What's new

What does “balance” mean to you?

karaokelove

Dead or alive, you’re coming with me.
Premium Supporter
I was going to just tack this onto my Kustom Variation thread, but it’s a complicated issue and I’m stuck at an airport, so might as well go in-depth.

Balance. This site has an obsession with it, but I bet if you ask 100 members what balance is, you’ll get 100 different answers. Does it mean no bad matchups? Does it mean everyone is the same tier? Does it just mean no character has unfair bullshit. And really, does “balance” even matter? Why are we obsessed with it?

So first I just want to cover why “balance” is a deceptive, nebulous term that doesn’t actually mean anything. I think of “balance” like I think of money: it’s just a tool to get what you really want. People get confused and decide money is what they want, when really it’s just the things you can get with money that matter. So how does that describe balance?

Well, it seems to me that the end goal of balance is to achieve a fun-to-play, entertaining-to-watch, and fair fighting game experience. Is there anything else I’m missing? As long as a game meets those criteria, it seems to me that it will be popular and have a long tournament life. It doesn’t matter if it’s actually considered “balanced” as long as people like to play it, like to watch it, and can compete at it. Right? So in a sense, those features are the $100,000 Tesla you want and “balance” is the currency you use to get it. But do you really need “balance” to achieve those goals? I say no, and that the question doesn’t even make sense because no one can define “balance”.

Looking again at UMvC3, that game was full of busted shit. There were overpowered team compositions (Morri-Doom), infinites, glitches, and every other dirty word in the fighting game community. Yet, that game outlasted every NRS title as a popular competitive title by a factor of 2 or 3! It spent 9 years on the Evo main stage. What NRS title has remained relevant for longer than 3 or 4 years?

So, I propose that balance doesn’t matter one bit. I argue that the end goal is the criteria I mentioned above: fun-to-play, fun-to-watch, long tournament life. It doesn’t matter if the game has ban-worthy characters, glitches, infinites, or anything else, as long as it meets those criteria.

Other than that, the only fighting game I can think of that has ever achieved true balance is Divekick, a game where every character only had the same single move: a divekick. So sure, if you want perfect balance then just delete every character except 1, or only allow mirror matches. Otherwise, this concept of balance is something that simply doesn’t exist.

One last thing: if you respond to this post, please include your definition of balance. I won’t be debating or attacking any such definitions; I’m genuinely just curious what everyone thinks they’re talking about when they bring up the concept of balance.

Thanks for reading!
 

karaokelove

Dead or alive, you’re coming with me.
Premium Supporter
I’ll go ahead and put in my definition of balance. I see balance as general “fairness”. As in, if a character has strong zoning and strong rushdown, then a pure zoning character should have stronger zoning and a pure rushdown character should have stronger rushdown. Otherwise, the “pure” characters are redundant and unnecessary.

So right now, I would consider Sonya unbalanced, because she has such strong zoning and such strong rushdown, while other characters that are dedicated to 1 specific playstyle don’t do their playstyle better than Sonya.

Is Geras unbalanced? I’d say yes, but in a different way. I don’t think the idea of his tool-set is inherently unbalanced, but the fact that he is generally so much stronger than other characters makes him unbalanced, in my opinion. He’s meant to be a rushdown monster, and he does excel at that, but to a degree that creates a great disparity between his viability and the viability of the rest of the cast.
 
Last edited:

xenogorgeous

... Groovy.
Premium Supporter
in a practical scenario, would be, all characters having 50% of winning against all others, but, this is impossible in a game with more than 2 characters, hehe ....

in a realistic scenario, would be the characters having the same amount of bad and good matchups in the game : you have 25 characters, so, each characters, among them, have more or less 12 matchups that are hard to win (real difficult to struggle), and 12 matchups that are medium to easy to overcome .... that could make anyone having the same fairness in the game ....
 

Moms4lif3

Bruh.
For me “no unfair bullshit” probably strikes the closest to what I would call balanced. I honestly don’t think tiers matter too much unless some characters are really bad or way too good in comparison to the whole roster. A balanced game for me is when most characters can compete pretty well. In a game with 20 or 30+ characters of course some will be “better” than others or have generally better MUs, but for me that doesn’t really matter. Not every MU should be 5-5, it’s ok to have a little bit of an uphill battle or to have a little bit of an easier time. As long as no character feels like it really lacks tools to compete, I feel like a good and knowledgeable player has a good chance of winning. Even if another character might be better ,all things considered; if the gap isn’t too big it really should not matter too much to someone dedicated to win.
 

Marlow

Premium
Premium Supporter
I have a hard time defining balance. I guess I think of it being a space between two extreme states of overpowered characters and non-viable characters. Ideally all characters of a game will fall somewhere within that boundary. They don't need to be perfectly clumped together, but they should still be within those two poles.
 
I’ll go ahead and put in my definition of balance. I see balance as general “fairness”. As in, if a character has strong zoning and strong rushdown, then a pure zoning character should have stronger zoning and a pure rushdown character should have stronger rushdown. Otherwise, the “pure” characters are redundant and unnecessary.

So right now, I would consider Sonya unbalanced, because she has such strong zoning and such strong rushdown, while other characters that are dedicated to 1 specific playstyle don’t do their playstyle better than Sonya.

Is Geras unbalanced? I’d say yes, but in a different way. I don’t think the idea of his tool-set is inherently unbalanced, but the fact that he is generally so much stronger than other characters makes him unbalanced, in my opinion. He’s meant to be a rushdown monster, and he does excel at that, but to a degree that creates a great disparity between his viability and the viability of the rest of the cast.
Geras has insane damage, solid mobility, and extremely good knockdown pressure... the thing is, he also can't really be zoned because his anti-zoning is extremely strong (in infinite warden). HE can run away effectively vs the majority of the cast. It's insane how good his black magic is.
 

MalevolentFix

Sombody gonna clean this up?...
Premium Supporter
Royal Contributor
It all breaks down to tools really. The presence and lack of. How good/useful or pointless/bad. A balanced game just means everyone has the means of dealing with everyone and no one is glaringly and completely unable to defend themselves in a MU. That's it.
 

HellblazerHawkman

Confused Thanagarian
News Editor
in a practical scenario, would be, all characters having 50% of winning against all others, but, this is impossible in a game with more than 2 characters, hehe ....

in a realistic scenario, would be the characters having the same amount of bad and good matchups in the game : you have 25 characters, so, each characters, among them, have more or less 12 matchups that are hard to win (real difficult to struggle), and 12 matchups that are medium to easy to overcome .... that could make anyone having the same fairness in the game ....
I think that's where Tekken/UNIST both do really well. Everyone has some measure of winning and losing MUs, but at the end of the day, you can do well with anyone. Specifically, do well without NEEDING a secondary (looking at I2). Those bad MUs should be winnable still.
 

Xerclipse

"I saw you staring"
Balanced means every single character has the tools and answers to handle against everyone else's tools, no exception. High tier or broken characters have the same but they become high tier when everyone else doesn't have the attributes to get at their level. This applies when both players who are equally skilled choose two different characters. When you have a higher player and a lower player fight with different characters of varying tier list scale, then its tough to judge.

Generally if the game has issues with high tiers being too strong, then the low tiers should gain attributes to close the gap in the tier list. Sometimes you would have to nerf the high tiers like Alien and Tanya, or you could give everyone else insane pressure, increased damage, and higher mobility.
 

ETC AdmiralAugustus

Grabble Frazzled
Premium Supporter
Having appropriate, and equal, strengths and weaknesses. (Ex. Good zoners, should have bad close up)

Super hard to achieve with roster sizes growing each fighting game iteration, and to also make your game have depth and diversity, but that core principle is balance to me.
 

Clark L.

F1 ftw.
It’s funny what you mention in the op. Was talking to someone about this very thing. Mk9 is what a lot of people consider unbalanced, yet for me personally, it’s still the most fun to play and watch.

Also I think a lot of “more casual” players are just upset about their character because they don’t play the way they did in previous titles. I have to personally play KL a lot differently than I did in mkx or mk9 for that matter and that’s ok. A lot of KL players are really frustrated with the character but believe me, he’s very viable.
 

karaokelove

Dead or alive, you’re coming with me.
Premium Supporter
Risk/reward, playstyle viability, and character viability are what I think of in terms of "balance".
Oh man, yes! I totally forgot to include risk/reward, which is a major factor when I consider balance. Like, if Kano or Shao Kahn were as safe and dangerous as Sonya and Geras, then they could end up being tournament viable. But as it stands, they have to take much bigger risks to get the same amount of reward. Great call!
 

ColdBoreMK23

Noob Saibot
Balance to me is every character able to compete, not necessarily everyone being high tier but being somewhat viable and a variety.

Also, I hate nerfing characters because that sometimes means character death. I'd rather see buffs of the ones that need it or in this games case the krushing blow system needs an overhaul for certain characters and that would make them "viable" just from that alone.

I want a fun game where there is somewhat broken shit but I want EVERYONE to have dirt. Wether its zoners or rushdown characters. They need to commit to it.
 

NeonGroovyGator

Edenia's Ambassador
My idea of balance also involves variety and every character being able to compete, because nothing makes a game more boring to me than seeing the same characters on every single top 8 in tourneys.
However, I think design philosophy is just as important as balance, and that's why I don't want every character having everything on their kits. If NRS's aiming to have a more strategic and neutral based game this time around, they need to commit to it. If they think it's not gonna work and the game is going to die fast that way, they need to change directions asap before everyone starts seeing the game that way and its reputation is cemented.
 

CrimsonShadow

Administrator and Community Engineer
Administrator
Looking again at UMvC3, that game was full of busted shit. There were overpowered team compositions (Morri-Doom), infinites, glitches, and every other dirty word in the fighting game community. Yet, that game outlasted every NRS title as a popular competitive title by a factor of 2 or 3! It spent 9 years on the Evo main stage. What NRS title has remained relevant for longer than 3 or 4 years?
Again, the reason this is a false equivalency is because NRS releases a new game every couple years.

Marvel supported their game forever because they thought they weren't getting another one. As soon as they got a new game and their figureheads switched to an entitled mentality because a new game was coming, both games were dead.

If they hadn't gotten a new game, they'd probably still be playing Marvel 3. Not with 2013's numbers, but they'd still be trying to keep the fire alive.
 
Last edited:

FoughtDragon01

Ask me about my Mileena agenda.
Maybe it's come from me playing WAY too much DBFZ, but I find the most enjoyment in the sort of 'race' that occurs where both you and your opponent try to get your own bullshit started first. Who's gonna get the T.O.D? Who's gonna basically get put in the corner for time out and mixed to death? Unbalanced? Maybe. fun? For me, absolutely.

I think that's more or less 'balance' for me. What is each character's win condition? How easily can they achieve that win condition and how easily can that win condition be taken away? Like others have already said, it's about characters having something that they excel in (unless they're a good-at-some, great-at-none type) while still having obvious counters, even if it means having to counterpick in order to do it. If a character excels in one area, but has the tools to make counterplay exceedingly difficult, then there may be a problem there.
 

LEGI0N47

I like to play bad characters
One that has always bothered me is ease of use which goes into the risk reward as well. Seems that there are some characters that are very easy to use also have very good risk to reward ratios. Some characters with lesser risk vs reward are then in some cases arguably much harder to play. While not the same in every game its something I have noticed and scratched my head at many times.
 

stokedAF

Drink that water
Balanced to me is just fun. If it’s super unbalanced then I don’t have fun. Like crazy ass towers with an AI that has unlimited fatal blows, ground hazards and shit flying everywhere. That’s not balanced and I don’t have fun. Everybody knows Kahns match up and I get smoked a lot but he’s still fun to me.

I’m not out to make money on MK or climb ranked so the “balance” that concerns y’all doesn’t really matter to me. I use custom variations lol.
 

buyacushun

Normalize grab immunity.
Balance is just trying to make matches as fair as possible. That could mean everyone is even or some characters have some tough 3-7 match ups. It all depends on the game and the characters. For instance I'd have more tolerance for some craziness in a game like Marvel or BBTag than I would for like Tekken or SF. As for characters, I've heard in SF4 Guile V Bison was an easy MU for Guile. Like he'd destroy Bison. Should we now majorly nerf Guile or buff Bison? Delete one of the characters or something? Sometimes shit just falls that way. I'd say you'd have to look at the type of game you're playing and then also compare how the characters actually fit that game. Characters in BBTag are from 5 different franchises. You can't balance them like they're in their own game.

As for that stuff about tournament life that's a bit different. A lot more factors go in to why a game might not last as long. But Marvel used have high community support and be a unique experience. I guess dev support is necessary now too. Marvel was a game you played because where else are you going to get that type of game? Now that's different community didn't stick with infinite and there's more team games out now that help fill that niche. I don't think NRS and the community have found that spot yet. That's why you never see one of their games have any longevity. You can look at a game like UNIST and understand why it's still being played and why it's marked it's spot in the genre.