Game Balancing

Michael Caiola

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In my game, there are God Weapons, God Modes, and God Attacks.


God Weapons are not one hit kill weapons, just stronger weapons with names like "Sword of Ares" and "Neptune's Trident" that look awesome. They do give the hero the ability to access God Mode, which gives them special buffs or abilities, like doubling attack and defense stats for the Aries hero and a cloning ability for the Gemini hero. But still no one hit kills. It also takes a full TP bar to access and TP won't be easy to accrue. God Mode give them access to a special God Attack that is a one hit kill for most grunts, but not for stronger enemies and especially not for bosses. The God Attack requires a full MP bar and a full TP bar, so it's very difficult to achieve.


I plan to design these in a way that they're extremely difficult to pull of on standard enemies, and thus basically pointless for minute to minute play, but easier to do in major fights, adding an extra element of gameplay during intense battles with the primary antagonists. It'll essentially be a way to get a leg up on the super powerful enemies.
 
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bgillisp

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Yep, I meant gold balancing, or whatever you call money in your game. In my game, since one of the party members is rich, I start the party off with a decent sum (enough to fully equip the party at the start + some left over)


And I can see one problem with the God Mode...you might be encouraging players to horde their MP and TP just to pull it off. Just something to think about.
 

jonthefox

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I really like Andar's advice here.  You need to ask yourself fundamental questions about what kind of game you want to make, and then you "balance" by accomplishing those goals.  A lot of this is nothing that can be objectively right or wrong, but a matter of your own personal taste and design wishes.  For example, difficulty - do you want the combat to be:


very easy (you win easily unless you make huge blunders?)


relatively easy (there may be a few bosses or groups of mobs that can seriously threaten the player)


medium (the game starts out relatively easy and gradually progresses in difficulty)


relatively hard (resource management and boss strategy is challenging - nearly every battle requires strategic thinking and/or problem-solving)


very hard (it's very easy for the player to die.  a lot of players might find the game too frustrating to play if they're mostly interested in the story)


Some people might hate "very hard" games, others might hate "very easy" games.  Some people might like regular mobs to be easy, but for boss battles to be hard.  Everyone has a different perspective on what they find most engaging and enjoyable.  


You have to decide on the kind of game YOU want to make, and once you're clear about that, you can start laying the foundation of your game's numbers.


What I'd do next would be think about all of the game's towns and dungeons ,and make a rough list (it will of course change as you develop and playlist) of all the weapons and armor that the player gets throughout the game.  Then I'd make a list of all the skills the player will learn throughout the game.  Then I'd make a list of all the monsters and bosses the player will fight throughout the game.  Then I'd make a list of all the different skills these monsters and bosses will use.


Then I'd start thinking about how I want my player characters to function in battle; what are their strengths and weaknesses?  I'd then start with varying base stats for them based on this, etc.   


By the way, for me, this whole process is the most fun part of game design.  If you want help, I would love to assist you / do the game balancing for you.  Feel free to PM me.  You can also post in the section of the forums asking for more experienced people to help you with this aspect.   A lot of people enjoying this aspect of game design but don't have the time or patience for the mapping/story etc..


Good luck.
 
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Michael Caiola

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And I can see one problem with the God Mode...you might be encouraging players to horde their MP and TP just to pull it off. Just something to think about.


TP, or for my game GP (God Points), are only used for God Mode and God Attacks. So hording it isn't an issue. As for hording MP, there'll be plenty of skills they'll need for battles and hording would be a bad idea. I'm flirting with the idea of God Mode automatically maxing out the MP bar to eliminate that issue altogether.


EDIT: Think of my God Mode like Mega Evolution in pokemon. It's useful but you need to use it strategically.

By the way, for me, this whole process is the most fun part of game design.  If you want help, I would love to assist you / do the game balancing for you.


...I think I found the part of internet where all the awesome people went. That is such a generous offer. I would gladly accept your help.

You can also post in the section of the forums asking for more experienced people to help you with this aspect.   A lot of people enjoying this aspect of game design but don't have the time or patience for the mapping/story etc..




I had planned on posting in there once I had a basic concept game down. Something where you could go from map to map, battle grunts, learn skills, battle bosses. I know there are a lot of areas where I'll need help since my main talent is the storytelling and technical details. This community is so amazing. I can't believe there are so many people just willing to give their to time to help others like this. It's humbling and heart warming.
 
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Lord Semaj

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Balancing the game is something that comes after you have a game designed and built.  To answer your questions, there are no guidelines or requirements.  In some games like MMOs having a 5% buff is significant and possibly even overpowered.  In others, having 50% buffs is common and leads to very swingy min-max gameplay.  You aren't even required to try to balance a character class, such as your low physical high magic casters are.  You can easily have a magic caster that has a very poor magic stat and incredible strength for his auto attacks.  His skill use will be abysmal but he might depend on status effects instead of scaling magic damage.


Don't be afraid to create a game that is unique and flavorful with skills based on the type of gameplay you wish to promote.  I've seen it all.  City of Heroes had tanks that were 98% immune to all damage and crowd control.  They still needed healers spamming them with health because the enemies were just that OP and numerous.  City of Heroes had these tanks regularly fighting upwards of 100 mobs at once like a true superhero.  As a result of receiving 1000s of attacks per minute, the tanks needed extremely high damage reduction values to survive.


Once you've created the game you want balancing comes into play by testing the game against some of your created enemies.  Now here's the big secret: developers don't balance the player classes, they balance the enemies you fight.  If you gave your players some 10,000 dmg nuke button, all you have to do to make it less OP is ensure that the enemies you create for that level range have more than 10,000 health.  Monsters will regularly have stats that far outstrip the player ones and as a dev you will be calculating how much damage your players can take with all their abilities active then statting out the monsters to still be threatening to them.
 

Michael Caiola

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That makes a lot of sense. I was starting to get that impression as I've been customizing my heroes more and more.
 

Milennin

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There's no clear answer, it depends on what kind of game you're making. So, the first question to ask yourself is how long you want encounters to take, on average.


Say, you want the average encounter to take 5 turns to beat. Then all you need to do is create enemies, fill in their stats with whatever you think should be suitable, then playtest. If the battle takes too long, lower their HP and/or Defence.


Once you got that done, give them attacks to use. Playtest and see how much damage they do against a party that doesn't defend. How much damage do they do in a single strike? How long does it take them to take out your party? Balance numbers accordingly until you're happy with the results.


It gets more complicated if you give them more skills to use, more ways to defend themselves and more ways to hurt the player, but all it comes down to is playtesting and changing the numbers to fit your wants from an encounter.


I also agree with the previous poster: it helps to first design your playable characters. Because once you know what the player is capable of doing, it makes it possible to properly balance and design your enemies around their numbers and abilities.
 

Raol

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I usually balance my game by trial and error and playtesting XD
 

Countyoungblood

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I'm hoping this is in the right forum. I'm designing a game base on the Zodiac and Greek and Roman mythology. There are twelve heroes, each corresponding to a zodiac sign. For gameplay purposes, they're split into groups of three based on their signs' elements. So, three fire heroes, three earth heroes, three air heroes, and three water heroes. 95% of battle will be 3 heroes vs various enemies. There will a few team ups to take on bosses, so occasionally the battling will be 6 heroes vs the enemies, and the final boss will have all 12 battling.


I'm good with story telling and I'm with the technical aspect of designing the game. Where I lack intelligence is in game balancing. That is, what should my hero and enemy stats be? I have a basic idea of how each character compares to other. For example, my Aries hero is the strongest, my Taurus hero has the highest defense, my elemental fighters like Libra and Pisces have low physical stats, but high magical stats. I also know that I want the heroes to complement each other. Where my Ares hero has no magic abilities, my Leo hero has low physical stats and uses magical skills.


I'm lost when it comes to specifics, though. What should base stats be? How big should buffs or debuffs be? How strong should armor be? How much should it change stats? How strong should enemies be?


Are there any resources that can teach me or help me understand game balancing? I know it's not as simple as typing numbers into the stat settings, but I'm eager to learn and study. This game is a passion of mine and I'll put in whatever work I have to.


If you're willing to help me personally instead of referring me to sources, I would graciously accept it. But I'm perfectly okay with going to sources and learning myself.


Thanks.

You seem sincere, so i will give you the best information I can muster.

To understand balance you have to understand what constitutes weight towards balance.

Imagine a set of scales and put your characters on one side and the enemy on the other side.

Weight on this scale is combat effectiveness and most elements of an rpg go to the player side of the scale.

Potions, equipment, new spells, anything that makes the player stronger goes on the player side.

Difficulty of a game could be thought of as being how close to evenly matched the player is against the enemy.

If the player is much stronger the game is easy.

If the monster is much stronger the game might be unwinnable.

Achieving the desired balance means understanding what level of challenge is desired and maintaining said level by counter balancing player power against enemy power.

If you make the player stronger at any given point without adjusting the power of the enemy the game at that point is easier until the enemy becomes stronger.

As the player advances through the game the lower of the enemy will rise and present the player with a need to rise to the occasion.

You could think of this as being a more abstract element of time to add to the scales that could be represented by timelines including the currentrelative balance represented by a number...

Any positive number could represent a player advantage and the closer to zero the more evenly matched. Any negative number could represent an enemy advantage.

You can use tools like this to plot out times and places to introduce advantages to rebalance the power dynamic

Games often seem progressive in power of the characters but this is an illusion since as we progress the enemy becomes more powerful as well.

Start as simply as you can and get a measured understanding of how much of an advantage any element is and plot each moment after logically considering the whole
 

Fernyfer775

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I usually balance my game by trial and error and playtesting XD
This can't be stated too many times. This is really the only way you'll ever get the balancing in your game done right. I have a monstrous amounts of spreadsheets to help me balance my game, which range from character stats, armor stats, enemy stats, skill damage, blah, blah, blah, and even with all that, every time I test-play my game again, I find things that need to be re-balanced over...and over...AND OVER again.

My word of advise is to start off with a basic formula for how you want your damage to be. For example, base damage at level 1 should be 10 damage, and an enemy has 25 HP or whatever. From there, if a normal attack does 10 damage, how much should a special/magic attack be? Since you'll be using MP or TP to cast those abilities, you want to make sure the MP/TP spent is worth it, so you'll make those abilities do 15 or 20 damage for example, and go from there.
 

TheoAllen

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This can't be stated too many times. This is really the only way you'll ever get the balancing in your game done right. I have a monstrous amounts of spreadsheets to help me balance my game, which range from character stats, armor stats, enemy stats, skill damage, blah, blah, blah, and even with all that, every time I test-play my game again, I find things that need to be re-balanced over...and over...AND OVER again.
I learned this the hard way. I used to have a huge of spreadsheet tinkering with a number before I started to develop it. But once I jumped into a real practice, those mostly irrelevant, that I had to throw off the spreadsheet all together. Now, I only write it as a draft in notepad or so, basically draw the basic idea of the skills. Like skill A would do a thing or two, then write a rough estimate damage. Once I'm done with the 'sketch', I put it in the real practice then do the playtest
 

Countyoungblood

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Guess and check is a good method to eventually get a good feel for how balanced the portion you played but if you want actual balance you need an intimate understanding of the power contribution each part makes.

The more you understand the impact of each change the less time you will waste in trial and error.

First learn the parts then learn how to combine them.
 

Ksi

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Guessing fails to account for actually trying and playing and seeing the results. You can guess at something as much as you like but it's gonna be a hell of a shock when you find bugs/systems that don't work well together/issues with balance in skills and the like.

Always, always, always test. Always. Many, many, many times. Many.

Guessing just will not cut it. Ever.
 

Countyoungblood

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Guessing fails to account for actually trying and playing and seeing the results. You can guess at something as much as you like but it's gonna be a hell of a shock when you find bugs/systems that don't work well together/issues with balance in skills and the like.

Always, always, always test. Always. Many, many, many times. Many.

Guessing just will not cut it. Ever.
The check potion of guess and check is testing.

since you are against guessing im assuming you calculate instead if guessing then test(check)

And after testing you find incorrect calculations and modify them.

Unless youre terrible at math there is only one reason to need to calculate then test test test...

Approximate Estimations. Guessing.

Looks like you also guess and check.
 

Andar

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The problem with guessing is that it works best with linear solutions and you need to be very experienced to even guess at non-linear solutions with two variables. And as soon as you have to factor in even more variables, guessing becomes impossible, mathematics are needed to get even a start for the numbers.

OK, that is one of the reason why there are a lot of games that have their mechanics down to a simple triangle of what is better than what else, because that makes guesses simpler.
And for the same reason it is extremely difficult to program a good AI for a chess-type game, because chess requires an extremely complex decision process to get to the results.

The default engine of the RPG-Makers also tries to guide you into linear combat decisions - for example by giving everyone 95% + as a HIT chance. There are entire topics that argue "don't let the HIT% get lower as that will only frustrate players" - but that is not automatically correct.
It is only correct for those player who don't want to think during combat, and for those developers who don't want to spend dozens of extra hours to really calculate their skill balances.

But there are other player as well, those who want their battles to be a thinking challenge (instead of a grinding challenge by just increasing HP numbers), and for those the combat system needs a complex balance that can't be guessed at all.

And the practical test is always needed because other players might find ways to break the game balance by combining options the developer never thought of...
 

Titanhex

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...I know it's not as simple as typing numbers into the stat settings, but I'm eager to learn and study. This game is a passion of mine and I'll put in whatever work I have to.
Actually, it is this simple.
Just use some numbers that seem closely related, and test it out.
Change as needed.
Test again.

This is known as iteration, and is an unavoidable part of game development. You should be practicing it in order to improve this process. The less iterations you have to do the better, but know you will almost never have a single iteration. It usually takes dozens.

When it comes to balancing, you benefit the most by using quantifiable things, or turning abstract concepts into quantifiable data. You can then make comparisons between various parts of your game by using that data.
Accuracy of the numbers and understanding of this process takes practice.

A Book of Lenses: The Art of Game Design and Challenges for Game Designers provided me with a lot of tips that proved useful.

The only reason balance seems scary or difficult is because you're using someone else's numbers that they already established when you unpack the software and use the defaults. You either have to look at the relation of those numbers to one another, or you have to create your own set of numbers.

It does help when you have a base set of numbers you can start from. Your baseline can determine a lot about your game, it's design, and the balance. Generally the end game balance is a result of the formula used to build up on the base.

But it really is just checking what numbers are related to one another.
Yes, there's lots of complex and intuitive ways you can get numbers to relate and check their relation, but the reality is the numbers can be as simple as basic addition and subtraction or as complex as diminishing returns formulas. It's up to you, so long as you understand how those numbers relate.
 

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