I certainly expect that there will be many creature traits (abilities) that aren’t useful in the end-game, which is perfectly fine in a game like this. (Indeed, it is an important progression step for a player very new to the game/genre to be able to – as they move along in the game – identify traits that are no longer as useful and replace them in order to improve their team. Indeed, it makes a new player feel “smart” the first time they swap out a creature they really like – and have used for a long term – because better traits are available that provide better synergy.)
That being said, if the game is successful, I think the following balance properties are important:
There should be multiple, fundamentally different team archetypes that experienced players might reasonably choose to run … and it shouldn’t be “obvious” which of these is the “best”. (For example perhaps some players run a team built around Damage-over-time effects, some players run a team built around AOE spell-casting, some players run a team built around supporting a single, powerful attacker, some players run a team built around healing.)
There should not be traits that are so good that they are used by every archetype. That is, traits should ideally be good for particular team setups and not unconditionally good, regardless of what kind of team you are running.
Within an archetype, there should be room for even very experienced players to disagree on optimal team composition. It is fine if everyone making a “Damage-over-time team” picks traits X, Y, Z and W … as long as there is room to experiment with how best to complement X, Y, Z, and W in filling out the rest of your team. That is, it is fine if certain choices are “obvious” within an archetype as long as there are still interesting/non-obvious choices to make beyond those “obvious” choices.
Creatures that are introduced very late in the game or are particularly hard/tricky to acquire should reasonably have a place on some team archetype that an experienced player might reasonably choose to play. That is, it is fine to have creatures/traits that aren’t used by experienced players (see above) but they shouldn’t be the ones that require players to jump through a complex sequence of hoops to acquire. (This isn’t to say that all early-game creatures should be useless late-game – it is valuable to have some early-game creatures with a place on certain late-game teams. Instead this is saying that creatures that are useless late-game should be weighted towards being easier to acquire.)
It is my hope that as we move through Early Access that Zack with make some tweaks as needed to try to achieve these balance goals.
Let me know if you disagree on what the balance goals of a game like Siralim should be.