Classic Stat Names vs New Stat Names: Yay or Nay?

Discussion in 'Game Mechanics Design' started by Uzuki, Nov 17, 2017.

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Classic Stat Names vs New Stat Names: Yay or Nay?

Poll closed Nov 24, 2017.
  1. Different Ways Calls For Different Names

    92.3%
  2. Change Is Strange, Keep The Names

    7.7%
  1. Uzuki

    Uzuki Kawaii on the streets, Senpai in the sheets Veteran

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    So I'm working on the database and it kinda struck me how clashing the stat names are with my project. Seeing as the game is a post apocalyptic modern setting and although magic exists in this world, is weird to see plain ol' Magic Defense and Attack whenever I open the stat screen. I want to change the names and abbreviations, but there's a reason why 95% of RPGs use them: you know Attack is your physical strength, Agility is how fast your character is, and always reliable HP(Health/Hit Points). You see the names, they mostly stick to the same functions as other games thus there is little to no time required to learn how the system works, which means players can quickly get into the system of the game and won't have to keep peeking at an manual to figure out what the hey-hey is going on. With a name change, the stats will still mostly preform their same functions, but will fit better with the narrative and certain flavour texts, but players may have to recalibrate themselves on how stats work and this can be a turn off for certain folks.

    What's a guy to do? Are people more comfortable with something easily understood and recognizable or would they not mind something a little different from the norm?
     
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2017
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  2. Llareian

    Llareian Jack of All Trades, Master of None Veteran

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    My personal feelings:

    If you're leaving the calculations the same, a small change to only the terms that don't fit your setting is probably best.

    If you change the calculations, though (for example, through Yanfly's plugins), I think you need to change the names.

    It actually really bothers me (from a game design perspective) that people who play a lot of RPG Maker games tend to EXPECT the stats to behave in the same way in every game.
     
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  3. Uzuki

    Uzuki Kawaii on the streets, Senpai in the sheets Veteran

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    Right?! It's like, I understand keeping it simple just because there's no reason to reinvent the wheel for fun's sake, but games that have done something different with stats stick out more and are usually more interesting to explore and mess around with.
     
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  4. Tai_MT

    Tai_MT Veteran Veteran

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    I just change the names to fit the setting. Makes more sense that way. A player can infer "Strength" is the same as "Attack" easily.

    But, if you'd like a quick rundown of my own stat changes, just to show it can be done, quite easily, and players won't really be mussed about the change, the list is below. Bolded words are things I changed, and they are below the originals so that you know what it was originally.

    HP=Hit Points
    HP=Health Points
    MP=Magic Points
    PP=Potential Points
    TP=Tech Points
    RP=Rage Points
    ATK=Attack
    DEF=Defense
    MAG=Magic
    MDF=Magic Defense
    AGI=Agility
    SPD=Speed
    LUK=Luck
    RFX=Reflex

    However, if we're being pretty honest here... It doesn't really matter what you call your stats, unless they're filling the same basic functions as what you changed them from. Instead of "Magic", you could change it to "Detection" and use it entirely differently. The only real exceptions to that rule are Agility and Luck, which have hard-coded functions in the engines. Namely, Agility determines turn order and Luck determines chances of a state being inflicted.
     
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  5. Philosophus Vagus

    Philosophus Vagus The drunken bird dog of rpg maker Veteran

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    I say change them to suite your needs. In mine luck doesn't make sense as luck because its function is to lower the cool down when you switch weapons in battle so it's adaptability. Likewise magic doesn't exist in it (at least not as a playable construct) and it's closest similar appellation are firearms and explosives so magic defense doesn't make any sense and has been simply changed to armor.

    I mean some things it makes sense not to change, hit points are pretty much always going to be hit points, but personally I don't feel that keeping mechanics familiar should ever Trump a developers creative vision, you just end up with a pile of uninspired cookie-cutter that way so adapt everything as needed. Just be sure to explain the differences and keep them easily referenced and most players should be fine.
     
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  6. mauvebutterfly

    mauvebutterfly Veteran Veteran

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    You might be able to remove some stats too. If magic doesn't fit your setting, why even have a magic stat in the first place?

    Alternatively, consider a game where the fighter has only physical abilities, a high attack/strength, and a low magic/intelligence. The mage has only magical abilities, a high magic/intelligence, and a low attack/strength. In this case, if neither character ever even uses their weak stat for anything, they could easily just be combined into a single offence stat called whatever you want. You can do the same thing with defence, and can use physical/magical as elements and give different characters different elemental weaknesses if you want there to be a distinction.

    The fewer stats you have, the less your players can get confused, and the more license you have to rename things without alienating your players.
     
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  7. Wavelength

    Wavelength Pre-Merge Boot Veteran

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    Go ahead and change the names; it can go a long way toward selling your setting.

    However, above all, make sure that the names are clear and unambiguous about what they do. "Strength" (for ATK), "Technique" (MAG), "Dexterity" (AGI) and either "Faith" or "Resilience" for MDF would probably work (although the difference between DEF and MDF is always going to be hard to ascertain in a low-magic setting; "Resilience" could almost as easily be DEF and "Faith" sounds like it could be unrelated to battle prowess). "Aura", "Wisdom", "Body", "Perception", or "Tech Knowledge" are examples of terms that would probably not work, either because they are too ambiguous or don't match a certain stat well enough.

    Also, let the player know what each of the stats do (this is always a good idea - even a traditionally named stat like Agility or Luck might be confusing to a new player). It doesn't need to be with heavy-handed messages or tutorials. You could, for example, have a Status screen which shows the character's Resilience stat in big font, and below it - in small font - a cool-looking label that reads "Reduces damage taken from Elemental Skills".

    Respectfully - what calculations? :kaojoy:

    RPG Maker's engines hard-code the Agility stat into a couple of things (turn order and escapes), and they hard-code the Luck stat into a single calculation whose impact is too small to matter. But all of the other stats (aside from obvious stuff like Max HP) are not present in any systematic calculations; they're simply there for you to use however you like, usually in attack/skill formulas.

    Designers should probably put some more thought into what they're doing with their formulas (and consider other uses for stats besides formulas, like in-game events that check stats, or stats as skill requirements). Interesting and unique (and well-thought-out) applications of stats will go a long way toward making the game feel like its own creature, rather than a clone of other RPG Maker games!
     
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  8. bgillisp

    bgillisp Global Moderators Global Mod

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    I'm going to say no here, with a cavat. If you wish to change the names, make sure it is something that is EASY to remember what it does, and that it is obvious to your audience. I remember trying to play Record of Agarest War 2 with all of the different names of things you can earn (TP, PP, EP, etc) that in the end I felt like I was eating a bowl of alphabet soup, not playing a game.

    And remember, players are not going to play your game straight through. There's this thing called real life that will interfere. So it needs to be names that the player can infer the meaning from and how it works if they decide to play the game after having to work 2 days straight and couldn't play the game for a while.
     
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  9. kovak

    kovak Bloodmancer Veteran

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    In the end it's up to the theme and the game's background.
    • Why would you need Attack and Defense if your game's background does not involve the use of physical effort in order to deal damage like in Harry Potter.
    • What if there's no magic in your setting but all magic-like stuff is based on heritage?
    • What if your game is a modern take on military stuff without magic at all?
    You have to also consider to change how those atributes Works, you may use 4 of them to also help you to calculate HP and MP vallues, make another be responsible for critical, dodge and counter wile Agillity is used for both turn order, calculate physical damage done and damage reduction.

    I'd recommend you to check Fallout and Lionheart for more ideas. They use almost the same systems for atributes but how they do and some of its names are quite different.
     
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  10. TheoAllen

    TheoAllen Self-proclaimed jack of all trades Veteran

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    Most of points already said above
    If player keep peeking at the manual, you got a bad design. Even with stat name change, they should already self-explanatory by their name itself.
     
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  11. Llareian

    Llareian Jack of All Trades, Master of None Veteran

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    "Hard-coded" (i.e., changeable with plugins) things like Luck, Agility, Hit Rate, and Evasion Rate are the most obvious. But even though you can argue that everyone's games can use Attack, Defense, Magic Attack, and Magic Defense in different ways, what I mean here is any HUGE deviation from "the norm" of "a base number plus some multiplier of attack minus some multiplier of defense". For example, defense in one of my projects works more similarly to Physical Damage Resistance, with a percent reduction in damage based on how close to the maximum possible defense value you are. A percent-scaled stat is pretty different from the normal linear-scaling stat, and players who know RM games would be thrown by it if the names were the same.

    Absolutely agree with you that telling the player what it does is crucial. I had a couple of people who don't know RM at all playtest my IGMC project, and they had no idea what it all meant, even though they've played plenty of other RPGs.

    I also totally agree with using stats in unique ways -- that's why it bothers me that some players just expect to have the same game mechanics every time!
     
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  12. Uzuki

    Uzuki Kawaii on the streets, Senpai in the sheets Veteran

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    Thanks for the replies and opinions everyone! Don't worry I plan on making everything as easy as possible for the player to understand. I'm a huge fan of QoL and ease of access stuff so I want to make sure that most people who pick up and play will be able to understand with in game hints and explanations.
     
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  13. kirbwarrior

    kirbwarrior Veteran Veteran

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    You've already addressed my big concern with stat names. The big thing to remember is there is nothing in a name. Strength can mean damage, carrying capacity, stat check to break down doors, etc. Even with default names, it should be obvious what a stat does. Tons of games use common money types because they know the audience will understand the term "gold" far faster than "Archimediens". I honestly wished the default engines would have a descriptions for stats in the status screen (even something small like "Physical Damage" and "Turn Order" would be enough).
     
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  14. OM3GA-Z3RO

    OM3GA-Z3RO Wounded Seraphim Veteran

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    In one of my pet projects I have changed some of the stats to fit the universe it plays in, since there is no magic in the game a few things needed to be replaced

    HP = Health
    MP= Ammo
    TP = Stamina
    Strength = Strength
    Magic = Firepower
    Defense = Endurance
    M Defense = Willpower
    Agility = Speed
    Luck = Mentality

    I made luck for mentality because I made it so that stat can resist insanity and hysteria. There are so many changes you can make with stats.
     
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  15. Failivrin

    Failivrin Final Frontiersman Veteran

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    Orson Scott Card says the difference between classic fantasy and modern scifi is often no more than gold and gems versus nuts and bolts. I don't think it's a big deal to modernize the stat names, although personally I would just pick a few. Terms like Speed and Luck mean the same thing in any setting, but Magic is unique to fantasy. Have you thought about using a "psychic" stat instead of magic? Could be ESP, PSY, or something like that.
     
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  16. Uzuki

    Uzuki Kawaii on the streets, Senpai in the sheets Veteran

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    This setting has magic, but I won't keep magic attack as magic attack. Seeing as the magic in this world is based off technology, I'm thinking about using something like RAM or Processing to replace it.
     
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  17. OnslaughtSupply

    OnslaughtSupply Ssshhh... Veteran

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    I am doing something similar in my cyber-punkish stealth game.
    HP - Health
    MP - Stamina
    ATK - Strength
    DEF - Protection
    MAT - Firearm Proficiency
    MDEF - Intelligence
    AGI - Speed
    LUK - Reflex

    Where the damage formula for unarmed and melee weapons is ATK vs DEF. For firearms its MAT vs DEF, because you can be weak but still be a good shot. AGI determines battle order. Other stats are up against conditional branches and the availability to learn new skills. Say to pick a lock, there's a stat check on Reflex or to access a computer, there's an Intelligence check. There's no leveling up but the player can earn JP, renamed skill points, to raise any stat they want or purchase new abilities and skills. Besides an attempt to be intuitive, it also forces the player to keep what the stats are and what they do by giving them complete control over how it is distributed.
     
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2017
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  18. Aoi Ninami

    Aoi Ninami Veteran Veteran

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    Nonsense. Other than HP, it is impossible for a stat to be self-explanatory just by name. Sure, "Strength" clearly refers to physical ability, but what does it affect in-game? There are tons of RPGs with a Strength stat that affects different things, so you can't be certain unless the game provides some sort of explanatory text. Strength most commonly affects the damage output of physical attacks -- but is it all physical attacks, or do some weapons use Dexterity or Magic? Even if it is all, does Strength affect something else as well? And the same uncertainty applies to every stat.
     
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  19. TheoAllen

    TheoAllen Self-proclaimed jack of all trades Veteran

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    I should have put an emphasis to keep peeking at the manual part. Sure, u might to look at the manual, especially for the first time since different game use stat for different purpose. But when you name it "Strength", it sure refers to power / physical ability, it gives you an idea at least by the name itself, but what it actually does? right, it reflects the bare hand attack (for example). Later in game, you will remember while playing the game, by seeing an equipment gives u Strength +1 you will remember "Oh, this one enhance my bare hand attack" without keep peeking at the manual "what does this stat do again?"
     
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  20. Wavelength

    Wavelength Pre-Merge Boot Veteran

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    While no stat can ever be completely self-explanatory (I remember reading about "hit points" in GamePro before I'd ever played an RPG and I couldn't conceptualize what they actually were), I think @TheoAllen does have a point here.

    After all, just a few posts above you'll see terms like "Processing" being suggested, by good designers, to replace Magic Attack, and "Intelligence" being used to replace Magic Defense (used against "Firearm Proficiency"!).

    In the former example, I hate the use of jargon terms like RAM and Processing that have nothing to do with combat. Yes, they are nicely thematic, but they will eternally leave the player confused about what they actually do. "Processing" could mean magic attack, magic defense, agility (probably makes the most sense here), luck, physical attack, turn order, spell charging, item capacity, or something entirely outside of combat. When I equip a "Silicon Transistor" and see my "Processing" go up by 15, what am I to think? I'll know that I'm better-off in some way, but I'll have no idea what it's actually doing for me, or how I should refine my battle strategy to suit 15 more Processing.

    In the latter example, there are two smaller problems: the general use of "Intelligence" in other games to refer to magic attack can mentally mislead the player (even if they know otherwise in your game, it may not be at the front of their mind), and the non-sequitur pairing of Firearm Proficiency vs. Intelligence in a damage formula. It doesn't add up - Intelligence helping you take less damage from a gunshot is reaaalllllly stretching it. Interestingly, I think a little swapperoo could help here - "Reflex" (or even straight-up "Luck") seems like the best way to mitigate taking damage from gunfire, while "Intelligence" seems like a really good noncombat stat in a zero-magic game, used for things like picking locks or hacking computers.
     
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