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freakytapir last won the day on May 23

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About freakytapir

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  1. the Grind

    I see grinding, if optional, as a player choice, where he trades skill for time. The old " Let everyone finish, but only the chosen achieve glory ". I want everyone to see the final boss in my game, and complete the main plot. Now, the bonus dungeons and true ending ? Those you'll have to work for. Grinding is also a handy developer tool. By putting in some small grind barriers, you can make sure the player isn't too hopelessly under or overlevelled for the next story bit. There is also something relaxing about just sitting down and doing some relaxed grinding. Some nights you're not up to the razor's edge of difficulty and just want to play something for a couple of hours before falling asleep. It's the equivalent of watching some trashy movie because you're too tired to think.
  2. Balance Part 2, Randomness

    There can still be some randomness in small ways: will this move do 100 or 120 damage? Or in enemy behavior: will he cast ice or fire next turn ? And on who ? Randomness is a spice, not a main ingredient.
  3. the Grind

    The grind Why do we grind ? (Not the dance, or the dating app) Why do we kill trash mob after trash mob to get those levels, those crafting components ? Why do we inflict ourselves with this ? There are 4 reasons as far as I see it. 1. Because we like it 2. Because we want that reward 3. Because we have to 4. Because we feel like or think we have to 1. Because we like it Sometimes the grind is fun. There are entire games based around killing monster X , just to get the better gear, to kill bigger and better creatures. Examples of these would be Monster hunter and Diablo 2 and 3. There is no grinding to get to the gameplay, the gameplay is the grind. 2. Because we want the reward Sometimes the rewards are worth it, even if the grind is a bit dull. Grinding points in the battle arena to get that omnislash, collecting 20 dragonscales to get that dragon armour, capturing 10 of each bird, so we can fight some special boss. Killing a 100 dragons to get an achievement. We don't necessarily want the grind, we want what the grind gives us. 3. Because we have to We just killed the boss of the first dungeon, we're all level 3, but the next area has all enemies at level 7, so grinding we have to do. The boss wipes us in one turn , so a grinding we go. The recommended level for the next storyquest is 10, but we're at 8 ? You got it, the grind (or badly constructed sidequest time). I have to collect 3 broken keys, but the rats only drop them 1/5th of the time? That's a grinding. 4. Because we feel we have to. The enemies are kicking our ass? Better start grinding,(instead of learning the game mechanics) no matter that we're already overlevelled for the current area. I ranked them because I really feel that there is a descending order of desirability here. As we move down the list, we start to remove player choice and enjoyment. What separates the first 2 for example? The difference between intrinsic and extrtinsic rewards. An intrinsic one is where we do something for the sake of doing it, an extrinsic one is where we do something because we get something else from it. It can make the same activity feel vastly different from eachother, just by virtue of why we do it. It's the difference between playing tennis because I like playing tennis vs playing tennis because I'm trying to lose weight. The difference between #2 and #3 is one of choice. If I chose to grind for that better sword or whatever, I won't actually feel resentment over it, but if I need that sword to progress, I now HAVE to grind. If it is possible but hard to finish the quest underlevelled I feel as if I chose or did not choose to grind, and I will feel better doing it if I do it. Now the distinction between 3 and 4 is one of communication to the player. If the designer really intended me to grind between each main story mission , and is upfront about that, sure, I might be able to stomach that. But if I grind from level 10 to 15 only to later find out I wasn't supposed to go there yet, or there was some hidden weakness to all these enemies I had no way of finding out on my own, you can be sure I will be pissed off. Now we have looked at it from the player side, how about we put or developpers hats on , and look at it from our side. Why and when do we want player or do not want players to grind ? A couple of points and counterpoints: a. + If we designed our game around it - Artificially lengthens game time b. + Each combat is fun to play - We eventually buttonmash through each combat. c. + It smoothes out our Difficulty curve - Can make the game too easy I feel like each of these sentiments can be classified along 2 axes A. How much we want to allow the player to grind B. How necessary it is. It leads us to 4 situations: 1. We want to allow players to grind, and we require it 2. We don't want to have our players grind, but it is also unnecessary 3. We allow our players to grind, but it is unnecessary 4. We don't want to have our players easily and convenently grind, but it is necessary Not all of these lead to equally fun gameplay, but I'm going to discuss what a designer might do to facilitate these kind of games. 1. If we require them to grind, and want to enable them, we should make the grind as accessible as possible, and eliminate down time. A quickly back to town skill/item, a lure skill, some places with intentionally high monster density, some Hard, but very rewarding enemies (think metal slimes). Maybe have a training arena where the player can just pick an enemy and fight it. Or maybe just an actual arena, like in kingdom hearts. It cut most of the story beats for just a neverending onslaught of enemies in everchanging troop composition. Have the grind be part of the fun. Now there are some pitfalls here. I do not advise to make the grind brainless and easy. Convenient? Yes! Easy? No! My solution to this is simple: have rewards for enemies below the characters level quickly drop off, either with exponential XP curves, or an actual reduced XP recieved if the enemy is too low level. Maybe even rewards for grinding against higher level enemies. A big enemy and troop variety is a big must too. If I'm going to be fighting a 100 battles in this area, I want to have at least 8 enemies in at least 25 troops/configurations. 2. If it is not necessary and we want to discourage it, there are multiple solutions. One is the presence of only a limited number of enemies per level, but this then becomes a game of find all enemies before continueing, making the player grind nonetheless. A slightly better solution is to only give a slight boost per level gained, combined with a steep xp curve. If it is not worth it, they will quickly stop doing it. Having the enemies level along with the player certainly discourages levelling ( looking at you FFVIII!), this will often lead to player frustration. A good solution, if used in moderation is to have regular enemis give very little xp, and the boss then give a very large amount. If the enemies give 5xp, but the boss gives 500 xp, I'm not going to waste my time. A slightly different solution is to have a time limit to your quests. A clean solution is to just have the player quickly reach maximum level (like in guildwars), or gate level progress behind game progress(FF XIII style). Whatever you do in this situation , you have to be fair to the player. If you don't want him to grind, then he should be able to beat your game without grinding. 3. If grinding is unnecessary, but you still want to allow the players to do it, you have mainly the same things as in situation 1. But, there is a question. If they do not have to, why would a player grind in your game ? One reason is that they want to choose their own difficulty in the game. Why don't they just lower the difficulty then ? There is player pride : I beat the game on hard! (after overgrinding each area, untill the game was as easy as it was on normal)!. It is the reason I stopped picking the harder difficulties in persona. The only thing they make me do is grind more. Instead I just play on normal, but avoid overlevelling. My experience is better then going on very hard and just grinding. It is also often the result of locking achievements or good endings behind a difficulty level barrier. A good reason I find are optional bosses. The ultima and omega weapons of final fantasy, the elizabeth/margaret/twins of persona, the high level hunts in FF XII/XIII, the battle arena in FFX. If the player makes the main game too easy on himself by grinding, but he still knows where to find a challenge when he wants one, thats better. Another fine one might be comsetics. I did not have to grind for that teddy bear armour, or the pink armour paint, but I wanted to. In short, If grinding isn't needed, but you still want to reward the player for it, give them a nice reward to go for. Final fantasy often falls into this camp? I dont have to grind to finish the main game, but the grind is there if I want it. 4. The grind is/looks necessary, but I don't want the player to do it easily. This is a weird case of it either being intentional, or the result of bad gamedesign. Let's split the 2 cases. a. I did this intentionally. Sometimes, grinding makes a character way stronger, and is necessary to progress, but you don't want the player to have an easy time doing it. This often results in the game directly fighting the player, trying to kill him. The most known example I could give are roguelikes, where each enemy you fight could be your last, but you still have to level up to fight the final boss. A nice example of the oppressive system this entails is seen in darkest dungeon. A game where you have to level your heroes, but each one also has permadeath, and even if you don't die, you might wind up paranoid, sadistic, or suicidal permanently. b. Oops, an accident This is mostly caused by wrong playtesting, or just wrong design decisions. Some examples: You limited the encounters in an area, but the boss is actually unbeatable at the level you can get, because of a last minute xp per enemy change. You make the enemies level along with the player, but you also insert random chance based "collect 10 bear asses that drop 10 % of the time" quests in there. You have weapon durability, but encounters don't cover the repair costs But whatever you choose, make sure you gave it some thought. Do I care if the player grinds, do I want him to, what happens if he does ? In my current game, I'm going for the grinding optional, but if you do, I want to make it as easy on you as possible. I'll have the hunt/safari/battle royal skills, that spawn 1/5/10 random encounters in a row, with rewards if you finish them all, but no healing/resting in between, so grinding is convenient if you want to. I combine this with a custom xp curve that takes a heavy jump after each chapter end, so players can grind a bit, but are still doing the final dungeon of each chapter at the desired difficulty. for example, lv 8 to 9 costs 90 xp, lvl 9 to 10 costs 100 xp, but 10 to 11 costs 150 xp and 11 to 12 costs 200, 12 to 13 is 300 xp. The xp per enemy has equivalent jumps. Level 9 enemies might give 5 xp, but lvl 12 enemies give 20 xp. So staying at the right level is actually the best way to level up. This combined with an ever flattening power curve means that every level is worth less than the one after it, percentage wise. level 1 to 2 sees you getting from strength 1 to strength 4, increasing your damage 4 fold. level 20 to 21 increases the same stat from 400 to 441, a 10 % increase in stat, and a 20 % increase in damage. At level 50 this is 2500 to 2600, and a damage increase of 8%. For clarity, my stats are level(+/-1)², and damage is about att²/defense, so against an equal level enemy, this amounts to damage=attack stat (or lvl²). This means that I can have a tight control over player progression in the beginning, but later on I can allow the game to open up, and to have a bit of non linearity. Leveling will also only get you so far. The customisation options for the characters are locked behind dungeon completion, and not raw levelling. Anyway, opinions ?
  4. Balance Part 2, Randomness

    It seems we are in agreement. Big randomness has no place in most story driven RPG's, because each time we reoload, we kind of break the story a bit. Small randomness, sure, but the player always needs to feel as if he has a fighting chance besides reloading. That's why I am a fan of medium term consequences. He has a bad encounter and has to spend more MP then usual ? That's a bit sad, but as MP regenerates slowly in my game, he can just be a bit cheap on MP the next 2-3 combats and be back where he was. He has consequence, but he isn't royally screwed. What I am trying to say is that the difference between the all-nuts situation and the total screwover shouldn't be as big. Getting a high potion or ether from a chest isn't a reload offence, but getting a potion or a megalixir, that might be reload worthy. It surely makes balancing a nightmare. Do I balance this fight assuming the player did or did not steal that ultima sword from the last boss? Bt that is a whole other bucket full of problems.
  5. Balance Part 2, Randomness

    What I am advocating is the elimination of the need to save scum. If a challenge can be beaten by save scumming alone, it is not a challenge and should be cut. If I can only beat the boss if he does not use his super move, then why is that super move there ? Certainly if I fail as a player, sure punish me, but if the game decides to go Back attack => ultima => ultima =>I'm dead! then no, I should not suffer permanent consequences for that. I have the same problem with stealing from bosses if it is random. The only thing this does is make me hit steal for an indeterminate number of rounds, and reload the boss if I did not steal the ultima sword by the time I beat him. A point against save points : If your game is playable on mobile, you have to account that the player might only be able to play for 10-15 minutes. Some of these things might be fine in roguelikes, nut not every RPG has to be that.
  6. Balance Part 2, Randomness

    The main difference I see between rogue likes and standard RPG is the length of the concequence. Most RPG's are designed to be played all the way through in one go, so a random screwing over (last lock-pick breaking, having to use that super item) has a way longer consequence than in in a rogue-like, and to avoid that, we will often just reload ( which is what I am trying to prevent here). You fail in a rogue-like ? Well, better luck next time. If you fail in a regular RPG and have to burn through a valuable item, or yyou didn't get that super item from the locked chest, well, your save file is now forever a little worse because you don't have that super item.
  7. Balance Part 2, Randomness

    Ok, just informing , I am going to reply to this, but I need some time.
  8. Balance Part 2, Randomness

    Aah, the roguelike. I agree with you there, the randomness is part of the fun there. But a good roguelike uses the randomness to set the stage, not to determine the result, as you say. On the lockpick issue : why have breakable lockpicks at all ? Just say that this is a lockpicking lv 5 or higher lock. Have it depend on the skills of the characters. You didn't buy the lockpick skill ? No treasure for you! Breakable lockpicks map to one of 2 problems : either they are too bountiful/cheap and might as well be infinite, or they are so rare as to never be used (the megalixir conundrum), or people start saving before opening a chest seeing what's inside and reload if they don't like what's inside.
  9. That feeling you get when you write a fully rambling blog post, but decide to post it anyway.

  10. Balance Part 2, Randomness

    On randomness and encounter Balance Warning : Most of these things are either my opinion or gathered from a variety of sources, which I can quote on request. The age old problem : "Randomness isn't actually Fair" Or worded differently: Most humans (and thus players) suck at probability. Or less politely worded (wheither correct or not): The PC is a cheating Bastard (and that's OK). Most RPG's, heck, most games, hold within themselves a form of randomness. But when is this desired, and when is it just bad game design hiding as (Fake) difficulty? I go back to my favorite standby when I talk about randomness : Magic the gathering This not an RPG, I get it, but it illustrates my point, so bear with me. Magic has a heavy randomness element in your opening hand of 7 cards. Did I get the right spell land combination ? An acceptable hand is between 2-5 lands. In a deck with 40 % lands this results in an 85 % Chance to get this mix, with a 50 % chance to get the optimal 3-4 lands. (Math not shown, but can be supplied on request) On top of that, a player is allowed to mulligan , drawing a new hand with one less card. He may do this any number of times. Even for a 6 card hand, which has a 40 % win chance on average according to the pros, the odds of a playable hand (2-4 lands) is till 74 %. So a player should only be affected by real flood/screw once every (100%-85)*(100%-74%)= <4% of the time, and have to go down to 5 Cards in hand.(Which technically still leaves you at a 20-28% chance to win according to the pros) Now, mana screw (not drawing enough lands) and mana flood (drawing too much land), or our opponent getting a lucky draw are still the number one complaint about magic from beginning players, yet the designers state it to be one of magic's greatest assets. Why ? Part of it is mechanical : New players don't shuffle enough, leading to clumps in the deck (because at the end of a game , most land cards are in the same place, so when you go to pick them up, they form a clump in the deck , which should be shuffled away), they draw a bad hand, they get mad, don't shuffle enough again , and one again draw a smaller hand from the still excessively clumped deck. There is also the big impact of that opening 7. Nothing is less fun then outright losing the game because of factors beyond your control. So your mind doesn't tend to remember the games where you drew just enough land and spells. It remembers the couple of times you got screwed. It also allows the worse player to sometimes win. Why is this necessary ? Because nobody likes losing their first 50 games (I'm looking at you chess!). Our feeling of luck also isn't symetrical. If we draw the right card at the right moment, it was "skill" that lead us to this moment, but if our opponent does it, it's just luck that made him win the game. We also suck at estimating and interpreting probability. Suppose we have only 3 cards that could have saved us from a loss in our 30 card deck, most players will genuinely feel like they still have pretty good odds of winning, and blame randomness when they lose when they only had a 10 % chance to make it). Another thing that inhibits us/our player in our understanding of randomness is the distinction between random and fair. If we flip tail three times in a road, we feel like the next coin flip should be heads, but our chance to toss either is still an unchanged 50%. Yes, throwing TTT is unlikely (1/8 chance), but starting from TTT, TTTH is as likely as TTTT. Now, on a long enough timescale the amount of T's over H's will trend towards 50 %, but nothing guarantees that the next one will be H or T. The opposite is the "Hot Streak": I'm having good luck tonight, so I should continue to have good luck. "Ooh, Red is on a hot streak , better not bet on black." The final problem I will discuss is goalposting. The first couple of times we use a certain skill/card/die we make a judgement on it. It worked the first 3 times I used it, so it must be good. No matter that it hasn't worked since, the players impression will remain that of a good skill. This can of course backfire a bit. Suppose that a player uses a 50 % accuracy skill, and by coincidence hits the first 3 times he uses it. When later on it starts performing more according to it's accuracy, the player will suddenly feel the skill or the random number generator is out to get them. The most succesfull MtG players in the world know all of these to be a factor and account for it.Dealing with randomness is a player skill. They realise the randomness in the game but know that they have so much control over it. They know and have heard all of these "bad beat" stories a 1000 times, and they know that in most the cases luck had little to do with it. They know the things that a player can do to reduce randomness, and apply them (Play more copies of cards you want to draw often, mulligan correctly, make sure you have some cheap spells in case your deck decides to not give you a lot of lands, play some mana sinks in case you draw too many, play more/less land,...) They believe in the numbers and less in gut feeling (bluffing aside). It also helps that games are best 2 out of 3, but I don't really think that would apply to an RPG (Somebody please make this!. Can you imagine having to fight the boss in a best 2 out of 3 match ?Fighting games can do it, so why not RPG's?) Now how do we apply this to an RPG ? 1. Give the player agency in how to approach Randomness This is the main difference I believe in bad randomness and good randomness. Magic for example gives players a big measure of control in how to approach randomness. Now, how do we do this in an RPG ? I believe this can be achieved by allowing players to choose how much randomness they want. For example, have some high damage low accuracy weapons, but also some weaker 100 % hit ones. Have some skills hit Randomly, but certainly not the majority. Advertise these options. Another small thing to add: if you build a lot of skills/weapons, ... that nobody Loves/Hates, but everybody kind of likes, then you have achieved blandness, not balance. Something for everyone but not everything for someone. Don't be afraid of angering some your players with something, be afraid of boring all of them. A nice example for this is the casino dungeon boss in Persona 5. She has a roulette/random chance based minigame during one of her boss forms, but the player always gets the choice of the safe bet or the high risk bet, and are given a round to prepare for the outcome. So there is randomness, but also choice in how much you want, and a chance to prepare for the result. She doesn't just randomly leech 2/3 of your party's HP. How I did this in my game ? For melee characters : Seeing as I avoid missing in combat, unless an effect is specifically causing it, I play with damage range and crit chance/Damage. So one weapon might doe between 90-110% of its damage, while the other might do between 50-150% Damage. Or maybe a clown punch that either does 0 damage or a devastating critical. For Casters: the lightning element is almost completely random in its targetting (It will still only target enemies), and has an enormous spread of dealing 20-200% of its damage, with a critical damage of +200% (vs the normal +50%). If you want that , great, if you don't, then don't pick lightning. 2. Have randomness set the stage, but don't let it end it. Yes, the cards you draw in magic are random, but everything after that is up to you. Do you mulligan or not, do you play aggressively or defensively,... How to apply this to an RPG ? Back attacks/Ambushes/... However you want to call them. They can be fun once in a while, but they should never place me in a situation where I am dead without any input from me, if I am at full health. No encounter should be able to kill me completely without my input. If ultima slime can take away 55 % of my entire teams HP in one ultima, then under no circumstance should he be able to use that move twice before I have a go at him, even if it is to use an escape item. Anything less is insulting my autonomy as a player. I'm fine with being half dead after an ambush, giving me a shitty starting position, but I should still be able to fight/escape my way out of it, no matter how much damage the enemies are doing. This I applied by making it sure that no enemy troop can actually kill the players in one turn from full health. Not by powering them down , but by simple tweaks in the AI. For example, suppose I do have my 2 ultima slimes in one battle, then one is going to cast ultima, and the other casts something like shell or haste, or uses a single target move like flare (FF examples used, but you get the gist). This still leaves me in a shit position, but there is still a fight, and more importantly, choices. 3.The mulligan. Having randomness based mechanics not go our way leads to us wanting a way for us to do this over. And thus the save scum was born. Oops my lockpick failed? Reload. I didn't get the item I wanted from this boss/chest? Reload. The boss started with spamming its supermove twice and I don't feel like dealing with that ? Reload. I failed the minigame? Reload. How you could solve this: Remove mechanical randomness outside of combat, or heavily restrict saving. In this day and age restricting saving is likely to backfire, as most people react negatively to that. Just have your lockpick skill be all or nothing (Lv3 Lockpick opens lv 3 locks). Anything else leads to the player reloading. Or maybe just have the lockpick break, but the lock still opening with a random chance. The player got a small penalty, but probably won't feel the urge to reload. Have them fail forwards, do not brickwall them. If there is a big reward for doing well at the minigame, do not gate it after a single attempt, either allow a retry, or even better have some kind of point system so the player can "save up" for the item. Nothing like a good item being stuck between a (semi-)random minigame hey guys ? (Shakes fist angrily at chocobo minigame for Tidus' ultimate weapon). Now in combat, how do we factor this in ? Maybe the player can bounce back from a devastating roll of the AI dice using that mega potion he had been saving ? (On the hoarding of powerfull items, and the "I might need this later effect" a lot could also be written.), but if the item needed to bounce back is actually too valuable, we once again have our player reaching for that reset/reload button. Persona 5 had a rather nice solution in having one use escape items that where both pretty expensive/annoying to craft, but had no other use then to escape, giving the player a couple of fail-safes, next to an escape skill that could actually be upgraded to work better/in more situations(when surrounded for example). FFX solved this with having a character with a 100% succes flee skill. As long as he lived, you could always get away. This also leads to my other point : escape has to work reliably enough or should not be there. "But won't players use that to skip some of the more difficult encounters?" Then you have a problem with the encounter not being fun/rewarding enough, not with the escape function. Using escape already has a penalty: no xp, no gold and the nagging feeling that you failed as a player. But personally I find these patches on an underlying problem: your game balance is either out of wack, your enemy AI is terrible, or your players do not have enough tools to deal with varying situations. Small aside : Your AI is not there to kill the player, it is there to provide an engaging challenge, they are there to lose in a fun way. Yes, it might be logical for every enemy to attack the character with the lowest defence and HP, quickly reducing it to a pulp, but that gets old fast and leads to weird things. No one wants to be in the situation where raising the tanks defence does nothing because everyone just keeps attacking the mage anyway.(Cover and guard systems not included). The game designer(Game leader in TableTop RPG's) is not there to kill the player, but to entertain/challenge him. He can always kill the player, but a true challenge ? that takes Finesse and skill. (A little nugget from my days as a D&D dungeon master, which coincidentally has a lot in common with being a game designer). Warning : Controversy ahead: In short : each time your player reaches for the reload button bacause of something he had no control over you have failed a tiny bit as a game designer. Now, to coat this in some context: Nobody is saying every combat has to be easy. Just that in each combat I should be able to win/esape with the tools given to me, no matter what the RNG says. 4. Players suck at probability. Now, there are actually studies that show this. We both over and under estimate probabilities. We feel that everything above roughly 75 % should always happen (if it's us), and anything below 25 % can never happen (if it's the opponent), except when it's an enemy, then it seems like the 75 % skill hits way too often. It is why skills with "75 % accuracy" that actually have 75 % accuracy feel wrong. We feel like either the game is lying to us , or cheating us. Once again , this is player perception and is in very broad strokes. How to solve this ? There is no simple and ethical solution to this. Human nature is what it is, and fighting that in a game is an uphill battle. We could lie to our players ( saying that the accuracy of our skill is 75 %, but actually giving it a 90 % accuracy in the hands of the player and a 60 % accuracy in the hands of the enemy. This might work, untill your player looks at the code. This also has the problem of confirming your player bias, and thus deepening the problem. Another problem is once again the percieved dependance of the events. If we just missed twice, we feel as if the next one shouldn't miss, even when the accuracy is 50 %, and 3 misses in a row happen quite often. Once again, do we cheat, and give the player a hidden accuracy boost after a (string of) misses? Once again , this might work until your players find out. Once they do , 2 probabilities : they exploit it, or they get out the pitchforks and torches. There is however a third option, that is rooted in the players penalty avoiding nature. As humans we dislike penalties more then we like rewards. It's the wow rested Xp problem. In early playtesting of WOW, they experimented with a "tired" mechanic, where you would get -50 % xp if you played too much. Players where livid. How did they solve this ? They changed Normal to be called "rested" and gave a 100 % xp boost, while the new normal (the old tired) gave regular XP. They then cut the gained xp in half, so you got the old 100 % xp when rested, but only 50 % when "Normal". So they actually changed nothing, but they worded it as a reward, and not a penalty. That made all the difference. Another facet is the the same reason why you would rather buy an artificially overpriced "80$" pair of yeans at 40$ then a "40$" pair at 40$ (the JCpenny effect, look it up!), even if the pants are both only actually worth 40$, we feel like we got rewarded, when actually we got exactly what we where going to get anyway. So in short:Random rewards not penalties, make it feel like the player got something extra, even if the end result is the same. A miss feels worse then a crit feels good. An in RPG example: Say we have Lucky strike, a move that hits 50 % of the time, but for triple damage. Obviously, this is mathematically speaking a good deal, you get on average 50 % more damage, but still, a large fraction of your player base will avoid this skill. Now maybe, let's look at lucky strike 2.0: It always hits, but has a 50 % Chance of doing double damage. This skill just feels better, and I bet a lot more players will pick this one, even if the chance was only 33 % or 25 %.(Which they will stil unconsiously feel like it should happen 50 % of the time, but you can't win them all). Another small suggestion could be to not have misses, or to have a miss deal some small amount of damage. Rename miss into weak hit and rename hit into solid hit. Anyway, there is still a lot to be said about luck, and how players handle it, but I'm already going long as it is. I hope I gave everyone ome ideas for their own games. If you feel like I am wrong and an utter idiot, feel free to comment. As always, discussion is a door to new insights, and as some would have said it:" An evening in which everyone agrees, is a dull evening"
  11. Hi everyone!

    Succes! and don't forget to have fun along the way.
  12. Back to RPG making, writing a big blog post. 


    Feels good to be back.

    1. Abscond


      Welcome back! You've been missed lol

    2. PhoenixSoul


      Good to see ya once more...

      Bonne Chance with game dev...

    3. freakytapir


      For anyone interested, my ramblings and ravings have been posted.

  13. Too many skill choices?

    Personally, most characters in my game will get about 15 skills Single target Multitarget Single target+Effect Multi Target + Effect ________ * 2 because each character has about 2 elements. And also : Defensive skill Utility Skill Healing skill There is no fire 2 or fire 3. There is fire, scorch, fireball and there is inferno. They all deal the same damage, and maybe a status effect.
  14. RPG with no levelling / stat growth?

    The main point you lose without leveling is a sense of progression. It makes each trash battle you fight have at least some value, as it brings you ever so much closer to completion. If it is bound to skill learning, then you allso lose the "new toy" syndrome, where combat doesn't get stale as fast, because you keep getting new toys/skills. But what are we talking about here ? No explicit stat-boosting through levels, or no change to your characters what-so-ever through the course of the game ? There is a broad spectrum in between those 2 extremes.
  15. Gold

    I'm not contuing my encounter balance article from last week, because I don't feel ready and have more questions than answers on the topic. Now economy, that's fascinating! *Crickets in the background* Ok, Ok, ... I kid. It might not be fascinating, but it is important. Because like in real life, gold, or Gil, or Yen, ... makes the game go round. It is a reward , a reason to gind, and most of all the ultimate fungible currency and thus a wrench into the fine gears of balance. Because somewhere there is a way to convert gold into anything the player needs, it is a way for the designer to give the player a small pat on the head ands say: good kid, here's some spending cash, spend it however you like. But there are problems that lurks in most jRPG economies. I'm generalising, off course. 1. There is an infinite amount of money 2. The prices are weird 3. It is easily translatable into any type of power. 1. There is an infinite amount of money but no inflation. The player is for al intents and purposes generating gold out of thin air. Even if you go the sellable loot route, that just adds an extra step. Even if we substract upkeep costs, like sleeping in an inn, potions, and damage to equipment ( if you do that in your game), every combat leaves the player richer then the one before it. This usually escalates into the player having quite a sizable cash supply. Ahah! you think , I'll just let the player buy some gear in the next town, so he'll be back to being broke. Now even if you calculated exactly how much encounters the player will have had, and the amount of gold he will have earned, most of the time it doesn't really work. If the player has earned more than enough to buy all the upgrades, the problem isn't solved. The player still has too much gold. When he has just enough to buy everything, why have the gold ? The player had no choice in anything. It becomes a chore : new village, new visit to the shops, incrementing the gear by one. And a curious thing happens when he does not get enough gold. You would think : ooh , he'll have to choose what to prioritize, creating fun gameplay, but nope, he'll just go for a jog or 2 around the village and grind untill everybody has the new gear. Too many old games required and reinforced this behaviour, instilling in the player the feeling that if they did not have the best gear available in every slot, they might just as well not bother. So eventually they still wind up with all of the gear, but by now they are overlevelled for the content, unless you accounted for this, but then it becomes a forced grind, antoher one of the crutches of the old jRPG's. Personally I solve this by not having the gear grind, remember: my game has no straight upgrades in terms of weapons and armor, and just let gold be for consumables :potions, grenades, ... Choosing between some healing potions or encounter ending grenades, maybe some repel powder feels like a choice, and players are less likely to grind for them, since they feel like extra's and optionals, in ways that the gear upgrades do not. 2. The prices are weird. Because they do no result from any internal process, all prices in the game are arbitrary. There is no supply and demand, just the price that you'll pay. No link between prices. Why does the potion cost 50 GP and the antidote 25 ? Who knows. Why does the potion that heals one character for a 100 HP cost as much as a visit to the inn ? Once you realise that all your prices are arbitrary anyway, you can start to see the big picture : Gold cost is a balancing mechanism anyway, so why not embrace it. If gold can buy both permanent upgrades and temporary items, everybody will be buying the permanent upgrades, because that is what games have thaught us up to this point. Even if the sword+1 is 1000 gp and the potion is 10, we will still save for the sword +1. 3. Gold is power. Gold earned is a second axis on the balance scale. A player that can somehow gain extraordinary amounts of gold without gaining levels means that you cannot just balance for what level the player will be. The amount of gold he had to spend is a factor in his powerlevel. Except it is way more eratical. 1000 GP on grenades is not the same amount of power 1000 gp on remedies represents. It is a weird axis of balance, unless you as a designer have a perfect idea of what the amount of gold in to power out is. But even that does not solve the stockpile problem. You can't stockpile xp to spend it in one burst, but gold can be used in such a fashion. The answer to this, in my mind, is to assign a basic unit of power to 1 gold piece ( or gil, or ...) and equate it to an equal MP cost, and prize all items according to that. This combined with a separate permanent/temporary upgrade currency split, should kind of solve this, I hope. Another solution is incomparables. Is healing 50% HP the same as raising everybodies defence for 2 turns? Who knows, but it is a player choice. Realy long story short, buying long and short term upgrades from the same pool will lead to weird results.