How much weight should equipment have vs PC levels?

whitesphere

Veteran
Veteran
Joined
Mar 14, 2014
Messages
1,688
Reaction score
784
First Language
English
I know this is a matter of personal preference, but I figure I'd ask other RPG fans.

My current work-in-progress is balanced so that equipment strength grows modestly, with a spread of maybe 100 points from the worst to the best equipment in their base stats (ATK, DEF, etc).  The non fighter class has a spread of 50 points.

As a player, do you prefer that equipment purchase makes you far more powerful?  This can have the downside of reducing the importance of PC levels.  And it makes cash grinding that much more vital.

Or, do you prefer that the player levels count for the lion's share of the character growth?  The downside here is a disincentive to purchase new equipment for a minimal gain in abilities.    

Also, from a story perspective, the latter choice makes it more difficult to "gently" keep the player on the story's path by having monsters far outclass the players if they go somewhere they're not supposed to be yet.

Right now, I'm leaning to balancing the game a bit more so equipment has a more dramatic spread.
 

Mage Heart

Level 50 Bard
Veteran
Joined
Aug 27, 2012
Messages
316
Reaction score
54
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
I think it should be half and half, both should be important. In my game though levels only affect hp and mp and equipment affects everything else, so I can't really say.
 

Harmill

Veteran
Veteran
Joined
May 3, 2012
Messages
295
Reaction score
131
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
I have enjoyed both methods so it's hard for me to say which one I'd prefer. I think generally I might lean more towards Level-Based growth? I mean, equipment opens up far more possibilities than just raw stats. Elemental resistances, status ailment resistances, other bonus effects such as HP Regen, MP Regen, etc. If you want your equipment to focus on THOSE types of benefits, then putting most of your raw stats in your character levels might be the way to go.

I also agree with Mage Heart that half and half is a good option, too. If equipment doesn't give enough of a bonus to warrant the cost, then players won't feel rewarded for investing their gold. Level-based strength doesn't have this problem as much, but if too much power is given to levels, then it can take just 1 or 2 levels above the recommended level to be considered "overleveled / overpowered" for any given area.

Prioritizing equipment means it's harder for the player to be considered "overleveled". Their strength is more gated based on the availability of equipment.

I liked the equipment based power in Star Ocean: Till the End of Time. When you achieved 9999 ATK, 9000 of that is from your equipment. That game used an item creation system though, so no store-bought equipment gave you those sheer stats right out of the box. Still, the only distinct benefits you usually felt from leveling up were in the HP and MP stats but not really from the ATK, DEF, etc.

I liked the level growth power in Final Fantasy X, where your equipment didn't really give raw stats in the traditional RPG way. The equipment gave you things like "Fire DEF + 50%". Personally, I enjoy my equipment having those types of bonuses over just raw stats, anyways.

If you give stats from levels, but the bonus effects from equipment, the player shouldn't feel like leveling up doesn't yield enough power, or that equipment power doesn't justify the cost.
 

Eschaton

Hack Fraud
Veteran
Joined
Mar 4, 2013
Messages
2,029
Reaction score
533
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
N/A
I personally think equipment-based progression and parameter-based progression are redundant together. Instead, equipment should be designed to cater to player preference rather than a linear progression.

That said, there should still be progressively-powerful equipment, it just should be spread across options for player preference.
 

whitesphere

Veteran
Veteran
Joined
Mar 14, 2014
Messages
1,688
Reaction score
784
First Language
English
My current thought is to have level progression provide some measure of boost, and equipment provide a bit more than levels.  Levels do give real improvements, but I wish VX Ace allowed us to go above 255 for ATK, DEF and such, since the enemies can clearly be set that way.  It kind of caps how much benefit we can give the player for level based improvements.  Either that, or the PC maxes out an ability some time before Level 99, stripping any benefit from the ultra-high levels.

I was also trying to have the unique classes have somewhat different level progression.  This further seems to limit how much I can grant in terms of level boosts.

There are also various weapon types, some offer greater speed of attack, some (bows) are super powerful BUT ultra slow and can miss sometimes.  And, of course, you can't use a shield when using a two-handed bow.  I'm trying to have the average damage output be at least in the same ballpark for the weapons of a given class.  
 

Wavelength

MSD Strong
Global Mod
Joined
Jul 22, 2014
Messages
6,114
Reaction score
5,841
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMVXA
Different games can make any type of balance work, if they play well with other game mechanics and the game's economy.

Dark Cloud 2 comes immediately to mind as a game where players didn't level at all (and increasing player stats via items had a relatively minor effect), but the well-realized weapon synthesis system had a huge effect on your ability to fight.  Here was a game where, even though I generally like gaining power through character levels, I loved a system that put almost all the emphasis on your gear.

The biggest distinctiion I'd make between character parameters vs. equipment stats, like Eschaton mentioned, is that usually character power is "permanent" whereas equipment power is "temporary" and can be changed around at the player's whim.  So it's not just an aesthetic decision you're making as the designer, but a very important decision about whether you want to place more emphasis on long-term or short-term player choices.

My personal prefered balance is for "quantitative" upgrades (simple, scaling numbers like Attack, Defense, Magic, Agility) to lean towards permanent character stats, and "qualitative" upgrades (resistance to elements, special effects, XP/gold bonuses, etc.) to lean towards temporary equipment (or spell) effects.
 

Feldschlacht IV

Veteran
Veteran
Joined
Jul 26, 2014
Messages
167
Reaction score
142
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
I think they should complement each other as much as possible as long as you have both systems together. There are some games that are strictly level based with no equipment (these are usually not RPGs, but hey). This is fine. There also also some games with just equipment and no level mechanic. This is fine also. But if you're going to have both, then both should be utilized and important. However you want to do so is another discussion, but both should be valued. There's fewer things more defeating than playing a game where you have to slay tons of dragons and climb all these mountains to get what should be a cool sword or piece of armor, but the game's mechanics are stacked in a way that equipment is worthless. The opposite is also true.

Even though the game has mad crazy balancing issues, one of my favorite examples is Final Fantasy VI. Levels were the main factor that determined your raw strength, but there was enough powerful equipment to play around in and to feel cool and accomplished to get more of.
 

Warpmind

Twisted Genius
Veteran
Joined
Mar 13, 2012
Messages
937
Reaction score
580
First Language
Norwegian
Primarily Uses
Here's another morsel of food for thought on this topic - scaling equipment strength is one thing, but where should said scale begin?
After all, if you take your average chump and set him up to fight a bear, having a complete lack of armor and weaponry would pretty much mean he's dead before landing a single blow. Give him a sword and a shield, and his likelihood of victory - and even survival - increase drastically; weapons are generally considered force *multipliers* for a reason.
Unless your character is some sort of bareskin brawler, and thus relies exclusively on weapons like knuckledusters and the like, you might want to consider setting weapons to scale in a relatively narrow range with the low end some distance above the characters squishy natural abilities.
 

Zakreyus

Veteran
Veteran
Joined
Apr 2, 2014
Messages
39
Reaction score
5
First Language
english
Primarily Uses
Another bit of food for thought for you, is by using a kind of Bravely Default system, where almost all of your stats are from class instead of level, (but that involves a decent amount of eventing practice to have set up) but have different modifiers depending on the class level, with another third of your stats coming from equipment.

Or, a system like mine where the equipment does influence how well you fight, but not increase your stats. Say for example, you have a dagger - which is much more effective than fists but not nearly as useful as a sword - would give you 170% attack stat, instead of a flat bonus to it, whereas a sword would be 210%.

As for stats in my system, lets say you run alot - you get more agility, where if you get hit a lot you get more endurence/health.

Another thing I do to make equipment still relevant, without making it add stats, is to make your equipment govern what skills you can use by directly giving you abilities based on what you are wielding, usually a stance, an attack ability, and a defensive one. The equipment i was trying to do more like dark souls, essentially but idk. Hope that helps with your brainstorming!
 

Kyutaru

Software Engineer & Ninja
Veteran
Joined
Jan 17, 2014
Messages
156
Reaction score
58
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
Personally I feel the balance is half and half.  Not all players are going to want to grind the game.  Some players will attempt to rush the content and complete the game without fulfilling any sidequests at all.  These players will have fewer levels at the end game.  Equipment should exist as the base point statwise that the game CAN be completed at.  Hard mode, if you willl.  An RPG has no need for difficulty because you can just grind levels to trivialize content or skip content to increase challenge.

If I make a game estimating that it is possible to reach the end gaining a minimum of 18 levels, then equipment should supply the remaining balance needed to clear the game.  But how much should it give?  Well, if the game can be completed with all sidequests (or at least an average completion) by gaining 30 levels along the way, then there's a 12 level discrepancy.  This is almost 70% of the player's total level, it's huge.  So equipment should be granting enough levels worth of stats to marginalize this difference.  MMOs like World of Warcraft do this by labelling their equipment as effective levels of 90+, representing the stat totals of high end gear scaling absurdly high.

So if I decide via testing to add 30 levels worth on equipment, then the Hard mode player has 48 effective levels while the easy mode player has 60.  This is still a difference of 12 levels, but they only represent 25% of the Hard player's strength and 20% of the Easy player's strength.  I find this to be an acceptable difference in power and can proceed to balance the encounter somewhere around the 50 level range (just outside the hard player's zone to accomodate experts who are slightly better than I am).

Half and half works great.  It lets players beat your game in half the time as other players without being at a severe disadvantage versus the content.
 

Feldschlacht IV

Veteran
Veteran
Joined
Jul 26, 2014
Messages
167
Reaction score
142
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
An RPG has no need for difficulty because you can just grind levels to trivialize content or skip content to increase challenge.
This isn't necessarily true. Yes, grinding is pretty much 'the' way to make content easier, but it's also a significant time investment. Ain't nobody got time for that. Yes, Dark Souls is a notoriously challenging game, and yes, I could grind my Soul Level up to triple digit levels at the very beginning to make the game **** easy, but very few people are actually going to do that. That seriously would take like, weeks (if not more) of real time. If someone does (and I'm sure they're out there) grinded up to level 100 before they left the Undead Burg (which is basically the starting area), more power to them, I guess, they deserve to have the game handed to them. But that takes a ****load of time and doesn't at all take away from the overall difficulty of the game.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Latest Threads

Latest Profile Posts

Creating 3D CGs for Cutscenes. :kaosalute:

I keep wanting to post every song I make for the game and have to hold back on that because at this rate, I'll have spoiled all the really good stuff lol..
DerniBorges wrote on TSR's profile.
Is there any way this plugin works with the big character, and the QSprite plugin? Using RTP chars, everything works fine, but the big ones, with QSprite, it's like that in the image, it doesn't reflect right. And there is, in the settings, an option to fix it. Thanks.
bug2.png
Bengawan Solo with fantasy style arrangement. :D
So I just got my computer back (Was posting stuff on my phone) But now my dang monitor's broken! I'll need to get a new one, which means... JOBS! Yaaay... When I get a new monitor, I'll post picture of one of my RPGMMV projects.
Wish me luck... :kaodes:

Forum statistics

Threads
115,897
Messages
1,093,798
Members
151,141
Latest member
daisyiscute
Top