Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Price As A Balancing Factor

One of the hardest lessons game developers at CCP had to learn was that in the long run price of something is not an adequate property to maintaining balance. We saw this with super capitals, nano-snake setups, Tech II versus Tech I, and Tech I tiers.

The base faulty argument is this:
If something performs significantly better than all other options but costs several magnitudes greater than them then its ok: the cost factor will prevent it from becoming too prevalent and dominating.

But ultimately what happens is players find the min-max solution that is better than all other options, it becomes known as those first adopters start to use it successfully, and in order to compete players are essentially forced to move to the optimal solution or be at a competitive disadvantage. The price of the optimal solution, regardless of how high, is merely subsumed as a cost of playing the game. The alternative is to not compete either by doing something else in Eve or quitting altogether.

The Tiericide initiative undertaken by CCP has the goal of addressing the most egregious example of the flawed reasoning and has done so admirably by balancing ships into roles per class and thus giving new life to ships that were not at the optimal point of the min-max graph.

Then the initiative hit the Battleship tier.

If the tiers could be said to have worked in any class it would have to be the Battleships. All twelve of the basic battleships saw use mainly because, due to their large size, there was enough variation in properties such as speed, tank, damage projection, fittings, weapon types, prices, etc that they were already slotted into roles. Yes, a Hyperion could do a lot of damage but the Megathron had a better slot layout. The Rokh had a better tank but the Raven had variable damage type and the Scorpion had EWar bonuses.

So faced with this situation almost no changes to implement the tiericide on the battleships was going to be received universally well as what happened mostly with frigates and cruisers. One of the biggest outcomes of the initiative is that ship prices for battleships will increase on average by 40 million ISK:

Let me give you the 'what' first, then the 'why':
The AVERAGE build cost of a battleship is going up by around 40mil
Former tier 3 prices will not change substantially, and so the majority of the change in cost is carried by the former tier 1 and 2s.
Prices will be differentiated slightly by role ('attack' and 'disruption' being a bit cheaper than 'combat')
If you had been smart a few months and had some liquid ISK, you could have predicted something like this, bought up a whack of Dominixes and Armageddons, and made a whack of money on selling them after the expansion lands.

Regardless, in the long run the tiericide / rolification of battleships will be good for the game as it will be easier to balanace ships within a class and a role as opposed to a tier. For the short term, expect things to get a little bumpy.

1 comment:

  1. You should also take into account that not only is mineral yield and mining getting significantly better as time goes on (by far more than it was when the battleships were introduced), but players are making more ISK sooner and faster than ever before. If anything the cost increase introduced by the extra materials added to the lower tier battleships is counteracting this.