levelup idea

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Seloun
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Re: levelup idea

Post by Seloun » Mon Jan 21, 2013 7:05 pm

jack1974 wrote:I've read what you wrote about the speed, but I leave such very technical considerations to the coder (since I really don't get it :mrgreen:). I have a very empirical approach - I tweak the game and test it until I see that work, I am really bad at numbers :oops:
Empirical testing always trumps theory anyway; else we'd never have bugs...
jack1974 wrote:
Seloun wrote: This way dexterity would control the 'same thing' for everyone regardless of dual wielding or not (otherwise the value of dexterity would probably end up being either too high for DWers or too low for non-DWers). Either that or it might help using the offhand in other ways (shield effectiveness? if there is such a thing; or reducing recoil from multishots from two-handed weapons); the point is to make the stat cover the same 'design area' for everyone so that it's can be balanced between class types. Note that even in those circumstances dexterity would likely be of greater benefit to DW than not.
I like the idea of influencing other things. There's no recoil for two handed weapons (we don't plan to make the engine go so much in detail) but could give an accuracy bonus in general for all weapons (small of course, but would still influence / be useful to all classes).
The issue I see is that the value of dexterity for DWers is the base value of dexterity (e.g. accuracy in your example) plus the benefit for DWing, while for everyone else it's just the base value of dexterity. Assuming the benefit for DWing is large, this means the value of dexterity is going to be much, much more valuable to DWers unless the base value is also really, really high, which will make balancing it a pain. The key mechanic I'm suggesting here is to make DWing have some kind of opportunity cost which is itself dependent on dexterity. This makes it much easier to deal with scaling issues. My example was to deny DWers easy access to items and then make items improve with dexterity, but another good option would be that non-DWers get an accuracy/initiative bonus based on dexterity (DWers would get the offhanding bonus instead), or maybe DW also provides some other bonus to two-handed weapons, like a speed bonus (since two-handed weapon usage is implicitly an opportunity cost of DWing).

More generally this applies to any stat which is overwhelmingly useful for one class/build and much less useful for others. Psionics is another possible issue as Soldiers have no real incentive right now to raise it. One possible solution would be give soldiers (and only soldiers) a very strong resistance bonus (maybe a CC or debuff resist) based on Psionics. Thematically this could be because soldiers, being poor conduits for psi abilities, end up also being more closed to hostile psionic abilities.
jack1974 wrote: A final note: I read everything you (and others) write and often there are great suggestions, though in the end I have to decide what to add and what not, depending also on how hard is to code/design/test and time constraints. Sort of disclaimer if you don't see that feature X that you suggested and I approved :wink:
I completely understand that something that sounds like a good idea often turns out to be not such a good idea, particularly when you start actually implementing and especially in complex, interacting systems. Often I throw out crazy ideas to see how they'll get shot down rather than to advance a specific agenda.

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Re: levelup idea

Post by jack1974 » Mon Jan 21, 2013 9:56 pm

Well dual wield will work only with smaller weapons. Even if I just thought about a perks called "Big Hands" that let's you dual wield with small machineguns rifles 8)
I understand what you mean, not having a skill that can make a Class particularly powerful, however remember that I can also balance that with the items. If dual wield works only with pistols for example, they could do less damage in general than a single combat rifle or laser phasor or whatever 2 handed weapon I'll design. But yes having Dexterity influence other stuff beside DW is a good idea and I plan to follow it.
Seloun wrote:I completely understand that something that sounds like a good idea often turns out to be not such a good idea, particularly when you start actually implementing and especially in complex, interacting systems. Often I throw out crazy ideas to see how they'll get shot down rather than to advance a specific agenda.
Well, if ideas are as good as the one you posted so far, keep throwing them to me ! :lol:

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Re: levelup idea

Post by Seloun » Mon Jan 21, 2013 11:17 pm

jack1974 wrote:Well dual wield will work only with smaller weapons. Even if I just thought about a perks called "Big Hands" that let's you dual wield with small machineguns rifles 8)
I understand what you mean, not having a skill that can make a Class particularly powerful, however remember that I can also balance that with the items. If dual wield works only with pistols for example, they could do less damage in general than a single combat rifle or laser phasor or whatever 2 handed weapon I'll design. But yes having Dexterity influence other stuff beside DW is a good idea and I plan to follow it.
Well, again, the issue is that non-DWers would have, essentially, 5 different ways to improve their attack ability (the 4 combat skills plus the base advantage from dexterity) while DWers would have 6 (the same 5 different ways as non-DWers plus the added advantage for DWing provided by dexterity; essentially double-dipping from dexterity). You can always balance for a single point in the game regardless of this, but what this implies is that DWing scales faster than non-DWers; that in turn will usually mean the either DW is very weak early or is too powerful later. This is not necessarily a problem (you might actually want that to be how DW works) but it does change the difficulty curve of the game depending on player choices.

It's true you can use item scaling to provide another form of scaling which can compensate (if 2hd weapon damage scaled much better than pistol/one handed damage). The main issue with that approach is that it very tightly couples the 2hd/1hd item scaling by making all 1hd weapons scale as if they would be DW'd (this doesn't matter so much if you assume everyone is either 2hd or DW; it matters a lot if you expect there to be some benefit to 1hd non-DWers). If skills were balanced in their scaling without relying on item scaling, it decouples the design space (so instead of having to balance skill + weapon vs skill + weapon, you could balance skill vs skill and weapon vs weapon, greatly reducing the total number of combinations). Decoupling the design space between skills and items also makes things like the 'SMG DWing' talents much easier to balance, too, since you can balance SMGs without having to choose to balance as a DW or non-DW weapon.

Again, my suggestion is to have dexterity do something to improve something that DWers have to give up to DW (another way to accomplish this would be for 2hd users to get double the accuracy bonus from dexterity compared to DWers). Without that 'trade off' inherently within dexterity, it's going to be difficult to make dexterity not a no-brainer stat (either too good, too poor, or only good if DW and never good otherwise).

Basically the idea is that dexterity (like all other stats, ideally) should improve the same number of aspects of a character regardless of the character (the actual aspects can, and probably should, be different between character builds). Right now what it looks like is:
DW: Dexterity improves accuracy, DW effectiveness (2 different ways)
Non-DW: Dexterity improves accuracy (1 way)

So non-DW either needs something more or DW should lose something. 'Something more' can be more of the same (improves accuracy + improves accuracy (2hd)) or something unique (improves accuracy + improves initiative (2hd) or improves accuracy + improves shields (are there shields?) or improves accuracy + improves items assuming items aren't usable in DW). Fundamentally it can be really anything which helps non-DWers , though thematically it seems like the justification should be something your offhand helps with (psionic power ability when not DWing is mechanically viable if probably not thematically suitable). Making the secondary effect be related to your direct attack also decouples dexterity from everything but direct attack balancing, which again makes balancing easier (note improves item usage or shield usage or improved initiative does not follow this guideline; decoupling makes balance easier but it can also make the mechanic too straightforward).

Another way to look at it is that there's way to make DWing better, but there isn't a way to make 2hd better. You could e.g. have strength be the '2hd' stat (strength decreases delay on 2hd weapons or something) but then you run into the same issue as the weapon skills - no reason (or relatively little reason) to put points anywhere outside of your specialty. Again, the key observation is whether or not a stat controls a similar number of things between different builds/classes.

If a stat governs different number of things for one build versus another, it makes it hard to make that stat relevant for both builds. This is not necessarily a problem, it's just that it removes a choice from the user (instead of choosing a build, then choosing a stat, choosing a build is effectively choosing a stat). Also, more technically, while I refer to the 'number of things' as an intuitive quantitative measure, somethings do count for more than other things; this doesn't break the analysis, it's just that some items are effectively multiple things (e.g. doing damage + doing damage + doing damage + noncombat check).

Lastly I will mention that I focus on scaling and balance not because they are the most important things, but because they can be more easily quantified and measured. Having a breakable mechanical system is not necessarily a bad thing (trying to break game mechanics is often part of the fun); however the worst result is probably if choices turn out to not really be choices because one is just better than another.

Appendix: Things that might make a good secondary effects to dexterity for non-DW (alternatives, not altogether...)
- Accuracy with 2hd weapons (if non-2hd/DW is viable, requires some other compensation, e.g. this could become accuracy while non-DW instead of accuracy while 2hd)
- Speed with 2hd weapons (same as above)
- Evasion bonus when not DWing/nothing in offhand/using 2hd - note tanking stats can be a weak choice given the aggro mechanic since there's builds outside of DWer or tank
- Effectiveness with shield (if there are shields) - this choice requires some benefit for nonDW/nonShield however; see note about evasion
- Effectiveness with items (if DWing prevents item use) * note that this is still a weaker effect since the DWer could swap items into offhand presumably at the cost of some time, but it's still a bigger benefit to someone who doesn't have to swap
- Effectiveness with burst fire mode if not DWing (this and next are again somewhat weaker options since non-DW doesn't imply burst fire specialization)
- Effectiveness with aim fire mode if not DWing (as above; note though _together_ it works pretty well)
- Better crit damage while not DWing
- Psionic effectiveness/speed with free offhand (sort of a somatic components idea) - would require added benefit for 2hd or shield types, or would apply to 2hd as well (doesn't quite make as much sense there unless DWing takes more concentration or something, though even then it'd be unclear how _dexterity_ helps when both hands are full; maybe makes you really good at moving hand off weapon and back on?)

Initiative is probably bad since the player could keep a 2hd weapon to win initiative and then switch to DWing (exact benefit depends on how costly swaps are). If swaps are pretty expensive initiative might be viable. Damage effects feel thematically inappropriate but mechanically could probably be made to work.

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Re: levelup idea

Post by jack1974 » Tue Jan 22, 2013 8:51 am

Yeah I've read all that you said, and makes sense - but if I understood correctly in your reasoning you focus only on damage/offensive. A simple way to balance "dual wielder", would be that characters that can increase Dexterity a lot would have other skill caps, for example endurance (so HP). This way, is true that DW could be big "damage dealers" but they could also have low HPs and/or unable to wear strong armors, and I think that already would balance that class a lot (it would become a sort of Wizard/Thief in the fantasy games).

Anyway this time Anima made a very cool thing, that is AI autobattles for testing. While is true that human AI should be better than computer AI so I'm sure there will still be some strategy/exploits that human players can discover, having a way to autoplay 1000 battles is really useful to judge if classes are balanced (by making different teams of different classes) and if level progression is too (having team of different levels to fight each other) and so on.

Once the basic system is done, before I start adding 1000 weapons (even if in general this game should have less items than Loren!) I plan to have an early alpha where people can test the battles (even autobattles) and share the results/send suggestions, since for sure 10+ people testing is better than just 1 (me).

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Re: levelup idea

Post by Seloun » Wed Jan 23, 2013 5:18 am

jack1974 wrote:Yeah I've read all that you said, and makes sense - but if I understood correctly in your reasoning you focus only on damage/offensive. A simple way to balance "dual wielder", would be that characters that can increase Dexterity a lot would have other skill caps, for example endurance (so HP). This way, is true that DW could be big "damage dealers" but they could also have low HPs and/or unable to wear strong armors, and I think that already would balance that class a lot (it would become a sort of Wizard/Thief in the fantasy games).
It's not really a matter of balancing between damage (item usage/shield/psionic bonus could be quite defensive or utility oriented) or between classes (I agree that you could still balance between classes even if dexterity had large differences in valuation between classes). What I would like to see avoided are stats which are A) required for some classes and useless for others (cross-class, one stat balance) or B) useless or required for every class (cross-stat, cross-class balance). Those situations effectively removes choice, which is why I would want to see them avoided. You can make dexterity vital for some classes and useless for others, but that effectively removes one set of choices in building the character.

My fundamental concern is that as it is now, dexterity feels like either a must-have stat for DWers (to the point you always prioritize) or it's a really weak stat for everyone else. Now, you can balance the side bonus of dexterity so that it's -not- must-have for DWers - but this will make it even weaker for everyone else. Or you can balance the side bonus so that it's not a weak stat for everyone else - but now it's even more vital for DWers.

My point is that it's extremely hard to balance dexterity bonuses in that situation against other stats and cross-class due to that linkage. This linkage is the fundamental problem I'm seeing with the design of dexterity as it is now (there is no 'design room' to increase/decrease the benefit of non-DW without also increasing/decreasing the benefit of DW). The easiest way to reduce that differential is to tone down DWing. However, simply reducing the effectiveness of DWing will start running into the design space of DW balance vs. 2hd weapon balance (*footnote1).

The other way to _relatively_ weaken DW is by making DW have some kind of cost (the effective benefit of DW is what you get versus what you give up). 'A cost' in this case can be something DWers don't get that other people do (costs and benefits always being relative; getting less is equivalent of losing more). What I'm suggesting is that you tie dexterity to something DWers get (DW bonus) and something that everyone except DWers get (this can be any of a number of bonuses as discussed before). The exact nature of the bonus isn't really important (as long as it's something useful, and it's exclusive with DW). The advantage of this extra design 'handle' is that you can balance the dexterity independently of whether or not someone is DWing (so you can get it arbitrarily close to equal as you want without affecting the value of DW).

Sorry if it seems like I'm beating a dead horse! I seem to be doing a poor job of explaining the issue I'm seeing. As I noted before though, this is something that occurs elsewhere besides dexterity, such as Psionics for Soldiers.

Basically, it would be good to avoid must-have/useless stats, even if the must-have/useless quality is class dependent. A requirement to avoid those conditions is that the value of each stat should be relatively close regardless of build or class. Obviously exactly identical is impossible (not to mention boring, since your choice is meaningless in that case too) but the ideal case is for each stat to be 'valuable but in different (realistic) circumstances' for every class; a real separate-but-equal situation.

*Footnote1: If DW gets weaker, you have to weaken 2hd to compensate to maintain interesting choice. Even if you do reduce the value of DWing, DW still gets better as the game goes on (since dexterity will go up) while relatively 2hd doesn't; so DWing is still strong late or very weak early (as noted before this is not necessarily a bad thing, and could be a legitimate design choice). You can *still* improve 2hd scaling through itemization, but now you have linked 2hd itemization scaling with skills - so when you consider things like SMG DWing, you have to make a decision if you want to balance SMGs as if they're DW or not (and the other way will suffer/be overpowered), not to mention that you have to do your item balancing at the same time with skill balancing (which is lot trickier than being able to balance each of those in relative vacuum).

Edit: Technically it's an overstatement to say that it's a requirement for stat values to be relatively close avoid having useless/must-have stats; in principle you can use scaling tricks or multi-stat interactions to accomplish that, but it's a whole lot trickier to design.
jack1974 wrote:Anyway this time Anima made a very cool thing, that is AI autobattles for testing. While is true that human AI should be better than computer AI so I'm sure there will still be some strategy/exploits that human players can discover, having a way to autoplay 1000 battles is really useful to judge if classes are balanced (by making different teams of different classes) and if level progression is too (having team of different levels to fight each other) and so on.

Once the basic system is done, before I start adding 1000 weapons (even if in general this game should have less items than Loren!) I plan to have an early alpha where people can test the battles (even autobattles) and share the results/send suggestions, since for sure 10+ people testing is better than just 1 (me).
That's really quite useful. I'm not completely familiar with the RNG system available through Ren'py, but if it's possible, I would suggest recording/setting/displaying the random seed for each run (so you can reproduce it - especially valuable if you have external testers). Regardless, that's a very effective way to get some empirical data.

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Re: levelup idea

Post by jack1974 » Wed Jan 23, 2013 9:41 am

No I understood what you mean:
Seloun wrote:Basically, it would be good to avoid must-have/useless stats, even if the must-have/useless quality is class dependent. A requirement to avoid those conditions is that the value of each stat should be relatively close regardless of build or class. Obviously exactly identical is impossible (not to mention boring, since your choice is meaningless in that case too) but the ideal case is for each stat to be 'valuable but in different (realistic) circumstances' for every class; a real separate-but-equal situation.
and indeed we'll try to make them all useful, at least in combat. If you see in the list, every single skill has an impact in the game combat, directly or indirectly.

Psionic for Soldiers might be solved by giving them a natural resistance to enemy psionic attacks. So they can't use psionic abilities but can resist. Or if we change the name of Psionic to Willpower, it could have a different use for Soldiers, like determine how they react to the battle situations, they are more brave and don't panic easily for example.

Dexterity will be useful for dual wield but as I said, the balancing needs to be done more on the items. Also, there's ammo in the game: so dual wield could give you a short damage boost but you might run out of special ammo quickly (the normal ammo will be unlimited, but special ammo will be limited quantities). So that's why I think that Dexterity is good as it is now (following your suggestion will give bonus also to non DWs) and the balancing needs to be done only at item level.
Also because there's DW, doesn't mean that players MUST have DW. It's only an option - is not like in some fantasy games where DW characters are good with two weapons and sucks with two handed weapons.
And finally, FOR SURE, there will be some better weapons/armor/etc that combined with the right skill will give out the perfect combo - that's what players like to find. If all characters could be built the same and have items more or less similar, you lose the "wow look what combo/build I have done!" effect that is a must for RPG players IMHO :)

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Re: levelup idea

Post by Seloun » Thu Jan 24, 2013 3:31 am

jack1974 wrote:and indeed we'll try to make them all useful, at least in combat. If you see in the list, every single skill has an impact in the game combat, directly or indirectly.
Well, a stat doesn't have to be involved in combat to be useful, though combat stats tend to be the easiest to measure and having all skills have some affect on combat is probably a good place to be. The real concern though is the comparison between stats (the point about stats being involved in combat is really just an extension of that: you can have a stat with no combat effect yet still be hugely important, e.g. a stat that lets you see more of the plot, but the general game convention is that stats mostly govern combat, so the intuition is that affecting combat makes a stat important).
jack1974 wrote:Psionic for Soldiers might be solved by giving them a natural resistance to enemy psionic attacks. So they can't use psionic abilities but can resist. Or if we change the name of Psionic to Willpower, it could have a different use for Soldiers, like determine how they react to the battle situations, they are more brave and don't panic easily for example.
Both of those are pretty good ideas, though resistance to psionic attacks feel a bit too niche (this obvious depends on the enemy design and rest of the gameworld, though). Reduced time from CC effects (stuns or fear or similar) seems close to what's being described here, and might be a good effect.
jack1974 wrote:Also because there's DW, doesn't mean that players MUST have DW. It's only an option - is not like in some fantasy games where DW characters are good with two weapons and sucks with two handed weapons.
Well, it's true that players don't have to DW, but if it's obviously better (key word being obviously) then it's almost like not having a choice. The difficulty I am imagining is that it is likely DW will either be too weak early or too strong late (which is what scaling problems generally result in) but I concede that there are many ways address the issue (though also some ways are easier than others).
jack1974 wrote:And finally, FOR SURE, there will be some better weapons/armor/etc that combined with the right skill will give out the perfect combo - that's what players like to find. If all characters could be built the same and have items more or less similar, you lose the "wow look what combo/build I have done!" effect that is a must for RPG players IMHO :)
Absolutely. If every choice is the same, it's like not having a choice. So having differences is good. But at the same time hide and seek isn't fun if what you're seeking is right in the open. You want to have to do a little work to figure out what's better. Everything same is no better than things completely unbalanced (both cases it's like having no choices) but there are usually many more ways to make things unbalanced than to make things identical.

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Re: levelup idea

Post by Anima_ » Thu Jan 24, 2013 10:30 am

Foelhe wrote:Personally, I'd rather have more control over how my character levels up.

Can't speak for anyone else, but a lot of the time when I'm playing RPGs I'll learn something outside my character class just to keep things interesting and develop a bit of personality for the PC. So for this game I'd have a Soldier who picks up a bit of psionics, or a Scout who's also good at charming people. That makes things a little harder since I'm working against my class bonuses, but I think it's worth it to add some spontaneity to things.

If you can only raise three specific skills at one time, either you've got all three focused on your class (which sucks if you like to color outside the lines, like I do) or you have skills that don't quite fit the basic build (which makes it hard to make a character that's both effective and original).

It wouldn't be a bad idea to add the actions or equipment permits, change them every level and let you buy one instead of spending a point on attributes, but telling a player they can't buy the attribute they want doesn't seem to like a great addition in an RPG.

... Hopefully that's what you were asking about and I didn't understand the whole thing. :)
It's actually really helpful since it's a point of view I that a bit different from my own. In game design theory there are several system to classify something called core engagement. Or in plain the core appeal of a game. My approach while designing the rule set is based on Challenge. Different options are there to provide the player with different ways to solve a problem, in this case mostly a combat encounter. So it's pretty much a puzzle with several possible solutions, at least it should be. My main concerns are to balance the options and make sure that no strategy becomes dominant.

The appeal you are expressing is that of Expression itself. To satisfy this appeal it's important that choices exist to model the characters according to your imagination. Restrictions are an antithesis to this, which is hard to deny. But there is one aspect where a choice tree like I proposed actually shines pretty bright, reducing the opportunity cost for making mix-in choices. The idea would be to have levels in the tree that only have mix-in choices. So instead of having to decide between progressing in your class and mixing in a different class you would get only the choice what class to mix in. It would still be a limitation in what you can choose, but you wouldn't have to sacrifice anything for it. Therefore it wouldn't conflict with the Challenge oriented rule set.

There is another benefit as well regarding Expression. Discrete abilities are much easier to theme. Simply increasing a skill by a point is not terribly expressive after all, choosing something like a Daredevil choice from the tree says much more about the character. Even though the numeric benefit might be the same.

That's also one of the reasons why I would prefer if the skills like Charisma would be separate from the combat skills. Since they are much more about Expression instead of Challenge. So it would make sense if they wouldn't depend on the same resource. And just to be sure, it wouldn't be like only being given the choice between three class skills. Instead every choice would be a specific and (more or less) unique ability.

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Re: levelup idea

Post by Foelhe » Thu Jan 24, 2013 4:53 pm

Well, admittedly, the option to take a character in a slightly different direction without being penalized would be nice, and this would be one way to make that work.

:lol: I wish I was better at figuring out game balance, so I could give you more solid concrit. For the most part all of this looks workable. I think I'm always gonna be the guy who wants as many options as humanly possible, so I dunno if I'll ever be totally happy with the tree idea. But, I could definitely live with this if that's what it came down to.

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Re: levelup idea

Post by deathknight1728 » Fri Mar 01, 2013 7:52 pm

Wow, that specialization chart looks to be very cool. One of the only things that I didnt like was that soldiers in PS 1 were heavily specialized in pistols. That was my character that I used. I hope that instead of energy weapons (I have no idea what difference is), a class other than psionics will get high specialization in pistols. It might make sense for scouts or soldiers like before.

Im liking how a lot of this is coming out. Will keep on reading through these threads all while I enjoy a beer ;) Doesnt get much better than that.
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