Emergent behavior is a curious, curious thing. Take a bunch of very simple processes of some kind – birds, ants, or humans, for example. Put them in a situation with some basic rules. Then watch in amazement as more complex behaviors evolve out of those. Traffic jams are a good example. The basic rules of the road are pretty simple. "Go where you want to go, stay in the right lines, and don't run into anyone." Nowhere in there does it say "come to a grinding halt every day at 4pm going southbound" – it turns out traffic jams just happen when you have the rest of the rules in place. Traffic jams emerge from the basic rules. Emergent behavior.

Well, D-Net turns out to have some of that. There are new forces and new gameplay techniques evolving out of the basic rules I set down. And some of them are pretty irritating.

One of the basic D-Net Rules is that weapons get more and more powerful, exponentially so, the more you play. And tanks also get exponentially more powerful, but in "stairstep" patterns. What this means is that at some points you're blasting away at your enemies and it takes ten or fifteen seconds to kill them, even at full power, and later on you can annihilate them in about three seconds.

What hadn't occured to me is how this affects weapons that depend on range. See, if it takes fifteen seconds to kill someone, and you're using a long-range weapon, you'll get a third of the way there and they'll be in your face tearing you to pieces. Whereas if it takes three seconds to kill someone, you'll be able to just incinerate them before they can even get out of the way, let alone advance to a range more favorable to them.

Which means that certain weapons have advantages at different times in the tank cycle. That's cool. It means that if you pick up an autocannon early, then shift to a laser later, you'll do better than someone who's just relying on one weapon or another. Which is extremely, extremely neat, and suddenly a lot of the difficulty I've been having in balancing weapons makes sense. (Including why lasers are now too weak, when they used to be just right.)

But it's an absolute bitch to balance.

One thing I'm really hating about D-Net is the emergent behavior.

Leave a Comment

Subscribe without commenting