Monday, September 6, 2010

Some Figuring

This is going to be complex and I may need to break it up into several posts. But we'll see.

Giving You The Punchline First
The upshot of all this stuff seems to be this: I tested out the Body Types (Super STR, Dense, and Hyper-Str) against the Normalized Herds. Here's what happened:

  1. First Test: Half of the character's AP in Body Type, Half in one of 4 Defensive strategies: result FULL ARMOR would win like 75%, everyone else would win like 30%. While this was, in aggregate somewhat balanced I was very unhappy: it meant taking any Body Type was too good if you went with the FULL ARMOR strategy and not good enough if you went with anything else. I had some conversations ...
  2. Second Test: The second test strategy decided that what a more 'realistic' build would look like was: 1/2 pts in Body Type, 1/4th points in a weapon, 1/4th points in a defensive strategy. I created some test characters to that build and tested them until each Trait gave the character a 50% (roughly) chance of winning vs. the Herd.
  3. Unpleasant Realization: I compared what, for example, Super Strength (STR and DP) got at each 8 AP level vs. what Just Plain STR (JPS) would get. I discovered that for 'some reason' Super Strength (which combined STR and DP) got as much STR (uh, more actually) and, well, a whole bunch of extra DP compared to JPS making a character who purchased Just Plain Strength (theoretically getting "as much STR as possible") stupid.
  4. Revision: I revised my thinking and created a second set of tests. The results? SWEET.
Here's The Story
The original round of testing produced numbers for Body Types that yielded 50% results against The Herd. When I examined the numbers (for Armed and Unarmed, at each AP level) I realized that they didn't make sense. The guy who bought (in the case of Super Strength, which is the simplest to examine) Strength and Damage Points got more strength and more damage points than the guy who just bought Strength! Here's how it looks:

Here are a few notes:
1. The RED is what these abilities tested at against the Herds.
2. The BLUE is what happened after I "rationalized them" (see below)
3. The ORANGE is what you 'should get' (so says the Herds) when you spend 'All your points on STR).

The Test Case
In order to figure out how to get from RED to BLUE I had to understand two things. The first was 'Why is this happening? Why does the output not make any sense?' and the second was 'Okay, what do I test against in the future to get this right? The solution looks like this:

What Was Happening?
It appears that what was going on was that the Body Type builds were: 50% AP on the Body Type, 50% on a Defense, and 50% on a "weapon" (here the weapon was usually Just Plain Strength (JPS)). If, as I was 'assuming' the APs spent on Body Type really were a 50-50 OFF/DEF split then the resulting character would be 50% Offense and 50% Defense. That, however, didn't seem to be the case. The Body Type characters came out much stronger than the JPS characters. Clearly the split was something more like 75% OFF/25% DEF.

What's more, the Herds are overbalanced on Defensive spending. They combine a lot of whatever defense they are getting with some Damage Points (or, in the case of FULL DP, just 'more DP'). Thus the match-ups that I was running when I was testing JPS (which really /was/ 50-50) against the BodyType builds (more like 75% OFF/25% DEF) were a fundamentally different dynamic. What balanced at 50/50 was just different.

Worse, as we know, the effectiveness of these abilities, even the 'simple ones' like STR and Damage Points (DP) change a lot when you buy a lot of them. The battles we were seeing were taking something like 1.9 Rounds: not /bad/ but too fast to be optimal (more what we saw in the 50-50 herds).

I'll post more later ... 

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