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SoC Complete Balancing Protocol

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  01:10:17  10 February 2015
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StoleitfromKilgore
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On forum: 10/27/2010
 

Message edited by:
StoleitfromKilgore
02/10/2015 1:25:18
Messages: 127
SoC Complete Balancing Protocol

Hi everyone. I'm currently working on a Clear Sky-playthrough and it motivated me to write about Shadow of Chernobyl a bit more. My last playthrough (plus something like 3-4 abortive ones - crashes etc.) was based on the Complete mod with quite a few of my own changes on top, which mostly consisted of balance adjustments. These changes never were intended for use in some publicly accesible mod however; I purely made all of these changes simply to match my personal preferences. The process through which I arrived at the current state of balance, as well as the numbers themselves, will be the subject of this and the following posts.

This first one will be a summary of the set of changes I have eventually arrived at. The following posts will go into more detail on what has been changed and how it has been changed.

My editing of mostly .ltx-files started out a few years back, when I started playing SoC again. Since I was using the Complete-mod, which unpacked a lot of files and made them easily accessible it was no problem to look up some information and start editing weapon-files. This later expanded into other areas and especially weapons and artifacts are two areas where I kept adjusting the numbers for a long time. And I have reason to believe that I will have to keep adjusting them, when I eventually start up another playthrough.

Ok, to put it simple it started out with the weapons, which lead into other areas. Since there were many weapons-sounds which I didn't like and there were many unused sound-files in the SoC-directories I could simply search for sounds I preferred. I eventually also started including sounds from Clear Sky and some other mods. I also had to rewrite some description texts.

The config/creatures-folder is another big area where changes took place. Aside from some of the mutants and stalkers, adjustments were mostly made in the actor.ltx-file. For example, running speed and health-regeneration were reduced, but more on that later.

One file which I also had to work on was the unique_items.ltx-file, since the unique weapons have to obviously be included into any complete rebalance of the weapons. This file is part of the misc-folder, which includes a few more folders which were part of the rebalancing-process. Such as the items- and artefacts-files. I also had to adjust the exact composition of the stashes in treasure_manager.ltx.

I will continue posting and when I start playing SoC again, I can simply adjust numbers here when I make changes.
  12:57:33  10 February 2015
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StoleitfromKilgore
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On forum: 10/27/2010
 

Message edited by:
StoleitfromKilgore
02/11/2015 15:44:00
Messages: 127
1.Config/Creatures Part I

The first thing I started modding were the weapons. However, since that's also the area where I changed the most and want to write about a bit more extensively, I will start with config/creatures.

Aside from actor.ltx, which regulates most of the things concerning the protagonist, this folder also contains the files for the mutants and human stalkers.

I have been playing around with most of these files in one or another way, but the most important changes that remained are the ones for Pseudodogs, Bloodsuckers and the human NPCs. Some experimental stuff, like faster Fleshes or less bullet-resistant boars (concerning the stronger variants: they have surprisingly high bullet-resistance) did not stay in the game for very long. The first looks ridiculous and doesn't change gameplay much and the latter also wasn't a gameplay concern. Changing the speed for Tushkanos/Rodents has invariably resulted in the game crashing. Oddly this is also the case for Bloodsuckers. Their invisibility speed can be changed without any problems, but for the normal speed that is different somehow. Doesn't make any sense whatsoever, but hey, it's not like I really have a clue.

Some smaller changes that have stayed with me were for Pseudogiants and Controllers, even though the changes for the latter aren't all that insignificant. It's just that there are not that many in the game and their odd behaviour means that the exact impact of my changes could not always be tested easily.

Pseudogiant: I didn't remember this, but I apparently also changed "Velocity_RunFwdNormal" and the accompanying figure for the damaged state by about +20-30%. There are also some other changes, which might have been caused by the Complete-mod (I use stalker-codebase which has the original files online for comparisons). None too significant though. For example "max_hear_dist", which means exactly what you think it means, is up from 50 to 80 and the field of view is a bit better. The only big change I ever made is that I changed "fire_wound_immunity" to 0.01, which basically means a 99.9% immunity to firearms, which I fully admit was rather stupid. Like 99.5% wasn't high enough. It's now at 0.04.

Edit: Sorry that's not correct. 1 means 0% resistance, while 0.01 means 99 % resistance.

For the Controller on the other hand I had a pretty clear idea of the changes I wanted to make. I thought that the Psy-aura wasn't dangerous enough and that the "Pull"-attack didn't do enough damage. To put it simply, I wanted it to be more dangerous, especially since it doesn't always use the pull (probably due to sight and slow movement). But the eye_range and eye_fov are unchanged so I might have never tested that. Might be a possibility for the future.
The psy_hit_damage, which is the figure for the "pull"-attack is only upped slightly from Vanilla. 0.25 as opposed to 0.2. The original numbers for the PsyAura_Radius and PsyAura_Damage were 20 and 0.05 respectively. I originally used a pretty high number for the latter, since I had never really noticed its effects much in terms of damage, but I died pretty much immediately when I tested it. I think I simply misremembered and thus underestimated the original incarnation of the Controller. It was similar for psy_hit, so the figure is almost unchanged. For the aura it's now 25 and 0.12. I'm quite comfortable with these numbers, since it felt quite dangerous, but still fair. I usually die in a short time when stumbling around in the vicinity of a Controller, but don't get a clear line of fire quickly. This is part of what I have been going for during my rebalancing-attempts. I wanted to create more situations where remembering the better part of valor is the best option. Most of the time I now feel strongly pressured by the quick health-drain of the Psy-aura when I'm around a Controller. (To give it a bit more staying power I also increased the bullet-resistance from 80 to 90%)

The next part will be about Pseudodogs and Bloodsuckers and possibly the NPCs.
  15:36:26  11 February 2015
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StoleitfromKilgore
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On forum: 10/27/2010
Messages: 127
1.Config/Creatures Part II

Ok, next up would be Pseudodogs and Bloodsuckers. Since I didn't have any success with changing the behaviour (through morale, satiety and so on) of other mutants, I simply chose the two mutant-types who seemed to be the most aggressive and buffed them in some ways.

Pseudodogs:

Velocity_RunFwdNormal has been increased from 6.6 to 10.5. I have tested different numbers between 10 and 13, but I didn't test them systematically enough to really be able to draw any good conclusions from it and all of them are high enough to more or less do what I had had in mind.
I also tested the angular_real-part of Velocity_RunFwdNormal, which apparently determines "turning-speed", so to speak. This is back to normal, because it really doesn't look or feel very believable. Still, it was fun to see a pseudodog run around me in lightning-quick, ridiculously tight circles.
Accel_Aggressive has been increased from 14.5 to 20.
Furthermore, to make sure that they were able to use their improved abilities I adjusted the max_hear_dist- and eye_range-numbers from 60 to 80 in both cases. I'm not sure how much of a difference it made, but in general they seem quite attentive and very aggressive.
As far as I can see the immunities remain unchanged from Vanilla and they still die relatively easily to firearms (when I can hit them).
Pseudodogs have a "Bite" and a "Jump-attack". The original values for the three different varieties are
0.3, 0.15 - 0.4, 0.25 - 0.5, 0.35; while the new ones are
0.25, 0.4 - 0.35, 0.5 - 0.45, 0.6; so basically a slight buff. Jumps are somewhat easier to evade, but when they hit, they hurt.
I think at one point I had also increased the "impulse" of the "jump-attack", but when I checked they were not different from the Vanilla-files. Anyway, I might just try that.

Bloodsuckers:

The velocity is unchanged, since changing that only lead to crashes. Not that it matters much, because when they are aggressive they turn invisible and their is a separate figure for that. It's up from 8.0 to 13.0 and it's safe to say that there's not a lot of time to react, when one spots you.
Acceleration remains the same, since it already was at 20.0.
The bloodsucker.ltx is also the sole exception where I fiddled around with Run_Attack_Delay. I believe it is the time needed for the sucker to "recover" and start running again after it did its attack-animation. I'm not sure if the change had any effect, but I have reduced it from 1000 to 300 in any case.
max_hear_dist, eye_fov and eye_range have been increased from
80, 110, 80 to
80, 150, 100, so that they often will notice the player first.
Fire_Wound_Immunity for the three different varities (weak, normal, strong) is up from
0.18, 0.12, 0.09 to
0.14, 0.08, 0.04
Fortunately I have never met any bloodsuckers of the "strong" variety The problem with bloodsuckers is that under most circumstances a single bloodsucker dies quickly, but if it doesn't then you are probably dead. So if the immunity is too low, they are no challenge, but if it is too high then there are some situations where even a "normal" bloodsucker does not die quickly enough to give the player any chance. Under X-10 for example the bloodsucker has a straight way to the player, while under Agroprom there are a lot of obstacles, so that the player has a lot of time to react. Anyway, I believe the current numbers are kind of acceptable.
As far as their attacks are concerned, there are four, but I'm not sure if they are actually all used in-game. The first three are relatively similar while the last one Right hand strike vampire_2 is the strongest and also causes an impulse about five times stronger. The original numbers for hit_power (the damage) were:
0.15, 0.2, 0.15, 0.3 - 0.3, 0.4, 0.3, 0.5 - 0.4, 0.6, 0.4, 0.7, while the new ones are
0.35, 0.45, 0.35, 0.6 - 0.5, 0.65, 0.5, 0.7 - 0.85, 1.0, 0.85, 1.1. I don't think the latter numbers are anything but suicidal for the player, but as said according to the PDA I have never met one.
  22:40:35  11 February 2015
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StoleitfromKilgore
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On forum: 10/27/2010
 

Message edited by:
StoleitfromKilgore
02/11/2015 22:47:25
Messages: 127
1.Config/Creatures Part III

Most of the numbers that concern the human NPCs can be adjusted through m_army.ltx, m_bandit.ltx and m_stalker.ltx. Not sure what numbers are used for Mercs, Duty and Freedom. If anybody knows, feel free to answer.

m_army.ltx:

Soldier:
eye_fov: 170 >> 170
eye_range: 80 >> 90
max_ignore_distance: 15 >> 70
FireRandomMin: 1 >> 3
FireRandomMax: 5 >> 10
NoFireTimeMin: 200 >> 200
NoFireTimeMax: 750 >> 750

Sniper:
eye_fov: 170 >> 170
eye_range: 150 >> 150
max_ignore_distance: 15 >> 100

Commander:
eye_fov: 150 >> 170
eye_range: 60 >> 100
max_ignore_distance: 15 >> 50

Spetsnaz:
eye_fov: 170 >> 170
eye_range: 100 >> 120
max_ignore_distance: 15 >> 50
FireRandomMin: 1 >> 1
FireRandomMax: 5 >> 5
NoFireTimeMin: 200 >> 200
NoFireTimeMax: 750 >> 500

Range of sight has been increased for everybody and at least in case of the Spetsnaz that come in after Mole is rescued this caught me off guard. They quickly killed both me and Mole, before I recovered from the surprise. They were still within the walls of the complex, so I felt safe.
I wouldn't have known this anymore, but field of view appears to be the same.
max_ignore_distance determines at which distance the NPCs will start shooting mutants. I'm not sure why this has been set at 15.0 across the board in Vanilla, but I suspect that GSC didn't want them to constantly run off to attack stuff in nearby smart terrain. Personally, I love how this change has turned out for me. It has added just a bit of activity to make many situations a bit more dynamic and it can create some encounters which might otherwise not occur. For example, I remember one case where the whole Garbage-Duty-barricade opened fire on a passing bloodsucker. I believe it was trying to go back to Agroprom. I don't think this would happen without the change.
The idea behind the specific numbers for max_ignore_distance in case of the army is that the soldiers are mostly conscripted and inexperienced, lack motivation and discipline and are afraid. So they attack pretty early (70). The snipers have simply been told to keep the perimeter clear of any mutants (100) and the Commander and Spetsnaz are more experienced and try to avoid confrontation (50 and 50).
The Min-Max-figures for the soldiers and spetsnaz are supposed to determine how many shots there are in one salvo and how long they pause between salvoes/shots. I'm not completely sure if it actually works as intended, but I believe I have seen it in action for the bandits (which use longer salvoes). I changed the numbers for the soldiers to something higher, because it fits with what I imagine to be their attitude. The Spetznaz on the other hand get a reduced time between salvoes/shots. But again, this kind of stuff is hard to observe when I'm not testing it systematically.

m_bandit.ltx:

Bandit:
eye_fov: 170 >> 140
eye_range: 70 >> 75
max_ignore_distance: 15 >> 50
FireRandomMin: 1 >> 6
FireRandomMax: 5 >> 10

Bandit-Commander:
eye_fov: 170 >> 170
eye_range: 90 >> 90
max_ignore_distance: 15 >> 50

Hmm, so bandits are lazy, inattentive and undisciplined...What?!? No, seriously, at least in SoC they are always the enemy and as far as the STALKER-series goes I have just become used to that fact. Also, it seemed like a nice possibility to insert some differing stats/behaviour. I thought it made sense to make the bandits a bit more of a rag-tag group of mostly inexperienced stalkers, which is also the reason for their long salvoes. The commanders are basically bandits in "responsible" positions and don't have some of these vices. On the other hand, both of them are smart enough to know that the zone would strike right back at them if they provoked it, so distance only 50.

m_stalker.ltx:

eye_fov: 110 >> 150
eye_range: 80 >> 90
max_ignore_distance: 15 >> 40

---FIRE QUEUE PARAMETERS
weapon_min_queue_size_far = 1
weapon_max_queue_size_far = 6
weapon_min_queue_interval_far = 500
weapon_max_queue_interval_far = 1000

weapon_min_queue_size_medium = 4
weapon_max_queue_size_medium = 6
weapon_min_queue_interval_medium= 500
weapon_max_queue_interval_medium= 750

weapon_min_queue_size_close = 4
weapon_max_queue_size_close = 10
weapon_min_queue_interval_close = 300
weapon_max_queue_interval_close = 500

Interestingly the stalker-file is the only one with detailed fire queue parameters. But these actually remain exactly like in Vanilla. Again, I'm a bit surprised. When my mainboard died a few months back I lost a good part of the numbers and I simply don't remember some of the well. I had to readjust everything again from memory and it seems I have forgotten some stuff. For the moment though, I don't see much of a reason to mess around with these numbers.
Other than that I imagine most stalkers to be careful, but not too afraid of the creatures of the zone, so the distance is only 40. Don't ask me about the fov of 150 when it's 170 most of the time. I assume that I imagined stalkers to be less attentive most of the time. I have found many of these inconsistencies and I might have to go over the NPC-files again.

Next will be the actor.ltx, which has many interesting ways of changing gameplay.
  19:45:27  14 February 2015
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StoleitfromKilgore
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On forum: 10/27/2010
 

Message edited by:
StoleitfromKilgore
02/14/2015 19:46:43
Messages: 127
1.Config/Creatures Part IV

The last part of Config/Creatures concerns the "actor.ltx". This has been one of the more confusing files to edit, because many artifact-figures are based on the numbers in the "actor.ltx". I somehow just overlooked this fact and constantly messed up the figures for the artifacts, because they changed with the changes in the "actor.ltx" (such as bleeding and health regen).

But before I get to that part, let's get some other things out of the way first:

- max_item_mass: 50, 60, 40, 45
- max_walk_weight:60, 70, 45, 55

"max_item_mass" determines how much weight you can carry before you start losing a lot of stamina when running. The stat below on the other hand is the maximum weight that can be carried before the protagonist can't move at all.
The first number is from Vanilla, the second from the Complete-mod and the latter two are the figures I have been using. I got into some rather severe weight issues under Yantar and changed the numbers from 40/45 to 45/55, so I'm almost back to Vanilla. Seems GSC chose reasonable in that respect.

Further I also adjusted some of the movement-related numbers.

- run_coef: 2.1 >> 1.6
- sprint_koef: 2.6 >> 2.1
- run_back_coef: 1.8 >> 0.8
- walk_back_coef: 0.8 >> 0.6

Oddly, the numbers for Complete are exactly the same as the numbers for Vanilla, yet a lot of people complaint about that aspect of the mod. The player could supposedely run too fast for too long. They could be right on the latter count, but certainly not as far as the movement- speed is concerned.
I reduced the above numbers without any negative impact. Running away in dangerous situations is still possible, but the escape is sometimes closer, escpecially when pseudodogs or bloodsuckers are involved. Backing away while shooting or reloading is also a bit more difficult. All in all I think that the changes make the game a bit tenser and a bit more challenging.

The "hit_probability"-figures for the different difficulties are also up from 0.20, 0.30, 0.40 and 0.50 to 1.00 across the board. I only play my modded SoC-Complete on Veteran (to avoid bullet-sponges), so the other three don't really matter. No clue why I changed all of them. Anyway, the interesting thing here is that it probably explains why I suddenly started having so much trouble with the combat against the human AI a while back. I thought my increase of "hit_probability_max_dist" in the "weapons.ltx" was responsible. However it just determines how hit probability of the AI declines over distance. Point is, that it is more likely that the strong increase of the "hit_probability"-numbers in the "actor.ltx" are actually responsible.

Another important change is the one for the immunities. In Vanilla only people playing on "Master" get no base-immunities. "Veteran" already gives the player 20% immunity across the board and 40% against explosive damage. I changed "Veteran" to 0%. The reason for this change is simply that my balancing-efforts were always a work in progress (and still are), so that I already had settled on Veteran-difficulty before actually even starting to mod the "actor.ltx". I didn't want or need any of the gifts one gets through playing on Veteran, but also didn't want to have to deal with ridiculously bullet-spongey NPCs. Imho they severely hurt immersion and basically also make it mandatory to always shoot the head.

Ok, the last part of this post is about some of the figures I already talked about at the start. Bleeding, radiation, satiety and so on.

radiation_v = 0.0001 >> 0.00001
satiety_health_v = 0.0001 >> 0.00001
radiation_health_v = 0.004 >> 0.006
alcohol_v = -0.0003 >> -0.00005
bleeding_v = 0.0005 >> 0.0005
wound_incarnation_v = 0.003 >> 0.00003


This is one of the areas where I probably will have to keep adjusting, especially in light of some of the things I found out during my last playthrough of SoC. There are also some numbers which concern the added sleep-function fo the Complete-mod, but they are for the most part unimportant. The alcohol-level decreases faster, hunger increases more slowly and a few other minor things.

I haven't changed how quickly satiety (hunger) increases or any related numbers. In fact after looking through this section again there isn't all that much that I have done here, but the few figures I have changed have had quite an impact. At least throughout the earlier stages of SoC.

- "radiation_v": How quickly radiation reduces on its own has been reduced to 10% of the original stat.

- "satiety_health_v": Somebody translated the comment in the file as "increase in health at reduction of satiety". I wasn't aware that health-regen is connected to satiety, but in any case, this is the figure which seems to determine how quickly health regenerates. Since I wanted this to be near zero and to make artifacts more useful for this function, I also reduced this to 10% of the original number.

- "radiation_health_v": How much damages is done by radiation. This is increased by 50% for now, but I have never tested it. One problem that had the last time I played through SoC, was that health-regen-artifacts and good radiation-protection could almost completely cancel out damage through radiation. This was late-game, but I still feel like it is a bit over-the-top.

- "alcohol_v": How long it takes for the effects of alcohol to disappear. Reduced to about a sixth of the stat from Vanilla. This change is purely for fun, since one never really needs to use Vodka. After about one hour the player will always have anti-rad available.

"bleeding_v" and "wound_incarnation_v": Considering the vague names it's easy to get confused here. "bleeding_v" seems to stand for how much damage bleeding does (which I left unchanged) and "wound_incarnation_v" is used for how fast bleeding disappears on its own. The latter is reduced to 10%.

If anybody needs some modding-help, this thread was quite useful. I always get confused about the section I last discussed and the website was the best I could find on short notice.

http://forums.filefront.com/s-t-l-k-e-r-soc-modding-mapping-editing/364027-actor-ltx-description.html
  22:11:23  14 February 2015
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angrydog
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On forum: 09/01/2009
Messages: 3341
this belongs in the Mod Discussion section...
  00:53:49  15 February 2015
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StoleitfromKilgore
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On forum: 10/27/2010
Messages: 127

---QUOTATION---
this belongs in the Mod Discussion section...
---END QUOTATION---



Well I wasn't sure about that. I don't really have a problem if somebody wants to move it there. I mostly posted it in this section, because my zone diary is also here and they more or less belong together.
  01:22:26  15 February 2015
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Tejas Stalker
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On forum: 05/12/2007
 

Message edited by:
Tejas Stalker
02/15/2015 1:39:23
Messages: 23696
SoC Complete Balancing Protocol

Generally speaking if you just talk about "playing" the Game ( what
happens in a play through of an unmodded or modded Game ) is okay
here. However once you talk about your efforts to adjust a Mod and make
any changes beyond what is there without going into the Game Code, it
does really go into the Mod Discussion area since you are talking more
about Modding than Playing. This way like minded people can find you.
The other part to that is in the Mod Discussion area you may discover
that someone else has long ago done exactly the same thing you're doing.

Have you taken the time to read the "Stalker Complete" thread to see if
those changes are already there or if you could add to them to help others?
( If you can't find a recent one then it's a good idea to go start one there )

TS
  09:59:38  15 February 2015
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StoleitfromKilgore
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On forum: 10/27/2010
 

Message edited by:
StoleitfromKilgore
02/15/2015 10:12:01
Messages: 127
You are probably right Tejas and as said, I don't have a problem with moving it there. Is there anybody who could do that, or should I just start a new thread?

Edit: I doubt that somebody modded SoC Complete exactly as I did, but frankly... thinking about it, it might actually be better to write this just for myself, because that's already what I'm doing. I mean, there is probably not much point to posting this here or in the Modding-section, as opposed to just writing it down in Word. I guess I could ask in the Modding-section if anybody is interested in something as dry as this.
  10:36:37  15 February 2015
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Tejas Stalker
Official Stalker on Facebook
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On forum: 05/12/2007
Messages: 23696
SoC Complete Balancing Protocol

Don is the person to move it if you ask him. I looked for a recent
Stalker Complete thread and didn't find one so yours is good for
being on it's own. Don't feel that it's not worthy or might not be
interesting to anyone else. All that matters is that you are having
fun, that you want to share it and others may enjoy it now & later.

TS
 
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