Hi, I am galbatorix and this is my CIU weapon balance program in which I talk about current issues with weapon balance and I propose solutions for them. The project is almost over. Throughout last year, in 10 separate parts I presented my thoughts on all the weapons in CIU and how they could be improved to better work in this game. I think it’s time to summarize the whole project. Today I want to talk about WBP as a whole and about my ideas on other weapon-related things that weren’t covered in the last 10 post. So without further ado, let’s go right into it.
1. “CIU Weapon Balance Program” summary
As you probably know, right now most weapons are unusable on harder missions. Utensil Poker, unarguably the strongest weapon in the entire game is the only gun that can keep up with enemies that appear on more difficult missions. Because of that huge gap in power, other weapons are barely used. Utensil Poker is used 5 times more often than second most popular weapon in game, Netron Gun. (According to the only data I could find)
By creating WBP, I wanted to show dev(s) how messy weapons are right now, and suggest possible in-depth solutions that would help IA deal with this problem. I wanted my rework ideas to accomplish 3 things.
- To make every weapon in the game viable on higher difficulties.
- To fix small problems specific to design of particular weapons. (For example: useless power upgrades)
- To make every weapon feel unique gameplay-wise. (In other words: Avoid having two different weapons that do exactly the same thing.)
In 10 separate parts of WBP I proposed detailed adjustments for each weapon and I think that by doing so, I accomplished those 3 things. By changes ranging from slight tweaks in numbers (Vulcan Chaingun) to full-fledged reworks (Lightning Fryer), I removed every design problem I could find and gave some weapons new gameplay identity to make them more distinct from others. (There is significant difference between WBP Boron Railgun and WBP Hypergun) And most importantly, made all underperforming weapons stronger, so they are on par with Utensil Poker when it comes to viability on hard/elite missions.
On charts below you can see how WBP power progression looks like in comparison with what we currently have.
As you see, changes proposed in WBP would make weapons’ power progression more balanced and much smoother. Currently the DPS difference between the most powerful weapon and the least powerful weapon on 20 is almost 12000. (For comparison, currently Vulcan Chaingun deals 12240 DPS on 20 ) However, the DPS difference between WBP’s strongest weapon and its weakest wepon on 20 is roughly 6500, which is still quite a lot, but the gap between certain weapons is not as devastating.
Implementation of those changes would likely make a huge improvement in CIU players’ experience. Being forced to use one, or two weapons in all missions, because everything else sucks is not fun and it is often a source of player’s frustration. Nobody likes accidentally picking up Riddler’s gift in the middle of difficult bossfight. Implementation of ideas from WBP would change that and allow players more freedom when it comes to choosing which weapon they want to use. I believe that being able to choose from 13 viable weapons instead of 2 would be a HUGE improvement in terms of gameplay.
2. Heavy Bombers
Initially, I didn’t have any plans to talk about Heavy Bombers in WBP, because they were introduced after WBP has already started. However, they are in game right now, so I have to adress them in WBP.
Bomber’s weapon balance is in much worse state than Fighter’s. Power progression and damage values are very inconsistent with their Fighter counterparts, and some weapons pretty much break and don’t gain any power after some point. I am not going to do another in-depth WBP about the Bombers, but I have some ideas that could help balancing them. Let’s break down why Bomber’s balance is what it is. There are pretty much two things that are responsible for that.
Weapons themselves are unbalanced and have flaws in their designs.
Bomber’s formula for power progression is flawed and works only with weapons that have constant fire-rate.
The first reason is pretty straightforward. If Fighter’s weapons are unbalanced, so are Bomber’s. This part of the problem can be fixed entirely by balancing Fighter’s weapons. Implementing WBP(or other balancing changes) on itself would probably improve Bomber’s power progression. Nothing more to say here, to be honest.
The second part of the problem however, is a bit more complex and comes from how Bomber’s Volleys are generated. Right now, there are two weapon pylons and each of them levels using the standard power progression. Bomber begins with two pylons on 0 and with each power level, one of the pylons gets one more .
So when Bomber is on 3 , one pylon has 2 and other has 1 .
On 10 , both pylons have 5 . And so on.
However, this applies only to the volleys themselves, not other characteristics of weapons, such as fire rate. This causes weapons with varying fire rate to totally break when used on Bombers, because fire rate still follows standard formula. (5 on Bomber will have the same fire rate as 5 on Fighter) For example ,Photon Swarm’s power progression relies only on fire rate increasing. Because of that, when it’s used on Bombers, its progression stops after the 10 , not at the Bomber’s intended power limit.
This is a serious problem, but can be quite easily fixed by including fire-rate changes in Bomber’s progression. It could be as simple as this:
Each pylon has fire rate equal with standard fire rate of the weapon on its power level. Bomber’s fire rate is determined by adding fire rate of pylon 1 to fire rate of pylon 2 and dividing the sum by 2. Formula: |Bfr= (fr1 + fr2)/2| Where Bfr is fire rate of the bomber, fr1 is fire rate of first pylon, and fr2 is fire rate of second pylon.
With that, Bomber power progression of fire-rate dependant weapons would be analogical to the other weapons on Bombers and Fighters.(Constant fire-rate weapons are not affected by this change at all.) Below there is chart showing how WBP and this change would affect Bomber’s weapon balance.
As you see, both WBP and formula fix affect weapon on Bomber really well. New formula allows Bombers to mimic normal weapon power progression. WBP by balancing weapons themselves, makes Bomber’s balance better aswell. Together formula fix and WBP would make Bombers work as intended without any problems. As long as weapons are balanced and have the same number of power levels, new formula should work perfectly.
With all that covered, there is only one more little problem with bombers. Thanks to the recent change, Bombers’ power progression ends on 13/15/17/19 respectively. This causes BX-9’s max power at
29 to provide only half of an intended power increase.(Usually when getting to max power on Bomber, each pylon gets one level more. However because BX-9 on 19 has one pylon at 10 and other on 9 , only one of them will get level up. 9 pylon will go to 10 , but second pylon will remain unchanged.)
This can be fixed by lowering Bombers’ power progression end from 13/15/17/19, to 12/14/16/18. This way BX-9 will receive full benefit of archieving max power. (BX-9’s max power would remain the same, just jump between it and 18 would be as big as on other bombers.) On top of that, this change would also make every bomber’s firing pattern symmetrical on max power, which may seem unimportant, but I think it’s worth to note, because of esthetical reasons. (Symmetrical pattern looks way more polished, which is pretty important.)
I think that’s it for Bombers. Below you can see comparison between WBP progression on Fighter and on Bomber after applying all fixes I proposed.
3. New weapons
With Heavy Bombers covered, it’s time to talk about another hot topic - possible new weapons. New content is fun. Especially when it comes to big gameplay elements such as weapons and spaceships. The “idea” category on the CIU forum is full of various ideas for new weapons. However, I believe that we should be very careful when trying to implement new weapons to the game.
Right now in game there are 13 weapons. (excluding Moron Railgun, and experimantal Absolver Beam). This is already a really big number of different armaments for a shoot 'em up game like CIU. Even now there is problem with certain weapons because they are too similar to each other(Hypergun, Boron Railgun) , so when designing new ones, we have to be sure that they are distinct enough to have their own gameplay identity. We don’t need another basic machine gun, or another pink automatic auto-lock beam.
Another issue with adding new weapons is how to balance them. This is mainly the problem, because currently weapons aren’t balanced at all. That’s why I think that before seriously adding any new weapons, we should fix and balance ones that are in the game right now. By adding something new now, we can only make more mess than there already is. However, if we get weapons balanced (by WBP or any other way), then it will be great time to implement new weapon to the roster.
Additionally, WBP itself provides lots of data on what doesn’t work with CIU’s weapons. We can learn from the past to not make the same mistakes again in the future, when designing entirely new weapons. Damage output can be easily modified, but fixing design flaws requires much more effort. Below there is a list of minor design problems that could be easily avoided during the design process.
- Useless power upgrades.
- Bumpy power progression.
- No manual fire rate cap on automatic weapons.
- Unjustified range limit.
- Weapon having manual gameplay with automatic visuals.
- Weapon’s overheat time decreasing, when its power increases.
- Weapon having strengths and weaknesses amongst ordinary (Non-boss) enemies.
There are also major design problems that can cause mess in entirety of weapon balance and require totally reworking the weapon to be fixed:
- Weapon having unusual jump in damage output between 10 and 20 .
- Weapon having amount of power levels different from the usual 12. (0 - 10 + 20 )
Those two things are parts of a bigger problem: Inconsistency in weapons’ power progression. It’s one of two overaching problems with weapons, that I want to fix with WBP. (the other major problem is obviously the fact that most weapons severely underperform.) Most of us want weapons to be balanced. The first step to do that is determining an universal model for how weapons increase their damage troughout power progression.
This is pretty much a foundation of the whole WBP. In balance program, I decided that my reworks will follow something around Neutron Gun’s model. This doesn’t mean that we can’t use Lightning Fryer’s +50% dmg at 20 model for example. However, it must be one or another. Because if we have both, then some weapons will allways be too weak, or too strong at some point. No matter how hard we try to balance them.
Some of you may ask though “Hey, but what’s wrong with having 21 power levels instead of 12? Absolver Beam is like this and it’s fun.”
Yeah, it’s fun, but even with other weapons fixed, it would still be impossible to balance. Why? Because we can’t compare 21 power levels to 12. Do we balance 10 to 10, or 10 to 20? Either way, this weapon will be too strong/too weak at some point. Another thing that makes this so important is Bomber. Currently, Bomber’s volley generation formula is designed around 12 power levels model. Unless we design Bomber’s volleys manually, or make multiple formulas, weapons with more than 12 power levels will ALWAYS break.
This is probably the most important thing in the entire WBP. If I had to choose only one idea from this entire series to become a thing in CIU, I would 100% choose this one. We really don’t need to add weapons with unusual number of power levels. It doesn’t really serve any purpose and generates even more major balancing problems than we currently have.
(And don’t get me wrong. I am not hating on Absolver Beam. I think this weapon is interesting and with some work can potentially be very good addition to the roster, but please IA, give it standard 12 power levels. I can’t stress this enough, having an extended power progression is really, really not worth it.)
4. Weapons in shop ?
I think it’s great time for a break from serious balancing issues and talk a bit about some other, less data-heavy things. In comment sections of previous WBP posts, I have been asked multiple times about the in-game weapon shop. What about weapon prices, weapon descriptions? I promised to adress those things in summary post, but to be honest I don’t have too much to say here.
Obviously, if WBP gets implemented, then some of the weapon descriptions will have to be changed to match the new design. However, I don’t think I am the right person to write those weapon descriptions. I am sure IA can do that better than me, because they can come up with some fun references and puns that I may not even think of. Chicken Invaders has this special kind of humor thanks to IA’s creativity, not mine
Another thing is the price of each weapon. Again, exact prices of each weapon is not really something that should be determined by me. There will likely be changes in CIU key economy in the future, so for sure IA knows the best what to do with it.
I have some very simple ideas about what can be done here though, so I will share them. Maybe IA finds one of them interesting and decides to implement it. Who knows. We can simply equalize prices of all weapons and call it a day. But there is also much fancier solution, that I think might be better.
What if we just made 3 categories of weapons? “Basic”, “Intermediate” and “Advanced”, based on how complicated and/or difficult the weapons are? And then make basic the cheapest and advanced the most expensive, so new players will likely get used to the game using simple weapons such as Ion Blaster, before trying out WBP Boron Railgun, or WBP Corn Shotgun, that are a bit more complicated?
It’s just a loose idea. Let me know what you think about it in the comments.
5. Weapon Virtuosity ?
With weapon shop covered, it’s time to jump right into another numbers-free topic, which is “Weapon Virtuosity”. It’s the bonus that awards players for using less popular weapons during missions, in order to encourage them to use weapons other than Utensil Poker. The question worth asking is : Will “Weapon Virtuosity” bonus be still needed, if weapons get balanced?
It kinda depends on how we want people to play this game. (Especially competitively in daily/weekly challenges.) So far, there are three possible options I can think of.
We want player to use whatever weapon he likes; weapon usage is not affecting mission score.
We want to reward player for using wide variety of weapons in his missions.
We want to reward player for using less popular weapons in his missions.
If the answer is number 3, then “Weapon Virtuosity” bonus should probably stay. It works pretty well as a reward for using unpopular weapons. Though, it would be nice to have some clear in-game explanation on how this bonus exactly works. However, if the answer is 1 or 2, then I think it would be better if this bonus was removed or replaced with something else.
If we want players to have total freedom in their weapon usage, even in semi-competitive setting, then all we need to do is just remove “Weapon Virtuosity” and change score value of weapon gifts to something unsignificant like 1000 points. In such scenario, it wouldn’t really matter what weapons players use to archieve their high-scores.
If we want players to be rewarded for using variety of weapons even in competitive activities, “Weapon Virtuosity” is not a good option too. It encourages player to use a single (least popular) weapon in order to archieve the highest possible score. Instead, we could just significantly increase score value of weapon gifts. (15000? maybe 20000?) In such scenario, player that picks up more weapon gifts (thus uses more weapons troughout the mission) gets more points than player who sticks just to one weapon.
The question is which is the way to go. Idk. It pretty much depends on what IA wants this game to be. Personally, I think I would gravitate to options 1 and 2, because they are much simpler and easy to understand for new player. (Weapon Virtuosity is a bit more complicated, but with proper explanation in game it should be pretty good.)
I think this topic as a whole is a good material for a poll-worthy community debate. I am really curious about forum users’ opinions on this. Would you prefer option 1, 2 or maybe 3?
6. “CIU Weapon Balance Program” implementation
With almost everything else covered, it’s time to talk about how WBP could be inplemented in CIU.
Firstly, it is important to understand that it’s totally up to IA, wheather WBP becomes a thing, or not. This is just my view and ideas on the topic, however IA might have different plans for weapons in this game. Maybe IA decides to implement only couple of my ideas into the game, instead of implementing whole project? It’s their game and if they don’t find my project appealing, they obviously shouldn’t be forced to follow WBP’s instructions. This paragraph exists, because back in the day, I have seen some people asking IA “when is WBP getting added”. We have to rememer that this is still IA’s game, not mine.
Another thing worth noting, is that WBP is just theory. Very detailed and in-depth, but still theory. It’s hard to predict how some of my ideas will behave in game if they got implemented. Despite me trying my best to make sure that everything is fine, this project is probably not without flaws. It’s very likely that after potential implementation of my idea, some of weapons will still underperform, or become too strong for reasons I wasn’t able to predict. So damage values and data from WBP is obviously the subject to change if we decide to implement this project into CIU.
This brings me to the next thing that is worth talking about. How to balance weapons if WBP becomes a thing, but some weapons will still turn out to be too weak/strong? The most obvious answer is to change the damage values of projectiles, but I don’t think that it’s the best way to approach this problem.
From what I know, just like in previous “Chicken Invaders” games, CIU enemies’ health is usually divisible by 100 or 50. Because of that, increasing weapons’ projectile damage from 100 to 110 likely won’t have much effect on its performance, despite of what DPS data may suggest. Accordingly, lowering damage from 100 to 95, may actually be a significant nerf. (100 HP enemy would take 2 shots instead of 1, 200 HP enemy would take 3 shots instead of 2) Thing like this actually happens in CI3, where on SSH difficulty, weapons deal 1/3 of their original damage, however, because game calculates 1/3 from 100 to be 33, all 100 HP chickens require 4, not 3 shots from Ion Blaster, because after 3 shots they have excactly 1 health point left. I think we should avoid that when trying to balance weapons.
But how do we buff, or nerf weapon’s power without changing its damage numbers? We can do so by increasing or lowering its fire rate. All automatic and manual weapons that have constant fire rate can be balanced this way. If we came to the conclusion, that WBP Ion Blaster is still too weak compared to Utensil Poker, then all we have to do is boost its fire rate a little. It won’t cause any “1 HP left problems” but will still affect weapons’ DPS. By changing Ion Blaster’s fire rate from 6,5 shots/s to 7,5 shots/s, we would increase its 20 DPS from 15600 to 18000! This is very simple and very effective way to balance things.
Even fire-rate dependant weapons can be balanced this way, but they just require more effort, because we have to change fire rates on all their power levels, however this is still likely a better solution that doing slight changes to projectile damage. Ah, and changing overheat times is another great way to buff/nerf weapons if changing fire rate is not an option.
I think that’s all I wanted so say about WBP. At last, the project is finished. I am sure that my ideas for reworks would significantly improve CIU’s gameplay, if added. I hope that @InterAction_studios finds them worth implementing. If not, I hope that at least by doing WBP I gave IA some ideas for future content and/or made their work easier.
Below there is a list of all previous WBP parts that I created.
- CIU weapon balance program - Part 1: Ion Blaster
- CIU weapon balance program - Part 2: Neutron Gun & Utensil Poker
- CIU weapon balance program - Part 3: Plasma Rifle & Positron Stream
- CIU weapon balance program - Part 4: Photon Swarm
- CIU weapon balance program - Part 5: Laser Cannon
- CIU weapon balance program - Part 6: Riddler
- CIU weapon balance program - Part 7: Vulcan Chaingun & Hypergun
- CIU weapon balance program - Part 8: Boron & Moron Railgun
- CIU weapon balance program - Part 9: Corn Shotgun
- CIU weapon balance program - Part 10: Lightning Fryer
And slightly outdated post that started it all: