Betrayal of Thaeylan: 2p campaign for 1.11.12

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H-Hour
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Betrayal of Thaeylan: 2p campaign for 1.11.12

Post by H-Hour » February 19th, 2011, 11:22 pm

Betrayal of Thaeylan, a 2-player campaign
Released: v0.6.2 for 1.10.x server
Released: v1.0b for 1.11.12 server

When King Ayndun makes a desperate pact with Orcish mercenaries, he places the Thaeylan kingdom and all the peoples of the south under threat. As the commander of the eastern garrison, Field Marshal Muhyrim must turn his back on the kingdom and seek an alliance among the greater powers of the southern lands. In his journey through the lawless frontier he will be aided by his closest advisor, Synn, a pathfinder who emerged from the outlands years ago. To restore honor to the Thaeylan kingdom they must rely on the very bandits once expelled from its borders.

Player 1
Pathfinder (scout unit)
Initial recruits: Outlaws

Player 2
Field Marshal (leader unit)
Initial recruits: Loyalists

Includes
  • 12 scenarios
  • 6 new playable units, including a Scrapper (vulnerable, but vicious street fighter), Blue Mage (cold wind attacks), Scout (Skirmish ability), Field Marshal (leader only, not recruitable), Peltast (lvl 3 Javilineer with ability to cause enemy to lose zone of control for one turn) and Torchbearer (which can set allied archers' arrows on fire)
Play style
  • Centered around battles and armies, inspired by Heir to the Thone. Straight battles are broken up by occasional scenarios with special victory requirements or mid-scenario changes.
  • The usual scattering of loyal units and items is there, and I've made an attempt to mimic the way that HttT persistently expands the list of available recruits throughout the campaign.
Multiplayer features
  • Player side orders are rotated so that one player doesn't always go first.
  • Each player will have predominently lawful or chaotic units, so teammates will gain from learning to use each other's strengths.
  • Some scenarios are set up so that players will rely on their teammate covering one role while they handle another, but players will never be forced to play independently of each other (ie - to be prevented from helping each other out).
Target difficulty Normal/Hard options

Betrayal of Thaeylan has reached beta. Now I need feedback to fix any balancing issues. Thanks!
Last edited by H-Hour on April 20th, 2014, 3:16 pm, edited 7 times in total.

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Wintermute
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Re: Betrayal of Thaeylan: 2p campaign for 1.8.x

Post by Wintermute » March 4th, 2011, 2:57 am

great work on the first scenario, it was pretty interesting and had a lot of polish!

Some comments (spoilers):
Spoiler:
Overall, very good work! We (jb and I) enjoyed the first scenario and are looking forward to the second. The story was quite well done, and the scenario was interesting and enjoyable, though it would have to be much harder to have any good replay value (though that may just be due to the possible bug mentioned above).
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Re: Betrayal of Thaeylan: 2p campaign for 1.8.x

Post by jb » March 4th, 2011, 2:58 am

Hello H-Hour.

I played the first scenario with Wintermute today and wanted to give my thoughts before I forget them.

First of all, the scenario is very polished. (I played 2pl Battle System too, which is also very polished). Nice work.

The story is well written, but as always in MP it takes patience to read.

Some things that were unclear:
-which villages the leaders could rouse units from. If you missed it in the dialogue it would be nice to have a reminder in the objectives.
-the Swordsmen in the NE corner of the map do not move. bug maybe?
-The objectives change when you visit the bridge, but the turns do not increase. We were milking XP under the impression that the scenario would end when we reached the southern crossing.

Good to see a nice MP campaign. More updates when we get deeper into the campaign.


edit: Wintermute beat me to it.
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H-Hour
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Re: Betrayal of Thaeylan: 2p campaign for 1.8.x

Post by H-Hour » March 4th, 2011, 10:18 pm

Thanks very much for playing and for the helpful feedback. In short, I agree with it all. More notes in the spoilers.
Spoiler:
Wintermute wrote:it would have to be much harder to have any good replay value
This is something I am worried about but certainly open to discussion. I and my usual playing partner are not particularly great at this game. I built this because I wanted a normal-level difficulty mp campaign - something we could manage! But I know for many people it may be too easy. Now that I am a bit better at dealing with variables, maybe I will implement a quick difficulty-selector at the beginning of the first scenario. But I'm afraid I won't be able to balance hard difficulty very well.

Thanks again for playing and for the very helpful feedback.

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Re: Betrayal of Thaeylan: 2p campaign for 1.8.x

Post by Wintermute » March 4th, 2011, 10:29 pm

we'll let you know when we have more - I'm only playing about a night a week these days, but slowly we'll get there. keep up the good work!
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Re: Betrayal of Thaeylan: 2p campaign for 1.8.x

Post by jb » March 10th, 2011, 6:30 pm

We tackled map two last night.

First of all, the map itself looks neat. Nice use of terrain.

The mission itself was extremely easy. I lost one unit (horseman) which I only risked because we were doing so well. It should also be noted that the instructions were quite clear.

What was unclear, was the side 4 Ogre sitting in a keep on one of the islands. He didn't move, and didn't recruit (though he did attack when I moved adjacent). At first we thought he would join us. The death event revealed his purpose, but it was a bit strange that he didn't recruit some wolfs or young ogres...or wasn't mentioned in the dialogue. Not a huge problem, just a nit-pick.

Nice work. We'll tackle map 3 next.
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Re: Betrayal of Thaeylan: 2p campaign for 1.8.x

Post by H-Hour » March 10th, 2011, 11:09 pm

I've had a look at your replays for both scenarios now, although unfortunately the second scenario's save seems to not work properly (your text indicates you've beaten the ogre but I still see him). A couple things:

1. In the replay, it showed that the troll started the scenario with only a couple villages. Was this the case with your save or was it just that the replay got corrupted? He should start with nearly all villages (except the tents in the mountains) and when I test locally it seems to work.

2. You're right, I should have mentioned the ogre in the dialogue. It's also important because if the player decides not to bother, it would dramatically effect the rest of the campaign.

3. Sorry about the Wayfarer (lvl 3 for Wintermute's leader). The attacks should have increased for level 3 but they didn't. I've just uploaded 0.5.1 which fixes this bug, but of course it's too late for you. Maybe you can save-hack it to have the proper attack?

----
Watching your replays, I think you're right that I made it too easy. I will look into beefing up the difficulty a bit and adding a Hard difficulty for the next major release (0.6).

Thanks again.

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Re: Betrayal of Thaeylan: 2p campaign for 1.8.x

Post by Wintermute » March 10th, 2011, 11:50 pm

great! I think we'll restart on the newer version to avoid any save hacking problems.

regarding #1, yes green had most or all of the villages on the map.

One other comment that I have: I really enjoy the different flavor of the scrapper, but I think it's too expensive. It's about as good as a thief (arguably less good, because backstab is really awesome) but costs 18 gold which I think is too much. I'd have to look at the stats more closely, but 13-15 would probably be good.

I think the level 2 is also not as good as the rogue in a similar way, but I don't have the stats in front of me.

Basically, since it's a custom unit that we only get to see in this campaign I'd suggest making it *better* than the normal unit so that players want to use it more!

Overall though, we're enjoying your work!
"I just started playing this game a few days ago, and I already see some balance issues."

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Re: Betrayal of Thaeylan: 2p campaign for 1.8.x

Post by H-Hour » March 11th, 2011, 7:20 am

Yeah, I was wondering why you went back to the thief line. I'll review the stats for the scrapper.

If you do want to start over, I will try and rush out a new version over the weekend that will include a Hard difficulty for you.

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Re: Betrayal of Thaeylan: 2p campaign for 1.8.x

Post by H-Hour » March 12th, 2011, 4:24 pm

I have just uploaded v0.6 to the addon server. It introduces:
  • Normal/Hard difficulties. Choice is made in first scenario and lasts through the whole campaign. Please report back on balancing, particularly for the Hard difficulty as I am not good enough to properly balance it.
  • New unit: Peltast, a level 3 Javelineer that gains a "harass" attack. It does little damage but a successful hit will cause the targeted enemy to lose their zone of control until the targeted enemy's next turn. Sprite only has a star to distinguish it at the moment.
  • Thief and Scrapper lines are now completely separate, and Synn can recruit Thieves. I hope this doesn't create visual confusion with scrappers and thieves on the map at the same time.
  • The cost of a Scrapper was reduced to match Thief. I reviewed the Scrapper's attacks, but I feel like if I increase them any more it will be too strong. Please let me know if you still find it is too weak compared to the thief after you have played for a while.
There are a few other miscellaneous improvements. Changelog in the text file.

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Re: Betrayal of Thaeylan: 2p campaign for 1.8.x

Post by Scatha » March 23rd, 2011, 7:44 pm

This campaign looks really nice, from this description and what I've seen of the first level. I'll have more feedback when I've played more, but thanks for making this!

I have a couple of comments on the scrapper (again subject to updating as I play more):
- it currently seems *very* strong compared to the thief (I also make some comparisons to the footpad):

It has the same movetype, resistances, and cost.

It's quite resilient compared to the thief -- 30HP instead of 24. In fact this is as resilient as a footpad. Although the resistances make 30HP seem like not very much, the high defence values (60 or 70% in normal circumstances) mean that it's actually quite a bit. I definitely think of footpads as fairly durable, and these are the same.

The XP cost, at 22, is between that of a thief, at 20, and a footpad, at 25.

Let's look at the melee attack. Like for a thief, the 'strong' trait is very powerful here.

A non-strong scrapper does 2-6 at day, 3-6 at dawn/dusk, and 4-6 at night. (12, 18, and 24 damage total)
For a strong scrapper those figures are 3-6, 4-6, and 5-6. (18, 24, and 30 damage total)

A strong scrapper does as much damage as a non-strong thief does *when it's backstabbing*, but splits the damage over more attacks -- which is normally a good thing for the player.

Thieves still have a higher maximum damage output, but only just, and against that they lose a lot of health, a ranged attack, and a lot of damage in normal combat, compared to the scrapper. Apart from the fact that you can't always arrange backstabs, it's quite relevant that they do so much damage in retaliation attacks. Combined with their high defence they become good tanking units.

I agree that it's cool if they are solidly good, and perhaps slightly better than other units, but not so much if it's to the point that they almost obsolete them.

A comparison to the footpad:
- footpad costs 1 more and moves 1 square further.
- footpad has a higher XP threshold
- footpad has attacks of 5-2 and 5-2 instead of 3-6 and 6-1. Scrapper both has higher total damage output between melee and ranged (24 vs 20), but also has much more uneven attacks, which is (almost always) a good thing, since you can choose the attack you're more powerful with. Scrapper benefits much more from the strong trait than footpad. (also note that in 1.9, footpads have their damage reduced to 4-2 and 4-2)
- footpad has impact damage instead of blade. Probably a slight point in favour of the footpad.

Having an expensive unit can change the feel of the unit, so perhaps it's better to tone back the stats of the scrapper slightly? I'd suggest one or more of:
- changing the base attack from 3-6 to 3-5. 5 is still more attacks than almost any mainline unit, so has that 'special' feel.
- reducing the hitpoints slightly, to fit with your description of the unit as 'vulnerable' (changing the movetype to get only standard infantry defence values would also work here, but be less flavourful). Perhaps as low as the thief's 24
- Increasing the gold cost (perhaps to 15 or 16, but it depend on exactly what else you change, and just how good you want them to be)

If you made all of those changes (3-5 attack, 24 hitpoints, cost of 16), I would think they were a little on the weak side, but still use them a bit. With 2 of the 3 changes I think they'd be a standard quality unit. With 1 of the 3 changes (or a slight mix of them, e.g. 3-5 attack, 28 hitpoints, cost of 13) I'd think they were a distinctly above average unit.

That said I don't want to sound too critical! I just find them a little bit too obviously good at present.

Separate suggestion: Perhaps you could change the colour of the hair on the scrapper slightly to make it more easily distinguishable from the thief at a glance?

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Re: Betrayal of Thaeylan: 2p campaign for 1.8.x

Post by H-Hour » March 23rd, 2011, 11:55 pm

Hi Scatha. Thanks for playing and thanks for the detailed feedback. I admit I'm not a huge number-cruncher and you make some good points. Of the suggested changes, I'm most inclined to reduce the number of attacks from 6 to 5, but I need to examine how that will effect the lvls 2/3 for the unit as well. Reducing the terrain defenses would also make sense in terms of the unit's character, as they are supposed to be fairly "reckless" fighters.

Since you've been very comprehensive, I'd be interested in whether or not any of the following thoughts change your evaluation at all:

1. The footpad will be one of only two-and-a-half recruitable units with an impact attack for more than half of this campaign, making them a vital part of the army irrespective of their attacks relative to the scrapper.
2. The high number of attacks of the scrapper are usually a good thing, but they also mean that the scrapper will more frequently have to absorb a full counter-attack even from units with low HP. One of the benefits of backstab is not just its attack value, but that it has a better chance of dealing a killing blow quickly.
Separate suggestion: Perhaps you could change the colour of the hair on the scrapper slightly to make it more easily distinguishable from the thief at a glance?
Good idea. The artwork is all hacked together since I'm no good at it, but I think that's something I could pull off.

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Re: Betrayal of Thaeylan: 2p campaign for 1.8.x

Post by Scatha » March 24th, 2011, 2:00 pm

I've now played through the first two missions (at the harder difficulty setting). From playing I can confirm that scrappers, and their levelled versions, are very good tanking units -- the combination of high defence and very good melee damage means that the opponent is reluctant to attack them with melee units, and takes lots of retaliation if they do.

First, a small bug: the first level has an experience modifier of 70%, but subsequent levels use 100%. This should presumably be consistent? (I guess at 100%, as it's a campaign) We also had some out-of-sync errors on the first level to do with the computer recruiting (one of us saw them recruit wolf riders while the other saw orcish crossbowmen), but this might be a problem with our set-up.

The level 2 and 3 versions of the scrapper have a lot of health, overtaking the footpad line and leaving the thief line far behind at level 3. Their damage is about in keeping with a high damage melee unit; they seem a bit over the curve in terms of their ranged attack (which helps) and their durability.

Note that on flat ground they get hit 40% of the time compared to 60% of the time for standard infantry. This more than makes up for their vulnerabilities to weapons. This difference is even greater in hills/forests, and a little less on castle/mountains/villages.

It sounds like reducing the number of attacks might make them more balanced, but not give them the character you are looking for (they would then be at their best as defensive units). Reducing their terrain defences to standard infantry levels (40, 50 and 60% defence in normal circumstances) while leaving their elusivefoot vulnerabilities to physical weapons (or changing the vulnerabilities and reducing hitpoints slightly) would leave them powerful at attacking but no longer so solid on defence.

Regarding 1):
This is of some relevance, and it may depend on how the campaign progresses. So far (first three levels) I haven't seen any great need for impact damage. Against trolls it's slightly better, but blade works well enough. Skeletons are the main foe which wants impact, but even then you can manage fairly well with a combination of durable units and mages. I would count it as a minor point in the favour of the footpads and thugs, but not a huge one.

Regarding 2):
True! Again it's a minor point against. Although after you are spreading the damage out between many attacks, having even more tends to be helpful. I wouldn't put too much weight on how the damage is distributed between attacks generally, and it does add flavour.

Overall I think those are both valid points, but they don't have that much implication for evaluating the power level of the scrapper.

---

On the 'scout' line: I haven't actually seen the level 1 of this line yet, so I'm basing this on the level 2 and 3 versions you have as your leader: this is a cool unit. However, there's something weird about the fact that it gets the same 60% defence in forest as in the open. In fact it's one of the best units to leave in the open (it's a very resilient unit at present), which feels at odds with its flavour, and also at odds with the fact that it's a unit that you can easily move onto rough terrain. I'd suggest considering minor changes to the terrain defence values. Perhaps adjust down to 50% in the open, so that it's on a par with the 'bad' terrain types? Possibly also slightly fewer places where you can receive 70% defence? These are powerful.

One option would be to start with the ranger's movetype and modify the defence values from there, rather than starting with the elusivefoot movetype, which I think has produced some of the anomolous feel of it.

But I like the unit overall! Just this thing that felt off.

---

On the difficulty level: what are the differences between normal and hard for the first two levels? I just ran through the first level on normal to see the differences; it seemed that the orcs were a bit quicker in taking over on hard. But on the second level I couldn't discern any differences. Is there any way to tell what difficulty level you are on? It's possible I guess that we selected 'normal' by mistake; I also wonder if it's possible that the transition between levels doesn't remember the difficulty properly.

The second level seemed a bit on the easy side. Perhaps (at least on hard difficulty) the enemy leader should have access to some level 2 units? Just a few level 2 trolls mixed in would have meant we needed to be much more careful.

---

Overall: enjoying very much! The maps have a nice feel to them, and the writing is well done (as commented, it might benefit from being shorter because in a multiplayer game you can be slowing down other people, but personally I quite like it as is). I like that so far (maps 1-3) it's all felt a little more dynamic than "kill the enemy leader" (even though that's what map 2 was).

H-Hour
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Re: Betrayal of Thaeylan: 2p campaign for 1.8.x

Post by H-Hour » March 24th, 2011, 9:28 pm

Thanks Scatha.

Scrappers: I think to preserve the character I intended, I will probably make them a tiny bit more expensive and adjust their terrain defenses to make them more vulnerable (yes, it was just copy/paste here). Thanks very much for the well-thought-out feedback

Scout/Pathfinder/Wayfarer: Yeah, they are meant to be a kind of parallel ranger-type unit but more elusive/speedy and not big damage dealers. I'll take another look at the defense values.

On the difficulty level: It looks like there's a problem with setting the choice in the start event. The side 2 player seems to automatically choose normal. So you were playing in Hard up until you reloaded in the first scenario (I watched your replays). The initial game was in hard difficulty, but the reloaded game was in normal difficulty and this carried through to the second scenario. I think this is due to the the game auto-choosing a variable for one of the players. This is also why later one of you saw Orcish Crossbowmen where the other saw Wolf Riders (this is one of the differences between difficulties).

I will spare you the technical details, but I think I have a work-around for this and will try to get it tested this weekend.

If the player controlling Synn (Pathfinder) has a save, try loading and playing from that as I think they are the ones who will have the variable. Although it may not have been properly saved there either.

Scatha
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Re: Betrayal of Thaeylan: 2p campaign for 1.8.x

Post by Scatha » March 25th, 2011, 12:13 am

That sounds like a good plan with regard to the scrappers. If they are having regular infantry defence values, there's perhaps no need to increase the price (in this case, they compare most naturally to the thug -- they have a similar damage output in melee, move faster and have a ranged attack, against being a bit more fragile). If they have some intermediate level of defences maybe a price increase is warranted.

I look forward to the new version! We're not quite sure whether to continue onwards with our current game or restart in hard, but even if we don't switch to hard now I'm sure I will play at that difficulty in the future.

A couple of other comments: the wayfarer has 0% arcane resistance -- as a human, this should probably be 20%.
Spoiler:

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