WildStar Balancing Act

The Carbine dev team talks balance in the latest Uplink Analysis

Balance? Who needs balance in an MMO?

Last week in their bi-weekly WildStar Uplink discussion on Twitter, the Carbine community team posed a not-so-simple question to followers: What are your biggest frustrations with game balance in an MMO?

The response, as you might expect, was loud and varied. As a matter of fact, from what I can tell, it was the most discussed #WSuplink topic so far. What was the outcome? Opinions were all over the map, but apparently, balance is a big deal. 

Some of the tweeters lamented problems in trying to integrate PvE and PvP in the same environment, with the same gear and same abilities. Indeed, this is something it seems no MMO has escaped, short of separating the two activities completely. But this tends to fragment the game world.

Others commented that perhaps, while balance is important, it might be possible to go overboard. Why not have some flavor and variance with the classes? Maybe it's ok if one class can consistently defeat another, or top them on the damage meters.

Well, the topic was so important that Carbine assigned three of their top men to field the Uplink Analysis. Top. Men.

Chris Lynch, Lead Combat Systems Designer, Hugh Shelton, Senior Systems Designer, and Marc Matzenbacher, Systems designer, all contributed their thoughts on game balance.

They tell the story of a creature they created named Bob. They use Bob as a baseline for all game balancing, both PvE and PvP. It seems they are taking the approach of balancing the two game modes through the act of doing both essentially at the same time:

"The reason this type of balance is nice is that since we are balancing the player against Bob, we are essentially balancing the player against another player. Essentially, when we balance for PVE, we are already balancing for most aspects of PVP! While this won't give us perfect PvP balance, it does give us a solid starting point that we will refine through the addition of other PvP only stats and playtesting."

It's sounds so obvious as explained, I'm not sure why other developers would take any other approach.

They also had an interesting take on crowd control, sounding essentially like your character might have different abilities when you're under control as opposed to limiting the amount of control a player can have:

"Crowd Control can be a huge part of both PVE and PVP balance, and most MMO players know how frustrating it can be to get stun-locked or chain-feared. Rather than strictly limiting the amount of CC abilities and the impact they have, our unique approach is a system we've created that gives CC'd players different gameplay mechanics to remove what's affecting them early."

There is a ton of great info on game balance theory, so head over to the official WildStar blog to read the topic in it's full glory!

Bill "Lethality" Leonard


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