(This was a length post for ComplexAI but went off topic)
I last played ages ago. But here is what I can recall of balance.
On maps with the right terrain Flows can fly around the edges and kill HQ. Once HQ is dead the game is basically over.
Any Network expansion is able to defend itself really well because it can spawn Packets. This is also true for the assault unit. Packets are units which should be rapidly deployed as a burst damage spell and then repacked for later use. The Packet count is in effect a global mana bar. Once it is at about 100 on a reasonably small map you can shield a few assault units and go for their HQ, the burst damage is that high.
This causes things such as Mines, Worm and flame strike to be ineffective vs Network.
Flow vs System is only countered by arty because arty 1 shots them. But Flow + Shield vs Arty means that arty one shot themselves and flows now take two shots. Shield also makes assault units resistant. You can pop a shield to even kill arty after they have shot if you are fast enough, it is really effective.
As far as I recall the metagame looked like this:
System wins on very small maps. I'm not entirely sure about how small is small but the core idea is that there are not enough spots for Network to make a shield gen. System can deny expansions with Arty and beat things with a strong mix of Arty and Bytes.
Network wins on medium maps. They can get up a shield gen and use it on Flows to make a building unstoppable death ball.
Hacker wins on the largest maps. At this point swarmer swarms swamp much of the effect of any larger units and Hacker has the beefiest swarmer. DOS works well in conjunction with swarms and can be spammed and be quite helpful. I think Flow + Shield would win except DOS is unaffected by shield. Packets cannot be spawned fast enough to respond to the massive Bug swarms.
Anyway this is as I recall it. I would have to play again (and a lot more) to be more sure. I don't think we ever played enough to figure things out completely. So don't bother doing anything because it was reasonably balanced and unless MP happens again nobody will notice.
Joined: 22 Feb 2006, 01:02 Location: cheap kitchen
As far I remember one balance problem with Network was that that the mobile obelysk thing can teleport units so fast that in a fight they always have the larger unitcount. All their units can be involved in a fight compared to System where half your balls are still rolling to the front. So if you see something to kill, plop out all the packets, kill it, and load them up again. Which also instantly heals them.
Without really redesigning the game, you simply cannot make each and every map balanced between these factions. Either it needs to be relatively small or have a focused battleground (ie. contested geos mostly around one area, instead of being evenly spread out) for it to be balanced. You might want to alter the balance in one way or another to support a different set of maps, as you like though.
Hacker is something of an enigma to me though, never seen it work very well in my hands or someone elses, but Googles post indicates it'd be possible. On big maps or otherwise. Network always worked for me on big maps due to all their units being more or less focused on mobility, even when I didn't know how shields worked it was easy to use the teleporting and flows to just use local superiority in different spots and crawl forward claiming the factories for myself.
Network can work well on small maps too, though, at least some of them. Gateway being armed is a big help here, allowing for a more economic start without dying. But if system/hacker can get on about equal footing for a moment, their ability to artillery creep unlike network, should win the game.
Johannes also has a good point about map size. I think I have played network well on large maps but against good players they can use Bugs to attack everywhere at once and drain your buffer.
People would have to play a lot more to come up with good ideas. But I'll give you some ideas anyway.
Hacker would need slightly worse Bug and better heavy units to even up map sizes. It's heavy units are not that good compared to the other sides so they would have to be a bit better to improve it on small maps.
I find Network with the shield interesting to play so maybe the other sides need something like that. As in a nuke and obselisk which are worth building, maybe with different abilities. There are more base attributes to fiddle with such as DPS, range and speed.
Alternatively you could just make shield effect weaker/shorter, but then comes the question, that at what point (# of geos) do you want people to start considering building the special buildings instead of just more unit production? Goes for all factions of course.
I'd actually want the firewall to be interesting to built as a early as possible, because I'm all for having the most variety of units even in small games, and find it sad when some units aren't every used out of special case.
Any time where you have factions that have such different mobility, you're going to have balance issues depending on the map. Probably the Network faction needs to be altered so it doesn't have quite so massive a mobility advantage over the others - for example, take the deployment power off of the immobile towers and leave it only for the mobile ones. And replace the Flow with a more conventional unit (save the Flow for a future faction that doesnt' already have a spectacularly mobile swarmer).
for example, take the deployment power off of the immobile towers and leave it only for the mobile ones.
Would leave them without any access to the buffer if no connections are on the field. Maybe the deployment rate of the ports could be reduced compared to the connection or AOE weapons could force a port to deploy a wave of packets (e.g. when a worm pokes a port the port would automatically drop 12 packets that then die to the worm's AOE, this would correspond to the groups of idle spam that surround other factories).
The carrier. They can still deploy from the carrier. Of course, this necessitates a "carrier dies/game ends" mechanic for the Network.
In general, it would make the Network not necessarily more or less mobile, but very *differently* mobile. Can be anywhere the Connections are, or the carrier... but you don't automatically gain map control as you take ports. Your ability to expand is limited by your ability to roll out connections, and losing connections would put a big hurt in your ability to pop reinforcements.
Shoot, I forgot you couldn't deploy from carrier - I tended to avoid the network faction because I freely admit I don't have the APM for that - System has always been lowest-micro. Yeah, I'd add deployment to carrier.
Perhaps simply reduce the deployment rate of the ports so deploying when the enemy is already in range is very unhealthy and/or make packets deploy with an unloaded weapon (so they have to complete a reload cycle before firing the first shot)?
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