Frostorm

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Simple question: Do any of you utilize negative stats/attributes in your projects? For instance, Yanfly's ArmorScaling plugin allows you to utilize different formulas depending on whether the target's Armor value (i.e. DEF or MDF) is positive or negative. Then again, negative stats feel strange to me. I'm currently leaning against using negative values, but for those that do, what have you done in terms of balancing for negative stats?
 

Zeireth

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The default minimum for basic parameters like mhp, atk, def, etc is 1, except for mmp which is 0. I personally like negative stats.

I do use negative stats in my project. In fact I wrote a plugin for myself that changes element rates from default 1 to 0. 0 in the default system is immunity, where as a float value of 1.01 or greater is weakness to that element.

How I dealt with that is allowing element rates to become negative for weakness and have 1 being immunity. Rates over 1 result in healing from that element. I have set caps. A soft cap stopping rates at 0.75 and a hard cap stopping rates at 0.9.

Players can raise their maximum rate if they want to go above 0.75 but cannot go greater than 0.9
 

Andar

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The problem with negative stats are their effect on mathematics like the damage formulae.

if you allow negative stats, you'll have to be much more careful on how those stats are used in the damage formulae to prevent strange effects like an attack healing the target because the negative stat was used in the wrong way in the formulae.

That is why the negatives are disabled by default - expecting even the younger or inexperienced users to handle complex mathematics would have caused a lot of problems with the engine.

If you're sure you have a handle on all secondary effects you can try to use negative stats, but even then I would suggest against that:
because if the PLAYER can't handle the numbers either, he will look for other games to play. You'll reduce your potential audience for no real gain that I can see.
 

Tai_MT

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I use negative stats. It's really no different than just having stats be lower than others. If you have a weapon that gives +5 Attack and +8 Agility, and you equip a different weapon that gives +8 Attack and only +5 Agility... the game reads that as "Agility -3".

Most players don't even track what their "base stats" are in games. What they're usually looking at is "what goes up, what goes down, and is that a good trade-off to me?". Think about that for a second. How many games have you unequipped absolutely everything on your characters just to see what the base stats you have are?

I think I've done it maybe 5 times across all the games I've played, and only because the base stat mattered in 2 of those cases (raises by X% of base stat type increases), and I was writing a guide for 3 others.

Most players are just looking to compare what they have on currently against whatever new piece of equipment they just found.

To that end, the balancing isn't much different. Is the trade-off worth it to someone?

For my game, there are several examples of this:

Is it worth it to increase Defense by 100 points, but also reduce speed by 70?
Is it worth it to reduce Defense by 30 points, but gain absolute immunity to a specific type of damage?
Is it worth it to increase Attack by 50 points, but take a 25% reduction in accuracy?

On and on.

Basically, my goal is to make each choice "viable" or "worth it" or "fit into a build". It might be worth it for a character to not have Magic Defense if it means they increase their Physical Defense by as much as they're losing. It might be worth it to lose a good chunk of attack power if it allows you to also reflect all magic cast on you.

That's how I do my balancing. It requires a LOT of playtesting. Across multiple types of players (because a player who only looks for increases is a "jack of all trades" type character and their choice of equipment is going to be the absolute narrowest among the playerbase, as they refuse to take a negative. Luckily, these players tend to be young children who don't yet know how to break games through overspecialization... or just players who want to have as many options as possible and not want to be bad at anything. These types of players can be a very small demographic, depending on who you're targeting as the audience).
 

Frostorm

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Oh, I was thinking more along the lines of having negative stat values as the final/total value. Like you said, having a weapon or piece of armor grant a stat malus instead of a bonus is no different than comparing different equipment with differing stats. I should have clarified, but I was looking to see if anyone removed the default lower limit of 0 or 1. As in, allowing a stat to fall below 0, whether through itemization or due to in-combat effects like debuffs, states, and etc. Do you allow this? If so, what steps were taken, if any, to ensure that the maths work out even in negative conditions. Apologies for the confusion.
 

Tai_MT

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Oh, to bring base stats "below zero"? I don't have anything like that. I think the system automatically stops stats at 1 or 0. Because of that, my "base stats" never really go below that threshold. I never thought it was necessary or interesting to make a stat lower than 0.

But, most of my damage formulas are addition/subtraction/multiplication. I don't do division. So, maybe that's my method of "balancing" things?

I allow stats to hit their lowest limits. Mostly because I don't think it's a big deal. Battle is meant to sort of "shift" that way. My combat mostly relies on it. Part of the "fun" is meant to be in players discovering ways to "break" the game. Or, rather, feel like they're "breaking" the game. It also allows me to throw more stuff at the players that would "break the game" in favor of the enemies as well.

I mean, effectively what I'm looking at as a "worst case scenario" is a character simply has no resistance to an attack... so they take the full damage from it. Mitigation for that is typically found in equipment and buffs. If you don't have 50 points of Defense and you equip something that reduces Defense by 75, then you just have like 1 or 0 defense. Whatever the system allows as "lowest base value". Teaching players this feature is basically one of the tutorials I run. I have early game enemies that have attacks that strike against the "Reflex" stat. The early characters only have like 10 points into Reflex at the beginning. The attack in question uses "Agility" as the attacking stat. The monster starts with about 30 Agility. So, 30 Agility, - 10 Reflex = 20 Damage. Except... one of the characters is a mage who only has 10 HP to start with. So, instant death. But, if the correct equipment is put on, it nullifies the attack down to only 2 damage. If the beefy character decides to put on the heavy armor, their Agility would be -5 if the system let it go that low. Instead, they just take the full 30 damage from the attack... which also instantly kills them.

I basically just balance around "what the player has access to" and "how much the enemies should be doing in terms of damage". That is to say... the enemies should be killing a character in about 4 attacks or so. So, if they've got access to have 30 HP and 20 Reflex, then I make sure that the enemy will do about 7 damage a hit based on what equipment is available. So, if a Tier 2 set of armor is available, with it's stats scaled up (if a Tier up isn't a percentage of original values, per stat, it is simply a doubling of them. In this case, it's a doubling for Tier 2. Percentages begin at about Tier 4, where it's easier and more meaningful to calculate them), then the monster would need about 63-ish in their "Agility" stat to make that work.

Basically, I'm trying to create a "uniform experience" in terms of balance, so all my stats and formulas are designed to make that goal attainable. The vast majority of attacks and skills use addition and subtraction. The "big skills" use multiplication. So, creating a "uniform experience" is very easy. Especially when small numbers are involved.

I can't imagine the nightmare that is involved when people are like, "I use multiplication and division and we have stats in the thousands!". I mean... just going from 1001 attack to 1005 attack in such instances would absolutely destroy the intended experience.
 

NamEtag

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I think negative stats are very useful if you're trying to enforce "hit the enemy during this phase" gameplay. Damage can swing really wildly with defense formulas, such that you either plink when they aren't vulnerable but it works fine in the dps phase or damage is fine until the enemy is broken and they get instant deleted.

If a berserk or vulnerable state drops defense to 0 or negative, then you have the opportunity to use a different formula and scale your defense debuff tools to be useful in both scenarios.
 

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Took a six week summer break from making my game, hoping some inspiration would magically strike me and I'd easily finish the last minigame and find the remaining music, but no such luck :D Guess I'll soon have to just sit down again and grind the project to the finish line. Well, at least I played a couple of good games. The Messenger was fun (when it didn't cause you rage) and currently playing World End Syndrome.
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