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Random Battle overhaul

Discussion in 'Pokémon Showdown!' started by Zarel, Jan 28, 2013.

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  1. Zarel

    Zarel Not a Yuyuko fan
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    Those of you who've been around since the start know that Random Battle was PS's first format, even before Custom Game (which was the second, although it was called Debug Mode back then). I needed some way to test a variety of different pokemon and moves, and I hadn't made a teambuilder yet, so I made Random Battle.

    The original Random Battle plan was to make something like Challenge Cup. I didn't have a learnset database, back then, though, but I did have a database of competitive movesets, so I compiled that into a viable move database, and took random viable moves for my sets.

    As development continued, it was obvious that most people preferred Random Battle's "random viable moves" to Challenge Cup's "random learnable moves", so when I implemented items and abilities, I wrote AIs to choose competitively viable items and abilities. Besides, writing AIs is more fun that writing code to randomly choose things. :P I also added some refinement to what move combinations could and couldn't be chosen in random battles.

    And that's where the story ends, around a year ago. A period of salutary neglect befell Random Battle, while I started focusing on other parts of Pokemon Showdown: lag, ladder bugs, supporting past gens, supporting doubles, a huge bunch of UI upgrades...

    In the past year, I haven't worked on random battles at all. Aside from a few tweaks to level balancing and the move chooser AI, there's only been one change to Random Battle: The introduction of not-fully-evolved pokemon.

    This was a change that I wasn't aware of until much later, as I've played random battles with friends. And, honestly, I want to remove it.

    That's probably the most controversial change I have planned for random battles:

    Changes:
    - limit 1 of each type on a team (should reduce the tendency to generate teams with single glaring weaknesses)
    - removal of the Eviolite ban
    - and the controversial one: removal of NFEs, except ones in RU or higher.

    These changes are because the random battle algorithm is designed to generate teams that have some similarity to competitively viable teams, and NFEs for the most part aren't. Sure, by level balance, they can be, but I'd argue that the difference is artificially created by level balance.

    I think the difference between Challenge Cup and Random Battle is that in Challenge Cup, everything is random. In Random Battle, you get six pokemon that have been trained to be competitively viable, and I think that should include evolving it. Level balance can make it better unevolved, but like I said, that's artificial. NFEs that can reach RU or higher without the crutch of level balance are still allowed, after all.

    NFEs also ruin Pokemon Showdown's tier-based level balance, which was designed for Pokemon that are viable in NU or higher.

    So, in the end, this is a discussion thread for my proposed changes. Unless there are very strong objections, I'd like to remove NFEs from Random Battle.
  2. Great Sage

    Great Sage

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    Level balance is artificial anyway; you cannot claim that adjusting levels for NFEs is any more or less "artificial" than adjusting levels for bad Pokemon like Luvdisc, or adjusting levels for mediocre Pokemon like what populates RU and NU. Your designation of "artificial" seems independent of any objective criteria, but molded to fit what you want. I condemn this proposed change in the strongest terms I can.

    Limiting the number of the same type on one team is fine, but 1 is probably too low of a number; I'd change the limit to 2 or 3. Common weaknesses tend to not be problematic until they affect most of your team; having two Pokemon of the same type is not automatically bad.
  3. Frochtejohgurt

    Frochtejohgurt

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    I love all these ideas, espeacially the "controversial one". Things like Caterpie, Kakuna, Pichu and almost all NFEs don't really fit in Random Battle. It is a just-for-fun tier, but these aren't fun. They just faint and that's that. With most NFEs being removed the removal of Eviolite won't matter much anyways I think. Type limitation sound fun too, I mean playing with 3 Water or Bug types that pretty much all do the same, is pretty stale.

    Great ideas imo
  4. Zarel

    Zarel Not a Yuyuko fan
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    There's a pretty major difference, though:

    1. training a pokemon to its maximum potential and then level-balancing the result
    2. declaring that level balance will be instituted for all pokemon, and then training every pokemon accordingly

    If #2 were the goal, we would generate random battle pokemon to exploit level balance. We might, for instance, remove pokemon that are disadvantaged by level balance. Or we might institute a rule that Tackle increases a Pokemon's balanced level by 20, so a pokemon are viable with or without Tackle in its moveset. The problem isn't level balance's existence, the problem is using level balance to make policy decisions instead of as something to apply at the last step.

    Taken to its extreme, you're basically arguing for Challenge Cup, except that we use level balance to boost Pokemon that got a bad set. That's not how Random Battle works at all; Random Battle works by making good sets, not by giving affirmative action to bad sets.

    Your objection is irrelevant. You're attacking a straw man. I never claimed that adjusting levels for NFEs is any more or less artificial than adjusting levels for Luvdisc, what I claimed was that we shouldn't be making policy decisions based on artificial criteria.
  5. Queen of Randoms

    Queen of Randoms I'm So Crown
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    lol at how fast GS and I being first

    EDIT: never mind I type slow lol

    I'm absolutely against the removal of NFEs. To me, that's a huge part of Randbats and part of what makes them fun: dealing with the crappy mons you get and making them work for you. I've had Metapod win me a game thanks to his Electroweb's speed drop. Magby is an excellent Pokémon to get in randbats, and I'd take it over the fully evolved Exploud any day to be honest. What's good and bad is not based solely upon Pokémon being NFE or not, and a team of them can triumph depending on the opponent's team. Of course you're going to be sad and probably going to lose if you've got Weedle, Metapod, Wurmple, etc. vs. Ubers, but I don't feel there's anything wrong with such Pokémon's inclusion. To me it's just part of the game that you'll have to deal with. Perhaps if you want limit the number of NFEs or ensure each team has at least a certain number of Fully Evolved Pokémon, but again some NFEs perform better than fully evolved ones; you can't objectively claim Pokémon like Magby (best example I can think of since I've been swept by and swept with it) are bad or not viable.

    I'm also hesitant to restrict typing; 1 is definitely too low, and I'm just overall not sure it's a good idea. Perhaps 2-3 as Great Sage said would be suitable. Again, as he said, multiples of the same type is not necessarily a bad thing.

    The Eviolite unbanning is fantastic, just be sure not to give every NFE Eviolite, don't put it on offensive sets, etc.

    I think a better revamp would be making Pokémon have specific sets as opposed to throwing in a mix of viable moves. You said you want to somewhat mirror competitively viable teams, right? An NFE with a competitively viable moveset seems better to me than Hypno with Belly Drum, Shadow Ball, Thunder Wave, and Focus Blast, or DrizzleToed with no STAB.

    I guess if you really wanted to "balance" it and stop (what I assume the complaints are) the whole NFEs vs. Ubers match up, you could make it a Pokémon per tier (Uber, OU, UU, RU, NU, LC makes 6), but even that I don't like very much. I think it's fine the way it is really, NFEs and all.
  6. The Immortal

    The Immortal Administrator of Showdown!
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    Being Not Fully Evolved does not mean they have bad sets. I object to the removal of NFEs.

    As for changes, limit Stealth Rock (and possibly Spikes/Toxic Spikes) to one Pokemon per team. I had four Pokemon with Stealth Rock in a recent battle.
  7. Great Sage

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    Zarel, to be clear, the way level balance currently works is that we give each Pokemon a set of viable moves, and then we put that Pokemon on a tier-based level scale that we've empirically found to balance them effectively. Pokemon that are tiered higher than they normally would be due to environmental conditions (for example, weather reliance) are then assigned higher levels as exceptional cases, as are the few Pokemon that are extremely bad, like Luvdisc or Delibird. What we do is the first option that you noted. Just as Venusaur gets a pool of moves we believe to optimize Venusaur's efficacy, Bulbasaur and Ivysaur get movepools that we believe to optimize their efficacy. We attempt to make every Pokemon's set the best that the Pokemon in question can do; nobody has ever made an intentionally bad movepool for any Pokemon for the purpose of manipulating level balance, so I am unsure of the purpose of your tangent. What I am arguing for is the first option, and the first option is what we currently do.
  8. Pwnemon

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    this is all irrelevant when you realize that a four level difference between a trubbish and a garbodor is obviously not close at all to a level balance. i say scrap NFEs
  9. Zarel

    Zarel Not a Yuyuko fan
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    I don't consider this a compelling argument because the value proposition of Challenge Cup is the challenge of winning with a bad mon. That's not the goal of Random Battle at all, which is to get good teams and win with those.

    I don't consider this a compelling argument because, as mentioned, it's only good for artificial reasons. It's only good because of Level Balance Affirmative Action.

    I would even go as far as to say this is an argument against the inclusion of NFEs. A Magby shouldn't beat a Magmortar, and the fact that it does is very wrong.

    Random battles should have some similarity to competitive battles, and having level balance stretch as wide as it does really ruin it, I feel.

    Okay, new idea: Limit 1 of any type combination, but limit 2 of any single type.

    whynotboth.jpg

    I've considered that, but it's not good.

    I don't consider this a compelling argument because you're ignoring that being NFE by itself makes it a bad set. Being NFE makes it heavily outclassed by its evolution. Unbanning Eviolite allows a few NFEs not to be outclassed in that way,

    This is a good idea.
  10. Zarel

    Zarel Not a Yuyuko fan
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    In summary: The problem here is that most of the people who want NFEs to remain want Random Battle to be more like Challenge Cup. But we already have a tier that's more like Challenge Cup: It's called Challenge Cup.

    I see no reason to maintain a tier that's halfway between Challenge Cup and my ideal vision of Random Battle.
  11. Sturdynips

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    I completely agree with the proposed change to NFEs. Mons like weedle, caterpie etc are basically deadweights and useful only very rarely to get off an electroweb before fainting. The rare NFEs that can be useful don't counterbalance the useless ones, imo.

    However, i don't agree with the limit of one type per team, it's not necessarily a bad thing, although i like Great Sage's suggestion of 2-3.

    The eviolite change will be fine with the removal of most NFEs i think

    just my 2 cents
  12. MJB

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    I agree with all of the OP tbh, I don't really find randbats enjoyable though so my opinion isn't too important
  13. Steamroll

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    Long overdue in my opinion. It gets annoying when you have 3-4 consecutive battles on the ladder with a glaring weakness to multiple mons on the opponents team, or your lone "check" is something useless.
  14. Queen of Randoms

    Queen of Randoms I'm So Crown
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    But CC is shitty. The only similarity between CC and Randbats is that the Pokémon are random. CC is a complete crapshoot; it's very, very limited strategy that depends much more heavily on luck. If anything it's annoying to get Ho-oh with Steel Wing and shit. I say I don't want Randbats changed and defend it because I like Randbats; if I liked CC I'd play it. Personally, I like the added aspect of having to deal with bad Pokémon, be they NFE or or not, that Randbats brings, but on the competitive level as opposed to "Hurr durr, my Heracross only knows base 34 Hidden Power Steel". I view CC as purely silly and for shits and giggles, while Randbats brings in strategy and certain competitive aspects.

    Magby doesn't beat Magmortar; Magmortar is still significantly better. I'm just not seeing why the NFEs make it less like competitive battles if they're running competitive movesets (well-made ones as I suggested). It's obvious we just have a very different view of what the game was supposed to be. If you really want to simulate competitive battles that closely, you should just eliminate all Pokémon considered "bad". The problem you face playing NFEs vs. Ubers is the same problem you face playing NU vs. Ubers; the two would rarely (if ever) meet competitively and one is supremely outclassed and puts you at a terrible disadvantage. Team Muk, Victreebel, Poliwrath is going to get shit on by team Ho-oh, Lugia, Dialga; to me that's just the way the game went.

    If it's supposed to be like competitive, then all Pokémon should be comparable. Ban the Ubers - make it OU Randbats. And even then, team balance is an issue; make Randbats give set teams that work together. The thing with Randbats to me is that it is intrinsically not like our regular competitive tiers. Getting rid of NFEs doesn't solve the non-competitive problem, it actually brings up the fact that to make it as competitive as you suggest you'd have to get rid of a hell of a lot more. The neat thing to me with Randbats and the level differences was that different Pokémon were good (since when is Sigilyph OP, am I right?) and that Ubers don't always mean victory. and NFEs can be sued effectively despite their BST and normally being outclassed by their evolutions.

    I don't know, I thought it was neat the way it was and it was all part of the challenge. You're always going to have people bitching; NU Pokémon like Lumineon will just take their place as the hated mons, and it just leads down a shitty path of entertaining complaining.

    The type thing is okay I guess... if it really does undergo radical changes, can we replace CC with old Randbats? Or have "Classic Randbats" perhaps? :x
  15. DrVlad

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    I for one love the idea of random battles having a competitive feel, if there is to much disagreement over the change why not call the updated mode Random completive and just add it as a new mode? I for one would love to be able to click random and have fair fights.
  16. Lawrence III

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    Sure, I'm up for some of the NFE's to be taken away, especially the ones that don't bring much to the table. I'm talking to you Caterpie, Kakuna, Pichu, and a few others maybe Igglybuff, and Cleffa.
  17. Pocket

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    I don't have much to add except:

    Can we include NFE's in NU? This the tier where most players resort to play viable NFEs (Haunter, Gurdurr, Piloswine, etc). However, if Showdown! does not differentiate PU mons from NU mons, I understand how this cannot be achieved.
  18. Oglemi

    Oglemi I ask consent before I thrash anuses.
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    I love the current iteration of Randbats and agree with Great Sage's and QoR's sentiments. Having to deal with a "lame limb" every once in a while on the ladder is part of the game and is really what makes Randbats so enjoyable to me (but really unless you suck you should be using any of the mons you're given at least semi-successfully to help you overcome a glaring weakness your team possesses). After playing the current iteration for nearly a year now I'd hate to see it go. It's very enjoyable and actually very competitive at its current state.

    I definitely don't agree with the type restriction though. That's completely arbitrary and will not at all relate to competitiveness. If you're going to get rid of NFEs despite the voices of opposition please don't put a type restriction down. I'd still like at least some element of having to deal with a "lame limb."
  19. Joim

    Joim All promises become a lie, all that's bening corrups in time
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    I agree on removing the crappiest NFEs that are not in NU, but I'd maintain NU ones in. Honestly getting a Caterpie or a Metapod is like battling 5 vs 6.

    Also I would like the algorithm to take into account abilities and moves such as Drizzle, Drought, Rain Dance, Trick Room, etc., so it benefits its users when choosing teammates.

    The typing limitation would also be welcome. It's not exactly funny to get 4 NFE bug types twice in a row, or 5 Pokémon weak to fighting against a fast close combat user.

    I also agree on The Immortal's idea on having Stealth Rock and such moves once in a team.

    Another good idea would be to weigh the Pokémon power so every team is balanced, it could be averaging BSTs on every team or giving every tier an arbitrary value... it's very annoying when one user gets 3 good ubers 3 good OU ones and the other 4 useless NUs 1 RU and 1 UU. The level scaling doesn't help in that case much, unless it's one of the cases in which the OU and Uber ones are not that good due to level scaling.

    Thanks to level balancing, best Pokémon are RU and NUs, which imho shouldn't be the case. While it's cool being able to sweep with Sigilyph, this defeats the competitive tiering. It's cool to give the little ones a chance to shine, but some are overshadowing totally the ubers and OUs.
  20. Queen of Randoms

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    See, when people say things like this I feel that it's just people who are upset over certain bad experiences and some bad luck. It's very frequently not like 5 vs. 6 because it's likely your opponent got some useless Pokémon, too. I've had Kricketot and Caterpie on the same team, which you'd argue is like fighting 4 vs. 6, meanwhile my opponent may have Weedle or Igglybuff on his team. I mean, to me the desire for an overhaul means you don't actually like Randbats. This kind of stuff happening is Randbats to me, and as I said before I think if you want a "balanced" or "competitive" version, the only way to do that is by making it Random OU.

    Not to be a bitch or anything, but how frequently do you play Randbats? Because this is SO far from the truth. Mewtwo is essentially GG. Ho-oh is essentially GG. Kyruem-B is essentially GG. Kyogre is essentially GG. There are absolutely fantastic Ubers that wreck teams even at lower levels. Kyogre especially, despite it running a Scarf Calm Mind set. Meanwhile, Exploud is shitty, Lumineon is mediocre, Farfetch'd is usable, but meh. The advantage these Pokémon have very rarely makes them outshine any uber. Sigilyph, Electivire, Magmortar, and a few others are rare exceptions, and to be honest I think it's cool that they can get a chance to go toe-to-toe with OU/Ubers and stand a much better chance. They do not overshadow OU mons in the least in most cases (I'd still take Landorus-T or Terrakion or Keldeo over any of the previously listed strong RUs). If they do it's usually do to poor movesets, which is something I'd say should be fixed (like I said, Politoed without STAB is a travesty).

    Again, if you're looking for "balance" and the classic competitive Pokémon battle style, it's just not Randbats. It's competitive the way it is in its own way, but it's silly in my opinion to try to force it int the confines of a standard tier. If NFEs go, Ubers need to go, NU/RU/most of UU needs to go, and you need to have pre-selected teams that work well together. That is standard competitive battling, not Randbats with no NFEs. The complaints are just: "I don't like when I get Caterpie and my opponent doesn't, that's no fair." The removal of NFEs just means it will blossom into "I don't like when I get Seaking and my opponent doesn't, that's no fair." And people will continue to complain about random match up every time something doesn't go their way. And if you acquiesce every time you will end up with the tier I described. And then they'll probably even still be mad when, "My opponent got a strong rain team and I was counter teamed, that's no fair."

    Again, I'm strongly against the removal of NFEs. As someone who has enjoyed Randbats for a long while, Pokémon like Clefairy and Pansage add something special to the game that I don't want to see leave.
  21. Zarel

    Zarel Not a Yuyuko fan
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    QoR, you're still basically just arguing for an "intermediate" randbat, between the one I propose and Challenge Cup. You think Challenge Cup is too random, but the Random Battle I propose is not random enough.

    I argue that this should really be the biggest difference between Random Battle and Challenge Cup. In Challenge Cup, you have wildly varying sets, but so does your opponent. On the other hand, in Random Battle, the idea is that both your teams are "good". I think Randbat OU is too restrictive, and honestly I think randbat minus NU NFEs makes a pretty good compromise.

    In other words, in Challenge Cup, what team you have and how good it is are both random, but in Random Battle, what team you have should be random but how good it is shouldn't.

    You're arguing that Random Battle needs to have "bad" teams to be fun, but I really don't agree with this. I argue there's a need for the exact tier I describe: "what team you have should be random but how good it is shouldn't", and I think splitting a tier over the one issue of the inclusion of NFEs seems unnecessary.
  22. Mizuhime

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    If it's not broken, why fix it?
  23. Snowflakes

    Snowflakes Dango Dango Daikazoku
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    No matter what you aren't going to make everyone happy so make majority of the community happy and forget about yourself, there obviously isn't going to be a randbats council (otherwise greatsage would make it him and himself) get the majority opinion in a poll and move from there.

    (this isn't directed at anyone in particular just in general)

    IMO. NFE's stay, limit x types to one team (it shouldn't be one, at least 2) eviolite i'm not sure how much it'd effect the game but it'd be nice to try at least. oh and TI's idea
  24. zfs

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    Eh, I guess I should be counted amongst those who doesn't see much need for an overhaul. I like the type limitation idea, but I'd probably make it 2 or 3 per team instead of just 1.
  25. Zarel

    Zarel Not a Yuyuko fan
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    If everyone had that attitude, we'd still be cavemen. Fire, the wheel, agriculture, modern medicine... everything we consider essential to modern life came from fixing something that wasn't broken.

    Heck, why did I make PS? PO wasn't "broken".

    Unless by "broken" you mean "can be improved", and I seriously do think random battles can be improved by the removal of NFEs.

    A poll's going to show roughly 60% people want NFEs to stay and 40% want them to go - so roughly equal after adjusting for change aversion. I'm basically making an executive decision to remove NFEs unless someone can give me a convincing argument (and for the record, "if it's not broken, don't fix it" is the worst argument in the history of bad arguments).
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