BA genetics or what makes BA fun.

BA genetics or what makes BA fun.

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BA genetics or what makes BA fun.

Post by gyanbasic »

Eveyone loves making suggestions about additions and changes to BA units, obviosuly in an attempt to improve it.
But to make suggestions that will improve BA and not do the opposite, we gotta ask ourselves what is it that makes BA good? What are its core elements, comapred to other RTS games or even Spring games, that make it unique and interesting?

So what makes BA good?
It is definately some sort of combination of unit maneuvring, physics simulation and a specific use of unit variety.
The fun part of BA is taking advantage of the opponent's lack of awarness of a perticular spot on the map to allow yourself to overwhelm that spot with a lot of firepower compared to his inferior amounts of firepower, whether its with land air or sea units.
Example: the simplest one is attacking a spot that has no defenses with air or land units, destroying the economy in that area.
Exmple: An example would be attacking a with a veritcle line of flash a horizontal line of flash, allowing your tanks to all engage and shoot while the tanks of the opponent meet your forces one by one.
Example: fooling your opponnet about attacking a certain place while you yourself seperate your forces at the last second and attack the place form which your opponent moved all his forces.

Human limitations and balance
For these maneuvers to be worth the awarness and time you invest in them the units you control have to be of a certain speed to be actually able to act fast enough so that if the opponent is looking elsewhere your units have the time to cause a lot of damage. If the units are slow to move the other player will always have the time to notice you are doing something and focus on it before your forces can do anything.

Rock paper scissors versus TA
For this style of gameplay to be able to really assert itself another style of gameplay cannot exist or has to be marginal. I mean the rock paper scissors gameplay. The more two armies are different from one another in unit selection, the bigger an advanatge will one have over the other in any perticular situation.
If I have flash and you have levelers chances are one of us will win simple because of his unit choice and not because of any maneuvering.
Since every player has a maximum amount of attention this is a zero sum game. The more a game focuses the player on rock paper scissors gameplay and rewards that, and the more unit choice matters, then the less grander scale maneuvring matters. The game becomes less about moving your forces all over the map trying to find weak spots or exploiting physics and formation of your unit group versus your enemiy's, and more about smaller in group manuvering where you place each of your units with their fighting space to best counter the right unit in the enemy's varied unit group.
Example: Zero-k has a big choice of very different units that are strong counters to other units. This mostly means that no matter how you micro your unit group if the opponnet has a unit group that cunters yours there i very little you can do.

Unit variety and balance
When we decide to add a unit into the unit roaster of a game, we obviosuly mean for it to be ideal to use in a certain situation compared to the rest. There has to be some game state in which this unit is the best choice to use. If such a game state does not exist then this unit becomes useless and other units are always used instead of it.
Now games cannot last forever. Each game has a certain time limit and a certain map roaster. This means that within the time limits of an average game on an assortment of maps each unit in the unit roaster has to have situations and conditions when it is the ideal choice.
What does this mean? it means that when we add units to the game we retract the amount of average time and conditions in which all the other units will be used. The more different types of units you have to use within an average game of 40 minutes, where every unit has to have some ideal situation for its use, the less game time each unit type recieves overall.
The more units we add the less game time each unit has and the more the game becomes about choosing the right unit every moment instead of maneuvering units to gain an advantage.
Two extreme cases are where you only have one unit type.
This means that the focus of the game becomes very complex maneuvering of this one unit type against the same unit type the oppoent has to gain an advanatge. The opposite is a plethora of unit types where maneuvering matters less and what matters the most is making sure you have the right counter to the enemy's unit choice every moment in the game. The later is how ZK plays while the former is how BA used to be played a long time ago where flash and instigators were very powerful.

Where is BA?
BA is somewhere in the middle.
So when we add more units to the game, we have to understand that we are doing one of two things:
1) either adding useless units or making some exisitng unit useless if the unit we are adding is not different enough from the rest and isnt well balanced.
2) if the unit we add is balanced then we are focusing the game on a more rock paper scissors experience where evey unit type has less game time and the focus is on unit selection and changing your unit queue all the time.

BA finds its golden spot anf fullfills its fun gameplay in having a few main units that are used most often, focusing on grander scale unit movements, with a few units that are more niche and used less often.
I dont think BA should become closer to ZK. I think its better to augment and focus on making sure all existing units have a a role while also making sure they are not so different so as to create rock paper scissors situations where unit choice trumps unit movement.

In practice this means making sure flash and stumpy(and their core and kbot equivalents) are the main units in t1 while the rest are still useable but less often.
It also means that T1 is used more often then T2 as is obviously the case, but where Ba might hav ea problem ATM is T2 units themselves might be occupying too similair places in terms of cost. I think here a good solution would be to make some of the units more expensive so they are a bit later game units so not all t2 units can be built at the same time in a competetiev match to an ever bigger extand than it is now.
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Re: BA genetics or what makes BA fun.

Post by Beherith »

I was never able to put my finger on why I found BA to the best RTS for me, or why Ive spent several thousand hours on it. But you make some interesting arguments.
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Re: BA genetics or what makes BA fun.

Post by MasterBel2 »

There are some very specific things for me:
Physics: Okay, we might not have perfect physics but this for me is amazing.
Models: I know most people would say that the current models look pretty bad, but when I first saw them I fell in love with them. I still
Terrain, and the importance of: I can't remember the first map I ever saw mum and dad playing on, but it was one with hills and it just looked majestic. I haven't seen the quality of terrain variation that's in Spring maps as any other rts game, although the texturing could be a little nicer most of the time. What's more, having that actually matter so much is something I love, and the lack of quality terrain (other than just sea) really bothered me a lot in Age Of Empires, for example.
Micro: how a single unit wisely used can do so so much more damage than it could have. And the way the balance is set up, every unit matters always. ((Except when you jump to t2 and t1 becomes redundant)) This is kind of because every unit has a little bit of somethign – a little bit of dps, a little bit of armor, a little bit of range, a little bit of accuracy, a little bit of speed varying on the unit. Everything's microable to take down almost everything – except the units that can't shoot backwards, of course, that's a bit of a pain. (but then there was reversing!!)
Macro: It's more than just a micro game, there's a macro element too, and both rely on each other to work. I think this is what gives the game such a steep learning curve, but I think I feel it's worth it.

Essentially: The realism, the scale, and the control, creating a fully immersive experience. And I know people are probably going to laugh at me saying that because it's not very realistic but there's a point at which I don't care, just because it's the best I've seen.
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