On the issues of balance relative to play-styles on normal difficulty, I will be taking careful consideration of balance for three relative play-styles, assuming a limited level of exposure to Warzone 2100, and what the sequences of events of game-play and upgrades convey upon first impression as someone new to WZ. My primary objective in this is to keep all demographics engaged and challenged, but not constrained; to evolve their play-style by adapting.
----- Playstyles -----
The 3 play-styles I am testing, will hereafter be designated by the following acronyms:
- [Z] for zerg
: Players who focus on this tend to focus on micro skills, maximizing their build order efficiency and damage with guerilla style unit movements.
Type: Early Game
An ideology which revolves around resources. this play-style revolves around denying enemy resources and developing ones own resources under the concept that if an enemy has less production ability than you, then they absolutely will lose. This is often accompanied by an early rush, or "poke" to see how much damage you can do to an enemies early economy, followed by small waves or a stream of units to ensure that economies are either stunted or crushed.
- [O] for Reactive Offensive
: This player tends to focus on developing resources and offensive ability. They are macro warfare masters and favor numbers.
Type: Mid Game
An ideology which focuses on unit strength and number theory. A direct counter to zerg, the player will build units in the same way that a zerg player would; with one minor difference. Instead of sending out his units, he will simply pool all of his units near his base. In theory, by the time the enemy arrives they will have less units than you due to proximity, and also have to deal with light defenses. Once the enemy force is wiped out, the remaining army steamrolls the enemy base.
- [D] for Ultra Defensive
: This player focuses on survivability, expansion and minimizing loss. These players excel at response, recovery and map control.
Type: End game
An ideology which relies on brick wall defenses and rapid growth. This player is vulnerable early, but excels at end game defense and control. A common tactic is to build out defensive structures near untapped resources to prevent early enemy expansion and develop mid game economy. With a focus on staunch base defenses, mobile artillery and rapid recovery, they are well situated to dealing with conventional assaults. The end game revolves around a war of atrophy.
----- Process -----
I feel that before changing implicit values of game mechanics, careful consideration needs to be given to the order in which upgrades are presented to the player. Once this has been established, I will use the three different play styles to measure and approximate the overall flow of the campaign in a segmented process. I will focus on each subsection, playing through several more as well to verify the integrity of the changes, and then will evaluate weapon balance.
Only once I am satisfied that the changes I will recommend will equate to a good overall experience between all play-styles will I present a recommendation here. My intention through the entire process will be to force people to deviate from the three generic strategies, evolving their play-style situationally, rather than the blatant forceful attempts other rts's use to make players try different units and strategies. Soft player development vs hard player development.
To get the ball rolling, here's 3 recommendations right off the bat.
----- CAM1A -----
When engaging the first group of enemies, the game feels balanced, perhaps slightly in favor of the player. You are able to wipe out the first base with your four mg tanks, and research the Hardened MG Bullets upgrade. However, at that point, you can pause offensive progress and continue with consecutive upgrades: APDSB MG Bullets, APDSB MG Bullets Mk2, which kind of spins the balance of the present conflict for the remainder of this segment out of control.
In addition, new or young players have a tendency to react slower and build less units, focusing on structures before offense. Due to the nature of the AI, and an inability to have any defensive structures available to them, it is possible that constant waves of AI would defeat an entry level player, or novice [D] player. Offensively, the current system I see seems to reward [O] players, while providing an optimal challenging environment for [Z] players.
The first impression I would get coming into the game, is that it was a game that pushed me to be an offensive player. From a [D] perspective, the fact that there are no base defenses to start out with would seem dangerous (which is a good thing), but as the mission progressed it would feel like this game lacked content due to a limited number of early defensive options. [O] Players might research full mg upgrades before second base, making the game seem too easy.
To add a more smooth transition into CAM1B, I would add "Engineering" from the first base in CAM1B as a prerequisite for "APDSB MG Bullets"
Now this added some questions from me. First of all the tech tree on our site does not reflect the upgrade path at all, which means it needs to be managed (I can do that, after revisions are finalized between Campaigns). Allowing this level of progress takes away from the feeling of progression from base to base between CAM1A and CAM1B, and there are a lot of missed opportunities to leverage the lack of power to train new players to be cautious, and develop micro.
To balance the playing field, I would like you to switch the "Heavy Machinegun Guard Tower" upgrade with the "Hardened MG Bullets" Upgrade
(the first and third base upgrades). This will make [Z, O] progression more gritty, and allow players to explore the flamer upgrade (second base upgrade) as a solution to their then under-powered mg turrets, giving depth to flamer technology. Simultaneously, the first upgrade will be a base defensive structure. a hint to [Z, O] players, and a much needed relief to [D] players, who will have the urge to plant defensive lines around their resources, and between each base.
To solve Flamer practicality, I would also recommend doubling the base rate of fire for Flamers and to reduce their base damage by roughly 30%
The reason for this is that small groups of flamers don't inflict damage often enough to warrant their use in combat. They either die before they have a chance to recharge, or if they are mixed with machine guns, often only get a chance to fire once during an encounter. They also provide less dps than the machine gun, despite being more expensive and having less hp. The improved rate of fire would allow them to sustain in a fire fight, and damage would balance with cost.
Do, or do not. There is no try.