Build 232 released on Steam (and balance process)
We just released Build 232 on Steam. We keep cranking out the patches, to address some issues that are still popping up. We just noticed that Explore Mode wasn’t working…oops. So we fixed that and queued some other balance changes as well. Speaking of balance, I wanted to take a moment to explain a bit about these particular changes, as well as our evolving balancing process.
Now that we have thousands of games played on every patch, and we have so many new players joining the game every day, we really need to make sure that our changes are solid. If we mis-step, it can result in a lot of painful games until we get the next patch out. But if we don’t do anything, the game can get stale as the latest best strategies grow in popularity and tend to be played the most.
Many players are concerned with us not taking their input, or only listening to public players, or only to competitive players. This game needs to be balanced for both, so input must be taken from everywhere and reconciled. There is also the experiential and intuitive aspect of balance, where something doesn’t "feel" right, and also the statistical aspects: we use comprehensive game stats to see when certain weapons aren’t behaving well, or when lifeforms become weak or hard to play (by watching average lifetime by build), etc. So this input comes from many sources.
Finally, we are starting to test proposed upcoming balance changes through Steam Workshop. I have a mod up there which you can install and play on your dedicated server.
Last week I posted a Survey Monkey survey there, which asked very specific questions of players, as well as asked them how many games they had played on the patch. This was invaluable for the changes in 230, and it prevented us from releasing a couple changes that probably would have been quite bad (noticeably, increasing Lerk health). So after all the feedback is taken from public and competitive games, our comprehensive stats system, e-mail, forums, changes are planned added to this mod for testing.
Finally, I wanted to give some of the reasoning behind the changes in this build. General balance has been improving a lot at the competitive level, but it’s not great on pubs. I believe that competitive play is a microcosm of pub play, and that it’s not a smart move to have two different versions of the game, balanced for each side. However, there certainly are differences between the two play-styles, and this patch’s changes are addressing pub play directly.
There seems to be a lot of Shade and Crag spam in hive rooms in pubs, making it quite hard for marines to kill hives. Cloaking and Regeneration also seem to be too easy to use, giving Skulks especially a large advantage against equally skilled marines. So these changes are here to help address these problems in particular.
- Changed combat time-out to 3 seconds (was 1.5) seconds (makes Regeneration and Cloaking less powerful and easy to use).
- Reduced Shade cloaking radius from 20 to 14.
- Re-balanced Crags so they now self-heal, but only give 3% health every 2 seconds (min 10, max 40). (was 5%, min 10, max 50).
- Fixed error when starting Explore mode.
- Fixed bug where Crags were getting too much health.
- Fixed crash when a render_setup file could not be parsed due to improper formatting.
- Fixed bug where text with multiple lines was not properly printed to the console.
- Fixed bug where the spinner on the loading screen did not display if texture quality was set to medium.
- Added a second parameter to the callback called from Shared.SendHTTPRequest in the case of an error, which specifies the error message.
- Changed models to use a default material if one wasn’t specified in the imported file.
So that’s the current state of affairs for our balancing process, and it will no doubt continue to change as we learn more about the game and continue adding to it.