Dear Devs, please balance default progression

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Dear Devs, please balance default progression

Postby Dreepa » Sat Nov 18, 2017 12:00 pm

Hi,

I am a big fan of the game concept and the simple emergent mechanics that allow for so much agency and interaction. It is really a great core that is utilized very efficiently.

Yet I think the balancing of the game's parameters, the "experience" itself, the flow of the game and the inter-dependencies between challenge and player-unlocks are not very well done (yet).

The game offers a very granular scaling of military strength, yet the enemy challenge is not intertwined to that granularity of unlocking. Several upgrades are just meaningless in the context of how the world challenges the player. This is because the enemy challenge is growing by itself, without many inter-dependencies to the player progress (except pollution).

We have a lot of options to customize the game creation, yes. So there are some ways to fine tune a new session of Factorio, and to make it a bit more meaningful towards a certain play style. But setting up a game with parameters that make sense for a player requires A LOT previous knowledge of the game. This knowledge a new player does not have. So his experience will be bad, because he will not be able to know what settings to take to suit his play-style. This is where a good game offers a standard default setting that is fine tuned to a good experience. Where the developers take care of it, making all content useful and creating a "journey" from start to finish. I know this is sandbox, but a polished game with a good journey does not contradict sandbox. It goes well together. You can have sandbox freedom, but also good triggers, good progression, meaningful interaction, the right challenge for the right unlock etc.

On top of this, a big problem with setting up the game is that the map does not offer options for different stages of the game. For example the options for ore do not scale from starting position to the outward areas. You can only set global generation parameters that affect ALL resources. However, like in any good progression, at the start you should have few resources that are enough to play the start, but then you should be forced to expand and find the huge and rich fields far away from the starting area. So trains and radar etc. make sense in the game, and you feel like you are actually exploring the map with your buggy, or tank. So that the buggy is really a great tool for a goal you have to reach (in this case: exploration of new ore in dangerous areas).


I would suggest that you divide the game in more little chunks on a time scale. Define what the player can experience in that time box. Make trains meaningful in mid to late game. Make weapon upgrades meaningful in different situations. This requires a smarter AI, but mostly is a work of setting more triggers for enemy behavior and introducing more challenges.

For example, a standard game for a new player could look like this:

Very early game stage:
Small patches of ore, but exhausted rather fast. Enough to research basic defenses and some weapons and the logistics required to automate science.

Early to mid game stage:
Expansion required. Ores run out, and some ores further away need to be tapped. Those ores are guarded by nearby weak critters. You need some military, but not much.
Enemies now know you are expanding, because of first aggression triggering AI stage2. AI now starts to scan for player structures and makes little attacks.

Mid game stage:
Expansions need to be protected, or enemy "HQs" nearby need to be destroyed to stop them from harassing resource expansions. So player can decide to either defend with turrets and military, or he can decide to build a buggy or tank to attack enemy HQ buildings that will make a chunk of land very safe.

Mid to late game stage:
Ore runs out, player needs to use radar to find more outward laying patches that are really huge.
He now can use strong military to fight way deep into enemy and then use railway to transport back home.
These very far away patches are very mineral rich.

Late game stage:
Increase automation and logistics to perfections, hauling huge amounts of distance resources to central locations, and processing high amount of goods. Building military defenses as enemies now make teleport attacks, or warp in and out. enemies now look for ways to reach the player to kill him, as they understand he is the problem. So some enemies still attack the base, but other enemies try to hunt the player. This makes armor and personal defense upgrade a more important game play.

Very late game stage:
Player can nuke whole areas of the map clear and go into the mastery phase of the game, owning the map, destroying all resistance and being supreme ruler of his game.



In a journey like that, I would feel that this is a final game. This would give me a sense of "not early access" and a final "thought trough designed" experience. Currently I feel factorio is a toolbox of very good ideas and concepts, but it just lacks a proper design of the player experience and his "journey" through the content in a way that is still sandboxish, but gives meaningful context to all different game-play elements.

Well, those were my 2 cent.

Cheers!
Dreepa
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Re: Dear Devs, please balance default progression

Postby Gergely » Sun Nov 19, 2017 9:06 pm

Dreepa wrote:Mid to late game stage: player needs to use radar

Seriously?

viewtopic.php?f=5&t=54075
Dreepa wrote:I think it would do the game good if the player is not so fast right from the start.
Currently it is just a two step progression: Normal speed -> Vehicle.

Fast? [Moderated by Koub]
Have you heard of exoskeleton and concrete?

Dreepa wrote:Very late game stage:
Player can nuke whole areas of the map clear and go into the mastery phase of the game, owning the map, destroying all resistance and being supreme ruler of his game.


Waoooow... Would be overwhelmingly easy and devastating.

Oh, Manual inserter... sigh. These topics should be in the Suggestions I think.
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Re: Dear Devs, please balance default progression

Postby Jap2.0 » Sun Nov 19, 2017 10:05 pm

Gergely wrote:
Dreepa wrote:Mid to late game stage: player needs to use radar

Seriously?

viewtopic.php?f=5&t=54075
Dreepa wrote:I think it would do the game good if the player is not so fast right from the start.
Currently it is just a two step progression: Normal speed -> Vehicle.

Fast? [Moderated by Koub]
Have you heard of exoskeleton and concrete?

Dreepa wrote:Very late game stage:
Player can nuke whole areas of the map clear and go into the mastery phase of the game, owning the map, destroying all resistance and being supreme ruler of his game.


Waoooow... Would be overwhelmingly easy and devastating.

Oh, Manual inserter... sigh. These topics should be in the Suggestions I think.


Balance probably, actually.

I agree with most of those comments, I would also reccomend several mods for some of these suggestions, especially RSO, Bob's enemies, and Rampant AI.
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Re: Dear Devs, please balance default progression

Postby Dreepa » Mon Nov 20, 2017 12:18 am

Gergely wrote:
Dreepa wrote:Mid to late game stage: player needs to use radar

Seriously?


You might as well skip your reply if you have nothing to say. Wastes less time of people.

Gergely wrote:viewtopic.php?f=5&t=54075
Dreepa wrote:I think it would do the game good if the player is not so fast right from the start.
Currently it is just a two step progression: Normal speed -> Vehicle.


Fast? Someone's mind runs very slow.
Have you heard of exoskeleton and concrete?


[Moderated by Koub]
Ontopic: Yes, I have used them. But I think there are more opportunities for a speed scaling in the stages before the ones you mentioned. Also, my point was exploration, which you won't do while laying concrete. You do it in a vehicle. When you are in the stage where you can achieve exoskeleton, you already had to explore a lot. So my suggestion was to make the start feel smaller, and exploration more tactical. E.g. if you couldn't run away from a biter, that would be a really fearsome start. You have to fight. Also, you are careful with exploration, and don't move as far, as distance feels bigger.


Gergely wrote:
Dreepa wrote:Very late game stage:
Player can nuke whole areas of the map clear and go into the mastery phase of the game, owning the map, destroying all resistance and being supreme ruler of his game.


Waoooow... Would be overwhelmingly easy and devastating.

Oh, Manual inserter... sigh. These topics should be in the Suggestions I think.



The last part is already in the game. It already is easy and devastating, once you own a base the size of Russia.


Anyway, still wondering what the intent of this reply was. I will just assume you had a bad day.
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Re: Dear Devs, please balance default progression

Postby thereaverofdarkness » Mon Nov 20, 2017 3:26 am

I agree.

I found it particularly difficult to set up a game in which the resource and exploration balance is set right. In the end I decided, after much experience with the terrain generator and hundreds of wasted hours on bad games, that it's not possible. The same problem occurs on any settings: the biter bases are not far enough apart. You cannot explore through dangerous areas. Either you have enough resources in your starting area to achieve domination over the biters, or you're stuck slogging your way through endless bases to get to new resource patches. And the larger you make the gaps between biter bases, the thicker the bases become, until you get giant swaths of spawner clusters covering vast parts of the map. Once you take into account the aggro radius of the bases, you find that setting the bases further apart doesn't actually give you any room to travel between them. It only makes you have to destroy more bases to get to the next resource patch.
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Re: Dear Devs, please balance default progression

Postby Koub » Mon Nov 20, 2017 6:42 am

[Koub] Moved to balancing
Moderated quite a bit : please stay civil, even if you don't see the point of something.
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Re: Dear Devs, please balance default progression

Postby JimBarracus » Mon Nov 20, 2017 1:04 pm

thereaverofdarkness wrote:I agree.

I found it particularly difficult to set up a game in which the resource and exploration balance is set right..


This.

You either have enough resources or you don't.
You might also have the wrong focus on either military or production.
You either have enough resources to get Kovarex Enrichment running and nuke your way through the planet or you turret-creep to the next ore patch and struggle to keep up the defense.

The starting area also desides a lot when you have your first encounter with the aliens.
You can easily play for several hours in a dense forest without any contact.
Or you start in the desert and you have to start defending your base within the first 60 minutes.
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