Wanting three separate buffing skills mechanic. Best balance? Your thoughts?

atoms

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I am looking for some input and thoughts about how to handle three stacked buffs and debuffs in a RPG Maker MV game.

I was thinking of having buff and debuff skills that can stack three times, each at the moment lasting 5 turns.

What % amount would you recommend them to be?

Using the default engine of either RPG Maker VX Ace or RPG Maker MV, if I choice to stack them three times, I think the three default numbers would be 1. +25% -25%. 2. +50% - 50%. 3. +75% - 75%.

Let's say I even go as far as to separate them into three different states, the first two increasing the +% and -% while the third one applies both the first and second state. So, possibly in the end instead of stacking they'd be two separate states. State 1. +25% - 25%. State 2. +50% - 50% State 3. Applies State 1 and State 2 increasing the +% and -% by the amount.

Would you recommend sticking with these numbers or choosing something else?

It's a game mechanic type of question that's I'd like some advice on.
 

TheoAllen

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We can't really give an advice number of % bcz that would be quite really dependent on your game balance, like how you standardize your damage formula. Even +-10% buff could be meaningful if you design your balance around it.

Although I personally prefer the buff to be a small number. Having a buff that has high number could lead of me thinking buffing the character is a must, and my character will be quite weak and nearly impossible to win without buff. Thus, buffing sounds like a mandatory. That leads into a game design about managing a buff to win. A smaller number of buff will create a placebo effect. The character feels stronger, but the difference it barely noticeable, but still feels stronger. Player might think they could still win the battle without buff, it just with the buff, they could win a little more easier.
 

Wavelength

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I have to agree with @TheoAllen in that the power of buffs and debuffs is just one puzzle piece that has neither any right answer, nor any meaning, without the context of the other puzzle pieces. Things like the damage formulas, the number and type of stats in your game, the MP cost of de/buffs (and the larger philosophy of MP or other spellcasting resources), the general troop design of large mobs vs. challenging single enemies, whether the de/buffs are attached to skills that offer damage/healing/utility in addition to the de/buffs, enemy AI, and a whole host of other mechanical considerations play into determining what the right answer is.

Since those details are going to be very different in everyone's games (but they really do determine the answer to your query), the best advice I can give is to just start with numbers that sound reasonable to you, and do a lot of battle testing where you use those de/buffs, versus battle testing against similar troops where you use your other skills instead. If the de/buffs seem too strong, too weak, too swingy, too unreliable, too boring, too necessary, or too imbalanced compared to one another, figure out why and make the appropriate changes to the numbers or the larger system. The balance you ideally want to hit is that some battles are easier with the de/buffs, some are easier without them, and most are equally challenging with or without them (meaning that their use is more a stylistic decision than a difference in power).

It's even worth considering that direct stacking might not even be the right approach. Sometimes diminishing returns are a smarter system, especially when dealing with percentage reductions - e.g., instead of 25%/50%/75% for 1/2/3 stacks of a debuff, you instead reduce an enemy's stat by 25%/40%/50% for 1/2/3 stacks. There might be battles where it will be worth it to invest in all 3 stacks, whereas there might be others where it's wiser to apply one and then move on.

You may also want to check out this recent thread about debuff balance, which considers the different balance points in boss fights versus normal encounters. In Post #9 of that thread, I make the argument that using Absolute (rather than Percentage) buffs and debuffs allow them to be more equally useful in boss fights and standard encounters.
 

atoms

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@TheoAllen @Wavelength Yes you are both actually right sorry and depending on what the stats are it might even make more sense to use static stats then percentages. This is still the type of help and advice I wanted to hear, and I like what you both said on trying to make them not too mandatory or too useless at the same time. So thank you both, I'll look at that thread too. I'll experiment a lot until something seems to fit with that advice in mind.
 

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One thing to consider is how important they'll be for boss fights. Bear in mind that stacking buffs/debuffs are harder to get going, so the bosses would need to start soft so the party could have a few turns to get everything rolling. On top of that, if they are meant to be important, letting such buffs/debuffs drop off midfight might be difficult to recover from which may or may not be the intent. Just a few things to consider.

For my game, I actually went in the other direction and have straight buffs/debuffs with no stacking for that very reason. You just have to try things out until you get something you like during your playtests. :D
 

Wavelength

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One thing to consider is how important they'll be for boss fights. Bear in mind that stacking buffs/debuffs are harder to get going, so the bosses would need to start soft so the party could have a few turns to get everything rolling.

To piggyback onto this thought, one way to make the bosses "start soft" is to give them lower initial stats than you might expect, but allow the bosses to make use of these stacking buffs as well. =)

Alternatively, if your bosses don't use a "try to spike the entire party to zero HP in 1-2 turns" approach, but rather a "grind the enemies down over time" approach, you can get away with bosses not "starting soft" and still encourage the player to spend the first few turns buffing up his characters. (Of course, if the bosses can't spike the party down, then you as the designer have to be very careful to not allow Healing to outdo the damage that bosses can put out in a long-term perspective. I often call this a "race to the bottom" approach to combat, and I do actually recommend it in general.)

For my game, I actually went in the other direction and have straight buffs/debuffs with no stacking for that very reason.

In this same vein, one sort of neat thing I'm playing around with is having the power (and length) of all buffs and debuffs scale with two stats: the MAGic stat of the caster, and the AURa stat of the recipient (AUR raises incoming buffs and lowers incoming debuffs). There is no stacking, but the highest instance of each de/buff on a battler always takes precedent, and something especially interesting happens when a battler starts casting MAG or AUR buffs on herself. Since her MAG or AUR stats will increase when buffed, she can cast it on herself again the next turn with a higher amount of power, meaning that the second buff will be somewhat more powerful, and the third buff (and so on) will be even a bit more powerful than the second! A pretty nifty form of diminishing returns.
 

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