World of Warships

Ship Interaction and Risk vs Reward

WorldOfWarships2 - Ship Interaction and Risk vs Reward
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::::WARNING LONG READ::::::

One of the glaring issues that has always plagued WoWs is balance. Now obviously no-one can honestly attest to playing every game possible but in my subjective experience with two decades of gaming is that I have never experienced a game that was as unbalanced as WoWs. With that said, there isn't a lot of competition for what WoWs offers, and the visuals…effects….and mostly everything else NOT involved in balanced gameplay is spot on and very well done (save for the captain skill rework mess).

The major conflicts that can be witnessed in this community are born from many misconceptions and entrenched beliefs. There are people so entrenched and emotional that logical thought processes and things like evidence are thrown completely out the window. The WG forum mods certainly play a big role in this as anything that involves true logical discourse is deleted/moved and the poster is warned/banned whilst they are perfectly happy to promote and have their boards filled with 1 sentence incoherent posts, memes and flagrant spam of misconceptions.

What is balance in a PVP game? The simplest way to put it is that balance is purity of interactions between archetypes where skill is always the largest factor in determining outcome, but mechanics and attributes are streamlined to ensure the former but also offer an enjoyable environment for all skill levels based on Risk vs Reward. That is because Risk vs Reward is a fundamental building block of PVP and balanced gameplay. This is also something WG either completely fails to comprehend, or comprehends it but ignores it (hence the result of worst balance witnessed). It is like building a house without the foundation. Sure you can make the claim a house exists, but it won't be too long before it sinks into the ground and starts to fall apart. The entire premise and PVP environment in a game WITHOUT any sort of multiple lives or respawn system (like WoWs, YOLO), Risk vs Reward must be adhered to even more strictly. Something that is LOW risk should only be mostly capable of LOW reward. Something that is inherently HIGH risk, should be capable and somewhat efficient at HIGH reward. So on and so forth. Low risk and high reward is factually overpowered as High risk and Low reward is factually underpowered.

I would also like to put a disclaimer here that no-one should ever expect 100% true balance, nor homogenization. This also creates stale gameplay as the interactions are completely "choreographed". On the same hand, balanced gameplay within the realm of reason does NOT require homogenization and stale gameplay as many would have you believe. This balance, within the realm of reason, is easily achieved by making changes based on a performance data in context and ensuring all archetypes perform within a subset range. I like to call this subset, the "balance range". I will get into that later….

Now lets go over some notable archetypes and interactions therein which ignore Risk vs Reward and create a balance absent environment.

CVs/Aircraft Carriers…

-CVs completely ignore the Risk vs Reward fundamental. They are designed by WG to sit in the back of the map with unlimited reach. Even if CVs had a detection range (see concealment) of 50km so that they were spotted automatically by all from the start of the match, they would still be game-breaking. Even if they are spotted all match, it is a small caveat, as no other ship type has the same reach except the other CV. Except… CVs have been given the tools to pretty much hard counter (defensively) any attack from the other CV.

For having unlimited reach, we will call this a -1 point to the risk scale. Now we take into account that they actually have concealment values, and when combined with the longest reach in the game, this means that CVs actually have the MOST effective concealment and stealth in the game. This is another -1 point to the risk scale. Additionally, when a CV is actually at risk of counter-attack (like someone makes it into gun range), they are the most protected against fires and flooding and pretty well armored to boot. (make that night untouchable to fires and flooding if we are being honest). This is another…. -1 point to the risk scale.

Now what if we move to the victim side of the interaction. A player is able to control the CV movement, and a player is able to control the movement and attack of the aircraft. BUT…. the victim is not able to actually control the direct defensive measure, AA. There is no player control over that armament, only the ability to buff it. Yes, the victim has control over movement, but this is a nonfactor as surface ship vs plane maneuverability is completely and utterly lopsided in the plane's favor. This means in a defensive interaction, the interaction itself is PvAI (or PvE if you want to get technical) as in Player vs. Computer or AI. This means that the CV interaction against the victim is already disconnected from the PvP ruleset. That alone is game-breaking. Player choice is removed from one side of the equation, but consequence is not. This chalks up another -1 point to the risk scale for CVs. Now normally a CV would be at risk to lose all planes, but the current power and effectiveness of AA in general and the fact CVs have pretty much become plane printers mostly negates this risk. For argument sake, we will put this as a wash for risk even though it would clearly be another -1 point.

What about reward? CVs are obviously able to achieve very high reward. Their kills and damage are topping charts. Damage makes sense for being able to survive the entire match if we talk about a long drawn out tick damage. However, the entire ratio of risk vs reward for other ship types should equate to damage performance being relatively close in performance amongst the ship types. As a ship type that has low risk… should find it hard to output damage at any given moment whilst find it easy to survive…. just as a ship type with HIGH risk should have ample tools to deal HIGH burst damage efficiently at any given moment whilst finding it harder to survive. That is of course…. in a game with ANY sense of balance. What about average Kills? CVs are still topping the charts here too… so the small tick damage over time scenario doesn't really hold up here either.

Now, add the major issue of spotting capability on-top of all that. So not only are CVs completely absent risk with the best capability for providing damage and kills in a game… they also get to spot other ships, and share that spotting data with the rest of their team all whilst never risking their own hull. Further creating risk to victims of their spotting, decreasing the likelihood of these victims achieving reward, without risk to itself. This can be tacked on as yet another game-breaking aspect of CVs. Now normally, when even one aspect is that game-breaking logical and balance seeking devs would have been high-speed patching it over and over until it is fixed. Here we are talking about multiple aspects that are game-breaking without correction for a long period of time and no end in sight.

"What about BBs and DDs"?BBs are certainly not off the hook here either. BBs in some cases do ignore the Risk vs Reward fundamental as well and SHOULD be corrected as well. As a baseline they are designed with the highest EHP, the highest amount of armor throughout, the best citadel protection and the highest torpedo protection. Sure they have the largest size and are "less" maneuverable in pretty much every case compared to DDs and Cruisers, but that is moot as their maneuverability is still clearly ample enough to keep torpedo hit rates abysmally low, and their potential damage received, high.What about offensively? Again, second longest range in the game in general….. and HIGHEST effective burst damage. But all of those defensive attributes certainly shouldn't be combined with long range capability in a balanced game right? Generally that is true. However, it could be balanced if the accuracy attributes of BBs were so poor that they wouldn't be able to reliably hit ANYTHING outside a general range to be counter-attacked from non-BBs… Of course… in another WG failure this is NOT the case. BBs are very accurate. Combined with their range, accuracy, and burst damage capability…. on top of their concealment… they actually similar to how CVs can…. utilize their detection range and the concealment mechanic BETTER than Cruisers and DDs. As they not only have the ability to remain OUTSIDE the range of counter attack for the majority of enemy team members, but also can utilize stealth to their advantage as their effective range is leaps and bounds larger than their detection ranges.

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This doesn't even count that the entire bloom mechanic serves to the benefit of Battleships and hinders Cruisers+DDs. Anything that is Low RoF and High burst is going to benefit from a times mechanic that forces you out of stealth every time you fire and resets the timer every time you fire…

BBs really need to have their long range accuracy gutted and their concealment values across the board nerfed, whilst making secondary's player controlled, skill based, and have a little more potential. Some people on here think that if you nerf the ability for BBs to do sniping damage, that they will still for the most part sit back and camp… and snipe. This is silly and nonsensical. The general psychological driving factor behind these gaming behaviors is "path of least resistance" to achieve reward. If BBs were NOT capable of efficiently putting down large damage games whilst sitting in the game, they would NOT do it (on average). The fact that they are very capable and efficient at it, especially at high tiers… is the primary reason WHY they do it. To claim otherwise is merely refuted alone with the existence of Shimakaze. Sure you can find newer and less experienced players here and there with the 20km torps equipped… so what… that is an outlier. How about the average Shima player? Likely to have 12km torps equipped. Why? Because whilst 20km torps do have the long range… they simply are not effective because they have the attributes and drawbacks to make them ineffective along with all of the counters that exist on top of that. The same would be if BB main batteries had much more balanced (see: reduced) accuracy. They would on average, move up… thus increasing risk to match their reward. Risk vs. Reward.

Ok ok ok… so on to DDs…Yes, Radar is broken, but only for the fact that it ignores a ruleset of the environment. If It is okay for Radar and Hydro to go through terrain… so should torpedoes. Play vs Counter-play. Risk vs Reward. Sure, without Radar.. and Hydro… and CV spotting… people will claim that DDs would be some sort of invulnerable stealth assassin god. Sinking everyone and never dying. Yet the data refutes this as well, as we have access to ALL of the pertinent performance data when it comes to making accurate balance conclusions, even from before the existence of Radar in game and when CVs were in maybe 1% of matches. Guess what that data shows? They were STILL the lowest performer, by far.

Hmm I wonder why that is? Well let us look at the stealth (spotting vs concealment) mechanic in WoWs. If you are unspotted, are you invulnerable? Nope. Ask any Mino that has been dev struck in smoke. Ask any DD that has been taken out by torps whilst unspotted. Hell, players are killed all the time from random or already taken shots well after they have become unspotted again after being spotted initially. This is why concealment has complete synergy with effective range. DDs have the lowest effective range in general, and by far at high tiers. Most DD torps even at top tier at limited to 10-12km with the DD itself being an average of 5.6-6km detection range. That is like a 5-6km buffer ONLY. Not counting the fact of your average Radar range is well within that space and in some cases exceeds it. Your average BB at that tier has an average main battery range of 22-26km with an average detection range of 13-14km… (after captain skills and upgrades obviously). That is a 8-13km gap. A much larger buffer zone than DDs have to utilize. Being that the average armament range of DDs is 10-13km (including guns), being the lowest of ALL ship types… this also means that out of ALL of the ship types DDs are going to be WITHIN the effective range of ALL ship types. BBs at any given time are usually in the effective range of other BBs and your occasional cruiser with how they are designed and played in general atm. Yet, DDs have the lowest survivability attributes and BBs have the highest. What about Burst damage? Sure "potential" burst damage of torps is higher in SOME cases (like Shima) but "effective" or "efficient" burst damage is much lower thanks to torp speed vs shell speed, hit rate differences, and torpedo damage reduction (also highest on BBs).

This means that even unspotted, DDs still present the MOST inherent risk to themselves at any given time. The performance data also makes it clear they are the LEAST rewarded for this risk. Some of the primary reasons for this is game-breaking counters. Radar going through the environment, and CVs. Another reason is capability whilst spotted. Concealment cannot be the end-all-be-all for DDs as it is binary and they do not have the effective range to make use of it the same way BBs and CVs can. Thus, DDs in general should also be harder to hit. This cannot be entirely dependent on enemy player skill. This needs to be heavily attributed as well. DDs should be more maneuverable, more than they are now across the board. I think if Radar adheres to the ruleset of the environment like the rest of the game, CVs are fixed or shoved into their own game mode, and DDs get more maneuverability it is a much better compromise than asking for straight offensive buffs like increased damage or torp range.

To summarize these are the current ratios that exist in game for Risk vs Reward, and have been this way for years.

CVNO-VERY LOW risk ::: High reward

BBVERY LOW RISK – LOW RISK ::: High Reward

CALOW – HIGH RISK ::: LOW – HIGH REWARD

DDHIGH – VERY HIGH RISK :::: LOW – MEDIUM REWARD

Some useful literature on the subject and the data cited:

williams nesbitt eidels elliott - Ship Interaction and Risk vs Reward

http://gamestudies.org/1101/articles/williams_nesbitt_eidels_elliott
https://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/119298/Analysis_McMillen_On_Risk__Reward_In_Video_Games.php
implementing riskreward decisions in games - Ship Interaction and Risk vs Rewardhttps://davidmullich.com/2017/04/10/implementing-riskreward-decisions-in-games/

https://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/134768/understanding_balance_in_video_.php
level 12 dot 0 game balance - Ship Interaction and Risk vs Reward
https://learn.canvas.net/courses/3/pages/level-12-dot-0-game-balance

https://deltadna.com/blog/balancing-game-data-player-data/

https://digital.lib.washington.edu/researchworks/handle/1773/22797

http://maplesyrup.sweet.coocan.jp/wows/ranking/index.html

Also remember, Win Rate is NOT a performance metric. Correlation does not equal causation, and for causation to be proven, Win Rate has too many unquantifiable dependencies as well as extreme statistical bias.

Source: Original link


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