ARBITRARY DAMAGE CAP

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i used to be so nervous when making these topics a few years ago hahah it's funny even

guys, how do you feel about arbitrary damage caps? The most typical that comes to my mind is Final Fantasy's trademark 9999 damage cap, present in every game in a way or another, save very few exceptions. Originally it existed because the bits used to calculate damage could only store up to ~16000 and thusly this was the real damage cap, that got rounded down to 9999 because 16512 is an ugly number. But nowdays games like disgaea get such huge numbers they actually have to abbreviate and sometimes even use scientific notation.

So, how do you feel about them? And what about breaking them?
Have they ever had a positive or negative impact on your experience with a game?
This also applies to status caps like max hp = 9999


(funnily enough I think 2k/2k3 has an inbuilt damage cap while XP doesn't. I've never tested it on VX/Ace)

About impact, when talking about arbitrary caps FFX immediately comes to mind.
It is a very fun and well balanced game, but your damage and hp caps at 9999. By the time you remove that cap, everything you do will do 99999 damage. (except healing. The healing formula is shitty and it's literally impossible to heal more than 20k hp even with maxed out stats)

That made the arbitrary cap removal largely unsatisfying because I was shortly after greeted with another one. And characters whose ultimate weapons weren't unlocked became quickly useless. (LULU I LOVE YOU Y DO U MAKE ME DOJE 200 BOLTS)
LouisCyphre
can't make a bad game if you don't finish any games
4523
I have issues with traditional caps in that they arbitrarily alter what's good end game, compared to early game. Infamously, anything with multi-hits can hit for 9999 x hits, while any large single burst will only deal that first 9999. That agitates me and is irritating to balance games around.

I've always wanted to experiment with caps as a mechanic, though. Perhaps your party can build "cap" with certain actions, and then certain nukes will reset it to normal. It's a thought and would play out somewhat reminiscent of FFXIII stagger, probably. Not that that's bad.
author=JosephSeraph
About impact, when talking about arbitrary caps FFX immediately comes to mind.
It is a very fun and well balanced game, but your damage and hp caps at 9999. By the time you remove that cap, everything you do will do 99999 damage.


lol I must've done something wrong in that game. I removed the damage cap and did 10014 damage :/
I don't think I ever did anything higher than 25000. I had no idea there was another cap afterwards!
(but that was almost 10 years ago, so I might be remembering wrong)
Oh, well yeah it does take a bit of a while for characters to deal enough damage 'xcept for auron's ridiculous physical attacks. Yuna becomes a much better mage than lulu because there's way more Magic in her section of the sphere grid than there is on Lulu's!

And that sounds like a pretty exciting mechanic, Lou! I've yet to play any of the ffxiii saga, but I do want to. And yeah, it's a terrible creep, ultima is useless in any FF because of that. It feels artificial, and if you design your formulae intelligently the player shouldn't ever be reaching the cap anyway!

unless it's a forced arbitrary one for gameplay reasons~
This reminds me of the score "problem" in shmups, where the scores just kept getting bigger and bigger. It's more impressive to do 999,999,999 damage than 9,999 damage.... but how do you balance the game around it? Is the number just bigger? Or does it have meaning? In the Super Robot Wars, it was possible to do from 10 to dozens of thousands of points of damage.

I really like LouisCyphre's suggestion: building up "CAP" to then use it on strong moves to really emphasize their strength.
I feel that damage caps end up making high damage builds pointless later on as they can't hit meaningfully harder than just making more attacks per round. While I think you won't do that, it made some of Final Fantasy's bonus bosses unnecessarily tedious because you can't hit that hard and their HP go into the Millions...
I think they're mostly just there to make late-game balancing easier for the designers, since they know some people are going to grind the hell out of the game and they don't want to have to take that into account when giving the final bosses HP levels. It's a lazy way around the problem of how to balance a game that allows infinite grinding.
I do think you can keep a game with grinding balanced if your grind can only improve offense or defense - if your offense stays the same, you have to linger around the boss fight long enough to make sure you see all of it. If your defense stays the same, you can go all in but can still die quickly if you don't pay attention. But still, enforcing a Damage Cap feels restrictive as hell.
unity
You're magical to me.
12403
author=LouisCyphre
I have issues with traditional caps in that they arbitrarily alter what's good end game, compared to early game. Infamously, anything with multi-hits can hit for 9999 x hits, while any large single burst will only deal that first 9999. That agitates me and is irritating to balance games around.


This is my feeling on the subject. I don't like caps in the way they've been used in the past. It might be possible to do them in a meaningful way, but I'm not sure how.
Somebody told Square that they oneshot Chaos in FF1 and they didn't like that very much! Also maybe something involving how the damage algorithms scaled and how much storage and memory was dedicated to enemy HP values with a dash of "you just did THE MOST DAMAGE YOU CAN EVER DO WHOA MAN!" and then it became tradition. Please look forward to spamming a million quick hits!


I'm in the damage caps are dumb camp and have no good reason why I'd add it into my own games. If the player finds a way to oneshot my final boss then either I fucked up or the player did so well they deserve it.
author=GreatRedSpirit
I'm in the damage caps are dumb camp and have no good reason why I'd add it into my own games. If the player finds a way to oneshot my final boss then either I fucked up or the player did so well they deserve it.

This is basically my view, yeah. I'm kinda leanin' toward the latter, though; put a fuckload of effort into getting just that OP, and you really do deserve it in my eyes.
author=LouisCyphre
I have issues with traditional caps in that they arbitrarily alter what's good end game, compared to early game. Infamously, anything with multi-hits can hit for 9999 x hits, while any large single burst will only deal that first 9999. That agitates me and is irritating to balance games around.

I've always wanted to experiment with caps as a mechanic, though. Perhaps your party can build "cap" with certain actions, and then certain nukes will reset it to normal. It's a thought and would play out somewhat reminiscent of FFXIII stagger, probably. Not that that's bad.

Bravely Default was the most extreme example of this I ever saw. The balance is pretty good in the earlygame, but then you can start hitting close to 9999 reliably just over halfway through and from that point on, the plethora of pure damage-increasing options out there start to become completely obsolete compared to options that make you hit several times, or hit all enemies.

I really hope they remove the cap in the sequel.
BizarreMonkey
I'll never change. "Me" is better than your opinion, dummy!
1625
I see where a lack of damage cap is not... and I say that--

"No, this will not do."
A cap only ever really makes sense when it can barely be reached, if at all. Which .. is basically the same as not having one.
I imagine it can be easier to balance certain mechanics, if they cannot become rediculously powerful later on.

There is also having fun with dealing needlessy much damage

I've always felt like caps were exactly as some people are saying, quick and dirty ways of dealing with end-game balance. I mean, realistically, you could lop off a digit from most RPGs and cap damage and HP at 999 and it would play the exact same.

Anyone else feel like large numbers are just illusions that give a false sense of progress?
BizarreMonkey
I'll never change. "Me" is better than your opinion, dummy!
1625
author=drenrin2120
I've always felt like caps were exactly as some people are saying, quick and dirty ways of dealing with end-game balance. I mean, realistically, you could lop off a digit from most RPGs and cap damage and HP at 999 and it would play the exact same.

Anyone else feel like large numbers are just illusions that give a false sense of progress?
Perhaps, but how false is it if you earn it?

Also large numbers are commonly used by me to illustrate a "boss" who is unbelievably powerful. Some examples, Zardari has 12,000,000 Health.

The playable character Esperia in her yet-to-be-implemented missions in M:R does 12,000,000 damage with some attacks.

Then there's Member XII above just doing damage == numerals of PI. For me, large numbers is a tactic of scale.
LockeZ
I'd really like to get rid of LockeZ. His play style is way too unpredictable. He's always like this too. If he ran a country, he'd just kill and imprison people at random until crime stopped.
6003
If you're bad at gameplay balance, damage caps can be a really simple bandaid for certain problems, since they can help ensure that your most important bosses at least survive long enough for the player to see them do some shit. It won't make the boss interesting or engaging, but it'll make it not so completely anticlimactic.

So, I can understand why amateurs would add damage caps to their games. I don't know why Final Fantasy 9 or any professional game has them.
This gets especially ridiculous in later Final Fantasy titles - capping damage at 9999 can be alright if the boss has ~250k HP - it just means you have to fight a while and such. But having a boss that's >50M HP, full healing after being brought down low enough and reducing the damage cap to 6999 is insane.
author=LockeZ
If you're bad at gameplay balance, damage caps can be a really simple bandaid for certain problems, since they can help ensure that your most important bosses at least survive long enough for the player to see them do some shit. It won't make the boss interesting or engaging, but it'll make it not so completely anticlimactic.

So, I can understand why amateurs would add damage caps to their games. I don't know why Final Fantasy 9 or any professional game has them.

Even if you're bad at balancing, the damage cap will most likely not come into play unless you either use a formula with a strong exponential growth or you purposefully design your game so that it comes into play (characters attack for 600 at endgame and damage cap is 999). As long as damage goes up linearly as your attack goes up, you should not get into a situation where you need a damage cap.

About professional games; I've come to learn that professional =/= skilled. I know for sure that professional RPGs often have poor writers, so it stands to reason that whoever balances the game may also not be very skilled. You'd think that a good balance would be critical for a number based game, but most RPG battles consists mainly of spammign the most convenient offensive ability and healing when needed. This holds true for the final fantasies that I know of where the damage cap is a big deal.
LockeZ
I'd really like to get rid of LockeZ. His play style is way too unpredictable. He's always like this too. If he ran a country, he'd just kill and imprison people at random until crime stopped.
6003
Did Yiazmat actually full heal when its HP was low? What the actual fuck
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