Stat Redundancy and Stat Re-purposing Ideas

TheRiotInside

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EDIT: Updated information in the following posts, take the time to read through it all if you like. Hopefully you will find it to be things like engaging and thought-provoking and potentially awe-inspiring.

Hey, all. My goal for this thread is to be part discussion, and part feedback. Let's see how it goes, haha.

I've been brainstorming ideas to streamline my statistics, both to make balancing easier, and to remove unnecessary guesswork and complications from the player. In doing this, I'm beginning to question a lot of the basics that I have learned to view as gospel when it comes to most RPGs.

I started looking at things like having an HP and a Defense stat. If your HP and Defense are both increasing, and they are both essentially a measure of how much beating a character can take, why not remove Defense and make armor boost HP?

If two characters have status-inflicting skills, why have a stat specifically for improving status-inflicting chance when I can just make the characters have separate skills with different success rates?

If two characters have magic damage spells, why not make one character have more powerful spells instead of trying to balance Intelligence stats AND spell damage?

I know that these are mostly staples in RPGs, but from my potentially dangerous new point of view, why spend extra time and effort balancing redundant stats that essentially work towards the same thing?

I should mention that I do realize where these redundant stats have their place. In games where party members potentially share classes, skills, and equipment, you would want a mage's Fire spell to be more effective than if a warrior uses it for example. But the way I'm going about building and balancing my game, characters have their own classes and spells and whatnot, so this just adds needless complications to balance.

I thought I had a really neat damage calculation system going on. It was set up so that your weapon had an Attack stat (RMXP), and it would increase by 100% for every 50 Strength you had over the target's Defense stat. On the flip side, it would reduce by the inverse for every 50 Defense the target had over your Strength.

Example:

A weapon has 100 ATK.
If STR = DEF, it would do 100 damage.

If STR was 50 above DEF, it would deal 200 damage. (*2)

If 100 above, it would deal 300 (*3), etc.

If DEF was 50 above STR, it would deal 50 damage (*1/2)

If 100 above, it would deal 33 (*1/3), etc.
This was awesome, I thought. Even if I encounter an enemy with crazy-high Defense at a low level, I'll still be doing a little bit of damage. Returning zero damage was impossible, I was happy. Then I started to realize, hey, if I increase the monsters' Defense and Resistance by about the same rate that the party's Strength goes up, I will always be dealing roughly the weapon's Attack stat in damage. Where is the progression here? I'm going to have to strategically balance monsters so that there is a widening gap between party Strength/Intelligence and monster Defense/Resistance, womp womp. I am a big number cruncher, but also a perfectionist with a strong respect for efficiency, and this wasn't cutting it.

So I went crazy and removed Defense and Resistance from the equation altogether. Now resilience to damage is denoted by HP. Now my sword will do the same damage to a slime as it would a dragon. No more will I perform a balancing act between HP and Defense. If I want the dragon to take more hits, he'll have more HP.

Here's a question. Would you find it boring to see your sword do around the same damage to two different enemies? Do you like the idea of seeing smaller numbers to beefier enemies, or is a higher HP stat (which is visible in battle, by the way) enough to get the point across?

You might also be thinking, "hey, what the heck are you going to do with the Defense and Resistance stats?" Excellent question! I'm thinking of making them used specifically for guarding in battle. They would range from 0-100, and provide you with that % of damage reduction when guarding. So if a shield gave you 50 Defense, guarding in battle would reduce physical damage by 50%. I figure this would be an interesting way to make guarding more appealing.

EXTRA INFORMATION WOW!

Okay, this is a little aside, but I figured it was important for you to get a better grasp of how my battles work. Basically, each party member has 20 AP (MP, SP, whatever you want to call it). Skills use varying amounts of AP (anywhere from 3-10 usually). I hate using AP-restoring items all the time, and also don't like the idea of spamming certain skills over and over again to win mindlessly, so here's what's I do to try to counter that:
- Performing a basic attack or guarding restores 2 AP.

- (not decided if AP should be restored after battle or not...)

- Special equipment and certain passive skills can increase your max AP slightly.

- Special skills can also modify your AP restored when attacking/guarding, or also nifty things like restoring when you take damage among other things.

I said all this to say that guarding can actually serve other purposes besides reducing damage.
So yeah, I realize that this post is extremely convoluted and all other the place, but that is just the way my mind is processing all of this at the moment. Feel free to take a stab at any or all of the points I tried to make here.

SUMMARY, YES!

Okay, maybe I can try to help a little.
- What do you think about stat redundancy in general, in RPG designs where it is unnecessary? (as described above)

- How do you feel about monster beefiness being determined by a visible HP stat and not necessarily smaller or larger numbers?

- Do you think that my AP ideas (if you trust me to go crazy trying to make it balanced) has the potential to work well?

- Do you like the idea of the DEF/RES stats be confined to defending, allowing different characters to have vastly different damage reduction depending on equipment, instead of the boring old "self.damage / 2" thing?

- What's on your mind? I am an excellent listener!
Thank you for your patience and replies. :)
 
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??????

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This isnt really about any of the points you raised within your post, but here are my thoughts on the default stat system and what I done to overcome them...

Most of the default stats are not redundant, they all have their own use. It is simply due to the developer's style as to which stats become redundant... Personally, I have no use for most stats; however, there are also MANY stats that the default engine does not have.

I have written countless scripts that completely change the way the default stats work && add many new stats into the mix. For example, by default, vx ace does not differentiate between atk and defense elements - I wrote a script to make it have both.

From the way I have set everything up, I dont even have to do any calculations within my skill formulas.

I can literally leave it at 100 for any skill I wanted and my scripts do all the calculations. - Calculations are based on stats / weapon type / skill used / skill type / players skills / players states / current equips and so on...

This is obviously something I still would not do.

Each skill / item *should* have its own unique formula. This could be something simple like...

[[a.atk-(b.def*0.5)].min,1].maxOr something a little more advanced... like this...

#===============================================================================# Random code creating a unique skill /item damage formula.# not really used within my game, feel free to adjust and use or whatever..# No credit is required.##===============================================================================class Game_Battler < Game_BattlerBase#===============================================================================  #-----------------------------------------------------------------------------  # In the formula box, put  # a.custom_skill(b,true)  # or  # a.custom_skill(  # or  # b.custom_skill(a,true)  # or  # b.custom_skill(a)  # - Depending on who is attacking / Skill type / Whatever.  #-----------------------------------------------------------------------------  def custom_skill(enemy,magic = false)    # / Checks if skill is magic    if magic      # // Gets simple damage formula      x = [[self.mat*1.6 - enemy.mdf].min,1].max    else      # // Repeats process but for non magic attack      x = [[self.atk*1.6 - enemy.def].min,1].max    end    # // Gets value of variable id 25    y = $game_variables[25]    # // Gets multiplier.. If game switch 50 is on, mult is 10, else, 1    z = $game_switches[50] ? 10 : 1    # // Perform another damage calculation    dmg = state?(12) ? x + y * z :  x * z    # // Returns damage output    return dmg  endend
Also, (from what I have found) once you begin balancing your skills you will quickly find out what makes it over/under-powered. And if you balance all your skill etc in a similar way, you should be able to make them balanced fairly easy...

Kind of went on a rant there and forgot my initial point... If I remember I will edit my post ^_^
 

whitesphere

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I think HP and Defense are two very different things.  I think HP represents how much physical damage your body can take.  Think of it as "If I stuck a knife in this person, while they were naked, how long could they live?"

Defense represents your armor.  For example, if I'm wearing full plate armor, it's not as likely I'll take damage from the knife since it won't penetrate.  So my HP might not change, but if Defense rises, it means it's not as likely I'll take damage.  The net effect, in game, is either a damage reduction or a reduced chance to be hit.

To me, Evasion represents how quick someone is at avoiding being hit.  In the above example, a master martial artist isn't wearing armor but IS extremely fast, so while s/he may not have any more HP, it's far less likely I'll be able to successfully hit the person.

As for magic attack/defense, I see those as representing mental and/or spiritual resilience and preparedness.  In a fantasy context, a wise old man might be extremely mentally tough and so very resistant to spells, while his powerful apprentice may be more potent on the magic attack but far weaker at defending against spells.

If anything, I'd like to see an extra stat --- Magical Evasion, which represents a target's ability to dodge the energy of a magic spell completely.  A dramatic example is in a late Dresden Files novel.  An ultra-powerful force of evil casts a spell that incinerates the target --- and the would-be victim (a powerful Native American wizard) chants.  The spell explodes around him, but does not touch him.  

So, basically, the same spell which does, say, 400 points of damage, may do only 30 points of damage to the old man, but maybe 200 points of damage to the apprentice.  But, the apprentice can cast spells for far more damage than the old man.  So they balance out in an interesting fashion.

My point is I see a very good reason to have separate, say, HP and Damage stats.  Or, say MP and Magic Resistance stats.  

In your example, against the Dragon, what if it's an old Dragon, whose hide is nigh invulnerable --- BUT who can't take nearly as much punishment as a younger one --- IF you can score a hit.  

While I see the math is simpler, I think it adds something significant to be able to represent a difference between, say, a very well protected yet physically fragile opponent (think: Metal Slime), and a not so well protected but very durable opponent (say a living wall).  It's the same thing for an Evasion stat, which can represent a very fast opponent (bird, martial artist, etc) even if the opponent doesn't have many HP.

In story, let's say you have an Evil King.  The King may not be much stronger than the usual NPC --- BUT is wearing the best armor in the game...so good luck hurting him.  And, of course, there are his powerful guards, which keep coming into the battle for some strange reason.

So I think the ability to make such a variety of characters is worth having the extra stats.
 
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TheRiotInside

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Good points made so far, keep it up!

I guess it comes down to how you want your different stats to reflect what's actually going on. I agree that it is nicer and more detailed to have HP and Defense stats to appropriately show a protected, frail enemy versus an unprotected, resilient enemy. A compromise I think would be to add in a better element resistance system than what is default in RMXP. Creating and assigning resistance percentages to different elements from -100 to 100% (or 0 to 100% really, it's all preference) would be a way to mitigate the need for a Defense stat. Although replacing one default statistic with five new ones (neutral for weapons, then four main elements) isn't exactly making great strides in efficiency objectively, haha. This way you calculate your damage, and then it's just affected by whatever the target's resistance to that element is (the MMORPG Dofus did something very close to this and it worked well).

Plenty of ideas to kick around...
 

Engr. Adiktuzmiko

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For one because there is defense and magic defense... more HP will allow you to take more of both physical and magical damage, increasing def will only help you with physical damage...


Why make a skill that increases chance of inflicting status depending on the stat instead of just two different skills? Making it based on stats allow it to be more dynamic... if I simply make two skills with different chances, then it's still static at those chances... now if I make it change depending on a stat, then the chance becomes dynamic...

If two characters have magic damage spells, why not make one character have more powerful spells instead of trying to balance Intelligence stats AND spell damage?
Because sometimes, giving them different skills is not a sound idea... + it causes data bloat since you make new objects


@white - Uhm, there is magic evasion in Ace... there's even magic counter...
 
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whitesphere

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I like TheRiotInside's idea of allowing Resistances to go negative.  A negative Resistance, mathematically, is the same as Elemental Absorption.  Sort of like how, in FFIV, Rubicante (Fire Fiend) heals when the player foolishly hits him with fire.
 

Mouser

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So long as you're consistent and the player understands what's going on, you can do loads of things.

A game manual can be very helpful in this regard, though you don't have to tell the players everything.

I rewrote almost all of the battle classes to some degree or another (with another major overhaul before I'm done).

The damage formula box? Gone. Much simpler for me to hard-code the base damage ranges for weapons and skills.

Weapons and skills do damage (a set integer range for each one). Your personal ATK affects that damage. The enemy's defense and your ATK affect whether or not you hit (all or nothing). You also have evasion, and the chance to overcome it, based primarily on AGI (again, all or nothing). Then there's shield block (another all or nothing defense mechanic - are you seeing the pattern?). I think I used the enemy's PHA stat for that (healing items heal a set amount).

In my game, it works, at least I think it does - but until I get it in the hands of players, I won't know if _they_ think it works.
 
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??????

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The damage formula box? Gone. Much simpler for me to hard-code the base damage ranges for weapons and skills.
If you dont use the formula box, what do you do to define your skills/items integer values?

I would assume you mean you dont use formulas within the box and instead use a set value ?
 

Mouser

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If you dont use the formula box, what do you do to define your skills/items integer values?

I would assume you mean you dont use formulas within the box and instead use a set value ?
ATK (on the weapon) for median number and LUK (also on the weapon) for integer variance.

Skills are handled similarly, but I can vary those (case statements are wonderful things).

'Magic' is part of the overhaul I have yet to do, but it will follow the same basic pattern.
 

??????

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ATK (on the weapon) for median number and LUK (also on the weapon) for integer variance.

Skills are handled similarly, but I can vary those (case statements are wonderful things).

'Magic' is part of the overhaul I have yet to do, but it will follow the same basic pattern.
Ahh I get it now. Pretty clever...

I have made most of the default database obsolete via my scripts, but never thought of getting rid of the formula box :D
 

Harmill

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If your HP and Defense are both increasing, and they are both essentially a measure of how much beating a character can take, why not remove Defense and make armor boost HP?
There are games that do forgo the DEF stat and use only HP as the only defensive stat. It's really up to how you want to design the stat mechanics of your game. However, I like Engr. Adiktuzmiko's point about HP being an effective defense valid towards both Physical and Magical attacks while DEF is limited to Physical attacks.

There are other unique things you can do if you use both HP and DEF stats in your game. Let's look at two attacks from Pokemon: Night Shade and Dragon Rage. These attacks deal specific damage that is completely unaffected by the target's DEF stat. Dragon Rage ALWAYS deals 40 damage. Night Shade deals damage equivalent to the user's level (meaning it can deal a maximum of 100 damage). This moves have special use cases. If you're going up against a target with a TON of DEF and RES but low HP, these moves would be highly effective against it. Basically, their niche is targeting enemies that favor DEF or RES over HP. These moves become fairly useless against targets with tons of HP (like Blissey!).

So by dividing defensive stats into both HP and physical and magical defenses, it gives you, as a designer, more options for how you create skills and spells, which in turn give your players more options in how they want to approach enemies and bosses. I think this is a good thing. Things become somewhat more binary when you remove DEF and RES and provide only the HP stat. That's not always a bad thing though - as I said before, it depends on how you want to design your enemies and skills. I'm sure some RPG players prefer as little stats as possible.

If two characters have status-inflicting skills, why have a stat specifically for improving status-inflicting chance when I can just make the characters have separate skills with different success rates?
Personally, I'd rather there not be a stat that influences status-inflicting chances. Mostly because I like being able to know exactly what my chances of inflicting the status ailment is. If your game showed the dynamically changing status ailment success rate on a per-character basis, then I guess this would be OK. In fact, it would be cool because you're getting direct feedback that your stat is improving the success rate (Lv. 5, Poison has 40% success rate. Level up to Lv.6 and suddenly you notice that the tooltip now states Poison has a 41% success rate!).

I like how Pokemon handles status success rates. Each skill has its own unique success rate (Thunder Wave = 100%, Hypnosis = 60%). When you have access to that knowledge, you can make proper assessments of the risk of choosing a 60% success rate move.

I guess to sum it up, the key is conveying the % chance to the player, regardless of whether its a static or dynamic value. If you have the means for a tooltip to update based off a formula, then sure, by all means have a stat that improves the success rate. At least you can design characters or classes that specialize around status ailments then. If you go with the static success rate that is tied to the spell, you would then need to have the Status Ailment specialty character/class have access to the better success rate spells over other characters/classes.

If two characters have magic damage spells, why not make one character have more powerful spells instead of trying to balance Intelligence stats AND spell damage?
There are a number of ways you can approach Magic Spells in your game. Which approach you take will greatly affect how you want to balance spells. How you want to handle spell-access between your party members will also affect how you want to approach your spells.

One approach is to remove scaling completely and simply allow your magic users to be the only ones that can access the top tier spells. If you go this route, old spells will become useless as you learn more powerful ones. This can be a good thing for some players and an annoyance to others. Some might enjoy the distinction between using Blazemost over Blaze (yeeeehaw DQ original spell names!!!!!) rather than having that one Blaze spell getting stronger as your mage gets stronger. Some might prefer every spell to be useful and get annoyed when useless and outdated spells clog up their spell list.

You can make spells have NO base damage and scale with the MAG stat. This makes spells weak when used by a Warrior and strong when used by a Mage. This allows you to have more universal spells that are then more useful/powerful depending on who uses them. This would work in a game where non-mage characters have the potential to learn magic as well, or you simply want to make distinctions between multiple magic users (Mage A has higher MAG but lower RES - Mage B has lower MAG but higher RES).

You can give spells a base damage and then also have a scaling factor with the MAG stat. This gives you more ways to diversify your spells. You could combine these two factors in any way to create spells that will be viewed quite differently depending on which character class is looking at them. Let's say there's a spell that has poor MAG scaling but good base damage. This spell is favorable to those that don't primarily use magic. A warrior could make use of this spell because it doesn't rely on his MAG stat as heavily as others. Then there's a spell with poor/average base damage but good MAG scaling. Obviously, the magic users will prefer this one, at least once their MAG becomes high to make it deal more damage than the poor-scaling but high base-damage spells. I find these types of spells to be more unique and interesting than the above two options, but it's designed more towards a game with a Class system, which you said you were avoiding.

Would you find it boring to see your sword do around the same damage to two different enemies? Do you like the idea of seeing smaller numbers to beefier enemies, or is a higher HP stat (which is visible in battle, by the way) enough to get the point across?
Yes, I would find it boring. It makes enemies LESS boring because you can characterize them based on how much damage you deal. The Zombie in DQ/DW games tend to have HP with low defense while the Army Crabs (DQIII) have low HP and high DEF. This is an inherent property across all recolours of those monster families and it becomes something that you learn and associate with the different monsters. It's also a more instant feedback when you know that you can deal 30 damage on average to Zombie, but suddenly you're only doing 12 damage on average to Army Crab. You instantly understand that one has better DEF over the other. With no DEF, you don't really receive any information upon using your normal attack (unless it dies in one hit!). It's more like, "how many hits will it take to beat this monster?".

 What do you think about stat redundancy in general, in RPG designs where it is unnecessary?
I don't think the "common" stats are redundant in an any way. To be clear, I see "HP, MP, ATK, DEF, MAG, RES, and AGL" as the common stats. Extra stats could be Accuracy and Evasion, which I actually LIKE being placed in a core stat along with ATK and DEF. So when I think about these stats, the word 'redundant' doesn't come to mind.

I find Luck to be a superficial stat that varies from game to game, and because some games don't even spell out for you what the stat does, I feel it's a stat that doesn't really need to exist. Sure, it could be contributing to my character's performance in battle, but if I can't recognize that "I did X because my Luck stat was high enough" or "This bad thing happened to me because my Luck stat was too low", then it becomes a stat with invisible benefits. Contrast this with an actual Accuracy stat, where when you find yourself missing a lot, you can relate that to your low Accuracy (Auron missing the birds in FFX, for instance).

But as for a stat being "redundant", no, I can't really think of stats that are redundant.

How do you feel about monster beefiness being determined by a visible HP stat and not necessarily smaller or larger numbers?
Personally, I'm not a fan of enemy HP bars in general. This entirely stems from my origins in playing RPGs (Dragon Warriors 1, 2, and 3) but I enjoy the suspense or intensity of not knowing how close I am to slaying the boss. This only becomes a nuisance if the boss is so easy that you're just getting bored. But when the boss is difficult, and you're spending time figuring out who should be doing what on a per turn basis, I find boss fights become more exhilarating not knowing how low it is. With that said, if bosses had feedback in their VISUAL DESIGN that indicated they just got to 50% HP or 25%, that's cool. It gives a sense of progress in a fight that simply an HP can't achieve.

If you DO go with HP bars, I found myself loving the way Kingdom Hearts 1 uses HP bars. HP bars in that game are layered in the sense that the first "bar" is a green colour. If the enemy has more than 300 HP, the excess HP goes into a second hp bar, which is a different colour. By memorizing that green is the first HP bar, yellow is the second HP bar, orange is the third HP bar, purple is the fourth HP bar, you can get a good sense of how much HP someone has. One full HP bar = 300 HP. So if you start a boss fight, and the boss has half an orange bar overtop a yellow, you can tell that he has 750 HP (Full yellow = 600 HP + half an orange (150) = 750). This type of HP bar system is MUCH more useful than a standard HP bar that looks the same for all enemies.

Other games use a similar system with "multiple HP bars" and you can see how many more bars you have to deplete, but I like the use of colour within the HP bars that Kingdom Hearts utilized. It was more interesting than just seeing four orbs below the real HP bar, indicating that he has four HP bars in reserve.

Do you think that my AP ideas (if you trust me to go crazy trying to make it balanced) has the potential to work well?
I don't fully understand how your system would work. Do you start the fight with 20 AP or do you start with 0 and you have to build it up with physical attacks/guarding? Does max AP increase with level ups or is it a near-static value that only increases with the special equipment or passive skills that you mentioned?

You said your idea is to prevent the player from spamming the same skill over and over again and to stop them from just using an AP-restoring item that allows them to continue spamming once they run out of AP. Really, this is somewhat like a Tales battle system where normal attacks recover TP to let you continue stringing special skills into your combos. I think it could work in a turn-based battle system, but there are so many random variables to take into consideration (and you simply said if you took the time to make it balanced) that I can't fully visualize how such a system would really play out if it was tuned perfectly. How many normal attacks should the Player be forced to use before they have enough AP to use a special skill? How do you perceive normal attacks (this is something that varies greatly from person to person - some people HATE the idea that their players might spam normal attacks and therefore do everything in their power to make them next to useless). Normal attacks would obviously need to be competent in their own right. You can't feel like the turns where you're earning AP with normal attacks are serving to drag a fight on longer than needed.

If anything, I'd push more towards combining your idea with what Xenosaga Episode 1 did. In that game the max AP was 6, and you start every fight with 4 AP. Each attack uses 2 AP, and you restore 4 AP at the end of each turn. It's also important to note that you perform "combos", so you're not restricted to using 1 attack per turn. If you have 4 AP, you can use 2 attacks or stop after the 1st attack. So at the start of the fight, you'd have a choice between using 2 normal attacks (4 AP) that drains your AP completely or using 1 normal attack (2 AP) that carries the remaining 2 AP over into the next turn that allows you to unleash 3 attacks in one turn.

So with that explained, I think your system would want to encourage the same decision making that Xenosaga's battle system had. You also don't want it to take too many turns to earn the AP required to use the attacks that players might be more inclined to use. The thing that was nice with Xenosaga's system was that you only had to have one build-up turn to pull off your good attacks. If the build-up takes 3 or 4 or 5 turns, they start becoming only viable against boss fights, or your normal encounters begin taking 3 or 4 or 5+ turns to complete on average. If using normal attacks isn't good enough on its own, then players are also going to go into a routine, where they unleash their strongest attacks, then they have to spend 3,4,5+ turns building the AP back up to rinse and repeat.

There are so many variables to think about, that it's hard to say how your system would play out with the information provided. I think the high concept of the system can work, though. You just have to make sure that in your quest to prevent players from spamming the same skills over and over again, you don't make the battle system boring or too slow for a player to get engaged or want to complete 200 battles.
 
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TheRiotInside

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Thanks for all the feedback and ideas so far guys, it's all very helpful.

I think I'll clarify and elaborate on what exactly I'm doing for damage calculations before I get into replying to specifics.

Weapons



These all have an Attack stat, which is then put through the damage formula I described above:
If a STR > b DEF:

DMG = ATK * (50 + STR - DEF) / 50If a STR < b DEF:

DMG = ATK * 50 / (50 + DEF - STR)So Attack works like a base damage, with Strength and Defense modifying it from there. The "greater than" and "less than" conditions are a common thread throughout all of my damage calculations, because without the STR < DEF condition, it would only take an enemy having 50 more Defense than my Strength to render my weapon useless, no matter how strong it is.

Skills

Base Damage



This is where things get a bit more interesting in ways that I am a little proud of. For party members, there are two ways base damage is calculated, either with your Attack stat for weapon-based skills, or Power which is level-based.
I have overhauled the scripts to treat the ATK_F number like a multiplier, so that I can make skills whose base damage is always proportional to the base damage of your equipped weapon. This makes things extremely easy for me, as I can make a double attack skill that actually consistently deals double the damage of your regular attack, for example. It's a wonderful balancing tool, as it lets me scale all of those skills properly with my weapon, which is one way to not let weapons outclass skills over time, or vice versa.

This was great and all, but I came to the realization that not all skills should work this way. I mean, hurling a ball of fire shouldn't be dependent on how strong my weapon is. That would be foolish, foolish I say! I ended up making a little change that checks to see if a skill has an ATK_F number > 0. If not, it calculates base damage using this here instead:

Base DMG = (2.5 * LVL) + 7.5I did the math to figure out what kind of slope increase I wanted with level. This gives me 10 base damage at level 1, and around 200 base damage at level 80 (210 at 81 to be exact). I guessed at what my reasonable max level would be, and what kind of Attack stats my most powerful weapons would have, and got something like this.

So now, I use the Power number in the skills tab as a multiplier, the same way I use ATK_F for weapon skills. With that out of the way, here's the fun part.

Modifiers

Making every skill either "physical" (using STR and DEF) or "magical" (using INT and RES) was lame. I decided I wanted to mix things up. Say if a skill created a large, dangerously pointy stone and dropped it onto someone. Your weapon affecting its damage makes no sense. Your Strength affecting damage doesn't cut it, since you aren't actually hurling the stone yourself. Resistance falls short, since getting crushed by a rock is definitely a physical action. This skill, in my mind, should be Power/Intelligence/Defense-based. If you flung the stone however, Power/Strength/Defense makes more sense.
If you light your sword on fire and reign death down on an enemy, using Attack makes sense here, but you could go either way with Strength for the sword swing or Intelligence for the fire aspect. Same applies for Defense and Resistance, depending on if you want the sword or the fire on the sword to be the dominant part, you know?

Because of all this crap, I throw a number into either STR_F or INT_F, and DEF_F or RES_F depending on what I want that specific skill to do. I feel like this adds a good amount of diversity by preventing "every fire skill uses magic stats" and things of that nature.
So by dividing defensive stats into both HP and physical and magical defenses, it gives you, as a designer, more options for how you create skills and spells, which in turn give your players more options in how they want to approach enemies and bosses. I think this is a good thing. Things become somewhat more binary when you remove DEF and RES and provide only the HP stat. That's not always a bad thing though - as I said before, it depends on how you want to design your enemies and skills. I'm sure some RPG players prefer as little stats as possible.
In a perfect world I would skirt this issue by using the resistance idea I mentioned earlier. Everyone would have five resistances, from 0-100%. Neutral, then Earth, Fire, Wind, Water. Most weapons would be deal Neutral damage, making that resistance value your "physical" defense in a way, while the four elemental resistances would mostly be your "magical" defense. The elements are similar to Golden Sun, where wind includes air/thunder, while water includes water/ice, etc. So most of the standard magic types are covered within these four. All of the weapon and skill ideas I detailed would still be intact, just instead of the STR/INT DEF/RES checks, Strength or Intelligence would increase damage, which would then be reduced by the % resistances the target has. Something like this wouldn't be too bad I think.

I think after reading the replies and doing more thinking on my own, I have narrowed it down to two choices. Either leave the system as it is, with Defense and Resistance stats, or make them guarding stats and go with the 5-element system I described for damage reduction, keeping physical and magical attacks, but making them reduce by different element percentages. The element %'s seems a bit easier to balance, but harder to implement (scripts to do what I want seem to be scarce on this subject).

[SIZE=11.818181991577148px]I don't fully understand how your system would work. Do you start the fight with 20 AP or do you start with 0 and you have to build it up with physical attacks/guarding? Does max AP increase with level ups or is it a near-static value that only increases with the special equipment or passive skills that you mentioned?[/SIZE] 
I'll do my best to clarify. Also you mentioned some very good points about attacks and guarding having the potential to make the battles feel dragged out if they are just a means of using flashy skills. I'll try and tackle all of the stuff you mentioned.

Here's how it works right now (meaning it is tentative!):

Trees! (of the Skill variety)

I'm making up a skill tree system very similar to what Borderlands uses. Search "borderlands 2 skill tree" if you are unfamiliar and want to play around with it yourself, or read on and I will try to explain, haha.
Each party member has three skill trees, each (currently) with five skills. You gain one skill point (SP) when you level up, and use those to learn skills. Just about every skill has five levels, so you can get a maxed skill essentially every five level ups. Only a skill or two is available to put points into at the start; they are on the first row. Every five points spent in a specific tree opens up the next row, which will have another skill or two in it (or none!). This makes the player progress through a certain tree before they get to the real goodies (extra-special skills are farther along the tree), and also prevents them from cherry-picking the best skills out of each tree right away.

I felt like I should go over this briefly before getting into AP to give you a better understanding on how the system all comes together. Anyway!
Action! (...points)

Having APEach party member has 20 AP. This value is static, so theoretically at level 5 billion, you would still have 20 AP. As of now, it doesn't recharge after battle, but I think I might change that, since it seems kind of weird to hold that 0-20 AP value in limbo between fights for long periods of time...I don't know, you could make arguments for both sides.

Anyway, the 20 AP is pretty consistent, outside of certain goodies. These would be the odd passive skill a ways into a skill tree that increases AP (usually by 5), or the odd piece of equipment or weapon (probably no more than 5). Basically, including all the goodies, a party member would have anywhere from 20 to 30 AP.

Using AP

Battle skills cost AP, nothing special here. Most skills could be anywhere from 3 to 10 usually, depending on how devastating of an effect it has, or how much I want to "limit" its usage in battle. This is basically a measure to force a bit of strategy and variation on what players do in battle. I am trying not to take it too far, keeping in mind that if I force the player's hand too much, it will feel like punishment (like you were mentioning earlier).

Gaining AP

To allow for a solid way to keep the battle flow going smoothly, performing a basic weapon attack or a guard will restore 2 AP. When I figure out skill AP cost, it puts me into the mindset of "how much attacking and defending will I have to do to make that AP investment back? How many regular attacks is this skill worth? How many times should this realistically be used consecutively before running out of AP?" etc.

Like the 20 base AP, this is fairly static, with similar exceptions. A special weapon might restore 3 AP instead, or a really overpowered broken weapon might only restore 1 perhaps? Nifty skills allow for AP to be restored when the player takes damage, or when they kill an enemy for example.
Basically, you could have a situation where you have 20 AP, and restore 2 when attacking and defending. Or with a special build, you could have 30 AP, restore 3 when attacking and defending, and restore more when you take damage and kill things. The amount of variety and build options is really up to me and the effort I put into it, but that is the potential I can see right now.

One of my goals for making a system like this is that I want to give the player as much incentive as reasonably possible to do whatever they want in battle, while keeping some limitations to control it and make it balanced. If I had a crazy-awesome shiny skill that I wanted to use, I would be much more inclined to use it knowing I could recoup the cost by using basic attacks for a few turns sometime down the road, as opposed to the thought of returning to an inn or using a rare AP-restoring item. Having basic actions restore AP gives the player an option to remove the hard cost of using skills (inn/items) in favour of a soft cost (altering play style for a few turns). Any thoughts on this approach would be very welcome!

I really love the idea of having a set amount of AP every turn, and allowing the player to spend it every turn how they see fit (similar to Xenosaga I style). Actually making it happen though is something that is unfortunately not too realistic for me right now. I could do the "AP restoring every turn" thing, but allowing each character to perform multiple actions until they run out of AP or pass their turn is something I would need some scripting to accomplish.

I eagerly await your replies! This is turning into a general discussion of my game mechanics, which I don't mind at all. Let's keep this train rolling.
 
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Harmill

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So Attack works like a base damage, with Strength and Defense modifying it from there. The "greater than" and "less than" conditions are a common thread throughout all of my damage calculations, because without the STR < DEF condition, it would only take an enemy having 50 more Defense than my Strength to render my weapon useless, no matter how strong it is.
Only thing I'll say about this is that it kinda reminds me of Star Ocean: Till the End of Time's damage calculations (at least in terms of how enemies deal damage to party members). In that game, if your DEF stat matched or exceeded the enemy's ATK stat, you would always receive 0 damage from their attacks regardless of what attack/skill they use. ATK was a stat that generally had higher growths than DEF, though, so you'd never see your DEF reaching the same levels as your ATK stat. What was cool about this was that you didn't need to worry about any damage calculations - it was simple. What's the boss's attack? 1500? OK, then if my DEF is 1500+, he can't hurt me. This was something that only really factored into the lower difficulties and the super bosses, but it was a neat system. The only reason I'm reminded of this is how you said, "it would only take an enemy having 50 more Defense than my Strength to render my weapon useless, no matter how strong it is." It's kind of like any damage modifiers a special ability might have in Star Ocean 3 are rendered useless if your DEF was higher than the target's ATK.

So what are you trying to accomplish with your formulas? It seems you want to make a distinction between the user's STR stat and the power of their weapon. But for this quote:

This makes things extremely easy for me, as I can make a double attack skill that actually consistently deals double the damage of your regular attack, for example. It's a wonderful balancing tool, as it lets me scale all of those skills properly with my weapon, which is one way to not let weapons outclass skills over time, or vice versa.
What do you mean that skills always outclass weapons? This is something that should always be the case with the default systems provided you haven't made a skill's attack formula weaker than the normal attack's formula. I'm not sure what you're trying to accomplish here.

In a perfect world I would skirt this issue by using the resistance idea I mentioned earlier. Everyone would have five resistances, from 0-100%. Neutral, then Earth, Fire, Wind, Water. Most weapons would be deal Neutral damage, making that resistance value your "physical" defense in a way, while the four elemental resistances would mostly be your "magical" defense. The elements are similar to Golden Sun, where wind includes air/thunder, while water includes water/ice, etc. So most of the standard magic types are covered within these four. All of the weapon and skill ideas I detailed would still be intact, just instead of the STR/INT DEF/RES checks, Strength or Intelligence would increase damage, which would then be reduced by the % resistances the target has. Something like this wouldn't be too bad I think.
My problem with making defenses a % based system instead of being used in a damage formula is that you run into the potential problem that you'll achieve 90%+ damage reduction from various damage sources. They did this in Chrono Trigger except it was just a single "Magic Defense" stat. It was a simple number from 1-99 and it's value was exactly the % damage reduction to magic attacks. I had a problem with this. When I first fought Lavos' final form, I was a relatively good level to fight him (Lv. 50) and he OHKO my entire party with some gigantic magic attack that did 1000+ damage (my average max HP was 800ish I think). This came across as cheap and I didn't really understand what I was supposed to do to prevent such a powerful attack. I read up and learned that it was a magic attack and that the key was to raise your Magic Defense to obscene levels. So yeah, I leveled up a few times, equipped Accessories that increased my Magic Defense, and the next time I fought him (Ayla had 90 Magic Defense), he was doing 200-300 damage to Ayla. The change in damage is HUGE and I didn't like how it worked. I imagine that if I leveled up even more, and got Ayla's Magic Defense to 95+ that Lavos' attack would have been doing less than 100 damage. To me, the damage fluctuation was too much.

This isn't as much of a problem if you make it impossible to reach the 90+ zone. But another thing to keep in mind is that it might be harder to figure out how strong you should make each enemy's attacks. For me to have 90% damage reduction in Chrono Trigger, and still be taking 200-300 damage from Lavos' attack, I can only imagine what the base power of that spell had to be. If you had 50 Magic Defense, he could've been doing 2000+ damage with it, and the max HP only goes to 999...

I prefer to keep having DEF and RES as part of a damage formula, and then have a separate elemental defense reduction that is more supplementary than core. % Fire Reduction would never be a core stat, but instead a beneficial property provided by equipment or passive skills or states. I know that FFIX provided equipment that would straight up give you 100% Fire reduction or even Fire Absorption and stuff like that. They weren't overpowered because usually their actual DEF or RES stat might be weaker than other armour you could be equipping. It's a choice - do I want the increased DEF/RES, which gives me a bit more defenses that are effective against ALL physical/magical attacks or do I really need to counter the boss' powerful Fire attacks? I remember having troubles with one boss in FFIX, and he had a powerful AoE Wind spell and a powerful AoE Water spell. I split up my Water and Wind absorption/damage reduction gear on my team and it helped me through the fight so much. I couldn't have every party member absorbing both Wind and Water at the same time, so it never felt like a cheap/cheese strategy. It's more standard boss preparation strategy.

One of my goals for making a system like this is that I want to give the player as much incentive as reasonably possible to do whatever they want in battle, while keeping some limitations to control it and make it balanced.
You know, the more I think about this, the more I think you could just use a Cooldown system to achieve your same goals. Yanfly has scripts that allow you to provide limitations to how often player's can use a skill. You can set any number of turns as a cooldown for a spell, and this accomplishes the goal of preventing spamming. I guess one difference from your AP system would be that cooldowns are skill-specific while AP limits your usage of ALL your skills. Still, I'd rather prevent the player from spamming ONE skill over and over again than prevent him spamming SKILLS in general.

I see RPG Maker games do two things more than anything:

- Make battles easy enough where you never need to use skills because you can spam Normal Attacks and still win. The result is that no strategy is required and battles become boring.

- Deliberately buff Skills/Spells to the point that Normal Attacks become near-useless with the intent to prevent Normal Attack spamming. The result of this is that the player has no choice but to spam skills.

I would prefer trying to find a balance between using normal attacks and special skills. I don't mind a player completing 3 fights in a row using only skills if he's making the cost through MP/SP/AP. If he spams skills, he runs out of MP and he's forced to spend a turn recovering or he finishes the fight with normal attacks and recovers MP between fights. In this situation, I wouldn't want normal attacks to be useless. I wouldn't want my player to feel like his party member is useless if he has no MP (Mage-centric characters can be an exception.). If the player chooses to invest his currency in a ton of MP-restoring items because he loves spamming his skills, then why not? Ideally, the player isn't receiving SO much currency that he can afford the newest equipment for all party members and still have money to spare on a ton of healing items. If the Player chooses to spend his money on MP-restoring items, he should be sacrificing something else (maybe he can't afford upgrading the Helmet for Party Member A and the new Accessory for Party Member C). Obviously, if the player is grinding, you can't do anything about his excess money. I wouldn't worry about them anyways.

If you find normal attacks to be useless when you didn't deliberately overload the power into your skills, maybe you should look at how powerful you've made your skills. Maybe make them weaker. Maybe make sure that your skills have USE CASES and aren't applicable to be used against all enemies every turn. I'm fond of weakness systems where if you use a Fire attack against an enemy weak to Fire, he should die in 1 hit. Maybe 2, depending on how fast you want battles to last but it's a nuisance when utilizing an enemy's weakness makes a battle last 3 turns instead of 4. You change your skill usage on a per-enemy basis, because hopefully you don't have that universal skill that is simply Normal Attack * 2 in strength and is more effective against everything than the more specific Fire Strike skill.

I really love the idea of having a set amount of AP every turn, and allowing the player to spend it every turn how they see fit (similar to Xenosaga I style). Actually making it happen though is something that is unfortunately not too realistic for me right now. I could do the "AP restoring every turn" thing, but allowing each character to perform multiple actions until they run out of AP or pass their turn is something I would need some scripting to accomplish.
There is a script that does this already but it's somewhat limited. http://yanflychannel.wordpress.com/rmvxa/gameplay-scripts/active-chain-skills/

I was going to use this script to convert a Tales of Graces F combo system into a turn-based game. You are limited in how many different skills can be comboed out of another skill, but the core idea is there. I would use TP in a system like this, and you can modify the default scripts so that you start every turn with 20 TP. You would still need a script that modifies max TP so that your TP max is 20 and not 100 but there IS a script for this (sorry, no link for this one but try a search through the scripts forum). In a single turn, you could then start up your combo by selecting any skill from your menu, and in the Databse you set which skills are applicable to continue the combo out of each skill. For example, let's say we have these skills:

Demon Fang, Sonic Thrust, Sword Rain, Rising Falcon, Beast

You start the combo by choosing Demon Fang (3 AP), and it has the ability to combo into Sonic Thrust (3 AP), Sword Rain (4 AP), or another Demon Fang (3 AP). You combo into Sonic Thrust, which has the ability to combo into another Sonic Thrust, Sword Rain, or Beast (5 AP). If you combo into Beast, then you gain access to using Rising Falcon, a much more powerful attack. You can continue chaining these attacks until you run out of AP or you choose to end. If the max AP is 20 and you gain 20 AP each turn, there isn't really an incentive to end a combo if you still have AP to spend. I believe the script has a limit to 3 potential skills being comboed out of another, hence why in my example, I only ever list 3 potential skills to be used to continue the combo. This may not be what you want, but it could accomplish what you want to some degree, so I thought I'd at least mention it in case you've never seen the script before. If anything, you could reduce the AP recovery per turn to something like 10, so that you have an incentive to end a combo early in order to bring AP over to the next turn. For instance, if you have your 10 AP skill, and you choose to use it twice in one turn, you've completely drained your AP and only get 10 AP for the next turn. You can't pull off that insane attack for a while. If you really want to do that again, you have two choices: (1) Normal Attack/Guard to get 10 AP that turn and immediately be able to use that 10 AP twice a turn again or (2) Spend 1-3 turns ending a combo early to carry over 2-4 AP per turn to gradually build yourself back to the 20 AP cap. Yeah, I like the way this sounds!  :guffaw:  Since this system allows you to use multiple skills per turn, if you can't combo anything out of a Normal Attack, then Normal Attacks DO turn into weak commands that serve only to gain AP faster. If you're OK with that, great! If you still want Normal Attacks to have a use, perhaps make them cost 1 or 2 AP so that EVERYTHING costs AP to use. To prevent players from using 10/20 Normal Attacks in one turn, you could duplicate the Normal Attack skill in the Database to multiple slots, each slot representing an extra normal attack on a turn. With the Active Chain Skill script, you'd have Normal Attack 1 chain into Normal Attack 2, and so on. The last Normal Attack skill would not be able to chain into anything, preventing them from using 20 Normal Attacks each turn. Maybe there could be a special property where equipping an Accessory gives your party member the ability to do a 4 Normal Attack combo when others are stuck by a default 3 Normal Attack combo.
 
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TheRiotInside

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So what are you trying to accomplish with your formulas? It seems you want to make a distinction between the user's STR stat and the power of their weapon.
It's a bit of a tough question to answer, really. Most damage formulas typically work well when they have some kind of base damage, with some kind of multiplier/addition tacked onto it. The power of the weapon works as the base damage, which is then modified by how "strong" the wielder is. My party members mostly use different weapons, but if a strong and a frail character both had a weapon with 50 Attack, their respective Strength allows me to differentiate how effective they are with those weapons. Using Strength instead of just the Attack and Defense stats for damage lets me give the player a sense of growth when they level up as well, which is very important.

I'm using RMXP by the way, so unfortunately those awesome VXA scripts that you mentioned won't be of much use.

What do you mean that skills always outclass weapons? This is something that should always be the case with the default systems provided you haven't made a skill's attack formula weaker than the normal attack's formula. I'm not sure what you're trying to accomplish here.
What I was saying is that with the default system, you set a base power for your skills. If you have a weapon with 50 Attack and a fire spell with 50 base power, other factors aside, you would expect those to be about on par with each other in terms of damage. As you progress through the game, if you now find yourself with a weapon with 100 Attack, your fire spell is falling behind quite a bit. This widening gap makes your weapons slowly outclass your spells, reducing battles to a weapon attack fest.

My "weapon-based skills doing a set multiple of your weapon damage" idea wasn't really there to combat this exact issue, but it's related. I didn't like the fact that--despite setting ATK_F on a skill to have a better weapon increase its damage--you had to play a bit of a guessing game to balance your skill with your weapon. Making the changes I did, I can set a skill to always do a set multiple of my weapon's damage. If I'm starting the game with a weapon doing 10 damage, maybe my first damage skill would deal around 15 damage. Many hours letter at the end of the game, if my weapon now deals 1000 damage, that skill will be right around 1500.

This provides consistency for myself and more importantly for the player. They know that they can forget about all of the other factors, and know that this spell that costs X AP should be the equivalent of an attack and a half essentially. It's a pain to see a skill be a useful attack alternative at first, only to see its respective damage diminish compared to your new, shiny weapons.

I'm not one of those guys who hates the thought of clicking the attack button. I've added the awesome Golden Sun feature that allows certain weapons to unleash skills at a set %rate, and certain weapons can apply states to enemies, etc. What I'm saying is that I'm trying to make weapons in general more interesting than clicking a button and seeing the same damage number pop up every time. On the other hand though, I don't like the idea of a game becoming an attack-fest, when using anything but your weapon becomes a poor choice. That is simply the result of bad balancing and poor attention to detail. There are ways around it, and I intend on finding and using those ways.

I'm trying to strike a balance to where using your weapon all the time could get you through most of the fights, but at the cost of longer battles and therefore more damage being dished out to your party. Skills are there to speed up fights, and to add strategy and flavour to the monotony of battles.

EDIT: Another thing I'm looking to do is to re-purpose DEX_F and AGI_F in the skills tab, since I don't plan on using Dexterity or Agility to calculate damage anytime soon. I think I want to use them for skills inflicting states. RMXP's state resistance system is very limited (A through F, representing 100% down to 0% I think). I'm going to try and let the DEX_F number match up with those respective states in the database, and use AGI_F as the success rate. So a skill with a DEX_F of 2 and AGI_F of 50 would inflict Poison 50% of the time, along with whatever else the skill already does. I believe there are script calls you can use in common events that let you do things to the current target, so I can add those to the skills to do what I want. Or if I manage it, I can just add it to the skill damage formulas directly to avoid all of the common events.
 
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Tussin

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i would be ok with my sword hitting different monsters for the same damage for a slime or a dragon for 20 damage for example. i would only want that to change if a monster type had a different physical weakness, strength or neutral resistance to the weapon type. ie : slashing/thrusting/crushing physical damage types.

say i fight a golem made of stone, if i hit it with my sword for 10 damage but my other group member hits it for 20 damage with a hammer and they have the same strength and same tier of weapon equivalency i would be happy with that type of balance.

example the golem is weak to crushing, neutral to thrusting, strong to slashing, say everyone has 10 strength with different weapons with 10 attack, the hammer would hit the golem for 20, the spear would hit for 15, the sword would hit for 10.

just to add another layer of dynamics?
 
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Zakreyus

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One particular thing I like to do - mostly because it makes sense - is to use different stats for different things. While that may SOUND obvious, let me elaborate. But first of course, this is how I organize my stats. Original stats are to the left, renamed ones are to the right.

Attack - strength

Magic attack - Mind

Agility - agility

Luck - skill

Defense - Endurence

Magic defense - Focus

I do this mostly for aesthetic purposes, as I believe that these terms make more sense in terms of gameplay. Where most skills would be designed with a basic template - Magic attacks pitting Matk vs Mdef - I use a slightly different model.

One of my skills takes advantage of slower enemies, but uses a simple formula =

damage = b.def - b.agi

So, the player using this skill deals damage based on their opponents defenses, while being less effective against speedy enemies.

One spell i use pushes the player character - ostensibly striking them against a landscape feature - and for this formula, i use the characters STRENGTH stat as a defensive measure. Why? Because if they are being pushed, they can resist using their personal strength - armour wouldnt really help all that much when you are being crushed against something.

a.mat - b.atk

You can use this in a variety of situations, and I personally enjoy using a defenders stat as an offensive number for the attacker. Another example is the skill Shattering Strike, which uses a combination of the attackers strength, and the defenders endurence to calculate damage, with an endurence debuff, so sequential uses of the skill wont be as effective.

It makes sense to me, at any rate, and there are a tonne of ways to use this. It all depends on circumstance, and reacting logically to the circumstance - which is why I also changed magic attack to mind, and magic defense to focus - when targetted by the spell Pain for example, you could use focus as a defensive stat. Against a fireball, Agility. Against  a weapon based ability, use skill as a mitigating stat.

I find that this system helps make progression feel good, as all skills wont be effective in every situation, in fact, for certain areas some classes will be downright difficult to play! Or conversely, a walk in the park - but those situations make sense! You KNOW your Weaponmaster is going to absolutely destroy low-skill enemies. But you also know that against a high skill enemy, you may not be as effective as a hex-slinging Gifted, who deals with misdirection.

My particular system  makes the following assumption - anyone, can become anything, with the right amount of work. With the proper skill items, a player in my game can class over to a hefty knight - style character, and still have a magical card up his sleeve.

You can complement this with elemental damages for even more customizability, if you wish.

May have gone on a ramble, but I hope it helps for your ideas.
 

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