, however it does not mean the complaints about 0.5 are the same that happened between other releases.

0.4 was a new game altogether compared to 0.3, whereas 0.5 is still very much the continuation of 0.4. The fact is that, even if balance was not perfect on 0.4, it was not a subject of complaint because, to be honest, you guys had nailed it. Other than the hook being a bit too long, and the hammer too powerful, I really think the game was balanced.

What do I mean by "balance"? Well I take into account the total amount of health a tee can have, the damage of the weapons, the frequency of bonus on official maps, and the fire rate, range, number of ammos; that is, all the elements of gameplay.

For instance, the new shotgun can deal 5 damage from range way higher than in 0.4.x (maybe 1.5x longer). My problem with that is that it makes it a weapon too powerful compared to the amount of health tees have, makes it unbalanced against the laser which does 5 points but requires better aiming (it's hit or miss, while the shotgun is hit or hit softer); of course the laser rifle gives a better range but it was used at mid-range for the very purpose the shotgun is currently used. I know the shotgun had an even better range in 0.3 but that's a moot argument since the laser rifle didn't exist back then.

Then, the improved fire rate: actually from what I heard, the firerate in the code hasn't changed, but the new improved input method and lag reduction makes a second shot about 0.1s faster than in 0.4.3. It changes a lot compared to 0.4 and avoiding grenades like before is almost impossible with grenade spamming. I have no problem with the larger explosion, even if it makes it harder to play on the edge.

Finally, about the hook: my opinion is that the hook defines Teeworlds. It is the very element that makes the game unique; the difficulty of moving smoothly while shooting at others, and the fact that it can be used to help allies to pull them out of danger AND keep enemies to range or immobilized. Here, I agree that in 0.4 the duration was too long, especially coupled with a powerful hammer. However the new hook has lost not only its duration but its strength (or so it feels like); not only the duration is imho a bit short but the loss of strength makes it impossible to do anything advanced with the hook (like pulling the tee so that his next shot will not be at you ; that required skill knowing the exact weapon firerate and could still be countered with different techniques). Even if it was weak before 0.4, I think giving it strength was a great idea to make Teeworlds unique.

My main grippe with the new hook is the loss of a defining Teeworlds element; obviously I am comparing it to something, if the game was brand new I wouldn't think that way, but that's a moot point because I wouldn't know better. I love most of Teeworlds 0.5 brought: a lot of meta-game stuff (demos, voting, etc) and a lot of new blood on vanilla servers (I hope it lasts, but I must say I'm surprised it worked so well, really that's wonderful).

I don't really complain about the slight changes when it comes to movements; it's just a matter of getting used to it, even if I do think the traction should be slightly stronger when hooking a wall. My problem is that the increased strength of weapons and loss of strength of the hook has made the game not only different (that wouldn't be a problem) but slower-paced, and less challenging. Dare I say less fun smile.

What makes games fun? Raph Koster (designer of my all times favorite Ultima Online) claim that fun is learning — fun games are those which are easy to learn, but hard to master, with a long and smooth learning curve. That's exactly why Teeworlds was so fun.

I think the new Teeworlds makes weapons too easy to use, because random new players just spam shotgun bullets  and grenades. I have found myself in 0.5 with my 0.4 mindset "ok I must still have some health" and then discover that all my health is gone from random bullets because of the crazy range and speed. I have stepped back, learned how to use the weapons the new way, and while I did, it still felt wrong regarding the overall balance.

Now, I do agree with the fact that it is incredibly difficult to balance games; really incredibly difficult. The only thing I don't understand is why the releases brings a balance so different from 0.5 since 0.4 was generally praised as balanced (except the hook which is hated by 1on1 players) ; why not change the balance once you are set on doing it with feedback (that is, why not wait for 0.6 to change anything?).

Anyway what is done is done and we will learn to play with it; yet I look forward balancing sessions organized by the devs soon (and 0.6 soon smile). In high-level CTF games the average life time of tees has decreased a lot to a point of feeling too much like Instagib wink.

Finally, I do hope you guys perceive that the feedback you get is not about being conservative on the game; it is about people who love the game and try to help you improve it. It is not about party crushing but about having the right gameplay. I am the first saddened by my dissatisfaction of the 0.5 gameplay, and I am saddened to see so many outstanding players disappointed too. We were all waiting for it and we didn't expect such a different balance. On the other hand I guess 1on1 dm1 players are happy since their end-game is still balanced and that they missed a longer range shotgun, and hated hooking. smile


Re: Some thoughts on game balance feedback

Yes, those are all valid points. We might roll back on some of the design decisions made for 0.5.0, or we might take the game to a completely new direction -- that's exactly why these discussions are so valuable, and why I'm concerned they are getting lost in the noise. I'm not trying to paint any particular group as being in the wrong. We listen closely to what everyone says, and that definitely includes those who have been around for a while, who have become prominent players with a good sense of what the game is about.

The point of my post was that we see a surge in complaints whenever we tweak the core gameplay mechanics, which makes it hard to filter out the relevant feedback. In my view, that can easily be resolved by having some patience.


Re: Some thoughts on game balance feedback

Look, it was the same with 0.4. At the beginning I did not like it at all because the few features did not work properly and there were several bugs. Anyway after some time the 0.4 bugs were fixed and I loved the version. I guess it is the same with 0.5. Sure there are some annoying bugs and people only complain about the negative issues but they do not see the positive things. I am sure 0.5.1 will fix the most important bugs and after some time this release will also be loved.

Qi - high level gaming

8 (edited by airen 2009-01-18 02:04:00)

Re: Some thoughts on game balance feedback

I know this thread is not for ranting but I feel that I have to balance the thread a little bit with a couple of not so objective responses to Magnets post. I most likely represent a much smaller part of the community.

* I'll agree on that the weapons fire faster and it's easier to die. But this might very well be because of my stupidity while playing. While the weapons might be too rapid I think we still have to play more to really feel it out. From what I've seen, more powerful weapons often result in more defensive play, the effect of the 0.4 grenade speed increase 's effect on 1on1 is a good testimony of this. Might sound a little unintuitive, but it's because in combat attacking is usually a bit weaker then defending, so stronger weapons magnify the defending-is-better-then-attacking effect.

* I wont agree about the hook. In my 0.3 eyes the 0.4 hook was quite horrible, since it removed a large part of the game's original combat. Instead of using it to move around and dodge gracefully, players would turn it on each other and clump together in messy ball or tail instead. Hook tricks have been around in at least every version of TW I have tried, even when it was very weak.

Getting used to a new version usually takes longer then a couple of days. Seemingly small subtle details can affect the flow of the game to the point where the players whom have really deepen themselves in the last version have to start over from the very beginning again. This is at least how I have experienced it, and this is also what would possibly make all my anti-0.4-hook arguments moot big_smile.

aka kiwi


Re: Some thoughts on game balance feedback

One of the big problems with balancing is that people tend to dislike changes when they are used to one set of rules. Even the slightest change will make it feel awkward and not likable even if it's better.

From my perspective I feel that listening to balancing tips from people on the forum is rather quite useless. All people write issues about the game balance from their perspective, but everybody plays differently and it's might not be the balance that is wrong, it could be that the player is constantly doing some strategy miss and stuff like that etc.

The best information I've got out when doing balancing is watching different kind of people playing the game. This way I see how they play and what works good and what doesn't. This is why I'm really excited about the demo recording feature of 0.5.0 because it will bring me much much more information and I can analyze big CTF matches and see all players at the same time which have been a problem.

And lastly, haven't people noticed that the game balancing is diverting? For each version, less and less things about the game balance needs fixing. This is how it will be done, make a change, wait at least a month to see the effect of that change and then tune it further.


Re: Some thoughts on game balance feedback

Sure you can watch the demos, but it's quite difficult to compare it with the previous version.

I agree with Magnet on quite everything. The hook especially, makes moving less fun.
The shotgun is slightly too strong compared with laser and hammer.
The hammer is weak, it's better to use the pistol at close range now.

What I am quite happy about is the increasead speed of the weapons, it makes noobs a bit more dangerous (and helps balance a little bit the teams), and helps avoid stalled ctf situations where each side holds the opponent's flag for 20 minutes. That's more fun in my opinion.

I understand why you think that forum's opinions are useless but I think demos cannot transmit everything. The hook difference is slight when seen with the eyes, but intense when you play at it. That's why forum opinion can be useful. Magnet's first.


Re: Some thoughts on game balance feedback

I completely love the new release. The only problem I have with the game is the hammer & hook combo. The hammer doing three damage, with a weaker hook and a single hammer hit sending the opponent a bit farther has rendered the hammer useless. It used to be that at hooking range, the hammer can destroy the pistol, but now, they pistol almost always wins.

I also noticed that on spawn, you start with pistol out, and I have been a victim to unlucky spawn and spam resulting in a death for no cause. The new changes have brought a lot of spamming to the pistol.

I hope something can be done about this.

<? php echo "Magix"; ?>
Tee-City <--------- The one Teeworlds site to rule them all!


Re: Some thoughts on game balance feedback

tacone wrote:

I understand why you think that forum's opinions are useless but I think demos cannot transmit everything. The hook difference is slight when seen with the eyes, but intense when you play at it. That's why forum opinion can be useful. Magnet's first.

The most valuable lesson I've learned about game balancing is that we rarely play exactly the way we think we do, which makes theoretical discussions very dangerous to take at face value.

A simple statement like "the shotgun is too strong" only has significance if you know the style and skill level of the player. Watching demos (and, needless to say, playing the game) provides some of that context, which can be crucial.

The forum provides ample ground for discussions and ideas, but as for actual game balancing decisions, we cannot rely solely upon it since it doesn't provide the whole picture. Matricks' point was that the demo recording feature will be very important in this aspect, rather than trying to mediate the vastly disparate atomic opinions on the forum.


Re: Some thoughts on game balance feedback

i still use the hammer a lot. i reckon that it isnt underpowered. i was playin at a lan party and i kicked only using the hammer. then after that we had a team match 8vs8 and my team used only hammer and we flogged.

Hiding in the Alps.


Re: Some thoughts on game balance feedback

i'm using mac os x, and yeah i'M loving the improvements...
the only thing i have is the server launcher. Well it isn't like 0.4 where you had to drag the .cfg file at the and of the world (macintosh hd/library/Application Support/ Teeworlds). I think it's shit that you still have to make the .cfg file where you have to write in all you want.
I would be thrilled if you could make a window at the start of the server where all possible settings are posted and on the right side you could choose 1 or 0 or make your write
and at the end of the window it would be nice, if you coud leave a blank field, where optional commands could be typen in...

i think the balance time is okay, i have a server and if putted it to  60min (sv_team_balance_time) so if you think it's shit just contact the admin and he'll fix the problem...

I think that the 0.5 has brought many innovations, particulary for Mac OS X
thanks for keep developing

Axel F.

15 (edited by Hooker 2009-01-26 23:52:33)

Re: Some thoughts on game balance feedback

Thank the gods (devs) that the lower players now use pistol, too.

EDIT: added plural of god and "(devs)"

Hooker's collection of the most Tee-ish skins!


Re: Some thoughts on game balance feedback

Don't let the idiot leet-speakers get you down. I just discovered Teeworlds a couple of weeks ago while searching for a simple but fun game my friends and I can play.  Teeworlds definitely fits the bill; it's easy to pick up, difficult to master!  I immediately got my wife playing it and a birthday party at my Uncle's house turned into a cross-platform LAN party.  We were all laughing hysterically.  It was a great experience.  I am a computer technician for a school system in Maine, and a teacher on a school-to-school mailing list was asking the group what video games were recommended for a High School fun day.  I, of course, recommended this game highly.  Expect a huge influx of players!

I love that this is free, runs on all platforms, doesn't need to be installed to run and has a level editor. I have no past versions to base it on, but I feel that this is extremely well polished at a pre-version 1.0 release.  Being pre-1, I expect there to be some loose ends and features missing and for things to be tweaked between minor releases.  I understand that the general public hates change of any kind, either good or bad.  Our users freak out at any kind of interface change or necessary upgrade.  That's why everyone still uses a version of Windows that is 9 years old and an office suite that's at least 6 years old.  Even Windows patches leave them lost.  There unfortunately is nothing that we can do for those people that they would be happy with.

Perhaps, if you want to filter some of the noise from the good wholesome feedback and constructive criticism, you folks could create a "board of beta testers" or something and / or an automated feedback form that has a stupidity filter.  i.e.: using 'regular expressions' to determine leet speak and key words such as "suck" or "shit", and throw away the feedback before you even see it.

Another suggestion: To include the public more in the process, you could have a page on the site where folks can upload maps, tilesets and music and the public can vote on what goes into the next official release cycle.  That could make some people quiet, giving them the illusion that they have some say in the outcome. wink

Keep up the great work and expect a donation from me soon!

I'm an instant addict of Teeworlds. I'm currently hosting "Brad's House of Pain (bHOP)," a New England based server.

17 (edited by (4M)Stephen 2009-05-08 00:45:16)

Re: Some thoughts on game balance feedback

The only thing I would like to see is some kind of friend network, kinda like how steam works with players and lets them know where their friends are playing, maybe for now you can have a stat that sits next to the 'ping' that says how many friends are playing, and add a way to create friends. This way someone can keep track of either real friends or players that are fun to play with...

Team balancing - I think it should work a little like halo or something of the sort. When the number of players needs to be balanced... have the game randomly balance someone from the bigger team over to the smaller one... or do it by score comparison... because domination isn't fair lol... Give a 10 second countdown with a title "teams will be automatically balanced in %s"

other than that, maybe some servers over in North America would be nice wink