Alternate Era: default era + unique leaders for each faction

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Wintermute
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Alternate Era: default era + unique leaders for each faction

Post by Wintermute »

About a year ago I put together an era that added unique leaders to the default era. The idea was talked about in an old thread, and then I promptly didn't touch it for about a year. I am still interested in the idea, so I posted the era to the add-on server as a work in progress called "Alternate Era". I have two goals for the era. First, I would like it to be balanced enough that a player never thinks "crap, I got this leader and my opponent got that leader". Second, I hope that it's fun to play! I enjoy having a great leader that has abilities and can dish damage, and so the concept of a great leader that you can't get anywhere else is very appealing to me.

Version 0.1 is a playable era with close to three unique leaders per side. There is roughly one of three different types: Combat, Leader, Special. Each leader is (right now) more powerful than a level 2 unit, but less so than a level 3, with much of the power coming from special abilities. You can see the units here (the only changes are the addition of the leaders to each default faction) - and I make no claim that they are balanced right now. Things could still change quite a bit at this point and I hope to continue working on it as I have time. As of right now I could see it becoming used in 1v1 games, perhaps even on the ladder at some point.

I'd be happy to hear comments and love to see replays, if anyone is so inclined.
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Re: Alternate Era: default era + unique leaders for each faction

Post by Yoyobuae »

Wintermute wrote:*snip*
As of right now I could see it becoming used in 1v1 games, perhaps even on the ladder at some point.
*snip*
I'm worried about the "random vs chosen" faction balance. One frequently quoted fact is that choosing a good leader is the advantage the player gets for choosing his faction. Having three similarly useful leaders takes this away and gives nothing in return.

Will this issue be addressed?

PS: Sorry to de-rail, but I really don't like the idea of this being adopted for the ladder, not unless the above is addressed. It's also very worrying since the majority of players prefer randoming their faction, so they'll more likely to accept this.

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Re: Alternate Era: default era + unique leaders for each faction

Post by Araja »

I thought the advantage you got for choosing your faction is playing with a faction you like. As a disclaimer, I'm only an okay Wesnoth player and don't have experience in the balance system. Now I've pointed out I can only run on theory for balance discussions, I would like to say the Saurian Diviner strikes me as a tad on the over-awesome side.

Cures, heals+8, skirmisher, melee pierce, magical arcane ranged, firstrike on both, the Saurian movetype, *and* decent HP/damage? :shock:

Also, are you planning to add portraits? I'm drawn to the idea of hunting through campaign folders for good images.

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Re: Alternate Era: default era + unique leaders for each faction

Post by Eskon »

Introducing 18 all-new units in order to fix a relatively minor balance issue? Sounds to me like it would add to the problem rather than solve it.

I also think the power crank was turned too high. Some of these leaders are beasts. This increases their combat value on their battlefield, by extension the need to use them (as to not waste combat resources), which means that the imbalances that almost invariably will exist between them and for a long time, them being 18 completely new units, become that much more noticable. It would seem prudent to me to reduce the impact of leader units on battles rather than increase it. My immediate suggestion would be to dial them back down to level 2 power.

With HP scores and speed more or less standardized, the game wouldn't really win in depth either, at least if you ask me. Getting rid of the four-move leaders was a good move overall, I guess, but is it really necessary to get rid of the six move ones too?
I have two goals for the era. First, I would like it to be balanced enough that a player never thinks "crap, I got this leader and my opponent got that leader".

This is an impossible goal to achieve through balance, unless you go all the way and just give each faction a single standardized leader unit, since this is a necessary result of having variety. As long as your era still has different leaders, it will have players preferring one over the other, for a multitude of reasons, partially bogus, partially legitimate (and as long as the alternate era is in its current fledgling state, a lot of those will be legitimate).

If your goal is to achieve better balanced leaders, looking at the current situation and trying to fix that by introducing traits to the various leaders that appear underpowered seems more sensible to me.

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Re: Alternate Era: default era + unique leaders for each faction

Post by tsr »

I just want to let you know Wintermute that I have been thinking about this since you first posted your idea. I fully endorse this era and I actually hope it will become default some day.

I really like that the leaders follow the maxim that units that max-out at level 2 should be more like level 2.5 especially for leaders. As I play the current leadership alternatives in the default era are too easy to pull back for recruiting, this actually makes the choice harder.

Go, go, go!

/tsr

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Re: Alternate Era: default era + unique leaders for each faction

Post by Becephalus »

Yoyobuae wrote: I'm worried about the "random vs chosen" faction balance. One frequently quoted fact is that choosing a good leader is the advantage the player gets for choosing his faction. Having three similarly useful leaders takes this away and gives nothing in return.

Will this issue be addressed?

PS: Sorry to de-rail, but I really don't like the idea of this being adopted for the ladder, not unless the above is addressed. It's also very worrying since the majority of players prefer randoming their faction, so they'll more likely to accept this.
As someone who never likes choosing factions, or people who chose factions in any game (to me it seems unnecessarily limiting close, mind, and against the spirit of sportsmanship) I can give my admittedly very biased opinion. I don't think this matters at all. I don't think there was ever a desire to keep a balance between picking a faction and choosing one randomly, and the serious MP players with 1 or 2 notable exceptions have all played randomly except when goofing around. The main advantages of choosing a faction typically came from overall mismatches or overpowered leaders who were nerfed regardless of Winter's proposed change. There were also map specific considerations with leaders that I will get into below.
Eskon wrote:Introducing 18 all-new units in order to fix a relatively minor balance issue? Sounds to me like it would add to the problem rather than solve it.

With HP scores and speed more or less standardized, the game wouldn't really win in depth either, at least if you ask me. Getting rid of the four-move leaders was a good move overall, I guess, but is it really necessary to get rid of the six move ones too?

This is an impossible goal to achieve through balance, unless you go all the way and just give each faction a single standardized leader unit, since this is a necessary result of having variety. As long as your era still has different leaders, it will have players preferring one over the other, for a multitude of reasons, partially bogus, partially legitimate (and as long as the alternate era is in its current fledgling state, a lot of those will be legitimate).
I am not sure it IS a relatively minor balance issue. Making balanced maps was initially a ton harder than it had to be, and still is substantially harder then it needs to be because of the diversity of leaders. 6 move leaders, flying leaders 4 move leaders, all of these are horrible ideas (As is the idea of "leadership" as an ability, but that is a whole other issue) for making a wide variety of maps. They limit the things you can do immensely. Originally I thought this proposal was just for 1 leader unit for each faction, but Winter seem to have moved away from that for some reason.
Eskon wrote: Getting rid of the four-move leaders was a good move overall, I guess, but is it really necessary to get rid of the six move ones too?
Yes yes yes yes 10,000 times yes it is necessary. 6 move leaders were in many ways MORE problematic than 4 move ones, and don't even get me started on the 6 move flying leader, we created whole new terrains for that basically, which I see is very inelegant.

Personally I strongly favor 6 leaders a single one for each faction, but I prefer Winter' solution to the current setup* . But then again I am a game minimalist who always wants the fewest elements that still preserve challenge core mechanics replayability etc. I think Wesnoth is a better game with fewer units, fewer types of terrain, etc. It is always nice to add shiny new toys on, but in the end you end up with a clunky product.

*I haven't looked at the leader stats at all because I assume they will find a good level

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Re: Alternate Era: default era + unique leaders for each faction

Post by Yoyobuae »

Becephalus wrote:
Yoyobuae wrote: I'm worried about the "random vs chosen" faction balance. One frequently quoted fact is that choosing a good leader is the advantage the player gets for choosing his faction. Having three similarly useful leaders takes this away and gives nothing in return.

Will this issue be addressed?

PS: Sorry to de-rail, but I really don't like the idea of this being adopted for the ladder, not unless the above is addressed. It's also very worrying since the majority of players prefer randoming their faction, so they'll more likely to accept this.
As someone who never likes choosing factions, or people who chose factions in any game (to me it seems unnecessarily limiting close, mind, and against the spirit of sportsmanship) I can give my admittedly very biased opinion. I don't think this matters at all. I don't think there was ever a desire to keep a balance between picking a faction and choosing one randomly, and the serious MP players with 1 or 2 notable exceptions have all played randomly except when goofing around. The main advantages of choosing a faction typically came from overall mismatches or overpowered leaders who were nerfed regardless of Winter's proposed change. There were also map specific considerations with leaders that I will get into below.
Heh. At least someone is finally honest enough to say it was never intended to keep the balance, unlike the vast majority which will defend to hell and back that choosing and randoming are perfectly equal.

Well, I guess I'll just have to take it or leave. It's futile to oppose when all serious MP players (the players Wesnoth is balanced for) will support such a change.

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Re: Alternate Era: default era + unique leaders for each faction

Post by Wintermute »

I'd like to answer (most of) the issues pointed out by stating my take on this more clearly. If this doesn't answer (or at least clarify my take on) something you posted then don't hesitate to bring it up again.

I am not making this era for the ladder. I am making the era for only one reason: I think it would be more fun to play leaders like these than to use stock level 2 units, regardless of any trait-balancing that happens. Right now the era is a collection of ideas that I think would be fun. I basically threw spaghetti at the wall, and now it is time to see what sticks. It is likely that some of the abilities will be removed and some of the stats toned down. Perhaps the whole project will end up looking nothing like this. As pointed out, some of these guys are very potent and I wanted to start there to see how it works. Is it fun to have leaders striding into combat and making a name for themselves? Does it make the game better or worse?

Currently, I am bothered by the difference in how a 1v1 match up between drakes and UD plays when the leaders are Flare vs Revenant, or Slasher vs DS. Other examples include Steelclad vs. Pikeman, or Trapper vs. Lieutenant, or the difference between getting a WM or Javelineer vs UD.

To address the random vs chosen faction comment:
Yoyobuae wrote:One frequently quoted fact is that choosing a good leader is the advantage the player gets for choosing his faction. Having three similarly useful leaders takes this away and gives nothing in return.
I am not sure who is saying that? Maybe some players think that, but AFAIK that is not a design consideration. Personally I don't think it's an issue anyway. The reason it isn't an issue to me is that there is minimal reason to pick one faction over another in terms of gaining an advantage (I.E. the factions are all balanced w.r.t each other). The point about choosing a faction to avoid a bad leader emphasizes my point about some leaders being bad. This is really only an issue on small maps, especially smaller 1v1 maps (Den of Onis comes to mind). The difference that leaders make in a good sized 2v2 or larger game is so dwarfed (haha) by the skill of the players that it is really minimal - though it still makes it harder to design and balance maps.

If you haven't already, ask yourself "why are leaders the way they are now?". Is it because using existing units provides the best gameplay? Or because it is easy to do? Or because we have been doing it that way for years and no one has changed it? I am of the opinion that leaders could be improved, and there are a few different opinions regarding "what should be done" with leaders in default. These are the basic ideas that I have heard, in order of extremity:
  • 1. Nothing. Differences between leaders have little impact on games or are just a fun aspect of the game (like traits), and there is no reason to do anything.

    2. There are some issues in 1v1 games, it would be nice to modify the leader lists a bit, tweaking the existing leaders or removing the worst from the random leader list.

    3. Leaders should be redesigned so that everyone gets basically the same thing: either make "a leader" and give it to everyone, or tweak existing leaders, or make one unique leader for each faction so that everyone has a leader that is very similar (IE same damage, hp, move, specials, etc).

    4. Make new leaders (1 or more per faction) and make them unique but equivalent enough in power that getting any particular leader is not a noticeable advantage or disadvantage.
This list is hardly exhaustive, but they are the ideas that I think are worth considering. I'm not going to refute any of them, because they all have merits (IMHO).

With regard to #2, I think this is absolutely the way that the default era should go. The introduction of quick for 4 move leaders is working well IMO. I think other improvements could be made, and I support that line of thinking. But it's not what I am interested in.

Personally, I am at the bottom of the list right now, but a good chunk of the mp community is nearer the top I think. I'll reiterate: I'm not trying to impose this on anyone. It is not intended to replace default, be used on the ladder or even make it mainline. I have an issue with some 1v1 matchups, and I want to see if I can make something that I like more. If it gets refined and players like it, I can see it hanging around. If it ends up improving balance in 1v1 games then the ladder community might become interested.

I think the point(s) raised about throwing 18 new units into the mix being trouble is well noted. And certianly players will always have some preference, but my objective is to take away the completely legitimate "trapper is not in the same league as flare" argument. I have no idea if it will stay that way, and it surely is complicated. However, I wanted to try some different ideas and I had fun putting this together. I'd like to play around with these leaders, and try some other things too. I'd like to try out each faction having leadership. I like the idea of having a real choice between bringing your leader to the front and having it sit on a keep. Finally, I'd like to see each leader being fun to play. That is currently not the case for me.

I also just want to remind anyone tuning in that you can see the units in a nicely presentable form at units.wesnoth.org

Again, if I missed your question or comment just hit me with it again.

'mute

EDIT:
Yoyobuae wrote:Heh. At least someone is finally honest enough to say it was never intended to keep the balance, unlike the vast majority which will defend to hell and back that choosing and randoming are perfectly equal.
I am not sure who the vast majority is, but I don't know of any developers who think that.
Yoyobuae wrote:Well, I guess I'll just have to take it or leave. It's futile to oppose when all serious MP players (the players Wesnoth is balanced for) will support such a change.
So far few serious MP players have voiced any support for what I have done (and it is rough enough right now that I would not support it's current form either ;) ). Let's not jump to conclusions. This is hardly a consensus of the MP community, it's just something that I wanted to try.
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Re: Alternate Era: default era + unique leaders for each faction

Post by Araja »

I personally think the idea of a "Do I recruit or crack some skulls?" leader would be good fun in the many survivals and tiny maps that populate the server.

I won't even try to understand competitive MP balance, but a slightly OP leader might be good fun in a co-operative game.

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Re: Alternate Era: default era + unique leaders for each faction

Post by Doc Paterson »

For what it's worth, I think that this is a great idea, and I absolutely agree that some of the leader pairings you mentioned can be a real drag.

However, I think that the average power level of the leaders in the current default is just about right, and that increasing that average power level (as these do) would lead to more 1v1 games that favor the defender. We don't want them to be too scary.... ;)

So yeah, I'm completely in favor of this, but I think that they should be powered down a bit. I'll try to throw some more specific stat ideas at you some time in the near future. :)
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Re: Alternate Era: default era + unique leaders for each faction

Post by Yoyobuae »

Well, they do random their faction most of the time. It's in their best interest for random to become a more fun and "balanced" (against another randomed faction). It was never intended for there to be a balance between randoming and choosing factions. There is some interest improve the available leaders so that randoming the faction doesn't carry the risk of a bad leader.

I think it's clear what will happen eventually. If not by this method, then by some other one.

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Re: Alternate Era: default era + unique leaders for each faction

Post by Caphriel »

Wintermute wrote:
Yoyobuae wrote:Heh. At least someone is finally honest enough to say it was never intended to keep the balance, unlike the vast majority which will defend to hell and back that choosing and randoming are perfectly equal.
I am not sure who the vast majority is, but I don't know of any developers who think that.
Yoyobuae wrote:Well, I guess I'll just have to take it or leave. It's futile to oppose when all serious MP players (the players Wesnoth is balanced for) will support such a change.
So far few serious MP players have voiced any support for what I have done (and it is rough enough right now that I would not support it's current form either ;) ). Let's not jump to conclusions. This is hardly a consensus of the MP community, it's just something that I wanted to try.
Yoyobuae has a pet peeve concerning random versus choosing factions. He likes a particular faction for matters completely unrelated to game balance, and chooses that faction exclusively, but feels unfairly disadvantaged when playing against people who choose random, for reasons that he has thoroughly explained in other threads. Your proposal negates one of the advantages of choosing a faction, which is avoiding those leaders which are generally under-performing.

On topic, I notice that all your new leaders are 5MP, which seems like a good choice to me, but they do not all have the same movetype, so some of them are still considerably more maneuverable than others. Also, I notice that their resistances are somewhat unintuitive, like the saurian that is weak against pierce but resists cold, or the skeletal undead leaders that barely resist blade and pierce.

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Re: Alternate Era: default era + unique leaders for each faction

Post by Wintermute »

Caphriel wrote:On topic, I notice that all your new leaders are 5MP, which seems like a good choice to me, but they do not all have the same movetype, so some of them are still considerably more maneuverable than others. Also, I notice that their resistances are somewhat unintuitive, like the saurian that is weak against pierce but resists cold, or the skeletal undead leaders that barely resist blade and pierce.
The issues of movetype and resistances could go several different directions. They could all have a similar movetype and/or similar resists, or they could keep their racial movetype and/or resists, OR they could each be somewhat unique. I am semi-ignoring that stuff right now, but I lean toward the latter because there is a big problem with using the "intuitive" values for things. Something like the skeleton resists paired with the (crappy) skeleton foot movement works fine in a faction, but not as well when you try to match it to a leader, who is competing against, for example, a dwarf - with awesome resists and the best movetype imaginable for a leader. Not to mention that we might expect the dwarf to do some good damage and have reasonably high hp. Throw something like an Orcish warrior leader, who would have a middle of the road movetype but no resists, and suddenly he needs massive amounts of hp and a crazy attack to make him as good as the dwarf. So what I was originally doing was playing around with unique values that would give the leader some character and perhaps balance it out as "equally good" against any faction. You can always try to rationalize it in game terms too - an orc with fire resists has a special suit of drake-hide armor or whatnot, but the focus should be on making it work first.

So this is what I was doing when I became daunted by how crazy it was to throw 18 leaders together and try to balance them. Fast forward a year to the present, and I am basically not even caring about resistances and movetype yet. If I had to predict what would happen, it would be that the number of leaders shrinks, they get somewhat weaker and lose some of the more zany special abilities - and they start adopting 'faction appropriate' movetype and resists. In the meantime what I am most interested in looking at is what special abilities should be granted to which faction. Should leaders have abilities at all? Which factions get leadership and/or healing? I am not sure how unbalancing it is to add leadership to a faction.

...And before everyone starts yelling at me, let's look at loyalists. They have the spearman and the mage, two of the best units to get leadership. But can you get leadership as loyalists? Only some of the time, if you have the right leader. Does this make loyalists unbalanced if they have leadership? Or unbalanced if they don't have leadership? The key point here is that the leader is one unit, who has a limited role in combat. A leader can be pretty great without throwing the whole faction out of whack - and it works fine to have great leaders. Who doesn't love the flare? What I am trying to do is give every faction something as good as a flare. I'm open to that being with movetype, resists, stats or specials. Comments welcome. :)
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Re: Alternate Era: default era + unique leaders for each faction

Post by Caphriel »

I didn't mean to imply that the non-matching resists were a problem, just that they were unintuitive. Players would certainly learn them quickly if they used them. The maneuverability issue seems much more interesting to me. The drake, dwarf, and saurian leaders are more maneuverable than the orcish and elvish leaders, who are more maneuverable than the undead and loyalist leaders. This maybe could be balanced by giving the leaders with the worst move-types and no special terrain defense bonuses 6 mp?

Also, the Outcast Noble seems problematic in that it is significantly more useful against certain factions than others, because of its cures ability. On maps where it could be used offensively, it would significantly weaken one of the primary weapons against dwarves in the northerner arsenal.

On the topic of leadership specifically, it seems that it might be overpowered in the hands of the dwarves, when combined with ulfs and backstabbing thieves. It also might be problematic on the undead side of an undead vs drakes matchup, where it allows dark adepts to kill most drake fighters in 3 hits during the day, rather than 4, bringing the chance to kill from 25% to 65%. Given that the undead are often forced to fight during the day, and usually near their keep, this seems like the sort of situation that would occur frequently.

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Re: Alternate Era: default era + unique leaders for each faction

Post by CMG »

Having an overpowered leader isn't that big of a deal. If you have a good lvl 2 leader and use it on the battlefield, you are likely to loose that leader as your opponent will try to surround it.

1. small maps usually mean not alot of units and make your leader more powerfull, at the same time it also makes it harder to cover for your leader by surrounding it with your own units.

2. medium and large maps, distance matters, moving your leader far from a keep to recruit usually is a bad thing. except in castle hopping type maps, even still your leader affects only local area at which its at.

3. in the case of like above said about leadership in certian factions. well each faction will have its own leader as well.

not every leader needs leadership as leadership defines a great tactition. take the Lieutenant for example, it is a unique leader as in you cant recruit a level 1 form. the same arguments about mage/horseman with day/leadership bonus can be applied.


I like this idea for unique leaders for each faction. I hope this can go mainline.

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