Balancing the game

CataclysmDDA is a mess. I’m not going to pretend it isn’t, because it is. It’s a very well intentioned mess, but it’s unplayable as anything other than a dress up/the sims type game after the first week or two. This is down to the main developers wanting to spend more time on mechanics and bug fixes, which is admirable (and appreciated), but it’s left us with a game which is actively turning people away by it’s brokenness, vanity additions and strangeness in what could otherwise be a fantastic horror survival RL. This is a long post - please read it before commenting.

Lets make this clear, REALLY CLEAR to start with, nothing mentioned here is an attack on any sub-culture or lifestyle. This is purely about making an accessible and coherent game which can be enjoyed by all.

A while back, myself and others asked the devs to come up with a design document which would lead us to know what the direction we’re supposed to be heading in is, what the limit on tech/strangeness is and what is and isn’t allowed. This never appeared, so I feel it’s up to us. If devs want to come out with some rules/the document, I’ll gladly throw this all away and start again - until then this is it. I’ll be making the pull requests based on the popular suggestions/consensus so this is a community effort, not my own attempt to balance things.
Most of this will be removing items and changing the stats of others. All code will be still available on github, so nothing will be lost forever!

I’m starting from the standpoint that cataclysm is 10 years in the future, only physics as we know it now is possible, and that the game should be more difficult than it is now.

An example would be removing weapons/armour that aren’t of New England origin (yes, they could have been imported/whatever, but they would be much better served in a ‘foreign’ mod). Examples would be Tonfa’s (Japanese/Chinese stick weapons), Bagh Nakar(Indian), Lajatang, samuri armour, kabuto armour etc.
Yeah, this is all good stuff, but can’t it be left out until we get to a stage where the game is leaner and tighter, rather than having all this stuff around, really out of place and OP?

I’m not saying ‘rip it all out’ or nerf everything to oblivion, just asking for what the community feels is bloat and needs to be removed and what needs to be rebalanced.

Edit: I did try earlier to make a ‘serious cataclysm’ mod, which was classic zombies (but much harder), nerfing loads of stuff and removing most stuff, but I’d much rather the actual game get balanced, rather than a mod - it makes more sense than splitting our effort.

Along with what you proposed, I feel as if the majority of the “futuristic” weapons are extremely OP. I like the idea of having futuristic weapons in the game, but I feel as if they were implemented rather poorly. Most of them are extremely OP and their ammo is very easy to come by. Take em’ out; quality over quantity. Truly develop a futuristic firearm that is plausible with our contemporary science direction. The world isn’t going to suddenly be full of sci-fi weapons; I mean, even today there are weapons that are still considered “main stream” that were made 50+ years ago.

Remove all the futuristic weapons. Adopt a quality over quantity approach to them that is logical and plausible with our current contemporary science trend. And develop them to be balanced and fit with the game and lore.

Vehicles and the ability to build a ‘super-mega-death-win-game-mobile-base-of-destruction’ need to severely be balanced. I cant offer any insight on how this might be done, though. Just something to consider.

Remove all of the…silly…weapons. Just outright remove them. Flame swords? Spray can flamethrowers? All the other Dead Rising inspired weapons? Remove em’. Take them out. They are very…very…silly.

I can respect this, Binky. I’ve just gotten into the game myself, but I can understand the appeal of simplification. If you’re really interested in organizing a thread for a leaner, meaner game, which categories would you create for us to address?

In general, I’d like more clarity, especially for traits. For example, what does taking Thick-Skinned actually mean? Two points damage resistance? Five points? You get the idea. Also, the character creation classes/traits are in need of rebalancing, though I’m sure this has been brought up before.

And I can see what you mean about finding your second katana in an urban district. It’s awkward.

+1

Edit: Lore-wise, it might also be nice to remove much of the directed mutagen/extreme cybernetics. By 2024, even with the J-curve of technology, I still don’t think we’d be that advanced.

Also, weapons degrade by usage.

How does the presence of “foreign” elements have anything to do with balance? How does it affect whether or not the game is “playable”?

Concerns regarding the lore of the game are orthogonal to “balance” (a concept that is pretty odd in a singleplayer game anyway) and you never justified that the latter is flawed.

I find the game very easy, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad or even that the general lack of difficulty is undesirable. I also don’t consider it much of a roguelike but making the combat tactically interesting would require extremely large overhauls of many core mechanics (even then, most roguelikes don’t generally succeed at this). It’s a game about zombies, which are generally slow and stupid, and it’s set in an affluent area of a postindustrial society; it wouldn’t make much sense for resources to be scarce, and given those resources it wouldn’t make sense for it to be that hard to survive

As regards lore, the dev team obviously disagrees with at least one part of your premise (“current physics”) so expecting them to make your mod for you seems a bit unreasonable, especially since a lot of the player base probably likes cbms and katanas and what have you

While all the ‘unusual additions’ may be misplaced effort I don’t feel they significantly contribute to the lack of balance.

I’ve never even bothered to use any futuristic weapon, I rarely see the point in crafting an endless array of exotic arms and armament when I can easily break every enemy I encounter casually over my knees with a .38 pistol, a shotgun, and a combat knife.

Resurrecting zombies was an interesting attempt, but I butchered or burnt most foes anyway just to be rid of the eternal corpses (and the surprise only really worked once.) The greatest difficulty of most roguelikes overcoming is the lack of resources in your standard fantasy dungeon… but Cataclysm isn’t set in a standard fantasy dungeon… it’s set in the modern world where manufactured and high quality goods are overabundant. Nobody is going to charge me innumerable gold coins or try and fight me for the riches of the whole world.

So, while I may agree that adding more arms and armor is a waste of effort put to better uses at this point… I don’t think removing any one segment of it is the answer to ‘The Balance Question.’ The answer to that question lies over the horizon of the challenges and foes we face ‘stepping up their game.’

So, while I may agree that adding more arms and armor is a waste of effort put to better uses at this point... I don't think removing any one segment of it is the answer to 'The Balance Question.' The answer to that question lies over the horizon of the challenges and foes we face 'stepping up their game.'

Well said, sir, well said. Other threads suggested adding more challenging mid- and late-game enemies. I might get around to doing it once 0.A rolls by.

As I said elsewhere, IMHO removal of any content belongs in a mod - and I encourage Clayton and Blinky to make one, I’d love to play it (just as I prefer Classic = True to classic = False).

in other words, while we have plenty of width, we really lack depth.

unrelated to topic, i find it somewhat ironic that Clayton is pro “removal”-party here while proposing adding new not-necessary elements in other threads :slight_smile:

back to topic : is there a way to add depth to the game without reinventing the code already in place?

I’m pro-removal and content blocking mainly firearms/clothing/items, because the game is currently bloated with them.

But anything else is alright with me, personally. ESPECIALLY new map generation things :smiley:

I’ll try to answer some questions as I completely get where a lot of people are coming from.
Firstly, balance is probably the wrong word - Coherence is more like it. It’s getting the game to a state where the game is balanced, coherent in theme and gameplay and back to it’s exciting, challenging roots.

In my opinion, the foreign/medieval weapons need to be gotten rid of as they seem misplaced and incoherent. This is set in New England, yet suddenly there are loads of Japanese weapon collectors!? Secondly, all the katanas, broadswords, steel armour and so forth (even if you allow for them to be in there for whatever reason) are really over powered.

This isn’t me making a mod or wanting it all my way, the sheer amount of threads/comments on the forum about this (and there were a hell of a lot more before a lot of people left/got frustrated) show that I’m not doing this for me, and I really want community input. I’m offering to do all the work here, I’m just looking for a more generally agreed on solution. I don’t want to make it into a mod, because that still leaves the core game unbalanced and leaves us with someone frantically updating the mod whilst the core game goes further down hill.

No one ever, ever, ever considers features that have yet to be added to balance this shit out. Ever. As things stand there are two features that I know of off the top of my head that are going to get added at some point that will significantly increase the difficulty of the game:

Functional NPCs
When in, I can only make assumptions here, but as I understand it NPCs will work together to cause problems (Bandits) as well as clean out towns before you get there.

Roaming Hordes
Again, only assuming, but it’s entirely possible that encountering these wandering hordes will but a huge dent in your ammo supply, or at the very least require you to make an unplanned move.

Onto the spooky scary future guns. “Everyone” seems to hate them right? I’ve heard a few people complain about them but the complaining seems to be very limited in actuality. I’ll admit, they’re a bit common at the moment, and frankly the item spawning system needs some work. Yes, these guns shouldn’t be so common, however they shouldn’t be removed. Yes, these really shouldn’t spawn in gun-stores, personally I feel they should spawn on extremely rare occasions in gun-stores. (Think Artifact rare.) But semi-commonly on something along the lines of a squad of either living or dead PMCs.

“Dead Rising” Weapons are a subject I’m afraid I’d have to agree with you on. Though not as widely, the assorted flame swords, flame bat, the “Combat chainsaw” and whathaveyou are more than a little unbelievable and out of place. The Spray Can Flame Thrower however isn’t too out of place, any idiot with a can of Axe and a Lighter has at some point giggled their ass off when they started spraying the aerosol and lit it. However it shouldn’t be an effective weapon against zeds, maybe NPCs and Animals which are affected by fear.

Are you aware that most the “super-mega-death-win-game-mobile-base-of-destruction” vehicles that are legitimate take months to build, and a great deal of them are not legitimate. So as far as “balancing” those goes, short of disabling the debug/cheat menu you’re kinda SOL. The only additional “balancing” that I think could be done:
Some balance work to solar; the panels themselves should be considerably weaker, but more common on solar vehicles. Currently a single 4 by 4 foot solar panel seems to be able to power an entire car. “Because the future” is a bit much in this case. On top of this, reinforced solar panels, which have extra ‘crap’ in the way of the solar cells, are just as powerful as unreinforced panels, which also probably needs nerfed.
Electric Engines are considerably more powerful for their weight and size over gas-powered engines, as a result everyone and their sister uses solar everything, when the game itself is making it obvious it’s not that common.
Plasma Engines are weaker than most engines, yet use the rarest fuel. I can’t help but find this a bit odd.

Removal of all the “Foreign Things” …That uh, sounds more than a little xenophobic. It’s worth mentioning that these weapons and armor don’t spawn on every corner, they spawn in mansions for the most part. They occasionally spawn on gangsters, though it’s very rare and even then it’s only a Katana or… japan dagger? The armor, to my knowledge, can only be made, which is a very late game skill.

TL;DR: Difficulty increasing features need to be added, things don’t need to be removed.

Agreed, but it’s been literally about half a year since they’ve been suggested, and no-ones gotten round to it. I really do agree, and once they do come around the game will need yet more balancing - but why not do some of the work now?

Futuristic guns have been complained about ad infinitum, and I’m very inclined to agree. I wouldn’t mind if they were super, super ridiculously rare - that’d be great, but I really don’t know if DDA can do ridiculously rare.

And seriously, xenophobic?! You don’t even know what race I am! I could be Japanese myself! :stuck_out_tongue: This is about coherence and balance, and they’re all, by their very nature - OP. If mansions were a challenge to get into, and all the difficulty additions you mention were put in then yeah, they’d be fine - but currently, they’re woefully unbalanced and needless.

Tl;dr - This is about balancing the game we have in front of us, not what it will be like when (or more likely if) these changes are ever made.

my suggestion : make military grade grade equipment rarer and available only in a few locations, like military bases and bunkers. Make futuristic weapons available only in some laboratories, (like weapons-research labs). Protect those locations better. Make usual fire weapons less effective (because nail gun :P). Give unique zeds/critters more anything to make them something.
How’s that for a start?

So more ‘it’ll get fixed properly eventually’ patches instead of fixing the game properly? What’s wrong with waiting until it’s fixed properly?

On a side note, apologies on the xenophobic comment, that’s just how I perceived the ‘An example would be removing weapons/armour that aren’t of New England origin’ comment.

one thing that could definitely stand removal would be the goddamn kitty outfit and it’s associated profession. i mean fucking seriously, this is the zombie apocalypse, anyone who’s retarded enough to be into that weird retarded ass furry bullshit would’ve been dead on the first day.

a way to make mansions harder to get into would be to add turrets around the perimeter. rich people owned those mansions, and rich people generally have good security.

My ideas so far, please give feedback:

-Limit crafting to real-life, physically possible items only. Get rid of the crafting recipes for a few high-tier weapons and armour as well.

-Limit the crafting of proper firearms. I’d say take them all out, or make them lesser versions of themselves. (homemade revolver for instance)
This has the effect of making the player forage and explore, as well as stop them just using the insane amount of materials available to make whatever they want. Yes, there will be complaints of ‘why can’t I make…’, but this is a sacrifice for balance and gameplay. Note, this only really effects end game, so it helps balance in that way (which I feel most people agree with).

-buff all enemies other than wildlife in both health and damage. This is just a straight buff to pretty much everything except wildlife to make them hardier. I can’t see anyone really having an issue with this, as I’ve never really seen anyone complain that the game is too easy. This wouldn’t need to be ridiculous, but just enough so that players feel a bit of danger once in a while.

All of these suggestions would increase end game rather than early game difficulty, and make the player explore more. They don’t remove anything from the game, just stop players crafting super weapons with stuff they can find in a few houses.

Fero: less effective ranged weapons is a good idea and a straight nerf to everything ranged would be easy to do. I completely agree it needs doing. Upping military installations and so forth would be good, as well as keeping a tighter lid on mil.spec hardware.

So more ‘it’ll get fixed properly eventually’ patches instead of fixing the game properly? What’s wrong with waiting until it’s fixed properly?[/quote]

The problem is that it’s looking more and more like it never will get fixed/those things added. I’ve waited for months and nothings happened, and it’s not looking overly promising. As I say, we don’t lose anything by fixing up the balance now, as worst case scenario: it’ll just mean less work to do later. If we need to add in more powerful stuff, we’ll have plenty to go back too.

If I had the know how or time, I’d happily assist in making zombie hordes, but I don’t at the moment, so I can only offer what little time I have to make the experience a bit better balanced.

Hunter: I’m staying well away from the furry stuff as that got way over the top last time. I agree it’s needless, but for the sake of the insane and childish backlash from some areas of the community, I’m not touching it.

lol whut about it? i must not have been privy to that conversation. i figured some dev’s sister begged him until he added it to the game.

-Limit crafting to real-life, physically possible items only. Get rid of the crafting recipes for a few high-tier weapons and armour as well.
Clarify.
-Limit the crafting of proper firearms. I'd say take them all out, or make them lesser versions of themselves. (homemade revolver for instance)
Alright, imho single shot weapons should still be doable (they're not that strong anyways) with maybe a mid/high skill blunderbuss kinda weapon?

I’d say make caliber changing kits craftable at high skill though.

-buff all enemies other than wildlife in both health and damage. This is just a straight buff to pretty much everything except wildlife to make them hardier. I can't see anyone really having an issue with this, as I've never really seen anyone complain that the game is too easy. This wouldn't need to be ridiculous, but just enough so that players feel a bit of danger once in a while.
I feel like zombies (maybe others too, but zombies in particular) should get bonuses to hit if they swarm you.

“so that players feel a bit of danger once in a while”

Go up against any wildlife bigger than a cat without a weapon and tell me you feel safe XD I don’t see why you should feel fucked when you’re carrying a gun against wildlife. In general a gun VS even a bear is gonna put the odds in your favor. Using a high caliber weapon will do large amounts of damage, if you try to use a .22 against a bear, you’re probably going to loose. If you use a .308 round against a bear, you’re probably going to win. I don’t see what needs nerfed or buffed in this area.

“Limit crafting to proper firearms”

Zip-Guns are a thing, however they can also be fairly dangerous. I don’t see what you want removed.

Side note, Buffing military installations? A pair of 9mm turrets can fend off anything not in powered armor. I don’t think they need much help. XD

This.

[quote=“ChristopherWalken, post:18, topic:4901”]

-Limit crafting to real-life, physically possible items only. Get rid of the crafting recipes for a few high-tier weapons and armour as well.

Clarify.
-Limit the crafting of proper firearms. I'd say take them all out, or make them lesser versions of themselves. (homemade revolver for instance)
Alright, imho single shot weapons should still be doable (they're not that strong anyways) with maybe a mid/high skill blunderbuss kinda weapon?

I’d say make caliber changing kits craftable at high skill though.

-buff all enemies other than wildlife in both health and damage. This is just a straight buff to pretty much everything except wildlife to make them hardier. I can't see anyone really having an issue with this, as I've never really seen anyone complain that the game is too easy. This wouldn't need to be ridiculous, but just enough so that players feel a bit of danger once in a while.
I feel like zombies (maybe others too, but zombies in particular) should get bonuses to hit if they swarm you.[/quote]maybe a 5-10% chance to hit for each additional adjacent zombie.