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When a problem is too hard to explain

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X3M
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Ok guys, what do I do?
I got a problem with a mechanic. Just because I actually managed to improve/speed-up game play on 2 other aspects.
The balance is too hard to find.
Play testing will not provide an answer, since I have no viable play test plan for this problem.
And the problem is a bit to hard and complex to explain.
Further, I have the feeling I am going in circles with this one.
And I have tried to post the problem over 10 times, but each time I though. "This isn't what I want to solve or ask, is it?".
As if even I myself don't really understand the problem. The game is just saying to me, "NO! :รพ "

Why do I want to fix the problem? It is the sugar to the coffee. Without it, the game is bitter and feels like it lacks the potential.

So, before the problem. How to fix this problem around the problem? Because I feel like I am stuck for over a week already. And I can't let it go. (That's right, I sleep with it too)
I don't know,... did it make any sense?

... At least the post is a one page this time :)

Tedthebug
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What's missing?

You say that without the mechanic the game feels like it is missing something but that with the mechanic the game feels like it is missing something. What does it feel like it is missing? Is that mechanic the best fix for it?
What happens if you take out everything & then add them back one at a time? Do different combinations elicit different gameplay & feelings?

mcobb83
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If I understand you made an

If I understand you made an improvement to your game that now unbalanced another mechanic.

Seems to me the most clear solution is to undo the change you made and re-evaluate why you made that change. Then perhaps see if a different change accomplishes the same thing.

One other note: in my experience when you can't describe how something works it's because you don't low how it works. If you don't know how it works, maybe try scrapping it and looking for a better way.

mcobb83
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If I understand you made an

If I understand you made an improvement to your game that now unbalanced another mechanic.

Seems to me the most clear solution is to undo the change you made and re-evaluate why you made that change. Then perhaps see if a different change accomplishes the same thing.

One other note: in my experience when you can't describe how something works it's because you don't low how it works. If you don't know how it works, maybe try scrapping it and looking for a better way.

mcobb83
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If I understand you made an

If I understand you made an improvement to your game that now unbalanced another mechanic.

Seems to me the most clear solution is to undo the change you made and re-evaluate why you made that change. Then perhaps see if a different change accomplishes the same thing.

One other note: in my experience when you can't describe how something works it's because you don't low how it works. If you don't know how it works, maybe try scrapping it and looking for a better way.

mcobb83
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If I understand you made an

If I understand you made an improvement to your game that now unbalanced another mechanic.

Seems to me the most clear solution is to undo the change you made and re-evaluate why you made that change. Then perhaps see if a different change accomplishes the same thing.

One other note: in my experience when you can't describe how something works it's because you don't low how it works. If you don't know how it works, maybe try scrapping it and looking for a better way.

McTeddy
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Magic

I'm going to teach you a magic trick to deal with these situations. I use it myself regularly and most pro's I know use variations because their bosses won't let them do it directly.

Walk away

You sound like you're emotional about the situation. Making a game is a personal thing, you're investing yourself into the work. You're throwing everything you had at "the problem" and when it doesn't work you throw more.

It's frustrating, and infuriating and it's tearing you apart inside. (At least, it does me)

Your brain is more effective when you're relaxed. You should take a week or two to walk away, stop thinking about this, watch cartoon and eat cereal all day... or at least when you're not day-jobbing.

Set a date to return to the project. When you come back you'll have a clearer perspective.

Maybe you'll solve the problem, maybe you'll jump back to the last point you were comfortable with it, or sometimes you just realize that it can't be salvaged.

For now, just clear your head and don't worry about it.

X3M
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Sorry for long post.

Tedthebug wrote:
You say that without the mechanic the game feels like it is missing something but that with the mechanic the game feels like it is missing something.

Without the mechanic, the game is missing something.
With it, the game is broken in balance.

Tedthebug wrote:
What does it feel like it is missing?

I have a basic game. Which is balanced, but plain.
And the "advanced" part, that has 2 sub-parts itself.

The first part is still balanced with the basic game.
The second part breaks the balance, but is needed to justify the first part.

Kinda like having 3 parts. Yet 1/3th doesn't work. 1/3th is not justified. And 1/3th is a basic set up but plain.

Tedthebug wrote:
Is that mechanic the best fix for it?

The advanced part uses a mechanic. But for the 2 sub parts, slightly different. I am having doubts that this is the correct way to do it, by now. Perhaps I should treat them exactly the same.
But I will be missing the HAHAAAA!!! in the game. Which we had so much fun with in the past.

Tedthebug wrote:

What happens if you take out everything & then add them back one at a time? Do different combinations elicit different gameplay & feelings?

The gameplay feels plain if I leave the advanced part out.
Sure it gets a bit of flavour when I add the balanced part.
But players could choose to ignore it then. So... all or notching with the advanced part.

***

mcobb83 wrote:
If I understand you made an improvement to your game that now unbalanced another mechanic.

Seems to me the most clear solution is to undo the change you made and re-evaluate why you made that change. Then perhaps see if a different change accomplishes the same thing.


The reasons where simple:
Faster game play.
Easier game play.

I also re-evaluated the previous version.
And I know by now that, due to the complexity it first had; the imbalance was "less" and hidden.
The mechanic is easily broken when something different in the game changes. So it changed little by little in variables over time.
Thus in circles.
But now the stretched rope has snapped.

Knotting back, would mean the game is saved. But slower and harder to play. And the problem isn't fixed, just milder.

I do feel however that the speed up is something every game designer dreams of.

Perhaps... pretending that I don't know about the advanced part and adding something different instead?

mcobb83 wrote:

One other note: in my experience when you can't describe how something works it's because you don't low how it works. If you don't know how it works, maybe try scrapping it and looking for a better way.

I concluded that I don't understand the problem, since I have no permanent solution.

Sure I can describe it.
But I am clearly missing something important in the problem. My hunch is that the underlying problem is a mathematical disaster.
I have tried logic. I have tried math. I have tried classification. And the core of the problem is on this forum. Back then, I thought I had the solution. But clearly, I failed myself without knowing.

***

McTeddy wrote:
I'm going to teach you a magic trick to deal with these situations. I use it myself regularly and most pro's I know use variations because their bosses won't let them do it directly.

Walk away


Agreed.
So a fresh start can be made.

Now, I know of this magic trick. Did that. And then I started the topic after my 3th fresh start.
Walking away again would be a bit to much though. And it doesn't solve. But what else could I do?

McTeddy wrote:

You sound like you're emotional about the situation. Making a game is a personal thing, you're investing yourself into the work. You're throwing everything you had at "the problem" and when it doesn't work you throw more.

Yeah, this sounds like me. The emotion that I get is "being pissed" and disappointed at myself. Not solving it, while the problem might be mathematical. Or I have missed some logic to it.
I do have the classifications.

McTeddy wrote:

It's frustrating, and infuriating and it's tearing you apart inside. (At least, it does me)

Your brain is more effective when you're relaxed. You should take a week or two to walk away, stop thinking about this, watch cartoon and eat cereal all day... or at least when you're not day-jobbing.

Set a date to return to the project. When you come back you'll have a clearer perspective.

Maybe you'll solve the problem, maybe you'll jump back to the last point you were comfortable with it, or sometimes you just realize that it can't be salvaged.

For now, just clear your head and don't worry about it.


That it can't be salvaged, is my worry. Like putting old Yeller down.
Your describing it all perfectly. Made me laugh though, thanks. :)
4 weeks is enough... click-clack. Come here boy! FFFFT! FFFFT!

Nah, I am going to think about it next week. Starting from scratch...again. Perhaps post the problem...again, on the forum. But with a more experienced, matured and different view on it.

***

Thanks everyone.

McTeddy
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Another long one

Sigh, You're not putting lassie down. You're locking her in a closet until you have an idea of what to feed her!

Seriously though, shelving a game can -sometimes- be a good answer. Sometimes, we lack the skills, the knowledge or just some piece of the puzzle that you can't continue without.

Card's of Cthulhu's expansion was actually put in hold originally for that reason alone. I didn't know where to look or how to proceed the right way.

It was a fan mail that actually sparked an idea. A week later, I had a strong concept to build on and the motivation to do it.

In fact, some of the concepts didn't make it into the final product. The game I'm working on now uses many of them.

* * *

If you want to power through it I've got a few ideas that helped me (Video Game Devs need to do this often since we've only got 1 game in development and deadlines!)

- Game Jam
The first thing I try is to set aside a weekened to make a completely unrelated project. It doesn't matter what the project is, but I focus entirely on getting something accomplished.

This helps me bleach my brain of the other game for a while and remind me why I love development in the first place.

- Drown Myself In Games
The second thing I do alot of is marathon watch gameplay or review channels. I'll watch hours of reviews of games that I'm not even interested in for the sole purpose of seeing other mechanics.

What you're trying to do here is find that "Missing Puzzle Piece" I mentioned before. A word, a mechanic, an inspiration... just keep your mind and your eyes open for whatever it is the universe needs to tell you.

- Get Help
Finally, alot of times I'll just ask someone else for help.

Whether it's sitting at the table and playing together, or bouncing ideas off them, I try to get a second opinion that isn't clouded by personal feelings.

Sometimes they have an answer, sometimes explaining the problem to them gives me an idea and sometimes it just builds friendship despite being entirely useless.

- - -

Anyways, Good luck. It ain't easy, but it can be so well worth it.

Masacroso
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I cant write my opinion if

I cant write my opinion if you dont describe the mechanics.

If it is a mathematical problem you will need some knowledge on programming to develop a model of the game and run it many times under some simplifications to know some statistics about the structure.

X3M
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Well, old Yeller is not to be

Well, old Yeller is not to be put down.

I searched the forums. Can't seem to find the one thread about this topic. Where the problem was placed in a very extreme situation.

Thus it is going to be a "fresh" topic I think.
Although, the age of the "recurring" problem is also a year or 2.

larienna
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Suggestion: Go Wild? You have

Suggestion: Go Wild?

You have 3 mechanics. Fine, remove one of them, the least interesting one, add a new one randomly. Go wild, use mechanics you would have never used before even if it makes no sense with the theme. Check how your game react. Repeat.

Else, You will need to describe how the 3 mechanics works if you want more detailed help.

X3M
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http://www.bgdf.com/node/1844

http://www.bgdf.com/node/18443

Here is the topic at hand.
Instead of math stuff. I think it is better to throw new mechanic suggestions at me.

Thank you.

Masacroso
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X3M

X3M wrote:
http://www.bgdf.com/node/18443

Here is the topic at hand.
Instead of math stuff. I think it is better to throw new mechanic suggestions at me.

Thank you.

Ok, I read it. I think that the geometric growth of visibility (what you called exponential) is a bad idea because it add too much calculations. In my opinion I think you must try to maintain all mechanics lineal when possible.

My idea here is that you can just sum the values of visibility on each hexagon. You will reverse the scale of visibility: 0 is clear vision and setup some maximum value for zero vision, by example 7.

Then imagine two units are 3-hexagons away one of the other to be in touch, then each hexagon have a number that represent it visibility, the bigger the number the worse the visibility is. By example the values of the three hexagons are 1, 3 and 4 for a total of 8. Because you setup zero vision for 7 or more then they have zero vision one of the other.

This make the things simpler and easier to balance. The point is not using multiplication, just addition.

Another idea: before to design the mechanic define the number of variables will be implied, by example six variables, and after create the lineal mechanics, by example the six variables can be visibility (on the tiles of the map), range (of each unit), power (of each unit), kind of damage (of each unit) and kind of defense (based on unit and position) and mobility of each position over the map.

These kind of variables are present in many wargames or tactical games.

What I want to say is that you can think first the level of complexity of the game instead of try to balance the game after you invented some number of mechanics.

The reason is that if you know that are six variables you know the level of complexity you are managing, and you can think if this level of complexity is too much and redundant (dont add any essential to the game) or by the opposite is too little (if the complexity is too little the games can be so similar and the strategies to use very limited).

larienna
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I am trying to understand the

I am trying to understand the problem. It seem you want a system where a weapon could have less chances to hit from great distance than short distance and you refer that has visibility.

First, weapons that get's less efficient over time are not related to visibility from my point of view, but rather from inneficiency on lack of precision because most of the time, the target unit will be seen by another unit.

For a game of mine, in order to see a unit, you had to move another unit adjacent or a scouting unit 2 hex from it, in order to be able to shoot it afterwards with long range artillery. It replaced a fog of war system and prevented artillery to destroy the whole battlefield easily.

One way to simplify this is remove the gradient level with 2 values: true or false. A bit like in mark of the ninja: You are hidden, or exposed, you are not 75% hidden in the shadows. For example:

- If target is in range 0-3, you get no modifier. If in range 4-5, get a penalty for range imprecision.

- As for hidden terrain like forest. Maybe cannot be scouted 2 hex away by scout, must be adjacent. Or only adjacent scout can detect those units.

So try convert all your modifiers as yes/no questions and it could possibly work.

X3M
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Thanks guys for responding

Thanks guys for responding too with suggestions.

Although, I didn't notice it right away since I had the other topic going on it.

Today is the big day to test the first one. But no matter. I'll take every suggestion in consideration.

---

First things first.
My math test buddy explained this morning to me what he meant.
It seems that he showed me the core of the problem, in a math language.
I have a division by 0 going on in this mechanic. Which is something that imbalances everything through a snowball effect.

***

Masacroso wrote:

This make the things simpler and easier to balance. The point is not using multiplication, just addition.

Agreed on that. But the mechanic you described doesn't use a die roll either? I don't quite get it, sorry.

Masacroso wrote:

What I want to say is that you can think first the level of complexity of the game instead of try to balance the game after you invented some number of mechanics.

In short, I am beyond this stage.

This mechanic, although used in the basic game and being balanced.
It was supposed to come to fruits with the advanced mobility (part 2a) and weaponry --> visibility effects (part 2b)

It gives the board more function and game play value. From 2/3th to 3/3th, if you will. I could do advanced mobility, but only units that are placed on ground levels are possible.
Air units and sub terrain or sub marine are imbalanced with the current rules. Unless I transform them completely into "ground" units.

Meaning that an air unit can hide within a forest by playing with only the ground rules.

It is an option, but I keep it for last if notching else works. Since it sounds so illogical.

If I keep reading the rest of your post. It is as if you are saying that my game is done and doesn't need any more?

***

larienna wrote:
I am trying to understand the problem. It seem you want a system where a weapon could have less chances to hit from great distance than short distance and you refer that has visibility.

Exactly. Units are aware of each other. But instead of visibility, you could also consider this to be another accuracy. Some weapons already have limited accuracy. But to name them the same is confusing. Thus since limits in vision are in play for this mechanic, I call it visibility.

I know that you can't connect this "visibility" with the fact that units can see each other just fine. But lets say, it is the visibility for the projectile itself? Things like tree's and rocks get in the way. And for 16 pieces, the "visibility" applies for example halve per region. Than the units seeing something would be 8, 4, etc.
My english isn't super good. So I don't know how to call it otherwise, besides of accuracy or visibility that is.

Sorry for the misunderstanding.

larienna wrote:

For a game of mine, in order to see a unit, you had to move another unit adjacent or a scouting unit 2 hex from it, in order to be able to shoot it afterwards with long range artillery. It replaced a fog of war system and prevented artillery to destroy the whole battlefield easily.

True to that. I have it in the form of action points (AP) and unit costs. Unit costs also provides a limit to a squad size. Thus high range simply menas low damage through 1 AP.
You need artillery to have some control of the enemy. But you can't win with artillery alone.
But this is with the vision mechanic from the basic game.
The advanced part would make them more expensive, but that was not balanced.

larienna wrote:

So try convert all your modifiers as yes/no questions and it could possibly work.

Do you mean that I simply have to do something like this?:
Vision through mountain? yes/no!
Vision through forest? yes/no!
etc.?
If yes, increase the weigh factor in a linear sense?
If no, notching happens.
If no to a basic terrain, decrease the weigh factor in a linear sense?

This might work. I could stack the factors. And multiply the Range variable with it. Or at least the Range that has benefits from it.

Most yes/no factors would be like 200% or 50%.
"Snow" would have 4/3 and 3/4. and.
"Forest" would have 5/3 and 3/5.

If the exact same weigh factor is applied to mobility, which is a form of balance. Than who knows what rolls out of it.

larienna
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I think you are still putting

I think you are still putting too much gradient, convert all your math as 1 and 0, yes/no.

Your "visibility" is obstructed or not, Yes/no. It can be a forest, a jungle, a mountain, etc. We don't care, it's all obstructed visibility.

You are at long or short range. Yes/No. There is no multiply X by it's range or any other math. You are at short or long range, nothing less, nothing more. The only variability is that each unit could have different nb of hex for short and long range.

Even movement, I wanted to use in my game something like Xcom where you have half movement and full movement. 1 Action point for half, 2 action point for full (for example)

In the end, you could have a die roll and get +1/-1 for each yes no questions. Like:

The enemy is in a forest (obstructed visibility) in the long range area of attack of your unit, so you get -2 to your attack roll.

You get the idea?

Masacroso
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X3M sorry, I just let an

X3M sorry, I just let an example but I dont understood how dice are used.

But, by example, I can say that if you add the values of the tiles that separate each unit and, by example, they sum to 5 you can throw a dice and fail if you get from 1 to 5, and success if you get a 6.

You can too add a value to each unit, so each unit start with a minimum precision.

Of course you need to balance numbers on tiles and the kind of dice you will use, maybe that is better to use a dice of 20 faces or, like in many role games, 2 dice of 10 faces, to emulate percentages. It is just an example.

X3M
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@larienna I thought you where

@larienna

I thought you where talking about how to treat the weigh costs. But you are talking about the mechanic itself.
In that case. I already treat it like that. However, having a +1/-1 for each yes/no. That idea, just so happens, has been tested today in the following format:

What I did was simply adding up all the penalties.
Snow added 1. Forest added 2. Mountain added 3.
Then you had to roll higher than the sum for a hit.
So lets say, a mountain and snow is in the way. I have 4 penalty points.
I need to roll 5 or 6 to get through.

Is this somewhat, what you meant?

If this is easy to balance, it might get through.
Still some other options to test though.

***

@Masacroso
No need to be sorry. I am the one that has to explain it properly.

Masacroso wrote:

You can too add a value to each unit, so each unit start with a minimum precision.

That is a nice idea for having different values of advanced weaponry. Which is a nice addition to what I have worked out so far.

This idea is also in the books. And can be applied to several options. Even the original option.

***

Even though I am trying out different mechanics. Balance is still an issue. However, a simpler mechanic would mean a simpler balance. I need to work on this.

larienna
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Yes it is somewhat what I

Yes it is somewhat what I mean, but I would use the least possible modifiers. Like for example, forest might affect accuracy, while mountain affect movement, if you have both, then yes accuracy and movement is affected. But terrain will have at most 1 modifier.

About that weight thing, I don't quite understand what you mean. Is it the "cost" in point of the unit used for army construction?

If yes, balancing is mostly done with ponderation. Determine the variables and possible values then give a cost for each of those values. Sum up the points and that gives you the "cost" of the unit. You could make adjustments to the ponderation while you design your units or after playtesting.

Example of ponderation (cost value is in parenthesis)

Movement type: Land (0) Sea (2) Fly (4)
Combat strength: 1 to 5 ( cost of 0 to 4)
Attack Range: 1 to 5 ( cost 1,2,3,5,8 )
Movement range: 3, 5, 8, 13 ( Cost 1,2,3,4 )

So you setup all your variables like that, give it a cost, and design your units by improvising stats.

Hope it helps.

X3M
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larienna wrote:About that

larienna wrote:
About that weight thing, I don't quite understand what you mean. Is it the "cost" in point of the unit used for army construction?

Yes it is. I noticed how many designers here called it weight of an unit. Thus I started calling it like that as well. Because a lot where somewhat "confused" when I said "unit costs" in combination with some explaining.

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