Any tips on balancing scenarios?

Discussion and development of scenarios and campaigns for the game.

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Any tips on balancing scenarios?

Post by peet »

I have to wonder if anyone has any advice on how to make sure a scenario is "balanced?"

I'm just getting into writing scenarios and am wondering about that. Do people just use trial and error or is there any kind of system?


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Post by Eleazar »

I don't have an good answer, but once you release something, you can see how the masses are getting one with these nice stats:
Feel free to PM me if you start a new terrain oriented thread. It's easy for me to miss them among all the other art threads.
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I'll wade in on this.

Post by Shade »

I'll wade in on this. Historically, what I've done is:

-Test the WML w/ developer features and make sure the scenario works. Then I did 2 'quick' plays on normal. At the end of that, I recorded:
*Number of turns left
*Amount of gold gained
*Cumulative amount of gold
(I also kept an eye on how easy it was to level troops on a given scenario.)

And adjusted the scenario to taste. The big thing is to prevent 'Blitz' scenario ending where players get a pile of gold. You don't want any but the best players 'going exponential'.

-Difficulty in Wesnoth has historically bee a little bit like a Like a wave oscillating on an upward slope. That means that so long as a scenario is winnable, you actually should be placing this scenario in the context of scenarios before and after it. Oscillating difficulty is a good thing as it forces a certain conservatism on players. The two factors here are:
*How Hard a scenario is
*How much Wealth a scenario can generate

Hard and Wealth doesn't have to go hand and hand, but with Hard the player should get some payoff. You can do this in the plot. In the case of Wealth, you can manipulate things so that a player's wealth will go up for a few scenarios then get whittled down over the next few. In the case of TRoW, I had the introductory scenarios followed by Temple of the Deep and the Oldwood (to a lesser extent) to whittle wealth. Then you had the run up to Southbay (The Sewer could be considered a gold loser, I think), followed by the trip across the ocean (Hard to get a lot of gold there), followed by the Challenges to buff gold and XP, followed by the final 3 bone-crushers.

2 final notes are:
*Players get cranky when you steal their gold in arbitrary ways (Gradual accumulation and erosion is best).
*An eye should always be kept toward not allowing a normal player get and insurmountable amount of gold in the first place.

-The thing I can't say enough is: MAKE SURE HARD AND EASIER are respectively harder and easier in a consistent way. If you make Hard and Easier inconsistently Harder and easier it can encourage player on Easy to play with bad habits until they get to a scenario of more normal difficulty where they get crushed, and a Hard that is impossible to beat. For TRoW and HttT I used a formula that was twittered about with for the various difficulties. Over the course of both campaigns the enemies, their AI, and the amount of GP they started with and / or got per turn got buffed over time. Easy and Hard became consistently easier and harder from that point. I'd then play through on Hard to make sure things were doable.

Ultimately balancing is about consistency between difficulty levels, and knowing where you are going with a campaign, but most of all, about keeping good records. Boring I know. But sitting with a pen and paper to figure out the basics of your campaign before you start, followed by keeping good records while you debug is the best favour you can do for yourself.
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