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Thread: Minor room balance changes would have made DK1 a far better game

  
  1. #1

    Default Minor room balance changes would have made DK1 a far better game

    In Dungeon Keeper there are a few rooms that are severely overpowered:

    • Prison
    • Torture chamber
    • Graveyard
    • Scavenger room

    On Dungeon Keeper maps you now have two choices: Either you don’t give the player access to these rooms, or you allow the player to become far too powerful.
    Not giving the player access to these rooms is not very nice, as they are the most fun rooms in the game and are what set the game apart. This is the reason why many levels do give you access to these rooms, which often ruins the level completely.
    The problem with these rooms is that each of them allows the player to add the strength of his opponent to be added to his own. Attack the player with a group of heroes once, and the next attack must be at least twice as strong because the player now has the heroes in his army as well, perhaps aided by skeletons, vampires and ghosts. To add insult to injury, once you’ve converted some heroes the scavenger room can be used to claim the rest of the good heroes currently on the map.

    I’ve made this topic to discuss how to make the best possible maps with this limitation in mind, but the fact remains is that these rooms are completely unbalanced and that makes it very hard to make fun maps. If Bullfrog only took a few more days to polish the game this could all be averted. How? - By balancing these rooms on a per level basis.

    Prison

    The biggest culprit is the Prison, with imprisonment on, every hero and creature you face gets captured and can be used to make the player more powerful – skeletons, converts, free training, you can even drop the heroes somewhere to attack a rival keeper.

    The solution to balance this would be to have capture success rates for heroes and creatures on every map. Say on some maps you would succeed in capturing 40% of heroes, others just 2% of heroes and yet others the full 100% of heroes, all based on how many heroes the player will face and how much resources the player has.

    When the percentages of this are low, the player will be a lot happier when he manages to capture a strong hero, as it will now be a significant addition to the army strength. Basically it is something special instead of something expected.

    The prison itself can be nerfed a bit further by also having the ‘PrisonSkeletonChance’ be lowered on a per level basis – so only about 30% of creatures dying from starvation come back as a skeleton.

    Torture chamber

    With the Prison nerved, the Torture chamber is already less powerful of course, but a bigger change is needed. Right now, if you want to, every hero you have in your prison can become a member of your army, as long as you keep healing with the heal spell or chickens. If you don’t want to, at the very least you can get as many ghosts as you want. Ghost in aren’t that powerful, but they can still add to the creature limit, which limits what a map-maker can do with a level.

    Right now a creature will eventually be ‘broken’, when broken he will either be converted or reveal map information, in the latter case torture will continue and when he runs out of health he will die and leave a ghost.
    What would have balanced the torture chamber is if during torture the hero or creature could just die suddenly, and not always leave a ghost. For example on map y when a creature is broken it has a 25% chance to be converted, 25% chance to reveal information and 50% chance to die.

    Sacrificing enemy creatures in the temple would have been nerfed accordingly.

    Graveyard

    Simply put, Vampires are very powerful, and every 10 corpses will get you one vampire. On levels with a lot of fighting you could get an awful lot of vampires and become unstoppable.

    Again, what could have helped is on a per level basis determine the effectiveness of this room, but what also could have helped is if imps would not have left dead bodies, if vampires would not be attracted by just the number of corpses but also the size of corpses (e.g. a level 10 giant would be more attractive for vampires than a level 1 dwarf) and finally the condition of the corpses: Sometimes corpses explode, burn, freeze or are just beaten to death, if badly damaged bodies are less attractive to vampires this would force the player to be more careful in killing opponents if he wanted to get vampires, and not get as many.

    Scavenger room

    Don’t need a lot of words to explain this one: If you have a big scavenger room you can get all creatures and heroes of the map of the types you already own. Look at level 19 of the original campaign, you can beat the heroes without ever having to fight them if you just use this room effectively.

    Solution would again have been similar: On a per level basis give determine the effectiveness of scavenging – for either creatures or heroes.


    In my opinion these changes would have been relatively easy to make, give mapmakers a lot of flexibility, and would much easier allow for more fun levels.

    If only Bullfrog would have not rushed out this game out of the door, or at least give it some post-release support, things could have been a lot different.

  2. #2
    Awakening Game Master Metal Gear Rex's Avatar
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    Default Re: Minor room balance changes would have made DK1 a far better game

    There are a lot of fundamental problems that could use some fixing to expand DK's possibilities, but focusing on these rooms, here's some thoughts off the top of my head.

    One of the major problems with all of these rooms is the lack of any real growing need of management upkeep. It allows players to expand their army far too easily without much of a downside to a growing army. A few things that could help this problem are:

    • Some minor / noticeable increase in gold costs such as Payday and Training
    • Gold from hand shouldn't cancel out paydays
    • Slowed food production from the Hatchery
    • Increased damage from starvation


    These changes shouldn't impact a regularly sized army too much, but would hurt more when attempting to expand an army, requiring more of the player's attention. The increased gold costs makes creature maintenance more competitive compared to other gold costing things like Spells, creating more of a need for decision as to where a player's strength should be. Gold from hand has always been one of the most exploitable mechanics in the game as it completely destroys the idea that some creatures are supposed to be higher maintenance than others.

    Reduced food production makes starving more of an issue without expanding the Hatchery (and then that brings about the issue of dungeon space), and the increased damage from starvation makes it so its an issue that needs to be addressed. Reduced food production also makes it harder to convert, which is a plus.

    Quote Originally Posted by YourMaster View Post
    The solution to balance this would be to have capture success rates for heroes and creatures on every map. Say on some maps you would succeed in capturing 40% of heroes, others just 2% of heroes and yet others the full 100% of heroes, all based on how many heroes the player will face and how much resources the player has.
    This is also a response to other mentions of this kind of random chance solution.

    Randomness is a good way to prevent a guarantee reward like this, but it can also be quite frustrating because it's completely out of the player's control. It's possible that save states could be abused as well to counter this, which isn't completely out of the question considering how significant this random element is.

    While it's true that DK already has a notable amount of randomness with things like hit chance and criticals, it's not as frustrating because it's often difficult to measure how (un)lucky a player is due to the chaos of combat. It's almost invisible in a sense, and there are other ways to counter this randomness as well by having a good drop order and better strategy with drop position or a bit of micro management over combat.

    I have another idea that could better solve the issue, at least with the capturing aspect.

    Perhaps some kind of overkill mechanic, where if the creature who falls is defeated with too much extra damage compared to what is necessary to defeat them, they will die instead of falling unconscious.

    This is essentially random in that you don't have direct control over combat and what projectiles or attacks hit what enemy, but it's still controllable to some significant degree. For example, if there's some group of mid level Dwarves attacking you that you want to capture, you don't drop your high level Orcs as they'll outright destroy them (maybe use them to soften them up but still requires a degree of micro so its safe). Instead, you drop your mid to low level creatures who are more "equal" to the enemy party to prevent too much overkill damage, allowing a better capture.

    It's an interesting strategical decision because you first have to judge enemy strength to decide what creatures you have to drop to prevent your creatures from getting killed while not overkilling the enemy. It also plays a certain risk factor with hit / miss and criticals, since if both opponents are more equal, it can be anyone's game. This risk can be prevented by managing combat more closely, yes, but that's exactly the idea in that it's demanding more of the Player's attention.

    I imagine what defines a finishing blow's damage as overkill would be either a fixed value (like 100 damage past 0) or dependent upon a percentage of the creature's max health. Personally I think a fixed value would be better because it doesn't lead to issues where castors like Wizards and the like aren't too easily overkilled while health tanks like Bile Demons aren't too easy to prevent being overkilled. It may not scale with leveling but that's also good because it makes it harder to capture higher leveled units.

    This same mechanic could be used for balancing the Graveyard by making it so overkilled enemies have corpses so badly damaged that they're unusable to the Graveyard.

    It would probably be a good idea to also leave this as a controllable script command, making it so capturing is impossible or more easily possible depending on the level.

    * * * * * * *

    As for the Scavenger Room, having higher upkeep for a larger army could work towards preventing the room from being too abusable. I really think neutrals and Heroes shouldn't be scavengable though, since neither has a way to really counterplay. Meanwhile enemy Keepers have their own Scavenger Room to counter an ever growing Player.
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  3. #3

    Default Re: Minor room balance changes would have made DK1 a far better game

    Quote Originally Posted by Metal Gear Rex View Post
    There are a lot of fundamental problems that could use some fixing to expand DK's possibilities, but focusing on these rooms, here's some thoughts off the top of my head.

    One of the major problems with all of these rooms is the lack of any real growing need of management upkeep. It allows players to expand their army far too easily without much of a downside to a growing army. A few things that could help this problem are:

    • Some minor / noticeable increase in gold costs such as Payday and Training
    • Gold from hand shouldn't cancel out paydays
    • Slowed food production from the Hatchery
    • Increased damage from starvation
    These changes would motivate the player to keep the size of his army down, as it would increase the cost of a high army. However, this has as much impact on attracted creatures as it does on 'converted' creatures in the broadest sense of the word. Furthermore, being able to always easily be able to get a massive army and always find it difficult to support it doesn't quite feel right. I really think there should be an element in reducing the rate in which a player can build an army from the strength of his rival.
    (Gold from hand has got to go).


    Quote Originally Posted by Metal Gear Rex View Post
    This is also a response to other mentions of this kind of random chance solution.

    Randomness is a good way to prevent a guarantee reward like this, but it can also be quite frustrating because it's completely out of the player's control. It's possible that save states could be abused as well to counter this, which isn't completely out of the question considering how significant this random element is.

    While it's true that DK already has a notable amount of randomness with things like hit chance and criticals, it's not as frustrating because it's often difficult to measure how (un)lucky a player is due to the chaos of combat. It's almost invisible in a sense, and there are other ways to counter this randomness as well by having a good drop order and better strategy with drop position or a bit of micro management over combat.
    Randomness is a difficult thing yes, and players shouldn't be frustrated. In such cases the trick is to present it as a random bonus, not as a random punishment. When you expect all creatures to die, but sometimes are able to capture a Samurai, sometimes get a free skeleton and sometimes raise a vampire, that feels good as it is an unexpected treat.
    This as opposed to when something you expected to get fails, in which case you feel cheated.

    For this reason I think it is best to set the chances low. Savegame abuse can be prevented by setting determining the outcome the moment the level starts.


    Quote Originally Posted by Metal Gear Rex View Post
    I have another idea that could better solve the issue, at least with the capturing aspect.

    Perhaps some kind of overkill mechanic, where if the creature who falls is defeated with too much extra damage compared to what is necessary to defeat them, they will die instead of falling unconscious.

    This is essentially random in that you don't have direct control over combat and what projectiles or attacks hit what enemy, but it's still controllable to some significant degree. For example, if there's some group of mid level Dwarves attacking you that you want to capture, you don't drop your high level Orcs as they'll outright destroy them (maybe use them to soften them up but still requires a degree of micro so its safe). Instead, you drop your mid to low level creatures who are more "equal" to the enemy party to prevent too much overkill damage, allowing a better capture.

    It's an interesting strategical decision because you first have to judge enemy strength to decide what creatures you have to drop to prevent your creatures from getting killed while not overkilling the enemy. It also plays a certain risk factor with hit / miss and criticals, since if both opponents are more equal, it can be anyone's game. This risk can be prevented by managing combat more closely, yes, but that's exactly the idea in that it's demanding more of the Player's attention.

    I imagine what defines a finishing blow's damage as overkill would be either a fixed value (like 100 damage past 0) or dependent upon a percentage of the creature's max health. Personally I think a fixed value would be better because it doesn't lead to issues where castors like Wizards and the like aren't too easily overkilled while health tanks like Bile Demons aren't too easy to prevent being overkilled. It may not scale with leveling but that's also good because it makes it harder to capture higher leveled units.
    This would have been a nice mechanic as well, although it is a bit more complex. A big benefit is that it indeed requires play skill, a downside is that with skill the rooms may become overpowered again and it leaves little in balancing between maps.


    Quote Originally Posted by Metal Gear Rex View Post
    This same mechanic could be used for balancing the Graveyard by making it so overkilled enemies have corpses so badly damaged that they're unusable to the Graveyard.

    It would probably be a good idea to also leave this as a controllable script command, making it so capturing is impossible or more easily possible depending on the level.
    Sure, and like mentioned this is already partially in place, different damage types leave different corpses. Having it sometimes be more easy not to destroy a corpse than other times I think is a bad idea, as that would be very difficult to understand for the player and get used to. Having a useless corpse, half corpse, full corpse based on overkill can be easily combined with a system where on some maps you need 5 corpses per vampire and on others 50.


    Quote Originally Posted by Metal Gear Rex View Post
    As for the Scavenger Room, having higher upkeep for a larger army could work towards preventing the room from being too abusable. I really think neutrals and Heroes shouldn't be scavengable though, since neither has a way to really counterplay. Meanwhile enemy Keepers have their own Scavenger Room to counter an ever growing Player.
    Luckily there now is an option already to disable on neutrals/heroes - just not on single maps.
    Depending on the map though, I think giving a 0-100% range is better than just a yes/no value, see the issue I proposed.

  4. #4
    Demon Spawn UnknownMaster21's Avatar
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    Default Re: Minor room balance changes would have made DK1 a far better game

    I hope these changes will not be permament but optional, otherwise I would say game is ruined. Old school player as I am.


    But if optional, I will give +1 for this

  5. #5

    Default Re: Minor room balance changes would have made DK1 a far better game

    Well, my point was that Bullfrog should have done so in the first place, so this would have been old school.

    If they were to be implemented in keeperfx, they would be permanent in the sense that every mapmaker can configure the effectiveness of these rooms on a per-map basis. Maps balanced around the current implementation - like the original campaign - can remain untouched.
    So completely optional, but I personally feel that a lot of maps currently released would benefit from being updated by the original author to rebalanced around this, as there are now many maps broken because the player ends up with 100+ heroes or skeletons.

  6. #6
    Demon Spawn UnknownMaster21's Avatar
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    Default Re: Minor room balance changes would have made DK1 a far better game

    And my point is that it's what it is released and I am ok with that.

    But... I do not know, I never feel anything unbalanced because I mix all on one and make a shake for everyone, so it is even for everyone, yeah.

    Back to the own business... --->

  7. #7

    Default Re: Minor room balance changes would have made DK1 a far better game

    Are you talking about multiplayer? Sure, those rooms are no problem there....

    Are you saying you never played maps where you get gems, a prison and a torture room and have to face hundreds of heroes, but the map is so very very easy and boring because your army is always bigger because of all the heroes you captured? Where you'll just face massive armies of level 10 knights and perhaps avatars and they will simply melt away?
    Or that you have so many creatures the game breaks on you?

  8. #8
    Demon Spawn UnknownMaster21's Avatar
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    Default Re: Minor room balance changes would have made DK1 a far better game

    No comment

  9. #9

    Default Re: Minor room balance changes would have made DK1 a far better game

    Quote Originally Posted by UnknownMaster21 View Post
    No comment
    I take that as a yes

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Minor room balance changes would have made DK1 a far better game

    I think the optional idea of adding a variable chance of getting corpses, skeletons, ghosts etc. to a player is a nice thought.

    But I don't really see what makes these rooms sooo very overpowering right now. I understand that they can be, but that has more to do with how the map is made than with the rooms themselves.

    If you make a map that gives easy access to gems and give a Graveyard and Scavenger room on top of that, than you're asking for that situation to happen. Remove the gems (or give only 1 side) and both rooms are a lot less useful.

    In case of the Prison and Torture chamber. The same principle applies. Restrict gold access or in this case restrict building space. It's nice if you can convert 100 Heroes but if you can't lair or feed them all then you're in trouble.


    There aren't that many maps that give you the time, space and money to train the biggest and strongest army.


    In a way you could make every room look overpowered like this.

    -A huge workshop will give you unlimited gold and enough fire power and defense so training an expensive army is unnecessary
    -Just A 3x3 Temple with the right creature pool and generate speed can give you a huge bump in everything


    It's part of the game!

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