Dungeon Meta

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Atypikal_Arkitect
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Re: Dungeon Meta

Postby Atypikal_Arkitect » Thu Aug 13, 2015 10:49 pm

Like the fatigue idea. If we can carefully balance the number and difficulty of encounters with opportunities/the ability to fatigue reset then should be alright. I'd wouldn't have it reset at save points to avoid abuse.

The issue I see with a recharging SP bar is we would have to deal with players going on the defensive until their SP bars have charged then unleashing a barrage of SP abilities then going on the defensive again.

I agree with keeping SP a resource to be managed with some of the principles you mentioned, though we'd have to play around with the percentage bump:

    After the battle is won, SP gets a modest bump (~15% of max).
    The SP you had at the end of the last battle is the SP you have at the start of the next.
    Have (expensive/rare-ish) items that replenish SP (but these will not be in the current chapter we're working on; they'll be introduced later in the game)

SP could still be used for healing with this system right?
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Re: Dungeon Meta

Postby Roots » Thu Aug 13, 2015 11:31 pm

Atypikal_Arkitect wrote:The issue I see with a recharging SP bar is we would have to deal with players going on the defensive until their SP bars have charged then unleashing a barrage of SP abilities then going on the defensive again.


That's a good point. But we do need to have some way of regenerating SP regardless. Right now the game has no way to regenerate it at all, except for one scripted event at the end of the cave map.

The "typical" RPG has MP instead of SP, and you can only replenish MP with items (somewhat costly/rare) or using a "tent" or something at a save point. I don't feel that's a good option for us, though, because those games had a generic "fight" command that consumed no MP and the player used the command very frequently (read: very boring battles if all you have to do is select fight over and over until the battle is won).

So the major questions we're still looking to answer are:
- How does SP get replenished?
- Should SP get set to a specific amount at the start of each battle, and if so how much?

Atypikal_Arkitect wrote:SP could still be used for healing with this system right?


Yes. Regardless of what route we choose, we should have skills that consume SP and restore HP.
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Re: Dungeon Meta

Postby Roots » Fri Aug 14, 2015 6:23 am

I have the fatigue feature currently working in battle mode. :approve: Here are the code changes if you're interested in taking a look. Tomorrow I'm going to add some sort of temporary display of fatigue to the party menu, and once that's done I will pull all of these changes into the central repository to check it out.

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Of course making it work in battle mode means I implemented the above image as well for the HP bar. I used a dark green color for "Cur. Max" in the mockup, and the fatigue area is left black. It looks okay...but needs improvement. Mostly because the HP numbers that sit on top of the bars can block things and make it difficult to figure out where the dark green section begins and ends if the number is covering it. But this is a UI design issue that we can address another day in another thread. First lets get this working. Then let's get it looking nice. :cool:

I estimate that we'll be ready to go for testing out this new fatigue feature by the end of Saturday.
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Re: Dungeon Meta

Postby gorogorosama » Fri Aug 14, 2015 6:36 am

Wait, wait, wait... why are we worried about players using SP to recover HP? As long as there are no skills to recover Fatigue, and since HP is reset at the beginning of each battle, I don't see how it's useful?

As for players "going on the defensive, building up their SP, unleashing a barrage of attacks, rinse and repeat", it sounds to me like a valid strategy? As long as it's not a dominant one. It assumes that you would end up getting less fatigued in this system (while you are "on the defensive" for a good number of turns), than you would if you just finished off the enemies with the skills you have available. Maybe for certain types of enemies / bosses this would make sense, but not for your average mob...

If we don't allow the player to recover SP automatically between battles, then we're back to the "save all your skills for the boss", except when you think using a skill to kill an enemy faster is worth the fatigue you'll save.

But them's my cents
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Re: Dungeon Meta

Postby Atypikal_Arkitect » Fri Aug 14, 2015 10:36 am

Here's another avenue for thought. Why don't we design it so that each character must earn their SP regen by being rewarded for a purpose within the party. For example:

  • For melee based characters we design it so that SP regen is tied to their physical damage output.
  • For tanky characters its based on the damage they receive (I think fatigue would address the potential abuse here).
  • Caster based has skills to increase their max SP + more SP gain for less physical damage or some SP gain for magical damage.

I understand this would add further design/code complexity if its not already something we had in mind, but it might address this SP problem by breaking it down, giving us more control, and allow us to consider SP issues on a per character basis.

If this is promising some issues that come to mind are:

  • How it would be implemented?

Perhaps through skill trees?

  • Would those skill trees be fixed to characters?

Not sure. Depends on how much flexibility we want to give players.

  • What SP does the party start with initially?

I'd say full SP. The player should have clear methods of rebuilding their SP, would learn its wasteful not to use SP at full, and have an interesting balance to consider of how deep to dig into their reserves knowing it takes time to build it back.

  • Does SP carry over from fight to fight?

Yes.
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Re: Dungeon Meta

Postby Roots » Fri Aug 14, 2015 3:42 pm

gorogorosama wrote:Wait, wait, wait... why are we worried about players using SP to recover HP? As long as there are no skills to recover Fatigue, and since HP is reset at the beginning of each battle, I don't see how it's useful?


We're not. Skills that restore HP will certainly still be useful, although they will only be used in battle since HP will always be at full outside of that. But that's cool with me. :cool:

Atypikal_Arkitect wrote:Here's another avenue for thought. Why don't we design it so that each character must earn their SP regen by being rewarded for a purpose within the party.


That's an interesting thought, and the idea of having different "stereotypes" for characters (warriors and mages) is something that we discussed in the past and decided it was a route we didn't want to pursue. Mostly because we can be a lot more flexible with our system since every character has a set of skills, the skills all consume SP (except for a small number of "basic" skills consuming 0SP), and we can tailor each character to have any set of unique or shared skills that we want. So I don't know how we would reward the player with meeting "character roll expectations", and even if this were more clear it seems pretty difficult to implement and even more difficult to convey the necessary information to the player so they know how to get these character rewards.

-----

I'm still feeling like we're going in circles with the SP debate. In the past whenever our team got stuck like this, we'd put together a pros/cons list and look at the ideas all at once to see what made sense This money I went back and read through all of our discussions on SP/ability usage and am putting all the proposed features here in one place for us to scrutinize over. Some of these features are mutually exclusive (ie, we can't set SP to 100% and to 0% at the start of a battle).


Before we get to that list though, let's remind ourselves what we're trying to solve. The ideal system for SP would be one that:
  • Doesn't encourage the player to never use high SP abilities until they're at a boss fight
  • Makes the use of all abilities viable in a standard battle
  • Prevents abuse of any sort of natural SP regeneration feature we may have (ie, consuming extra turns just before finishing the last enemy to get an SP boost)
  • Causes the player to consider managing SP as a resource not just for the current battle, but more battles to follow
  • Player should not feel compelled to go "all-out" in every common battle, and should face consequences if they do so
  • Save points in dungeons are not used as a "free unlimited refills" stopping point


The following isn't a comprehensive list of every single feature/variation we've discussed, but it covers most of it I believe.

Set SP to 100% at the start of every battle
  • + Consistent with how we restore HP to 100% of max (factoring in fatigue)
  • + Gives player the maximum amount of freedom in choosing their opening abilities in a battle
  • - Despite the freedom granted, players will most likely always choose to open with their most powerful abilities
  • - No strategy/consideration needed to be given toward resource conservation for future battles

Set SP to 0% at the start of every battle (SP regenerates some amount each turn)
  • + Player must be more conservative with initial skills used if they want to "unlock" their higher SP abilities
  • - Inconsistent with how we restore HP to 100% of max (factoring in fatigue) and might feel like a weird double-standard
  • - Opening skills used will likely always be the same, making battles feel repetitive
  • - No strategy/consideration needed to be given toward resource conservation for future battles
(Variation: setting SP to a small amount (10-20%) instead of 0% provides more options for opening the battle, mitigating one of the three cons listed above)

Regenerate some small amount of SP every turn in battle
  • + Encourages player to carefully balance the SP resource by choosing the appropriate skills
  • + SP is not so precious a commodity that the player is encouraged to be extremely conservative and only use powerful abilities on boss fights
  • - Likelihood for player abuse, if SP is not restored between battles, but leaving one enemy and spending turns getting "free" SP replenished
  • - Less strategy/consideration needed to be given toward resource conservation for future battles
(Variation: also provide a modest boost to SP at the end of each battle)

Consuming SP also causes fatigue of HP
  • + Using powerful abilities has consequences, so players aren't encouraged to use them continuously
  • + "Wear and tear" carries over between battles
  • - It feels like we're "punishing" a player whenever they use their natural skills
  • - Fatigue can accumulate too quickly if it is induced both by receiving damage and taking actions in battle

Apply the fatigue system to SP as well (have a separate fatigue that applies to max SP, caused by consuming SP in battle)
  • + Using powerful abilities has consequences, so players are encouraged to think about whether they are worth it
  • + "Wear and tear" carries over between battles
  • - It feels like we're "punishing" a player whenever they use their natural skills
  • - Might require another new character stat, similar to stamina, that determines SP fatigue accumulation rate

Apply some type of cool-down limiter on skills, so powerful abilities can't be used repeatedly
  • + Improves strategy on when to use powerful abilties
  • + Prevents player from abusing
  • - Adds a second requirement to when a skill may be used, which can be confusing or non-intuitive to players
  • - Difficult to convey cool-down information to the user (have to report cool-down period when skill is selected, plus turns needed to wait when a skill is currently on cool-down)
  • - Additional balancing work required
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Re: Dungeon Meta

Postby Roots » Fri Aug 14, 2015 4:04 pm

After writing the above post, which took me fairly long to do and to think about, I think I know what combination of the above features I would prefer to see us go with for SP:

Proposed SP Battle System
  • SP is set to 100% at the start of each battle
  • SP regenerates a modest amount each turn (~ 5-10% I'd say)
  • We have a separate type of fatigue for SP, where SP consumed causes SP fatigue to be accumulated. The more SP fatigue you have, the lower your max SP is. SP Fatigue is very rare/difficult/costly to restore in the middle of a dungeon (just like HP fatigue)
  • Add a new character stat, resilience, that serves the same role for SP fatigue that stamina does for HP fatigue (if resilience = 10, every skill that consumes 10SP or more will produce fatigue equal to (SP consumed / resilience)
  • The minimum value that max SP can be set to is the same value as the character's resilience

Pros/Cons of such a system:
  • + Player can open with any skill they like in a given battle, provided their current max SP isn't so low that they don't have the SP to afford the skill
  • + Repeated use of high SP skills has consequences, as SP fatigue accumulates more quickly and can lead to those skills becoming "locked" due to insufficient SP requirements if fatigue becomes exhorbant
  • + In every battle, the player must consider their actions for future battles and manage SP fatigue
  • + This system is very consistent with the HP fatigue system, and makes it easier for player to learn both systems and understand. The only difference is the way SP fatigue versus HP fatigue accumulates
  • + Characters can be customized via the resilience stat so that some accumulate SP fatigue more quickly than others
  • - A new character stat is introduced and needs to be balanced
  • - Using skills that consume more SP than the resilience rating of a character is "punishing" the player
  • - There's a possibility of a player not managing their fatigue well, getting to a save point in a dungeon, and getting "stuck" in the game because they are too weak to move forward or to escape back to the nearest rest point


The pros pretty much directly meet all of our design goals, and the cons are pretty minor I feel, except for that last one (which we can have other designs to work around it). I know I stated my objection to tying SP with fatigue before, but I had only thought about it in the context of affecting HP fatigue and not having a separate fatigue system for SP. And the only reason I'm opposed to adding new stats is that I don't want us to end up with a list of 20+ stats for each character and the player not being able to understand what they mean.


How do you guys feel about the above proposal? Is there something that needs to be added, modified, or removed from the feature list? Should we throw this out in favor of something entirely different (and hopefully better)? Do you think this system meets our design goals and will make our battles more fun, more interesting, and more strategic? I'm eager to hear your thoughts. :hack:
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Re: Dungeon Meta

Postby gorogorosama » Fri Aug 14, 2015 9:33 pm

I am in favor of this system.

The issue about getting stuck at a save point is a problem with fatigue in general, so we will have to solve it no matter what we do with SP. (always store the most recent in-town save?)

One question about rounding. If my resilience is 10, and I use a 9-SP skill, do I accumulate any SP-Fatigue? What about if I use a 4-SP skill?

If I dream up any really cool, totally different systems, I'll let ya'll know in the morning.

I am in favor of this system.
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Re: Dungeon Meta

Postby Roots » Fri Aug 14, 2015 10:28 pm

Awesome, I'm glad you like it. (I was eagerly checking this thread all day waiting for someone to respond. :heh: ).

gorogorosama wrote:One question about rounding. If my resilience is 10, and I use a 9-SP skill, do I accumulate any SP-Fatigue? What about if I use a 4-SP skill?


Yes, I'm glad you brought this up because I thought of the same thing. And there's a similar question to answer about HP fatigue. I was going to bring this up if we came to an in agreement on the SP fatigue system I proposed.

Let's assume the following for different scenarios: a character with a resilience of 10 has two skills, one that costs 8 SP to use and one that costs 17 SP to use. We start a new battle and use two skills that result in us winning the battle.

Scenario A: Character uses the 8SP skill twice in a row
Scenario B: Character uses the 8SP skill, then the 17 SP skill
Scenario C: Character uses the 17SP skill twice in a row

Now we have (as I see it) three different options available to us that affect the outcome of these scenarios.
  • 1) No fatigue is generated if the skill SP cost is less than the character's resilience
  • 2) Partial fatigue is generated even if the SP cost of a skill isn't enough to generate an extra point of fatigue (this partial fatigue is only tracked during battle)
  • 3) Partial fatigue is tracked outside of battle, so partial fatigue that remained after winning the first battle is present at the start of the second

Given each of these scenarios, the following is the amount of fatigue (and partial fatigue) generated in our three scenarios is as follows:

1) A = 0 fatigue, B = 1 fatigue, C = 2 fatigue
2) A = 1 fatigue (6 partial fatigue), B = 2 fatigue (5 partial fatigue), C = 3 fatigue (4 partial fatigue)
3) Same as (2), except we have 4 partial fatigue at the start of the next battle


At this time, I feel like I prefer option (1). The reason is because it eliminates any penalty from using low cost skills, and as the character grows in their resilience, more powerful skills will fall into this category. A player gaining fatigue from a level and suddenly being able to use a skill without a fatigue cost where it previously did would feel like a huge growth for that character, I think. It also is a little more consistent for the player because (I'm assuming) when they select a skill in addition to a SP cost, there will be a fatigue cost in the battle UI menu as well. Players might become confused if a skill caused 2 fatigue in previous turns, and suddenly causes 3 the next turn.


This same set of scenarios/options also applies to HP battle fatigue. Just replace resilience with stamina and SP cost with HP damage and you have the same deal. I prefer the same option for HP fatigue as well (and in general would like HP fatigue and SP fatigue to not work differently for this). This also can encourage more defensive plays, because if a player understands that if they block damage to a value less than their stamina attribute, they wouldn't incur any fatigue as a result. Having this sort of option enhances strategy for HP/SP fatigue management, as well as making relatively weaker skills more attractive for a player to use due to not causing any SP fatigue.


Thoughts?

-----

EDIT: I was hoping to get strong buy-in from at least one other person regarding the SP design before working on it, but HP fatigue is now fully implemented in the game and I'm itching to do the same for SP. So I'm going to go ahead and get started on this now. We can always make modifications/adjustments along the way if we decide on a different course of action.
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Re: Dungeon Meta

Postby gorogorosama » Sat Aug 15, 2015 6:47 am

Rounding down fatigue - sounds good, especially if you already have it working :)

I'll work on some balancing so we can test as soon as it's ready and make sure it's fun!
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Re: Dungeon Meta

Postby usey11 » Sat Aug 15, 2015 1:28 pm

I like option A too I think the progress a player would feel when they level up really adds to the attraction of the gameplay and would make a player really want to come back.
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Re: Dungeon Meta

Postby Roots » Sat Aug 15, 2015 5:07 pm

gorogorosama wrote:Rounding down fatigue - sounds good, especially if you already have it working :)

I'll work on some balancing so we can test as soon as it's ready and make sure it's fun!


Fatigue rounding is easier than having to keep track of partial fatigue numbers everywhere, that's for sure.

I just completed this work, but I'm not quite ready to pull the changes in to the central repository just yet because it seems a bug was introduced and enemies sometimes attack but nothing happens. Once I get that fixed, I'll make all these new features live (until then, the current changes can be viewed at my personal repository). Here's a list of changes I made and that you can expect to see in the game.

  • All actors (characters and enemies) now have a stamina and resilience attribute that is used solely for the purpose of calculating HP/SP fatigue
  • Actors now have a fatigue counter and an "active max" counter (as opposed to normal max) for HP and SP
  • In characters.lua, added some small default values for stamina and resilience along with their growth for 20 levels (needs balance work)
  • The enemies_set_*.lua files are unchanged. Defining stamina and resilience for enemies is optional. If it is omitted, then these values are set to the max HP/SP respectively (essentially what this does is prevent any amount of HP/SP fatigue generation)
  • At the start of the battle, characters have their HP and SP set to the active max (which is the full max - fatigue)
  • Taking damage in a battle that is >= their stamina causes the player to accumulate points of HP fatigue
  • Consuming SP via skill use in a battle that is >= their resilience causes the player to accumulate points of SP fatigue
  • 10% of SP (or a minimum of 1SP) is regenerated by a character for each round in battle (regeneration happens after executing an action and returning to the IDLE state)
  • HP and SP fatigue are limited so that the active max HP/SP never falls below 10 points (later this probably needs to be changed to a percentage of 10% of max instead of a hard-coded number)
  • The HP and SP bars in battle show a dark green or dark blue section between the current HP/SP and the active max HP/SP. The location of the active max of HP/SP is marked by a thin yellow line on the bar (visible only when there is a non-zero amount of fatigue).
  • In the party menu, we show HP/SP like the following now: "HP: ## (- ##)", where the first ## is the current value (== active max HP since we will never not have max HP outside of battle), and the second ## is the amount of fatigue.
  • In the character status view of the party menu, we show HP/SP as: "HP: ## / ## (- ##)", where the first ## is the current value, the second ## is the full max (the max when fatigue is 0). and the third ## is the amount of active fatigue

I think that's about it. :eyespin: I might be forgetting one or two minor changes. All of these UI designs, formulas, and fatigue caps are subject to change, so don't worry. Play testing will allow us to figure out a good adjustment for these.
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Re: Dungeon Meta

Postby Djinn_in_Tonic » Sat Aug 15, 2015 5:25 pm

Sorry: Been away for a few days.

The proposed system sounds really solid to me. Let's absolutely give it a whirl and see how it changes gameplay.
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Re: Dungeon Meta

Postby Roots » Sat Aug 15, 2015 5:58 pm

No worries, I figured that was the case. I'm just glad you also approve of it (I was a little afraid you would point out some super serious flaw or just not like it). :heh:

Anyway, I found and fixed that nasty little bug so BAM! Here it is.
https://bitbucket.org/allacrost/allacro ... tigue/diff

The HP/SP fatigue feature is now fully implemented and functional in the central repository. I added a new test to make it easy to see (use the [url=http://www.allacrost.org/wiki/index.php/Test_Interface], go to the battle tests, and select the "Early Game Fatigue" test). This particular tests starts out the battle with characters not at full HP or SP, unlike how other battles will be. This just makes it easier to immediately see a common battle state with fatigued characters in the middle of a battle having taken some damage and consumed some of their SP.

As a result of this feature, the game is even more unbalanced than before. :ohnoes: So don't fret if upon immediately experiencing this for the first time you think that things aren't much better. Because they won't be until we have some balancing of character and enemy stats as well as adjusting the SP requirements of skills and such.


On that note, a couple remarks I want to make about the balancing work that goro is doing (and Djinn assisting/testing?). These are just my personal opinions and thoughts on matters.
  • i think SP requirements of skills should be high enough that it is definitely feasible in a typical battle that the player can completely run out of SP if they continually use high SP skills. Furthermore, the battle shouldn't be able to be won by just spamming the highest SP skills over and over (ie, character SP should run out before enemy HP does). Don't be afraid to buff SP requirements of skills with this new system now so they consume 30% or more of the full max SP.
  • Stamina/HP I think should probably grow at a faster rate than Resilience/SP does. I can see end-game us having characters with 5000+ HP and 200+ stamina, and maybe 500+ SP and 20+ resilience. Really, I feel like resilience should be a stat that grows very slowly, because the amount of SP consumed for skills is going to remain constant and if resilience does get very high, SP fatigue may be so small in the late game that it doesn't affect the player's decision making anymore.
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Re: Dungeon Meta

Postby Djinn_in_Tonic » Sat Aug 15, 2015 6:07 pm

Roots wrote:No worries, I figured that was the case. I'm just glad you also approve of it (I was a little afraid you would point out some super serious flaw or just not like it). :heh:


Oh, there may be some flaws: it just seemed like a good enough idea to test out, THEN find the flaws, if any. :D


Stamina/HP I think should probably grow at a faster rate than Resilience/SP does. I can see end-game us having characters with 5000+ HP and 200+ stamina, and maybe 500+ SP and 20+ resilience. Really, I feel like resilience should be a stat that grows very slowly, because the amount of SP consumed for skills is going to remain constant and if resilience does get very high, SP fatigue may be so small in the late game that it doesn't affect the player's decision making anymore.


My only concern here is losing the reference frame for what makes a stat considered "good." Take Pokemon, for example: a 300 is any stat is high, and you can use that as a baseline to tell how strong someone is in any category. If we changed that so a 300 was high in Attack, a 1200 was high in Special Defense, and a 40 was high in Speed? Things start to get *very* confusing for the player.
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Re: Dungeon Meta

Postby Roots » Sat Aug 15, 2015 6:21 pm

Djinn_in_Tonic wrote:My only concern here is losing the reference frame for what makes a stat considered "good." Take Pokemon, for example: a 300 is any stat is high, and you can use that as a baseline to tell how strong someone is in any category. If we changed that so a 300 was high in Attack, a 1200 was high in Special Defense, and a 40 was high in Speed? Things start to get *very* confusing for the player.


That's a very good point you make, and when I was writing my last post I was a little concerned about it as well (a stat that doesn't grow much at all isn't very fun or exciting for the player to watch their characters become better at it). On the other hand, in most RPGs I've played I don't pay attention to stats except in relative terms. By that I mean:
  • This new sword is expensive, but gives me a +12 boost to my strength. Is it worth the cost? -- If my current strength is < 100, YES (> 12% boost) : If my current strength is over 500, NO (< 2.4% boost)
  • Character A has 100 intelligence, and Character b has only 30 intelligence. I should use character A as a magical offense character and find another good use for character B, or find a way to improve their intelligence rating.
  • My hero's attack power is at 48. This enemy I'm facing is at 112. I'm going to get my ass kicked, so I better run away.

Like that, you know? Balancing the game where we try to keep the values of stats roughly equivalent in terms of strength seems like it would be a very hard thing to do well. :| But I have no real balancing experience to speak of save for our kind-of-okay balancing done back in earlier releases of the game.
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Re: Dungeon Meta

Postby gorogorosama » Sat Aug 15, 2015 6:22 pm

Pulled changes and will do some balancing tonight :)
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Re: Dungeon Meta

Postby Roots » Sat Aug 15, 2015 6:31 pm

Feel free to submit your balancing changes (via pull request) directly into the default branch of the central repository. I don't think there's any reason why we would need to maintain balancing in a different branch, or have those changes not shared with the rest of the team right now. Things are very unbalanced as they are, especially with the new fatigue feature, so I doubt you're going to make it any worse. ;)
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Re: Dungeon Meta

Postby Djinn_in_Tonic » Sat Aug 15, 2015 6:31 pm

Roots wrote:Like that, you know? Balancing the game where we try to keep the values of stats roughly equivalent in terms of strength seems like it would be a very hard thing to do well. :| But I have no real balancing experience to speak of save for our kind-of-okay balancing done back in earlier releases of the game.


So you *are* correct that stat balancing is typically relative. Yet since Stamina and Resilience (I'd like to find a second, less physical-durability-related term for the SP stat, by the way) basically work the same way I'm hesitant to give them drastically differing formulas. I think that's something we can resolve later though: it might also not be a dealbreaker if we set up the stat display UI properly, or select a suitably differentiating name for Resilience. In short, it's a solvable issue. :)
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Re: Dungeon Meta

Postby gorogorosama » Sat Aug 15, 2015 7:46 pm

Just FYI it seems that the SP actors recover each turn pays no heed to their SP-fatigue.

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