Balancing multiplayer RTS games -- a herculean task?

Komi is added to the White player’s “score” after the game, to alleviate the advantage you get by playing first with black.
They started using it in the second half of the 19th-start of the 20th century.
The recent change is for all the tournaments run by the Japanese Go Association and was implemented because of stats showing that 52% of all games the past 5 years was won by black.

The recent change is for all the tournaments run by the Japanese Go Association and was implemented because of stats showing that 52% of all games the past 5 years was won by black.

Isn’t that basically a one-to-one ratio? Is that one less point on the komi really going to level off that “unbalanced” two percent of black victories? Totally insane logic - you’d be lucky to get a one-to-one ratio flipping a coin a thousand times, let alone in a game of strategy.

It’s a doggone shame that living in Europe hasn’t improved your crappy American math skills.

I’ve played what must be over a thousand online games, and beta tested multiple online RTS games, and I have come to the conclusion that they are beyond being balanced. Because the whole process of strategic development in these games is evolutionary, as wumpus says, with players scanning other players recorded games and picking the strong strategies and discarding the weak, the ultimate strategy very quickly comes to be the dominant one. You can experience it in AoM, and I am sure WC3 is the same or worse, where one of the great players will upload their latest strategy, showing them beating down the last “greatest strat ever”, and the very next day you will be facing Loki hersir rush after Loki hersir rush. The speed at which strategies spread is phenomenal.

Personally I think the only way to deal with balancing in RTS, which I believe is vital if you want to keep the punters coming back for more in your next release, is to treat the game as if it were a living growing thing, and I believe that is the game plan of both Blizzard and ES. I would take it a step father than it is at present, with a small team of dedicated workers alternately nerfing and boosting various units and civs, and try and automate the whole process. With all of the stats being uploaded onto the matchmaking servers, it’s a natural progression to use these stats to feedback into the game and alter the game balance on the fly, as the strategies within the system evolve.

Instead of having the strengths and costs of units and techs defined off-line, these values could be held online, and altered in response to how they are used in games. If human casters are being used too much, increase their cost gradually until they fall into line. If Egyptian slingers are dying to often to the archer units they are supposed to counter, then increase their pierce armour. And if units aren’t being used much at all, then increase their attractiveness by lowering the price or upping their stats until they become more popular. This system would never expect to achieve balance, but it could maintain it for long periods, with minimum interference.

The constantly changing game would also present a constant challenge to jaded RTSers, like myself, who have played one game too many :D.

No. Based on a presumed sample size of millions of games, it’s reasonable to assume that for a binomial distribution, a mean of .52 does not represent a p of 0.5.

It will certainly push the mean towards white victories.

I couldn’t agree more.

What you’ve described is also the way that collectable card games (like Magic: The Gathering) do it. What makes it all gel is that it’s also their profit model.

I’ve managed to pull bits and pieces of this type of development together when I was at Cartoon Network Online. I wrote a development document for a collectable cardgame on Cartoon Orbit that’s up and running now.

The irony is that because they the rules come out of synergy, rather than creating and balanceing the thing whole hog, these kinds of games are far simpler to test and implement then the RTS or RPG genres, and break by design, not by accident. They also get a much bigger audience.

I’m still looking to find the company that will give me the opportunity to do it right.

Your Power Pill