TakumaGao

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I've finally begun actually working on stats and skill damage formulas in my game, and while things are *kind of* working as they are, at the lower levels that I'm working with, I feel that I'm going to run into problems later on, and I'd like some advice.

When I started the project, my goal with stats and damage, at least at the time, was to have the level cap be 50 (since the game is likely to be kinda medium length), with a maximum possible HP and MP of 999, and maximum stats of 255 (as a reference to the FF series) for every other stat. Damage would also be capped at 999, for both enemies and allies.

Of course, I didn't want every character to be at those maximum stats (at least not without grinding out permanent stat-boosting items, which would be tedious by design), so I wanted the party's average level 50 HP to be around 700, +/- 100 to 200, depending on the character. I hadn't really settled on the average MP at that time, but I did want average endgame MP to be less than maximum HP by at least a few hundred. Though currently, endgame HP for most characters is around 400-500, while maximum endgame MP is around 200-300.

As for the stats, I really did like the idea of stats being 255 max, but as I was working on actually implementing stats, I ended up deciding that I'd rather the maximum possible stats be 99. But then I ran into another problem - how do I make my stats grow at a reasonable rate, so that each level feels meaningful (while *also* not being overpowered), while *also* adding equipment that raises those stats, and not actually hit 99 solely from being lv 50 and having the best equipment?

So what I had been doing, was I used the Generate Curve function in the class stats editor, and setting the lv 99 stat to be roughly twice of what I want their actual endgame stats to be. So I ended up with characters having around 50-70 points in most stats at level 50, but... while that's probably fine for weapons (since even if the best weapons in the game are +20, they still wouldn't quite hit maximum power without using stat boosting consumables)... it might become a problem for armor. Since there's three armor categories (not including accessories), how do we add meaningful stat boosts to equipment upgrades, without hitting 99 defense or magic defense? Of course, this would likely be alleviated by using 255 maximum stats instead of 99, or by reducing the amount of stat points a character gets at level up... but then in the latter case, we run back into the problem of level ups not feeling meaningful.

But then we have another problem. Formulas. So, as it stands, I'd been using the following formulas:
Attack: a.atk * 2.5 - b.def
Most basic offensive single-target magic: a.mat * 3 - b.mdf
Most basic offensive multi-target magic: a.mat *2.8 - b.mdf

And yes, these are probably really dumb formulas, but dammit, I'm bad at math! lol

Problem is, given my current stat spread, these formulas are actually causing a bit of an issue! Because while at first magic isn't *that* much stronger than physical attacks, by the time you get a few levels into your characters and those stat points go up, magic starts being *significantly* stronger than physical attacks! It's not a HUGE difference at this point, but I can definitely see it becoming a problem as stats get even higher. But the thing is, there's a few of your party members who can't really do offensive magic, and so they end up just feeling worthless due to the gap in physical and magical damage. I mean, the obvious solution is to just make the formula for physical attacks stronger, right? But how do I find that proper balance between physical and magical damage, while also making magical attacks feel at least somewhat better than physical attacks (as they should be), while also not making physical attacks totally useless in comparison? Also keep in mind... there's a second tier of magic spells that are *even stronger* that you'll be able to get later in the game!

So uh... basically what I'm trying to say is... I suck at math and stat balancing... please help D:
 

ATT_Turan

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There are many threads about this that you might find helpful. If you Google "RPG Maker balance," I get pages of results of threads here, other sites, and YouTube tutorials.

But then we have another problem. Formulas. So, as it stands, I'd been using the following formulas:
Attack: a.atk * 2.5 - b.def
Most basic offensive single-target magic: a.mat * 3 - b.mdf
Most basic offensive multi-target magic: a.mat *2.8 - b.mdf

And yes, these are probably really dumb formulas, but dammit, I'm bad at math! lol
Again, there are damage formula threads with sample formulae and textual descriptions of how they work.

Problem is, given my current stat spread, these formulas are actually causing a bit of an issue! Because while at first magic isn't *that* much stronger than physical attacks, by the time you get a few levels into your characters and those stat points go up, magic starts being *significantly* stronger than physical attacks
I don't understand why the formula is different to begin with. You chose to make it stronger.

But the thing is, there's a few of your party members who can't really do offensive magic, and so they end up just feeling worthless due to the gap in physical and magical damage.
This also doesn't make sense. These actors have the parameters and skills that you gave them - the only reason they'd be worthless is if you made them be :stickytongue:

Logically, if they can't do offensive magic, they should be able to do good physical damage or have some kind of useful support skills that achieve things without doing damage.

I mean, what's the point of these characters? You put them there, only you can tell us...

making magical attacks feel at least somewhat better than physical attacks (as they should be)
Why should they be?
 

SGHarlekin

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@ATT_Turan post hits the nail pretty much on the head, as usual.

Something I might add, balancing is a big picture. Not just skill formulas. What equipment can your player have? What's the worst level/equipment/spells the player can have and should still be able to win? Are you aiming for high or low numbers? And many more questions.
You must know what you are aiming for with your combat system.

I usually start with the baseline. Most basic enemy vs most basic player. I balance that out and gradually scale things upward. There's is a literal ****ton of playtesting involved too. You fight every battle countless times, with various different members and equipment and skills the player can possibly have at the point of encountering said enemy.

Nobody will ever tell you anything like "Just put these numbers/formula in there and you're good to go" it's impossible.
 

woootbm

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To put what @ATT_Turan is saying more bluntly: numbers are arbitrary. You should have an idea for a design and then assign numbers that achieve that design. If you're copying (or "referencing") another game's design without understanding what the design is actually doing, you're bound to be lost.

If I had to guess what's missing from your design, it's that usually JRPG's feature elemental resistances and weaknesses, which is separate from MDF. You can create those using traits on the enemy screen.

Other than that, you're probably just not assigning values in the right places. Do your enemies have more DEF than MDF?

Anyway, here's the results from what I understand your max stats will result in:
99 * 2.5 - 99 = 145.5
99 * 3 - 99 = 198
99 * 2.8 - 99 = 178.2

I'm not sure what you expect to happen. But since the defense stats are a flat 1:1, that means the attacks with bigger multipliers are better.
 

TakumaGao

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There are many threads about this that you might find helpful. If you Google "RPG Maker balance," I get pages of results of threads here, other sites, and YouTube tutorials.


Again, there are damage formula threads with sample formulae and textual descriptions of how they work.


I don't understand why the formula is different to begin with. You chose to make it stronger.


This also doesn't make sense. These actors have the parameters and skills that you gave them - the only reason they'd be worthless is if you made them be :stickytongue:

Logically, if they can't do offensive magic, they should be able to do good physical damage or have some kind of useful support skills that achieve things without doing damage.

I mean, what's the point of these characters? You put them there, only you can tell us...


Why should they be?

Well, I mean... I made magic stronger because it has a cost tied to it. That makes sense, right?

I'm trying to make them NOT worthless, I'm just bad at it D: Like, the main Attack-only guy *does* have benefits, in that he gets bonus item effectiveness and he has the best HP, Strength and Defense out of all of the party members by a large margin. Problem is, the way I have my stats and formulas set up, he's still lagging behind the casters. Same with the Rogue, who CAN use magic, but her magic generally doesn't do direct damage either.

@ATT_Turan post hits the nail pretty much on the head, as usual.

Something I might add, balancing is a big picture. Not just skill formulas. What equipment can your player have? What's the worst level/equipment/spells the player can have and should still be able to win? Are you aiming for high or low numbers? And many more questions.
You must know what you are aiming for with your combat system.

I usually start with the baseline. Most basic enemy vs most basic player. I balance that out and gradually scale things upward. There's is a literal ****ton of playtesting involved too. You fight every battle countless times, with various different members and equipment and skills the player can possibly have at the point of encountering said enemy.

Nobody will ever tell you anything like "Just put these numbers/formula in there and you're good to go" it's impossible.

Oh of course, I know that. But I feel like I'm already having issues at these low levels.

To put what @ATT_Turan is saying more bluntly: numbers are arbitrary. You should have an idea for a design and then assign numbers that achieve that design. If you're copying (or "referencing") another game's design without understanding what the design is actually doing, you're bound to be lost.

If I had to guess what's missing from your design, it's that usually JRPG's feature elemental resistances and weaknesses, which is separate from MDF. You can create those using traits on the enemy screen.

Other than that, you're probably just not assigning values in the right places. Do your enemies have more DEF than MDF?

Anyway, here's the results from what I understand your max stats will result in:
99 * 2.5 - 99 = 145.5
99 * 3 - 99 = 198
99 * 2.8 - 99 = 178.2

I'm not sure what you expect to happen. But since the defense stats are a flat 1:1, that means the attacks with bigger multipliers are better.

...You know what. Guys... I'm an idiot...

The problem was that I *wasn't* missing elemental weaknesses! Ha!

I was doing a test battle and I was like "Damn, my heroine is only doing 22 damage with her melee attack, but she's doing like 70 damage with magic, while my wizard is doing 102 damage with spells! This is totally unbalanced!"

...But uh... I was hitting the enemy's weakness, which was 200%...

...Maybe I should lower elemental weaknesses to 150% :p

Also... I didn't even think of calculating the max damage like that! Damn, those numbers seem way too low! I mean, I wouldn't be giving (most) enemies that much defense, but still, those are some low numbers, no one would ever come close to hitting 999! Maybe I should make it a higher number. I did some calculating and 255 actually seems kinda TOO high. Cause with the formulas I have, if you had 255 magic and cast a spell against an enemy with 255 magic defense and they were 2x weak to the element, you'd hit for 999 every time. Even with 150% elemental weakness, they still hit in the 700s and that's without even factoring in buffs and debuffs! Which I also didn't do up until now! And yes, buffs and debuffs are absolutely a thing in my game!

In fact... uh... here's a question... Do buffs and debuffs outright increase/decrease your stats, or is it a percentage factored into the damage calculation? And if it directly affects your stats... then what happens if you reach the stat cap through buffs? Does it break the stat cap limit (the cap being placed by the VisuStella plugins), or is the buff just useless?

Cause if it breaks the cap limit and/or buffs calculate during the formula, then having the max stat be 99 actually produces some totally reasonable numbers, if we factor in weaknesses and buffs! And, well, if most enemies don't have 99 in def/mdf :p
 

Heirukichi

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Personally, I deem the whole point of starting from characters stats and then adding equipment TOTALLY wrong. Of course, you want to start somewhere, but starting from max stats and trying to figure out how powerful a character becomes after gaining those stats is plain wrong.

There are two main reasons for that:
  1. starting from stats goes against the MDA framework (many developers from all around the world deemed that being the most effective framework, maybe there is a reason for it);

  2. stats are all connected, regardless of them being obtained automatically while increasing your level or granted by equipped gear; what you need to be in control of this is where breakpoints are, but those breakpoints give you the OVERALL value of stats at a certain point in the game.
As you can see, point 2 is somewhat related to point 1, because how much of a certain breakpoint depends on levels and how much depends on gear is up to the dynamics, which are based on your main aesthetics, thus the MDA framework comes back.

I don't think there is a way out for this. If you are bad at math, you can still rely on somebody/something else to do the math for you (Excel tables usually do a great job), but what you cannot do is losing control of your own game's breakpoints. That is the worst way to balance a game.

In the worst case scenario, you might even end in a FFVIII scenario, where the player is penalized the more levels he/she gains.
 

TakumaGao

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Personally, I deem the whole point of starting from characters stats and then adding equipment TOTALLY wrong. Of course, you want to start somewhere, but starting from max stats and trying to figure out how powerful a character becomes after gaining those stats is plain wrong.

There are two main reasons for that:
  1. starting from stats goes against the MDA framework (many developers from all around the world deemed that being the most effective framework, maybe there is a reason for it);

  2. stats are all connected, regardless of them being obtained automatically while increasing your level or granted by equipped gear; what you need to be in control of this is where breakpoints are, but those breakpoints give you the OVERALL value of stats at a certain point in the game.
As you can see, point 2 is somewhat related to point 1, because how much of a certain breakpoint depends on levels and how much depends on gear is up to the dynamics, which are based on your main aesthetics, thus the MDA framework comes back.

I don't think there is a way out for this. If you are bad at math, you can still rely on somebody/something else to do the math for you (Excel tables usually do a great job), but what you cannot do is losing control of your own game's breakpoints. That is the worst way to balance a game.

In the worst case scenario, you might even end in a FFVIII scenario, where the player is penalized the more levels he/she gains.

Never heard of this whole MDA framework thing before. Guess I'll have to look into it?

What's a breakpoint?

Though I don't really understand something about what you said... how can you not start from stats? If the stats are the basis for all damage, and the basis for your equipment, then how can you balance damage and equipment without putting stats first?

The problem with FF8 isn't that the game is unbalanced by design, it's unbalanced because of exploits. The developers likely intended for players to do typical amounts of grinding in order to gain AP, which would in turn grant EXP, which should in theory make things balanced as the player would be obtaining new Abilities and obtaining stocks of better spells in the process of leveling up (which would in turn make enemies stronger).

What I don't think they anticipated were players deliberately avoiding EXP while still gaining AP, or spending hours playing cards and refining them into spells while not also balancing that with some standard level grinding. For example, the fact that you don't get any EXP when using Card was likely supposed to be a *punishment* rather than a tool to aid in becoming overpowered. The fact that you can have thousands of HP and enough attack power to oneshot almost anything before you even leave the first island isn't due to them just being bad at game design, it's due to players discovering ways to exploit things in ways the devs never intended.
 

Heirukichi

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MDA Framework
Never heard of this whole MDA framework thing before. Guess I'll have to look into it?
The MDA framework is a framework defined to give a more formal approach to game design elements.

If you are interested in reading more about it, you can find a quick summary here.



Breakpoints
What's a breakpoint?
A breakpoint, as you could guess by its name, is something that breaks a certain flow. When talking about game balance, in particular, it breaks the normal user experience flow.

If you are interested, I added an example in the spoiler below. If you are not interested, instead, it could be said that breakpoints are important milestones where the overall game-play experiences a relevant change.

You deal 100 damage and the average enemy has 500 HP. This means that, on average, you take your opponent down in 5 hits, which means that you get hit 4 or 5 times, depending on who moves first.

If you level up by 4 levels, and gain 5 extra damage per level, you deal 120 damage, but still manage to take down the average opponent with the same amount of hits. Did these 4 levels break your usual flow? No, they did not. Same strategy as before, same resources drained as before.

If now you gain a single level. This new level allows you to deal 125 damage per hit, making the average fight one hit shorter. Now this single level at this point in the game represents a breakpoint, because your user flow is completely turned upside down with it.

You immediately start taking between 25% and 33% less damage (not because of your damage reduction, just because fights are shorter), you start saving 20% of your resources (MP or whatever you need to attack). In short, it represents a HUGE milestone in your user flow and while in the previous levels you could feel stronger just because you were able to see bigger numbers, now you can actually feel stronger because the overall gameplay changes.

When something like this happens, you reached a breakpoint.



Breakpoints-driven balance
how can you not start from stats? If the stats are the basis for all damage, and the basis for your equipment, then how can you balance damage and equipment without putting stats first?
And, after understanding what breakpoints are, it should be much clearer how stats are partly irrelevant. Breakpoints are the only relevant part.

It does not matter if a character deals between 250 and 333 points of damage per hit, where is the difference between those two values if the average enemy has 1000 HP?

Sure, 333 is 1.33 times bigger than 250 (thus it feels much stronger), but it leads to the very same result: enemies die with 4 hits. Therefore, the whole +33% on Attack, for example, to reach 333 instead of 250 would be completely irrelevant in this situation.

Planning breakpoints is a very important thing. Having them under control is what allows you to balance your game, allowing you to track when players will actually feel stronger not just because of bigger numbers, but because of meaningful game-play changes.

Dealing 333 damage with the average enemy having 1000 HP, dealing 3333 damage with the average enemy having 10 000 HP or dealing 33 damage with the average enemy having 100 HP all result in the same 4 hits per enemy. However, a single point added to said damage results in a breakpoint for all the aforementioned situations.

Is a single point the same for all those situations? It is not. If you deal 333 damage per hit, it represents around 0.33% of your average damage, if you deal 3333, it is 10 times less, if you deal 33, it is 3.3% of your damage.

Of course, I picked the numbers above specifically to explain my point, it is very unlikely that players will be seeing those numbers. However, what is not unlikely, is to have similar situations. Therefore, one should not focus on which stat has to grow and how much, but rather focus on the desired game-play, then decide appropriate stats range.

Competitive Pokémon
You often see how important breakpoints are and how well they are used in competitive play when watching competitive Pokémon matches.

Competitive players do not always go for full EVs to enhance a certain stat. Sometimes they stop at a fixed amount even if they could go higher. This happens because that amount gives them enough room to sustain one extra hit, thus allowing them to reach a breakpoint. Having that stat any higher would be a waste, since they cannot stand another hit after the extra one anyway.

Clicker and Idle Games
While this is not exactly what I consider the right way to exploit breakpoints control, idle games often do have breakpoints under control.

Often, in idle games, players experience a flat resources income curve for some time before unlocking something that allows them to speed up quite fast. This fact is used by developers to promote in-app purchases that speed up resources income and reduce time spent in the flat part of the curve.

MOBAs
Often in MOBAs it is possible to read updates that change stats gain by 0.1 per level. If anyone has played MOBA games on regular basis, such a patch note is probably not unfamiliar.

Have you ever survived a team fight with just a strand of HP left? Have you ever felt that after a certain patch you start struggling with mana mid-game? Those things are probably because of the very breakpoint that one of those patches introduced/removed.

I could go on with examples for a very long time. However, what I wanted to say is that stats are just numbers. When balancing games there are INFINITE sets of stats that work equally well in achieving the desired game-play. Even the same set of breakpoints could be achieved using different sets of stats.

For this reason, focus on breakpoints and not on stats. Once you have your breakpoints set, pick stats based on the aesthetic that you want (even the GUI might be a valid reason for that, as bigger numbers might not fit in the HUD and you might want to use smaller values because of that).
 

ATT_Turan

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Well, I mean... I made magic stronger because it has a cost tied to it. That makes sense, right?
It makes sense, but it's not the only thing that makes sense. For example, if you have elemental affinities/vulnerabilities in your game, I would say that the actual formula for spells should be the same as physical attacks, and the benefit to their cost is being able to hit vulnerabilities and do higher damage that way (Shin Megami Tensei Persona games are very like this).

Or make your spellcasters not do terrible damage with regular attacks, and their spells are a way to do higher damage at a cost, just like your fighters might have skills that do higher damage with MP or TP.

Do buffs and debuffs outright increase/decrease your stats, or is it a percentage factored into the damage calculation?
They affect your parameters - what would be the point of you defining damage formulae if the game added stuff to it behind the scenes?

The problem with FF8 isn't that the game is unbalanced by design, it's unbalanced because of exploits.
That's not really the case. The problem with the game is all of the fights are scaled off of your current level.

If you have the ability to flee from a fight via a command in the game's menu, that's not an exploit. Therefore, it makes no sense to claim that fleeing from fights, getting to boss fights at a low level, and them being easier because of it, is an exploit.

The designers intentionally chose an approach that made it very difficult to balance (you have to make sure the intended difficulty of a given enemy is preserved regardless of what level you encounter it at), and they failed.

What I don't think they anticipated were players...spending hours playing cards and refining them into spells
I don't think that's what Heirukichi was talking about. I know I never delved deeply enough into the game to know anything about what you're talking about - it's not really one of the reasons FF8 is infamous for poor balancing/design.
 

TakumaGao

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MDA Framework

The MDA framework is a framework defined to give a more formal approach to game design elements.

If you are interested in reading more about it, you can find a quick summary here.



Breakpoints

A breakpoint, as you could guess by its name, is something that breaks a certain flow. When talking about game balance, in particular, it breaks the normal user experience flow.

If you are interested, I added an example in the spoiler below. If you are not interested, instead, it could be said that breakpoints are important milestones where the overall game-play experiences a relevant change.

You deal 100 damage and the average enemy has 500 HP. This means that, on average, you take your opponent down in 5 hits, which means that you get hit 4 or 5 times, depending on who moves first.

If you level up by 4 levels, and gain 5 extra damage per level, you deal 120 damage, but still manage to take down the average opponent with the same amount of hits. Did these 4 levels break your usual flow? No, they did not. Same strategy as before, same resources drained as before.

If now you gain a single level. This new level allows you to deal 125 damage per hit, making the average fight one hit shorter. Now this single level at this point in the game represents a breakpoint, because your user flow is completely turned upside down with it.

You immediately start taking between 25% and 33% less damage (not because of your damage reduction, just because fights are shorter), you start saving 20% of your resources (MP or whatever you need to attack). In short, it represents a HUGE milestone in your user flow and while in the previous levels you could feel stronger just because you were able to see bigger numbers, now you can actually feel stronger because the overall gameplay changes.

When something like this happens, you reached a breakpoint.



Breakpoints-driven balance

And, after understanding what breakpoints are, it should be much clearer how stats are partly irrelevant. Breakpoints are the only relevant part.

It does not matter if a character deals between 250 and 333 points of damage per hit, where is the difference between those two values if the average enemy has 1000 HP?

Sure, 333 is 1.33 times bigger than 250 (thus it feels much stronger), but it leads to the very same result: enemies die with 4 hits. Therefore, the whole +33% on Attack, for example, to reach 333 instead of 250 would be completely irrelevant in this situation.

Planning breakpoints is a very important thing. Having them under control is what allows you to balance your game, allowing you to track when players will actually feel stronger not just because of bigger numbers, but because of meaningful game-play changes.

Dealing 333 damage with the average enemy having 1000 HP, dealing 3333 damage with the average enemy having 10 000 HP or dealing 33 damage with the average enemy having 100 HP all result in the same 4 hits per enemy. However, a single point added to said damage results in a breakpoint for all the aforementioned situations.

Is a single point the same for all those situations? It is not. If you deal 333 damage per hit, it represents around 0.33% of your average damage, if you deal 3333, it is 10 times less, if you deal 33, it is 3.3% of your damage.

Of course, I picked the numbers above specifically to explain my point, it is very unlikely that players will be seeing those numbers. However, what is not unlikely, is to have similar situations. Therefore, one should not focus on which stat has to grow and how much, but rather focus on the desired game-play, then decide appropriate stats range.

Competitive Pokémon
You often see how important breakpoints are and how well they are used in competitive play when watching competitive Pokémon matches.

Competitive players do not always go for full EVs to enhance a certain stat. Sometimes they stop at a fixed amount even if they could go higher. This happens because that amount gives them enough room to sustain one extra hit, thus allowing them to reach a breakpoint. Having that stat any higher would be a waste, since they cannot stand another hit after the extra one anyway.

Clicker and Idle Games
While this is not exactly what I consider the right way to exploit breakpoints control, idle games often do have breakpoints under control.

Often, in idle games, players experience a flat resources income curve for some time before unlocking something that allows them to speed up quite fast. This fact is used by developers to promote in-app purchases that speed up resources income and reduce time spent in the flat part of the curve.

MOBAs
Often in MOBAs it is possible to read updates that change stats gain by 0.1 per level. If anyone has played MOBA games on regular basis, such a patch note is probably not unfamiliar.

Have you ever survived a team fight with just a strand of HP left? Have you ever felt that after a certain patch you start struggling with mana mid-game? Those things are probably because of the very breakpoint that one of those patches introduced/removed.

I could go on with examples for a very long time. However, what I wanted to say is that stats are just numbers. When balancing games there are INFINITE sets of stats that work equally well in achieving the desired game-play. Even the same set of breakpoints could be achieved using different sets of stats.

For this reason, focus on breakpoints and not on stats. Once you have your breakpoints set, pick stats based on the aesthetic that you want (even the GUI might be a valid reason for that, as bigger numbers might not fit in the HUD and you might want to use smaller values because of that).

I can't say I really agree with some of the points in that whole MDA Framework thing, after reading the paper. And for most of it, I don't think it really said anything particularly meaningful. Can't imagine why, apparently, developers find it to be terribly important.

As for the breakpoints thing, that's something I definitely agree with. In fact, that's what I was trying to achieve. So basically, in the first chapter of my game (which is what will be contained in the demo that I'll release before I make the rest of the game, to get feedback on the mechanics and story and whatnot) there's three dungeons, and I wanted each dungeon to feel like a step up from what you were facing before.

For example, at the very start of the game, you have *nothing*. You have no skills, no equipment, no items, no gold, not a single thing other than one party member who can't do anything at that point but attack and defend. It'll take her about 3 hits to kill something with her bare hands, but in the first area, encounters only have one enemy. She'll only be able to take maybe 5 or 6 hits before needing to heal, but I've placed a few items in the starting area that can be picked up to restore HP enough that you should be able to reach your first destination without dying. At this stage of the game, you're supposed to feel weak, and that you need to reach the castle as soon as possible, or else you may not survive.

At the castle, you obtain your second party member, and you can pick up some chests with some basic equipment. The enemies on the first island should now be of no challenge to you, since with two party members and weapons, you should be able to kill the solo enemy encounters in one round, or two if you didn't pick up the equipment.

However, once you get to the second area, enemy encounters become more difficult. You'll encounter 2-3 enemies at a time, and each one of them is gonna take 2-3 hits to take out, depending on if you gained any levels or got better weapons or magic at the nearby town. I also made it so that even though there's a roadblock NPC that prevents you from passing more than a few steps into the second area until you've obtained your second party member, if you try and go there with the heroine alone, immediately after starting the game, you're going to get killed almost immediately because the enemies are balanced around you having two party members and some equipment.

After that, you'll get your third party member, and enemies in this next area will still be in groups of 2-3, but they'll be even tougher than before. However, your third party member comes with a hit-all magic spell, which you can use to quickly dispatch groups of foes (though it costs a lot of MP). So the enemies do become tougher, but you also now have more options available to you.

So yeah, I've been aiming to have breakpoints, and so far they've kinda been working out, but my main concern is that I'm going to run into problems at higher levels due to either dealing too much, or too little damage.

It makes sense, but it's not the only thing that makes sense. For example, if you have elemental affinities/vulnerabilities in your game, I would say that the actual formula for spells should be the same as physical attacks, and the benefit to their cost is being able to hit vulnerabilities and do higher damage that way (Shin Megami Tensei Persona games are very like this).

Or make your spellcasters not do terrible damage with regular attacks, and their spells are a way to do higher damage at a cost, just like your fighters might have skills that do higher damage with MP or TP.


They affect your parameters - what would be the point of you defining damage formulae if the game added stuff to it behind the scenes?


That's not really the case. The problem with the game is all of the fights are scaled off of your current level.

If you have the ability to flee from a fight via a command in the game's menu, that's not an exploit. Therefore, it makes no sense to claim that fleeing from fights, getting to boss fights at a low level, and them being easier because of it, is an exploit.

The designers intentionally chose an approach that made it very difficult to balance (you have to make sure the intended difficulty of a given enemy is preserved regardless of what level you encounter it at), and they failed.


I don't think that's what Heirukichi was talking about. I know I never delved deeply enough into the game to know anything about what you're talking about - it's not really one of the reasons FF8 is infamous for poor balancing/design.

True, however in my game, not all characters can use skills that can hit elemental weaknesses - or not many of them, at least.

I've mentioned before, but in my game, there are four types of magic, and each character can only use certain types.

Heroine - Offensive, Supportive, Utility
Knight - None
Wizard - Offensive only
Rogue - Utility only
Cleric - Supportive only
Beastmaster - Mastery (aka Blue Magic/Enemy Skills) only
Mystic - Offensive and Supportive
Paladin - Supportive and Utility
Dark Knight - Offensive and Utility

Users of Offensive magic get access to Fire, Ice and Lightning spells, both single-target and multi-target.
Users of Supportive magic only get access to Light magic for damaging spells, both single-target and multi-target.
Users of Utility magic get access to Fire, Ice and Lightning via a self-state spell, which adds that element to their Attack for a few turns. They also have two other offensive spells of note - Double and Clone, which are also self-states that make them hit twice per Attack, and hit all enemies with Attack respectively.
And finally the lone user of Mastery gets access to multi-target Water, Wind and Earth spells only.

So... yeah, you would run into problems in some cases if you HAD to rely on elemental weaknesses to deal respectable damage.

Anyway... with regards to buffs and debuffs... this does present a problem. But like I was asking before, can buffs bypass the stat cap? Like if I have a stat capped at 99, and a buff would raise it above that cap, is that buff basically made worthless?

Oh, I'm not arguing that FF8 isn't an unbalanced game, it totally is, but I think that it's more so due to the fact that players ended up doing things that the devs never imagined in order to become obscenely powerful.
 

ATT_Turan

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I've mentioned before, but in my game, there are four types of magic, and each character can only use certain types.
Okay...I'm really not going to get into reading or trying to address all of that. It seems like you're coming at this from almost the opposite direction of what makes sense to me.

It's fine to have a concept for a magical system, but to me, making all of these categories and hierarchies should exist to serve and create the balance of your skills and combat...not be something that you're dead set on having and you're trying to balance around it.

So... yeah, you would run into problems in some cases if you HAD to rely on elemental weaknesses to deal respectable damage.
That is, in fact, the opposite of what I said in my last post.

Anyway... with regards to buffs and debuffs... this does present a problem. But like I was asking before, can buffs bypass the stat cap? Like if I have a stat capped at 99, and a buff would raise it above that cap, is that buff basically made worthless?
A cap is a cap unless you're using a plugin to make it work differently.

Oh, I'm not arguing that FF8 isn't an unbalanced game, it totally is, but I think that it's more so due to the fact that players ended up doing things that the devs never imagined in order to become obscenely powerful.
If you think so, then okay. Your post is the first time I ever heard of anyone choosing to become powerful in that game; the very commonly known issue with its design is to avoid gaining any levels or power in order to keep the fights exceedingly low level and easy.
 

TakumaGao

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Okay...I'm really not going to get into reading or trying to address all of that. It seems like you're coming at this from almost the opposite direction of what makes sense to me.

It's fine to have a concept for a magical system, but to me, making all of these categories and hierarchies should exist to serve and create the balance of your skills and combat...not be something that you're dead set on having and you're trying to balance around it.


That is, in fact, the opposite of what I said in my last post.


A cap is a cap unless you're using a plugin to make it work differently.


If you think so, then okay. Your post is the first time I ever heard of anyone choosing to become powerful in that game; the very commonly known issue with its design is to avoid gaining any levels or power in order to keep the fights exceedingly low level and easy.

Well I feel like the way I have it set up IS balancing it. For example, the Wizard can only use offensive magic, so of course he's going to be stronger at casting spells than other classes. While the other classes might have more versatility since they can use more types of magic, they won't be quite as strong at casting offensive spells as the Wizard is. At least that's what I'm trying to achieve. I want the more specialized classes to be better, yes, but not overwhelmingly so.

Hmm... So then I'm definitely gonna run into some problems if I keep my stats as they are, mainly due to buffs...

No, no, you're misunderstanding what I mean about becoming powerful in FF8. We're talking about the same thing basically lol. Yeah, you want to keep your levels low, because that makes the enemies have lower stats. BUT, even though your LEVEL is low, does not mean that your stats have to be low. Just as one example, if you play the card game in the very first area of the game, and learn a few GF abilities with AP, you can refine 100 Curaga spells from cards/items, which will cause lv 7 (or whatever his default level is) Squall to go from like 300 HP to like 3000 HP, yet the enemies are still only doing 20 damage, so you're basically unkillable. You can do the same by junctioning 100 Tornado (I think it's Tornado anyway) to Attack, which you can do pretty much at the start of the game, and you can kill basically every regular enemy in one attack, or at worst, one limit break. That's what I was talking about the game being exploitable.
 

TakumaGao

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Also, guys, I think I'm on to something here.

First, what I did was set the Damage Style in the VisuStella BattleCore from the default engine one, to the "DQ" damage style. As someone who's played basically every mainline DQ game, I have an idea of how DQ stats work, so I decided to play around with the damage formulas and see what worked. The way that DQ mode works, is that instead of a formula calculation in the notebox, you give a value like 1.0, 2.0, etc, and it does the rest of the calculation for you.

With my current stat ranges, I had initially set Attack to 1.0 and a Fire spell to 2.0 damage. However, the numbers were quite low, and it wouldn't have worked. So... I just increased the value!

Now, Attack is 10.0, a basic Fire spell is 15.0, and the advanced Fire spell (Blaze) is 20.0 (may adjust that a bit though), which gives reasonable damage at low levels, and scales well all the way up to the stats I have set at lv 50!

But here's the fun thing! I set it up where the actor had 99 attack and 99 magic attack, vs enemies at high defenses (I tried various ranges), and ONLY if the actor had 2x debuffed the enemy's defenses AND hit the enemy's weakness (at 150%, 200% was too much) did the actor deal 999 damage! Buffs are of course not a factor because the actor's offensive stats were already 99.

So yeah, I think this might be the way to go! :D
 

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