The problems of a “too balanced” system

Kalgan replied again on World of Warcraft’s forums with another informative post about one of those topics that remained ‘hot’ even after his extensive explanation:
the ‘miss ratio’ of the warrior class.

I added his comment for reference at the bottom of the previous archive.

This time what he writes is interesting because it descibes a system even “too balanced”. In the comments I wrote here below I was tempted to add how in the practice this absolute balance may also become a bad thing.

Recently I tried to figure out if I was more efficient in the battle, defensive or berserk stance (warrior 45). The result is that I didn’t find an overall best solution. The system looks so balanced that you basically cannot do a mistake. The choices you have available are located so well that you cannot do something wrong, producing a relevant error that you can easily understand and correct. Choosing the best tactic is *hard* because there isn’t a best tactic. From my experience the system encourages more a reactive behaviour where you adapt yourself to the situation, instead of figuring out a ‘best strategy’ and stick with it. But this also makes the system hard to learn because those mistakes aren’t easy to spot and doing mistakes is the most effective way we have to learn in general.

In this last comment Kalgan again dissipates wrong assumptions. He explains that the ‘defensive value’ of a creature with the possibility of parry and dodge is exactly the same of a creature that cannot parry nor dodge. The system simply converts those parries and dodges into misses of the player. So the perceived unbalance of the ‘miss ratio’ of a warrior is instead the result of a compensation to mantain the various types of mobs equal between each other.

A similar compensation happens if you fight the creature from behind. From what I read you don’t gain any kind of advantage in this case. The system simply converts the dodges and parries into misses but without affecting in any way the overall defensive value of the creature.

This is bad design from my point of view. Not only it is perceived by the players as ‘broken’, but it also trivializes every attempt at a personalization. I’d better plan a system where I can gain a bonus if I fight a monster from behind and I’d like to fight with different monster types offering different kinds of challenge, requiring me to react in different ways. Instead we have a system that negates every difference to obtain a perfect balance that makes everything equal.

If a creature that cannot parry just finishes to convert that possibility in a miss we really obtain a game completely flat with no personality, no variety and no depth.

Too much balance breaks the game in a similar way that not enough of it.

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