Elemental magic Balancing. How would you do it?

Bernkastelwitch

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I am curious how ones would try to balance Elemental magic here. Had this thought looking at the elements in my game. It has twelve main elements and while most party members have a singular elemental typing, some of them have dual typing which increases strengths and weaknesses. And there's equipment that can temporarily add or even swap elements off a character as long as they are equipped. The elements in my game are as followed:


Fire
Water
Ice
Earth
Electric
Wind
Poison
Metal
Light
Dark
Time
Cosmic

Some elements follow a mutually exclusive strength/weakness line here. Light and Dark are exclusively strong and weak to each other and Time and Cosmic are the same but with each other. While the others follow a more Pokemon style style where some have multiple strengths and weaknesses(Fire is weak against Water but is strong against Earth and Metal for one). Though I am also trying to think what Dark, Light, Time, and Cosmic would be stronger and weaker against each other if I want to go for a more branching elemental formula system.

In your opinion, how would you go about such a thing and/or any combinations for strengths or weaknesses you see could work? Or any other way to make them different beyond just a rock-paper-scissors combat mechanic? Right now I only have Poison elemental characters have an immunity to Poison and Electric party members can do extra damage to Robotic enemies or Fire characters able to get less damage walking on lava tiles and can do extra damage to plant based enemies. Light elemental characters can do extra damage to Undead and have more effective healing. Those are just some ideas and are rough, though.

But how would you personally go about it here? And how do you do Elements in your game for balancing and mechanics? I'd love to know.
 

oooNUKEooo

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well, i would go like "no such a thing"...

i think its relative, like water puts out fire, but only if in more quantity, and huge amounts of fire evaporates water (real life-wise). so, i would see no such weakness/strength relation. in my games, a fire creature would not be weak against ice or water unless specified, unless it has the ice/water weakness. it could also be weak to light and/dark.

it could be random or with some lore/unique logic behind it.

other approaches ive seen with few elements are such as dark souls series: fire means profane, lightning and light means holy, soul mean magic and if you add a black version to fire and soul you have unholy. you also can be weak or strong on more than one element and they dont antagonize each other.
 

RCXGaming

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i think its relative, like water puts out fire, but only if in more quantity, and huge amounts of fire evaporates water (real life-wise). so, i would see no such weakness/strength relation.

Interesting viewpoint, and one I share.

The way I handle element weakness is that everything is simultaneously weak and strong against their opposite. Aka. Light and Dark beat each other, Flame and Frost beat each other.

The consistent thread for resistances is that users have an innate resistance to their own element. aka. you can't use Fire on the Lava Monster for obvious reasons.

I like to sprinkle in a few linking threads in there like fire burning grass, or water being shocked by electricity... but usually it's very straightforward.
 

Frostorm

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I am also in the midst of retuning my Elemental rules. I have 8 elements in terms of Elemental Rates, but 3 of those are physical (Blunt/Slash/Pierce). I have a hard time justifying a Pokémon approach to elements/typing. Cuz if you think about it elements like Earth, Wind, or Metal would do physical damage in real life. But it's fine, cuz video games.

As far as balancing goes, do individual units in your game have various Elemental Rates? Or do all units of a certain element follow a certain Element Rate template depending on that unit's element?

P.S. Have you considered renaming Cosmic->Space? That way, you could have a dual-type unit with Space/Time typing, lol.
 

Bernkastelwitch

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I am also in the midst of retuning my Elemental rules. I have 8 elements in terms of Elemental Rates, but 3 of those are physical (Blunt/Slash/Pierce). I have a hard time justifying a Pokémon approach to elements/typing. Cuz if you think about it elements like Earth, Wind, or Metal would do physical damage in real life. But it's fine, cuz video games.

As far as balancing goes, do individual units in your game have various Elemental Rates? Or do all units of a certain element follow a certain Element Rate template depending on that unit's element?

P.S. Have you considered renaming Cosmic->Space? That way, you could have a dual-type unit with Space/Time typing, lol.

1. Admittedly Cosmic is the Space element. I just find calling it Cosmic rolls off the tongue a bit better but it's pretty much the same thing. It's a personal thing.

2. Elemental Rates as a whole depends on their elements, race, and other factors. Usually they follow a certain pattern(I.E: Fire characters and enemies have a 1.5 advantage over Earth and Metal but are also weaker to Water). Best way to go about it is it's a bit of a large table of how these twelve elements Rates affect each other.
 

Tai_MT

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I'm not sure this helps, but I have "Tiers" of weaknesses. Essentially, I have some elements as "more important" than other elements. Things I want the players to focus more on than others. Especially since multiple "elements" can be on the same item/skill.

What this means is that it doesn't follow the "simple" rule of Rock, Paper, Scissors. The more "broad" a Tier is, the less "bonus" damage you get from exploiting it. It's around 125% extra damage for the "most broad" tier. "Resistance" to that Tier grants a reduction of damage by half.

Each Tier has different numbers based upon "how important" it is for the player to be exploiting it.

You could do something similar with your own elements to make them "interplay" differently. It's what I did to make my "elemental typings" different.

An example of this in action from my own game:

Flaming Silver Sword
Strength Damage (from choosing "Attack") - 125% Super Effective Damage, 50% Not Very Effective Damage.
Slashing damage - 175% Super Effective Damage, 85% Not Very Effective Damage.
Fire damage - 200% Super Effective Damage, 0% Not Very Effective Damage.
Silver Damage - 300% Super Effective Damage, 75% Not Very Effective Damage.

Keep in mind, this is an "extreme" example. But, it illustrates what I'm talking about "tiers" of your elements and how their damage bonuses can be played around with some.

You could also introduce "Archetypes" of enemies. I've done this so that I don't have a Pokemon Chart, essentially. Each "type" of enemy has weaknesses and strengths. So, instead of "this enemy is Fire Typed", it goes, "This enemy is an Insect" and then it has it's own list of strengths and weaknesses that draw from each "Tier" of damage.

So, as the example, what's the most effective method to deal with Insects?

Fire or Lightning based Blunt Weaponry while using a "Rogue" skill. That would give you a whopping 125% + 175% + 200% damage. Basically, an instant kill, right?

The worst method to deal with Insects?

Using anything Earth or Wind against them as it instantly results in 0 damage against them.

So then, "what's so special" about this system?

Rogues can't use Blunt weaponry. You'd never get both the Rogue damage and Blunt weapon damage at the same time. Fire and Lightning based weaponry are also quite rare and aren't usually on Blunt weapons either.

This effectively means that there are 4 weaknesses to Insects, but they are varying degrees of "weakness". It allows most characters to "have a chance" against Insects, provided they are equipped properly to do so, or know which elements to do so with.

So, if you got a mage, you can use Fire or Lightning. Or, if you have a Cleric, they can use a Blunt Weapon. Or, if you can't use magic or Blunt weapons because you're a Thief... you can use your sneaky skills to get them.

However, none of this is probably going to be useful to you if you're trying to make a "Pokemon" like type chart.
 

Bernkastelwitch

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I kind of have something similar to that? At least in the tiered element system mixed with the Pokemon type chart. As well as weapon types affecting things too. Outside of the regular elements, certain weapons can do more damage to certain enemy types. Melee attacks don't do much to flying enemies but ranged attacks(Magic but especially ranged weapons like guns or bows) can.

Of course with my weapons in an upgrade mechanic ala Suikoden, it would be hard to do elemental stuff on them, even if it would be cool to stack it up. A bit why certain equipment and Gems(Almost like Materia in my game) can make up for it by giving you an element to your physical attacks.

But I do like your method there at least.
 

deus69xxx

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people starting to go crazy with elements o_O

one of the simplest ways to deal with them is to have 'sets'. earth, fire, water, wind is a set. thunder, ice, light, dark, poison is a set. piercing, bludgeoning, slashing is a set, etc, etc. give diametric oppositions, then, start choosing when you create things.

insects are weak against wind, piercing.
slimes are weak against fire, bludgeoning, strong against slashing, poison, water, absorb thunder.

make templates and stick with them through critter creation. and do whatever you need with bosses, obviously.
 

sunnyFVA

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Pokemon has more to teach on this topic than most will see at first blush. Even if your system is not entirely like its typing system, I think there is at least a lot to think about. To keep this block of text somewhat more coherent, I'll focus on offensive versus defensive interactions, distributions, and what will be termed "stat-sidedness".

First is the distinction between offensive and defensive interactions. Both Rock and Ground deal bonus damage versus Fire-type targets, but only Rock resists incoming Fire attacks. Steel isn't weak to Water defensively, but it is resisted by Water offensively. This distinction (coupled with type immunities) contributes a lot to the identity of the types and is very useful for differentiating otherwise potentially similar types. This idea translates pretty naturally into a JRPG environment and would be useful for breaking up any undesired rock-paper-scissors feel.

Second is distribution. In the case of Pokemon, I refer both to what moves exist within each type and to what types of moves a mon of a given type is likely to learn. In RPG development, these are comparable to spells/skills/weapons that cause damage of a given element and (in systems where battlers have an "elemental identity") which among these can be available to characters associated with each element.

What constitutes a valuable attacking type in each Pokemon generation illustrates the first idea. For example, in spite of several generations' dire need for offensive answers to Normal-, Steel-, and Dark-types, Fighting (strong offensively against all three) was a pretty poor attacking type until the addition of Close Combat in generation 4. There just weren't any high-damage Fighting-type moves even when there were otherwise good Fighting-type mons.

What dual-typings exist also substantially impacts a type's attacking potential. To again look to Fighting in gens 1-3, the most relevant Steel mons (Skarmory, Metagross, and Jirachi) are Fighting-neutral due to their secondary typings. If Steel had been the only type that Fighting was good at hitting, even a good move would not have been enough to make it relevant offensively.

Similarly, if a hypothetical game's "Cloak of Fire Immunity" is by far the most powerful means of resisting any elemental damage, Fire's threat as an element suffers proportionately.

To cover the latter part of distributions briefly, I point to the extreme privilege of Water as a type. In total, it is resisted defensively by Dragon, Grass, and itself, and it is threatened offensively by Grass and Electric. It is nearly impossible to find a Water-type that does not have access to Ice-type moves that offensively threaten all of the aforementioned but Electric and Water itself. This makes mono-Water one of the most well-rounded and powerful typings a mon can have. Bear this sort of situation in mind when divvying up both qualities and tools available to your elements.

Lastly, there is what I am calling "stat-sidedness". This sort of thing is less likely to crop up in modern RPG dev, but I think it's worth mentioning anyway. Prior to generation 4, all attacks were either physical or special according to their type. This led to situations such as the trial of consistently threatening a Special Defense-invested Skarmory (a Flying/Steel-type weak only to two Special-locked types, and immune, resistant, or at worst neutral to all Physical types). If one were to implement in their project "strictly magical" damage elements and "strictly physical" damage elements (according to what stats they referenced) while also (carelessly) allowing for substantial elemental resistances, it is not hard to imagine the game balance corner into which one might paint oneself.

All of this being said, perhaps the most valuable takeaway is giving some thought to how much any of this matters in a Pokemon playthrough. The systems are colossally robust but are consistently squandered in terms of the context of the content in which they exist. It's obvious why that is (the games' demographic), but it is a very rewarding design exercise to consider what the Pokemon devs could have done differently to make these doubtlessly laborious systems feel a bit more interwoven into the games' campaigns without adding substantial difficulty.
 
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KawaiiKid

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I am curious how ones would try to balance Elemental magic here. Had this thought looking at the elements in my game. It has twelve main elements and while most party members have a singular elemental typing, some of them have dual typing which increases strengths and weaknesses. And there's equipment that can temporarily add or even swap elements off a character as long as they are equipped. The elements in my game are as followed:


Fire
Water
Ice
Earth
Electric
Wind
Poison
Metal
Light
Dark
Time
Cosmic

Some elements follow a mutually exclusive strength/weakness line here. Light and Dark are exclusively strong and weak to each other and Time and Cosmic are the same but with each other. While the others follow a more Pokemon style style where some have multiple strengths and weaknesses(Fire is weak against Water but is strong against Earth and Metal for one). Though I am also trying to think what Dark, Light, Time, and Cosmic would be stronger and weaker against each other if I want to go for a more branching elemental formula system.

In your opinion, how would you go about such a thing and/or any combinations for strengths or weaknesses you see could work? Or any other way to make them different beyond just a rock-paper-scissors combat mechanic? Right now I only have Poison elemental characters have an immunity to Poison and Electric party members can do extra damage to Robotic enemies or Fire characters able to get less damage walking on lava tiles and can do extra damage to plant based enemies. Light elemental characters can do extra damage to Undead and have more effective healing. Those are just some ideas and are rough, though.

But how would you personally go about it here? And how do you do Elements in your game for balancing and mechanics? I'd love to know.
All I can say is this would be a ton of work, so good luck!
 

Milennin

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Just make the elements a playstyle, rather than a rock/paper/scissors system.

Fire: Big AoE damage / Damage over time (able to spread to other enemies)
Water: AoE damage / Healing (could flow between turns)
Ice: Crowd Control (specifically stun or slow targets)
Earth: AoE damage / Crowd control (slow or interrupting targets, boost defences)
Electric: Big single-target damage / High priority moves (able to chain to other random targets)
Wind: Field manipulation (AoE buffs and debuffs, depending on weather types)
Poison: Damage over time (stack debuffs and stall out enemies)
Metal: Single-target damage / Damage over time (seems like a weapons type only, or very high level Geomancy)
Light: Healing / Protection (could also include buffs, revival, anything that helps with survival)
Dark: Damage / Debuffs (anything that does bad stuff to enemies)
Time: Crowd Control (would be similar to Ice...?)
Cosmic: ? (no idea what this is or why it'd be an element...)

You can mix and match a lot and come up with lots of different variations, but those would be the basics in my opinion.
 

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Cosmic: ? (no idea what this is or why it'd be an element...)
Should take a page out of Triangle Strategy's Quahaug. Though, he's more of a mix between both Space and Time elements. Stuff like teleportation (both enemies or allies), swapping positions w/ a target, time stop, haste, delayed damage, etc...
 
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Milennin

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Should take a page out of Triangle Strategy's Quahaug. Though, he's more of a mix between both Space and Time elements. Stuff like teleportation (both enemies or allies), swapping positions w/ a target, time stop, haste, delayed damage, etc...

I see. Haven't played that game, so I can't say anything about it. I also don't recall having seen a Cosmic type of element in any other game I've played.
 

Tai_MT

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@Milennin One comes to mind for me. Runescape. Has the "Cosmic" Runestone.
 

Frostorm

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I always felt that "Cosmic (or Cosmos)" referred to the expanse of space and all the stuff in it. While "Space", to me, refers more to the fabric of reality itself (minus the Time component).

Edit: @Bernkastelwitch Do you intend on having dual/multi element skills or units?
 
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NamEtag

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Make elements do mechanics that conceptually counter each other.

Fire applies debuff/damage over time stacks, while Water consumes debuffs to heal

Ice creates temporary shields, which Fire bypasses

Earth buffs while Air dispels

Thunder specializes in many small hits, which are less efficient against buffed targets
 

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