Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Game balance

Hello thar! This post got a bit longer than anticipated. Anyway, just print it out and read it infront of the fireplace accompanied by a fine wine and a good piece of french cheese;). Ehm... onto the subject:

Swords and Soldiers is getting closer to completion every day, one thing most worth mentioning is the campaign mode, which is almost done and shaping up to become really nice.

An ongoing process during the entire development of the game has been balancing the three factions. S&S will be a fun action-packed game, but underneath all that we also try to add a layer of strategic depth. We started out macro-balancing the game, defining the role of each unit and skill until all elements felt like they had a fitting role in the game. This was an iterative process that repeated itself every time something got added to the game. One of the rules of thumb we used during that process was that every combat unit had to be unique, and we have maintained this during the course of development.

Right now we are micro-balancing the game, which means that we are trying to make sure that there's a lot of variety in tactics and there are no dominant strategies or never used units/spells. Each faction needs to have interesting tactics available to it that are cool to use. We try to have every unit and skill having some feeling of being overpowered, yet be balanced and counterable when actually playing the game.

Balancing also means tweaking the flow of how games play out. For a while we had the problem that building workers, which collect the main resource: gold, was not a real choice. Every game people just built the maximum amount of 'em and they were always replaced instantly when they were killed. Consequently, players would always remain at their maximum gold-income and almost every game every upgrade got researched. The game was still fun to play but we felt that it needed more strategic diversity.

The solution to this problem was upping the cost required to produce a worker and upping the cost of all upgrades a bit. Suddenly players were forced to stop building workers if their opponents tried attack early in the game. It also became a viable tactic to invest in upgrades early on, while building fewer workers. The game got less predictable, and good strategic choices were more noticable. This is but one example of how tweaking a couple of values can influence the entire flow of the game.

The key in being a great S&S player lies in timing which skills and units to use when, choosing on which units to spend your gold, and using your spells to their maximum effect. We hope that people will want to get good at our game.and can't wait to get the game out there and have people duking it out against eachother in brutal multiplayer clashes!


matt said...

sounds interesting. when are you going to release the 3rd faction 'cause i really want to know

Thall said...

this sounds great, cant wait for the release, good work guys

Jan Hoos said...

Good to hear! Curious on how it will play out!