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Found 12 results

  1. freakytapir

    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"
  2. freakytapir

    Encounter Balance part 1

    The impossibility of perfect encounter balance. Or maybe just my failure at it. Now that I've finished bare bones mapping for most of my act 1 dungeons, I was thinking to myself : Why don't you make some nice encounters so you actually can get some playstesting done? I open up the database, create some basic enemy types (Skirmisher, Artillery, Soldier, Brute,...), give my characters some basic skills (fire, ice, darkness), and try them out. Now, I have been pretty anal about getting my stats right ( see my previous blogs), with HP's and so forth being determined by the amount of hits I want the enemies to take before dying, and the amount of hits a player will take before dying. It all seemed so perfectly balanced on the spreadsheet, until I started playtesting my encounters. Which shows again , numbers are no substitute for raw playtest data. All went well until I tried basically anything beyond a basic damage spell or attack. Then the balance shifted into weird directions. After giving it some thought, I think I have found the 4 biggest disruptors for encounter balance, in rising order of complexity : Multi-Target/Hit skills Status effects Randomness Interactions Today, I'll be tackling the first 2, the other 2 are for another time. Maybe next week. Because for these first 2 , I have found a simple tool to balance these out. 1. Multitarget spells For a starter, Multi Target/Hit skills, abilities that hit 2 or more targets, cause problems because they are damage multipliers. Unless the damage is nearly neglectible, or the cost is excessive, any multitarget spell is just an order of magnitude better than any single target spell. Any small boost or debuff is felt way harder than with single target skills. An example : At level 20 the player is supposed to do 400 Damage per attack. Now, as I am working on a one enemy per player character system, there should be about 4 targets. So easy, you say, just let the multi-target spell deal 25 % damage, so 100 per target. That's nice, but that means it is now useless in any stituation with less than 4 targets. Now, most enemies will have 4 players fighting them, so this solution works nicely for enemies. Obviously that does not work for Players, so in comes my good old friend : limited resources. Any multitarget attack should just cost a certain amount of MP/TP, even if the single target version does not. How much MP/TP ? The easiest solution I could find was to just give each MP point an amount of damage it could deal. After long debate, I came to 50 % damage (or healing) per MP point spent. So assuming I use a multitarget spell when I have 3 or 4 , so 3.5, opponents, I deal 350%-100%= 250% more damage, so a multitarget spell costs 5 MP. What about high levels, you say ? Seeing as I don't believe in straight upgrades ( no Fire 1,2,3), I have an additional solution: Monster HP escalates way faster than player damage, so by the time he can spam fireball, enemies dont take 2 hits, but 4 hits to take down, and he will need all the fireballs he can get. It allows the player to grow without needing to replace his basic skills, as I combine it with a small MP pool, topping out at 110 MP for mages at lvl 100, and rising MP generation, topping out at 10 MP per turn at lvl 100. Instead of casting fire (0MP) and saving his MP for the fireball (5MP), he can alternate between the 2 the moment he regenerates enough MP, maybe even casting regular fire a couple of turns, to save up for the big guns (25 MP/shot). Now, in the case of TP using skills, how do we balance this ? That is something for another chapter. 2. Status effects, buffs and Debuffs. The core of combat: Action economy. In combat, in the rawest sence, players and enemies trade actions for damage. Given the way I balanced my game, equally levelled players and enemies recieve an equal amount of damage per spent action , it is just the HP's that differ. So in the strictest sence, the opponent has to spend a certain number of actions to win , and the player has to spend a different amount of actions to win. In a basic combat, the 2 cavemen beating eachother with clubs until one falls down kind, aka the attack spam battle, the players will allways win or the enemy will always win, with, outside of criticals, no variance inbetween. But that is not how real combats work. In a combat with multiple characters on both sides, both sides generate actions each turn , and spend them to kill the other side. Once one side has spent enough actions , that side wins. An Example: A 4 heroes against 3 rats scenario at level 5. The rats deal about 20 % of the players hp in damage each action they takeand can take 2 hits. So the rats generate 3 actions per turn, and need to spend 20 actions to win, the players generate 4 actions a turn and need to spend 6 actions to win. So however you slice it, the rats always lose in 1.5 turns, having dealth at most 4.5 actions worth of damage, but if the player focus fire having dealt only 1-2 actions worth of damage. The worst case scenario is that all the rats hit the same guy, and he dies. This is a nice and safe encounter even if the player just divvies up his attacks evenly instead of focus-firing (which is pretty dumb for the player). Now, let's replace the rats by snakes. Suppose they have a poison attack, that deals no initial damage, but poisons with 20 % HP per turn damage , and a regular attack. How much more dangerous is this than the rats ? Assuming the same encounter, 3 snakes vs 4 players, equal level. The players still generate 4 actions per turn , and need to spend 6 actions to win. The snakes also need to spend 20 actions and generate 3 actions per turn. Supposing the snakes have basic AI and do not attack already poisoned players, is this encounter more dangerous than the rats one? Looking at it hrough an actions generated/spent lens might give us an answer. Nothing has changed on the player side, so were ignoring that for now, but the way the snakes behave is totally different than te rat behaviour. After poisoning the players, suddenly the snakes are generating damage on the opponents turns, in effect generating actions. A little turn by turn : Snakes spend 3 actions , to poison 3 players. The players take 3 actions worth of damage because of the poison. The players spend 4 actions and kill 2 snakes. The final snake attacks one player, the party then mobs him, but still takes poison damage twice. So grand total : The players take about 6 actions worth of damage before winning, therefore this encounter is about 2-3 times as difficult as the rats one, but still nowhere near a danger for the player. Now interesting things happen when the number of snakes or rats changes. Suppose we have 3/6 rats, and the player focus fires to kill rats as fast as possible, and tries to kill a rat before it takes a turn, and the rats attack randomly: Round 1: Players spend 4 actions and kill 2 rats, rats get 4/1 actions. Round 2: Players mow down 2 rats, rats get 2/0 actions Round 3 : All rats die. Suddenly the 6 rats get off 6 actions, in opposition to the 1-2 actions if there where 3 of them. So the encounter with twice as many rats is not twice as hard, but up to 4 times as hard. Notice also how the 3 rat encounter is actually 3x easier if the players focus fire. From this we can conclude that encounters do not scale in a linear fashion, and even adding one enemy does nasty things to an encounter. As a bonus the same situation with 6 snakes : Players focus fire on the 6 snakes, and the snakes spread poison as fast as possible, to a player that still has to take its turn. Round 1 : 2 Snakes killed, 4 players poisoned. 4 actions worth of damage. Round 2: 2 Snakes attack, 2 snakes killed. Snakes deal 6 actions worth of damage. Round 3: 0-1 snakes attack, 2 snakes killed. Snakes deal 2-3 actions worth of damage. So the snakes deal 12-13 actions worth of damage. So the 6 snake encounter is still twice as dangerous as the 6 rat one, and might actually heavily damage a party, seeing that 20 actions by the enemy kills the player. If the player spread his damage instead of focus firing, he would take : Round 1: 4 Players poisoned, 2 regular attacks, no snakes killed: 6 actions for the snakes. Round 2 : 4 regular attacks, 4 poison damage actions. 8 actions by the snakes. Round 3 : Kill 4 snakes.1 attack by the snakes. 4 actions worth of poison damage, and 1 regular action. For a grand total of 19 actions worth of damage by the snakes. The players might actually lose this encounter if they are really dumb and just attack spam to random targets. Now why this whole explanation about rats and snakes ? Because they demonstrate that nearly all things can be calculated in an actions worth of damage, and to show that he who generates the most actions wins. This is an important factor in encounter balance. It shows that the more enemies you add, the more turns each enemy gets, so you have a near quadratic effect on encounter difficulty. It also show the importance of debuffs and buffs and status effects, once you start to see it as trading your turn for theirs, and why status efects are annoying if used by the enemy and useless if used by the player. "Wait what ?" You might say, but it is true. As we see in the 6 rats scenario, the players have to spend 12 actions to win, but the rats have to spend 20. So each action for the players is 1.66 times more valuable than one from the enemies. Even if the player had a 100 % accurate stun it is only worth it if the rat would have lived 2 additional turns. And this is the best case scenario. And forget the classical blindness spell with a 70 % succes chance and a 70 % accuracy reduction. That would only generate on average 0.7*0.7=0.49 actions per turn. Meaning, in our rat case, the rat would have to live 3-4 more turns before it becomes worth it. I easily solve this by having the player cast blindness spell also deal damage, but cost 1 MP. As I established earlier, 1 MP gets you 50 % of an actions worth of damage/effect/healing. So with the same reasoning, the ice spell that deals regular damage and freezes for 2 turns with a 50 % chance costs 1 MP, as it negates a full enemy action (that's about 1/1.6= 62 % of a player action). Now when used by the enemies, it suddenly does become worth it. If an enemy action costs a player an action , he has traded up, seeing as the player actions are worth 1.6 times as much as the rat ones. It also poses a floor for healing spells. If a healing spell does not heal at least, in our example, 1.6 x as much as the enemy would deal, that healing spell would have better been an attack to end the encounter faster except when that character would otherwise die, then you're trading an action for an action. Buff spells suffer the same fate. A single target buff spell that raises another characters attack by 50 % is only worth it if the combat lasts 2 more turns to break even, and 3 turns to be better than a standard attack. Meaning that I find that a single target buff should cost 0-1 MP (probably 0 to encourage buff use), but a partywide buff should cost 1 MP if it lasts 1 turn ,because you spent an action to generate 1.5 actions (3*50% more damage), gaining you half an action. Any turn after that should cost 4 MP, so a 3 turn party wide buff should cost 9 MP. Now, to encourage buff use, because 90 % off players will still always go for the straight damage spells, I might just reduce this to 6-7 MP. Now comes the difficult part : The exchange rate between player and enemy actions shifts at higer levels. This is because at higher levels, the balance is different. At level 5, enemies deal 20 % of the players HP in damage and take 2 hits to kill, while at level 100 they deal 60 % of the players HP and take 7 hits to kill. So the players need to spend 28 actions to kill the enemy, and the enemy needs to spend 8 actions to kill the player. Suddenly the enemies turn is worth at least 3.5 times as much as a player one. This means that a player is spending at least 5 MP a turn (+250% Damage) to make his actions on par with the enemies actions, and should probable be spending about 10 MP per turn if he wants to win(By coincidence, that is what he regenerates in MP each turn). It also means that status effects become really important for the players to use, as each stunned/silenced/frozen enemy is worth 2-3 player turns. And I am ok with that. It just means that abilities that unlock later should be balanced for use at that level, and that some low level abilities become better as the levels advance, thereby keeping them relevant. So what I'm saying is to not stare yourself blind at the numbers in this article but maybe to try and see combat in terms of an action economy, with both players and enemies generating and spending actions, with a certain exchange rate between these 2 actions, and an MP cost to generate what amounts to extra actions. It simplifies the numbers to simple actions spent, and allows you to quickly mentally simulate important battles, and balance skills. This is most valuable in boss encounters, where you can actually start to see it on a timeline, and thus balance the boss way easier.
  3. freakytapir

    On Gear, Part 1, Weapons.

    I know it's been over a year, but it's good to be back again. Apparently having a full-time jobs cuts into your Blog and Game making time, who knew ? Today I want to talk about the gear in my game, more specifically weapons and armor, and why I chose to trim it all the way back. Now that I've been away from my game and had some time to think, I wondered, why does my game need heaps and heaps of weapons and armour? It is not the focus of my game, it will lead to endless menu micro-managment because of all the splitting up and regrouping of parties, endless shopping trips and grinding, because every character (up to 20) needs to be kept up to date on gear, it affects balance if they are under or over equipped, … The list goes on and on and on. So I made a seemingly radical choice. I dumped weapon and armor upgrades. Now don't get me wrong, there is still gear to be found, but no piece of equipment is “strictly better” then any other. To illuminate : strictly better is a term that I first heard about in Magic the gathering. It means “Identical in every way except the numbers are better”. Applied to RPGs, this would mean tossing your dagger for a mythril dagger because it is identical to the dagger, but has a higher attack stat. There is no reason to use the dagger over the mythril dagger. In some games, this is part of the fun, and it certainly has it's place in games, but not in mine, not with the character focus I wanted to have. So I did away with the endless mill of +1 swords and chose a different path : Incomparables. Meaning I wanted no weapon to be mathematically better then any other, but unique and different. As people who may have read my Elements ands skills blog post might remember, all of my elements are intrinsically different. For example, fire raises the users magic attack, lightning is luck based , … Now what if I did the same for my weapons and armour. This necessitated my split of physical damage into 3 categories to allow for variety : Piercing , Slashing an Crushing. Each of these types has its own damage formula. Piercing ignores part of the targets defense, Crushing deals more if the targets hp is low, and Slashing deals more if the users hp are high. A weapon can have more than one damage type, for example, a morningstar is both piercing and crushing. Some skills require the use of the correct type of weapon. Next, I divided my weapons into 9 weapon types, with each type getting about 3 weapons : Sword, Dagger, Axe, Hammer, Spear, Peasant, Bow, Gun and Artillery. Each of these categories has an additional effect: Swords are Skillfull, which means that they generate more TP when used. Daggers are Fast, which means they raise the users agility. ( I use a ctb battle system, so agility is very important) Axes are Punishing which means more damage on debuffed opponents. Spears have Reach, which gives the users a big bonus on counterattacks Hammers are Pulverizing, dealing more damage on a crit. Peasant Weapons have Underdog, which means that when the users has a stat buf, the effect is greatly increased Guns have Penetrate which means they ignore physical defence, and just deal damage equal to a.atk stat instead of a.atk²/b.def. Bows are Silent, generating way less noise, therefore not raising the alert level as much. Artillery has Unavoidable, meaning they negate block, and deal unresistable (Almighty) damage. On top of that is the small, medium, large system. Small weapons can be dualwielded. Medium weapons are the standard, and allow a shield or small weapon in the off-hand. Large weapons deal splash damage. Each weapon also adds a skill unique to that weapon. So to bring it all together, some examples : The longsword is a Medium Slashing and Piercing Sword, so it can be wielded with a shield or small weapon in the off hand, it deals more damage if the user is at high hp, generates more TP, ignores part of the targets defence and allows the users to use Slashing and Piercing Skills. It has the ability to let the user enter a parry mode as a special ability. The Quarterstaff ( different from a mage's staff) is a Large Bludgeoning Peasant weapon. So it deals Bludgeoning damage, deals more damage if the target's hp is low, raises the users attack when buffed with something, deals damage to multiple enemies when attacking and allows the use of Bludgeoning skills. As a special ability, it raises the users block, and counts as a shield. Most of this is realised by using Yanfly's Weapon Unleash system, to give every weapon an different attack skill, instead of filling up the formula bar with 200 if-statements.
  4. In addition to each character's unique abilities, I’m planning to have skills and spells learnable from items. For very important plot reasons, two of my 6-12 characters won’t be able to do any magic. How would you make them viable party members? In a system where everyone else can learn healing and elemental damage spells, what would you do to make a character who can't something players would want to keep in the party, given the choice?
  5. Instead of using levels in my game, skills are learned by use. Use a certain type of skill a number of times, and you will learn other skills. When you use a skill/selective skills enough times, a menu will open up allowing you to choose from a list of related skills. How would I balance this system to allow specialization without making certain enemies not specialized for overpowered? How diffucult would it be to implement? Would it require scripts? Another question I have is about Perks. I want certain skills to act passively(Granting buffs and such when certain other skills are used) without appearing in the battle menu or taking up a turn. These will be Perks. Is this possible to hide skills in the battle menu while still appearing in the skill menu? Can a skill be auto-used without taking a turn? Your thoughts are appreciated.
  6. So, instead of levels, I want my game to balance your strength around your weapons/armor/accessories. There are opportunities to increase your stats through one-time items and what-not, but these are sparse. I'm doing this so that sneaking around enemies is viable at all levels. If you sneak past enemies early-game, but get caught in a fight with tough enemies mid-game, you aren't hopelessly outclassed/forced to grind levels. It's a bit like Brogue that way. What do you guys think?
  7. gunsage

    Tough, But Fair

    Why is it that some games are more easily tolerated than others that are considered "hard?" For example, I love games like Ghosts n Goblins, Dark Souls, the older Ninja Gaiden games, and basically anything Shin Megami Tensei, but I can't stand games like Super Meat Boy, I Wanna Be The Guy, The Impossible Game, the newer Ninja Gaiden games, and Devil May Cry 3. The funny part is with each game I can cite reasons I like AND dislike them, but it seems like it's WHAT I dislike about certain games that causes me to just plain not like them. For example, Dark Souls is a game that kicks you ass for a living, but you feel a great sense of accomplishment anytime you learn how to fight a boss well and beat him. Meanwhile, I never got that sense of accomplishment from the newer Ninja Gaiden games. With Ghosts n Goblins games, the levels were often obscenely difficult, but a treat to trudge through...yet with games like I Wanna Be The Guy and Super Meat Boy, I feel like they're difficult just for the sake of being difficult, even though it feels like they're trying to accomplish the same thing. For a lot of people, it seems like they're willing to forgive or otherwise look issues that are glaring and ridiculous to other people. I realize it comes down to preference, but one would think that if a game is deemed difficult, challenging, or tough that it would all come down to doing the same thing over and over until you get it right and enjoy the fact that you finally accomplished something ridiculously difficult...yet, I don't get that for some reason. I don't know, what do you guys think?
  8. Hello! This is my first post here, I'm trying to set up a more simple game and am curious about how I should balance out my basic stats/parameters (MHP, ATK, MAT etc.) for classes especially as it relates to HP. Basically I'd like to know what you guys consider to be an "Excellent", "Good", "Average", and "Poor" range for each stat. P.S. Keep in mind I am utilizing Yanfly's Engine Ace - Extra Param Formulas with deafault settings. (Link to script: https://yanflychannel.wordpress.com/rmvxa/battle-scripts/ace-battle-engine/)
  9. I think I’m trying to do too much... The realization came this morning when my 3rd alarm went off at 5:30AM, and was angry at myself for sleeping in. Don’t get me wrong, I know sleep is important and love it dearly, but only when it doesn’t come in between me and my projects! In this chapter of my life, days are spent almost entirely either at work (including a commute) or being husband/dad to my wife/2-year-old son. Once I’ve finished work, afternoon activities, dinner, bedtime routine, and cleanup, most of the minutes between 5:30AM and 8:30PM have been spoken for. Several months ago, I discovered that the best time for me to write music is in the early morning before people are up, so I got in to the habit of rising at about 3:30AM to get a couple hours of studio time before the world stirs from its slumber. So this February, I have about 2 hours a day (as long as I don’t keep sleeping in) to get some REAL work done. Current projects include (in order of priority): A hack-and-slash endless arena for Android (being released this weekend, woot!) Some 8-bit tracks for a couple fellow VXAce community developers A “Horror RPG†sound design package for all you horror game devs out there (seems to be a popular genre at the moment, and making creepy sounds has been SO fun, so far). My own RPG Project (workingly titled “Planetary Infiltration"), including learning a little Ruby scripting just for fun (and more autonomy on my part) With so little time, how can I eke a little more time out of the day to get this all done in an efficient manner? I realized the other day that I spend about 1-1.5 hour in the back of a car all day. That’s a pretty good chunk of time, so I’ve moved this preliminary stage of game development exclusively to my phone. As I started work on an “Event Flow†spreadsheet (fourth “development spreadsheetâ€, however, I was troubled with the thought of “How much preparation is too much?†So far I have 2 docs and 4 spreadsheets detailing different aspects of my game (summary, asset list, balancing, etc, etc, etc...) At what time am I just spinning my tires, and should just wait until I make computer time on this thing a priority? So for any of you still with me, how much work do you do planning, designing, and thinking about your game before you put your metaphorical pens to paper and get into the nitty gritty of RPG Maker?
  10. As you already know, MP is common thing in RPG. But it seems I'm not really satisfied with how MP handled in game. At least, in my game which led me to use the TP mechanism instead. Here are the issues. If both actors and enemies has MP, and the enemy also has skill which cost MP, does this mean enemy only be able to use the skill only several times? After its MP is depleted, the enemy will be totally easier. If enemy has no MP and its skill doesn't cost MP, I think it's unfair. Or do you think it isn't? It's also apply If actor has MP damage skill, applied to enemy and the enemy now can not use skills anymore. Does that seems a little bit overpowered? And how about the bosses? Do they have more MaxMP? How much is it? Or they doesn't have so bosses always can perform crazy action without relying on MP? Last but not least, about the MP and HP recovery. I usually find that MP recovery is more better than HP recovery if I have healer in party. My actor can heal the entire party using skill in map and it only needs one MP recovery item. It's far better than HP recovery potion. Don't you think? So, the final question is .... How do you balance the MP mechanism in your game?
  11. Powi RPG: HELP with Skill Balancing Hello everyone, I need your feedback on my skills that I created for some of my Powi Characters (For the people who doesn`t know what a powi is, you can check my blog ^~^ http://www.rpgmakervxace.net/blog/399/entry-1217-first-attempt-at-making-an-rpg-game/ ) Well the skills are all kinda the same in my own perspective so if you guys can provide skill effects for the said skills, that would be much appreciated. And of course, if you can provide vital info on how to balance the skills will be also nice ^~^ The Basic Formula for almost all skills is a.atk*4 - b.def*2 same goes for magical skills that uses MATK Okay Here it goes... Let`s start! (The images are their cut ins for the battle system Cheers to Theo`s SBS ^~^ And by the way, the skills are using a nifty feature I made up for my game, instead of your typical TP skills, I made TP a extra factor for skills, adding TP to a skill enhances it`s effects by a certain rate depending on the skill itself making Normal Attacks a factor on battles since Normal Attacks gather TP for you to use to enhance a skill in battle. EDIT: I made the buff system unstackable by the way No more stat % abuse xD The Stat distribution: * = 1 (Level 1) 50(Level 99) ** = 2 (Level 1) 100(Level 99) *** = 3 (Level 1) 150(Level 99) **** = 4 (Level 1) 200(Level 99) Powi ROLE: All Around Atk ** Def ** Matk ** Mdef ** Agi ** Luc ** ​Kid ROLE: Support Tanker Atk * Def **** Matk * Mdef ** Agi ** Luc ** Adventurer ROLE: AoE DAMAGER/ SECONDARY HEALER/ FIRE ELEMENT USER Atk *** Def * Matk ** Mdef *** Agi * Luc ** Knight ROLE: DAMAGER/ TANKER Atk *** Def *** Matk * Mdef * Agi ** Luc ** Mage ROLE: HEALER/ BUFFER Atk ** Def * Matk *** Mdef *** Agi ** Luc * Wizard ROLE: MAGIC DAMAGER Atk * Def * Matk **** Mdef *** Agi * Luc ** Snow ROLE: MAGICAL DAMAGER/ ICE ELEMENT USER Atk ** Def ** Matk *** Mdef * Agi ** Luc ** Archer ROLE: DEBUFFER Atk *** Def * Matk * Mdef * Agi *** Luc *** Ninja ROLE: PHYSICAL DAMAGER/ ELEC ELEMENT USER Atk ** Def * Matk ** Mdef * Agi **** Luc ** Zac ROLE: PHYSICAL/MAGICAL DAMAGER Atk **** Def * Matk **** Mdef * Agi * Luc * So what do you guys and gals think? I hope this topic wont eat dust particles xD hehehehehe~
  12. This is normal for any game which has animated battler (especially sideview) to have various animation and also mutliple hit that goes above 4. It adds graphics pleasing and satisfaction upon the player. However ... I usually stumbled upon how do I balance the multiple hit especially if it does many hits. For example, you have a normal attack does 100% damage. You have a skill A that does 3 times hit and 70% in each hit. So, the overall damage (if all hits the enemy) would be 210% damage compared with normal attack. But how about skill that does many hit? Also ... How do you gonna balance overdrive skill? Something that it worth to use but also don't break the game balance because you find the character is overpowered. How is the damage scale compared with actor normal attack? and how do you gonna put restriction upon the skill?
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