We just released Build 231 on Steam. We keep cranking out the patches, to address some issues that are still popping up. We just noticed that Explore Mode wasn't working...oops. So we fixed that and queued some other balance changes as well. Speaking of balance, I wanted to take a moment to explain a bit about these particular changes, as well as our evolving balancing process.
Many players are concerned with us not taking their input, or only listening to public players, or only to competitive players. This game needs to be balanced for both, so input must be taken from everywhere and reconciled. There is also the experiential and intuitive aspect of balance, where something doesn't "feel" right, and also the statistical aspects: we use comprehensive game stats to see when certain weapons aren't behaving well, or when lifeforms become weak or hard to play (by watching average lifetime by build), etc. So this input comes from many sources.
Finally, we are starting to test proposed upcoming balance changes through Steam Workshop. I have a mod up there which you can install and play on your dedicated server.
Last week I posted a Survey Monkey survey there, which asked very specific questions of players, as well as asked them how many games they had played on the patch. This was invaluable for the changes in 230, and it prevented us from releasing a couple changes that probably would have been quite bad (noticeably, increasing Lerk health). So after all the feedback is taken from public and competitive games, our comprehensive stats system, e-mail, forums, changes are planned added to this mod for testing.
Finally, I wanted to give some of the reasoning behind the changes in this build. General balance has been improving a lot at the competitive level, but it's not great on pubs. I believe that competitive play is a microcosm of pub play, and that it's not a smart move to have two different versions of the game, balanced for each side. However, there certainly are differences between the two play-styles, and this patch's changes are addressing pub play directly.
There seems to be a lot of Shade and Crag spam in hive rooms in pubs, making it quite hard for marines to kill hives. Cloaking and Regeneration also seem to be too easy to use, giving Skulks especially a large advantage against equally skilled marines. So these changes are here to help address these problems in particular.
So that's the current state of affairs for our balancing process, and it will no doubt continue to change as we learn more about the game and continue adding to it.
19 Days after launch
When NS2 launched, first 100,000 games displayed a remarkable win loss ratio: 49% Marine wins, 51% alien wins.
This balance began to swing towards the aliens after the first week, without us making any changes to the game. This is a fascinating phenomenon in game balance: As the community gets better at the game, you become better at exploiting wrinkles in the fabric of its design. The discrepancy continued to widen to an unacceptable 40% marine wins.
Charlie has been watching the balance situation very closely - Consulting, playing, watching and pondering. The following changes have been tested over the past few days and should go a long way to nudging the pendulum back towards the marines.
Behind the scenes, Brian, Max, Brian, Dushan, and Steve have all been working very hard to fix bugs, speed performance and improve the Spark Engine. This is an ongoing process and never stops. UWE is not working on any other games right now, our full attention is on NS2 and NS2 only.
Since release, we are confident we have fixed many very serious bugs that have been stopping people from playing. However, we know there are still some bugs out there that haven't yet been caught. Under the hood, Build 229 and 230 make it easier for us to identify and diagnose problems. We will to seek out and destroy any naughty* bits of code that are preventing anyone from playing.
We are having a total blast continuing to improve the game for you guys, and we really appreciate you taking the time to report bugs, comment on balance, and most importantly: Frag each other (and us!).
BUILD 231 Patch Notes
- Changed combat time-out to 3 seconds (was 1.5) seconds (makes Regeneration and Cloaking less powerful and easy to use).
- Reduced Shade cloaking radius from 20 to 14.
- Re-balanced Crags so they now self-heal, but only give 3% health every 2 seconds (min 10, max 40). (was 5%, min 10, max 50).
- Fixed error when starting Explore mode.
- Fixed bug where Crags were getting too much health.
- Fixed crash when a render_setup file could not be parsed due to improper formatting.
- Fixed bug where text with multiple lines was not properly printed to the console.
- Fixed bug where the spinner on the loading screen did not display if texture quality was set to medium.
- Added a second parameter to the callback called from Shared.SendHTTPRequest in the case of an error, which specifies the error message.
- Changed models to use a default material if one wasn't specified in the imported file.
BUILD 230 Patch Notes
- Evolving Onos eggs now requires three Hives instead of two. Onos eggs are a complex matter, and are a work in progress!
- Reduced Onos armor by 100 (-8%, effectiveness vs. Exos and heavy weapons impacted less because armor).
- Welder research time increased from 10 to 15.
- Exo armor changed from to 300/390/480/570 to 400/460/520/580.
- Welder rate reduced from 125/sec to 90/sec.
- Reduced shadow step cost from 15 to 10.
- Increased blink momentum to be close to build 220.
- Increase start blink energy cost from 8 to 12.
- Shift Hatch now creates 2 eggs, but costs 5 resources and has a 5 second cool down (was 1 tres per egg, no cooldown).
- Increased trait structure (Shell, Spur, Veil) mature health by ~20%. Also increased their base health to be closer to their previous mature health.
- Reduced spore research time from 90 to 60.
- Hive build time increased from 150 seconds to 180 seconds.
- Reduced Onos Gore range by 0.5 meters.
- Added cooldown to shift hatch ability.
- Lowered max healing on Crag.
- Added minimum healing from Hives.
- Reduced mega regeneration (max regeneration is now 10 per second instead of 120).
- Doubled ARC rate of fire (halved damage)
- Fixed bug where the server would leak memory under some circumstances.
- The ghost Power Node no longer takes damage, fixes a problem where the Power Node could not be rebuilt after being destroyed in some cases.
- Fixed rare bug where a Hive could become invulnerable if it was killed in the same frame as it finishes building.
- Fixed sound bug causing ambient sounds in the world to not play correctly.
- Fixed unbuilt shifts being able to generate eggs.
- Fixed Exo and Mine tooltips.
- Fixed regeneration effect showing up in combat.
- Fixed the "filter modded servers" option not always working correctly in the server browser.
- Fixed ARC targeting issues.
- Fixed already recycled units still taking damage.
- Added protection against speed hacking.
- Added more loading screen tooltips.
- Added a display to the server browser to show the number of servers in the list.
- Added the ability to specify "passes" for build rules in the Builder to setup simple dependency relationships.
- Added SoundEffectInstance:SetCoords() function.