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Author Topic: Ruminating about MAc balance and Game Balance in general...  (Read 9891 times)

BEEF

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Re: Ruminating about MAc balance and Game Balance in general...
« Reply #15 on: April 11, 2010, 17:12 »

In the other thread somebody suggested that guns consume ammo like normal, but reloading Ammochain guns requires no ammo from your backpack. Suppose on top of that, chainfiring draws ammo out of your backpack when the gun itself runs out. To prevent exploiting it for BFG ammo among other things, trying to unload a rapid-fire weapon yields a message like "You can't unload the gun without destroying it, it's belt-fed! Unload anyway? (y/n)"

You'd still have unlimited ammo, but you'd have a moment of weakness while you stop to reload. If you can't spare that moment, you can start chainfiring and dip into your ammo reserve. Magazine size becomes a consideration again, so bulk mods and miniguns are at a premium. Finally, it keeps Juggler and the chaingun from being completely obsolete, by letting you switch to a new source renewable ammo before reloading.
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Thomas

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Re: Ruminating about MAc balance and Game Balance in general...
« Reply #16 on: April 11, 2010, 20:48 »

Buffing everything (including monsters) to MAc level is silly, if not because of the fact that the game becomes instakill weapon vs instakill monster then because of the fact that balancing several changes at the same time like that would be highly difficult.

With this in mind, a nerf of MAc is required. Currently, as somebody I can't quite remember so correctly said, MAc helps the player in many ways. Removing a couple would result in a much more balanced trait.

1. Helps with time management. No more reloading!
2a. Helps with ammo management...
2b. and hence inventory management.
3. Hey, who needs a chaingun any more?
4. Slightly increases damage output (in that you can now chainfire for longer without stopping)
The downside is currently no TaN. There is no other downside.

The most obvious way of balancing it, and really the only one that's both simple to implement and effective, is either removing the "Guns don't cost ammo" or "Guns don't need reloading" part, making the trait either "Guns can draw ammo from your pack without needing to reload" or "Guns now require no ammo, but still need reloading.". Either of these 2 will reduce the ways the trait helps you down to 3 instead of 5.

Another way would be to reduce the damage of chainguns in general. This makes ammochain suffer immensely, because the whole point of ammochain is to kill things before they get a chance to fire. A way to do this (that would also make SoaB viable for non-chaingun builds) is to make SoaB "All attacks made by you do 10%/20%/30% extra damage, rounded up." Because chainguns do 1d6, half the time 30% is worth +1, half the time 30% is worth +2.

If this turns out to make chainguns too weak, we could slightly increase their base accuracy/damage and HEY PRESTO THEY AREN'T USELESS WITHOUT TRAITS just like Mr. Shotgun

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action52

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Re: Ruminating about MAc balance and Game Balance in general...
« Reply #17 on: April 11, 2010, 22:57 »

I agree that buffing all the master traits, then making the monsters powerful, is a terrible idea. You would be pretty much forcing players to get a master trait.

Having ammochain make your rapid-fire guns automatically refill without having to stop and reload seems like a bad idea too. It would, indeed, be underpowered. I seldom find myself in a situation where I can't step away to safety and reload when I'm using a rapidfire weapon. If I do come across a big enough group of powerful enemies that I would need more than 5 bursts of my plasma rifle, I'm going to use my BFG, Ammochain or no Ammochain.

Having them use no ammo, but require reloading... seems counterintuitive to what ammochain is. ANd I don't think it would nerf the trait much, since beaing unable to stop and reload is seldom a problem outside of a few areas with huge monster generation like the Mortuary. Outside of those areas it wouldn't change anything.

The earlier suggestion of forcing players to get the reloader trait seems redundant. I think that the Ammochain build is already weak in the early levels, even with SoB.

This is mostly because you can't get Eagle Eye. That makes a HUGE difference in the beginning--my Cateye runs are a breeze in the early levels. Having both Eagle Eye and SoB makes Hell's Arena pretty easy once you get the chaingun. And that chaingun continues to be useful throughout the game, so the plasma rifle is just a nice little bonus when you get it.

In an ammochain run, I often wind up using mostly shotguns in the early game. The high miss rate lowers the damage and makes it very unreliable. I would say that an unmodded chaingun is worse than the combat shotgun, even with SoB and Triggerhappy. You can use one or two of the agility mods in the Chained Court, but you run the risk of making your plasma rifle unreliable in the late game. And if you do save those agility mods, you will have an awesome weapon once you find the plasma gun... but you don't know when that will be. I remember one Ammochain run where I didn't find a single plasma gun in the first 13 levels! I finally found one on level 14. A former commando killed me with it.

So I think the game is hard enough in the early game. I think this difficulty does a pretty good job of balancing out how much easier it makes the endgame.

If you want to "nerf" the trait a little bit, how about making it so that you consume no ammo only when you're chainfiring? You could further "nerf" it by making it so that Chainfiring reduces your fire rate by half in the first round, instead of by 1/3. This would let you greatly reduce ammo useage with strategic chainfiring, but it wouldn't be viable to use on everything.

Another idea would be to have more former captains in the later levels. That would take some of the pressure off of Cateye users, who could burn through easy enemies with their chaingun and switch to the plasma rifle when they need a little more power.

In the end, though, I think the balance is pretty good overall. Rapidfire weapons are the most straightforward, and the easiest to win with. Shotguns aren't as powerful, but with intelligent usage they can still be damn good weapons. Pistols are challenging and weak to start with, but with the right traits and playstyle they can also be effective. Melee weapons make you extremely vulnerable, but if you can wipe out enemies quickly once you get close enough. There is a progression from easier to harder, but the harder weapon types don't get weaker so much as they require more advanced strategy. Some tweaks here and there might be good, but I think it's more than good enough as is.
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Re: Ruminating about MAc balance and Game Balance in general...
« Reply #18 on: April 12, 2010, 08:17 »

On the note of balancing Intuition and Cateye, I think one way could be to remove Cateye entirely (or make it a 1-level secondary trait) and make Intuition a master trait, combining the two levels into one.
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Re: Ruminating about MAc balance and Game Balance in general...
« Reply #19 on: April 13, 2010, 17:30 »

Quote from: Thomas
With this in mind, a nerf of MAc is required. Currently, as somebody I can't quite remember so correctly said, MAc helps the player in many ways. Removing a couple would result in a much more balanced trait.

1. Helps with time management. No more reloading!
2a. Helps with ammo management...
2b. and hence inventory management.
3. Hey, who needs a chaingun any more?
4. Slightly increases damage output (in that you can now chainfire for longer without stopping)
The downside is currently no TaN. There is no other downside.

We can safely put that another downside is lack of accuracy...but, as I stated before, it's quite easy to remove that problem because of Chained Court.  In fact, the lack of accuracy is a damn good counterbalance if NOT for the quick fix.  Can anyone think of a MAc run where the player didn't have accuracy mods?

Quote from: Thomas
Another way would be to reduce the damage of chainguns in general. This makes ammochain suffer immensely, because the whole point of ammochain is to kill things before they get a chance to fire. A way to do this (that would also make SoaB viable for non-chaingun builds) is to make SoaB "All attacks made by you do 10%/20%/30% extra damage, rounded up." Because chainguns do 1d6, half the time 30% is worth +1, half the time 30% is worth +2.

If this turns out to make chainguns too weak, we could slightly increase their base accuracy/damage and HEY PRESTO THEY AREN'T USELESS WITHOUT TRAITS just like Mr. Shotgun
This appears to be a very reasonable solution...although it certainly improves the damage on weapons like RL and BFG quite significantly.  It also makes AoMC runs that much more damaging (to enemies) in general.  Admittedly, however, SoaB is almost solely engineered for rapid-fire weapons, so I don't mind making it a little more generalized.

I would argue that the point of any offensive build is to kill the enemy before they have the chance to fire (MAD?  Cateye??) and that the specialized purpose of Ammochain is to fire as wildly as possible without concern for how much ammo you have left.  To force reloading would be a small nerf in my opinion, but perhaps it is all that is necessary (other than less available agi mods...) to place it on part with other master traits. 

Besides, it doesn't HAVE to be called Ammochain if that name doesn't make sense with such a nerf.  Call it "Heavy Weapons Guy" or something, I don't care.
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Re: Ruminating about MAc balance and Game Balance in general...
« Reply #20 on: April 16, 2010, 10:10 »

I would argue that the point of any offensive build is to kill the enemy before they have the chance to fire (MAD?  Cateye??)

Not quite. MAD is passive defense, Gun Kata is active defense, Cateye is tactical defense, and Ammochain is pure offense.

Here's a repost from the Beta Testing balance thread that explains the terminology:

Quote
In DoomRL, there are three primary defensive strategies: passive (be resilient enough to absorb all incoming damage), active (dodge enemy fire so that you don't get hit) and tactical (kill the bastards before they get a clear shot at you). A player may choose to combine these strategies, or concentrate upon one.

Passive defense is based on traits like TaN, Ironman and Badass. Its obvious advantage is that it doesn't require any special actions during the actual firefight; apart from an occasional mid-battle medikit use or armor change, all preparation is done beforehand, so you can concentrate on killing your enemies. Furthermore, it has very few "hard counters" that completely nullify it.

Active defense, on other hand, requires you to sidestep incoming projectiles, most likely while running and/or under influence of Hellrunner. When it works, it allows you to avoid 100% of the damage with no permanent expenditure of resources. Alas, it has many disadvantages: you'll still get hit far too often, sergeants, revenants and viles won't be fooled by your dodging skills no matter what, the terrain layout might not allow for enough room to maneuver, and, most importantly, a turn spent moving is a turn not spent shooting.

Tactical defense is basically the art of shooting at enemies that can't fire back. This includes corner tricks, firing into darkness and listening for sounds, trapping your victims behind walls of lava/acid, using your intuition (and possibly Intuition).
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Re: Ruminating about MAc balance and Game Balance in general...
« Reply #21 on: April 16, 2010, 12:51 »

No way MAD is passive defense, I've never used it to absorb all incoming enemy damage.  What's great about MAD is that you can scout enemies AND kill them before they're ever on-screen, making it tactical defense (by the definition being used).  MFa can be split along the lines of a passive/active mix, since you can still take TaN/Bad if you're up to it or solely depend on avoiding projectiles/splash.  I agree with MGK's and Cateye's descriptions; Blademaster would fall under active defense if anything.

If anything, Vampyre probably fits the tune of passive defense better than any master trait build: run up to the enemy whatever the cost, kill him and get your health back.

Although I'm curious, given what actually remains as possibilities, what an offensive build actually entails.  Passive and active defense I can understand, but tactical seems far more offensive than defensive.  Is a damage-pistol build, with its ridiculous firing speed and probable knockback, offense because it seeks to kill within normal range, or tactical defense because it seeks to kill before allowing anything else to attack?  Is Ammochain, with its no reloading times and chain-firing speed, offense because it has no way to easily attack anything outside its range, or tactical defense because it can spew its infinite ammo into the darkness and hope for a shot?

In my opinion, anything that seeks to kill, regardless of the circumstances, is an offensive build.  We can call it passive and active offense (like with defense), where passive offense is equivalent to tactical defense and active offense is just killing everything in range, if you want.  Whether something goes into any category also tends to depend on how the player uses the build: for example, Fireangel has, by itself, active defense properties, but it can also be used to get as close as possible to the enemies and blast 'em with a double shotgun (something pretty impossible without nullified splash damage against things like Revs and Viles), thereby making it quite an active offense in those situations.

Well, this is getting a little off-track.  Though, in the context of these categories, we could argue that Ammochain is overpowered on the grounds that it can simultaneously employ active and passive defense without even sacrificing ammo.  MAD, at least, has to play the ammo game when it goes scouting.
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Re: Ruminating about MAc balance and Game Balance in general...
« Reply #22 on: April 17, 2010, 02:03 »

Perhaps a small clarification is needed. By MAD, Gun Kata, Ammochain et al, I mean the master traits themselves and their corresponding prerequisites. So, when I say "MAD", I mean "MAD+Tan2+Badass+Rel2+Shottyman", not just the basic effects of MAD itself - and certainly not the individual playstyle of every player who uses MAD.

No way MAD is passive defense, I've never used it to absorb all incoming enemy damage.  What's great about MAD is that you can scout enemies AND kill them before they're ever on-screen, making it tactical defense (by the definition being used).

Individual playstyles are a matter of personal choice. If you choose to use MAD to kill off-screen enemies, more power to you, but it doesn't provide you with any extra scouting tools. If anything, it takes them away, by blocking Cateye and Intuition. On other hand, Tan2 and Badass provide solid passive defense, even if you never make use of it.
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Re: Ruminating about MAc balance and Game Balance in general...
« Reply #23 on: April 22, 2010, 18:57 »

How about this for Ammochain:

-Remove infinite Ammo
-Increse amount of ammo per inventory slot for 10mm and plasma to x4, or whatever seems like a good number for balance
-Still no reload required

I think this would be good. Remove the "OMG inf ammo overpowered!", and would add more of a "holy shit I'm guzzling through ammo like crazy" feeling, but let's you hoard the amount of ammo needed for constant chainfire shootings. Having LOTS of ammo instead of INFINITE ammo just means you can't clear all levels just shooting monsters out of your LOS without retaliation.
« Last Edit: April 22, 2010, 19:02 by Jarkko »
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Re: Ruminating about MAc balance and Game Balance in general...
« Reply #24 on: April 25, 2010, 05:28 »

When I read the description at furst time I thought: "Wow, no more reloading! Mohrrr dakka!"
But when I realised that no ammo is used I thought: "Hey! Is it a bug or what?"

Voting for no realods, by description; possibly - increase ammo stacks, but... BFG 9000, you know.
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Re: Ruminating about MAc balance and Game Balance in general...
« Reply #25 on: April 28, 2010, 06:41 »

You know, as much as people talk about Ammochain being overpowered... I've been playing both rapidfire builds lately, and I have to say that the Intuition/Cateye build gives you much better odds of winning than the Ammochain build. With Ammochain, the early game is a real crapshoot--if you don't get the combat shotgun before Hell's Arena, you're going to have a really hard time with it. And you NEED that rocket launcher to get the agility mods in Chained Court. On the other hand, EE + SoB makes the chaingun a killer weapon in the early game. Hell's Arena is a breeze, and even The Wall isn't too tough. Hell, if you manage to get Intuition Level 2, The Wall becomes ridiculously easy.

There's also the risk of not finding a plasma gun. I've gotten all the way to Phobos Hell without seeing a single former commando. Ammochained chainguns are nice, but they don't cut it against Mancubi or Revenants when you lack defensive traits.

Even after you get ammochain, and a plasma rifle, you're still very vulnerable. One run of bad luck can easily kill you. I remember once I turned the corner on a "Khe Khe Khe" level--a Mancubus at the end of a long hallway nailed me with three rockets, knocking me into (and blowing up) a napalm barrel. I had 100% health, and red armor with power and onyx mods--but I died in one hit.

With Cateye and Intuition, enemies will never take you by surprise. You also know where powerups are right away, so you can easily recharge if your health is low, or grab an invincibility pack if you run into an Arch-Vile pack. If ammo turns out to be a problem you can just avoid enemies. So unless you're going for 100% kills, or playing a challenge like AoLT or Ao100 where inventory management is a real problem, Cateye gives you much better chances of surviving the later stages of the game. You have to be more careful with inventory management, and it may not be practical to get 100% kills, but if you really want to win the game I think it's your best bet.

I think people focus on how easy it is to kill enemies after they get the trait, but forget how hard it can be to get the trait in the first place, and how vulnerable they are with it.
« Last Edit: April 28, 2010, 06:42 by action52 »
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Re: Ruminating about MAc balance and Game Balance in general...
« Reply #26 on: April 28, 2010, 14:02 »

I suppose that depends on the difficulty level you're playing on.  In particular, with regards to your commando comment, I'm inclined to think you tend to play on HNTR more often than not.  Commandos are annoyingly common in UV as early as floor nine or ten (with the possibility to show up as early as six), meaning you could even carry the agility mods with you until you get your plasma or do an A1/A1 split between the weapons.  Bullets are common enough that you can waste them all you want early on, and getting the plasma you're usually level five/six at that point.

Playing HNTR, Amochain doesn't live up to its potential there.  Fewer monsters means there's less ammo conservation to worry about in general.  The more monsters there are, however, the more you worry, and that's where Ammochain shines.  I've gotten to a level 8/9 Wall in an MAc build on HMP (for Lightfoot Silver) and reached master trait during the attempt, plasma at the ready.  The attempt was rather trivial at that point, and as long as you practice listening for monster cues and volleying into places beyond your view, there are little worries when it comes to getting surprised.  Don't forget about the usefulness of near-100% kills on your leveling, either; more levels means you can cover the weaknesses with HR/DM and Iro as necessary.  Cateye, having to worry about ammo and run away at times, must rely only on its singular strength.

I'm not saying that Cateye can't be used just as effectively, but, just as Ammochain has a weakness against opponents that nail you while coming into view, Cateye has a weakness for packs that simply must be destroyed going through.  Personally, while Intuition is always useful, there are too many areas where Cateye's usefulness doesn't come into effect (Mazes and small Maze of Rooms come to mind, both quite common in Hell).  There's a bit of a difficulty perspective when it comes to choosing your build (for instance, MFa is now pretty damn good in UV/N! as a shotty build) so I'll just wait until I hear what you tend to play on before continuing.
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Re: Ruminating about MAc balance and Game Balance in general...
« Reply #27 on: May 01, 2010, 22:55 »

I suppose that depends on the difficulty level you're playing on.  In particular, with regards to your commando comment, I'm inclined to think you tend to play on HNTR more often than not.

I usually play on HMP. I haven't reached Phobos Hell on UV yet. And while it's true that I usually see a good number of them, there is the occasional game where they just never appear. The time I got all the way to Phobos Hell without seeing one, I couldn't believe it. I was playing with a power-modded chaingun and two levels of EE, so I was okay, but I was REALLY happy when one turned up on level 16.

Commandos are annoyingly common in UV as early as floor nine or ten (with the possibility to show up as early as six), meaning you could even carry the agility mods with you until you get your plasma or do an A1/A1 split between the weapons.  Bullets are common enough that you can waste them all you want early on, and getting the plasma you're usually level five/six at that point.


If you're doing an Ammochain build, I would say it's silly not to save at least one mod pack, and saving two isn't a bad idea. You really get screwed over if you don't find any agility mods after you get your plasma gun, and it is very possible. And there is no need to stockpile bullets or shells--5 stacks total is definitely enough.

The attempt was rather trivial at that point, and as long as you practice listening for monster cues and volleying into places beyond your view, there are little worries when it comes to getting surprised.  Don't forget about the usefulness of near-100% kills on your leveling, either; more levels means you can cover the weaknesses with HR/DM and Iro as necessary.  Cateye, having to worry about ammo and run away at times, must rely only on its singular strength.

I often have to play without sound, which is maybe part of my problem. However, in a Cateye build you should definitely be getting 100% kills up to level 15. With plentiful ammo, it's easier to kill everything with Intuition/Cateye than with Ammochain, as long as you're patient. I'll often go several levels killing everything without even taking a hit. The Wall is a cakewalk with Intuition. Which means I can usually get Cateye, plus two levels of HR, before reaching Phobos Hell. That makes it fairly easy to avoid enemies. Being able to scout them out with Cateye and pick off the easy monsters is nice, but even without Cateye it's easy enough to just avoid them.

Now given, I'm far from an expert in this game. But I would say that, in my limited experience, I'm having a much easier time winning with Intuition than with Ammochain. Even with Cateye, I lose plenty of games--but it was always due to a glaring error on my own part. Either I was just totally not paying attention to my own health, or I got impatient and stepped out into a spot where I was more vulnerable. But with Ammochain, I seldom can make it far enough to get the trait, and even after I have it, a small mistake or even just a run of bad luck can kill me quickly.
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Re: Ruminating about MAc balance and Game Balance in general...
« Reply #28 on: May 01, 2010, 23:31 »

I usually play on HMP. I haven't reached Phobos Hell on UV yet. And while it's true that I usually see a good number of them, there is the occasional game where they just never appear.

Yeah, sometimes the game just doesn't give you one.  I'll be honest: I haven't played HMP much.  I did it for AoLT and might give it a shot on A100 before reattempting the UV, but I don't care much for the sorta-easy/sorta-hard that is HMP.  (It makes me want to blow through it like HNTR, except it's JUST hard enough to make you waste time on caution, at which point I may as well be doing something harder.)  Given the way badges go, I jumped from HNTR to UV and (after a small hiatus) I could manage that difficulty fairly well.  Since N! has roughly the same scaling, that's all I can base my monster appearances on (for instance, HKs are guaranteed on floor 3, Cacos by floor 4).

I often have to play without sound, which is maybe part of my problem. However, in a Cateye build you should definitely be getting 100% kills up to level 15. With plentiful ammo, it's easier to kill everything with Intuition/Cateye than with Ammochain, as long as you're patient.

And yes, 100% in Phobos Base is good for your experience.  But, much better, is 100% in Phobos Hell where experience goes up much faster.  Even if you were lacking earlier on, it's amazing how quickly the experience flows by, say, floor 12 or 13.  Ammochain is built for the lategame, sure, but earlygame shouldn't be a huge issue by the time you're playing to win. 

Even with Cateye, I lose plenty of games--but it was always due to a glaring error on my own part. Either I was just totally not paying attention to my own health, or I got impatient and stepped out into a spot where I was more vulnerable.

I assume that's where most of the problem lies.  Intuition and Cateye are pretty damn good, don't get me wrong, but they lack in the offensive department.  "Glaring errors" are the things that die off more and more with experience, and you'll find yourself seriously concerned not with where the enemies are, but if you have enough rockets to clean up the three Vile packs on the next floor, or if you're going to find another Arach cave to restock plasma, or if ANY shells are going to show up anymore.  Ammochain gives you free ammo, so that problem's taken care of and you're free to be as absolutely patient as you need to be.  And you really should be: Phobos Hell is freaking hard, man.

EDIT: I do believe we've managed to go off-topic, to some extent.

Maybe Ammochain is fine the way it is, I dunno.  The biggest issue stems from the way to fix its flaw (lack of accuracy) being much easier to correct than in other builds (like MAD lacking any lategame defense, or MFa/MGK lacking any lategame damage).  Maybe MAc could just amplify how many shots you get per unit of ammunition?  Like, each volley, regardless of how many shots, costs one bullet/cell?  That way you still have to worry about ammo (a little), and you still have to worry about reloading (a little), but it's not completely as broken as no ammo troubles, ever.  And I'd still do something about Chained Court, either by randomizing the mod-type or randomizing the prizes altogether.  A2 Ammochain Run is a little too formulaic and, dare I say, boring as a strategy in the beginning, with far too good benefits.
« Last Edit: May 01, 2010, 23:38 by Game Hunter »
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Re: Ruminating about MAc balance and Game Balance in general...
« Reply #29 on: May 17, 2010, 20:10 »

So, I've been thinking about MAc versus other traits as I play.

First of all, I think that the two rapidfire traits (MAc and MCa) SHOULD be more powerful than the other master traits. For starters, they don't include any defensive traits and they block TaN. Also, I think it makes sense that rapidfire weapons should be stronger than shotguns or pistols. They are in real life, aren't they? And I think it works out to a nice balance--rapidfire weapons are straightforward and (relatively) easy to win with. Shotguns are great in the early game, then gradually become less and less powerful versus the enemies you face... but they have a strategic value that can make up for this if you get the right traits and play to the weapons' strengths. Pistols are the hardest ranged weapons, but you can do very cool stuff with them if you pour the right traits into them.

So I don't think you necessarily need to directly compare rapidfire traits with other weapon types. I'm mostly looking at MAc versus MCa.

First of all, I think most people agree that Int is way better than MCa, especially now that enemy AI has improved. They should probably switch the two--making Int a master trait that includes both levels 1 and 2 of Int, and Cateye a 2-level advanced trait that gives you one more square of visibility per level. Most of the time MCa isn't worth the trouble, especially since it blocks off other traits.

Second, I still think that people tend to overpraise MAc and overlook the advantages of Int. MAc is very straightforward--just shoot, shoot, shoot. And it does work quite well.

But I'm finding Int can be great, too, if I adjust my strategy. I make sure to have weapons that can use all three kinds of ammo, allowing me to scavenge whatever I find on the level. Stockpiling ammo is a huge priority. The Wall is a must do (fortunately Int2 makes it a cakewalk). I usually have around 15 of my slots devoted to ammo by the time I reach Hellgate--not a problem, since I almost never have to worry about getting overwhelmed by enemies up to that point, and knowing where all the powerups are makes medkits much less essential. When I get to Phobos Hell, I just gradually use up my ammo, increasing my healing and escape items as I go. I make sure to have weapons allowing me to take advantage of all three ammo types, so I can scavenge stuff as I go.

One great thing about Int/MCa is its versatility. It goes well with any ranged weapon--in fact, if I happen to find a Blaster, Beretta, or Trigun, I can switch to SoG and give myself a powerful, ammo-efficient alternative to rapidfire weapons. And of course, if ammo does run out, Intuition is very good for avoiding enemies as well. I just make sure to pick up a level or two of HR along the way.

Game Hunter, I think you made a very good point, about MCa being better on easier difficulty levels, while MAc is better on hard difficulty levels. On the standard game, I would say that MCa is definitely better on ITYTD. You get less experience and plasma rifles don't appear until very late, meaning you won't be able to take full advantage of MAc until you've almost won. Meanwhile, an Int run will have you seeing enemies' locations from very early on, and you'll probably be able to kill every enemy you meet with ammo to spare. HNTR and HMP favor MCa and MAc, respectively, but only by a small amount and you'll get different mileage based on your playstyle, and the RNG could push things either way.

On UV, the balance takes a huge shift in favor of MAc. You will get your plasma rifle and Ammochain very early, along with 2 agility mods. This means you are guaranteed to be well-equipped to take on anything from early on in the game. Chances are you'll get at least 1 or 2 each of a power and tech mod, as well, putting your damage output higher than MCa. Meanwhile, there are massive hordes of nasty enemies, often backed by Arch-Viles. No matter how much ammo you have, it will go away fast if you try to kill everything. And a lot of them are blocking the exit, making running away difficult. You can still win, but you have to play smart and take advantage of everything the RNG gives you. And it's a LOT harder than MAc, which doesn't get much more difficult no matter how many enemies you run into.

N! shifts the balance back a little bit. You get more ammo, and ammo-producing enemies respawn, which takes a little bit of the pressure off. But the extra damage output you get from Finesse and Whizkid still pushes MAc ahead of MCa.

About challenge modes: In general I think they're pretty balanced--both have challenges they are good and bad for. For example, AoLT and AoP favor ammochain builds, because inventory space is at a premium. AoI, on the other hand, usually gives you an abundance of inventory space, and makes you more dependent on powerups (which increases Int's value). AoH is possibly the most heavily weighted against Ammochain. Half as many levels means it will take you longer to get Ammochain--on HNTR I think you could kill every enemy and still possibly not get it. Plus, you are no longer guaranteed any agility mods. Half as many hell levels also means that it's a lot easier to make it to the end without ammo running out, which works in favor of other builds.

AoMC is an interesting one. At first I thought Ammochain seemed like the best way to go, since EE is useless. But since hitting enemies before they hit you is so critically important, this makes Int a LOT much more useful. Note that you'll also be using less than half as much ammo as a regular game, since you do almost double damage and never miss. Another thing is that AoMC really takes the edge off of Arch-Viles, which usually drain your ammo and are just the bane of any non-ammochain run. On AoMC, though, it becomes much easier to gib corpses so they can't be revived, and their fire attack is no more powerful than the normal game. I've had really good results just ignoring master traits and getting Int, HR, and Fin.

Anyway, like I said, I think it's a good thing that some builds are better in some challenges than others, as long as it balances out. There's only one challenge that needs to be changed IMO and that's Ao100. That challenge is more heavily weighted towards Ammochain than any other build. You don't have a guaranteed chainsaw, which makes melee builds impractical. Shotguns? Forget it. And unless you find a blaster or nuclear plasma rifle fairly early, you're going to have a really hard time with rapidfire weapons or pistols. The fact that you have to go through 100 levels is monotonous enough, but having your options limited on what build to use makes this even worse.

So the question is, what to be done?


OK, here are my suggestions. This is what I think would help balance out MAc:

-Get rid of the double agility mods in chained court, like Game Hunter said. Instead give us random mods, or one mod and something useful but not gamebreaking like plasteel boots.

-Lower the plasma rifle's accuracy to +0, and raise the chaingun to +2. This would make an unmodded chaingun just good enough that if you had SoB/Triggerhappy and no EE, it would at least outclass the combat shotgun as a general purpose weapon. And the plasma rifle would really suffer without double agility mods (you might even want triple). Combined with the lack of guaranteed agility mods, this means you could actually have a tough time later on.

-Give us a little more ammo in the late levels. Maybe make it so that bullet stacks can give random amounts up to 50, and shotgun shell stacks can give up to 20. And make ammo spawn slightly more often on UV. Give us just enough that having to depend on found ammo still adds to the difficulty, but isn't quite so crippling in the late game.

-Ammochain blocks HR. This might be a little excessive, but if occurred to me as one more way to nerf MAc a little. It would force you to deal with one of MAc's big weaknesses: increased vulnerability. No HR and no TaN means killing everything before it gets you is even more important--and no HR makes this harder to do. Fewer agility mods would make this even more of a potential handicap.

-In Ao100 games, how about instead of neverending hell levels, how about if we had 5-level cycles? Every 5 levels it would switch between Phobos Base and Phobos Hell levels. The base levels would still have just as many nasties like Arch-Viles, Revenants, and Mancubi, but they would also generate a lot more former humans/sergeants/captains. You would still need to stockpile ammo during the Phobos base levels, but it would be much more doable.

I think these changes would balance it out pretty well. On easy difficulty levels, Int would be better, but taking advantage of Int would depend on being experienced enough to plan ahead and take advantage of all the different things the game gives you. So I think it would even out pretty well for a beginner. HMP and N! would be about evenly split between the two. MAc would still have a slight advantage in UV, but small enough that either build is quite viable. And Ao100 would be compatible with pretty much any build.

So what do you think? More experienced players, please tell me what you think.
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