Suggestion - Balance game around player size

I think the core problem on balancing seems to be how to prevent large groups from more easily becoming even greater. Since without any such penalties, having more is always better. This will somewhat bleed over into other topics like ‘Balancing Colonisation’ and ‘Alliance Limits’.

Looking at games like Civilization for example, approach this through penalties at large scale as well as bonuses at small scale, to compensate for the advantage of having more resources / production.

I think that having a large fleet that takes reduced damage from significantly smaller fleets is very good, especially if they don’t take advantage of a unbalanced fleet. However if they do, then they should still punch hard. E.g. some fighters against lots of bombers should still do damage, even if there are loads more. Same for the example of a few destroyers vs lots of battleships.

When trying to think of mechanics that would allow such balancing, without (hopefully) being too troublesome to implement, what comes to mind so far:

  • A governance penalty based on alliance size. E.g. 1-5 nothing, 6-20 +2.5% travel time, 21-100 +5% travel time, +100 10% travel time.
  • [more complex] A base cost per planet owned and/or an increasing cost per planet owned. With income being generated later through (specialized) buildings. Your core planet starts out with some main buildings and has a good initial income. As for late( r ) game uses for money, maybe allow purchasing buildings/boost production speed?
    Early expansion will then be easy, but then be limited as people need to focus on building out economy for more expansion vs production to attack/defend. Especially tweaking the increment per planet could drive players to reach hard planet caps.

When combining the second with the first point, the game might drive itself towards a more organically balanced system, where bigger isn’t always better. And to either use step sizes or incremental increases would be subject to balancing over time based on how it works out for people.


With this I tried to be inspired by real world mechanics where when scaling up eventually introduces new problems, but while trying to keep any possible implementations as abstract as possible.

Please let me know if this should be moved into it’s own topic, such as ‘Game Balancing’ or so. Though I wasn’t able to create a new topic. Perhaps because I just joined.

Brain stack overflow…

Hi @Avolendi, welcome to the forums :slight_smile:

I gave your post a read, and decided to make a new topic for it (it didn’t really fit into the discussion on documentation of combat in general).

Definitely some interesting points, I’ve played a bunch of civ myself, and know how painful it can become to manage a larger empire.

I’ll leave this here, and let the community discuss it as a concept before looking into the practicality of implementation at this time, see if there’s interest or general discussion over it.

Thanks.

The biggest issue with any control like this is making it work for everyone.

In this case the example of travel time would hurt new or smaller players just as much as bigger players just by alliance size. Potentially it could hurt smaller players more if they have banded together into a larger alliance.

I am not a fan of rubber band mechanics though.

The aim should be to give options to enable smaller players to do more without changing the rules for the entire game.

Something based on limits for player score or alliance size for instance I don’t think is the way to do it because it can end up hurting newer players if they pass the limit.

I think it’s hard to find a lot of options that benefit only new players vs experienced ones. All bonuses for new players will, without a doubt, be (ab)used by veterans somehow.

Bonuses based on average score (not counting inactives), would be beneficial to newer / slower players vs veterans.
A new player that reaches a certain score limit will usually be noticed / picked up by alliances, and go further from there. extra output of resources for example if you’re at a certain % below average score. (would also help “smashed” players rebuild faster?)

One of the main things a new player needs is help to get started (aka a specific buildlist for whatever is his goal, being aggressive (invasion/fighting) or colonising). Secondly he/she should receive a very clear message that banding together with other players is very important in the game, both for his/her and their benefit.
Apart from that, which is something a vet will already have, there aren’t imo a lot of specific bonuses you can grant that wouldn’t be somehow picked up by veterans posing as new players.

In the end I think it’s more up to alliances/veterans of the game to make new players flock to them and teach them the ropes, and thus balancing it themselves.

people become proficient by playing more , and learning from others.

Thanks for moving this to it’s own thread :slight_smile:
And apologies for the delayed reply. Been trying to refine this between distractions and it might have gotten rather big…


The main focus of this thread is to find balancing mechanics where massive numbers don’t decide everything. Keeping the game accessible to players of different skill levels and managing alliances sizes is relevant to this, but it is my intention that good mechanics work in sync with these goals, rather than having them be a seperate point.

Taking the following under consideration, we can hopefully find good mechanics that are both fun and balanced. New and experienced play in same world and there are no tiers or other ways in which the player base is split. So when thinking of the impact of any bonus or penalty, we must do so for both new and experienced players.

Note that it is not my intention to level the field between new players and veterans, since that would likely be detrimental to the game. Instead making it either easier to get good at the game and prevent excessive scaling (snowb_lling) would improve the fun and balance for everyone. With preventing snowb_lling, I mean to avoid gameplay where having an advantage gives increasingly more advantage. One way this can be achieved is through diminishing returns.
This was also the goal of the initially given examples. Feel free to improve and expand on these, or add your own ideas.

To help improve previous and future points, I have split the abstract ideas and their examples and numbered them for easier referencing. Feel free to ignore or expand on my examples, they are initial ideas and references and I might misremember details that inspired some examples.
Let’s see where this ball will end up.


Game balancing

    1. Governance penalties
      Lore wise, these could be explained as size and bureacracy making things harder/slower to manage.
  • 1.1. Alliance sizes
    Sub-Topic: Small bonuses for small alliances or diminishing returns for larger alliances
    Methods:
    A) Travel time penalty
    B) Departure time delay

Examples:
A) Added time: 1-5 players: +0% travel time, 6-20: +2.5%, 21-100: +5%, +100: +10%
B) Added time: 1-5 players: +0m travel time, 6-20: +10m, 21-100: +20m, +100: +30m

  • 1.2. Alliance scaling in time
    Sub-Topic: Make larger alliances more interesting later in the game
    Methods:
    A) Reducing any or all alliance penalties over time
    B) Make alliances interesting after the start
    C) Tie alliance size into the economic concept
    D) [very complex] Alliance economy to allow different forms of cooperation

Example:
A) Per X turns, the thresholds of alliance penalties (as shown in 1.1.1) are raised, removing or lowering them over time
B) As alliances give obvious benefits (tactics, control, power), counter balancing this for those without an alliance could be interesting. Over time it should still be preferable to join an alliance, as they will likely grown in strength and influence. This could allow for new players to start simpler and on their own, while later perhaps being contacted to join the alliance that is active in their area, or create one themselves.
Having players not tied into alliances (which I somewhat recall happening before turn 1) also seems like it would generate more interesting dynamics, with ‘conquering’ an area also being able to consist of trying to get unallied players to join you. As you raise the alliance cap limit over time, so could you slowly expand your influence. There are various ways how to stimulate this effect. For example points A (less attractive), C (economy) or other ways.
C) Mixing the alliance system with economy concept, alliance membership could have a cost. Too offset this for later expansion, it might unlock an extra economy building at a higher population level. So being in an alliance would become more a longer term tactic and discourage turn 1 alliances.
This special economy building might then only be build on your core planet, to prevent it scaling together with the planet count. Or it could be build on each planet and self balanced through population requirements or so.
D) If there are sufficiently high level of economy buildings that are sufficiently hard to make, players might focus on those to support others. Though this might be tricky to implement, requiring a form of trade agreements and allow for things like boosting or purchasing buildings / ships to make it interesting. This could then allow for an alternative slower place, while still being a valuable role within an alliance.

  • 1.3. Fleet power
    Sub-Topic: Small bonus for small fleets / diminishing returns for larger fleets
    Methods:
    A) Add travel delay based on fleet power of (owned player or alliance fleet over planet)
    B) Add departure delay based on fleet power of (owned player or alliance fleet over planet)

Examples:
A) Added time: up to 1X power: +0% travel time, then scale linearly from 1X to 10X with 0% to 10% delay
B) Added time: up to 1
X power: +0m travel time, then scale from 1X/2X/5X/10X with 2m/5m/10m/20m delay


    1. Economy concept
      Stimulate early expansion through initial income, but then be limited as people need to focus on building out economy for more expansion vs production to attack/defend vs alliances. Especially tweaking the cost/income per planet/building could drive players to reach hard planet caps.
  • 2.1. Costs
    Methods:
    A) Planet upkeep
    B) Alliance upkeep
    C) Unit upkeep
    Examples:
    A) A base cost per planet owned and/or an increasing cost per planet owned. For example 100 credits per planet owned.
    B) Making alliance membership costs credits can make it an alternative choice compared to military or colonization
    C) Some minor cost per unit could be another factor in preventing established groups from scaling up their army linearly just because they got bigger sooner. It would also mean that armies have practical limits due to the income needed to support them

  • 2.2. Income
    Methods:
    A) Building income
    B) Trading with (friendly / neutral) players
    Examples:
    A) Income generated later through specialized buildings (e.g. market: +50 credits, bank +100 credits, stock exchange +250 credits, …). Buildings may be restricted based on population size. Bonus can be varied to change speed at which planets can be acquired. Good players can still rush the better planets or use advanced tactics or alliances can still drop in together. This is also influenced by how scanning planets will be implemented. Your core planet starts out with some main buildings and has a good initial income.
    B) Allow for trading vessels to go between non hostile planets, increasing income based on the distance. Whether or not these could be attacked/looted by hostile parties is another option

  • 2.3. Credit uses
    Methods:
    A) Purchasing / boosting production
    B) Trading
    C) Alliance goals

Examples:
A) Allow purchasing buildings and/or boosting production speed?
B) Trading for resources or ships
C) Allow members to contribute more than their share to the alliance upkeep, which would allow for more members to join.


    1. Resources
  • 3.1. Stockpiles
    Implementing resource caps to prevent infinite stockpiling
    Methods:
    A) Tie buildings to more stockpiles (was there something like this?)
    B) Stealing resources

Examples:
A) Combined with unit upkeep this could create a reason for using an army rather than just holding on to it and stimulates a organic balance of expansion versus military.
B) A special ship that can sneak to undefended planets and loot resources? With a low chance of detection or requiring an scanner on the planet?

    1. Starting biases
  • 4.1. Core planet difficulty selection
    Methods:
    A) Resource distribution
    B) Initial building presence
    C) Core focus vs expansion

Examples:
A) Allow players to select different modes, where they might get more overall resource points for their starting planet, but at the expense of their starting buildings and/or population and/or resource distribution. So normally resource might be 50-50-50-50 for the core planet, but now they could be random in the range 30-80, with the points of 4x60 distributed.
B) Allow players to have more or less buildings, at the expense of other aspects, to cater to different playstyles (improving a few planets vs having many). For example more population vs less production or other factors. Maybe get an initial colony ship at the expense of 1 less economy building
C) Players might select they get more resources directly, but much less initial buildings (or just little economy to prevents early expansion)


Considerations - Economy concept

  • Planet upkeep costs would also have to be applicable to conquering planets.
  • What if economy buildings could be destroyed/sold?
  • Is there a credit stockpile? If so, what would happen if someone has used an economic buffer to expand, but later has too little or loses his income planets?
    Maybe therefore there would not be an economic buffer and should the economic concept be added, then everything applies to the active income.
    Even then, losing an economically strong planet could create a deficit and with penalties for this, cause a losing player to be hit even harder.
    • Would there be reduced production (relative to the debt)?
    • Would there be a risk of units deserting, after too long lack of payment?
    • Let alone more complex mechanics.
  • With alliance upkeep, how would leaving an alliance impact the limits, when said person has added more than his share?
    Any additional penalties would be used to sneak into an alliance and have it go over its limit at a tactically advantagous time for a rival alliance.

Ease of use ideas

Colonisation

  • Allow for a build queue on colonisation ships, to be executed if it arrives safely on a free planet

Random blerps / not their own subject:

  • Allowing alliances special ships? Or rather have ships that are retardedly expensive to be build by multiple players as flagships which can only practically can be stopped by others of their kind, so as soon as you have one, you might have the means to attack another alliance, making it an end game type weapon. Might work together with the alliance upkeep and trading?

Quick question: are you Lord Zeb?

Quick answer: Nope, I’m just me.

Interesting points, however. I wouldn’t touch the travel times.
This really is the core of how DG works.
In addition, most of us have lives now, meaning travel time penalties will hit twice as hard.

Also, don’t forget that there are already some game mechanics in place that allows newer/less active/less experienced players to progress.

  • Choosing a galaxy to colonize in. Experienced players know the juicy planets are in Gal 1. So that’s where the most shenanigans is going on. Experienced players interrupting each others operations is a good thing for those choosing to go elsewhere where they are mostly left alone.
  • Bigger alliances usually care about other alliances with scores close to their own, trying to climb the ladder by actively engaging them. Which is also a good thing for players not in those alliances.

A small tweak could be to give players who play their first regular round a better starting planet. (increased values would be the easiest)

I don’t think it’s a good idea to implement complicated changes just so newer players have a better chance. DG has a learning curve, just as any other game.
Inexperienced players don’t get a free aimbot in CS either now do they?

Intent Clarification
The idea of this thread is to look for game balancing mechanics on a larger scale, looking to tie together different aspects to find solutions otherwise invisible.
My focus to address my intent is to look for ways in which game mechanics could prevent unbalanced scaling, where being ahead (as a player or alliance) gives increasingly large advantages. Through diminishing returns, the better player or alliance will still be ahead, but in a more limited fashion.

Context Clarification
Note the previous post was before I had played the Alpha and was coming from the vague recollection of how things went many years ago. One of my base assumptions was that there were too large alliances, which had undesirable effects on the overall gameplay.
If you find this or other assumptions/estimates of mine to be incorrect, please say so.

Reiteration

As already stated, the intent was never to give new players direct benefits over others. It would most likely be too easily to be abused by experienced players. For this we lack the means to check whether a player is truly inexperienced.
Making sure new players are aware of thing like the differences in galaxies and whatnot is how you probably want to handle the learning curve, but that is another topic in itself and unrelated.

< Time Penalties
You have good points against travel time affecting penalties, so we can drop that idea.

< Onwards
If anyone has ideas on the concepts themselves and whether these might be desirable or not, please expand on them, with or without relation to the examples.
So would it (eventually) be good to have governance penalties / diminishing returns, an economy concept, resource management and/or starting biases?

I know these ideas won’t be implemented anytime soon, since most of these ideas are very complex. But would we potentially want them or can we already throw them out now? This is what I’d like to discuss. And if we do consider a concept, we can still look for an initial simple proof of concept to see if it’d work as intended.