Overall Game Balance- Reaching Peak Character Performance

There is no best distribution, how you divide it up between base stats, equipment, buffs and so on depends on a number of factors. Also, it does not have to be the same for every stat. For example, if we only focus on the character's base stats and equipment, I may do 60-70 base stats and 30-40 equipment for attack, while I do the opposite for defense.

The reason for that is twofold. One reason is that there is typically more armor slots than weapon slots, so this system prevents weapons from overshadowing the body armor in importance. The other reason is that defense is often more sensitive in terms of balance than attack and you have a better idea what equipment the player may have than level.

Consider following, an enemy deal 100 points of damage and each point of defense removes one point of damage. The first 25 additional points of defense you get will reduce the damage with 25%. If you after that get yet another 25 points of defense, that will reduce damage from 75 to 25, which is a 33% reduction. The third set of 25 points will grant a 50% damage reduction and finally, the last set of 25 defense will grant a 100% damage reduction or 96% if a minimum of 1 damage is enforced. As you see, defense just keeps getting more and more powerful.

Let's consider attack instead. You deal 100 points of damage and each point of attack adds 1 point of damage. The first 25 points of attack increase gives you a 25% damage increase. If you get an additional 25 points of attack, your damage goes from 125 to 150, which is a 20% increase. This is in opposite of defense where the significance of extra points kept increasing.

As far as buffs goes, you should not ask yourself how much of the stat should depends on buffs, rather you should ask yourself how effective the buffs should be.

If we take attack as an example, how much damage do you want the player to deal with an attack buff compared to without? Let's say you think +50% damage sounds right. Now you take enemy defense into account. Let's say the average up to date enemy has enough defense to cut damage by 40% and it's a subtractive system. The attack buff should increase attack by 30% in order for the player to deal +50% damage.

Do the same for defense and any other stat. How much less damage do you want a player to take with the defense up buff compared to without?

Depending on engine, you could also cheat and just directly grant the effect you want without actually altering the stats. For example, if you're using VX ACE and wants a defense up buff to cut the damage a player takes by 25%, you can skip counting average numbers and instead make it so that the defense up buff just cuts physical damage by 25% instead of granting a defense up increase. If you do so, then obviously 0% of your defense will be buffs.

Basically, how your stats are distributed among base stats, equipment and buffs depends on whatever way they end up being distributed once the game is balanced. You should not start with choosing the distribution.

Your thoughts on magic/skill leveling

Magic/skill leveling is a feature you use when you want a magic/skill leveling system, not to fix a skill list problem. If you have a problem with the skill list, then fix the skill list. For example, you can make the order customize-able or you can make it so that newer skills appear on the top rather than bottom. Or maybe not design skills to be obsoleted. That skill which heals 200 HP may heal far more when the healer's magic stat has increased.

What Videogames Are You Playing Right Now?

I beat Code Vein and got the To Eternity ending. The game is fun, yet I have a hard time to think of it as anything else than Dark Souls/Bloodborne minus.

The game uses Dark Souls like core combat, but goes in it's own direction in several areas. The problem I have is that the game does not take good advantage of what it has.

The storytelling is more JRPG like than soulslike. It has a lot of cutscenes and talky talky bits. However, the story and plot itself is way to soulslike for having such a cutscene heavy storytelling. Dark Souls plot is basically following; escape undead asylum, ring two bells of awakening, find Lordvessel, acquire the lord souls and finally beat Lord Gwyn. Code Vein's plot is the same except you replace escape undead asylum with escape blood bead slavery, ring bells of awakening is replaced by revive magical blood treas and so on. The story is also way too similar, instead of undead who eventually goes hollow we have anime vampires who eventually goes lost.

The problem is that Dark Souls (and Demon Souls and Bloodborne) had their stories designed with the idea that the games would be very light on cutscenes. They were not meant to be cutscene heavy. If Code Vein wants to go cutscene heavy, it needs a plot and story suitable for this kind of story telling.

The characters are also not that interesting. They do not really justify all the talky talky the game uses to tell their stories.

Code Vein has the partner system. I claimed earlier that it was balanced around you using a partner. I'm retracting that and I'll instead state that the game is balanced for neither. I noticed problems both when I tried to play with and without a partner. If you don't use a partner, you have too little healing and sometimes you get swarmed by more enemies than the combat engine is designed for you to handle. You can probably handle those situations with the correct gift optimization, but the core combat is not designed for those numbers. If you do use partners, a lot of fights, including most bosses, become too easy. Maybe the game was balanced for in-between those options?

The areas are rather bland. There's few landmarks and they are very large and samey.

Character creation is much better. You get far more options, especially once you realize that the accessory option actually lets you adds things that aren't really accessories, such a pony tails and pig tails to your hair. This gives you great control over hairstyle and to a limited extent over clothes. There are improvements to be made here though. The base clothes are way too restrictive. Males have rather bland options and female clothes are instead too exotic. A lot of the blood Veils also cover up too much of the clothes you designed and there's a lack of a "hide bloodveils unless used" option.

All in all though, the combat works, fights are fun and you can make fun builds. A Code Vein 2 that irons out the problems and takes better advantage of the opportunities granted when you deviate from the Dark Souls formula would be welcome.

I'm now trying a new character. The plans is to go mostly heavy weapons and dark gifts since I ended up doing to opposite with the first character. I think I am going to need Bridge to Glory though.

What Videogames Are You Playing Right Now?

You're correct in that I haven't played Kingdom Hearts, so forgive me if what I'm about to say isn't true: The way you described it would mean that dodge and guard could be mapped to the same button, yes, but it sounds like guarding would require the player to be at a standstill and that backstepping would no longer be possible. Would advancing guard and backstepping still be doable with this new control scheme?
Advancing guards would require you to first stand still, guard and then move, so while still possible, it would be more awkward. Backstepping is already possible without standstill in this game. AFAIK, there is no backstep the same way as in Dark Souls, there is just dodging backwards. Try pressing backwards and then quickly pressing dodge, you will make the same move as if you're standing still and dodging.

That said, I realized that in Kingdom Hearts, guarding is more like parrying in Code Vein than actually guarding. So, mapping parry and dodge to the same button probably makes more sense than guard and dodge. It's also more intuitive since you're always moving in a direction while dodging and not moving while parrying. It works great in KH, I've never seen people complaining about accidentally using the wrong move.

Anyway, just got Mio and tried her out. I don't think she's good for my character though since she's also a bayonet user. The temple of a crapton of stairs is not a fun one. Other areas have been fun though, bland design aside.

What Videogames Are You Playing Right Now?

Also, I really want Code Vein. I enjoy Bloodborne/Dark Souls games (tho I'm not great at them XDXD) and the anime aesthetics plus the detailed character creator really have me tempted.
The character creator is not as detailed as one may think. The big extra compared to Dark Souls, is the ability to customize clothes. However, you get seven base clothes per gender and most of the detailed clothing customization options are to remove superfluous belts or other accessories. Still, if you enjoy the soulsborne games and anime aesthetic, I'd reccomned Code Vein.

I would agree with everything you said if it weren't for the fact that partners are optional. Because they are, all design decisions had to account for players going through the game both with and without partners. Gonna brush up against danger here and make some assumptions about designer intent: Assuming there were no technical/time constraints preventing the work needed to flesh out partner gameplay, I would say the reason those changes weren't in place was to appeal to both Souls vets and newcomers put off by the Souls' trademark difficulty. A newcomer to Soulslikes won't have the practice from prior games to really concern themselves with precise actions like parrying, while a Souls purist may choose to forgo partners entirely to replicate a Soulslike game. As long as those two extremes were accounted for, wierdo centrists like me who played every Souls game but still take partners along can adapt their playstyle accordingly.
Not sure I buy that. Souls purists will probably complain about the bland level design anyway. The game is also very much balanced for having a partner, including details like how many blows it takes to stun an enemy. Finally, I don't think you can write of soulsborne players who choose to use a partner as weirdos, those seem to be very many, maybe even more than those who choose not to take a partner.

If dodge and guard were mapped to the same button, how would you account for situations were you wanted to use one over the other?
I'm assuming you haven't played Kingdom Hearts. You guard if the left joystick is in neutral position and dodge if it is tilted in any direction.

What Videogames Are You Playing Right Now?

I've been playing some more Code Vein.

I really like that the main way of replenishing your magic/ranged attack source is to go up close to enemies and either drain or hit them. This in theory means that you can use ranged attacks to thin out multiple enemies or strategically get rid of the worst, but ultimately you d have to get up close to monsters. This is how I think the Soulsborne games should have tried to handle ranged combat. In practice, I do know that there are too many ways to break this game for this to hold true. Still, the ranger type build works just great for this playstyle.

While I appreciate that they did their own thing with the partner system, a lot of things are hardly adapted to having said partner. I had a good success rate using parries and drain attacks during the mandatory alone section in the first dungeon. Once I got a partner again, I found those moves hard to pull of. The partner will repeatedly disrupt my timing by staggering, killing or just aggroing an enemy I had plans for. On the other hand, backstabbing is often easier than it should be since you can easily backstab an enemy who's aggroed to your partner, as long as said partner doesn't kill it too quickly that is. My opinion is that once they made the decision to give the player a partner, the game developers needed to make more changes to adapt the soulslike formula thereafter.

There is no reason to have roll, guar and parry on three separate buttons. Dark Souls had to do it that way because the existence of parry and guard is bound to your equipment. However, this is not the case in Code Vein, there's no reason not to do it like Kingdom Hearts and bind both roll and guard to the same button.

What Videogames Are You Playing Right Now?

I've been playing some Code Vein, basically an "anime Dark Souls". The first obstacle is the character creation, or rather that was what I thought. However, the character creation is not as awesome as advertised. Apart from the standard Soulsborne fair, you get clothing option. The options are nice to have, but not that robust. Basically, you choose between a few outfits and then get to edit them somewhat, namely remove extra belts or other accessories and recolor the clothes. A lot of the outfits are over-designed even if you remove all removable accessories and most of them come of as rather outlandish. With the format of having preselected outfits and allowing the player to add or remove accessories and sometimes even significant pieces of clothing, it would make more sense to me to have fairly standard looking bases and then by adding or removing pieces, allow the player to make them more over-designed and or outlandish if they like to. Apparently the developers thought otherwise. I did still find options I like.

The story also takes a heavy anime turn. There's this mysterious girl with a weird outfit even with Code Vein standard and she has obscure save the world knowledge, but seem helpless to defend herself. The game is also very cutscene heavy compared to Souldborne games.

Gameplay is great. Combat feels a bit between Bloodborne and Dark Souls in terms of speed and fluidity. Soulsborne players should feel at home once they get used to the changed control scheme. One thing I do like is that the quicksilver bullet equivalent can so far only be replenished by going up close to the enemies. This means you can use ranged attacks tactically to take out key targets or thinning out large groups, but ultimately, you will have to get up close to enemies. Chance is there will be options that allows you to cheese enemies with overpowered spells later on though. So far though, I'm having fun using a bayonet.

What Videogames Are You Playing Right Now?

I'm about to tackle the Bloodborne DLC in new game+. I must say, new game+ is far easier in Bloodborne than in Dark Souls. Enemies don't get nearly as much extra attack power in Bloodborne as in DS and Bloodborne also gives out far higher updated exp equivalent. In DS, enemies and bosses would give 2x or 3x the souls, making earlier enemies and bosses give practically nothing whereas in Bloodborne, even the first boss will in new game+ give more blood echos than most late game bosses in new game.

What Videogames Are You Playing Right Now?

I finished the DLC in Bloodborne, or so I thought. Five minutes after starting new game+, I realized I forgot about Laurence. Well, he has to go down on NG+ then and I'm thinking about starting an arcane build as well.

Realigning the Sights

I'm not surprised seeing armor go. In my experience, it offered more opportunities to break the game than to customize the characters in a non broken way. Well, long gone are the days of equipping every character with three Guerilla Vests.

Does Amalie follow her own rules or did I misread the system? All of her stats except for SP seem off.

Anyway, cutting things down will definitely make things easier, but I wonder if the stat change from Strength/Technique to Power/Skill will. Either way, good luck!