Thanks for taking the time to write this up. Even a top player could learn some things from this. Personally, even though I had internalized a lot of these concepts, hearing it summarized in this fashion is very useful and helped me identify some areas where my decision making is not as strong.
There is a curious phenomenon that exists when you take a look at the ladder league data: the 1800+ league basically has zero activity. As of the 27th, only 2 players with ratings above 1800 have played more than 30 ladder games over this month. Why is that?
I believe that it is because the incentives to play ladder are broken. A high ladder rating is valuable because it guarantees favorable seeding in tournies, which usually have money on the line. Inactivity guarantees this ladder rating will be maintained, while activity will run the risk of potentially lowering this rating.
As the title of this post suggests, I believe the solution to this issue is the implementation of some form of rating decay. Whether it is necessarily decay in the actual rating, or just the uncertainty, there needs to be some incentive to have people continue to play ladder. Back when I had played Heroes of the Storm, my rating would undergo a soft reset every 3 months - people who had achieved the top rating would need to play consistently to maintain that rating. This is the case for many other online games, and should be the case for FAF.
My proposal: add in a rating decay system based on a visible rating and an invisible rating.
v = Visible rating
i = Invisible rating
t = Inactivity tracker
v = i*0.96^t
Where t=t+1 for every month that passes without 10 games played and t=t-1 for every 10 games played.
It's a pretty simple and straightforward system that adds decay based on how long a person hasn't played for. This can go hand in hand with the new "divisions" system, which displays a visible division rank (visible rating) on top of the actual player rating (invisible rating), but also works directly with the current rating system.
A returning player should find that their rating rises quickly with activity.
This also fixes the issue FtX is facing with tourney seeding - instead of having to give completely inactive players a rating of 0, the rating system already accounts for the decay that should happen.
“beetles bad, pls fix”. These words from the first balance suggestion on the new forum so eloquently describe our collective experience with the Cybran T2 mobile bomb, the fire beetle. Think back, when was the last time you’ve seen a fire beetle? For me, it would be in a Heaven video from years ago, where Tokyto dropped some fire beetles to snipe an ACU. Since then, I don’t think I’ve seen it at all. It’s clear that this unit is being relegated to the ash heaps of history. Here’s my suggestion for what to do to fix it.
New toggleable ability: ambush. Once toggled, the fire beetle may not move; its vision radius increases from 24 -> 45 (radar range of the mole); and it gains stealth.
If this ability is toggled on, it will not get selected by click/drag boxes or select all army hotkeys in the same fashion as a selen with cloak toggled on.
The effect is to create a new role for the fire beetle. An enterprising commander can set up fire beetles ambushes in strategic locations and use beetles as landmines. Perhaps the enemy ACU will head in that direction. Perhaps a tightly clumped army must pass through that location. Other use cases are just as exciting. The enemy army could pass by the fire beetles, which can then continue to advance into undefended enemy territory. The enemy commander could spot the beetles, but then you’d react by putting them on ambush mode, and the enemy commander would have to camp the beetles with some units with radar coverage (to catch them once they start moving). Anyone who has watched StarCraft II knows the exciting moments a well placed baneling landmine can create.
If you actually look at it closely, this is not a big change. Cybran could already pair deceivers with fire beetles for cloak+stealth on the fire beetles for similar effect. The big impact this change should have is to provide a simple and clear use case – move the unit to a spot, press a button, and wait. The ability provides immediate visual feedback – a larger vision radius and sound effect. Not being selected with other units once the fire beetle is in position should also be a nice QOL addition. A new fresh and exciting ability might just get people to build the fire beetle.
Also, btw, beetles don’t target enemy beetles. Beetles also cannot do damage to enemy beetles. Pls fix.
Your solution, disabling manual reclaim for small props (trees and small rocks), but allowing them to be reclaimed by attack move, is possibly the most inelegant and unintuitive solution I can even think of. It reads as if I just described the issues with reclaim to my 8 year old cousin, who has absolutely no understanding of the game, and had him try to create a solution to the problem.
It belies a complete lack of understanding of the fundamental tenets of game design. Are we going to have to create a must-read forum post now describing what is manually reclaimable and what is not? That seems necessary to make it clear what is manually reclaimable and what isn't. Your solution makes it difficult for a new player to even learn what is reclaimable, and even for the experienced player your solution adds unneeded complication. It will be extremely frustrating to manually click reclaim only for some of the commands to not go through. This adds a whole new set of complications – with your solution, players likely now have to learn what reclaim is manually reclaimable on a map-by-map basis.
I took the time to respond to your post and point out the issues with it, not because I think your opinion deserves it, but because the community needs to realize just how useless the drivel you spew is. I agree with Tagada that there should be some kind moderation for misleading or harmful posts.
Map design is a crucial component of balance discussion that is often left untouched in what otherwise seems like serious balance discussions. The map itself in my experience is actually the one of the biggest factors in terms of balance between different units and factions. You can easily design a map that makes T1 spam the only viable way to play and look look completely overpowered, and you can also easily design a map to do the opposite. The placement of contested reclaim, base reclaim, mexes, natural terrain, and chokepoints are factors that can and should be designed and tweaked if balance is the ultimate end goal.
That leads to this suggestion. There should be a new subsection akin to Balance Discussion on the forum for Map Proposals. There should be some rules to making new posts on this subsection in order to ensure there are map proposals of decent quality that can kickstart map and balance discussion. My suggested post criteria (with my last map proposal as an example):
Must contain all of the following:
[e.g., Blue Sky]
Map description/backstory (should contain design elements of the map and how that ties in with the backstory):
[e.g., A ruined Aeon civilian base set in a recessed alcove. The natural protection afforded by the terrain was not enough to keep them safe from the ravages of the Infinite War. The theme for the map should be heavily based on the 3rd campaign mission of the FA campaign (Red Flag).
Sell the idea of a ruined Aeon world by making contested reclaim areas with wrecked Aeon buildings at the 3 main natural expansions, with some minor wrecks (there should be reclaimable Aeon buildings and engineers). There should be two neutral Aeon engies that survived the slaughter and can be captured by the players to gain Aeon technology. The design of the edge of the map should have circular mountain chains protruding from the edge of the water like in the campaign map.
Map layout (must have at least 1 image of the concept map to scale, with mex/hydro locations marked, basic terrain description, reclaim locations, etc.):
The lines indicate where the terrain is impassable.
Yellow area is where the terrain is at a higher elevation.
There exists another image with the reclaim that should be a part of map proposals but I couldn’t find for this proposal.]
Map design explanation (should justify the design of the map and the expected gameplay that should arise from the map layout):
[e.g., A competitive 1v1 10x10 map with a 9x6 playable area. The goal should be to create a land-map with multiple viable strategic options for where to put the commander at the start. The two contested natural expansions are about equidistant to the players, and so should both be viable to take. The options differ in the amount of “map space” the battle lines provide when drawn, so players to play aggressively would favor travelling horizontally for their natural expansion while defensive players would favor travelling vertically for their natural expansion. More interesting gameplay should emerge when players choose the same side. The central area is low in resources beyond the initial reclaim but should provide enough value just by its strategic position for it to be worth controlling by the player. The plateaus have resources and reclaim, and are open on one side, but can be edge built anywhere on the other. Since the plateaus’ “edge side” is much closer to a player than the “open side”, this should make fighting for the plateaus a viable and necessary option for both players. The amount of reclaim in mid should be about 1000 mass, so it’s worth contesting at the start but won’t provide a game-deciding amount if most of it is lost by one player. The central terrain breaks up the map, creating defensive passageways and chokepoints. That, combined with the relatively low amount of mexes, should be enough that this doesn’t turn into a T1-spam-fest. The canyons provide some amount of reclaim and mexes, so it is worth investing into a transport at some point. After the transport is used to drop the canyons, the player may also use the transport to drop units into the soft underbelly of the opponent’s base. This map should play like a 5x5 but have interesting strategic options that lead to very different games.]
This forum section should kickstart ideas around map balance discussion, which is something sorely missing from the forums. It should be helpful for mapmakers looking for some inspiration or ideas. I’ve had chats with some of the most talented and prolific resident mapmakers here on faf, and it seems they are often looking for inspiration (whether that’s in terms of map names, map designs, or other ideas). Obviously there is no guarantee that every map proposal will be created by some mapmaker, nor should such expectation exist, but this should give people who have ideas for maps an avenue to express their ideas and communicate with mapmakers, and should also provide a forum for people to comment on map proposals and discuss map balance.
This is just one way to generate new map ideas and discuss map balance, but after some thought this is the best idea I could come up with. Other ideas I had were weekly discussion posts for existing maps, where people could discuss the balance of existing maps and changes they would make. However, I felt like that this was the best balance of increasing engagement, introducing fresh ideas, and kickstarting discussion about map balance.
Fully support every idea brought up by biass. I've been on the subreddit every now and then, and there seems to be quite a bit of misinformation and confusion regarding faf.
One more suggestion: I've also seen a lot of gaming subreddits clip highlights from streams or cool moments from games. Those posts tend to get a lot of engagement because it's both easy to consume and entertaining, especially on mobile (which I think is how the majority of people on reddit consumes content). I have a clip in mind from the recent faflive stream I'd like to clip and post to the subreddit, and hopefully there can be a consistent stream of content to highlight on the subreddit in the future.
Imagine buying a Rolls-Royce that doesn’t come with air-conditioning.
This is the case with the Cybran T3 perimeter monitoring system, the Soothsayer, and the Aeon quantum optics facility, the Eye of Rhianne. If T3 radars were the T3 intel option, then the Soothsayer/Eye of Rhianne would be the T3.5 intel option. The Eye of Rhianne drains 250% more energy than a T3 radar and the Soothsayer costs twice as much as a T3 radar. These things are expensive. You build these bad boys when you are raking in the money and can afford the extravagant cost for a little more intel. But you will discover, upon investing in these intel buildings, that they don’t have something even cheaper radars have. Here’s my suggestion for what to change:
Eye of Rhianne: scry gets omni range 25 (equal to its vision range).
Soothsayer: omni range 200 (equal to its vision range and equal to the omni range of a T3 radar).
My motivation for this change was simple. I asked the question, “why don’t the Soothsayer and Eye of Rhianne provide omni?”, and could not come up a good response. Even with this change, their use cases are still extremely niche: this change will not cause players to build a Soothsayer or Eye of Rhianne in place of a T3 radar. Without this change, there’s very little, if any, reason to build these structures at all.
You almost never see these enigmatic structures built in a serious game. Why not give a little more reason for their existence.
@moses_the_red this game is not a low apm game, and I agree with biass that your understanding of the game is warped by your personal experience. I don't know if it's within your capacity to, but try to imagine what "perfect" gameplay in FAF looks like, à la AlphaStar in StarCraft II. "Perfect" FAF would have insane APM, because you can also get always value from better micro. T1 Engineers are microed to pick up reclaim with optimal efficiency (move commands to centre mass of reclaim, followed by manual reclaim orders). T1 Artillery are individually microed to target fire groups of units. Transports are used everywhere, ferrying units and engineers. Redundant units and structures are recycled continuously. If anything, FAF has a higher APM ceiling on certain maps compared to StarCraft II, especially as the game goes on. Look at maps like Kusoge or Maridia for 1v1. You should be able to see the APM required to play the game optimally becomes incredibly high.
@FtXCommando, regarding the mod, and the move to ban it or integrate it, I don't see how this disperse move mod constitutes gameplay automation. At the end of the day, the amount of times you actually have to interact with the sim is unchanged. Lets consider some alternative ways to do the same thing, say, splitting 5 bombers and giving a move order. I could:
Select a bomber directly on screen and individually give move orders. This requires 5 actions to select each bomber, and 5 interactions with the sim itself: giving 5 move orders.
Deselect bombers from my initial selection by right clicking the unit portrait at the bottom and giving each group a new move order. This requires 5 actions to deselect the each bomber on my UI, and 5 sim interactions (move orders).
Give a move order with all bombers selected, deselect a bomber from my selection by right clicking the unit portrait, and give a new move order, repeating until all bombers are deselected. This requires 5 actions to deselect each bomber, and 5 sim interactions (move orders).
Split my initial selection of bombers into 5 groups using UI party, and selecting the each group and then giving move orders sequentially. This requires 6 actions (one to make the group and 5 to select each individual group), and 5 sim interactions (move orders).
Using the disperse move mod, giving 5 move orders and then pressing disperse move. This requires 1 UI action, and 5 sim interactions.
I don't see how this mod constitutes "gameplay automation" or how it's different from any other UI mod.
A proposal moreso for SACU production rather than the SACUs themselves: increase the build power of the quantum gateway by ~10x, and also increase the build time of the SACUs by ~7x. This way, the first few SACUs that are built by the quantum gateway (probably combat/support presets), which are likely the most impactful ones, can arrive on the battlefield sooner, and it helps alleviate the ridiculous late-game RAS SACU spam that a lot of people dislike. Now, SACU production will be scaled by building additional quantum gateways instead of additional engineer/hive BP. This change is similar in nature to the HQ change, where air/land/navy production went from assisting with engies to building support factories.
Also, I agree with Elusive's suggestions to only have presets per faction that can be individually balanced. The presets can be made more distinct and suited for their roles by tweaking additional parameters (such as movespeed, regen, build suite, build power) that can't be done by upgrading from the same "stock" SACU. Each faction could have the combat/support presets Turin described in the original post but with t1 build suites and adjusted hp/movespeed, in addition to an engineering preset (faster movespeed, lower hp, t3 build suite, and high bp), as well as a RAS preset for the factions that have them.
@Blodir I would not give him 10 minutes on open palms - turbo didn't even last 8 minutes on palms vs nexus in the fall invitational. This dude would probably die faster.
I think the ultimate goal should be for SCUs to be used as support units in small numbers in the mid-late T3 stage. I don't think there should ever be a transition to "full" SCU production over T3 units.
If you make Quantum Gateways assistable, the Quantum Gateway in effect becomes an HQ, because you pay a lot for the initial building but then subsequent BP from engies is much cheaper. That would make scaling BP into SCUs much easier (and allow for bigger transitions into SCUs).
The idea behind making Quantum Gateways unassistable (whether by increasing the BP/BT significantly or just straight up making it unassistable) is that SCU production doesn't scale. Unlike land/air/navy production, where doubling your BP at a certain tech doesn't cost 2x as much (e.g., you've transitioned to T3 land - the Land HQ costs 5220 mass for 90 BP, but your next 90BP from a support factory only costs 1440 mass), your first 180 BP and next 180 BP for producing SCUs costs exactly the same amount. IMO this is a nerf for bigger teamgames, where you would have the ability to scale SCU production more, rather than 1v1 like you suggested. This means that in 1v1 situations, where the transition is likely to be tight and you won't have too much resources to spare, you can build the Quantum Gateway and have your first few crucial SCUs arrive on the battlefield in reasonable time. This also means that in larger teamgames where there are more resources, you cannot transition into super heavy SCU production as easily.
Unassistable Quantum Gateways are already relatively better for 1v1, but if you want to further make it more useful you can balance other areas, e.g., reduce the time it takes to build SCUs (from like ~60 seconds to ~40).
Maybe it makes sense for the SACU to start with low bp and the t1 engineering suite, like the ACU, and then the engineering upgrade gives access to t2 and t3? Having build power is already very strong for a combat unit, and having the T3 build suite even more so. With a base t1 build suite, less of the power budget of every preset is allocated into engineering, and can make balancing it as a combat unit more straightforward.
Also, we may have talked about this but I don't remember for sure: SACUs should get selected with units and not as an engineer - this is not something that can get changed with selection deprioritizer - to make it easier to use with mixed armies.
IMO it should be like the old chess.com ui, where you could see the rating of people who are currently searching.
Hey, does anyone here know of a resource for new players with zero RTS experience whatsoever?
For some context, friend in question is very confused by the idea of queueing orders. I've been able to find tutorials for beginners (such as the one here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/13S4nBDfcBK4WmFtykXGKNmvIPe9L2nbiriISpHNgE4U/edit), but these tutorials assume kind of RTS experience, so this is still too advanced.
sign me up!
archsimkat global 1900 ladder 1900
Here's a replay of me as UEF vs Petric as Seraphim: #12940483. KI think I demonstrate the strength of UEF over Sera against an arguably much stronger player. Zthuees imo are actually not that great, since they cost so much and are so squishy. I would rate lobo and zthuee about equal here. Phim t3 mix is superior in a clean fight vs UEF t3 mix, but the snipers/shields are very easily picked off with t1/t2 bombers and t2 arty, which you do see in this game. I forgot to mention that the parashield was also really strong here, adding another reason to favor UEF, although that was pre-nerf. T2 pd is mostly relevant in the earlier stages of the game, where the sparky advantage again favors UEF. Again though, these things are debatable. There are definitely pros and cons to each faction, and I think we would agree that UEF and Phim are the clear top 2 factions for this map.
This post was made mostly in response to other balance posts I’ve seen on the forums, which tend to focus on specific imbalances in individual units and don’t take into account the totality or ‘big picture’ of the balance between factions when making balance suggestions, and should describe the baseline assumptions that need to be considered when making a balance suggestion.
The various factions have different power budgets which are allotted in various areas of their tech trees. Balance, in my view, should mainly be done by considering the interaction of the set of advantages and disadvantages all the factions have on a representative set of maps, based solely on the highest possible level of 1v1 and then teamgame play. Typically, in high level games, a faction pick for a given map is decided by a specific advantage or set of advantages that faction has over other factions for that specific map.
Let us take a look at some maps for some concrete examples of each faction’s strengths. I tried to find games with non-mirror matchups from tournaments that demonstrate the strength of the particular faction. Of course, there is imbalance in skill between players that can account for how specific games turn out, but overall the faction balance should be correct.
UEF on crazyrush
See #12729015, Nexus- vs archsimkat
· UEF is heavily favored on crazyrush specifically for sparkies (for nice t2 pd+t2 arty), scorcher/janus (to crush all the mexes/pgens), ravagers, and nice t3 land.
Seraphim on Crossfire Canal
See #13059258, archsimkat vs ZLO
· Seraphim is heavily favored on crossfire because of floating t1 arty cancer. Decent floating t2 tanks and flak are also relevant considerations to keep in mind.
Aeon on Badlands
See #1336249, Blast_ vs Petric
· A large amount of Aeon’s power budget is allocated into chrono, which is currently very very strong. On maps like Badlands as Aeon, you would go into the game with a plan to go chrono.
Cybran on Painted Desert
See #12728714, TURBO2 vs BlinChik
· Cybran is favored on Painted because of the speed of the mantis and loyalist, as well as stealthed t3 strat bomber (to kill all the t2 mexes).
With these examples in mind, any balance discussion should include a discussion of the overall faction balance beyond a specific unit for a set of maps. Maps can also be grouped together in a similar way: e.g., Crossfire and Point of Reach are similar maps in terms of the factional advantages and disadvantages; Painted Desert and the Ditch are similar, etc. Interestingly, this leaves room to allow for balance to be done by maps alone, but that’s a discussion for another time.
An example of one such balance suggestion based on the examples listed that fulfills this criteria would be to rebalance the Aeon power budget by giving its T1 MAA, the Thistle, the ability to hover, giving Aeon a stronger favorability on hover cancer maps like Crossfire (which will probably still be sera favored), while nerfing the chrono dampener somewhat + slight buffs for the obsidian, to reduce the obscene amount of power budget in chrono while still keeping aeon competitive in the t2 stage. This is just the most rough first draft example I could come up with that uses these criteria, so don’t take this suggestion too seriously, the point of this post is more about laying the groundwork for future balance discussion.
Hopefully this post can help provide a framework to better understand faction balance, provide a springboard for ideas for faction balance (in terms of both identifying issues and presenting solutions), and lead to better quality balance posts overall. If people disagree with any of the points I raised, feel free to discuss below but please point out the fundamental assumptions you have, like I did in this post, when you respond.
I second Tagada's suggestion. There could be weekly Phantom or FFA streams. People should be able to submit requests to stream on FAFLive. Ladder players can sign-up on a calendar to stream on FAFLive. Smaller tournaments can apply to stream on FAFLive.