Balancing building vs. hunting
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Author:  Mongoose [ Thu Aug 25, 2011 2:14 pm ]
Post subject:  Balancing building vs. hunting

The difficulty of finding citadels before they reach a certain level is affected by the time required for of citadel construction, the number of turns, and the universe size. (And to a lesser degree, the cost of probes and the TPW of the best hunting ship.) IMO, a good edit balances these factors carefully. But I've seen a lot of games where this is not the case.

I think the stock settings are tuned pretty well, but nobody wants to play with 250 turns or 1K sectors.

Does anyone have any information on how these factors scale? In particular, I'm curious whether the difficulty of hunting planets scales linearly with universe size. I'm pretty sure it scales linearly with all the other factors.

Author:  John Pritchett [ Thu Aug 25, 2011 2:58 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Balancing building vs. hunting

I'm sure Singularity could help with that question.

I actually think there would be some value to scaling the economy with the turn count, because you're right, people want more than 250 turns per day, but at the same time, the game is scaled to that turn count. Is the balance really the same with 250 turns per day or 60K turns per day if nothing else changes? Scaling costs to match the linear increase in turns per day would be one way to restore some balance. I would also think that scaling the universe size would be a good step as well, but the structure of the map probably does not support a linear scaling. In fact, linear scaling would suggest that a 60K game would have a sector count of 240K, and that's clearly not reasonable. At least, if that's the right scaling, that's not reasonable for us to support in the game. I don't personally think 60K turns/day is reasonable, so if there is a linear or nearly linear relationship, perhaps a 30K sector maximum suggests a 7500 turns/day maximum...

In reality, I think the equality between turns and map size would be the number of turns needed to visit every sector of the map. For a 1000 sector game, that would be far greater than 1000 turns. For a 30K sector game, would it scale linearly from the number of turns to visit each sector in a 1K sector game? It's an interesting question, with some real-life application. If we could achieve some understanding of that relationship, I could offer some "guidelines" to ops about how to scale the game when increasing turn count.

I could actually write the code to determine empirically how many turns are needed to visit each sector of a 1K map and a 30K map. I don't think I could get a minimum turns result, because that would take an unreasonable amount of time to process, but I could probably do a single pass and get some idea of the numbers. But I wonder if this has been studied already, the general question of how many steps are needed to traverse every node of a random graph. Sing?

Author:  Mongoose [ Thu Aug 25, 2011 4:30 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Balancing building vs. hunting

Just thinking out loud here..

The value of a single probe should be slightly greater in a larger universe. Not proportionally to the number of sector, but proportionally to maximum path length.

The turns required to visit any given probe hit also scale with path length, not the number of sectors.

The number of probe hits that require investigation could scale proportionally with the number of sectors, but in practice I suspect it scales with the number of players times the number of turns.

But the number of turns might be a wash. More turns to place fighters is matched by more turns to investigate them. Or this might only be true as long as the number of gridded sectors is a small percentage of the total. If the number of fighters being emplaced becomes limited by the universe size rather than by available turns, then the hunters gain an advantage over the emplacers. If the majority of the universe is ever gridded out, then you have too few sectors, too many turns, or someone has clearly won.

Author:  Singularity [ Thu Aug 25, 2011 5:43 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Balancing building vs. hunting

In 1000 sectors, you could probably probe the
entire universe for 300 probes. I could certainly
find someone's base w/o a problem in that. It's
number of probes = .3*SECTORS

Really it works down to probe cost, number of
figs your enemies have down, size of your grid,
and number of turns divided by TPW. The length
of the course does improve the value slightly,
but bang rarely spreads stuff out evenly at that
length. You get one or two massive bubbles, then
the rest is at about half max length.

You do not need to visit every sector of the map,
only holoscan at appropriate times and plot a
course that leads you along a path that has the
most unvisited sectors in it (not a hard search).
The right 1/3rd of the universe, holoscanned, can
get you to about 80% coverage. Keep in mind that
people will use twarp gridding to cover areas

Author:  John Pritchett [ Thu Aug 25, 2011 6:28 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Balancing building vs. hunting

Good points.

Author:  Mongoose [ Fri Aug 26, 2011 1:34 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Balancing building vs. hunting

A path that visited every sector would be a Hamiltonian path. It's easy to prove whether one exists, but calculating the actual path is NP-Complete, meaning it could take literally billions of years to compute. So that's out.

I'm going to look into the approximation algorithms for Hamiltonian paths, and see if there's a variant for visiting adjacent nodes, like with a holoscanner. I'm less interested in computing these paths than knowing how their length scales with universe size.

Author:  Singularity [ Fri Aug 26, 2011 5:16 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Balancing building vs. hunting

Except in practicality, people twarp grid. This shortens the path considerably, and allows you to cut the search way down if you assume that sectors they've visited can be return points as well.

You don't need to find the most optimal path in this situation, just pick an optimality assumption, run thru the process, and compare across multiple universes. We do something similar when ptrading, since it's more or less impossible to find the actual most-optimal path for pwarping around... we just assume the sum of the closest paths will yield the best path on average.

Additionally, most people will probe early on, and you're going to have a hard time approximating that w/ the way probers use avoids.

Author:  Mongoose [ Fri Aug 26, 2011 12:35 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Balancing building vs. hunting


So getting to and from areas being gridded is a constant cost. But do people grid more in a larger universe? Is the aim to grid a certain percentage of sectors? I suppose it's the blues who do most of the gridding. How does the number of turns they spend gridding scale with the number of turns?

Author:  John Pritchett [ Fri Aug 26, 2011 12:42 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Balancing building vs. hunting

I know this is an unpopular thing to say, but I am of the opinion that if the game was properly balanced, gridding would not be a useful tactic. So I'm not sure it should be taken into account in an analysis of how to restore balance to the game over a wide range of turn counts. If turns, costs and map size are balanced, gridding out the map would be a wasteful use of turns and resources. Or at least I believe that it should be. Gridding is a recent phenomenon in the game, and is mostly seen in high turn and unlim games.

Author:  Mongoose [ Fri Aug 26, 2011 12:45 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Balancing building vs. hunting

I agree. As I said a couple comments back, if a significant percentage of the universe is gridded, IMO the turns are too high or the universe is too small.

Author:  John Pritchett [ Fri Aug 26, 2011 1:14 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Balancing building vs. hunting

Right. Phew. Someone agrees with me ;)

Author:  Micro [ Fri Aug 26, 2011 2:22 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Balancing building vs. hunting

Mongoose wrote:
I agree. As I said a couple comments back, if a significant percentage of the universe is gridded, IMO the turns are too high or the universe is too small.

... or it's to easy to make cash.

Author:  John Pritchett [ Fri Aug 26, 2011 2:43 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Balancing building vs. hunting

There should be a range of credits/turn depending on the tactic being used, with no tactic being far greater than the others. More advanced tactics can have a higher cashing rate, but it shouldn't be so high that it dominates any other tacting, making this a one-dimensional game. Now, assuming you have a reasonable range of cashing rates, the number of turns will magnify the advantage of greater cashing rates over lesser. And if it's unlimited, the range doesn't matter. All methods are to easy.

Author:  Singularity [ Fri Aug 26, 2011 4:54 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Balancing building vs. hunting

People grid out the entire universe, by default. So the
larger the universe, yes the larger the grid. However the
real cost is not the size of the universe but the turns
lost to grid defense (getting torped). That is the key
aspect to the equation. If nobody defends, then turns
spent gridding approaches 100%. If everyone defends,
then it's more like 10% to 20% of total turns. It's not just
a factor of turns or universe size, it's also a factor of
competition, enemy play style, enemy ping, enemy
defense, age of the game, etc. I have played in games
where the enemy could not stop us, and we had 10 ppl
grid 100% of their daily turns.

Nobody will ever seriously play an edit where 10000 figs
is impossible to afford, not with the way people want to
play today. Edits have the network effect, the more ppl
play them the more others want to play them, the fewer ppl
play them, the less others will want to even try them.

As for game balance, you won't achieve grid balance with
turns, universe size, cash, or other conventional balances.
If you could, then we'd already be doing it. What we need
is a time balance, and conventional time limits are not
effective for that. Grid is a way to turn your free time
into a tactical advantage. That's why I requested a way to
shut down the game entirely between X and Y, and why I'd
like to run a turny with that feature.

That said, you will always have people with more free time
that want to put that to good use. You will find it very
difficult to stop that kind of advantage, but you can
redirect it away from grid defense.

At that point you have you look at the defense/offense
balance. Grid is used to defend yourself, make that less
useful and people will become far more aggressive and
bases will get found much faster. The edit needs to be
designed carefully, and probably will need to be fixed
several times.

As for one-dimensional game, people like 1-d games when it
comes to cashing. They are the most popular edits that ppl
play. That's why megarob turn games always draw a much
larger crowd these days than traditional gold games. This
means that sysops have a huge impetus to make cashing
simple and very profitable. Balance is not always fun, and
people want fun more than they want balance. Why do you
think unlims are the most popular style?

Author:  Mongoose [ Fri Aug 26, 2011 5:00 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Balancing building vs. hunting

If turns spent gridding approaches 100%, then how do people make money?

The cost of one grid fighter is not the cost of the fighter. It's the cost of the fighter plus the money you could have made in the turns you used to emplace it.

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