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Importance of player feedback regarding Balance

STAR WARS: The Old Republic > English > Classes
Importance of player feedback regarding Balance

ThePedigree's Avatar


ThePedigree
12.05.2012 , 10:33 AM | #1
Hello all,

Recently BW posted a blog discussing the importance of player driven feedback and the effects that it has had on some changes made to the F2P and premium accounts. Players were vocal about issues regarding hotkey bars, additional character slot access, and increasing the weekly limit cap on activities. Bioware listened, and we thank you.

But I'd like to steer this in another direction. I, like many others are baffled by another recent post by a Dev regarding class balance:

Quote:
Jonathan: We pay very close attention to both engagement and balance in PvP. Some things we examine are player kill to death ratios and average rewards gained for every class to make sure that balance is maintained across the board. We also examine hourly Warzone numbers to make sure there are enough players queuing up to minimize the amount of time it takes to get into a Warzone. The mega servers provided a significant influx of PvPers that helped significantly reduce our queue times. We also examine average Warzone length to make sure that every Warzone has a similar ratio of reward to time spent. Balance-wise, kill/death ratios are well-balanced, with all Advanced Classes having kill/death ratios very close to each other. Healers tend to die a little less, but this is mitigated by the fact that they don't kill as much and thus rewards given are quite equitable across all Advanced Classes.
There are several issues here I'd like to address.

1. Give credit where credit is due. Using kills to deaths ratio as a measure of balance seems very haphazard and inaccurate. This doesn't take into account the fact that you are awarded kills standing in the vicinity of other players fighting or for players you perhaps clipped with your AOE but did not directly attack/were focusing on. Let's face it, you might have a bunch of kills on the scoreboard, but the majority of them came from fighting next to that Mara/Sent. You can rack up a whole bunch of kills by dotting up people that another player does all the heavy hitting on. This also doesn't take into account that the kills and deaths counter in game seems wildly inaccurate at times. I can attest, as I'm sure many others can as well, that I have died way way more times than the scoreboard shows.

2. DPS is not balanced. There are a few specs that are pushing out ridiculous numbers. They can kill people much faster than other AC's. This is a balance issue. It is not balanced for one particular AC to be able to bring someone from full to dead in two laps of their rotation when another AC must struggle to do so while also avoiding being killed in a matter of seconds by the aforementioned AC. While I'm not expecting every class to slug it out at the exact same pace or style, that would be rather bland, there is certainly a large gap between the ACs that bring people down quickly and those that do not. This can lead to other inequities that do not have to do with the kills/death ratio as certain AC's can bring advantages to objectives. If you get exploded in a matter of seconds, it leaves little time for your team to respond to help. The difference between getting attacked by one AC to another can be wildly different, even given relatively equal gear.

BW, I urge you to listen to player feedback regarding balance. There has been a myriad of posts on these forums about the many issues between classes. There have even been numerous suggestions on how you might fix them. With a new tier of gear coming, now is the time to address the problem. Please stop hiding behind a set of metrics that it is frankly very easy to poke holes in. The people playing this game seem to be having quite a different experience than your ratios are suggesting. Why is that?

anstalt's Avatar


anstalt
12.05.2012 , 10:52 AM | #2
I urge them NOT to listen to player feedback regarding balance!

I urge them to use facts and proper testing. These facts and testing can come from the community, but lets face it, the vast majority of feedback is ridiculously biased and it is usually wrong. The devs need to balance classes based on their maximum potential, not average player skill.
Anstalt - lvl 50 valor 81 Shadow Consular

Currently retired due to poor design decisions within the game that have killed its longevity. Get rid of Hickman before he ruins the game completely!

_Darkstar's Avatar


_Darkstar
12.05.2012 , 11:00 AM | #3
Quote: Originally Posted by ThePedigree View Post
1. Give credit where credit is due. Using kills to deaths ratio as a measure of balance seems very haphazard and inaccurate. This doesn't take into account the fact that you are awarded kills standing in the vicinity of other players fighting or for players you perhaps clipped with your AOE but did not directly attack/were focusing on. Let's face it, you might have a bunch of kills on the scoreboard, but the majority of them came from fighting next to that Mara/Sent. You can rack up a whole bunch of kills by dotting up people that another player does all the heavy hitting on. This also doesn't take into account that the kills and deaths counter in game seems wildly inaccurate at times. I can attest, as I'm sure many others can as well, that I have died way way more times than the scoreboard shows.
No idea about 2 but you are missing the point by a huge margin here, because you are only thinking about 1 player, rather than 1 million players (Or however few people play these days).

Yes person x might get a lot of kills in a warzone from 'leaching' other people's kills, but over the whole population of the game that kind of thing evens itself out, because person x might be a different class tomorrow. So when looked from the top level this is a very good measure to see how well people are doing. Actual class balance where each class puts out the same DPS while maintaining different playstyles and levels of burst is very hard to get right (No MMO has managed it yet, at least PvP wise), but the whole point of that balance is to make each class give the same reward for the same effort. So as long as the reward is balanced that is a very good place to start.

Any class you feel is underpowered may indeed be so, but aside from you not feeling like you are powerful it doesn't seem to be actually preventing you from getting the same stuff that the more powerful classes are getting, at the same rate.

You are right that player feedback is important, but you need to actually put some serious thought and facts into your feedback if you want it to be taken into account, because facts like kill/death/reward ratio's are hard to argue with, and most people would prefer to know they will get an equal reward on all characters, above actual balance, only those who play competatively (Usually a small %) even notice anything other than a major balance issue.
British by act of union, English by grace of God, Northern by pure good fortune!

ThePedigree's Avatar


ThePedigree
12.05.2012 , 11:01 AM | #4
Quote: Originally Posted by anstalt View Post
I urge them NOT to listen to player feedback regarding balance!

I urge them to use facts and proper testing. These facts and testing can come from the community, but lets face it, the vast majority of feedback is ridiculously biased and it is usually wrong. The devs need to balance classes based on their maximum potential, not average player skill.
Whether you look at maximum potential or average skill (which is a funny thought when it comes to Lolsmash), there is still a giant inequity.

While I agree with you that proper testing needs to be done, kills to death ratios isn't it. And it hasn't helped them properly test the balance for the past many months that there have been issues.

ThePedigree's Avatar


ThePedigree
12.05.2012 , 11:21 AM | #5
Quote: Originally Posted by _Darkstar View Post
No idea about 2 but you are missing the point by a huge margin here, because you are only thinking about 1 player, rather than 1 million players (Or however few people play these days).

Yes person x might get a lot of kills in a warzone from 'leaching' other people's kills, but over the whole population of the game that kind of thing evens itself out, because person x might be a different class tomorrow. So when looked from the top level this is a very good measure to see how well people are doing. Actual class balance where each class puts out the same DPS while maintaining different playstyles and levels of burst is very hard to get right (No MMO has managed it yet, at least PvP wise), but the whole point of that balance is to make each class give the same reward for the same effort. So as long as the reward is balanced that is a very good place to start.
I was giving several reasons why the kills/death ratios may be skewed. Why it isn't the best measurement of game balance. I wasn't suggesting that people are merely leeching, I was saying that they are getting credit for kills that are vastly the work a few AC that they are fighting in the same area with.

Quote:
Any class you feel is underpowered may indeed be so, but aside from you not feeling like you are powerful it doesn't seem to be actually preventing you from getting the same stuff that the more powerful classes are getting, at the same rate.
The point of my post wasn't broker for my class to be buffed. As a matter of fact, my main is a Jugg, and I feel that the Warrior PVP tree needs to be nerfed. I play a hybrid tank build, not lolsmash, because I don't feel like that spec is fun for me, nor do I feel it is fair. This wasn't a post about my feelings about my class though, it was about the devs needing to pay attention to what their community has been saying about balance across all the classes for a long time. It needs a serious look and some work done before a new tier of gear comes.

Quote:
You are right that player feedback is important, but you need to actually put some serious thought and facts into your feedback if you want it to be taken into account, because facts like kill/death/reward ratio's are hard to argue with, and most people would prefer to know they will get an equal reward on all characters, above actual balance, only those who play competatively (Usually a small %) even notice anything other than a major balance issue.
Again, you're missing my point entirely. I'm not here to suggest what changes need to be made. Those arguments are already out there. They have been made in great detail in numerous other threads. Some many or may not be the right answers for those ACs. But attention needs to be brought to the issue. My point is that while the devs are touting Player-driven feedback leading to changes, they need to look at Balance as well.

_Darkstar's Avatar


_Darkstar
12.05.2012 , 11:28 AM | #6
Quote: Originally Posted by ThePedigree View Post
I was giving several reasons why the kills/death ratios may be skewed. Why it isn't the best measurement of game balance. I wasn't suggesting that people are merely leeching, I was saying that they are getting credit for kills that are vastly the work a few AC that they are fighting in the same area with.
But my point was that this type of thing will benefit everyone equally, so it will even out well enough that you don't need to worry about it. And 1 class cannot make everyone stay alive equally long, so if that was the case the death ratio's would be out, which they aren't.

When taking stats like this into account any mechanic that benefits or hinders everyone is irrelevant, but if something was affecting only 1 AT then it would stand out. If survivability on one AT was an issue then at some point we would see that AT die more often. If one AT did do most of the damage then at some point it would pull ahead because there isn't always someone there to get the benefit of the kill, and when those classes needing the help didn't have it they would get less kills.

I know leeching has a specific meaning among MMO crowds, so it was probably the wrong word to pick.
British by act of union, English by grace of God, Northern by pure good fortune!

_Darkstar's Avatar


_Darkstar
12.05.2012 , 11:36 AM | #7
Quote: Originally Posted by ThePedigree View Post
Again, you're missing my point entirely. I'm not here to suggest what changes need to be made. Those arguments are already out there. They have been made in great detail in numerous other threads. Some many or may not be the right answers for those ACs. But attention needs to be brought to the issue. My point is that while the devs are touting Player-driven feedback leading to changes, they need to look at Balance as well.
Sorry I shouldn't have double posted, but my point was that people offering feedback about balance are probably picking up on minor things that in the real world are having very little effect.

I don't follow the PvP forums (Always amazes me how much PvPers can complain) but if people feel that lets say operatives burst too much, but that isn't being borne out by the kill ratio's then it shows that the balance actually is working, because that burst must be offset by something else, which those doing the feedback are missing. If the feedback is that operatives burst too much AND that shows in the kill patterns then the feedback will be taken into account. Often the feedback is that the burst is too much and the sustained is too weak, but if the kill patterns are correct then that is most likely how they actually want operatives to play, and those providing the feedback just don't agree with the design, so no matter how accurate that feedback is, it is not going to be acted upon.

But if everyone is giving having the same effect on the fight then most of the feedback is likely misplaced, or misinterpretted because people focus on 1 thing and miss the bigger picture.

(I use operatives as an example, because that was the complaint at launch when I last cared to look)

I assume this MMO is no different from the others I have played, and the feedback that is taken into account is always the feedback of a trusted few people who end up giving it directly to the devs/customer service team, rather than post it on the forums, because they know that most forum feedback is wrong, or asking too much, or missing the bigger picture.

People should always give as much feedback as they can, but they should never expect it to be acted upon.
British by act of union, English by grace of God, Northern by pure good fortune!

Urael's Avatar


Urael
12.05.2012 , 11:39 AM | #8
Quote: Originally Posted by anstalt View Post
I urge them NOT to listen to player feedback regarding balance! I urge them to use facts and proper testing.
^QFE

Hopefully they are collecting data from WZ encounters into a repository and analyzing the data sets with some sort of informatic tool.

Mazikeen's Avatar


Mazikeen
12.05.2012 , 11:54 AM | #9
Quote: Originally Posted by anstalt View Post
I urge them NOT to listen to player feedback regarding balance!
This. I wonder if they take into account the number of highly-skilled players vs the number of mediocre (or even poor) players in their numbers. Player A may get massive numbers on class X, and player B may get crap number on class Y, but class Y may be technically better and the numbers are due to player B being sub-par.
"Someone ever tries to kill you, you try to kill 'em right back!" - Malcolm Reynolds

SpaniardInfinity's Avatar


SpaniardInfinity
12.05.2012 , 12:01 PM | #10
Quote: Originally Posted by _Darkstar View Post
I assume this MMO is no different from the others I have played, and the feedback that is taken into account is always the feedback of a trusted few people who end up giving it directly to the devs/customer service team, rather than post it on the forums, because they know that most forum feedback is wrong, or asking too much, or missing the bigger picture.

People should always give as much feedback as they can, but they should never expect it to be acted upon.
I agree, but I think the main rationale of the OP is to spur any communication between the developers and the players. If you were to look at the PvP forums (and with a great deal of luck weed out all the utter nonsense), you'd see a simple request: communicate more. A lot of the debate and complaining is because we are all realistically speculating what Bioware's design is. They haven't told us and while the majority of it can be deduced by watching gameplay and understanding the mechanics, some of it doesn't add up or seems incomplete.

A good example I use is Commando and Mercenary, specifically healer because I'm most familiar with it. The class started without an in combat revive, a cleanse that did not heal, and no interrupt. The first two were things the other healers could do but the Commando/Merc couldn't, the latter is something literally every other advanced class had until Update 1.4. From a balancing perspective, each class is going to have strengths and weaknesses. One could then conclude that if the class had these three weaknesses, it should then be bring a valuable strength to the table to warrant it. But that's the problem. Commando/Mercenary never did bring anything to the table so important to justify these weaknesses -- and they changed it.

Basically, the point is that so much frustration could be reduced if Bioware made it clear what the intention of each AC is. This class is the ranged specialist. This class is the support DPS. This class is the specialist healer while this one is the group healer. We can assume these things, but there's no official word. So really, we're just taking stabs in the dark at what Bioware thinks is class balance. If we know what their design for an AC is then we can say to ourselves, "okay, this isn't the AC for me, I don't like this playstyle" or "this is the right fit for me". More importantly, with that foundation, we can actually make a case for or against proposed changes and it makes the feedback more constructive and focused instead of off the wall or utterly out of line with the AC's design.
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