HOW DO YOU BALANCE SKILLS/MONSTERS/ITEMS/CHESTS/EQUIPMENT?

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iddalai
RPG Maker 2k/2k3 for life, baby!!
2160
Testing a lot.

I'm making a traditional console RPG, so I'm also struggling with balance.

I made all items in the game already and left some room to make "special/new" items should I need them.

I made all the different character classes and skills/spells.

Still, I know the values I assigned to all these will change throughout development.

When it comes to characters it helps making a note ordering characters from "highest" to "lowest" for each stat (no numbers), this is the feel you're going for in the game (i.e.: White Mage has a stronger physical attack than the Black Mage but weaker than the Rogue and so on).

Make another note stating what skills/spells, equipment, items, etc, your characters have available at each point in the game, this will help in deciding what types os enemies to make.

The values you assign to each enemy/item/skill/etc are born from lots of testing.

Like money, you'll only find out if battles give enough money to buy stuff by playtesting. Or maybe they give good money but items are to expensive...

I won't lie, it's a nightmare.

You can also go for an old-school RPG, just make every enemy much stronger than the heroes and leave the player to grind.
Eh, I usually make gear and recovery items as I go along, basing them off a template or excel sheet I make to compare stuff to each other.
(Ex: "Greatsword" is what everything is compared to in terms of ATP, so it has a 100%. Say a "wand" has a modifer of 60% atp/ 20% magic atp, katana is 92%, and greataxe is 104%. If we say "tier 5" gear has 100 ATP as a base, that'd leave the wand at 60 ATK / 20 MAG, katana at 92 ATP, greatsword 100 ATP, and greataxe 104 ATP.)

There's really no other way around it for skills and enemies, though. The only way to get a good feel for if they're too weak, too strong, or just right is to test. And test.
And test some more.
You're right, it can be nightmarish.

My personal rule of thumb concerning money is that, assuming we're broke beforehand after buying a set of gear, then running the dungeon and beating the boss without running from any battles should give us just enough cash, give or take, to outfit everyone at the next town / shop upgrade. Selling off old gear will give you some spending money for consumables. If you really want to go over it with a fine tooth comb, keep track of how many items--and what items--you use in the previous dungeons, to get a feel for how many consumables are being used.

You don't want to be like FF1's Marsh Cave, for example, where you can fight a regular battle, get 60GP...and then spend 300GP worth of pure pots to cure poison for the party.
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