AoS Balance - Why Dota is Imbalanced

Level 2
Joined
Apr 25, 2004
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12
Well, since I can't post in tutorials I'll post this here. I decided to write this since the original AoS tutorial I wrote is on Wc3campaigns and is no longer accurate. Plus, by posting it I'm hoping to inspire someone to make a good 20 to 30 minute aos.

Whenever someone makes an AoS game they always think "This will be cool, cuz mine will have great characters!" but no one ever says "I'm gonna make sure it's balanced!" Well, that is a major problem. Balance is far from fun, but it is nessassary. Popularity says nothing for balance either. Just look at how many games of Dota are played every minute and you will easily see that it is popular, but it is far from balanced. But instead of sitting here and saying how bad it is, I'll tell you what is required for a truly good AoS.

Units are rarely thought about, but they are a major part. Most people go for 2 or 3 statisticly identical units, making their job easy. On the other hand, there are AoS maps where you can build towers to send new types of troops, or make them at your starting area. One of the best maps to see the latter in is The Great Strategy which is one of the best AoS maps, even though it's not played anymore. After a certain point it did start to favor one side, but up until that version (sorry, not sure which it was) the balance was superb without making carbon copy units. They used the base units, but they did it properly. They didn't just throw them in and say "good enough," they sat down and put the time into making sure that the units were not overly strong and were properly priced for their usefulness. The basic idea of unit balancing is:
-How effective versus other units will this be?
-How effective versus heroes will this be?
-Does this unit's abilities or skills make it more effective than it's counterpart?
And, if you decide to allow the players to produce new kinds of units:
-Is this unit too good or too bad for it's cost?
-Is one side's produced units more effective than the others?
Ask those questions, and you should produce a fair balance. And remember that giving a unit a cast stun or damage spell can produce a major imbalance.

Heroes are where everyone spends the majority of their time. They will spend 10 minutes on 6 units but 1 hour on a single hero. Heroes make the game, but you gotta realize that heroes can also break the game. In some games such as The Great Strategy there was no best hero since everyone could get any skill but had one initial passive skill. They also upgraded by buying the skill again, up to level 8. They did split up the human/Ne skills and Orc/Undead skills, but it worked great. Other games tend to put the skills on heroes from the start, and this works just as well. This prevents someone from putting a few uber skills on their hero and then going on to win easily. Neither is truely better, it depends more on if you want them to just be able to pick and play or if you want them to spend some time hero building. The basic ideas involved in heroes are:
-Is this hero able to use their skills too often?
-Does this hero contain too many high damage spells?
-Will this hero make a huge difference without much effort?
-Does this hero have too many disabling spells?
Just because you can give a hero 2 skills that when used together do 700 damage doesn't mean you should. Think about what you are giving to a hero before you pump them up with high damage skills.

Items are the second most thought about thing, but at the same time the least thought about. They range from a potion to a Uber Slayer of Widdow Making. Yea, it's cool to make that 300+ damage sword that costs 7000 gold, but when someone gets it, game over. Items should hint towards victory, not guarentee it. There have been countless games where in the end it was all about who has what item. The biggest show of this has to be Dota Allstars, in which there is a 350 damage weapon. it drops on death, but if you die with it you were stupid anyway. You should never put an uber item in the game, they will quickly ruin it. An axe that adds 20 damage and 10% lifesteal is no biggie, but if that axe did 100 damage with 75% lifesteal, there would be a problem. Another popular thing which is done in a few games is Mixing or Combining items to make new items. As far as items go, the best has to be those from Enmity Campaign since they were very well balanced and didn't really offer one hero the ability to win the game with no effort. When making items for your game, ask yourself:
-Is this item cost effective?
-Is this item going to guarentee victory to the first person to get it?
-Is this item too much like other items?
If you ask these 3 things, you should be able to produce some nicely balanced items. Nothing too strong, but not worthless either.

Abilities, while partly covered under heroes, are another make or break point. Yea, it may seem like giving someone an instant kill ultimate is good, but think about how that will affect the other team. If your worried that the enemy is gonna instantly kill you, your gonna avoid them at all costs. You can never tell when an enemy's ult or any other skill is finished charging, so you gotta run. Another thing to avoid is long stun spells. It doesn't matter if storm hammer does 0 damage, a 12 second stun is just as killer. You want to avoid the super debuff/buff/damage spells like a plague, otherwise you will have balance issue. One of the better ways I have seen to balance abilities and prevent the inevitable skill usefulness loss late game is to use triggers for them. Enmity Campaign does this, and it proves effective. Wc3sear.ch's ability database has a number of skills in it that could show you how to do this sort of thing. Ask yourself this about your abilities:
-Is the cooldown on this too long/not long enough?
-Is this spell balanced between damage and debuffs?(Is storm hammer's damage too high for the stun duration)
-Will this ability guarentee a kill?
-Is the casting range on this skill long enough/too long?
-Is this skill mana efficient?
If you can ask these questions and get a yes, then you are probably balacing the abilities right. Also, don't forget about item skills balance. Things like blink and critical strike may be put on a lot of items by other people, but if a hero has these skills naturally it can prove unfair to that hero.
 
Level 7
Joined
May 16, 2004
Messages
355
Having read what you posted I am going to disagree with some of your opinions and agree with others. In the part about heroes you said stay away from spells that do extreme damage. I don't agree with you on this, sure balance is important but you also need to remember that each hero has a niche to fill. Some may have several powerful damage spells that can only hit a single target, so this hero would be a nuker meant to be used to quickly end a fight, but has no spells designed to keep them in a fight for a long duration. Some others have spells that are weaker but hit areas, this hero is geared for creep suppression. Although you are right that you need to stay away from instant kills and such you always need to remember that not all heroes are meant to be hero killing, or farming. Balance may be important but what is even more important is giving heroes specific areas of expertise, unlike in dota where most any hero can be used for anythings, since most heroes rely heavily on items.
 
Level 8
Joined
Apr 3, 2004
Messages
507
No, Xipe_Totec, I disagree with your assertion that heroes need to have disbalanced skills to be considered useful in situations or "areas of expertise". The combination of all the skills that a hero has combine to give it the slant it needs to be particularly good for specific situations.

If you think giving high-damage single-target stuff is good, I suspect you'll find that a hero in an AoS map that can quickly and efficiently take out other heroes is going to win all the time, because the other heroes will be... dead. And he won't be.
 
Level 7
Joined
May 16, 2004
Messages
355
I never said they need to be imbalanced, I'm just saying that certain heroes should be better in one area than another, I dont like the idea that any hero can go any direction. You should choose a hero with your specific role in mind. You should go the direction of hero killer/creep killer/lane pusher/tower crusher, Just bcause one hero naturally has hero killing ability doesnt mean that the farmer can't get gold and get better items to combat the hero killer
 
Level 2
Joined
Apr 25, 2004
Messages
12
Sorry, I lost track of this thread for a week or 2, but I'll make it more brief:

Heroes should be balanced so that they aren't overly powerful. You can make an effective intellegence hero with a 200 damage shockwave, yet give a strength hero a 150 damage shockwave. You gotta remember that the primary stat is gonna increase damage too, so sometimes an intellegence hero can become stronger than a strength hero, plus most of them are ranged.

Items should affect most heroes equally. In the hands of a speed hero, a damage weapon is killer, while in the hands of a damage hero a speed weapon is killer. You should also consider what skills heroes have so that items won't be useless to them like an item with windwalk and a hero with windwalk or it won't be uber effective like a temporary speed boost and a temporary damage boost.

Units should be balanced to heroes, not vica versa. don't stifle yourself by making units then saying "Well I can't do that because he would own the units."

And please, make sure your spells are mana efficient. develop a method, like 1 mana for every 2 or 3 damage, 15 mana for every second of stun, and 15 mana for every 100 aoe yards+5 for every second of stun. This would make Warstomp with 3 second stun, 200 AoE, and 100 damage cost 135 mana, or 115 mana if you used 3, rounded up to the nearest 5 or 0. You can do the same thing with percentage effects, like 1% = 1 mana +5 every 10%. Basicly 1% = 1 mana, 10% = 15 mana, 20% = 30 mana, or % x 1.5.

If you want more ideas, tell me. I'll be happy to help you. And sorry for the necroposting.
 

Rui

Rui

Level 40
Joined
Jan 7, 2005
Messages
7,497
hmmmmmm DotA is the most imbalanced AoS map on Battle.net . there are certain heroes that own very easly and have no balance. For example the Demon Witch; its one of the imbalanced heroes. When/after lvl 6 people just own heros this way:

1) theu impale, witch deals 240 damage at max level(wicth will not deal 240 damage because of the natural 15% spell reduction that heroes have) and stuns for a while.
2) they Hex and attack the hero until it gets under 450 HP.
3) they make ultimate (finger of death) witch deals 500 damage!

It's imba! and this is when the finger of death is lvl 1, also this is critical to rangers and casters witch always are low hp.
To fl3h: Demon Witch is an intelligence hero. I do not agree with you. Casters always have better spells than rangers and melees. and 40% of the heroes in DotA are Intelligence heroes. If Lina, the Slayer gets Aghminom's Scpeter or something like that (can't remember the name) her ultimate deals 1250 damage! this is super imba but becomes shit because her stun skill is hard to use. its like a flame strike but when people see Slayer coming they always run and even if you want to cancel the stun spell she already did it; its hard to cancel in time.

Items are same thing. Divine Rapier is too imba if it is used on Stealth Assassin or any other hero but specially Stealth Assassin. stealth assassin has permanent invisibility, and it's uber hard to kill him :( . All games stealth assassin makes pawns. He has a gay ward that shots almost 3 times a second, and it has 37 damage (i think) at lvl 1! :S
 
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