Big number vs small number

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by TheoAllen, Mar 13, 2018.

  1. TheoAllen

    TheoAllen Self-proclaimed jack of all trades Veteran

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    A random topic come up on my status update yesterday, which makes me want to create this thread.
    You know some games use a reaallly big number for displaying damage deal that even goes million or beyond.
    Screenshot_173.png

    Some are enough with one or two digits.
    Thought on this? best implemented on? pros and cons? reason of why (or why not) you should implement big/small numbers?
     
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  2. Shaz

    Shaz Veteran Veteran

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    I prefer small numbers. When they get that big, you don't notice changes, and it's hard to tell what they mean or how much of an improvement you've made.
     
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  3. ChampX

    ChampX Veteran Veteran

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    I second small numbers. They are easier to balance and easier to see change. Big numbers are only good at "wowing" the player in the I did a huge ton of damage department, though I think that wears off after some time. Humans also just plain suck at dealing with large numbers. 50 out of 100 is much easier to track and notice than 50,000 out of 100,000.
     
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  4. Llareian

    Llareian Jack of All Trades, Master of None Veteran

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    I prefer small numbers mostly because large numbers just aren't that significant. When you're dealing five-figures of damage, do the last three digits really mean anything? Certainly the last two don't. Since cluttering up the display with unnecessary info makes it tougher for the player to know what's going on (especially when displayed for only a moment), I prefer to just chop those last two or three digits off and make it easier to read.
     
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  5. Dreadshadow

    Dreadshadow Lv 38 Tech Magician Moderator

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    Well, look, using big numbers is a way to impress the player and create hype and make her/him feel omnipotent.
    "Wow! I just dealt 1.000.000 damage to that monster, with one hit and killed it!" sounds more epic than:
    "Wow! I just dealt 10 damage to that monster, with one hit and killed it!"

    This works fine in my opinion if the game is small. Because on a big game, you must make a player evolve through time and gameplay. Thus the player starts low and grows. And here comes the problem on my point of view.
    1. Progress is undermined, when all numbers are huge. But you can see the progress from 1 damage to 9001! At first you deal 1 damage. Then, just before facing Vegita(I am sorry I couldn't resist) your power is over 9000! Very easy to see the difference and distinct display of power. Now if we had 1.000.000 damage on start and now we do a 9.000.000.000 yes it is even bigger, but the damage was huge and impressive from start. It doesn't send the message of growth and progress so nicely.
    2. Dealing damage like 1.000.000 must justify why you are so awesome FROM START. Thus your hero will grow less than one that will start with 1 damage.
    3. Small numbers can be interpreted by the brain way more easily than huge numbers.
    Thus in my humble opinion, I believe that the length of the game will determine if we should use huge numbers or not.
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2018
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  6. msazako

    msazako "Lie of msazako" Veteran

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    Kinda had the same idea as @Dreadshadow before I got ninja'd haha.

    In all honesty, I tend to see smaller numbers as a simpler way of displaying damage and it should be used for simpler battle animations and smaller games. Bigger numbers tend to be better seen at more action-oriented combat/epic games since it somehow shows how "badass" and "powerful" you can be. But if I were to implement them story-wise, I'd say smaller numbers show that your characters are normal human beings who somehow have magic powers, etc... and don't scale to deities and such.

    Personally, I prefer both numbers since the power scaling in my universe (for protagonists, antagonists, and monsters) tend to reach or even exceed DBZ levels. You start out small (maybe 100's or so), and then as you go towards end game, you will notice how you've evolved as your numbers go higher and higher (eventually reaching 10~30k or so per hit depending on your gear and level). The damage cap for my game is actually 999,999 and there are some skills that deal that kind of damage just to show the player how ridiculously overpowered it is compared to your mortal and weak self. Ofc, you also have to make the battle animations seem like they're overpowered, not just put a simple slash and make it 99999999999 damage. It's plain cheap and boring in my opinion.

    To put it simply: Implementing both is okay, so long as it makes sense (in terms of Game Flow and canon story-wise). Smaller is for the weak and larger is for the strong.

    A good example of implementing small and huge numbers is Xenogears. As a human, your damage is capped at 9999 and you usually deal 2-3 digits per hit. However, if you're in a Gear, your damage is capped at 99999 and may deal around four-five digits per hit.

    And I will admit, It's not for everybody, but a lot of people enjoy seeing how absurdly powerful they can get, given the opportunity.
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2018
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  7. Philosophus Vagus

    Philosophus Vagus The drunken bird dog of rpg maker Veteran

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    If you deal 3 digits of damage in my game you've overkilled most targets since only a min/maxed tank is even going to have a chance at hitting 100 hp even at the end game.
    Never got the wow factor of big numbers, and small ones are much easier to manage from a balancing perspective anyway.

    Dead is dead right, millions of damage is somewhat the virtual equivalent of stabbing someone 60 times. Maybe it gives you a bit of excitement while you're caught up in the moment but it's so far beyond what is necessary that it is in fact insane once your blood cools and you actually assess what those huge numbers are supposed to represent.
     
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  8. XIIIthHarbinger

    XIIIthHarbinger Part Time Super Villain Veteran

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    Perhaps it's simply because of the games I tend to play, but I much prefer smaller numbers.

    When you elevate your characters to Dragon Ball Z, Naruto Shippuden, Superman versus Darkseid kind of level the game loses something.

    For example, in Final Fantasy VII I virtually never used Knights of the Round, because it simply made battles feel pointless. Or used any of the exploits to create essentially rapid fire fatman in Fallout. Visually the spectacle is entertaining once or twice, but it rather quickly loses any kind of significance.
     
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  9. richter_h

    richter_h Eh? Sweetroll? Veteran

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    Big numbers make the output more powerful. Big numbers make more impression. Big numbers... well, in my viewpoint, is just a byproduct of inflation to justify the level and difficulty of the game. Yes, the pattern is 'sustained increase of the number in a certain period.' You came with small, measly numbers to produce in the early game and as the time goes on you ended up capable to make gigabazillion of numbers in each hit. Makes you mindblown most of the time, right?

    And yeah, since the screenshot came from GBF where you start with measly three digits damage output and--with the right setup and right party--you'll ended up capable to hit up to 100 million damage output, this pattern is also applied and certainly proven to give the player a feel of shock-and-awe, rushing dopamine to your body as many digits of number pops out on the screen...

    Let's be honest here. Big numbers and small numbers are generally the same things; they measure the output and the outcome of each action in the game. The difference is, big numbers are far, far too bloated and might unnecessarily cluttering the screen--which is not good in terms of action games or any other games where the player must keep their focus on what they can see on the screen. Small numbers are efficient, to the point, without any exaggerating things but they come with their own problem as well: small numbers seem weak when it pops out on the screen.

    Forgot to mention that in some games, bosses are having a ridiculous amount of HP. Like, they have millions of HP. For me, this is a downright bad design to comprise how powerful the boss is.

    tl;dr If I were you, I would set up small numbers instead of big numbers because small numbers are more manageable and more predictable in terms of balancing and overall gameplay. What's the difference between dealing 1200 damage to the boss with 12000HP and dealing 1200000 damage to the boss with 120000000HP besides of the additional digit of the number, anyway?

    And I've read through the thread and people generally prefer small numbers for reason. See?
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2018
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  10. Kes

    Kes Global Moderators Global Mod

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    I much prefer small numbers. Typically in my games, actors start somewhere around 120 - 130 HP and by the end, unless they have spent hours grinding to get to ridiculously high levels, will probably have between 500 - 650 HP, depending on class, with only the tank going higher than that. I don't have stories with god-like characters in them. My damage numbers reflect that sort of level.

    Like others, as a dev I find smaller numbers easier to balance, and as a player I find them easier to process quickly in battle. I think they just make more 'sense' (if one can use that word in a fantasy RPG) than numbers in the thousands and millions.
     
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  11. Zebestian

    Zebestian Noisemaker Veteran

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    It's probably because I'm used to old-school JRPGs like Final Fantasy and Dragon Warrior but I prefer small numbers for the same reasons that other people have mentioned. Any sort of change to your characters like a level up, a new weapon etc. has an actual visible impact and it feels like it mattered what you did. With big numbers like that you don't get that. You don't really notice any change that goes past the first two digits. You just don't get the feeling of actually being more powerful than before; or at least I don't.
    A game that did damage numbers well I think was Final Fantasy X oddly enough. It started you out doing ~100 damage and every strength-up would show. And end game you got "break damage limit" which allowed you to go past the 9999 limit.
     
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  12. Milennin

    Milennin "With a bang and a boom!" Veteran

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    Small numbers are nice, but make them too small, and they can become difficult to balance if you want some variance in damage. For me, I'm okay with anything into the thousands, but when it becomes 5 digits or more, it gets a bit too much.
     
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  13. LaFlibuste

    LaFlibuste Veteran Veteran

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    I understand it's all relative and compared to the example you (op) provided games like FF and DW seem indeed small but it's really funny how our perceptions go as for me these games are examples of big numbers.

    For instance these are big numbers to me. To me, small numbers are 1-2 digits (anyone here played Overfall for example?) but never even getting close to 3 digits.

    Well if you interpret small numbers the same way I do, I very much disagree with this (although almost everyone seemed to agree). Balancing single digits stats is very hard because you don't have a lot of leeway and room for nuance. There's not much wiggle space between 8 and 9 and it can make a tremendous difference in a very small number game, whereas there is much more room between 800 and 900 and while that gap might still be significant, 1 or 2 points difference likely won't be.

    But I do like very small number better. Sure, big numbers might convey more epicness but there is just a clean aesthetic to very small numbers that I really like. Also as others have said they are very easy to wrap your head around as a player. I tend to apply the "less is more" philosophy in this instance.
     
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  14. Kes

    Kes Global Moderators Global Mod

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    @LaFlibuste I see what you mean - though I would tend to call those miniscule numbers, rather than small numbers! I think the contrast being drawn by the OP and others is that between 3 digits and 5 (or even higher) as comparatively few games use single digits.
     
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  15. sleepy_sealion

    sleepy_sealion Need to work harder! Veteran

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    I feel big numbers are just a way to show "decimal" damage. There was this mmo runescape that I used to play that started with small numbers - but later on went to bigger numbers and I've always felt they did that so that they'd have the option of having a wider range of damage since things under 1 seemed to be rounded down.

    That said, I do find a charm to Paper Mario never really going higher than maybe 12 (under normal circumstances) and I had wanted to aim for that when I was starting out - but I ended up going to more final fantasy numbers so I could have a wider range of numbers.
     
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  16. Frogboy

    Frogboy I'm not weak to fire Veteran

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    Like most, I prefer and use small numbers. One of the most annoying things about the RPG Maker editor is that it's geared towards larger (although at least not huge) numbers. Those attribute graphs are all but useless when 50-100 are god-like stats.
     
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  17. Tai_MT

    Tai_MT Veteran Veteran

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    Personally, I don't think most players notice the damage numbers very much. For a player to notice 1,000,000 damage done, it means that damage needs to be "out of the ordinary".

    Here's what players tend to notice: "How many hits does it take to kill this monster?". Quite often, they're playing to optimize, so that it takes one hit to kill any monster. As such, the numbers don't matter unless you're getting farther away from one-shotting monsters.

    Let's say my average hit does 8 damage and a monster has 10 HP. Two hits to kill that monster, right? Neither number seems impressive. It just means I need two shots or a critical hit to win the fight.

    Okay, let's go to big numbers. Let's say my average hit does 876,543 damage and the monster has 1,000,000 HP. Neither of these numbers seems impressive either, and it still takes two hits to kill the monster. Moreover... What does any digit beyond the first two add to the game? In a game where your damage numbers are going to be incredibly high... What is the difference between hitting 876,543 damage and hitting 878,732 damage? Is there one? Will that measly 2000 extra damage REALLY help you out?

    That's the thing. The larger your numbers are, the more "worthless" numbers you have. See, really only the first two digits matter in any number in an RPG. Think about that a second. If you have a game where you have hundreds of HP, how relevant is the "ones place" to you? Do you care if you have 567 HP instead of 561 HP? Is there REALLY a difference? Maybe that difference only comes up when you've got less than a hundred HP... but it reinforces the point that only the first two digits are actually relevant in an RPGs.

    Personally, I prefer "tiny numbers" because of this. That, and they're incredibly easy to balance. If you have 10 HP, every single hit you take is absolutely relevant. It's important. Every single hit point is thus very important. But, if you have 1000 HP, is every HP you lose important? Or maybe is it only the hits that are 100 HP and beyond that are important? Does it matter if you take 50 damage when you've got 1000 HP? Or 32 damage? Or, does it matter when you take 100 damage? 146 damage?

    So, really, the only time "large numbers" matter at all... is if they're INCREDIBLY out of the ordinary. Say, you normally hit for 20 HP of damage... and then you do an attack and suddenly you've hit for 158 damage. You're like, "Whoa! Holy crap!". Works the same way when you scale up. If you're using to doing 20,000 damage a hit and it suddenly spikes to 158,000 damage, you are going to be wildly impressed.
     
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  18. Wavelength

    Wavelength The Indictables Veteran

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    I tend to like medium numbers - early-game damage amounts in the low 3-digit range (and character HP in the high 3-digit to low 4-digit range), and late-game damage in the medium 4-digit to low 5-digit range (with character HP in the low to high 5-digit range).

    Very low numbers tend to make it hard to add appreciable variance to skills without making their damage output too random. 10% variance at damage numbers like 20 will often leave you dealing exactly 20 damage (since variance clusters around its average rather than being an even spread), and even 21 will feel the same as 20 (whereas 465 feels more appreciably different than 392). Very high numbers can be hard to comprehend or appreciate, too - it depends on the particular player, but usually beyond 5 digits I tend to lose track of a good "baseline" damage that I should be doing, or have trouble calculating percentages of HP on the fly.

    However, if the game is designed around levels being the main source of power (rather than direct player skill), I think it's fine to let the numbers scale to vertigo-inducing levels in the postgame. That can be a lot of fun, and really satisfying. Who would complain about being able to come back to the second dungeon of your game with your Infinity +1 Gear and whack a Slime for 2528703 damage? Not me, that's for sure! :D
     
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  19. Fernyfer775

    Fernyfer775 Veteran Veteran

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    I'm with Wavelength here. Small numbers feel sorta boring to me, but numbers in the hundred-thousands and millions are just ridiculous looking.
    I feel like 4, MAYBE 5 digit numbers at most is a good middle-ground. If you start off dealing ~100-150 damage at the beginning of the game, but by the end of it you're doing upwards of 1,500-2,000, then I feel like you can visually SEE the progress you're making in strength.

    You lose a little "something" when you see big numbers all the time (like many of the previous posters stated), but to me, going from 1-5 damage to 15-20 damage feels pretty flat.
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2018
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