Is this map balanced?

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WesnothNewbie
Posts: 49
Joined: May 7th, 2012, 6:57 pm

Is this map balanced?

Post by WesnothNewbie »

Hey guys,

I seem to have found a propensity for designing maps. Now, bear in mind I'm pretty new at this--but is this map balanced? I'd love to hear some tips from you guys. And yes, I've checked out the guides available.

I've also attached some replays with AI players to showcase it.

EDIT: I can upload the replays, but not the map itself. Anyone know why this is?
Attachments
Winter_Wonderland_of_Death_replay.gz
(65.38 KiB) Downloaded 190 times
Winter_Wonderland_of_Death_with_Northerners.gz
(50.22 KiB) Downloaded 192 times
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Velensk
Multiplayer Contributor
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Joined: January 24th, 2007, 12:56 am

Re: Is this map balanced?

Post by Velensk »

A few comments:

Preliminary:
-This is what the multiplayer development section of the forum is for not really the strategy section.
-I don't know why you couldn't attach the map as I don't know what you tried.
-Don't bother with the AI testing. It will tell you pretty much nothing about whether or not a map is balanced that can't easily be seen with a quick scan.

On the map itself:
There are definitely some serious problems here in a number of ways but it's hard to tell you everything that's wrong without understanding what exactly you're trying to do.
-5 players is not a standard set-up for a reason. You have 2 teams of 2 and a third side with one player but extra starting gold. Three way struggles are notoriously unstable even without the awkward starting position and first player/other advantages. The inherent design is not suited for balanced play but is by nature very chaotic.
-The villages are also positioned in such a way as to ensure chaos especially for the central player. There are many villages which are not positioned to where it is clear which player has them by default ensuring which could lead to many situations where a players strategy is forced by natural expediency. As another note: As none of the other factions have access to the water villages by water, in any situation where the factions in the corners do not have access to fliers it is impossible for those villages to be taken from the central player at all.
-I'm going to assume the uneven starting gold was a mishap.
-The terrain is definitely not faction balanced. All the snow will just kill loyalist players whose enemy knows how to exploit their weakness. The amount of mountains in critical areas will make it very difficult for any faction to face well played knalgans. Drakes also will be more or less destroyed by losing one of their biggest advantages (mobility) to the terrain.
-The pathing is a sloppy mess that looks in many areas like it was designed to create stalemates. This isn't actually as much a problem as it would be in many maps though as the strategic situation is chaotic enough that those situations are less likely.

Basically, if you're looking for something balanced for competitive multiplayer you'd have to redesign it entirely.
"There are two kinds of old men in the world. The kind who didn't go to war and who say that they should have lived fast died young and left a handsome corpse and the old men who did go to war and who say that there is no such thing as a handsome corpse."
WesnothNewbie
Posts: 49
Joined: May 7th, 2012, 6:57 pm

Re: Is this map balanced?

Post by WesnothNewbie »

Velensk wrote:A few comments:

Preliminary:
-This is what the multiplayer development section of the forum is for not really the strategy section.
-I don't know why you couldn't attach the map as I don't know what you tried.
-Don't bother with the AI testing. It will tell you pretty much nothing about whether or not a map is balanced that can't easily be seen with a quick scan.

On the map itself:
There are definitely some serious problems here in a number of ways but it's hard to tell you everything that's wrong without understanding what exactly you're trying to do.
-5 players is not a standard set-up for a reason. You have 2 teams of 2 and a third side with one player but extra starting gold. Three way struggles are notoriously unstable even without the awkward starting position and first player/other advantages. The inherent design is not suited for balanced play but is by nature very chaotic.
-The villages are also positioned in such a way as to ensure chaos especially for the central player. There are many villages which are not positioned to where it is clear which player has them by default ensuring which could lead to many situations where a players strategy is forced by natural expediency. As another note: As none of the other factions have access to the water villages by water, in any situation where the factions in the corners do not have access to fliers it is impossible for those villages to be taken from the central player at all.
-I'm going to assume the uneven starting gold was a mishap.
-The terrain is definitely not faction balanced. All the snow will just kill loyalist players whose enemy knows how to exploit their weakness. The amount of mountains in critical areas will make it very difficult for any faction to face well played knalgans. Drakes also will be more or less destroyed by losing one of their biggest advantages (mobility) to the terrain.
-The pathing is a sloppy mess that looks in many areas like it was designed to create stalemates. This isn't actually as much a problem as it would be in many maps though as the strategic situation is chaotic enough that those situations are less likely.

Basically, if you're looking for something balanced for competitive multiplayer you'd have to redesign it entirely.
Thanks for the feedback, Valensk.

I'll make sure to post any such threads in the MP development section then.

As for the rest: food for thought. Granted I was just doing this for fun, but it shows that making a good map is actually quite difficult. Your comment about AI testing is interesting--is the AI too stupid to utilise terrain effectively? That might be an area for improvement.

I'll make sure to be careful with mountains and snow on future maps, as well as villages. As for being five players, I was really thinking of a free-for-all type battle with a large number of casualties on all sides. I was thinking that the central player would have better defensive position than the others, although I see that may have to be improved...

Oh and one more thing: are there any good guides you know of that I might have missed?
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Crendgrim
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Re: Is this map balanced?

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roidanton
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Re: Is this map balanced?

Post by roidanton »

Well, I don't know much about map development, but I'd argue that as soon as you create a MP map that's not symmetric in key aspects, then it can easily turn into chaos.
  • There is a bridge in the west, but only deep water in the east. That makes it impossible for a faction with non-flying / non-swimming units to cross.
  • There are long north-south lines of mountains and snow, but no long west-east lines of mountains and snow.
  • The central island is not in the middle of the map, but about 1/3rd to the south and about 1/3rd to the east.
  • From the central island, the path to the individual corner keeps have different length and lead through different terrain.
With this asymmetric design, the outcome could also be largely factored by the skill level of some of the teams. For instance, put a noob into the SE spot, now team SW easily wins if team NE does not have any fast flying or swimming units. They'd push east, quickly kill the noob, then have double income and only a single opponent - with terrain that's easy to defend (NE can't cross and that bridge in the west can easily be defended). Same thing can happen with weak players in other corners.

If you look at other FFA maps - for instance the 5-player Auction-X - then you'll see that with an AI in the middle, putting a noob into one of the corners will not more or less automatically trigger a win condition for any of the other teams. Because all ways are symmetrical on that map, each team has an equal access at that weak player's villages and the xp from killing his units.

On your map, where paths from one team to another are very difficult both in length and terrain, there are plenty of situations where one team could overrun its direct neighbor and - with twice the income and good defensive terrain - more or less automatically win.
Velensk
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Joined: January 24th, 2007, 12:56 am

Re: Is this map balanced?

Post by Velensk »

Long story short: The AI is incompetent in many many ways, inability to use terrain effectively is only one of them however improving the AI is by far the most difficult task for the programmers you can throw at them.

Symmetry isn't actually essential for map balance it is just an easy approach to a difficult problem. That problem is balancing all the sides against each other. Each side should have at minimum the same number of villages and equal ability to attack and defend as all others for most set-ups. Auction-X is an special case but in that instance it is specifically a 4vs1 and supposed to be balanced by the bravado of the person in the middle against his actual skill.

That said, this one could use to be more symmetrical or done again from scratch.

As for other guides, look at the stickies in this section and read all the discussion following as well.
"There are two kinds of old men in the world. The kind who didn't go to war and who say that they should have lived fast died young and left a handsome corpse and the old men who did go to war and who say that there is no such thing as a handsome corpse."
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