21 June 2011

Soundwave on Balance

Those of you who watched the Alliance Tournament this weekend may have heard CCP Soundwave talking about balance.  Do you wanna know what I think about his comments?  Well, I will tell you in a minute, but first I would like to praise Soundwave for being such a great dev.  Most importantly, he ran the Alliance Tournament as a volunteer, a praiseworthy endeavor.  Even better, however, he reached out to various Eve podcasts and conducted interviews.  Both of these things have earned Soundwave a big A+ in my dev grade book.

But then he started talking about balance.  "I don't like balance."  My first impression was: "You crazy Icelander, have you never played Eve?"  But then I started thinking about what he said afterwards, how balance makes a game un-fun.  If we were to talk about "balance" in the way he seems to define it, the game would be very un-fun.  Should an Apocalypse and Megathron be able to orbit each other at 50 clicks, shooting each other with their respective racial guns, and die at the same time?  Of course not!  While that is "balanced," that is certainly not fun.

What Soundwave fails to comprehend is that in a "balanced" game, not everything is equally powerful.  In a balanced game, each weapon/object/ship has a role, and with its role, it can counter certain other roles.  Take Halo 3.  For ultra-close range, you want the shotgun.  No other weapon (barring the sword or a Sniper headshot) can take out an opponent in shot.  Shouldn't the shotgun be the best weapon in the game then?  No, because its strength is countered by its weakness: incredibly short range.  Moving further away from the target, we find the Battle Rifle (which is far superior to the DMR; Reach sucks!), which can take down enemies from far away.  Get too far away, however, and you'll find yourself getting owned by sniper slugs.  Get too close, and you'll go down to an Assault Rifle pretty quickly.  This is balance, which it seems CCP Soundwave does not understand.

For argument's sake, though, suppose he does understand this.  The problem we're having in Eve is that roles are not working correctly.  Ships and weapons are either too weak to carry out their role, don't have a role at all, or are too powerful to be countered.  Command Ships are too weak to carry out their roles.  They provide boosting to gangs, but their ehp is so low that they die far too quickly to even receive reps from Logistics ships.  Dreadnaughts do not have a role.  They used to be good for POS bashes, but now, structures have such high levels of hitpoints that only Supercarriers will do.   Supercarriers are too powerful to be countered.  A well-led and well-equipped fleet should be able to take out a lone Supercarrier or two, but their resists and ehp are so high that only blobs of other supercapitals and touch them.

To fix these things, we need "balance," the kind that Soundwave doesn't seem to like.  What is the solution?  I do not know, and until I do, I will just whine about it.

Fly safe!


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