COHO patch: Slightly gutless before the holidays

December 16, 2010

Relic plays it safe.Just a few hours after my post showing the Relic mascot (it’s always been a blind cat, by the way) being led by a Nazi lap dog, Relic puts out the biggest patch for COHO in more than a month.

Coinky-dink? I think not, kameraden.

Here’s my two cents in a nutshell: This patch gently tickles some of the outstanding balance issues I highlighted in my earlier post (which by the way, are not somehow unique to me — these were literally the top five COHO balance problems listed on GR.org).

Sadly, where stern and decisive action was required, we got some rather gutless, half-hearted tweaks. Relic admits as much, saying that this update “focuses on bug and balance fixes, with the intention of not introducing high risk changes or features before we all go off to celebrate the holidays.” It’s a beta, if in name only. Risk, gentlemen, is why you’re aboard.

Anyway, check below the fold for the full list of balance changes, with some commentary.

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“Who have balance this game is a blind?”

December 15, 2010
Who have balance this game is a blind?

There's a Neville Chamberlain joke in here somewhere.

Do you like playing COHO? I’ve got one great question for you: “Who have balance this game is a blind?

This phrase has been seared across my neurons. One instant I was scanning for posts in Relic’s official COHO forums, the next I was rolling on the floor with giddy, joyful mirth.

To me this is on the level of such contemporary classics as “All your base are belong to us,” “I can has cheeseburger?” and the old RTS standby, “He’s in ur base killin ur d00dz.

This is taken from the name of a thread on Relic’s official COHO forums, in which a poster named “Suen” — one hopes desperately he is not a native English speaker — offers no reasons why the game is unbalanced. He got as good as he gave; if you read the thread he gets bashed immediately by Relic, no less.

Relic moderator “Noun” replied in this fashion: “Unlike some more basic games for new gamers where the balance is very easy and simple, because they just mirror units on each side, this is a more advanced game for fans of video games.  If you’d like to spend some time playing the game and learning how it works we’d be happy to accept your constructive feedback.  But if you’re just wanting to point out that this isn’t an easy game that’s not as helpful.”

Well, while Suen offers no more than marvelous grammatical constructs — which are a worthy addition to the enterprise of written English — I will take Noun up on his offer. You want some constructive feedback? Trust me, it’s not for a lack of balance problems with your game. Suck on this bullet-point list, buddy.

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On Balance: 2.600 brings balance to the Force

June 12, 2009

relic_logo2As promised, I’ve given some thought to Relic’s patch 2.600 after a few games and some perusing of GR.org‘s balance forums. Overall, this is finally a return to form for Relic. Almost all of the balance changes reflect issues that were raised by the community based on high-level games and, in the case of bugs, repeatable evidence. The feedback on GR.org has mainly been positive, albeit with some sarcasm (see certificate I reposted from one GR.org forumer below). To me, the big issues in 2.502 were the Pak bug, the T17 being silly, Schimmwagen’s Scorch ability being absurd and the Infantry Halftrack’s wholly unnecessary suppression boost. All of these were fixed in 2.600.

This alone merits this certificate, which conveys pretty exactly my general feeling to Relic:

Competence is good.

Competence is good.

That being said, here’s a more detailed breakdown of my reflections. As usual, I’ve listed only the most significant changes (in my opinion). Please visit www.gamereplays.org for a full list of patch notes.

Patch 2.600
Bug Fixes

  • Cool-downs are now working properly for all weapons.

Always a good thing. I’m not 100% on which exact weapons weren’t cooling down properly, but I’d say the T17’s bizarre rate of fire is a good example.

  • HMGs in buildings will now switch targets as intended; there is a 3.5 second delay before the hmg will fire at another target.

In my experience this is somewhat similar to how MGs worked before, they would suppress one squad, then target a second new squad and suppress it as well. However, this behavior was limited to squads within the same cone o fire, now this applies to squads moving to flank from another direction. The 3.5 second forces you to be tighter but I’m agnostic on whether this was needed. At least it works.

  • Fixed an issue where Pak38s could stack their first-strike modifiers.

An outrageous, game-breaking bug that should never have happened. It better be fixed.

  • Raised Panzerschreck squads preference to target Light Vehicles while garrisoned in buildings.

Makes sense in theory. I never noticed shrecks not targeting light vehicles; in any case you could tell the garrisoned squad what to target before 2.600 anyway.

Gameplay

  • Improved the reliability and effectiveness of the American’s Strafing Run.

It feels pretty much the same to me, to be honest. I haven’t seen any incident where the P-47 would fully strike a squad but do no damage. Some amount of damage and suppression has always been inflicted in 2.600. But I’ve only had occasion to Strafe a few times so far. Need more time to wait and see.

  • The T17 armored car’s damage output has been reduced.

It was silly before. Good job listening and watching the replays, Relic.

  • Penetration of the T17 armored car has been reduced.

Unnecessary in my opinion. It still misses light vehicles more often than the M8, and against armored units like Ostwinds and Wirblewinds, a penetration nerf was unnecessary.

  • The Panzer Elite’s Schwimmwagen Scorched Earth ability has been replaced with an “Incendiary Trap” ability.

Thanks be to God. As demonstrated in the most recent Battle Report, this is nigh-unstoppable. Malivos just got lazy and CharlesDarwin got focused.

  • Infantry sections with Bren upgrades can now use ‘Button Enemy Vehicle’ when garrisoned inside a building.

I’m all in favor of consistency.

  • Panzer Elite Infantry Halftrack suppression lowered.

This was the result of a bug, in my understanding. Not sure why it was placed under “Gameplay” issues by Relic. But it’s a good change.


More of the good stuff…

June 6, 2009

coh_logo_sized

As promised, the rain of fantastical content continues with three more tracks from the first volume of our Mind of a Master audio strategy series. I’m also planning to release the long-awaited Battle Report sometime today or very early tomorrow.

Just as a reminder, tomorrow I’m flying out to magical Denver, Colorado — the Mile-High City — to run a conference for my company. I’ll be back late Wednesday night. So, here’s hoping Surprise or someone else gets in a post to keep things hopping while I’m gone (hoping — hopping, get it?).

Track 5: American faction overview by Surprise

https://riflesready.files.wordpress.com/2009/06/05-american-faction-overview-by-surprise.mp3″

Track 6: American faction-specific counters

https://riflesready.files.wordpress.com/2009/06/06-american-faction-specific-counters.mp3″

Track 7: Controversial balance issues, Blitzkrieg doctrine

https://riflesready.files.wordpress.com/2009/06/07-controversial-balance-issues-blitzkrieg-doctrine.mp3″

A special gift for a special three days in June…

June 5, 2009
A time for heroes...

A time for heroes...

Folks, it’s that time of year again. Today is June 5, 2009. Tomorrow will be June 6, the 65-year anniversary of D-Day. The day 150,000 Allied soldiers stormed the beaches of Normandy to end tyranny, free a continent and spawn a thousand film and video game adaptions of a climactic battle. It’s a special day to anyone who loves Company of Heroes or World War II games in general.

You'll like this.

You'll like this.

To commemorate this occasion, I have decided with Surprise‘s support to make ALL 10 tracks of our COH audio strategy series, Mind of a Master: Volume I, available on Rifles Ready! — free of charge.

Starting today and ending Sunday (D-Day +1), I will be posting several tracks daily for you to listen to.

The tracks will be playable via the native WordPress streaming audio applet (see below). Amazon.com is taking FOREVER to approve this MP3 album for download, and it’s a special time of year, so the hell with it. Please enjoy!

Tracks 1 and 2: Introduction to Surprise and his biography/A high-level overview of the state of COH

https://riflesready.files.wordpress.com/2009/04/coh-mom-i_preview.mp3″

Track 3: Detailed Tales of Valor unit analysis

https://riflesready.files.wordpress.com/2009/06/03-detailed-tov-unit-analysis.mp3″

Track 4: Psychology and mind games in COH

https://riflesready.files.wordpress.com/2009/06/04-psychology-and-mind-games-in-coh.mp3″

On upcoming patch 2.600 and delays

June 1, 2009

Relic upgrades to honesty 2.0.

The days go rolling by...

Alright, so the Battle Report I promised has yet to materialize. There’s a couple of reasons, one of which is some kind of Fraps bug that is preventing sounds from being converted when I upload gameplay video clips to YouTube. Extremely annoying, because I had no problems with this until recently.

The second excuse is that work (real work) has been mounting, while my social life is starting to deplete my reserves of free time. I’ve also got to fly out to Denver, Colorado this coming weekend for a work-related conference. I guarantee the Battle Report will be done before I leave. Most likely I’ll post it sometime mid-week.

Meanwhile, Relic made a post on the status of retail patch 2.600 on May 20, but there hasn’t been much news since then. It’s mainly a bug patch, though the T17 is getting nerfed. Here are the highlights so far:

– Heavy Machine Guns. We will be introducing a fix to the current delay for an HMG switching windows when in a building and return proper operation for British emplacements and other units that were affected by patch 2.502.

This bug seems to affect American HMGs as well. You will notice this in the Battle Report I’ll post this week. It seems to cause the MG gunner not to relocate for as long as 7-8 seconds at a time, resulting in the MG getting slaughtered.

– Fix the Pak 38 camouflage stacking bonus modifier that increases the gun’s damage beyond the intended effect.

Pretty self-explanatory. It’s a pretty outrageous bug, but my old bones are weary from having yelled at Relic so many times for unimaginably stupid shit in the past.

– Commonly known as the ‘burst fire bug’, we will address an issue that allowed some units to ignore their weapon cooldowns.

I think this affects the Strafing Run primarily; again the Battle Report shows this off (though I think in that game, it didn’t really do anything that was ridiculously overpowered… you’ll see).

Once again, I apologize for my own delay and failure to keep promises, but real life just really seems to enjoy disrupting my time and motivation here. But fear not, sports fans — I’ll never give up on Rifles Ready! I intend to be absolutely Churchillian about keeping this blog alive. You can take that to the bank.


In-depth: 2.501, Tales of Valor and the future

April 13, 2009
Will the trinity expand?

Will the trinity expand?

With the release of the latest COH expansion and the winds of change blowing, I decided it was time to play weatherman and speculate on where our game and community are headed. Here’s my take as a former top-ranked player.

Larger community
Back in the stone age of the vCOH beta, it was rare to see more than 300 people online. I never remember seeing more than 3,000 online throughout all of regular vCOH. With the release of Opposing Fronts, the average number of players almost doubled. I was stunned to see 5,000 or 6,000 people online at peak hours. I was even more surprised to see peak numbers continue more than a year after the release of OF.

Yesterday, a new all-time high was reached: more than 10,400.  While it’s true that single-player users are forced to login to Relic Online,  they only account for about 30% to 40% of users online at any given time. This still leaves yesterday’s 10,400 figure well above previous OF highs. Despite the cries from the prophets of doom on GR.org, the game does not appear to be dying at all, but is growing larger.

What does this mean? It means COH may have the numbers to support multiple community sites, more pro-level players, and larger, more frequent tournaments due to a larger advertising base for sponsors. Think PC hardware, software, gaming companies and even soft drinks and snacks targeted at the coveted 18-34 young male gamer demographic.

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