Opening the balancing Blackbox to the public

9

Hi all,

As you might have noticed I was quite active in the balancing forums in the last couple of months as this was the only way for me to stay in touch with the game as I was traveling.

Many meaningful points were raised in the last couple on months, I don't want to go into detail. When looking at the most recent balance patch I am, quite frankly, a bit puzzled. As someone who thinks quite a bit about the game, and who really has an open mind when it comes to changes as long as they can be explained, I still believe that the balancing team has not really done a good job.

Here is my criticism:

  • of all the potential issues on the plate, I feel like in terms of prioritisation the changes are not important. Take the mex changes: it's a needless change, without any meaningful justification (tradeoff between reclaim and mex assist better? Are you kidding me? That sounds like complete bullshit and only increases eco gameplay because it effectively becomes cheaper to eco than before, which is definitely not what the eco heavy meta needs)

  • the shard change comes extremely late. Every since I play faf (3-4 years) the shard is absolutely useless, and it apparently took 3-4 years and longer ( I assume it has always been useless) to make a change here.

  • changes like the bomber change, the lab change, the mex changes, come totally out of the blue without any sort of public debate. I don't say that people like funkoff should have any say in balance changes, but at least present it to the public and have a debate about the changes, and don't just present the community with facts. And in my books faf beta is not a debate. It should be a forum debate, or another form of engagement with the community. Especially when it comes to choosing priorities for future balance patches

  • sometimes the balance forum comes up with legitimate points of imbalance or improvement opportunities for the game, and currently except for the occasional condescending statement I see no engagement by the balance team with these issues. It almost seems to me as if for a lack of counterargument some issues are just left on the table, mix in a little bit of favouritism and pride. This has to change, a well formulated balance suggestions with well formulated support by top players stands as an open issue, and the balance team should have the responsibility to engage with it. Otherwise we might as well close the balance forums. Surely a lot of complete bullshit is raised here by people who just don't know any better, but at the same time many very good points are raised, and it is the duty of the balance team to weed out and isolate the good ideas.
    It's even a source for inspiration, let the community do the work of identifying improvement opportunities for you, and just pick them up and work from there. The way this is handled currently seems like a waste of resources, and it's even disrespectful to the community members who try to help and improve the game.

Anyway, this is not intended to be a rant, but rather it is a request to the balance team to take the forum more seriously, and engage with the attitude of a councillor or a person of responsibility with the information presented here. At the end of the day it's going to make the balancing process more transparent, more resourceful and will feel more rewarding for community members who care.

Maybe sandbox streams of the balancing team once every fortnight could be a nice idea, but anything really to involve the cloud.

Thanks.

2

Agreed. Discussion behind close doors is really not necessary in such a small community. Big game with millions of players can afford to lose a few unhappy people, but wth FAF, it's a matter of keeping the community together.

Same applies to map pool discussions. I'm not satisfied with the answer : "if you want to participate in reviewing maps, join the ladder team". Why ask people to join the black box instead of making it public ?

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I mentioned this back in November in this topic. If I recall from that topic it is not necessarily the need of it being a black box - more a form of convenience.

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@auricocorico It's not a black box if people who want to join the ladder team and contribute to the map pools can just do that by just messaging me or FtX. It's like the most minimal barrier to entry you can have.

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@archsimkat I would like to join the balance team. Ok?

Honestly that sounds just moronic. It's like saying you need to have a membership to shop at Costco, but memberships are free. What's the point of requiring the membership anyway?

3

The changes that were introduced in beta were well described in a post made by Petric a while ago and if you want to discuss any of them feel free to make a topic (given it's well made, has merit and thought through arguments) or ask someone on the balance team. I really don't understand this whole fuss about balance changes being hidden, the beta patchnotes exist for a reason, if you want you can also track github to see PR's (that's what I did before I joined balance team). While in theory it would be nice to have more openness there is honestly no time for that and who would want to watch unit test stream either way? It's not exiting, trust me ... I know I will sound elitist but the truth is that most people can't add much to a balance discussion, especially when we are not talking about huge changes but rather small tweaks. So the few people that could add something have all the possibilities, forum, discord, PM, comment on Github PR's. It's really not that hard. About the "response" from balance team to some posts. The only interesting one was Mercy one (I wanted to adjust them anyways so I spent like 5 hours playing around with them) and the recent Lab made by Tex (I think?) which is something that may be considered in the future. Also I would like to add that with bigger changes eg. SACUs rework there was a post made about them and they are not even close to being done for now anyways.

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Link to balance pull requests on Git Hub:
https://github.com/FAForever/fa/pulls?q=is%3Apr+is%3Aopen+label%3A"area%3A+balance"

And our FAF Discord:
https://discord.gg/jj9yGUP

When I see something interesting on the gitHub site, I go to discord and ask / talk about it.
This happens mostly when PRs on github don't have comments about what was changed.
Sure i can read the code but i still don't know why it was changed.

Maybe this can be an improvement. Better comments on PullRequests. (I would love that)

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@shape-of-bennis said in Opening the balancing Blackbox to the public:

sometimes the balance forum comes up with legitimate points of imbalance or improvement opportunities for the game, and currently except for the occasional condescending statement I see no engagement by the balance team with these issues. It almost seems to me as if for a lack of counterargument some issues are just left on the table, mix in a little bit of favouritism and pride. This has to change, a well formulated balance suggestions with well formulated support by top players stands as an open issue, and the balance team should have the responsibility to engage with it. Otherwise we might as well close the balance forums.

So apparently, you are wrong, Bennis, and the only potentially good balance ideas originate from the balance team, but you will never hear why your ideas are wrong. I believe your conclusion is correct: "Otherwise we might as well close the balance forums." They are clearly 100% pointless anyway.

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@corvathranoob said in Opening the balancing Blackbox to the public:

@shape-of-bennis said in Opening the balancing Blackbox to the public:

sometimes the balance forum comes up with legitimate points of imbalance or improvement opportunities for the game, and currently except for the occasional condescending statement I see no engagement by the balance team with these issues. It almost seems to me as if for a lack of counterargument some issues are just left on the table, mix in a little bit of favouritism and pride. This has to change, a well formulated balance suggestions with well formulated support by top players stands as an open issue, and the balance team should have the responsibility to engage with it. Otherwise we might as well close the balance forums.

So apparently, you are wrong, Bennis, and the only potentially good balance ideas originate from the balance team, but you will never hear why your ideas are wrong. I believe your conclusion is correct: "Otherwise we might as well close the balance forums." They are clearly 100% pointless anyway.

Apparently so. We are all just retarded, and tagada and petric know all the shit. Duh.

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I'd just like to know the reason behind the Mex changes. What triggered the change and what the intended outcome was.

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I saw the LAB icon change discussed / suggested on the forum. Better late than never for the shard as well.

Petricpwnz is balance councillor at the moment. If you want to contribute you now know how.

There's a bit of sarcasm above. I get it, you're frustrated, but hopefully now that is out of your system and you can focus on being positive to deal with.

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Care to ellaborate on all of the good and well thought out balance ideas that we've missed on the forums?

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Perhaps a method of collating and prioritizing ideas by importance from the perspective of the community might help?
For example, a poll/list/voting/spreadsheet where ideas are listed and voted on. Requirement for voting is sign-in to FAF to stop vote spamming and allow griefers/lol-posters to be held accountable.
That might help identify which topics the general player base community believes should have priority in the next patch.
This idea came from the "Naval Balance Survey" as some people had (amid the garbage) some good ideas. E.g. "Carriers were under performing so let them build while moving".

BTW the "FAF Beta Current Changelog" topic has really helped make changes become more transparent and was an excellent idea (as github is confusing...). One suggestion: add 2 sentences describing why the change is being made and how it addresses the issue.

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Polls for balance matters ,especially vague ones like "what units would you change and why" or "in which direction do you think that balance should go" don't make any sense. Most people don't understand the game and its balance, so all that's you gonna get in such a pull is what players struggle with/just don't like, be it mantis, aurora, labs or transports. If you understand the balance well and you want to be actively engaged with its development you join the balance team. If you have a good idea you make a forum post and if it's well written I will read it and comment on it.

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What about a minimalistic journal, posted weekly on forums any week there have been discussions?
People can then reply or post if they want to know more.

FULL POST EXAMPLE
Title: Week 19:

  • Discussed T3 MAA balance, moderate consensus.
  • Discussed Suggestions for engineer hp, wildly varying views.
  • Reached consensus on LAB balance
  • Implemented Mex design as per prior discussions.
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Sure, i understand the need of not being spammed by random ideas. But from the player perspctive, it feels like there is very little will to communicate toward the player base.
As Arran and Valki pointed out, a small journal, or just an updated thread "FAF Beta Current Changelog" would already be a good step forward.

Funny you link the github page, as it's a perfect example: i can discover there are discussions about aeon and sera enginneering station (who asked for that ? is there a forum post ?), a solace buff (???), a t1 ghetto gunship buff, but no thread about the mercy rework, no discussion about aeon strat bomber (i remember arran making a legit thread about it), nothing on the navy stuff ... etc.

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The engineering station thing is pretty old, pretty sure there was a thread about that on old forums.

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@tagada said in Opening the balancing Blackbox to the public:

Care to ellaborate on all of the good and well thought out balance ideas that we've missed on the forums?

I'm sounding like a broken record at this point, but I'm still waiting for a response to my arguments in the beetle thread that isn't a condescending "beetles are good now and all of you are just too stupid to notice".

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The were forums posts about mantis icon and navy, then mantis icon and shard got changed......yeah so blackboxie

Regarding mercy, I'm currently making a mercy mod to change how you can use it, it's not easy, don't expect mercy to be changed at all because anything will probably break it

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@Tagada you expressed to me that the major drive for the previous balance updates to labs and t1 boomer is to make the game more interesting within the first 3 minutes. That does not sound like a balance change but more a “we don’t like waiting 3 minutes and want to do this update with justification!”

You guys in no way are addressing an imbalance but more the flow of the game in the past and the current update.

I wrote in my player application about how the balance team should collaborate on how to express balance updates BEFORE release through explanation. You guys are nearly completely refusing to admit it’s a gameplay change rather balance, so I am happy to see other people are starting to take notice and demanding openness.