Balance is a funny thing. It all looks fine and makes sense on paper, then you go into a controlled test environment. Still acceptable results. Oh, but then it's time for a REAL mission with REAL instances of trouble. What then, punk?
Today I'll share some of the refining the Berserk mode has gotten and what led to the changes.
So if you've played JAD:XA, you will have gotten a taste of the Berserk mode. Kill things, berserk bar increases. Berserk bars fills up, your fighter upgrades in stats and weapons. Holley and Delta 1 had some differing characteristics that made their fighters a little different when it came to berserking. Holley got more "berserk points" for each kill, while Delta 1's lost less "berserk points" per cooldown cycle. This sort of reflects their personalities, Holley gets pumped up faster and Delta 1 is more "sustainable" (or maybe he lacks Holley's attention deficited nature?). That contrast made some amount of sense and playing as either pilot in the endless gauntlet was still very much doable. Mission complete.End the blog post.
Oh wait, a problem arose.
In JAD2.22, Delta 1 has a string of missions where he gets to impress girls and show off. The problem: The Rhea is a terrible
dogfighter. It's fine against capital ships and gunships, but put it against fighters and it can't hit anything. The main offset gunbank was the primary issue, so that's why I made a Mk 2 variant with a more centered 4 primary weapon bank.
And while it made dogfighting better, it still took longer than fights with the Ezechiel. In this segment, there's about 6 fighters that attack you and your party. New problem: minimum it takes about 6 kills to get the Rhea into berserk. With the cooldown cycle time, it would go up to 7 or 8. The Rhea is already a terrible
dogfighter, I don't want to flood the mission too many with fighters that would kill you and your friends.
It was time to go back to the drawing board. The goal was to get the Rhea into berserk faster. One idea was to make ships worth more berserk points in lower levels. That way you can get into berserk faster, while not being able to get to the highest level too quickly. But if I did that, then Holley needs the same treatment since her thing was "Get into berserk before Delta 1" and I was already happy with the action levels with her missions. I didn't want to upset the cart too much with that.
I began to think about how the Rhea fights. It's not a dogfighter so much as a bomber (duh!). And capships take a lot longer to kill than fighters. So why not tie it's berserk with the damage it deals? Delta 1 can pop a few fighters then do a strafing run on an enemy capital ship and boom, he's powered up! Haha, wait. This berserk system I made only assumes kills will increase berserk. I would need to rewrite it all for it to assume berserk can come from other areas.By only firing his Maxim, Delta 1 still gains a good chunk of berserk power! Whatever happens, we have got the Maxim and they have not!
But if I'm going to do that, I need to think about Holley too. She needed her own little gimmick. I couldn't leave her with just a plain berserk method, she's not a plain girl. Epsilon 1… sure. He's plain, but still too plain for any Berserk. In any case, I looked at Holley's personality again. Quick tempered, but burns out of energy quicker. What do?
One of the things I like to do while I waste time is watch SaltyBet. It's a fun twitch stream of 6000 AI fighters fighting 24/7. You can bet on the fights with imaginary money for fun and not-profit. While watching one fight, one of the fighters had this combo score multiplier gauge. The more hits they delivered within a certain time the more it went up. This gave me an idea.
I devised a berserk combo system for Holley. It starts off at x1.0. When she kills one fighter, it goes up to x1.2. Then x1.4 with the next kill and so on until she maxes out at x2.0. If enough time passes between kills, it goes back down one level. This would encourages players as Holley to scramble for kills. To be more impatient and more reckless.Either Holley is on a killing spree, or she just found out they stole her cookies.
I also had to start to look ahead at other playable characters coming up. One was this new girl who is a bit of a daredevil and she's at her best when she's got the pressure of 80 Sathanas juggernauts on her shoulders. So she got a multiplier system of her own, but instead of kill combos, it's based on her health. At full health, she gains berserk the slowest out of all the characters. But starting at 75% health it starts to multiply up, hitting 2x at 50% health and nearly 4x at 1% health. Her fighter is a bit of a glass cannon too, so it's very much a high risk high reward playing style.On the left, a kill at full health. On the right, a kill with 13% hull left! Better be nimble!
So with all that in mind, I went and rewrote my berserk system, this time upgrading the UI graphics a bit and making the config file a lot more… configurable. Now editing everyone's berserk performance became a lot simpler and they could have more than one way to get buffed out. As well, the system became more generic so non-players could berserk as well (Both allies and enemies!).Fun for the future...