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MainstreaMlvl 75
is hardly around any more. Apologies...
Geek


Posts: 76
Joined: 9/2/2010
Posted: 1/3/2011 1:13:43 AM

This post was inspired by last weekends geek-of-the-week tournament, where a juggling map ended up in a lava spraying contest. It is actually a "crusade" against lava in ti's current form.

These are the ways to try to win a tournament:

1. Skill & training
Choose your towers, choose the place of your towers and upgrade them at the right time. Juggle when needed. Send in creeps in *as early as possible* to gain the extra points from sending waves early. Objective of the player is to finish the tournament as fast as possible and/or to die as late as possible in the game.
Example: http://www.beatthegeek.com/games/TowerDefence/tournamentResults.asp?tournid=2126 - please review my replay.

2. Patience and lava
Destroy the first waves with cheap firepower. Build a vulcano tower as soon as possible. From then on, send in the creeps *as late as possible* - if necessary buy some time via the powerups, as sufficient time is needed to recharge your towers. This is something to be used on longer tournaments where the amount of points earned by killing more creeps superseeds the amount of points of sending creeps in early.
Example: http://www.beatthegeek.com/games/TowerDefence/tournamentResults.asp?tournid=2273 - please review my replay.

As you might have seen, there is an profound difference in the gameplay. The first is active, involves keyboard and game activity and quite some skill. The other involves pushing the "F" button one second before the next wave enters.

In my personal opinion and I'm sure you'll agree if you compare the two replays, it is a pure shame that the second game earns 30% more points than the first one. As a few people have noticed by now - you will see who when you study the recent tournaments leaderboard - lava is severely overpowered and this simply ruins both the gameplay and the ranking.

How can we counter this?
At first, this is a request to Sparticus to re-balance the lava tower.
Second, this is an appeal to all valued tournament builders. Disable the lava tower, or disable the possibility to buy more time.

Thank you for your ideas on this matter

MainstreaM
lordcrumblvl 86
thx 4 voting and rating maps
Geek


Posts: 175
Joined: 9/21/2010
Posted: 1/3/2011 1:41:06 AM   (Edited: 1/3/2011 1:56:11 AM)

i totally agree with you. there's another option to prevent this as map creator: take out more than half of the power ups if you take the ordinary creep order.

so there are 3 ways for new maps. lets hope most map creators read this


edit: another way could be to bring up certain waves that outnumber the max. amount of lava affordable until that point of time.

...and thanks MainstreaM for this perfect analysis of that problem!
Sparticuslvl 19
Finally fixed the profile pic uploader
Site Admin


Posts: 927
Joined: 8/27/2010
Posted: 1/3/2011 9:13:52 AM

If people feel the lava tower is too powerful, please give recommendations on the best way to balance it and I'll will fix it (ie. less lava/sec, less damage per lava, make them more expensive, longer upgrade times, etc).

I too agree they might be a bit overpowered. Let me know your thoughts.
Nerd


Posts: 73
Joined: 10/4/2010
Posted: 1/3/2011 9:36:37 AM   (Edited: 1/3/2011 9:38:48 AM)

Well I tend to hate juggling maps, and don't necessarily agree that one type of strategy is inherently better than the other. Massive firepower is just as effective at winning a battle as being quick and nimble.

Put differently, just because two people choose different strategies doesn't make one less worthy than the other. They're operating within the same rules of the game. If in the end one gets a higher score, why is that "wrong" versus the other person?

Frankly I get annoyed when people get massive bonus points for doing a full-bore 'send next level' all the way to the last level, and then spend the next 30 minutes juggling the entire mob back and forth across a maze of level-1 towers. Yet still get a really high score. I guess it seems like juggling 1 or 2 creeps at the end is arguably skillful, while juggling a mob seems almost like gaming the system.

I know it's subjective, I'm just offering my thoughts. But precisely because it's subjective, I don't agree that there's a "problem" needing fixing. We're all playing on the same field, and any game when pushed to the Nth level is going to start experiencing extreme play (massive volcano surges, or massive bonus points for sending level 100 within 2 seconds of level 1, etc.). Sparticus might adjust the volcano parameters, only to find that some other tower or some other mode of game play creates problems.

We just need to relax and play and have fun, not sit and stew and fret because someone else chose a different strategy and got a higher score.
kistelvl 34
Member


Posts: 10
Joined: 12/14/2010
Posted: 1/3/2011 11:50:35 AM

In my opinion the lava tower is just fine. The thing we have to care about are the maps. Every map creator has enough options to prevent some "lame" tactics.
landronnlvl 44
:D
Nerd


Posts: 66
Joined: 10/28/2010
Posted: 1/3/2011 3:40:31 PM

i agree with mainstream and lordcrumb.

thanks mainstream for making two nice examples that exhibit the problem.

some of your points are valid sierrajeff but let me see if i can get everyone on the same page. having different strategies is what makes TDs and this site great and i am sure that every one of us is in agreement that one type of strategy should not be inherently better than the others. it is refreshing when the top three in a tourney did it completely different ways. it also adds a lot of variety to be able to try different tactics on different boards. he is not saying to get rid of the strategy (i think the no lava was a temp fix suggestion,) he is saying it is a little too strong and needs balancing.

i offer that mainstream's category of "skill and training" is not a single strategy. i can easily think of 10 different strategies that fall under this category all of which need to be decently balanced as well. i actually have some draft tourneys specifically designed to choose one of two of those 10 different strategies with neither being stronger to show the newer players that there are different strategies that work just as well as each other.

games need balancing, just look at starcraft 2 as an example everyone should be familiar with. they are constantly coming out with re-balancing changes so that different strategies stay viable. the problem is that when everyone starts to figure out that one strategy works A LOT better than the others, then everyone starts doing only that strategy. i think that is what is starting to happen here with lava.

i am an experienced TD player and humbly offer that 1/3 of the tourneys on the "my profile" page say 1st (at the time of this post) to back that claim. i am sincerely not trying to brag, but instead suggest that i might have an idea what i am talking about. to that extent i have started realizing that i am going to have to play lava most the time if i want to continue winning tourneys because there is no other way to score that many points.

there is nothing fun about having to play a certain strategy all the time. imagine if all sell times were changed to instant (not adjustable) so everyone was able to juggle on almost any board and that is the only way you could make the top 20. would you still enjoy the game as much? i know that i wouldn't.

so in summary, i do feel that the lava tower needs some balancing. unfortunately relying on the map makers to make adjustments is not the best solution as most of them would probably not understand all the dynamics involved and might actually do more harm than good :/

that brings us to sparticus who seems to see the issue as well and is looking for suggestions. i wish that i had a great solutions but i really haven't thought it through and you have to be very careful not to nerf* lava to the point of it no longer being a strategy.

here is some brainstorming for anyone who wants to add...

i do not like the idea of nerfing/removing additional time as it is used by many other strategies in late rounds to give the towers more time to kill the mega hp creeps before more creeps come. especially true when towers are strategically placed to attack the same creeps on more than one pass.

i do not like the idea of nerfing/removing power-ups as those are obviously used any many other strategies as well.

i think that sparticus is on track with addressing the tower itself. perhaps the root of the problem is the ability to store up the damage for the mega hp creeps at the end. the contributors to this strategy is additional time power up, lava/sec, and damage/lava. the key is to not make the lava worthless at end game for the pure lava strategy or the player with only a few lava towers to catch those escaping creeps. at the same time you want the adjustment to be more of a factor as you get into later rounds to parallel the other strategies that face an increasing difficulty in later rounds.

time power up - addressed above

lava/sec - this might be a good minor adjustment to prevent the strategy from outlasting the others as it would take more time power ups to store the same damage and they would run out sooner.

damage/lava - i think that this might impact the early rounds too much but might be an option once tested as it is a primary contributor.

other options:

more expensive - not a strong contributor. i guess it would mean less towers late game but might effect the early game too much once tested as money is tighter in early rounds.

longer upgrade times - not a direct contributor to the issue so changing would have little to no effect.

perhaps the 100 lava cap will come up again but with a bunch of towers (as the only thing being built) enough damage can usually be stored up without exceeding 100.

my humble opinions,

Lan

---

*nerf - to make worse or weaken, usually in the context of weakening something in order to balance out a game
lordcrumblvl 86
thx 4 voting and rating maps
Geek


Posts: 175
Joined: 9/21/2010
Posted: 1/4/2011 2:01:45 AM

i see now 2 solutions:
- limit to 100 lava pieces
- uncheck vulcano as default ---> so the map creator has to think about if this option will destroy the gameplay (and/or uncheck buying time by default) as is is not easy done to decrease the default amount of power ups (each boss 1 is kinda minimum)

this 2. possibility could replace to relay on map creators, as they often let everything on default. perhaps there could be a short warning on mouse over on the vulcano check box.

i think those are the easiest programmed solutions.
Nerd


Posts: 73
Joined: 10/4/2010
Posted: 1/4/2011 5:20:04 AM

Appreciate the thoughtful replies.

Re: capping the lava - I think some cap may be appropriate, though I'm not sure it's 100. In fact when I started playing I actually didn't even realize that volcanoes could go above 100 ("it goes to 11..."), so I agree that the current infinite lava storage could be adjusted without "ruining" the game. But I know from experience that even 100 lava in a fully upgraded volcano can become meaningless near the end of the game.

But - as I think about it, is the real volcano problem more a question of range than power? Volcanos are the only tower in BTG that can affect a creep anywhere on the board. I think that leads to peoples' frustration in two ways: First, the player doesn't have to have a maze; they can just build the Deccan Traps in the corner [Go look it up] and the lava will flow all the way across the map to any creep any where. Second, it seems less "fair" because it might look like a creep has seemingly escaped and is home free, only to be killed by a lava at the last second that came from a volcano way back by the entrance.

Let's face it, in the real world lava doesn't do that; Mt. St. Helens destroyed the area around it, it didn't bypass 120 miles of forest and then flatten Seattle.

So maybe volcanos' power should be left largely unchanged, but their *range* limited - maybe they should have a range scheme similar to the teleports, where they start with a range of 1 or 2, ultimately expanding to 3 or 4. That way a person can still use them strategically, as a kind of massive firepower dump on a megacreep that comes nearby... But they can't be used as a map-wide tool of destruction.
lordcrumblvl 86
thx 4 voting and rating maps
Geek


Posts: 175
Joined: 9/21/2010
Posted: 1/4/2011 7:13:43 AM   (Edited: 1/4/2011 8:16:34 AM)

just a idea...

how about the vulcano having a limit AND... is cooling out over time (perhaps 30 minutes to have the max. amout of lava down to zero), so it can't be hold in farms for longer ---> you'd have to build it at the right moment and upgrade fast to max. level (if that takes 5 minutes you'd still could have a maximum of 83 lava pieces)

even lava maps like the <<armageddon>> would still have its gameplay. perhaps even more exciting.

but it would restrict that need to youse this boring technic on every map because a vulcano would not be of much use after 10 minutes only having a maximum of 66 lava pieces.
Nerd


Posts: 73
Joined: 10/4/2010
Posted: 1/4/2011 8:44:14 PM

OK, I'm now a total convert.

I've been playing variants of tourney 2322 ("FETD") for weeks / months; recently I've been thrilled to finally find a method to the madness... Did pretty well if I do say so myself...

Then I bought a replay of the current high score. Meaning no offense to tobiasode, and I've certainly used volcanos like this too; but it really irked me to see myself beaten with nothing but a mega-upgraded set of volcanos.
MainstreaMlvl 75
is hardly around any more. Apologies...
Geek


Posts: 76
Joined: 9/2/2010
Posted: 1/5/2011 12:40:58 AM

Thanks for that, sierrajeff. glad we're on the same page.
alchemistlvl 42
Want - to - play - a - game ?
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Posts: 133
Joined: 9/1/2010
Posted: 1/5/2011 5:07:33 AM

I would vote for more expensive to upgrade and slower to create lava - this also fixes the over lava issue to a degree.

Now - you lot aren't going to get upset when I use 40 teleports to fake juggle are you? ;)

Nerd


Posts: 73
Joined: 10/4/2010
Posted: 1/5/2011 5:15:29 AM

Actually I think my range limitation idea would still be a good fix -- you can't clear an entire board with a slew of volcanos if their range is limited to 2 or 3 or 4.

But I'll defer to Sparticus.
lordcrumblvl 86
thx 4 voting and rating maps
Geek


Posts: 175
Joined: 9/21/2010
Posted: 1/5/2011 5:43:20 AM

@sierrajeff: if the vulcano has no lava limit like now, range restriction doesn't help. it actually remains just about the same, while the creeps get washed away in a certain area (they're usually placed near exit, so they die just a little later). imagine about 6 fully upgraded ones, surrounded by surgers, that'll do the job for most maps... (i guess)
 
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