Jan 7 2011, 06:08 PM
I'm currently at the concept stage of my game. I have a rough idea of how I want it to go - 5 person parties, effectiveness of abilities being governed by how skilled a character is at performing it, preparation and recovery times being emphasised on in place of a magic point system, etc. My main problem is the stats of my characters though. It's just boggling me, or perhaps I'm just thinking about it too much.
Right now I'm thinking of having 4 stats for each character:
Strength - power of physical and strength-based actions, accuracy of weapons
Agility - influences ATB bar, evasion, agility-based actions (e.g. shortswords, martial arts)
Stamina - influences maximum HP growth and determines the ultimate HP cap (to ensure the characters don't eventually become the same)
Magic - power and accuracy of magical actions
Nothing influences damage mitigation for now - I'm hoping this will make defending abilities, buff spells, max HP and resistances from equipment more important/useful.
I want to keep these stats static in terms of growth. I want each character to have distinct capabilities, and the fact that they don't increase will mean any boost from equipment is just as good at the start as at the end. Characters will instead get stronger by improving their skills, e.g. sword skill, martial arts skill, water magic skill, etc. So if you catch my drift, I feel that deciding what stats my characters will get is pretty important.
I've tried using the rule that each character can have up to 80 stat points, distributed among the 4 stats. But when I do it this way, I'm so focused on making them equal that they actually end up getting the exact same values, just swapped around. I don't think I've played a RPG before that does this, so it makes me feel like I haven't put enough thought into it.
So...after that big wall of text, I'm basically asking for tips on how you would determine the stats of your characters or classes in a RPG. Many thanks in advance.
Jan 8 2011, 09:40 AM
wait, you mean stats that don't get stronger but skills do? Romancing Saga 3 does just that. It works pretty well, actually.
As for creating characters that are diverse, interesting AND balanced, it's all about exploring the design space, my friend. In fact, even before you start plopping points into character sheets, you need to first figure what exact abilities they are going to have and then from that point reference it.
You have to remember, just because they have the same numerical value does not necessarily make them balance. If you have really long dungeons with few places to allow the player to rest, then a character who has all of his points loaded into healing is going to be tremendously more important than someone who is basically a glass cannon. On the other hand, if your game is all about cutting through short dungeons and beating up the big boss, glass cannons are probably EXACTLY what you need.
In game circles, balance needs to be looked at in two ways: local and global. Local balance, for example, is what you saw above. In the situation, one option is CLEARLY better than the other. And local imbalance, as far as game design is concerned, is quite okay. But global balance, on the other hand, is VERY important. Otherwise, you'll end up putting characters into the game that the players won't want to use. i.e. if you have a character who just can't out perform the other characters in any field, or whose use is so limited you really can't do much with him outside of that one situation, you've created global imbalance. That is a situation you need to avoid.
But to do this, you need to know what it is exactly you're already putting in. Until you have your options on the table, your method of generating characters might not necessarily need it's own balancing act. You also need to make sure that the abilities you put together are varied enough that the different characters will play differently from one another. I mean, TRULY differently. Having a guy who deals 100 damage that's in water element versus a guy who deals 100 damage in fire element is functionally the same thing. the only exception is that you have no enemies who have fire resistance and a bunch that has water resistance. Even in that case though, it's also just incredibly boring design. That's why you need to make sure you explore your design space.
Until you do that, there is no balancing you can perform.
Jan 8 2011, 12:08 PM
First of all, thanks for the detailed response!
And yeah, it is kind of like Romancing SaGa 3. I'm more or less multiplying the stat by the skill level, dividing it down then using that as a multiplier for the weapon or spell's attack power.
The player will be able to choose which skills the characters use/learn, so I can't really enforce a particular design on them. I have assigned each character a role though - a tank-type (HP-focused), warrior-type (strength-focused), pure mage-type (glass cannon), beefier mage (like how healers generally are, they have more HP and whatnot than the glass cannon mages, but less magic power), and a thief/martial artist type (high agility). If I can pull it off right, the player should be able to ignore these stats and make up for the limited potential with skill levelling. Mr. Tank will always have an easier time gaining HP than Mrs. Glass Cannon, but if the latter spent her time tanking, then it'll be her who ends up with the highest HP at the end. So I kind of want the differences to be noticable but allow the player to do things their own way.
I'm trying to make my skills as different as possible too. With the fire element, you can buff strength, while the water element can buff your magic power. So while the actual attacks will likely end up being functionally the same, the skills themselves should provide different things, to allow a Fire-based mage to act differently to a Water-based one. And with weapons, I'm planning on making the sword abilities be based around parrying and deflecting attacks, while axes will be for reducing enemy defences. So if you equipped two weapons of equal power, had equal strength and had equal skill levels, the two weapons will act differently. With that in mind, it *might* be easier to keep global balance.
Jan 9 2011, 06:06 AM
well, that is fine, actually. I mean, the way you have it set up, it means that certain paths are EASIER to play, but all character builds are viable given some work. There is nothing wrong with that as long as said affinities really are going to make a difference. It's a single player game after all, so this kind of thing is actually quite alright.
Balance, in the end, is not always the end all, be all of game design. In competitive multiplayer games, yes it is. But you're talking about a single player experience here. It really won't matter much as long as they are interesting to play.
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