This is a response I posted to some concerns about balance and progression on Reddit.
The blog post doesn't make it explicit but Miranda isn't a traditional RTS with individual matches. It is a seamless open world RTS with 10,000 players all together on the same map. I'm still figuring out all the ramifications of that reality.
There is always a lot of discussion about balance in RTS, which I can understand with respect to traditional 2 player matches. People want the game to be perfectly symmetrical so that it is only player strategy and tactics that determines the outcome. Yet most games I've played the factions are only superficially similar, and each side has its own optimum strategy, so is that really balanced?
On Miranda you can choose to fight harder, equal or easier targets or run away or hide. The choice is up to you, but the game incentivizes players to battle more experienced players with XP and loot drops.
After about 4 hours of play, Miranda unlocks the ability to custom design units from components so a player can get some pretty cool units fairly early in the game.
Miranda's biggest concession to balance is its unit cap so an experienced player can't just drown her opponents in units. If she want more units in a battle, she'll need to recruit some friends.
You're right that big stat boosts are not viable. I've been thinking a lot this week about the effects of attribute changes on stats and I'm still working on it. The plan is that the largest stat advantage you'll be able to see from attributes and perks is about 10%. Equal units take about 10 seconds for one to kill the other, so I don't think knocking off one second is too big an advantage. Also, with the systems I've implemented so far, players pay for every advantage with a disadvantage. The challenge for me as the designer is to make sure that that disadvantage always hurts and can't just be hidden away in a dump-stat.
My design for unit unlocks is that players will choose the most perks for the unit types they prefer, but will be smart to choose at least a few unlocks from many of the others. ie - you could go all-tanks, but if you don't unlock anti-air and the guy comes at you with planes, then you're screwed. My challenge there is to reduce the likelihood of completely gimped builds.
You're right of course that players will have to fight unit types they haven't used before. But that is a universal fact on Miranda because it isn't a game of specific units, optimum build orders and perfect counters, it is a game of figuring out the best way to use what you've got.
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