Tools to reduce the tediousness of Game Balancing

Neo Soul Gamer

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So after playing around with scripts and commissioning for compatibility tweaks, I've come very close to incorporating every feature I had originally envisioned into my game.

After shifting my focus to database work for a bit, I was overwhelmed. There are so many factors to consider when balancing a game. Parameters, features, damage values, success rates... All these numbers flashed before my eyes and suddenly I lost motivation. 

I had to figure out a way to facilitate the game balancing process. It's one thing to tweak a skill here and there. But what if, after hours of testing, you find that your Characters/Skills/Weapons are too over-powered? This would most likely require a shift in values across the entire database. I can't imagine going back and editing this stuff individually. Saying that this would be tedious is an understatement.

So, my question to you all is... What methods and workarounds do you have in place to deal with this scenario? I think this is a worthy brainstorming session that could help all of us. I'll start off by listing some methods of my own.

  1. Mr. Bubbles' "Load Notes from Text Files" script is a life saver for me. I have several different "templates" and this script allows me to manage them so much easier when it comes to making small changes. Simply change a notetag name within a database entry rather than picking apart the note sequence.
     
  2. Yanfly's Adjust Limits & Prexus Static Parameter Change: These two scripts allow me to set parameter values for pretty much everything through notetags. 
     
  3. Tsukihime's feature manager: Lets me manage my features with notetags. I found this especially useful for changing elemental and state weaknesses across the board.
     
  4. Finally, Notepad++. This is a program that has amazing capabilities (Google it). One feature that has really come in handy for me is replacing text in multiple files at once. So for those cases where I need to change values across the board, all I have to do is find and replace. Takes less than a minute.
I could go on and on, but that's the core of my setup outside of the confines of the program.
 

kerbonklin

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Let's seee

When it comes to re-balancing, start from the ground up. If something isn't OP earlier in the game, then it probably won't be later on unless you get something that affects it. (Some kind of item or ability that synergizes too well) That new thing is what you can fix or nerf.

However, not knowing the difference between something "good", "really good" and "op" can lead to devastating imbalances, or the nerf/removal of things that are actually fine.
 
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Mouser

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First, just accept the fact that if your game is anything other than a simple hack and slash with a couple of skills, it will never be 100% balanced. Seriously.

Look at games like Everquest and Everquest 2: Ten or more years in and they're STILL balancing the classes. Granted, a lot of that is due to new stuff being added, but at no point in either games history could you say "Ok, now everything is balanced right."

The main thing is to start off with balance in mind: how many encounters will they take between rests?

How beat up do you want the players to get? How strong will the enemies have to be to get him there?

How much do you want the party to rely on consumable items? Will there be enough gold or drops to support that?

and so on...

Final note: It's sometimes a Good Thing to let a player feel overpowered for a bit: after gaining some new abilities, or after some significant character changing event. Let her go on a tear slicing a bloody swath across the land, then ramp up the enemies to bring it back in line when the plot moves on
 

Sharm

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MMOs are actually a bad reference for how to balance things for an RPG, they usually strive for something called perfect imbalance built around the multiplayer aspect. The stuff we make has one player and isn't constantly being added to so readjusting balances because of new items isn't an issue you'll ever have to deal with.
 

Engr. Adiktuzmiko

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IMHO, the list isn't actually of things that reduce tediousness of balancing... they're more of things that allows you to do more, and sometimes are more tedious...
 

Archeia

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If you want to reference MMOs, Ragnarok Online and Guild Wars does a good job about it.
 

CWells

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I just create different note pads focusing on different areas. I have one for States, one for weapons and armor

One for enemy parameters. And one for classes/characters. I just use these to help me keep organized and it helps

me see how I am having things move. No need for any special programs really.

Setting rules for yourself, how you want the numbers to play out, setting a minimum/maximum is good.

Looking at enemies and characters as actual things that live with rules, resists and vulnerabilities also helps.
 

aozgolo

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yEd Graph Editor... despite how complex it seems initially I found this tool be really helpful in organizing loose ideas. It won't do number crunches for you but you can easily create hierarchy trees, flow charts, or just about any kind of visual aid you need to help organize yourself.

Create a node for a state, create separate nodes for what resolves said state, connect them with lines (called Edges), and then choose a layout style and laugh maniacally as all your disjointed thoughts are arranged into a diagram worthy of showcasing at a stock company's chair meeting.

Really it's just an excellent tool for doing almost anything when it comes to game planning, and the best part is it's 100% free
 

amerk

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There's really no short-cut to balancing a game, and there's seldom a perfect middle ground. In most cases, the game is going to come across as too easy or too difficult, and it will attract some but not others.

I typically worry about my game's story, exploration, maps, and side quests first, then I go back and worry about adding battles in. That at least save me time in trying to juggle balance at the same time of writing up the story.

One thing I find does help:

Pick a game that is not encrypted that you really like and felt was reasonably balanced. Look at the stats for both characters and enemies, as well as growth (via EXP, and loot found or dropped by enemies). How does equipment gained too early or late effect the balance.

Having a reference may help give you ideas for your own characters and enemies as you tailor your own stats.
 

Chaos17

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You just need Excel and your head.

Yes, making an rpg is not just about scripts.

If you want real examples, read Blizzard dev blue post.

They're one a the rare dev talking openly about balancing that I know.
 

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