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Space Entertainment Games

Jumpgate Evolution Dev Talks Class Balance 86

Hermann Peterscheck recently made a post on the Jumpgate Evolution developer blog about NetDevil's strategy for balancing the various classes of ships in the game. They seem to be taking a different approach from most MMOs in letting the PvP side of the gameplay set the baseline, rather than allowing PvE concerns to override that. From the section titled Combating Combat: "Early on our lead systems designer, Jay Ambrosini, came to the correct conclusion that all of the preliminary balancing was best done in a PvP context. The reasoning is that in PvE, the player needs to feel powerful, but in PvP the fight needs to feel balanced. Once ship classes are balanced in PvP, its not as hard to make the player feel powerful in PvE, but the opposite is not true. We spent many weeks playing just the first class of ship, the light fighter, in teams of 5 or 6 in order to evaluate what it was that made those ships fun to fly and fight. After daily battles, you begin to see what makes those ships work. We also started with the mid level ships as opposed to the low or high level ships. This is primarily because you can find the center point and then work upwards and downwards from there. ... It's very tempting to just throw a bunch of classes of ships together in order to say things like "our game has 15 classes of ships!" but this, we believe, is the wrong direction. People want meaningful and strong choices and not lots of meaningless, empty choices. Currently we plan to have 4-6 classes, but they will each have nearly endless possible configurations within those groups."
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Jumpgate Evolution Dev Talks Class Balance

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  • I have no idea what any of those words mean. Can someone explain TFS?
    • Re:scratching head (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 31, 2009 @07:31AM (#28894357)

      I don't see what is hard to understand in TFS. It's standard, basic, gaming vocabulary. I wonder what you're doing in /. gaming section if you don't know theses words.

      PvP : Player vs Player. All that relates to fighting between players.

      PvE : Player vs Environment. All that relates to the fights between a player (or group of players) and computer-controlled opponents.

      Class : A category of avatar that can be played. Each having strengths, weaknesses and powers/abilities. For a fantasy-based game that could be Knight, Wizard, and Healer. Here it's different kind of spaceships.

      PS : posting as AC to avoid karma-whoring.

  • I think they're thinking in the right direction here.

    It's all nice and well to be all powerful, but there are only a few thnigs that piss off (more or less serious) PvPers more than the 'gank' mentality. I hope they manage to balance it in such a way that actual skill makes a difference as well.

    I've been looking forward to this game for quite a while, and most of what I've heard actually sounds promising and well thought out. I hope they can live up to our expectations, though.

    I know that a lot of us have p

    • Guild Wars tried the same thing, and now they've decided to just split pvp/pve skills for all the 'powerful ones'. The problem with balancing PVP over PVE is because, guess what, the same powerful characters in PvP typically does well in PvE as well. People tend to gravitate towards the 'best' and most overpowered build, and if its nerfed in PvP, you can bet that the PvE players will complain. I guess the people working for GW got tired of it and finally decided to make 2 versions of each skill to mainta
      • Re:PvP balancing (Score:4, Interesting)

        by zwei2stein ( 782480 ) on Friday July 31, 2009 @08:41AM (#28894747) Homepage

        Good amount of PvE players got very pissed by this. It made it very hard to get to PvP because all you know about game (1000+ skills and synergies between them) gets thrown out of window, its basically like playing new game.

        Typically, PvE felt next to no fallout from PvP based nerfs. PvP builds were quite different from PvE metagame (ironically, "sabway" based builds that steamroll PvE and basically set standart for soloing game were originally used in PvP, their PvE version only because used after they were nerfed in PvP).

        That PvP based nerfs did was purging PvE from most ridiculous gamebreakers.

        That disconnect that gave PvE was ever increasing power creep and ton of gamebreakers: For example, skill "Shaddow Form" now gives permanent immunity to all spells and attacks. Yep, you are reading right. Players can equip it and two other skills, walk into middle of enemy mob and be unharmed. For as long as he wishes. Yep, ultimate 'tank' that does not require healer. And he is able to kill stuff. He is able to solo equivalent of raid encounters/heroics with absolutelly no danger to him and no skill required.

        Without PvP disconnect, it would literally take minutes to be nerfstomped. This is what split gave players: Ridiculous win buttons. People do complain anyway because game with cheats enabled is boring and pointless to play.

        • by Vohar ( 1344259 )

          Eh, that Shadow Form bit isn't quite on the mark. The setup only works in certain areas, because it -does- have weaknesses. Touch attacks and area spells still work against someone with Shadow Form active. Most PvE mob groups have at least one enemy that will still be a danger. Often that danger consists of a spell interrupt or enchantment removal, which prevents Shadow Form being recast.

          You were making some good points, unfortunately you resorted to hyperbole and threw it off track.

          Everything in Guild Wars

          • Having counters does not mean anything is ballanced. That is ballance rule n. #1. If this rule was not true, PvP would require no ballance updates because counters exist, right.

            What I said was by no means hyperbole. Oh, does have counters ... or does it?

            Echant removal is off mark, so are interupts. Can't be hit by spell -> can't be disenchanted. Can't be hit by spell/attack -> can't be interrupted. There is no downtime to allow that. For very, VERY rage nonspell disenchants, one aditional enchant will

            • by Vohar ( 1344259 )

              Have you even played Guild Wars?

              Touch spells still work. There are enchant removals that work like that. Some interrupts as well.

              You're just plain wrong about PBAOEs. They -will- use them on single targets. Short range isn't an issue since the enemies will be on you at all times--it takes a few seconds to cast the buffs necessary to make Shadow Form last long enough to have no lapse. Plus you'll want to be in the middle of packs anyway when using the Silver Armor method of damaging enemies.

              You say Touch ski

              • 1) Those enchant removals/interrupts are irrelevant - they are easily avoided by simple enchant cover and interrupt is easily baitable on mobs. This is sole reason why permas can run Bogroot Growths even when it is plagued by Soulrending Shriek (enchant removal that goes throught perma, fyi). Been there, done that.

                2) Mob will NOT use PBAOEs when there is only one person within range. You can easily test this by visiting your local Terrorweb Dryder and waiting till he casts lava font. You will wait a long ti

        • Without PvP disconnect, it would literally take minutes to be nerfstomped. This is what split gave players: Ridiculous win buttons. People do complain anyway because game with cheats enabled is boring and pointless to play.

          Actually you are wrong, perma shadow form was in both PvP and PvE originally (when the split did not exist). It DID get stomped fast, and then the PvE players complained so they nerfed it in PvP and kept it in PvE.

    • In the original skill was very much involved in combat. But it's more to do with aiming and maneuvering than pressing 1-3-2 instead of 1-2-3 in combat.

      Thou of course ganking happened. You could however pull off 1 vs 2, or even 1 vs 3. Hell I seen some fellow run from a huge swarm of angry pilots who were after him for pirating. But he was ready for chase and had artifact engines. (Artifacts being relics from pre-collapse of space)

  • Wait and see (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Ksempac ( 934247 ) on Friday July 31, 2009 @07:38AM (#28894403)
    That looks like a good idea, and many people are already expecting Jumpgate Evolution as something fresh and new. However, every single MMORPG to date, has claimed before release to have new ideas, good balance between classes, interesting PvP and PvE. Most of them failed one of theses areas, and many failed all. That's why I take theses new claims with a big grain of salt.
    So i say let's wait till the game is released and thoroughly tested by everyone...then we will see if this is more than marketing talk.
    • Maybe Jumpgate Evolution will be the MMO Elite that will eat my time, like Elite first did when I was young. Looking forward to it, I think.


      MUD Games [] @ Feed Distiller []

  • JGE v EVE (Score:5, Insightful)

    by castironpigeon ( 1056188 ) on Friday July 31, 2009 @08:14AM (#28894571)
    EVE is good at what it does, but there's a reason it doesn't have more players and that's not because of the scifi theme. I pull this opinion out of my ass, but consider for a moment the plethora of MMOs (or even single player games) with a fantasy background. Any style of MMO fantasy gameplay that you could possibly want is covered. PvP, PvE, free, paid, large group, small group, free-for-all, instanced...

    Now what about a space sim MMO? Aside from a few no-name indie offerings or a Freelancer hack to play multiplayer on a server with a few other people, your only option is EVE. One shard, PvP centric, click-orbit-wait navigation, learning curve like an overhanging cliff - love it or leave it.

    Now maybe I give the JGE team too much credit, but I fully expected for them to deviate from this. It would only make sense that they not go for the exact same niche that EVE fills. Duh. So we get collision detection and some sort of real navigation - great. But now they're balancing around PvP? C'mon, seriously? So now we'll have EVE with point & click navigation and EVE with something else. And you can play the former in a universe already several years old with many bugs worked out or you can start in a fresh universe that's completely empty. This is seriously the most retarded thing I've heard from JGE to date.

    And no, I don't believe JGE can properly balance PvP and PvE. It's never been done. You either focus on one or the other and whatever you don't focus on becomes some half-assed wannabe minigame that players will complain about until the end of time. See PvP in WoW and PvE in GW as examples...
    • Now what about a space sim MMO? Aside from a few no-name indie offerings or a Freelancer hack to play multiplayer on a server with a few other people, your only option is EVE.

      Too bad you left out the best free option [], but at least now we know you don't know what you're talking about. Not that it's massive, but it's persistent and allows ~32 players per server. You can pilot arbitrarily-sized ships in the game, although the bigger they get, the more you see the flaws (e.g. the failure to properly implement docking/undocking for different sizes of craft, etc.)

      • Vega Strike has been in beta for how many years now? I've seen it before and it strikes me as the typical open source project - the developers seem more interested in monkeying around with the code as a mental exercise than actually getting to version 1.0. Which is fine. It's their toy, they get to do what they want with it. But for anyone not associated with the dev team I think I covered it under the no-name indie category.
      • by Ironica ( 124657 )

        Too bad you left out the best free option [], but at least now we know you don't know what you're talking about. Not that it's massive, but it's persistent and allows ~32 players per server.

        32 != Massively Multiplayer. That's not even half a monkeysphere. []

    • by t00le ( 136364 )

      I have been playing Eve for over six years now and only because Descent and Freelancer got boring. I think they are positioning themselves to take a huge portion of the Eve player base, which used to play the previously mentioned games. Eve is boring because of the navigation and the huge amount of PvE that the game is based around. At times it seems the entire framework of the game is centered around the carebears mining or building shit in station, which is needed in a pure sandbox environment. The idea t

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Spectre ( 1685 )

      Keeping in mind, while Jumpgate: Evolution may be a new title, it is based on a game that pre-dates EVE, Jumpgate (the Reconstruction).

      A twitch-based space flight simulator with manual control of your ship, weapons aiming, etc, doesn't have much in common with EVE.

      Yes, I've played both games for years each (the original Jumpgate and EVE). If the new release of Jumpgate keeps those twitch-based aspects of the classic version, I doubt there will be much overlap in the customer base between EVE and Jumpgate.


    • by Anonymous Coward

      There is a game that's managed to balance these things, IMO. It's Vendetta Online:

      The developers went for an FPS style game rather than a more click-based method of playing and they focused on ship balance so that PvP would be the best experience. Additionally, because it's more skill based, a relatively new player with talent can quickly become competitive with players who have been around for years. No single ship loadout exists for serious PvP.

      on the PvE side of things, the

    • by Filgy ( 2588 )

      PVP is what makes eve so awesome... Why wouldn't JGE want to focus on it as well due to the popularity of it in Eve? And to say you can't focus on both is absolutely ridiculous.. Just look at the market in EVE, or invention, or missions, or ratting.... Sure EVE PVE isn't great but the PVP aspect is what makes the game the way it is and the PVE still is decent.

      You kinda sound like an EVE carebear to me that mined in Jita all day until that was nerfed - and probably got your ship suicide ganked a few times -

    • I can tell you exactly why I don't play EVE, because there is no way I can compete with guys how have been there for a year. It isn't just the learning curve, it is how the character gain abilities/skills/etc. EVE is based entirely on how long you have been there with no upper cap, which means guys how have been there will ALWAYS be more powerful then you, no matter WHAT you do. At least in WoW or other MMORPGs, after being there for a while (3-4 months), you actually have a chance to compete with people wh
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by rokel ( 986883 )
        At least know what your talking about before taking time to write that much, okay? If you had taken a bit to actually think you'd have realized that after a point all the extra skill points older players have doesn't mean they are stronger in a ship then you, rather that they can fly MORE ships then you! Of course the knee jerk reaction is to be expected from someone who probably got owned hard. (cry about being over powered) Oh, I almost forgot to mention there are mechanics in game for purchasing older c
      • by KermodeBear ( 738243 ) on Friday July 31, 2009 @01:23PM (#28898501) Homepage

        I used to think this was true as well, but I very quickly discovered that it isn't. I'll use myself as an example of this.

        I came to Eve after hearing about the space theme and the PvP aspect; After a week or two of play, I felt much like you do: All of these people have been around for so long, how can I stand a chance?

        Well, I didn't give up right away and, after talking to a few people, I ended up in a zero-security alliance. They showed me how I can be effective in a variety of roles without needing a lot of skill points or expensive ships.

        I filled several very important roles:
        1. Electronic Warfare. I fly Caldari ships, and the Griffin is a very cheap ECM frigate that, even with low-grade modules, is very effective.
        2. Scouting and Intelligence. You don't need ANY SP to do this - just a brain. I flew a system or two ahead of my fleet and was very helpful.
        3. Tackling. Big ships aren't good at this - they're too slow. However, a cheap frigate is great at locking quickly and holding other ships down.

        This was in less than a month of starting. After a week or two, not only was I tolerated in fleets, I was welcome because I was willing to learn, not afraid to die, and I was able to follow orders.

        Fast forward four, maybe five months. I decided that I wanted something different; now I fly with a pirate corporation. I now do solo and small gang work - and I regularly attack players with years more of SP than me. I win more often than I lose because I am prepared, I have a plan, and I know what I can and cannot do effectively.

        The whole "Skill Point Gap", while true on paper, is completely false in practice. Not all those SPs are in fighting skills anyways. Experience plays a factor. Environment plays a factor. Dictating the engagement is a factor. The more I fly, the more I realize how little SP matters and how much everything else does.

        That said, the best thing that someone new to the game can do it pick one or two things and specialize. It doesn't take long, for example, to become highly proficient SP-wise in something specific such as (as an example) interceptors.

        The only advantage that the six year old player has over the six month old player is the number of things he can specialize in.

        • The only advantage that the six year old player has over the six month old player is the number of things he can specialize in.

          Also, many 6 year olds have long since stopped drooling.

      • It doesn't take that long to specialize in a single class of ship. T2 modules on a T1 battleship is 3-4 months training time. You're really damn competitive with that skill set. There is an upper cap on each class of ship and you can only fly one ship at a time. Just because the older player has 40 million more skill points doesn't mean that they're all impacting his/her skill in their current ship.
      • Except that each skill has a cap of 5, and you can only be in one ship with a few weapons in it at a time. That your opponent has huge amounts of skill points in skills for ships he isn't in right now and weapons he doesn't have right now doesn't matter in the slightest.

      • by Dan667 ( 564390 )
        EVE PVP is a social game. You have to play with others in order to do well at it. And you don't need lots of skills to do that, you need lots of people on your side. (and that also makes it more fun)
  • Jumpgate Evolution is going to have its own balance considerations that are not necessarily related to balance issues in other MMOs, but stating that balancing classes in PvP makes PvE balance "easy" (when the goal is making the player "feel powerful" in PvE) is nonsense.

    Take a look at what Blizzard is going through with WoW patch 3.2. One of the changes in the upcoming patch is that Seal of Blood/Seal of the Martyr (Paladin abilities) are being pulled from the game. For those not familiar with WoW Paladi

    • You care too much about Wow.
      • Not really. I may know too much about it, but I don't care all that much. This is just an example of PvP balance screwing up PvE balance. I wanted to be detailed instead of offering people vague assurances that, yes indeed, this will be a problem real soon now.
    • by Ironica ( 124657 )

      For all those who don't play a Paladin in WoW, here's the Executive Summary of the above post:

      Jumpgate Evolution is going to have its own balance considerations that are not necessarily related to balance issues in other MMOs, but stating that balancing classes in PvP makes PvE balance "easy" (when the goal is making the player "feel powerful" in PvE) is nonsense.

      Take a look at what Blizzard is going through with WoW patch 3.2. Blizzard's attempt to balance Retribution Paladins in PvP has totally screwed up their PvE damage per second. It's now conditional based on the fight, and they do less area of effect (AoE) damage to groups of monsters than before due to the seal changes. So, no, balancing things on the PvP side did not make Retribution Paladins on Blizzard's public test realm (PTR) "feel powerful", at least not compared to how they felt in 3.1 on Live servers. The rest of the Paladins will suffer if/when the changes go live. Patch 3.2 has, allegedly, been significantly delayed as Blizzard struggles to get things right on the PvE side without giving back too much of the PvP power that they took away.

      (Note: I play a rogue, a druid, a shaman, and a mage regularly, and have been playing WoW since release. I've got nothing against people playing, loving, and going on at length about WoW. But I think you overestimate your audience's interest in the intricacies of Paladin Seal mechanics.)

      • Maybe I do, but the same dev that posted this is going to (hopefully) be drudging through even more obscure mechanics in his own project soon. Granted, I'm not addressing him, but this is about his rather broad-sweeping statements about PvP and PvE balance. And the 3.2 changes to Paladins were the first thing that came to mind (and aren't you glad I didn't even go into Holy or Protection Paladin changes?).

        Would it have been better had I dredged up some old paper on Ebolt mechanics from UO in its heydey? I

    • by Knara ( 9377 )
      The simple difference is that WoW had PvP tacked on later. JGE is considering it from the start. PvP in WoW has always sucked because the concentration of the game is on PvE and loot gathering to make your character more pretty.
      • I had considered this, but of course if your statement is true, then any game based on PvP in the beginning will inevitably suck in PvE no matter how hard they try. That isn't balance, that's just lop-sidedness. If you're determined to neglect PvE, then sure, balancing PvE is easy because balance won't matter. Nobody's going to bother with it anyway.
    • by julesh ( 229690 )

      For reference, you should probably read this blog post []. The executive summary: the lead developers of WoW have recently switched teams to work on Blizzard's next big title, leaving only some fairly inexperienced devs behind. They're making what amounts to newbie mistakes because they've never been in charge of balancing a live game before. An experience project lead would probably not have done this. I'm assuming JGE has somebody experienced at the helm, so issues like the one you bring up are unlikely

      • I hope that JGE has someone experienced on the helm, but honestly experience doesn't make a darn bit of difference if valuable lessons were not learned in the process. Take a gander at Raph Koster: has he ever been involved in a project that you, personally, liked? For me the answer is no. Then you have guys like Richard Garriot that go from a dedicated, intelligent game designer/lead developer/programmer/etc (U4) to . . . whatever he is now. It's not like he's disallowed from changing as a person, but i

    • So because one game which did PvE first and then tacked on PvP screws up balance, that means a different game that is doing PvP balance first and then thinking about PvE is destined to screw it up?

      If you get PvP balance right, then PvE will be easy - just give the monsters tweaked down player abilities. Since PvP is balanced and AI is crappier than good players that should make PvE easy enough.

      And if one ship ends up being better in PvE than the rest then who cares, update the PvE monsters be better agains

      • As you seem to have conceded, PvE balance issues can crop up in the strangest places when you balance for PvP. If you wish to create a dichotomy between player powers in PvP and PvE then so be it, but don't act all surprised when the player base reacts with some hostility to a gun that is a peashooter in PvP and a planet-destroyer in PvE (an extreme example, I must admit, but look at Guild Wars). There is something to be said for continuity.
        • The point is it is easier to fix PvE than PvP. Especially if the monsters are effectively just like players, which is reasonably likely in a space ship combat style games.

  • by darkwing_bmf ( 178021 ) on Friday July 31, 2009 @09:18AM (#28895067)

    I'm seeing a lot of negative comments on this story. I don't know if this game will fail or not (it probably will), but at least we'll have a new space sim until it does. I'd like the chance to actually fly my internet spaceship with a joystick and out maneuver missiles while engaging full afterburners. They've already added a "Descent" style arena for those that remember that game. My hope is this will end up being a very good multi-player version of X-Wing or Wing Commander.

    • Any MMO that explores a genre that isn't heavily saturated in the market is a very good thing. Do you really want another fantasy MMO. Eve is great but we really don't need another game like it. It has it's niche and serves that niche very well. Gamers should be rejoicing that there is something new in a genre that hasn't seen a decent online game in years. It may suck it may not, but at least it's not another WoW clone. Is balancing the game around PvP a good thing? There isn't a single person on slashdo
  • i hope to get to try it. i also hope it doesn't have a Gygaxian power curve. Steep power curve = ganking/n00b st0mping. i hope the run player trade such that it doesn't cause gold farming and twinking.

    As for niches, you're right on. EVE filled or created a niche, and did it well. It might not be as big as WoW, but it has a loyal base. The description of it never appealed to me, personally. WoW and it's ilk turn me off with the problems mentioned above. Once again i'll brag on my favorite niche game:

  • What is this, a game company making a game fun, first?

    They must be Indy, yes no?

  • I like Eve, but the biggest misconception I see people make when seeing the game is that they think they'll be flying the ship like a sim game and they're not. It turns a lot of people off because they think it is going to be an action game and its more of a strategy game. Jumpgate sounds like it is going to be more of an action/sim game and I think that'll work in its favor.
  • Though Halo obviously wasn't concerned with balancing classes, they iterated on their single-player maps and combat design through multiplayer gameplay. At GDC a few years ago they said that their basic process was to rough out a campaign level, get a bunch of people to jump into a multiplayer game there, and see what developed. After they would group up and discuss where the natural choke points are, spots with great vistas or cover for sniping, and just generally where a fun battle develops. Tweak the lev

  • [] This game + 3d graphics and joystick controls + newtonian physics ( as in, once you start spinning, you keep spinning and once apply thrust, you keep moving ) would be spend-money-worthy. Actually any space game with newtonian physics would buy spend-money-worthy. There was something like this made by the guy who made X-Plane that you can download for free but that isn't really a game although you can fly around and shoot asteroids with a ship that handl
  • I played the original Jumpgate and found it mostly PvP orintated. I liked how I could jump into combat and, while your ship did matter, player ability was the main factor. Killing Krakken (PvE) was a secondary goal when no action was taking place. My favourite thing to do was baiting greifers in my scout and taking them right to a waiting trap. Ah the memories.
  • Every new MMOG seems to think that they will be the ones to make PvP "work" at long last. But it's not likely to happen, for one simple reason: most people don't want PvP. Those who like PvP really, REALLY like it, and there's nothing wrong with that... but it's a small subset of the population. 46% of World of Warcraft's servers are PvP (or RPPVP) by default, which is pretty impressive... but when you look at the server populations, you see that doesn't translate into nearly half of the players preferrin

    • The problem with PvP is that developers haven't come up with a non-exploitable positive sum game for it. When it is a zero sum game people get very annoyed with the winner and the game and want to leave; therefore PvP tends to be a negative sum game. You can't have an economy based on a negative sum game.

      Proof: If I get more than you lose when I beat you in PvP then we take turns beating each other rapidly and both advance quickly.
      If every time I lose to one of the better PvPers he gets all of my loss th
      • by Ironica ( 124657 )

        Hm, interesting.

        That isn't why I don't like PvP, but it definitely is an issue I hadn't thought about. Economics plays an enormous role in the playability of MMOGs to be sure.

  • > "It's very tempting to just throw a bunch of classes of ships
    > together in order to say things like "our game has 15 classes
    > of ships!" but this, we believe, is the wrong direction. People
    > want meaningful and strong choices and not lots of meaningless,
    > empty choices. Currently we plan to have 4-6 classes, but they
    > will each have nearly endless possible configurations within those groups."

    Is there something wrong with Eve's model? Shuttle, tiny, small, medium, large, extra large, etc

    • I think what they are hoping to avoid is a situation where any one ship is clearly superior over all other ships, leading to a homogeneous environment wherein all players are only flying one kind of ship. If there are several different viable strategies, or some ships that work better against other ships, the game will have more variety (and be more fun) because there will be more balance between the choices.

      So I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt. It would totally suck if all fights were "fair" to the

  • Balancing for PVP vs. PVE wouldn't be an issue if they made the AI sufficient that PVE mimics PVP. EVE has started this direction with "sleeper" npcs in w-space. Eventually someone will get to a point where NPCs foes aren't easily discernible from players foes - hopefully then the whole PVP vs PVE nonsense will settle to a dull roar.

It's fabulous! We haven't seen anything like it in the last half an hour! -- Macy's