It's funny, you come up with a big fancy tool like a genetic algorithm, and half-way into analyzing the data you start getting confused about the output. I mean, it's obvious that if you run a simulation, and one ability wins 90% of games, that you have a problem. However, it's getting harder to quantify when something is really so good it's problematic. For example, what results would you expect if one ability had a 5% advantage over all other abilities? A 3% advantage? A 4% disadvantage?
i've taken to running what basically amount to calibration simulations to try to figure this out. Basically, instead of having a battle be long and confusing, I just simplify it as each person has a 50% chance of winning, plus or minus what they get from an ability, and pick a random number. I then run the algorithm with this as the fight routine, and see what the results are. One interesting thing I found: If one ability has a 5% advantage, you'll notice it under most detection methods. If one ability has a 10% advantage, and 3 other abilities have 5% advantages, you won't notice the 5% advantages.
The other thing I'm working on right now is somewhat of an equalizing algorithm. Basically, you run a genetic algorithm, and look at the results. If one ability is obviously stronger, you reduce it's power. If one is obviously weaker, you increase it's power. Then, repeat like 40 times, until hopefully you approach a steady state. I've tried it twice, and last time got results that can't be right. I am realizing that I didn't have a good measurement for "stronger" or "weaker," so right now am running a calibration to try to figure that out.
Blah, too much about computer simulations recently. Anyways, my hope is to try to get something reasonable by the time I go home for Xmas, so that I can playtest it with friends over the holiday. We'll see if that happens. If nothing else I might just abandon the GA simulation and switch to a straight out, each ability fights each other ability 10 000 times, and sees who wins the most.
“My main operating principal: Don’t take any shit from the zeitgeist.” – George Carlin