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RadicalX

How to make PvP more attractive (Discussion)

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I am fully convinced, that PvP in Battleforge is a fantastic gamemode, but has certain flaws, that we might need to adress in order to make the game mode more attractive, especially for newer people. I want to make a longer post to get a discussion going about what we can do to get a more attractive gamemode and a larger playerbase, especially post reset. I'm following the current thread, where new player experience got discussed, which mainly focussed onto reward system, so I will move away from that in this thread, trying to adress some other problems and possible solutions. If you are looking for the discussion it is linked below. 

 

Balancing

While there was alot of dicussion in the seperate balancing discord, we haven't seen any progress for a while, because access to the testserver has benn denied. In terms of PvP balancing we somewhat got to a consensus about what needs to be adressed, but it was hard to find a solution that really fixes the problem. We really need access to the testserver in order to make a progression, so we can implement changes, that make the majority of players happy 

 

What I'd like to talk about the most is the T1 diversity. With Nature and Frost being very underwhelming, alot of deck variety gets shut downed, especially for 1v1s. With only Shadow and Fire T1 being consistently viable at a high level, the amount of T1 matchups we can watch, consists of:

Fire vs Fire - Shadow vs Fire - Shadow vs Shadow

This is only a small part of what would be possible. If all T1's would achieve a "viable state" we could see 7 additional T1 matchups:

Nature vs Nature -Nature vs Shadow -Nature vs Fire  - Frost vs Frost - Frost vs Nature - Frost vs Shadow - Frost vs Fire  

In order to win with Frost or Nature you either have to play much better than your opponent or abuse the enemies inexperience with the matchup, which just is not a consistent win condition, especially if you want these factions to be played more frequently. With a static gamestate alot of people get frustrated about the current balancing situation. 

In addition to that, there are 3 T2s (pure Nature, stonekin, pure Frost), that completely get shut downed by this deficit. Their T2 strength is actually decent, but you just don't want to play that frost or nature T1. 

 

Back then I really advocated nerfs to mortar and Phasetower and I'm still fully supporting this idea. It is not possible to make healthy balancing changes around these two cards with their current stat cost efficiency and an almost nonexisting building counter system in the early stages of the game. That said, in order to fix the entire T1 issues, we need to adress more than just these two cards (but that would make a good first step). 

Nature is too weak at defending a +1 well situation. Even after taking a lead in initial fights, you won't be able to well up as split attacks are just destroying the faction, that can't fight on low unit number with these units being super expensive. Similar issues occur once you get into a T1 vs T2 situation with more bound power than your opponent. The dps/power against M and L units is just way to low in order to allow healthy defences. 

Frost got gutted through Homesoil getting nerfed and the faction can't fight on open ground effectively. You always need a power well close to your unit in order to contest. Against Mortar and Phasetower you can't even win these close well situations making things alot worse.

 

Current proposals from the skylords balancing discord:

Phasetower: 

Nerf idea 1: Decrease the damage by roughly 20% 

Nerf idea 2: Increase the cost per Tower by 10  

 

Mortar:

Nerf idea 1: Increased costs by roughly 15 power 

Nerf idea 2: Cooldown increase 

Nerf idea 3: Adding an initial cooldown to weaken the card against high tempo. 

 

These are different single nerf ideas and NOT a single combined proposal!  

 

 

Maps

I've seen many players (especially newer ones) complaining about the map pool and also some people seem to dislike map X for various reasons. Just to give some examples. 

-> Lajesh has Walls close to the main base. Once you make a mistake and give one up to the opponent, he might win the game of that, especially in lower elos. 

-> Some people seem to dislke Yrmia for making some matchups very difficult to play

-> Alot of people dislike Whazai as you can cliff onto the main base.  

While there is the issues of generated maps not being included to the ranked pool for some reason, I think it might be a good thing to just widen the map pool rather than reworking the existing PvP maps. I think we could work out some more balanced, fun and interactive maps to get less repetitive games. High ranked players could work around some balanced maps and we've got really good map creators, who could easily create those maps if they're willing to work with us here. After some testing you could consider which new maps might be introduced into the new ranked pool, which would give us some fresh, new content. 

 

What does a good map need? 

I think we need some different maps, that adress different kind of win conditions to give different decks and playstyles small advantages or disadvantages. Battleforge has very low RNG based components in the game, so games might feel repetitive on the same map, if you play the same matchup or player many times in a row. 

 

1) The amount of Monuments 

I think having a range from 7-8 is the best number for orbs on 1v1 maps. 

2) Orb placement

I think T2 should be easily achiveable for both parties. Maps like Uro do have this poor condition, where Frost doesn't get to T2 without contesting it, which is really bad. T2 should be uncontestable, for T3 the case can be different. Lajesh for example has good orb placements in my opinion. If the map is played without offensive wall action, it can provide strategically interesting gameplay. 

3) Well distance

Needs to be carefully selected as there are alot of components, that make matchups either toxic or snowbally 

4) Center of the map

Can grant a strategic advantage due to shorter attack paths, but shouldn't be a win condition itself as some colors simply can't contest in these early fights. The center on Simai is a good example for a healthy  center positioning.

5) Terrain/Cliffing

Choke points are very important to increase the value of cc and AoE, while open space allows more micro management based fighting. In addition to that, important well & orb positions shouldn't be accessable by cliffs to avoid long range Sieges without proper counterplay. 

 

There are more important aspects, but this could be discussed internally with the people, that are willing to work on these kind of map creations. In the end there could be community votings, if a finished map should be included into the ranked PvP pool. Maybe there could be specific tournaments to promote and test these maps beforehand.    

 

 

Activity requirements

I think they are straight up too high. 1 match per day is way too much for a game like Battleforge in order to stay relevant in the leaderboards. Right now alot of players are inactive and aren't motivated to play 30 ranked games with long que times, lower game quility compared to current sparring matches & the low comparability based off your current rank. There are probably about 

Suggestion: Lower the acitivy requirements to about 10 games per month. This makes the leaderboards alot more interesting and meaningful, because you can compare yourself to a much larger playerbase as base elo is the much more relevant stat. Since we are a rather small community I feel like this is important to keep people motivated after dropping inactive.

 

Player Base

We need a higher amount of players to enable fairer matchmaking. There are large skill gaps in and they lead to very snowball based games. Top 5 base elo beats Top 20 base elo with 90%+ wr, Top 20 base elo beats Top 50 base elo with 90%+ wr etc. leading to very frustrating game experiences between stomping and getting stomped. Games are very fast and you don't really get to enjoy the game, especially when you haven't experienced the great games of PvP, that happen upon facing an enemy on a similar skill level. 

Ideas for improvements: 

-> Increased game promotion to attract newer players 

-> Support the current Tournaments like the Stress Test Open 

 

 

Overall it would be nice to collect some ideas on what we could do, to give people a better experience while playing PvP, especially post reset. So let me know your ideas, so I can implement them into this thread.

 

TL DR;

-> Balancing changes are important: Getting a testserver to evaluate proposals would be huge to make progress

-> Adding more maps would be nice, maybe someone of the community map creators could work with PvP players on this

-> Activity requirements are too high, especially when there is a rather low ranked participation

-> We need to build up a solid player base after the reset (attract new players, keep the current ones)

 

 

Best regards, 

RadicalX

Edited by RadicalX

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Your comments about t1 imbalance, i fully agree with. nature and frost t1 both are not up too par (for different reasons and it would be hard to find balanced fixes for this imo. damn, now i wrote an essay about it... again...).

still, we should also examine fire and shadow t1 as well as they do contain some quite problematic elements. mostly it's the towers, but i feel that overall, ranged units seem too dominant in t1. in almost any matchup a ranged unit spam is par of the course (with some exceptions in the form of thugs spam, which needs a nerf), where as in t2 you can see much more variety in units being played. as there are 2 primary ranged units per faction, this often leads to a real lack of variety in what is being played and the ranged units matchup is a big part of why nature t1 and frost t1 fail as well.

this is especially prominent in the nature t1 vs. shadow t1 matchup, where you can't even dare to start with a swift unit as the nature player on the vast majority of maps. you can forget about dryads as well for the most part and you usually start spearmen and hope your lack of swift does not get abused too hard when you so much as dare to take a well. your t1 basically got reduced to two s units, none of them swift (unless you play werebeast but i am not convinced of those yet). I don't see how your suggested changes would fix this. with the amazon buff, fire t1 would be in real trouble tho. I think the cost reduction on the swap is too much to ask for as it can already be quite usefull. I get that you want it to be better vs. split attacks, but this is going overboard. scavangers already need to avoid the unit due to the damage reduction, which helps quite a bit. Main problem with this is also that it doesn't help vs. shadow (pretty much nothing aside from -5 on werebeasts is), which means that we have a matchup specific solution only, which might get a problem if you want to further buff the faction to do better vs. shadow t1 as well.

 

i'm not saying that counters should not exists, but in t1 it has gotten to a point where you can just entirely forget playing certain units in certain matchups. even in some very problematic t2 matchups, it is rarely this one-dimensional in terms of unit-viability. in t2 you see burrowers being played into pure fire decks and harvesters against frost-splashes. even if viable counters exist, those cards aren't just removed from the game like it is the case with t1 and can turn the game if used in the appropriate situation. T1 tho? Not so much. In some matchups you are basically playing half a deck and that just isn't going to work out. i feel this needs to be adressed if we want to have a properly balanced t1, but i don't think it would be possible to find the support needed to make this happen, so best can likely do is buff frost t1 and nature t1 into viability somehow, which comes with its own set of issues:

 

nature t1 is amazing when there are 3-4+ units on the field and some power is avialable for spells. cc often gauarantees favorable trades and allows to kite back and heal units without much counterplay in open field. damage reduction, s unit counter spell, mele unit counterspell, units with heals, archers with multishot and a very good healing spell, not to forget shamans, all scale like crazy into mid and late t1. problem is, as you pointed out, that this advantage is gone when split attacks are used and the units are costly on top of it, so you can really abuse the faction hard.

but what is the fix to that supposed to be like? Make the units cheaper and you will hit the power-spike sooner, making the faction really good in a mid-fight without wells and a terror in late t1. On the other hand, so much of nature t1's power comes from the synery with cc and heals, so you most likely can still chesse the faction as usual. Don't get me wrong, it's entirely ok that the faction has issues when dealing with split attacks or otherwise low power levels. It's just too extreme to properly balance that out considering just how well the faction scales. You often feel forced to just go t2 as otherwise you are pretty much guaranteed to get steamrolled if you don't play t1 towers.

Personally i think some of the utility nature t1 has needs to adjusted while the units get a bit of a buff to be able to hold their own on low power levels. the t1 heal is really strong, especially considering cc and damage reduction can be used to juggle damage and keep units alive. root and hurricane destory the vast majority of staple units of other factions in late t1, which in my opinion is really out of line. the issues are not as prevalent in t2, where cc is ubiquitous and cost efficient aoe damage spells present some working counters.

 

frost t1 is so map dependent and passive, it's not even funny. aside from the loss of map control and the voulnerability to swift unit rushes, the faction can barely fight in open field, has problems counterattacking (at large well distances. good luck grabbing a clost well tho, since the enemy would love to fight you in open field and you have no swift) and lacks any sort of meaningful engage to start a fight (if you do it right, you can just mass firesworn vs. frost t1 without giving much of a change for the enemy to go t2 and make them lose because they can't force a fight. it's just really dumb!). In short, 90% of the time you are forced to play reactively and hope the enemy messes up somehow (like walking into an obvious gylph of frost in a mid-fight). on the bright side, any non-cheese attacks likely don't get very far. home soil, glacier shell and ice guardians are so good at defending single wells, most player don't even try anymore. but how on earth do you buff frost? make the units good enough to reliably counter swift spamm cheese tactics? what about large maps? what about mid-fights? what if you want to engage without having your ig kitet around?

let's say you managed to fix those issues somehow, but then what? how am i supposed to attack frost t1 then? standard attacks are not working out already it will only be worse if the faction is buffed. do i still get to try the swift unit cheese even if failure is much more likely? if that strat goes bad, it tends to go really, really bad. the matches would essentially be very volatile and still very map dependent.

 

In short, frost t1 and nature t1 are problematic and fixing them without, making them op in situations those decks already excell at, will be much harder than excpected.


As for pvp maps, i really think we should have a contest, preferably an official one where maps get added to the ranked pool. Making good maps takes quite a bit of effort and it sucks not seing them played at all and maybe just winning a few bfp in a contest. I agree that with some measure of care taken for cliffs, center of map balance, map size and t2 oppertunities, we can make some really good and interesting maps and it would be great to roll out new maps for when the game gets released. This should be really low effort for the devs, since the community is going to be in charge of making those maps and voting for them in the end. Since it was already possible to remove random maps from the ranked pool, i am hoping it should be rather easy to add maps as well.

felkin and Kubik like this

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As I already said:

adding/removing "official" maps to/from the ranked pool is literally 1 number, and 1 comma in the code.
random maps have one (not publicly disclosed) disadvantage for us, but if team decide to add them it is same as above. (Fiki is working on solution to get rid of that disadvantage)
random maps was not removed from ranked pool, I need to write that pool from scratch, and I did not know EA have them in ranked pool :P so because of the disadvantage I did not add them.

adding community maps would be much more complicated, especially because EA's file checking is broken, because each player can have different map just with same name.
Zyna, and Ladadoos should be already working on converting community map to "official" map, and after that it would be same as above.

Changing units/cards on test server is not a problem, changing it ONLY on test server is, because of how EA made the game (this one actually is not blame to them). Aviator is working on new updater, that will allow us to overcome this issue. (But MrXLink said no changes before release)

LagOps likes this

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I agree to everything stated but Imo it's only part of the problem. The game also needs more pvp players to provide a healthy pvp experience. Especially for new players. I tell from my silver or gold elo perspective. Atm you can play through the ladder to top 50 in 20 games or so. 

Allready back in the days under EA it was like that. 

2-3 game vs players that do nothing then leave. 

Then some games vs player that not have basic knowledge of the game. F. E. do things like play defencive towers so you can just grab wells instead fight. 

Then some OK games. 

And then you reached top 50 and must face veterans. Some of the games might still be ok but you also allready might get crushed by them. 

Summerized short we have too less games of each elo or too less players. And I doubt there are so many waiting for the reset. I guess we would need about 3000 pvp players online at one time to make a healthy pvp experience. 

 

What can we do? Is it allowed for you to do any sort of promotion after release? Like events or let big influencers do a video on it. You should support any people like @Toggy that do events and broadcast skylords reborn. Imo you shoud gather ideas for promote the game in any way. The game has incredible unused potential. 

Kind Regards 

LagOps, RadicalX and felkin like this

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My opinion is just raise the deck slots for pvp to 30/or atleast 25/ with some condition like 5 cards in the deck minimum must contain T4 and buildings cards.

Yes we need make T4 viable in PVP,cause i feel the game one-armed giant without  the full card collection capability and the 20 card just restricted the gameplay too much,after a while when the battleforge unique attraction is gone u realised that the game become pretty repetitive,cause if u dont want that t1-t2 heavy playstyle u havent got enough option per tier to make decision between some various strategys or creatures just calling down what is momently available without any thinking,following the pre planned path.

So some point of view the game with the current card slots is already slightly decided at the deck creating process what not favor the long time enjoyment as the ingame strategy changing and the freedom of choosing are limited aswell.

Poor english i know,but i hope was understable.

Edited by wYrmYxY

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Make t4 viable is not bad idea in general (at least for 2 vs 2) but has not much to do with deckslots. There are obviously some t4 cards that were meant to be pvp cards. See F. E. colossus ability, witch is useless in pve. But to achieve this you would Imo have to nerf many t3 cards and or change the cost of tech up. 

Pls correct me someone if I m wrong. :-) 

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3000 PvP players :O we did not have that much players online at same time ever.

We are allowed to make promotions, but Hawk decided no promotions or support for tournaments until release (I think he is not that strict on this one any more).

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Thanks for the comments! I edited the main post. I included the aspect of creating a larger playerbase for better matchmaking.

@LagOps I agree with the Nature & Frost part, we probably need a larger set of changes with compensation nerfs to reach an acceptable balancing state for T1. The ideas I initially posted were aimed to support T1 vs T2 scenarios. I removed this part from the main post, because I think it will be better to discuss specific ideas within the actual balancing threads/discord. I don't think, that T1 is too ranged heavy though as ranged units mostly are more micro demanding and I feel a decent amount of melee units are in a decent state. The only thing that might need to be adressed at some point is the opressive single unit spam in some matchups (Frostmagespam, Fireswornspam, Dryadspam). 

@Kubik Thanks for your input here! If we get to apply changes to just one server at some point though, is there a chance of just testing balancing changes before the wipe? Even if nothing goes to the main server pre reset, testing several proposals can help alot to improve them. As this is quite time consuming, it would be great to start as early as possible. 

And do you know anything regarding the possibility of changing activity requirements?

Edited by RadicalX

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As I said Aviator is working on new updater, that should support having 2 versions of the game (one for main server, and another for test server) based on his feedback he is progressing slowly. After that I think we can start making changes on test server.

Activity counting is fully under our control, so changes are possible, you must ask MrXLink, he is "Game Lead", and "Design Lead".

RadicalX likes this

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@RadicalX mele units in t1 are in a decent state and as you pointed out it's the spamm occuring in certain matchups... which typically involves spamming ranged units to the point where mele units often don't feel viable anymore. that was pretty much what i meant when i said ranged units are too dominant - the point of them becomming opressive is reached too early in my opinion.

As for nature t1 struggling against t2, well that's not exactly suprising considering how scaling-heavy the faction is, which often results in mid-late t1 being avoided by the non-nature player. After adjustments to the faction to adjust the power-curve, i would expect the matchup vs. early t2 to be a lot less of an issue.

 

I really would like to discuss this in more detail, but i feel such a discussion would be pretty pointless as it would start all over again once balance changes can be implemented on a test-server.

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