Battlestar Galactica Online - Development Blog 4 - Escort and Line Balancing Pass
4 August 2013
Hey everyone. Welcome to another blog post. We’ve been a bit quiet lately. We’re getting our road map ready so we can discuss the long-term features with you. There have been some delays in this progress simply because we’re working hard on a few features and getting new features and game updates ready to go. In the meantime, we decided to do some quick and simple balancing across the board on a number of ships.
Some of these changes are a pretty dramatic. The goal with these balancing changes was to make some ships more viable in the game while at the same time dealing with some clear unbalanced items that exist.
As we were observing the forums and doing our own testing, we discovered that escort ships have a dramatic advantage in the game. They effectively acted as super strikes, and it’s possible to get an escort going as fast as your typical strike. While the speed wasn’t much of an issue, the combination of its firing arc and accuracy really made the escorts far too powerful.
The first place we looked at the escorts was their weapon accuracy. At an accuracy of 350, the escorts were far too accurate when combined with accuracy ammunition. The combination of the base accuracy and accuracy ammo bonus threw the hit model out of balance and we needed to reduce escort accuracy to make the other ships more viable. With that in mind, we started by reducing the accuracy of all escort weapons to 300. After some testing, we feel these changes put the escorts at the right accuracy.
The next thing we did was look at ways to differentiate the escorts a bit. One of the problems with the multi-role ships is that they can sort of do everything. They are genuinely considered (at least for escorts and strikes) the best ships in the game. That goes against our fundamental goals for the game. We want each ship to feel unique. Each ship should be about individual players’ preferences and play style, and ships should fall into roles. There should never be an “ultimate ship”.
The assault escort is getting an increase in hit points to give it more of a chance of fulfilling its role as an assault ship. While it might not have the most guns, it should be able to take a beating. We increased the hit points of assault escorts to 2000 for the basic level, and 2500 for the advanced.
Next, command escorts are getting an increase in their power regeneration. The basic vessel will get a slight bump to 11 energy per second at basic level, and 12 energy per second at the advanced level. We also want command ships to be a little vulnerable and require attention from their teammates, while still being effective vessels. This concept falls into our vision for command ships in the future where command ships act as the central support vessel of a fleet. For now, they are seeing a drop of 12% to their hit points at the basic level, and but only a small 3% drop at the advanced level.
Lines aren’t really going to see a lot of changes at this point in the ship balancing. Right now we just wanted to make the Jotunn and Jormung feel more robust and sturdy to full its role more effectively. We’ve increased hit points of the ship by 17% for the basic level and 20% for the advanced level.
Jump Transponders are getting a reduction in energy cost so anyone can use them. The initial goal was to restrict them solely to command ships. At this point, the game isn’t really ready for that as we don’t have enough diverse items to really give the other ships a clear role. Also, we are adding the FTL Transponder for the Carrier. The carrier will be able to effectively become a continuous spawn point for a fleet when fully upgraded.
Where you are going to see the most drastic changes is with the RCS Ducting. The real advantage of this item is its static bonus that doesn’t cost energy. Passive bonuses conceptually have to be lower, because they don’t have a real cost associated with them. With the current bonuses, RCS ducting is a very over powered piece of equipment.
The Heavy RCS Ducting bonus created the “God Ships”. God Ships are line ships which typically install five RCS Ductings, multiple damage control packs and auxiliary power arrays.
These items combined gave the user a significant advantage that meant they were practically impossible to kill or unnecessary difficult through an effective cycle of power generation, avoidance bonuses, and repair cycles. These ships have been a constant thorn in the side of players, and it is an unfair advantage that favors those who spend money rather than those who can’t. We also hope the change creates a wider variety of ship builds in the game.
We looked at multiple ways to solve the problem. First we looked at simply removing the item. We also considered making it a non-stackable, activated buff, but we felt that diminished the importance of other activated buffs in the computer slots. Also, doing an active engine buff didn’t really fit our idea for the game. After some testing, we decided the solution was to rebalance the attributes of the item.
The Light RCS Ducting wasn’t something that was exceptionally overpowered and we were comfortable with a slight tweak of a couple of points. However, medium and large RCS Ducting needed some re-balancing to really make the game more playable.
Starting with the Medium RCS ducting, we looked at the how much of a bonus it provided. At level 1 it provided a 17.5 bonus to avoidance and could get as high as a 42 point bonus. This turns into effectively a 16% bonus from one item. With two items you end up with a larger bonus than what you get from an activated buff. With five loaded on a ship, the player ended up with an 84% bonus to their avoidance. This was far too high, so we looked to bring it in line with the bonus you get from the escort scale buff. So now, with five RCS Ductings installed, you end up with a 40% buff. Now the range for the bonus will range from a 10 point bonus to a 20 point bonus. So with the hit formulas, the escorts become easier to hit for line vessels, but it also still provides a good bonus to your defense.
Next, we looked at the RCS ducting for the line ships. A Heavy RCS ducting started at a 30 point bonus and could range up to a 72 point bonus. That literally translates to a 100% bonus from a single ducting. For ships that can mount five ducting modules, it basically translates to a 500% bonus. It made the ships incredibly difficult to hit. Rebalancing this item was difficult because minor changes in avoidance don’t really impact your chances to be hit, and this is exaggerated when looking at the line vessels. To have them be effective this required a fairly generous bonus. Now, a Heavy RCS Ducting will range from 15 points to 30 points. So you still get a good bonus, but it’s not as outrageous as it was before. It also means that lines can effectively hit one another with their guns, and we hope that will reduce the flak fights that seem far too common among line vessels.
I know these are some pretty big changes to the game, but these changes have to happen. As we revamp core systems in the game, you will see similar changes with the focus on improving and balancing the game. We want to make BSGO a well-rounded, team-based MMO. The features we develop over the next six months will work towards pushing that goal.
As we prepare the long delayed roadmap post, you will see where we want to take the game and how we want to make some pretty big improvements to your gameplay experience.
Thanks for your patience in all of this.