This week inadvertently became almost entirely about rebalancing the stat system. It just plain took longer than expected to adjust all the monsters/equipment, and a lot of related stuff got tweaked in the process. The primary purpose of the overhaul was to make stats more readable. 1 strength directly responds to 1 more damage now, 1 defense is exactly 1 less damage, etc. Stat growth has become largely flat so numbers don’t really get out of control. I don’t know that I gained all that much from these changes, but it has been a needed clean up for awhile now so at least it’s out of the way.
One of the subtler changes to fall out of this is that I’ve made defense exclusive to enemies now. After running some calculations it seemed like the main purpose of defense, aside from keeping the size of numbers down, is that it has a much bigger impact on low level characters trying to fight high level characters rather than the other way around. So it’s an effective level gating mechanic. In terms of player vs player it’s actually ideal to make it so lower level characters stand a chance against higher level characters, but in terms of player vs monsters it’s more ideal to make stat growth meaningful to create a sense of progression. Hence, no defense in play when fighting players to keep PVP close while keeping defense in play for monsters as an effective way to keep players out of areas they shouldn’t be in and to make stats more relevant. The one major downside to this is that players won’t notice as much numerical growth in their damage numbers against enemies as they will in numerical growth against themselves. There are more convoluted ways to have a similar effect while letting damage numbers grow over time (ie, strictly in PVE have the gap in level determine a damage reduction), but I feel like making it based on a stat makes it easier for players to understand exactly what’s going on. It also allows me to have classes that make fighting monsters easier by reducing defense, but being totally worthless against other players which creates specialization (doubly so in co-op where a role could be dedicated to reducing defenses so the rest of the team can deal damage).
Another big change is the move to reduce all monster encounters to just 1 enemy. We pretty much all agreed that the multiple monster encounters are basically miserable to play. Which makes a lot of sense since they aren’t really interesting to solo. Sew proposed the idea of scaling enemy encounters against party size. So a 1 person gets 1 monster, 2 people get 2 monsters, etc. Multi-monster fights are more interesting with a party in play, and it helps reign back the extreme advantage that parties currently have in the game. So I’m heavily considering going with this route. The bigger problems are the extended issues: what happens when someone joins an existing battle, does a second monster spawn in? If so that’s a gigantic opportunity for griefing. If not then players are heavily rewarded to only join battles instead of being a party. It also opens up the opportunity for one player to get locked into a battle he can’t win when his party members die or leave the battle. A third problem is focus fire: with damage rates the way they are it would be totally trivial for monsters to focus fire a single party member to death in a single turn. The same goes for players. Something has to be done to make target selection more interesting than piling on to the same target. So there’s a lot of hard problems to be solved here first, but I’m hoping to move in this direction.
Meanwhile we’ve been working on designing the new battle UI. There’s some exciting stuff in there. In particular I’m looking forward to exposing passive abilities better, because it will allow me to have more gimmick-driven enemies without them being quite so confusing. Other cool stuff includes making the type system a whole lot less confusing to new players, faster to read ability selection, and really just less confusion for everyone involved across the board.
All throughout this my decision to stick to the current battle system continued to haunt me, since I had to test it quite a bit while rebalancing the stats. It’s probably fine? This is basically one of the biggest make or break decisions I’ll have made for this entire game. As it is, the game will be fairly easy for newcomers to pick up on. There will be a reasonable amount of RPG depth and trying out different combinations of builds. But it probably won’t be quite deep enough for an extremely dedicated competitive community or anything. Is this the better direction to go for in terms of being profitable? I have no idea. But it probably suits the game as a whole better. I want people to enjoy seeing the goofy story branch out in all kinds of surprising ways while casually backstabbing/cooperating their friends, and the lower barrier of entry is the best way to hit that mark. There’s still just enough depth here to keep the game interesting throughout.