Balance in gaming and how it applies to Dominion

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AlphaFerric

Senior Member

01-10-2013

Over the last year or so of playing this mode I have noticed that threads which continually pop up here are insanely similar to those that pop up on any other rts forum (go figure) in that the majority of them are focused around balance (or ranked in our particular case).

The obvious post we all see is "X champion is OP, nerf his....." where X can be any number of champions. To further the issue, we have tier lists, where things fall in and out of fashion in the mid section but things at the top, for the most part, stay there (Kass, KZ, Jayce, w/e).

For those of you that played SC2 in the beta, you'll remember a time where every terran and their mom was going 2 rax reaper and wrecking zerg players who fast expanded. To compare this with Dom, we can go back a few months where Yorick was considered OP, and say that every opposing team had a yorick and your team was doing a standard not OP bot. Posts were made on the forums, tier lists were made, and Yorick remained at the top continually being banned.

In the case of SC2, reapers (and other facets of Terran play) were nerfed into the ground. We're talking eve style nerfing for reapers. The worst part about it though, was zerg players had found a solution to the 2rax reaper play about 2 weeks before the patch was implemented.

In our case, we adapted before Yorcik got nerfed by making sure to stop his early game with strong initiators. This was a miracle given what we have to work with. SC2 had millions of players to try strategies out with and they just barely made it in time to still have a unit ruined by blizzard because too many tournaments went the way of reaper rushing.

I'm sure plenty of people here watch the Day[9] daily (or have), but this guy is my hero when it comes to mentality towards video games. When every pro in the scene was literally screaming for reaper nerfs, this guy dodged every approach on his thoughts towards the matter. His reasoning is that balance is in the eye of the game master, and thus the player can only do their best to figure out a way around any given strategy. Thus balance should never enter their mindset. Because we as a community cannot edit the code for LoL, our posts will not be the cause for X champion to be nerfed. The best we can do is figure out strategies that will beat the opponents.

While it may seem like you have tried EVERYTHING to beat whatever champion you think is OP, the bottom line is you haven't, we haven't. RTS games are designed to have powerful components so that they maintain a dynamic meta. This implies strategies will fall by the wayside, what is conceived as OP will eventually be beaten given enough experience, and that is where our problem lies.

**important part**

We are a small community. It takes the SR community ~a year for its meta to shift in a big way in response to what they conceive as OP. With how small we are, I see it taking much longer simply by the fact that we lack the numbers to gain the right amount of experience, and a small fraction of that small number actually pays attention to what others are doing (watching streams for tips, reading guides, actually experimenting with their own strategies).

So, my whole reason for making this post is to say:
Stop worrying about balance. If someone asks if you think something is too strong, feel free to give an opinion, but don't just blindly think that after your 1-5000 games of experience you definitively know what is too strong and absolutely needs a change, and have to spew your ideas all over this forum about how to fix said supposed problem.

Play the game. Learn from each match. Try new things. The minute you start to worry about how the game needs to change is when you set yourself up for failure. I've seen too many people forfeit in the first 45 seconds of a match because they saw that one guy who always plays Kassadin/KZ/Jayce/whoever, and then make a post on here afterwards.


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bierfaust

Senior Member

01-10-2013

Quote:
Originally Posted by AlphaFerric View Post
Over the last year or so of playing this mode I have noticed that threads which continually pop up here are insanely similar to those that pop up on any other rts forum (go figure) in that the majority of them are focused around balance (or ranked in our particular case).

The obvious post we all see is "X champion is OP, nerf his....." where X can be any number of champions. To further the issue, we have tier lists, where things fall in and out of fashion in the mid section but things at the top, for the most part, stay there (Kass, KZ, Jayce, w/e).

For those of you that played SC2 in the beta, you'll remember a time where every terran and their mom was going 2 rax reaper and wrecking zerg players who fast expanded. To compare this with Dom, we can go back a few months where Yorick was considered OP, and say that every opposing team had a yorick and your team was doing a standard not OP bot. Posts were made on the forums, tier lists were made, and Yorick remained at the top continually being banned.

In the case of SC2, reapers (and other facets of Terran play) were nerfed into the ground. We're talking eve style nerfing for reapers. The worst part about it though, was zerg players had found a solution to the 2rax reaper play about 2 weeks before the patch was implemented.

In our case, we adapted before Yorcik got nerfed by making sure to stop his early game with strong initiators. This was a miracle given what we have to work with. SC2 had millions of players to try strategies out with and they just barely made it in time to still have a unit ruined by blizzard because too many tournaments went the way of reaper rushing.

I'm sure plenty of people here watch the Day[9] daily (or have), but this guy is my hero when it comes to mentality towards video games. When every pro in the scene was literally screaming for reaper nerfs, this guy dodged every approach on his thoughts towards the matter. His reasoning is that balance is in the eye of the game master, and thus the player can only do their best to figure out a way around any given strategy. Thus balance should never enter their mindset. Because we as a community cannot edit the code for LoL, our posts will not be the cause for X champion to be nerfed. The best we can do is figure out strategies that will beat the opponents.

While it may seem like you have tried EVERYTHING to beat whatever champion you think is OP, the bottom line is you haven't, we haven't. RTS games are designed to have powerful components so that they maintain a dynamic meta. This implies strategies will fall by the wayside, what is conceived as OP will eventually be beaten given enough experience, and that is where our problem lies.

**important part**

We are a small community. It takes the SR community ~a year for its meta to shift in a big way in response to what they conceive as OP. With how small we are, I see it taking much longer simply by the fact that we lack the numbers to gain the right amount of experience, and a small fraction of that small number actually pays attention to what others are doing (watching streams for tips, reading guides, actually experimenting with their own strategies).

So, my whole reason for making this post is to say:
Stop worrying about balance. If someone asks if you think something is too strong, feel free to give an opinion, but don't just blindly think that after your 1-5000 games of experience you definitively know what is too strong and absolutely needs a change, and have to spew your ideas all over this forum about how to fix said supposed problem.

Play the game. Learn from each match. Try new things. The minute you start to worry about how the game needs to change is when you set yourself up for failure. I've seen too many people forfeit in the first 45 seconds of a match because they saw that one guy who always plays Kassadin/KZ/Jayce/whoever, and then make a post on here afterwards.
That's fine, in fact that's what we have to do since Riot simply refuse to do anything about this game mode.

But you are forgetting 1 very important thing. There is a difference between and overpowered champion like Jayce (numbers on skills, kit, etc.) and a a broken/abusive champion (Literally abusing game mechanics that are the fault of the developer to gain an unfair advantage) like Kassadin.

Prime example is Kassadin, well any blink champion, but because he can do it pretty much indefinitely I'm going to use him as the example. Kassadin abuses the blink mechanic to gain double even triple his distance travel than is intended by Riot. Now some might argue that this is just players adapting and finding new ways to play champions. Well for starters that is bull****. This games champions are so pigeon-holed that if they do fall anywhere out of their intended realm, it causes massive imbalance issues.

Branching off on a tangent here, DOTA's heroes were not labeled with "support", "carry", "tank" etc. They were given a unique kit that synergises well with existing ones or just with itself, and it is up to the player to determine how they want to play that hero. Now obviously some methods/build paths are a lot more effective than others, but the freedom of choice is there and because of this, players are able to find new ones that the hero creator may not have intended a hero to be played. Sometimes it's just a gimmick, but sometimes it can be really effective.

LOL on the other hand, the champions are designed from the ground up to fit a particular archetype within the games current META. This is wrong and it is what has caused the top lane power-creep, which has also hurt the game as a whole. Because the champions are created with a preset role in mind, they cannot deter off the beaten trail as it were without running the risk of becoming an issue. A good example of this would be AD Lulu. Did far more damage than she should have because of her base and scaling attack speed, and the high base damage on her spells, plus their utility, allowed her to still be a useful support.

Anyway, Kassadin abuses an unintended mechanic (blinking into a space, that travel is not supposed to register, pushes him further than the blink would normally take him) which allows him to do things that he shouldn't be able to do. (even easier escapes, crazy ganks, super quick backdoors, drop straight on top of a team with a full charge ultimate+aoe attack)

Personally I don't like kassadin as a champion, i think he was a good idea at the time, but doesn't really fit the current direction of the game( I can only speak from DOM experience as I don't play SR), and his kit is very anti fun. (But I guess that's the nature of all assassins, someone has to be on the receiving end and nobody likes dying)


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Sauron

Senior Member

01-10-2013

There is no way to communicate to Riot about Dominion or TT other than making excessive threads about the issues. All forms of communication get shut down. Nome doesn't play Dominion or even wants to talk about it, Vesh/rickless quit a long time ago, and Rival has no time or even any say, though I will give him credit for watching our tournies when he can.

There is zero transparency going on, there is an extremely large precedent for Riot mishandling and misunderstanding non-SR problems, and we are rightfully very distrusting of them to identify and solve the issues themselves. I mean it took what, 8 months for them to notice we had no dodge penalty when we were spamming them daily about it? We lost draft queue entirely because of how unimportant Dominion's playability was to them. All we can do is make tons of Kassadin threads in order to ensure they know what the current biggest issue is and what needs to be done.

If you feel there's a counter to Kassadin that isn't another Kassadin, feel free to show it. But he's been a permaban in Dominion tournaments since December 2011 for good reason.


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Chaosos

Senior Member

01-10-2013

Kassadin's issue is that his pre-6 got nerfed to trash tier (Ever see a Kass destroy a windmill fight? Neither have I, and I play high ELO dom). This makes him trash on SR. Guess what? That bandaid doesn't work on dom. Ergo, lazy balance leads to ****ing over people who it doesn't work for, the dom community.


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Sakuri Ono

Senior Member

01-10-2013

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sauron View Post
Nome doesn't play Dominion or even wants to talk about it,...
You know...except for when he totally did on the Dominate Dominion live stream with the high ELOs less than a week ago.


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AlphaFerric

Senior Member

01-10-2013

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sakuri Ono View Post
You know...except for when he totally did on the Dominate Dominion live stream with the high ELOs less than a week ago.
I think he's trying to say Nome doesn't play Dom consistently like we do. I don't have the same type of communication with Riot as Sauron does, so I wouldn't know how true or not true that is.

Sauron, I appreciate the reply, and I can understand the frustration with Kassadin. As it stands I do not know any solid counters to him that work all the time. The best I have done/seen on a few occasions was a Talon/Zed gapclosing on a Kass after a jump and bursting him. Only lategame after they had LW and BC built, but it still happened. Obviously I didn't see this in your elo bracket, but hey, can't hurt to try right?


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Chaosos

Senior Member

01-10-2013

XZ can also sorta work if Kass makes a mistake and blows his jump to gapclose in where XZ can immediately jump on him. However, that is wholly contingent on Kass being aggressive around XZ, since XZ's dash isn't long enough ranged to really come out of FoW or over walls onto Kass.


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Sakuri Ono

Senior Member

01-10-2013

Quote:
Originally Posted by AlphaFerric View Post
I think he's trying to say Nome doesn't play Dom consistently like we do. I don't have the same type of communication with Riot as Sauron does, so I wouldn't know how true or not true that is.
Fair point. I think my response came out snarkier than intended anyway.


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Malah

Senior Member

01-11-2013

The problem isn't counterplaying overpowered champions. Would be nice for them to get nerfed, but we're figured out ways to manage most of them a while ago. The problem is when you run into situations where counter-play solutions cause as much or more damage to your team as to not, or when there are no counterplay solutions. Kassadin is one frequently cited example considering he wrecks everyone just as hard, but Teemo is also cited as a problem considering his mushrooms fit into this category and his Q makes him impossible to trade with as an auto-attacker. This is what happens when a champion's power level is not just higher than everyone else's (that's just plain OP, which is bad enough), but it's high enough that its very presence screws you over in some way.

I personally think frequently cited solutions that involve creating or assuming an unfair situation (you can outplay him or you have more resources than they do and can gank) is total BS, but unfortunately the state of balance in this game (mode) forces that upon us. That's the overall balance solution for the game, but also because our mode gets no individual attention that inconveniences the others, and usually even then it's wrong (Torch, anyone?)

One of the replies I hate most is when it's assumed you can just outplay the opponent. Which means that unless you're getting matched with someone way below your skill level, you're completely boned.


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Ikruti

Senior Member

01-11-2013

That is what I like to consider nice in theory but really not useful in practice.

The theory is usually sound, almost anything in the game can usually be countered somehow. I will leave out bugs from the discussion, though I've even seen some people try to defend abusing bugs with the whole, "The bugs are equally available to abuse so you should be abusing them" reasoning.

However there are what I believe to be two major issues with that philosophy.

1. Polarizes gameplay.
2. Narrows audience.

Now what's important is to understand that the only real problem is when something is simple to implement, difficult to counter. What you see is that such strategies become dominant because players will inherently migrate to power gain, whatever gives the most power the easiest. It's human nature and we've seen it time and time again.

At this point you have a period of a lot of people adopting the strategy and forcing everyone else to essentially bend to their will. It becomes a "bend to this playstyle or lose" type of problem. This causes a stagnation of strategy and meta, why change while it's working so well? And if you're losing, why not just do the same thing?

Now at this point, you may argue that it would in theory cause people to try a ton of different things to beat the dominant strategy, but unfortunately not many people have the skill and knowledge to do that. The vast majority of players are in fact average and not skilled or knowledgeable enough to creatively defeat an overpowered strategy. And please, don't say "Well they should just play better". That's a cop out and not admitting to the reality that people have skill ceilings.

So essentially you end up with a lot of people struggling to beat this strategy, failing and getting extremely frustrated. Everyone and their brother is adopting the strategy because it's proven to work. The extremely skilled players are desperately trying to find a counter but even if they do, the entire game is now dominated by that strategy and it's counter.

However, the key is that something only remains overpowered if the counter is difficult to implement. Even if you attempt the counter, it has a higher chance to fail than the strategy it's designed for. So now the highly skilled players no longer complain but the average players are stuck, it's either use the strategy or use the counter.

And what has the health of the game gotten from all this?

Well, for one, no one is trying anything but the strategy or it's counter.
You've also managed to really frustrate a majority of the player base. A lot of people will straight up just give up because they are unwilling to put in so much time and effort to counter the strategy.
And all the press your game will get will be how it's such a lopsided unbalanced mess.


So, all in all....it's all nice and well to say in theory "anything is counterable", but the reality is you're just sacrificing the health of the game for an idealistic standpoint.

P.S. Let's see if this applies to Dominion.

1. Do lots of people play mostly the what's considered to be OP champs?
2. Are there a lot of players frustrated with the OP champs?
3. Have we seen a lot of people quit Dominion because of balance?
4. What does the majority of everyone else outside of Dominion think of it's balance?

Have fun answering those.


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