Dev Blog

Dev Blog 36: Weapon stat balancing and precision

By March 21, 2020No Comments

During recent playtests, we discovered that shotguns had become very weak. So today I crunched some numbers to find out why.

I started by calculating TTK (“time to kill”) for various weapons in the game, using a spreadsheet I built for this a few months ago. We’ve released quite a few patches since I first made the spreadsheet, so I had to update most of the numbers for health items, armor, and damage.

Here was the result:

TTK in Update 0.7.6

The vertical axis is TTK in seconds, with the horizontal axis being Match Time in minutes. Every five minutes, we assume that players buy a tier of Nanoweave, Exoplating, and Damage Booster. These assumptions are close enough to real match data that we’ll use them in all of our calculations. The thick red line shows a “fun” maximum TTK. Anything more than this tends to be a bullet sponge. We expect players to get stronger as the match progresses, but at some point the game has to end, so we start increasing the expectation for players to die quickly.

The purple lines that quickly rise out of the graph represent shotgun TTK. Even with a damage booster, the shotgun can’t currently cope with any amount of Armor worn by an enemy. Snipers, assault rifles, and carbines also suffered.

What happened?

I believe what happened was this: In Update 0.7.0, we reduced shotgun damage to 4 per pellet (previously it was 6). They also had innate Armor Piercing 5, which we reduced to 2 in that same patch. We did this in response to a meta where shotguns dominated the battlefield and enabled players to rush early game and win very quickly.

In subsequent patches, armor piercing items like Demolition Implant were nerfed, further reducing the shotgun’s effectiveness against armored targets.

What are we doing about it?

In Update 0.7.7, we are reducing the Armor gained from Exoplating to (2,3,4,5,6,7), previously (1,3,5,7,9,11). Here is the resulting TTK chart:

TTK after lowering Exoplating armor

This makes most weapons viable and “fun”, but shotguns are still left out in the cold, with a TTK of 6+ seconds for most of the match. Shotguns should be fast and deadly at close range. This brings us to a series of shotgun buffs.

After increasing rate of fire to 150 (was 125), damage to 5 (was 4), and the number of pellets to 10 (was 9), we had a shotgun that performed as desired. We also removed the remaining Armor Piercing 2 stat that was left from Patch 0.7.0, deeming it unusual and not necessary.

This is what the TTK chart looks like after buffing shotguns:

TTK after increasing shotgun damage, pellet count, and rate of fire

With these changes, shotguns with a Damage Booster remain viable until 20 minutes, when enemies are expected to have 9 or more Armor. At this point, a player should really consider buying a Demolition Implant if they are battling a player who is buying lots of Armor. I would not recommend using a shotgun without a Damage Booster or Demolition Implant, as you’ll become ineffective as soon as an enemy buys 2 tiers of Exoplating, around 5 minutes into a match.

You’ll notice that a shotgun with both a Damage Booster and a Demolition Implant will absolutely shred through enemies. The TTK for this loadout is about 1 second flat for the entire match. Its even below the thick pink line on the graph indicating a weapon is overpowered if it drops below our “minimum TTK” goal of 2 seconds.

Flattening power spikes

In Patch 0.7.7 we are going to reduce the weapon damage from Damage Booster to (+ 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30 %), previously (+ 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60 %). These changes mean that overall weapon damage will be lower for every gun in Revn.

Why were we doing this? Well, we want to flatten out some of the massive power spikes that players can achieve. Out-leveling your opponent is one thing. Complete domination is another matter. The old meta required that every player used Damage Booster if they wanted to deal any significant gun damage mid-to-late game. We’ve slowly reduced armor over the last few updates, and now its no longer necessary to get tons of raw damage to overcome that armor. We’ve found that Revn is more fun when weapon damage doesn’t scale insanely fast.

We have to consider TTK versus unarmored enemies too when balancing. Let’s take a look at what that looks like in Patch 0.7.6:

TTK versus unarmored enemies before nerfing Damage Booster

Most of our weapons are actually overpowered against an unarmored enemy. These characters are still buying health items, but no armor. They might be support players, or using shields (another system due for a check-up in the near future). We aim for a minimum TTK of 2 seconds, as it gives players enough time to react to taking damage.

Here’s what TTK versus unarmored enemies will look like once Damage Booster is nerfed:

TTK versus unarmored enemies after nerfing Damage Booster

Guns are still too strong versus unarmored players, but this better than before.

And this is TTK versus armored opponents after nerfing Damage Booster:

TTK after nerfing Damage Booster

“But Silas”, I can hear you ask, “doesn’t this mean shotguns won’t be viable without a Demolition Implant after 1o minutes?”. And the answer, sadly, is “yes”. Shotguns very much require extra armor piercing if you are dealing with armored enemies. Against un-armored foes, however, it is the best short range weapon in the game.

Is there a way to achieve a middle ground? A meta where all weapons are “fun”, without heavily investing in Damage Booster and Demolition Implant? The answer is Stat Precision.

Stat precision

While we are currently wrapping up Alpha Milestone 8, we’ve already got our eyes on Milestone 9. A major goal for Milestone 9 will be increased precision for all stats. This means multiplying EVERY health, damage, armor, and shield stat by 10.

Why does this matter? Well, health and damage in Revn are both integers. Meaning we can’t have fractional damage. This was a deliberate design decision to help players and devs talk about the game. However, the numbers we chose for player health and weapon damage are too small, and therefore too imprecise to properly balance.

The problem

Here’s an example. The assault rifle deals 10 damage. Damage Booster used to give a +10% bonus per tier, so if you had Damage Booster III, your gun would deal 13 damage (30% of 10 is 3, 10 + 3 = 13).

But this was too strong. We want a 5% increase per Damage Booster level. So lets run those numbers again for Damage Booster III.

15% of 10 is 1.5. And 10 + 1.5 = 11.5 damage. But we can’t deal fractional damage, so the decimal values are dropped. The gun deals 11 damage, only 1 more than a player with no items.

Its even worse for weapons like shotguns that deal less than 10 damage. A shotgun deals 5 damage per pellet, with Damage Booster III that’s 15% of 5 = 0.75 extra damage. When 5 + 0.75 = 5.75 damage, your shotgun is still only dealing 5 damage. You’ll need Damage Booster IV to see any increase at all in damage.

The solution

Solving this is very important to us. Buying or upgrading an item should always provide value to the player. By multiplying all health and damage scores by 10, we will have increased control over item balance. Let’s crunch those numbers again, with increased precision.

Assault rifle (raw damage = 100) with Damage Booster III (+15%) = 115 damage (115% of 100).  That’s 15 more damage than a player with no items, and no dropped fractions! Even a +1% buff would result in a slightly better TTK in this situation.

Shotgun (raw damage = 50) with Damage Booster III (+15%) = 57.5 (115% of 50). That’ll round down to 57 actual damage once we convert to an integer, but that’s still 7 more damage. A 1% buff wouldn’t do anything for this shotgun (1% of 50 is 0.5, which would round down to zero), but a 2% buff would give 1 extra damage!

Conclusion

Changing every damage, health, and shield stat in Revn is a big task. We’ve got a lot of items, abilities, and guns. The dev team will need to carefully check every single one. Minions, turrets, and more will need to be updated.

We are committed to making Revn a fun competitive experience, so expect a massive stat overhaul in the coming months.

Your feedback and support means a lot to us. Thank you for being a part of the Revn community!