It's been a long time since I've posted here. Few, if any of you guys might remember me. I was planning to post this a few months ago, but due to certain mishaps, it got delayed. Also, this might sound a little funny, but the set-up of this post was in the event that this deserved it's own thread. But clearly, this issue's a bit older, so the style might be a little off. However, my main goal is to address the problem of power inflation, which for one, most of the new people do not know of. Also note, I won't be posting for a long time after this post. There are other issues in other places I must see addressed as well.
Hello. Chances are if you are reading this, this topic, you must find this topic of interest, therefore, you have decided to click to view this topic. This thread will cover many things regarding Fundamentals of Mechquest Balance. For those of you who may have noticed, everything has gotten more powerful as time progresses. We for now have only won a small victory against this problem, but it is still around, and it is tempting on the strong, and preying on the weak. Once upon a time, there lied a very serious problem abroad Mechquest Balance.
Their names were Power Inflation/Fluctuation and Lack of Standards. These two baddies were and still are responsible for the usurping of Mechquest Game Balance. Since the early days of Mechquest, it is these baddies have influenced how people play, and their views on certain equipment. These still exist in Mechquest whether you realize it or not. It has only been recently that this problem has been addressed too, but few realize it. Mechquest has changed a lot for both the better and worse over the period of 3 years. There are things that happen that are good, then then are things that happen that are bad. Power Inflation/Fluctuation happens to be one of those bad things that have happened. In fact, it's probably the worst things that's ever happened to Mechquest. Ever.
"Now why do I need to know about this?". Easy, understanding this post will change your view of Mechquest Balance, or at least force you to look at yourself and wonder if all your talking and your current views of certain equipment standards are really what they should be, because over the past 3 years, you may even acknowledge yourself the fact that that the front arm you used to help you get by is completely useless to you now. Although difficult to comprehend this concept at first, I will try to help you understand these problems as much as possible. Let us begin.
Part 1: Standardization Opens Doors
This is just a few things that I've observed from looking at some posts in the MechQuest Game Balance Issues. Lately, it seems when we post Balance Issues, 90% of people don't know what's really really going to make something balanced. It also seems that people don't remember another Non-negotiable - Standards and Power Level. These two things can not only make what makes an equipment balanced, but also, people seem to detract and deviate from these two main principles of Balance all together.
Before we start on the next Paragraph, I need to stress something first. The main and staple definition of Balance is a varied across players. True, knowing what Balance really is like trying to grasp a mist. However, the most common definition used by players and Game Staff altogether is how the weapon's relation and reaction to a standard. Simply, Balance in it's most simple definition is probably Standard itself. Without Standard, Balance cannot exist. Think of it this way - If a certain weapon is Much too powerful in YOUR opinion, it's probably because it defies your standard of how powerful a weapon SHOULD be. See? With out Standard, Balance is just a simple fancy word that has nice paperweight behind it.
The relation between these are very much correlated. The Power Level of an Item is based on the standards of it's level. Let us say a weapon we know nerfs around 750 stat points, the equivalent of about -75 ( Believe that is correct, but correct me if needed). If something nerfs less that this, it is below the standard, and therefore, it's power level is weaker to it's Level requirement. The same works for the opposite. If that same item nerfs more than 750 stat points, then it's power level is much higher than it's actual level.
Now I also think you're thinking that Standardization will destroy the amount of Variation found in Equipment Specials/Effects. However, this is not the case. Remember my 750 points example from earlier this section? Just because an exampled standard will be capped at 750, this does not mean that everything will only nerf 75 bonus (or -75 bonus). This only simply means that you can mix it up as long as it caps at 750. Like for example, you could have a weapon that Raises your boost by 30, raises your bonus by 30, and raises your Defense by 15. As you can see, just because the stndard may cap at 75, does not mean everything will only raise or nerf something by 75. The combination are theoretically endless!
In short, to be simplified, when something is below it's power level, it is less powerful than the standard of it's level. When something's power level is above it's level standard, it is above the standard. When something's power level is lower than the established standard, we might call it "Underpowered", or Under The Standard, which in turn means it's power level is below the standard. When something's power level is higher than the standard, we call it "Overpowered", or Over the Standard. I think we are starting to see the relation between Power Level, and Standard.
Now, why did I title this section "Standardization Opens Doors"? It's because with the establishment of clear, and thorough Balance Standards, we can see more definite solutions to problems. For example, if we think a weapon isn't right for some reason, we can use a standard to see clearly if it isn't at the right level of power. With a standard, we can see further strengthen our arguments through the integration of a Balance Standard, as well as easily disprove others arguments easily. With this, people will provide stronger points, and less faults. When MQ gets clear, and vivid Balance Standards, we can hope that will solve the argument between what is "Overpowered", and what isn't.
Also, what's a problem without a standard is Power inflation. Simply, without a standard for balance, it is much easier for Power Fluctuation between releases. This is due on part of not beginning with a Solid foundation for weapon specials. When you must create anew every week, chances are, the power levels between items will not stay the same. When that happens, it's pretty easy to accidentally make one series of items extremely powerful, while the next release's items are dubbed "underwhelming" in a comparison. With a standard, Power inflation will become a problem of the past, due in part of everything being at the correct power level, in accordance to standard.
Part 2: What IS Power Inflation?
Now, you're probably asking what Power inflation is. This is simple. Let's say we are at level 40. Weapon series A is "this powerful". Then Weapon series B comes out. We find that this set of items has slightly better DPT, specials, and activation rates than Weapon series A. After Series B, we find that Weapon Series C has been released. We find that this is even MORE powerful in every way than was Weapon series "A" and "B". This cycle of which a new series of weapons becoming more powerful than the weapons preceding it's creation is a cycle we call Power Inflation. For those of you who can't bare to understand what this text is throwing at you, I've got a chart for you visual learners.
Weapon Series "A" is released --> Weapon Series "B" is released. --> It is more powerful than Series "A" --> Weapon Series "C" is released. --> C more powerful than Both A and B. -> Weapon Series "D" is released. --> It is again more powerful than A, B, and C --> Cycle of continued dominance over preceding generation, eventually becoming a predictable, repetitive pattern --> POWER INFLATION
As you see, with the advent of Power Inflation, it simply makes the last one series of weapons useless. Mecha "A" might be powerful, for a time, but eventually, newer mechas and weapons will make it obsolete. Why does this even happen you ask? Simple. With out a Clear Standard to lay the fundamental foundations of balance to weapons and mechas, people don't know where to start for power. They have no foundation, so they are forced to assume that a weapon being "This Powerful" is ok. However, with a Standard, people will immediately pick up on something funny if it were to occur. The cycle of a weapon series completely making the last series of weapons obsolete will never happen again.
If Power Inflation were to ever happen again, people would no doubt start complaining more due to their sporadic and sometimes
unstable reactions to things. If something were the most powerful, they would expect more things in the future to follow suit to that. However, when something fails to meet their expectations, normally it's due to it not being powerful enough to meet expectations, as noted before, Power Inflation can also bring about Power Fluctuation.
Part 3: The Infamous History of Power Inflation
(Note: I'm drawing this info in from the archives. However, that alone will not help this part be accurate as possible. This section is open to corrections)
Now, I am about to explain how we got to this point. Once upon a time when the Level Cap was only level 3, there were no such things as specials. There were no such things as effects. There was no such thing as Battle Initiative. There were even no such things as bonuses. Everything was pretty much simply damage. Now, that was before the advent of specials. Let's travel further into the future here. We've landed into GEARS, and specials are now starting to pop up, though we're still level 3 at best. They aren't extremely influential, but they do help a bit. These include DoT's, extra Damages, and even weapon bonuses. (Like Block +1). Even though this is the very dawn of specials and effects, they aren't totally revolutionary to the point of deciding if you win or not. Yet.
Now let's skip a little further ahead. House mechas (Now called Classic House Mechas) now exist. They are amazing. For their time. They have better specials now - Damage Boost, Increased crit chances (Very limited & Exclusive to Mysteraven however), stunning, and stronger DoT's. As you see specials are getting better as time progresses. For a time, not much is made to indicate Power Inflation. For the time being, most specials involve DoT's, stunning, or +50% Extra Damage on hit. And those specials seemed to be a recurring theme. Everything was at the same power level. For now.
Let's skip more ahead. It's now level 25. Stun resistance has been added to the game thanks to the problem with the Equinox Mecha. Advanced House Mecha's have just been released. Specials are now as complex as ever. We've now got Increasing Buffs over time, Healing (Though very limited) and even specials that can do AMAZING damage (Massive Annihilation anyone?). Specials are now powerful enough to influence the very heat of a battle.
As we see, throughout Mechquest's history, we can see a definite increase of the power of specials and effects. This is not a necessarily bad thing. In fact, this is a good thing. It shows that Mechquest is getting better and better. And thanks to specials and effects, battles are now fun, intense, and attention grabbing. However. Like all good things, too much of a cool and powerful thing can lead to absolute ruination. However, we still aren't seeing Power inflation becoming a factor for the ruination of Mechquest Game balance. Yet.
Let's skip another couple months. It's New Years 2008. People are anxious for what's to come. When the release is live, we find a startling surprise. Surprise surprise, what do we find here? These Mechas are extremely powerful. They are called the Volt Lances and the Golden Newbetrons. Instant Damage Boosts, HP Draining based on HP Percentages, Double Hit (AKA, Pulse Multipliers) Stun Resistance Piercing, followed by a good old fashioned stun. This is perhaps the first time that a mecha's power level is higher than it's level requirement. They absolutely belittle the Advanced House Mechas with their amazing specials. These Specials are setting the very thresholds into Power inflation. However, few of us realize this grim reality before it's really too late.
Let's skip to level 33. New planets have passed by. We've seen our host of ever increasing Powerful Mechas. Ice Mecha is a stunning beast. New Years 2009 heads are the pinnacle of Rare Head Power. The April Fools 2009 Clowns are now all outdoing the Non-Rare content by too much. The Headless Horsemecha was a total Beast in every way possible. Rares are starting to become an essential to survival, as monsters are also getting powerful as well. At one point in the past, you would've needed at least 5 Rares to get by. The situation is getting out of hand. I made a thread a long time ago on this issue back in the day, when rares were supremely and unquestionably dominant over Non-Rare Content. Hardly anyone remembers it. Those who do remember it are long gone now.
Let's skip just a little further. We're still at level 33. It's now Summer, June 2009. Surprise surprise... what do we find here? Star Captain Monthly Mecha! It's name is the Strider. The Mechquest team introduces it as a way to say "Thank you for upgrading!" It's a great gift, with all sorts of cool stuff. It's just as powerful as any other Star Captain Monthly Mecha. Everyone loves it and all would like an Encore. It's an absolutely perfect gift. When we asked for an encore, we were dead surprised, for a horrendous terror was about to change the way people looked at Star Captain Monthly Mechas. Forever.
"AVP! AVP! AVP! AVP! Kill those Freedom-Striping Arthurians! Make Barnacles out of those savage pirates!" People (OR I should say the entire Mechquest Community) are fighting against one another for the future and control of Lagos. In the midst of this war, comes Monthly Mecha #2! THE WARBEAR. For it's day, it was like the Instant Win button. It's DPT (Damage Per turn) was unbelievable for it's day, and many had come to the conclusion that it was dearly overpowered. For many, it's the Warbear's fault that we shamelessly look at Star Captain Monthly Mechas and say "Star Captain Monthly Mechas should be WAY more powerful than any other mecha". I keep thinking every time I use a Star Captain Monthly Mecha, "How would people view Star Captain Monthly Mechas if it were not for the "Tradition" that the Warbear apparently started". This is where Power inflation takes a true grasp of Mechquest, for better or worse. In this case? The worse. The VERY Worst.
Note: Just a little thing about Star Captain Monthly Mechas I'd like to add. First and foremost, Star Captain Monthly Mechas are NOT supposed to be "Overpowered", despite popular belief. They were never supposed to be held with regards to be more powerful than other Rare Mecha series. Their original purpose was for Star Captains's gift for Upgrading. And dear yes, they are fine gifts. They do not NEED to be overpowered, nor should they be heralded as the most powerful mechas in the game and deserves to be more powerful than they should. A Gift is a Gift. You should accept it for what it is and appreciate it, not change it because you like it. That kills the purpose of a Gift.
Level 35. Power Inflation continues to suppress it's seemly unstoppable force against Game Balance. Even as the Advanced House Mechas are now upgraded for use at level 35, this does not help at all. Newer Mechas of the same level are again supremely and unquestionably dominant. Once THE mechas of it's day, Advanced House Mechas were now a pile of uselessness that sits in your mecha inventory hopelessly, out-done by other equipment that is at it's same level. And I ask you here, who are the biggest victims of Power inflation? That's easy. Those who play Casually (AKA, those who only play like once every few weeks). Now, in order to barely survive, you must play Mechquest at least 3 times a week, thirty minutes a day. Those who play sparely have little to no chance. Power Inflation once again preys/devours on the weak, and corrupts the strong.
With Power Inflation becoming a definable reality, people's expectations of weapon power too, has increased. People are demanding buffs for items that they don't think is powerful enough for themselves. (Key words: Them, and themselves) They are fueling the fire that is killing Mechquest from the inside out. there seemed to be no hope for those who were victims, for they were hurt by this disease the most. With the advent of Power Inflation, everyone pretty much had to harden themselves, as they new it was pretty much a matter of time before the mecha they knew was once so powerful, would fail the test of time, and become "Useless" to the player.
There's another thread I made that people don't remember on this very same subject, Power Inflation, though it's a bit more unfortunate that it wasn't Tagged, FAQ'd, or anything of that sort. Anyways, with that said, I hoped people would understand what Power Inflation was, and how it only was killing the game like a very slow poison. However, I only made it worse. If you notice all the threads in the MQ GBI made AFTER 7/13/09, you'll noticed something very interesting - People are starting to use the terms "Overpowered" and "Underpowered" without evidence or statistics to back up their claims.
There's absolutely no rule saying you can't use those terms, but the very fact is that after the date 7/13/09, people generally used these terms more than ever, with increasing use in context. Before this, well, let's just say people rather brought up old issues from the old Balance Issues thread, due in part of all Balance issues being in a single thread before the creation of a Balance Forums. Point is - Although you can say those terms as many times as you want in your statements, just know, that they have very powerful meanings behind them. Take an deep breath, and best of all, don't follow the popular trail. Do what you know is right, not what the crowd believes.
Let's skip to 2010. Planet Yokai is now live. The weapons there are pretty powerful. Best of all, they're Non-rare equipment, and up to par with some rares. However, a single substantial victory does not count for the damage done in the past. These weapons are perhaps the best Non-Rare equipment you can find in the game. But however, there's also a problem with that - What about other Non Rare equipment? Power inflation has been defeated for a while Thanks to Planet Yokai, but, still, you gotta wonder - Can the Mechquest team continue to insert more Non-Rare equipment with them being on par? That my friends, can only be answered by you. But do not be worried my friends. There is hope. There is always hope. Together, we can stop Power Inflation.
Part 4: So what can WE do to prevent this from ever happening again?
Unlike the last section, this one will be pretty short. Here's what the team can do to hopefully stop Power Inflation in it's tracks:
1. Create a Clear, Definitive Power Standard for all mechas and equipment pieces.
2. Make more Non-Rare equipment that is comparable to Rares. But still try to keep a noticeable but safe gap between rares and Non-Rares
3. Revive/Revamp/Improve existing Non-Rare equipment for the purpose of Casual players.
4. As posters and Forumites, please keep this thread and the problems of what Power inflation has, can, or will do in mind. Even if this thread goes away, please try to remember this thread in your heart.
5. Lower the Price of items. Yes, farming in MQ is comparitively easy in relation to the other games, but people's lives are as hectic and busy as ever. This makes it hard for casual players to survive. Lowering the price of credit items would fix the problem of casual players falling behind as uncontrollable paces. This way, even the most laziest of players will be able to keep up by being able to afford anything and everything for the purpose of not falling behind with the rest of the crowd.
6. Reveal the Stat Formulas. This is only solely for Stat Calculation. When we know these, hopefully it'll be easier to see how effective training stats really are. So far, we can only guess how powerful training stats can be.
Part 5: So what will inevitably happen if we don't fix this? Also a few notes.....
Well for starters, when we don't have a standard, we certainly will encounter Power Inflation once again, as without it, it is very much easier to create either a scenario with Power Levels fluctuating between equipment, or that we encounter Power Inflation which would inevitably cause each newer weapon to be more powerful than the last, leaving those who can't keep up in the dreaded dust because they could not get the latest and greatest, nor can they adapt to the ever increasing power standards that influences how they play, because if they don't put time into it, they will never be able to stay on track.
As we've observed before, when there is power inflation or Power Fluctuation, we can see the effects on the player community as well - It causes anger and disappointment because it was not "powerful" enough. When something isn't "powerful" enough, understandably, you won't be satisfied, and with that, causes you to believe that something is "OP" or "UP". Either of these problems lead to dissatisfaction in the general community. With dissatisfaction, comes reduced popularity. In turn, that causes less people to play Mechquest.
But there is no such thing as "No Hope". Yes, although there are a lot of negatives, and there probably ARE more negatives than positives, but YOU as a person can influence how Mechquest's Balance is done. YOU can change Mechquest, whether it is for the better, or worse (Let's hope for the better). My days of influencing Mechquest Game Balance is over, but your days are not. Seize the chance to change mechquest for the better before it's too late.
Part 6: In Conclusion.......
First off, if you read this whole darn post, then congratulations, and thank you for reading this huge post. As you see, Power inflation and a lack of viewable standard are two things that continue to haunt Mechquest whether you realize it or not. For starters, just try to be cautious when you believe an items is WAY more powerful than it should be. If you don't think it's right, feel free to address your concern in the GBI forums. However, when you do that, just don't say it's underpowered "just cause I think it is". When you do try to prove a point, Data and testing with observation backing it up is always a big factor for persuasion. When you include those, you make yourself look correct, though it does not always happen to be the case. But however, any chance to prove your balance point is useful.
It has been more than 2 years since the last time I've posted about this issue. And with no doubt, have things changed as radically. Things can happen over a short and long period of time to a game. In all thought, Power Inflation/Fluctuation is the root of all Balance problems really, as many, if not all posts are made because something is being overpowered/underpowered. This is perfectly fine, as this is what a balance forum is for, however, do try to base your argument on statistics instead of the "It is because I think it is" clause.
I urge you all to think about this problem, and what it has done to affect your playing experience. No doubt, these problems have hit you somewhere to the road of today. I'd also like to thank Bomber of Justice for being the first to really address this problem over 2 years ago. Without him, I would've never had an idea of what these problems would've and done to Mechquest as a whole, more or less did actually happen. Whether he even remembers making that small post in Mechquest GBI 2 and 1/2 years ago, or is still even around, I could never in my life had ever made this post without him. Thanks for the foundation Bomber. You've changed Mechquest forever for the better, or worst, (I think for the better ^_^) whether you realize it or not. (Hopefully better)
As I've said before, things are a lot more powerful than they used to be. It wasn't always the case where there were hidden damage boosts, or multiplied DoT's, or anything fancy-shmancy like that. Specials indeed do get stronger as a game grows older and improves upon itself. This is a great thing, as an RPG should much of the time improve it's battle engine, but we all know that "Too much of a good thing can be bad". Specials and effects: Cool and powerful? Yes indeed. Something to also take caution about? Definitely.
As the title says, in conclusion, I hope that this thread will be addressed to the staff in consideration, it's okay. At least I got to post what my feelings for Mechquest Game Balance Issues were. And best of all, you took your valuable time to read this post.Thanks for reading, and have a good day. ^_^
< Message edited by PD -- 11/28/2010 22:54:38 >