defensive stat buffs vs. damage resistance buffs

Discussion in 'Game Mechanics Design' started by jonthefox, Sep 5, 2018.

  1. jonthefox

    jonthefox Veteran Veteran

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    when designing defensive spells, there's two options. the skill could provide a buff to the defensive parameter (Def for physical, or Mdf for magical)....OR, you could simply make the state give something like 50% resistance to physical or magical damage.

    What should one consider when deciding which route to go?

    With damage resistance, there's not much counter-play from the enemy. This could be both a positive or a negative thing. If you do a stat buff, the enemy could have a skill that debuffs that stat - which would counteract your buff. But if you just use a damage resistance, it's going to be reliable.

    What do you prefer to use and why? What factors do you consider when choosing what type of defensive mechanic to use?
     
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  2. TheoAllen

    TheoAllen Self-proclaimed jack of all trades Veteran

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    I'd call damage resistance as "damage cut". It's a reliable source as you mentioned, and it can be used for mitigation. For example, you cast a wide phalanx that will cut overall damage by 75% for one turn. This reliable source of damage cut can be used when the enemy is using unavoidable charge attack that you have no choice but to suck it up.

    And for stat, that depends how you calculate the def stat. If it's additive, then more buff to defensive stat would also nullify the damage taken. As a player though, I prefer defensive buff as damage cut as I could predict or guess what will be the damage I will be taking. I often myself questioning defensive stat buff as "does it even work?", while actually it works, most of time I could not tell either the difference or the outcome. The defensive stat is there to determine the "base" damage. And such, defensive buff better be placed as "passive buffs", for example you have a field effect that increase defense for all allies by certain value / percent.
     
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  3. Aesica

    Aesica undefined Veteran

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    I'm personally going both routes, even though I'm using a multiplicative formula, so both in a sense are doing the same thing at first glance. Specifically:
    • I want the player to be more likely to realize these effects will stack with one another. Note that I'm using states instead of the in-house debuffs because I don't want say, Armor Break, to be usable twice back-to-back to double-debuff the target's defense.
    • I intend for some effects to actually do more damage with higher defense and/or magic defense, so the percent-based reduction (I refer to it as mitigation in tooltips) will be effective whereas defensive stat buffs would actually be problematic.
    As for counter-play from the enemy, there doesn't always need to be. Sure, some could dispel, but enemies could also be designed to be relatively fatal without the proper use of these buffs. The example of erecting a barrier to avoid the boss's unstoppable, telegraphed shoop da woop attack is definitely a good example of strategic use of a powerful effect.
     
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  4. SOC

    SOC "God is my Judge" Veteran

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    It really depends, but generally I prefer the damage reduction ones over the stat increasing ones. A common argument against things like Protect and Shell is that you end up having to design bosses with those in mind so you increase their damage anyway, but I think designing these spells to be used specifically on these harder, more difficult engagements still feels really good to the player. They are actively choosing not to use these buffs on enemies that aren't worth using them on, and you can also think about things like spell cost, duration and cooldowns to further enhance their gameplay elements. I just really think it feels good using Protect and Shell on bosses. It makes the fight feel more serious.

    On the topic though... how exactly do you make a damage % reduction state in RMMV? A super convoluted way I found for a Shell state that reduces % damage is to make it a state that has *70% Element Rate for every element in the game and making sure to separate "physical" from "non-elemental" so non-elemental spells like Flare get reduced but not base physical damage, then I had to go and make more element categories just so I could manually all my spells to use the magic version of these elements, so that physical elemental attacks weren't reduced by Shell but magic elemental attacks were... I feel like there's a very obvious easier way that I'm missing here haha.
     
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  5. empresskiova

    empresskiova Untitled Project1 Veteran

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    @SOC

    In vx ace, one of the feature options is physical and magical damage multipliers. If features are still a thing in MV, you could start there.

    I don’t know if that’s an offensive or defensive buff however lol.
     
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  6. Aesica

    Aesica undefined Veteran

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    This particular state reduces incoming physical damage by 25%, so the target only takes 75% of the damage they'd take normally.
    [​IMG]

    Right below it on the dropdown is an option for magical damage.
     
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  7. SOC

    SOC "God is my Judge" Veteran

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    Ooh, I thought that Sp-Parameter was for increasing your physical/magic damage dealt, not reducing incoming damage. I read the official help file and everything, the way it's worded makes it really sound like it's a damage dealt buff. Thanks!
     
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  8. Kes

    Kes Global Moderators Global Mod

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    @SOC @empresskiova and @Aesica Please note that Game Mechanics Design is for looking at aspects of gameplay at a more conceptual level. It is also meant to be engine neutral. "How do I...?" (implementation) questions should be asked and answered in the Support forum for the relevent engine.
    Thanks.
     
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  9. Wavelength

    Wavelength Pre-Merge Boot Moderator

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    Assuming good visual indicators, the Percentage Reduction is going to be clearer and more intuitive about what value you are getting out of the buff than a simple short-term change to stats will be.

    Yet, where I use Utility Scaling (and I think Utility Scaling is a great feature in most combat-oriented RPGs where your characters can grow in power over time), I go for direct changes to stats. Here, the direct effect of the skill can be clearer with a stat change than with a percentage reduction (e.g. if you cast Barrier with 60 INT, your ally's DEF will increase by half of that, or +30 DEF), and it's a lot easier to come up with formulas that feel balanced throughout the entire game when I'm adding to a stat rather than trying to reduce damage by a percentage (as the percentages get near 100%, it starts to get silly).

    One other consideration to make is how the different methods will affect fragile characters versus already-pretty-tough characters. This feels awful to try to delve into in a high-level discussion, because it relies on so many other factors, including the damage formula you're using. For example, if you use an additive damage formula such as a.atk * 4 - b.def * 2, then decreasing damage by a percentage will be better for your fragiles (reducing a larger absolute amount of damage), whereas increasing the Def stat by a fixed amount (or especially doubling it) will benefit your toughies more (gets them much closer to zero damage taken than the fragiles, meaning that the number of hits they can take before falling increases more). But if you're using a multiplicative damage formula such as a.atk * 100 / b.def, then it's nearly the other way around - percentage damage reduction will be fairly even in benefit, maybe slightly better for your fragiles, whereas fixed amounts will benefit your fragiles much more since the significance of the increase in the denominator is highest when the original denominator was low (but doubling the Def stat should again be fairly equal in benefit between both types). Yikes! Complicated!

    Long story short - I generally recommend changes to stats where Utility Scaling is used, and percentage reduction otherwise, but it's worth considering all kinds of other factors such as your damage formulas, the amount of damage variance in skills, and even the larger view of your combat system as a stiff tactical challenge vs. an obstacle the player should be able to overcome.
     
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  10. jonthefox

    jonthefox Veteran Veteran

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    That's a good point re: difference in affecting fragiles vs. toughies, when doing direct stat buffs. This is also why it drives me mad that the default editor in Ace and MV only give the options for percentage-based buffs to states instead of flat amounts. A 200% defense increase might be overpowered for a tank but be hardly beneficial for someone with a low base value of that stat. Makes it very hard to balance buffs that are meant to affect all character types.
     
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  11. SOC

    SOC "God is my Judge" Veteran

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    Isn't this where things like Armor Scaling/Piercing come into play? So that even if you get massively high DEF with stat based DEF buffs, you can still keep it in check with those kinds of plugins.
     
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  12. Ninja_Monkey

    Ninja_Monkey Villager Member

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    I have a status called 'Invisible' which basically makes it so you can't be hit by attacks that aren't general-area attacks. There's also a status called 'Thermal Vision', which allows you to hit enemies even when they're invisible. There's another status called 'Thermal Camouflage' which basically acts like invisibility to people with thermal vision. If someone has Thermal Camouflage but not Invisibility, the enemy must have no Thermal Vision in order to hit them, and will fail if they have it. Enemies can generally turn their Thermal Vision on and off at will, so that keeps things balanced.
     
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  13. Tai_MT

    Tai_MT Veteran Veteran

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    Honestly, I use both buffs. But, that's for gameplay reasons:

    1. Just getting 50% extra defense does not defend you from every attack (not even every physical attack). It only defends you from attacks that use your Defense as the defensive stat.
    2. "Physical Defense +50%" works on any skill that is labeled a "Physical hit", regardless of what stat it uses to calculate your defensive value. As such, it can be far more useful in covering a lot more skills defensively.

    Here's an example:

    I have a Fire Punch that deals Fire Damage, uses MP, and is a Magical Attack. But, it hits against your Defense stat. 50% extra defense reduces this damage. Now, if I have a Fire Slash that deals Fire Damage, uses MP, is a Physical Attack, and hits against your Magic Defense, then that 50% extra buff to Defense is worthless. Meanwhile, if I have a buff that reduces Physical Damage, then it doesn't matter what defense stat it hits against, because as long as it's Physical, incoming damage is reduced by 50% for Fire Slash.

    A buff on a stat only covers that stat and any skills that check damage against that stuff.
    A buff on Physical/Magic defense covers any and every skill labeled either "Physical Hit" or "Magical Hit".

    It's an argument of "specialized" versus "general".
     
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