Post Launch Battlefield 3 Balancing: Turning “Our Game” into “Your Game”

Alan Kertz is Core Gameplay Designer on Battlefield 3. In this “Inside DICE” post, he explains how feedback from the community has a direct impact on the balancing we do on a number of items in our upcoming game update.

It’s always a challenge for me to balance a Battlefield game after it has launched. Before a game ships it’s Our Game, and we can generally do what we feel is right with the game, even if it means entirely redoing some part of the balance (we did this multiple times on Battlefield 3’s development before we arrived at today’s combat pacing). It can generally be said that once a game ships, it’s no longer Our Game, it’s Your Game. It belongs to the community; I’m just a care taker; A Game Warden if you will.

So it’s a lot of consideration that goes in to crafting an update with as many fixes and changes as we have prepped for our next update. Sometimes the community comes together and clearly demands a fix: “The USAS-12 and FRAG rounds are Over Powered!” or “MAV elevators have got to go!” It’s easy to make a quick reaction fix, though every “fix” for an issue can be essentially ruining another player’s fun.  What’s game breaking for balance to one player is the very thing that helps another enjoy the game. It’s my job to pick which issues to fix, how to fix them, and analyze their overall impact on the game.

Ultimately the community will make its opinions loud (though not always so clear) when an update lands, and many updates for many different games have come with unpleasant surprises for their respective communities. I really wanted to avoid that situation for Battlefield 3, so we’ve tried a series of different approaches. Various update change lists have been posted on Battlelog for all to see during the development of this update. And many changes and additions (and even deletions) have been made in response. As we went on in development, and after we had reached a feeling of equilibrium for balance in internal playtests, we released the specific data to a community site known for its in depth analysis of Battlefield 3’s weapons and vehicles: Players then were able to look directly at the numbers, and the process of changing, adding, and deleting was repeated.

To me, this process has been a huge success. The clearly unnecessary changes were removed based directly on community feedback, and some changes that may have swung the balance pendulum too far in the other direction have been moderated. I’m sure there’s still a strong set of opinions, and there’s clearly some hot button issues, so I’ve attached a poll for you to vote on: Tell me which change you want to know the reasoning behind. I’ll craft a blog post for each of them in time, and your vote will determine which order. If there’s something that’s missing from this poll list, please add it to the comments section. I’ll throw up another poll when my next blog post goes up with a revised list of hot topics.

I look forward to doing more of these blogs, and to your comments and questions below.

Alan “Demize99” Kertz, Core Gameplay Designer

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