Extra Credits: Perfect Imbalance

This week, we discuss the benefits of subtle imbalances in games (and welcome our newest team member)!

Show Notes:

Would you like James to come speak at your school or organization?

For info, contact us at: kate@extra-credits.net

Audio Version:
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Recent Comments:

  • a forum where people could actually discuss the videos as opposed to pointless bickering in Youtube comments.

    Um... Yes... <suspiciously looks left and right>

    idk if i got the wrong impression about the forum from the first couple of pages i skimmed, but if this isn't the place to put my wall of text idk where else it could go.

    It's the place, although pointless bickering occasionally happens, but its like comparing being attacked by a swarm of butterflies to killer bees in comparison to youtube comments.


  • It's the place, although pointless bickering occasionally happens, but its like comparing being attacked by a swarm of butterflies to killer bees in comparison to youtube comments.

    ah ok

    do you know if the authors ever look at the comments here? i really think this one video is kind of misinformative in its examples

  • Note: thanks for reviving this topic, I was about to make a post here. Now I don't need to Necro it. :P

    Truth be told, the more I think about Perfect Imbalance, the more I think it's Poppycock.
    It sounds extremely nice on paper, "it makes META evolve beyond parallel, adding imbalance that creates new strategies that try to fight it into a new balance ". But at the end of the day, does that really happen?

    The answer seems no, it instead adds a conceptual stagnation to the META: everything gravitates around the broken elements (or its counters). It eliminates variety or unusual approaches, making everything fall under the category of meta and anti-meta.
    As explained by Macroroni, it creates the "flavor of the week", making carbon copy game where the broken element appears all the time. If the game is unlucky enough not to be updated every few weeks (like League of Legends is), that would result in a completely stagnant game with only 2 or 3 gameplay strategies.

    Bare in mind that, as explained by EC, Perfect Imbalance does not simply imply asymmetrical gameplay, but also means that the balance in utility/power/or whatever makes a character/race/class useful. It's not far fetched to aspire to make your asymmetrical game as perfectly balanced as possible.

    P.S.

    do you know if the authors ever look at the comments here? i really think this one video is kind of misinformative in its examples
    There is no way to know if they look at them or not. (They claim they do)
    What's sure is that they are not an active part of these forums, and out of the 4 cast members, only Dan may perhaps (VERY rarely) reply to any topic at all.
    The closest thing you can get to the EC crew is probably Ikono (the webpage administrator), who is a really cool gal and all, but I don't think she has any control over the show.

  • It's the place, although pointless bickering occasionally happens, but its like comparing being attacked by a swarm of butterflies to killer bees in comparison to youtube comments.

    [img:26r9y085]http://denver.mylittlefacewhen.com/media/f/img/mlfw7764-ERMAGERD_BERTERFLUR.jpg[/img:26r9y085]

  • It's interesting because I would definitely agree that on paper, perfect imbalance is definitely a cool idea - "everyone can be useful AND different!", and although I wouldn't quite say that it's completely wonky, I would say that trying to control it

    Because in a very simplistic level, perfect imbalance is in a lot of games - if you look at a game like Super Smash Brothers Melee, who has the characters Fox and Falco (often times considered clone characters) with very distinct differences (Fox's lasers come out faster but do no knockback, Falco's are more laggy and semi-stun enemies, shines shoot enemies up or down and other moves have differing properties), you have two extremely different characters that have enough differences that players who are good at Falco might not enjoy Fox's gameplay and vice versa, but both characters are relatively well balanced to the point that the matchup between them is approximately 50:50 (with their matchup having changed constantly from Falco once being considered a Fox-counter to recently Fox considered a Falco-counter and then now them being considered pretty equal despite having zero balance patches).

    But one of the big downfalls of this argument is that SSBM is quite honestly lightning in a bottle in terms of balanced gameplay - developers quite clearly didn't intend for any of the advanced techs that are so wildly used in SSBM (wavedashing, L-cancelling, shine jump cancels, short hop lasering) to be so important in the game.

    Something something good perfect imbalance is hard to get but it's still pretty awesome when it's found.

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