Damage Variance

Discussion in 'Game Mechanics Design' started by staf00, Dec 12, 2018.

  1. staf00

    staf00 Veteran Veteran

    Messages:
    48
    Likes Received:
    5
    First Language:
    English
    Just curious as to what everyone's thoughts are regarding Damage Variance. How much variability do you prefer to have for your damage formulas? (15%? 20%? etc...) Do you usually stick with the same amount for all/most of your spells/skills or perhaps have it vary depending on the spell/skill?
     
    #1
  2. Wavelength

    Wavelength Pre-Merge Boot Moderator

    Messages:
    4,076
    Likes Received:
    3,407
    Location:
    Florida, USA
    First Language:
    English
    Primarily Uses:
    RMVXA
    I go with a straight 10% variance for a vast majority of the skills in my games. 20% feels too high for me, since it creates a relative swing of 50% (i.e. 100 * 1.2 is 150% of 100 * 0.8).

    I make a few exceptions for certain skills, mostly where the player specifically opts into using a high-variance skill, or an enemy skill is designed to create divergent/unpredictable behavior (such as an enemy that gains random amounts of MP each turn, and uses a powerful attack when it reaches full MP). But in order to keep the player's expectations clear and consistent, I use the 10% amount for nearly all skills, rather than varying to numbers like 5 and 15.

    In a very competitive game (where you're expected to calculate damage thresholds a turn or two in advance), I'd consider 0%.

    I believe this was asked in poll form about a year ago, and the answers were lower than I expected, with most people shooting for 5-10%.
     
    #2
  3. bgillisp

    bgillisp Global Moderators Global Mod

    Messages:
    11,784
    Likes Received:
    11,822
    Location:
    USA
    First Language:
    English
    Primarily Uses:
    RMVXA
    I use 10% for default variance, though I have one skill set that all skills have no variance, and another where all skills have a really high variance. Also I added a spell called Bless which causes the target to do max damage every turn while in effect, and there is a similar skill called Curse (for casting on enemies) which causes the target to do minimum damage while in effect.

    So while I did keep the default at 10%, I did add skills to let you regulate it if you wish. Though the Bless and Curse skills I mentioned required coding to pull off as I had to rewrite how variance was calculated by the engine to do what I mentioned.
     
    #3
    M.I.A. likes this.
  4. staf00

    staf00 Veteran Veteran

    Messages:
    48
    Likes Received:
    5
    First Language:
    English
    Hmm, that Bless/Curse mechanic sounds pretty interesting. I had lowered my damage variance from the default 20% down to 15%, but it still felt a tad high for my liking. I'm surprised the community consensus is around 5-10%.
     
    #4
  5. TheoAllen

    TheoAllen Self-proclaimed jack of all trades Veteran

    Messages:
    4,212
    Likes Received:
    4,668
    Location:
    Riftverse
    First Language:
    Indonesian
    Primarily Uses:
    RMVXA
    I'm still using 20% variance. Mainly because I want my game to have "unexpected outcome". But not too punishing when you get unlucky to get the lowest possible variance. This also mainly because in my game, I use free turn battle where the order for each party member is based on your input. Having to set lower variance means everything will be predicted, that I might as well as design a tactical battle system.
     
    #5
  6. MushroomCake28

    MushroomCake28 KAMO Studio Veteran

    Messages:
    1,628
    Likes Received:
    2,935
    Location:
    Montreal, Canada
    First Language:
    English
    Primarily Uses:
    RMMV
    20% (meaning 90%-110%). That's a fair and widely popular range. That's what people expect for regular skills and regular attack command. However, nothing is stopping you to have some skills with a 100% range, or no range at all.
     
    #6
  7. M.I.A.

    M.I.A. Goofball Extraordinaire Veteran

    Messages:
    767
    Likes Received:
    556
    Location:
    Seattle
    First Language:
    English
    Well.. I typically use Small numbers.. in doing so, I keep Damage Outcome relatively predictable for the player. Most skills have a +/- Variance of just 1 or 2. If a spell says it deals 10 Damage, I don't want it doing less than 8, even if it's a boss with higher DEF.

    That being said, SOME skills have more variance built into them for effect and flavor.

    There are means via states and buffs, etc., that can add more variance to standard skills damage output.. so if Fire deals 8-12 (10 Base, Variance of 2) Damage, with the "Bolster" state in effect, it will deal 12-24 (18 Base, Variance of 6) Damage.

    It's less about Variance, I think, and more about Balancing your formulae and mechanics.
    Hope this helps. :)

    -MIA
     
    #7
    MMMm likes this.
  8. trouble time

    trouble time Bearer of the Word Veteran

    Messages:
    743
    Likes Received:
    529
    First Language:
    English
    Primarily Uses:
    N/A
    I actually went down to 5% I don't want variance to influence combat...but I also don't want people to see the same number every time (that's less exciting IMO) this is also because the characters have a huge amount of variance in how much damage they can do based on various conditions. I.E. the main character has more attack than the rest of the party put together, so her attack doing the low end of 10% would be a lot more impactful than normal, and the other characters can reach a similar level of damage when certain conditions are met (low health in one case, having the right self-buffs applied for another)
     
    #8
    Fernyfer775 likes this.
  9. staf00

    staf00 Veteran Veteran

    Messages:
    48
    Likes Received:
    5
    First Language:
    English
    I was under the impression that 20% variance meant 80% - 120%. I'm doing a tactical RPG, so I'm definitely leaning towards less variance / more predictability.
     
    #9
  10. Aoi Ninami

    Aoi Ninami Veteran Veteran

    Messages:
    400
    Likes Received:
    485
    First Language:
    English
    Primarily Uses:
    RMVXA
    Yes, if you keep 20 as the number input in the database, what you get is 80% to 120% of normal damage.

    I'm sticking with 20 for my project as I use low numbers, e.g. a level 1 player attacking the game's first enemy does 24 and the enemy does 8. With 10 variance, that would be 22-26 incoming and the outgoing damage wouldn't vary at all. I like to have a bit more unpredictability than that. However, healing magic has only 10 variance as too much variation there could be annoying for the player.
     
    #10
  11. D.L. Yomegami

    D.L. Yomegami Sanely Insane Veteran

    Messages:
    153
    Likes Received:
    195
    Location:
    Somewhere
    First Language:
    English
    Primarily Uses:
    RMMV
    I usually opt for 5% variance. It's small enough so that it's highly unlikely that the outcome of a fight will come down to a damage roll, but also keeps the player from seeing the same numbers all the time and so is slightly more interesting in that regard. Sometimes I might opt for larger or smaller variances for different skills (like giving an HP to 1 skill used by a boss a variance of 0 to ensure it's never a OHKO outright).

    However, I also believe that what the variance should be, if it's present at all, is dependent on the type of game, the damage formula, and the size of the numbers. Competitive games where the outcome should be decided largely on skill would probably want a variance of 0 regardless of everything else. As for other games, games with smaller damage numbers could possibly get away with higher variances (the default 20's going to be less noticeable when the amount of damage is in the single digits than if it was somewhere in the hundreds or thousands). Though if you're going the Paper Mario route and having a game with extremely low numbers you might want 0 variance on skills, just for the sake of avoiding 0 damage rolls on a regular basis.
     
    #11
    Fernyfer775 likes this.
  12. bgillisp

    bgillisp Global Moderators Global Mod

    Messages:
    11,784
    Likes Received:
    11,822
    Location:
    USA
    First Language:
    English
    Primarily Uses:
    RMVXA
    One thing I remember from last time is when it comes to healing spells, most prefer little to no variance in them, as you would not want to get a TPK (total Party Kill) just because the RNG didn't heal you enough.
     
    #12
  13. MushroomCake28

    MushroomCake28 KAMO Studio Veteran

    Messages:
    1,628
    Likes Received:
    2,935
    Location:
    Montreal, Canada
    First Language:
    English
    Primarily Uses:
    RMMV
    @staf00 Yeah 20% in the database means 80%-120%. I just prefer to reference to difference between the min and max value (thus 90%-110%). I've also created a completely new battle system which use variances that way lol (yes it annoyed me that much).
     
    #13
  14. Aesica

    Aesica undefined Veteran

    Messages:
    717
    Likes Received:
    671
    Location:
    SW5GMW 4xVHk
    First Language:
    English
    Primarily Uses:
    RMMV
    I've been using the default 20%, but makes for rather wild damage swings so I've been thinking of tightening it up to 10%. I do have some abilities that intentionally have a higher-than-average variance (for example, one is 70%) but I tend to temper that bit of RNG behind multiple hits so it evens itself out.
     
    #14
  15. Lnik3500

    Lnik3500 Master Troll Veteran

    Messages:
    299
    Likes Received:
    46
    Location:
    Somewhere you will less expect me to be.
    First Language:
    French
    Primarily Uses:
    RMMV
    I make it 0%
    I want the player to have full control over the damage that will be done. I pair it with the most simple formula: Attack - Defense
    This makes it so the player can actually calculate and form a strategy against the enemy. if there's a skill designed to do more damage, it simply states it like: "Does 150% of a basic attack"
     
    #15
    M.I.A. likes this.
  16. kirbwarrior

    kirbwarrior Veteran Veteran

    Messages:
    602
    Likes Received:
    301
    First Language:
    English
    Primarily Uses:
    N/A
    I would absolutely have no variance. If it weren't for variance damage, FFTA2 would probably be my favorite game (since it's almost entirely gameplay an upgrade to the original). Tactical games desperately care about the exact damage you are doing to the point that I see people bemoan their own crits because it lost them the fight.

    Small numbers (such as single digit Paper Mario) should not vary. +/-1 damage can be a huge deal and effectively be a meaningless turn.

    Outside of those two, I uses a fake 5% variance in Delve, where damage can vary by up to 10% more than normal calculations (It's slightly less than 5% variance, 1.05 is +10.5% on 0.95). I honestly don't care much for damage variance, but with large numbers (Final Fantasy) it's fine, but I'll generally rely on worst case scenario (I'll assume my attack do 80% and my enemies 120% with 20% variance), pokemon taught me that. However, I do love giving the player the option of high risk/reward. Chaos was the strongest base damage spell in one game but the variance was 70% to make it not worth it unless you wanted to gamble.
     
    #16

Share This Page