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Thread: A few ideas for balancing

  1. #1
    Jurand of Cracow's Avatar History and gameplay!
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    Default A few ideas for balancing

    Hi Guys,
    I’ve been playing the Thrones for quite a while. I think there’s an enormous potential for modding of gameplay since currently, it is very easy and not-so-historical. I mean: there’s a very nice historical map with proper names, units that are fit for the era (but the dogs, I suppose), but the gameplay is easy, un-logical, and very un-historical. The current mechanisms provide plenty of opportunities that only moders seem to be able to use (as CA is moving to another Saga game).
    Maybe a few ideas would be useful for you – I’ve gathered them below. I know the rule “you want something, you do it”, but I don’t have time for modding these days, so these are just ideas, no requests.

    · Auto-resolve should be seriously rebalanced. For the moment, at the hard or very hard difficulties, it almost always pays off to auto-resolve than to fight personally. This concerns especially the sieges. Additionally, you’re not rewarded in the traits for fighting personally.
    · Impact of the traits – most of them are so irrelevant to the game that it doesn’t make sense to pay attention. I make very few choices on the basis of the traits. Some are just irrelevant (cheaper recruitment bonuses: you recruit units so rarely that you never pay attention who is recruiting), some just go up with leveling the general up (upkeep costs), some features all characters in one form or another (eg. differentiation between upkeep bonus for spears / cavalry / missiles /all troops – they are pretty the same as the all armies are compound of different types of units; so why to bother to differentiate between them?)
    · Loyalty – there should be a probability of the characters rebelling, starting from 3. There should also be unexpected swings in loyalty – for the moment everything is so deterministic.
    · Loyalty should be scaled with the size of the realm. It should be the point of every TW game: the larger the kingdom, the more rebellions and civil wars are likely. And this is absolutely not the case in the Thrones. Quite opposite: you’re likely to have problems at the beginning but later your king and his son would get a lot of influence and the risks disappear.
    · In general, civil wars and rebellions should occur more frequently and should be scaled with the size of the kingdom. This should limit the snow-ball effect that’s very palpable now. For civil wars you’ve got leveled-up kings and estates, for rebellions – the buildings built.
    · Money – (based on the experience on very hard difficulties) currently most of the factions are rich from the beginning thanks to the large king’s purse. Upgrading the settlements is very cheap. The limiting factor for the armies is food. A strategy of expeditions and sacking far-away settlements doesn’t pay off – it doesn’t bring food or really significant money.
    · Concentration of a few armies in one place should be punished somehow. For instance, if there’re many troops in a province, the supply should run out exponentially (there’s supply in the game, just use this feature!). Or there should be a chance of rebellion. Or the campaign speed should be cut down noticeably. Or the battle values should drop. Or whatever. For now, there’s every incentive to bring 3+ armies together to conquer the lands. The AI doesn’t do it (in the Thrones it actually very rarely use more than one army), so you just go on a steamroll.
    · Technologies and buildings – higher levels of the buildings should be unlocked by the technology levels. This would make civic technologies more important. As in the other TW games, the speed of research for higher level technologies should be slower.
    · Replenishment – current high levels of replenishment make recruitment very rare: you recruit a unit just once, and even if it gets damage, it’d replenish automatically. And you can replenish in the newly conquered settlement. So I think the newly recruited units should have more strength but the replenishment should be cut down (or possibly eliminated altogether – but I don’t know how the AI would react to this).
    · Supply of the armies doesn’t matter at the moment if you employ the strategy of conquest (not raiding). You go on the offensive and take a village / settlement, then you don’t lose supply. There’re no long expeditions possible (unless you’re Sutheyar and sail somewhere), so you’re always with a full supply.
    · As mentioned, fighting the battles should be more rewarded. There should be a flood of new traits after a successful battle, especially against the odds (for the moment it’s mainly +xp and few traits).
    · There should be no penalty from switching from generalship to a governor position (for now, the -1 Loyalty penalty is neither justified (he gets a new position, doesn’t he), no good for the gameplay (a disincentive for the player to swap roles of the characters). (there’s already a mod doing it, I’m using it).
    · Older generals should be not fit for good combat and should die more easily. There may be traits adding Loyalty for the characters appointed generals at a young age (a youngster is happy to fight), while adding it to those appointed governors at the older age.
    · Ability to board ships should be restricted even more for the Anglo-Saxon factions, ie: made contingent on a certain technology, or possession of a longphort, or having a skilled general. No Anglosaxon forces were transported by ships at that time, I think.
    · Cavalry units should not be able to board on ships at all until some point of time. It was possible very marginally in this period, I can think only of Hastings, some 200 years later.
    · Fame – that part gained in battles should be visibly stated. I have no idea where my fame comes from, besides traits, buildings and technologies.
    · Estates: currently they constitute neither a limit of the size of the realm nor a solution to the problems of loyalty. As mentioned, the demand for the estates from the nobles should be related to the size of the realm. This should be an incentive to research and build noble estates: that you can keep your nobles happy while having less control over them (because the kingdom is big you cannot keep an eye all the time). So there’s a serious need for balancing.
    · Small garrisons in the villages – for the gameplay: to prevent the freshly created armies (a few units with 1/3 strength) from taking them. Now the player can create an army out of the blue and take the AI villages on the border instantly. Same goes for the AI – a roaming Viking king with 7 companions may take your villages and get strong there (there’s already a mod making it in a very good way, so for me it’s solved).

    I hope it might be useful for you, the Shieldwall moders, as you're the only hope for the game to be improved.
    JoC
    For those who want to play a historical mod in a medieval setting:
    try either the Stainless Steel Historical Improvement Project + minimods,
    or the Broken Crescent + Buff and Shine submod.
    ..........................................................................................................................................................................
    Reviews of the mods: SSHIP (2018), Wrath of the Norsemen (2018), Broken Crescent (2018).
    Thrones of Britannia: review, opinion on the battles, ideas for modding.
    Minimods for the SSHIP: Generals Traits, Provincial Titles, Crowns.
    Short guides for the SSHIP: population growth, forts and watchtowers.
    Pros and cons of having Merchants in an M2TW mod.
    Home rules for playing a game without exploiting the M2TW engine deficiencies.
    Dominant strategy in Attila TW and Rome 2 TW: “Sniping groups of armies”.

  2. #2

    Default Re: A few ideas for balancing

    Quote Originally Posted by Jurand of Cracow View Post
    · Small garrisons in the villages – for the gameplay: to prevent the freshly created armies (a few units with 1/3 strength) from taking them. Now the player can create an army out of the blue and take the AI villages on the border instantly. Same goes for the AI – a roaming Viking king with 7 companions may take your villages and get strong there (there’s already a mod making it in a very good way, so for me it’s solved).
    How about the village is given back to faction wich owns the main settlement once, the enemy leaves them.

  3. #3

    Default Re: A few ideas for balancing

    Quote Originally Posted by Gebilde View Post
    How about the village is given back to faction wich owns the main settlement once, the enemy leaves them.
    I've actually looked into similar concepts. The problem with them, from my perspective, is twofold. First of all, it seems difficult to me to get the AI to play nicely with them. Now, by removing the ability to occupy villages and making them only sackable, then by handling their ownership using script and the ownership of the capital, I can actually make a decent system here. The CAI possesses variables about ignoring settlements completely post sack that let this be workable.

    The problem is that, unlike in WH2 where I'd just cut some factions off the map, there are a fair number of factions starting with no major settlements. Changing the rules of the map to revolve heavily around the ownership of forts to control the villages would make those factions not work. A less... inflexible system on the other hand isn't nearly as easy to make the AI understand cleanly.

  4. #4

    Default Re: A few ideas for balancing

    Quote Originally Posted by Jurand of Cracow View Post
    Hi Guys,
    I’ve been playing the Thrones for quite a while. I think there’s an enormous potential for modding of gameplay since currently, it is very easy and not-so-historical. I mean: there’s a very nice historical map with proper names, units that are fit for the era (but the dogs, I suppose), but the gameplay is easy, un-logical, and very un-historical. The current mechanisms provide plenty of opportunities that only moders seem to be able to use (as CA is moving to another Saga game).
    Maybe a few ideas would be useful for you – I’ve gathered them below. I know the rule “you want something, you do it”, but I don’t have time for modding these days, so these are just ideas, no requests.

    · Auto-resolve should be seriously rebalanced. For the moment, at the hard or very hard difficulties, it almost always pays off to auto-resolve than to fight personally. This concerns especially the sieges. Additionally, you’re not rewarded in the traits for fighting personally.
    · Impact of the traits – most of them are so irrelevant to the game that it doesn’t make sense to pay attention. I make very few choices on the basis of the traits. Some are just irrelevant (cheaper recruitment bonuses: you recruit units so rarely that you never pay attention who is recruiting), some just go up with leveling the general up (upkeep costs), some features all characters in one form or another (eg. differentiation between upkeep bonus for spears / cavalry / missiles /all troops – they are pretty the same as the all armies are compound of different types of units; so why to bother to differentiate between them?)
    · Loyalty – there should be a probability of the characters rebelling, starting from 3. There should also be unexpected swings in loyalty – for the moment everything is so deterministic.
    · Loyalty should be scaled with the size of the realm. It should be the point of every TW game: the larger the kingdom, the more rebellions and civil wars are likely. And this is absolutely not the case in the Thrones. Quite opposite: you’re likely to have problems at the beginning but later your king and his son would get a lot of influence and the risks disappear.
    · In general, civil wars and rebellions should occur more frequently and should be scaled with the size of the kingdom. This should limit the snow-ball effect that’s very palpable now. For civil wars you’ve got leveled-up kings and estates, for rebellions – the buildings built.
    · Money – (based on the experience on very hard difficulties) currently most of the factions are rich from the beginning thanks to the large king’s purse. Upgrading the settlements is very cheap. The limiting factor for the armies is food. A strategy of expeditions and sacking far-away settlements doesn’t pay off – it doesn’t bring food or really significant money.
    · Concentration of a few armies in one place should be punished somehow. For instance, if there’re many troops in a province, the supply should run out exponentially (there’s supply in the game, just use this feature!). Or there should be a chance of rebellion. Or the campaign speed should be cut down noticeably. Or the battle values should drop. Or whatever. For now, there’s every incentive to bring 3+ armies together to conquer the lands. The AI doesn’t do it (in the Thrones it actually very rarely use more than one army), so you just go on a steamroll.
    · Technologies and buildings – higher levels of the buildings should be unlocked by the technology levels. This would make civic technologies more important. As in the other TW games, the speed of research for higher level technologies should be slower.
    · Replenishment – current high levels of replenishment make recruitment very rare: you recruit a unit just once, and even if it gets damage, it’d replenish automatically. And you can replenish in the newly conquered settlement. So I think the newly recruited units should have more strength but the replenishment should be cut down (or possibly eliminated altogether – but I don’t know how the AI would react to this).
    · Supply of the armies doesn’t matter at the moment if you employ the strategy of conquest (not raiding). You go on the offensive and take a village / settlement, then you don’t lose supply. There’re no long expeditions possible (unless you’re Sutheyar and sail somewhere), so you’re always with a full supply.
    · As mentioned, fighting the battles should be more rewarded. There should be a flood of new traits after a successful battle, especially against the odds (for the moment it’s mainly +xp and few traits).
    · There should be no penalty from switching from generalship to a governor position (for now, the -1 Loyalty penalty is neither justified (he gets a new position, doesn’t he), no good for the gameplay (a disincentive for the player to swap roles of the characters). (there’s already a mod doing it, I’m using it).
    · Older generals should be not fit for good combat and should die more easily. There may be traits adding Loyalty for the characters appointed generals at a young age (a youngster is happy to fight), while adding it to those appointed governors at the older age.
    · Ability to board ships should be restricted even more for the Anglo-Saxon factions, ie: made contingent on a certain technology, or possession of a longphort, or having a skilled general. No Anglosaxon forces were transported by ships at that time, I think.
    · Cavalry units should not be able to board on ships at all until some point of time. It was possible very marginally in this period, I can think only of Hastings, some 200 years later.
    · Fame – that part gained in battles should be visibly stated. I have no idea where my fame comes from, besides traits, buildings and technologies.
    · Estates: currently they constitute neither a limit of the size of the realm nor a solution to the problems of loyalty. As mentioned, the demand for the estates from the nobles should be related to the size of the realm. This should be an incentive to research and build noble estates: that you can keep your nobles happy while having less control over them (because the kingdom is big you cannot keep an eye all the time). So there’s a serious need for balancing.
    · Small garrisons in the villages – for the gameplay: to prevent the freshly created armies (a few units with 1/3 strength) from taking them. Now the player can create an army out of the blue and take the AI villages on the border instantly. Same goes for the AI – a roaming Viking king with 7 companions may take your villages and get strong there (there’s already a mod making it in a very good way, so for me it’s solved).

    I hope it might be useful for you, the Shieldwall moders, as you're the only hope for the game to be improved.
    JoC
    Just gonna pick out a few things to respond to.
    1) Traits. Yep, we are rewriting huge quantities of the trait work in the game to reduce the overall number of traits, and to make more of them gained via dilemmas and events rather than via the relatively arbitrary conditions (you spent a turn sitting in a meat market while public order was low! Congrats here is a trait!). We are also trying to roll in more advanced trait effects like estate desires and scripted cross-loyalty effects (for example, if my king is Pagan and my Lord is a Friend of the Church, they won't get along).

    2) Techs. I 100% agree with what you've said. We are currently mid work on the tech tree, converting it back into something that more resembles a tree and less a collection of torn off branches. We are also planning on removing a large quantity of the tech unlock conditions. While these are a nice idea, they interrupt the flow of the game's progression, so we are slowing the base research rate and removing unlock conditions from all but a few special techs.

    3) Estates - We are still heavily evaluating and changing how we deal with estates. They are a very complicated gameplay element to balance in our opinion and we've tried a few different systems I'm not entirely happy with. A system which deliberately makes estates rarer and further encourages their intelligent and deliberate use is something we are working towards, as we've realised recently that unless estates are relatively scarce they aren't as effective.

  5. #5
    Jurand of Cracow's Avatar History and gameplay!
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    Default Re: A few ideas for balancing

    Quote Originally Posted by DrunkFlamingo View Post
    Just gonna pick out a few things to respond to.
    1) Traits. Yep, we are rewriting huge quantities of the trait work in the game to reduce the overall number of traits, and to make more of them gained via dilemmas and events rather than via the relatively arbitrary conditions (you spent a turn sitting in a meat market while public order was low! Congrats here is a trait!). We are also trying to roll in more advanced trait effects like estate desires and scripted cross-loyalty effects (for example, if my king is Pagan and my Lord is a Friend of the Church, they won't get along).

    2) Techs. I 100% agree with what you've said. We are currently mid work on the tech tree, converting it back into something that more resembles a tree and less a collection of torn off branches. We are also planning on removing a large quantity of the tech unlock conditions. While these are a nice idea, they interrupt the flow of the game's progression, so we are slowing the base research rate and removing unlock conditions from all but a few special techs.

    3) Estates - We are still heavily evaluating and changing how we deal with estates. They are a very complicated gameplay element to balance in our opinion and we've tried a few different systems I'm not entirely happy with. A system which deliberately makes estates rarer and further encourages their intelligent and deliberate use is something we are working towards, as we've realised recently that unless estates are relatively scarce they aren't as effective.
    Thanks for the info, Flamingo.
    While these three (and perhaps a few more) are big areas for modification and would be experienced directly by the players, IMO the other issues are equally important for the gameplay even though less fancy. I mean: the current auto-resolve really prompts you not play battles personally (it simply doesn't make sense to do it if you can get superior effects by an easy way - and it deprives you of "good feeling" after a good battle), loyalty current balance provides for a very easy campaign (and this balance makes many the traits and estate mechanics irrelevant - you would fix estates but why to bother about them if loyalty is so easy?), high replenishment makes you not caring of the losses in battles (again, that deprives you of that good feeling after the battle: I had played well so I have now enough troops to do this and that - why to bother about fighting well and keeping your loses low as you'll get them automatically in very short time?), the concentration of the armies - well, the technique of sniping groups of armies kills the whole fun of TW games on the Warscape engine.
    All in all, I'd more like to see balance in the mod, and less entire re-build of the features.
    But these are just my feelings, perhaps after having been (gameplay-wise) brought up by the BGR mod ;-)
    cheers
    JoC
    Last edited by Jurand of Cracow; February 03, 2019 at 11:55 PM. Reason: typos

  6. #6

    Default Re: A few ideas for balancing

    If there was a DEI or FOTE for Britannia, it would be absolutely my favorite TW title, easily.

    The Early Middles Ages are fascinating and there is so much potential here. I felt the same way about Attila and especially AoC. Whoever is doing art design, the UI, the descriptions, they get the period. They just happen to be completely at odds with whoever is doing the gameplay.

    I felt like half the team were reading those 400 page books by Peter Brown and Chris Wickham, and half were just looking at Steam Charts and their internal data that says people don't like ambushes or naval battles.

  7. #7

    Default Re: A few ideas for balancing

    Hate to double post, but I can't edit yet, but I just thought of a quick example.

    In Rome 2, Attila and Britannia you can tell that people seriously sat down and used all kinds of resources to get the look of units right. Some units are right out of an Osprey book. I can pretty much guarantee that the team for Attila read the Warrior titles on Germanic Warrior, Late Roman Infantry, Late Roman Cavalry, Legionary 284-337 and the two men-at-arms titles on Roman Military Clothing.

    But they still made them in faction colours!

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