How much should one crank up the difficulty before it's too much? (Game difficulty balancing)

Bloodborne pre-patch load screens. You haven't known the pain of reiterated failure until you have experienced Bloodborne pre-patch load screens

However, I would have to disagree about items.
Okay, from your paragraph below I see that you are mostly agreeing except that you wouldn't strongly limit the number of healing items someone can carry at the same time. May I ask why you think this is better, though?

I feel limiting these items is what makes games like Secret of Mana a lot more exciting, because you never know if you still have enough items left for the boss.

In other games I feel like I just have unlimited of these eventually except for those I can't buy. But if you make those you can't buy mandatory, you can get the player into a "stuck" situation which you probably wouldn't want. Using more buyable items only comes down to "If you use more then you'll have to grind longer for gold", I'm not sure if I see the benefit from that.

I don't think arbitrarily small item limits are particularly helpful for most RPGs. For some it works, for others it doesn't, but in the end it comes down to the actual design of the items.

If you strongly limit the number of items the player can carry, then A) you have to allow the player to restock them frequently and cheaply, lest players get into the mindset of putting even basic items into the "Too Good to Use" Club; and B) you must raise their effectiveness to compensate for their immediate scarcity.

If you allow players to carry large numbers of items, you don't have to be so worried about making them readily available at every turn. Most games that do it this way are also paced in such a way that, by the time you can afford to buy enormous stocks of an item, a higher tier that is more efficient in its usage is usually available and has superceded the prior one in enemy drops, treasure, and stores.

I'll throw out FFVII as an example (which is no exemplar of game design, I'll admit, but it fits the model I'm describing). A Potion heals for 100HP and costs 50 Gil to purchase. 100HP is less than 1/3rd of the starting HP of two of the three starting character, and just over 1/3rd of the third character, so even from the beginning Potions are not terribly efficient for their price.

About the time I leave Midgar and get to the first town, I like to buy up to 99 Potions. By that time, the roughly 3500 Gil that requires is a reasonable chunk of change but doesn't break the bank, and 100HP is a very inefficient amount of healing per item at that stage. Helpful for topping up after battles to save a little MP, and not much more. At that time Hi-Potions, which heal five times as much for six times the price, become available for purchase regularly. (You can buy them at one particular shop very early, long before you can really afford them, and I believe this was just an oversight.)

By the time Hi-Potions stop being efficient, you can easily buy up to 99 of them and the game starts giving you X-Potions, the best single target HP healing item.

The point is, it never feels like the ability to have 99 of the items makes the game any easier. The items lose efficiency long before that point. But having that many of them is helpful for conserving MP, or if you get trapped in a dungeon for a long time, or perhaps if you wanted to challenge yourself and not use Materia.

Better have them and not need them than need them and not have them.

How much should one crank up the difficulty before it's too much? (Game difficulty balancing)

There's only one delusional individual in this thread.

I haven't been here very long, but long enough to know that the collection of individuals posting in this thread, the same who take time from their lives and projects to post in so many threads on this forum, my own included, are both knowledgeable and wise and come from considerable experience. Newbies here would do well to heed them.

Anyway, I think Rya's example of pacing is spot on. However, I would have to disagree about items.

I think that the Bare Necessities, at least, should be plentiful and, while not dirt-cheap, relatively affordable. One way to think about it is in terms of the cost of each battle. What resources must the player consume to recoup the expenses of each fight? If the player must give a healing item to each of his characters after a fight, then the rewards for that battle must approach that cost, either as healing items as drops or as enough money to buy more healing items. Maybe not on a 1-for-1 basis in every case, but over time the player should be able to see a gradual rise in both inventory stock and leftover funds -- both are part of the rise in power you want the player to experience. If he wants to bring 99 of the base healing item everywhere and spam them outside of battle to conserve MP, let him do it. By the time he can afford to restock that many items, their efficiency will no longer be as relevant as it used to be, therefore keeping the challenge ratio in tact.

[RMMV] Problem reconciling lore with gameplay, instant game-overs

Final Fantasy XIII used that system. Each battle was a more significant challenge and characters were auto-healed after each battle. FF13 had its flaws, but the combat system was not one of them. I think it worked very well, although it's worth noting that battles were not random and could be avoided, which counteracted the increased length and difficulty of each battle.

I do like the idea of spells tapping into HP after MP (or TP or SP--it's all semantics). That might be a good way to represent the stress of overextending one's magical reach. Or a system similar to Chrono Cross's Stamina would also be great.

Whichever way you do it, utilizing Overload as a lore reason for limitations on casting rather than random punishment for overcasting would indeed be wise.

[RMMV] Problem reconciling lore with gameplay, instant game-overs

I'm not entirely sold on the idea of killing your players. There might be a way to make it work, but it needs to be finessed properly to avoid situations where players feel cheated. Allowing players to go into negative MP with increasing chances of negative consequences as MP approaches -100% could be a fantastic combat system, offering some real depth of choice. However, when that negative consequence is not just instant death for the character but an actual game over for the player, chances are most players are just going to treat 0 as the end of their MP bar and rarely, if ever, roll the dice on dropping it further.

If game over could only occur at -100%, it's a little more reasonable, but then, there's only a philosophical difference between -100% MP and 0 MP with twice the maximum.

Building on Locke's suggestion, perhaps a static bar (as in, its maximum value does not increase) that increases with spellcasting and decreases over time could be an interesting replacement for MP altogether. This also eliminates the need to balance MP numbers throughout the game--each spell just needs to be based on how much of the bar it fills.

Players could cast spells to their heart's content, watching that metre fill up, then cool it for a few turns to let it go down. You could also tie other abilities to the bar, such as giving a character increased parameters based on how much of it is filled, offering the dangerous prospect of essentially being near-death for more power.

Of course, like I said, I'm not entirely sure that the game over system is the right way to go. You said that spells in your world should not be cast haphazardly, that each one must be measured to avoid disturbing reality (by the way, did you post on rpgmakerweb forums as well? I think I read something similar in Features Feedback. Which is a dead topic, unfortunately). Perhaps, then, giving your spells high charge times with big payouts would be a good way to go.

That way, Overload is the reason for the way the magic system is, rather than the punishment for it. A mage in your world would logically understand the risks of being careless with magic, so allowing players to roll the dice every turn by going further into negative MP makes the characters themselves seem ignorant of the way the world works.

However, if game overs are the way you want to go, and as I said it could work if done delicately, I would heavily recommend adding a consumable item to the game that can bring characters back from the Hollow. Let characters first fall in battle, and allow the player a few turns to use such an item to bring them back before giving a game over (effectively, a Doom-like state with bigger consequences for ignoring it). Make the items extremely rare and extremely expensive, but give players a way to overcome the game over. You could even call the item a Soul Anchor (thank Liberty for that one!).

All that said, a segment of the game that involves a foray into the Hollow to rescue a mage that went too far would be pretty awesome. Don't write it off too easily!


Since you're using MV, the suite of Yanfly plugins almost seems as though it was made for just about any version of the system you're trying to make. Custom states, charge times, cooldowns, whichever way you choose to go. I like how much freedom you have to play with it.

Legal question - popular songs in noncommercial games?

Fair use is tricky. Interpretations of it are as various as the interpreters, simply because the law only provides guidelines, rather than rules.

In addition to the more well-defined guidelines, such as commentary, criticism, parody, etc., the law provides the following:

the purpose and character of the use (e.g., was it for profit?);
the nature of the copyrighted work;
the amount and substantiality of the portion of the work used in relationship to the whole work; and
the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

Clearly, a Rick Roll doesn't come close to violating any of these, and that is largely the stance on the slew of memes featuring copyrighted material.

However, I would have to agree that it's not at all worth it. Not even a little.

How much should one crank up the difficulty before it's too much? (Game difficulty balancing)

All of that is good stuff, I like it.

Depending on how your equipment system works, the numbers game could be made irrelevant entirely by normalizing stat gains (or removing them), instead giving equipment unique properties that don't rely on numbers, such as elements and states. As long as stat growth from levels is adjusted to compensate, this offers a deep customization system around which engaging encounters can be built.

How much should one crank up the difficulty before it's too much? (Game difficulty balancing)

I'm going to have to try that idea, too. Right now the enemy stats are pretty close to the party. I'm also trying to keep defensive stats fixed at a low number (very few items raise it), so as the player raises in strength, they see they deal more damage, yet the enemies gain health.

I plan to do the very same. I think that offers a very salient way for players to track the minute growths in their power. Normalised defense stats also make it much easier to control special enemies who utilise unique defense stats, such as a foe with extremely tough armour, and these special cases are more obvious to players, as well.

For instance, if a player happens to encounter such a unique enemy as his first battle in a new area, he will be able to immediately ascertain that physical attacks are inferior, rather than wondering if or assuming that such is simply the new area's baseline power level.

How much should one crank up the difficulty before it's too much? (Game difficulty balancing)

Of course, Final Fantasy VIII did such a thing, to varying degrees of effectiveness. Although, the increasing enemy power only scaled to a certain point; i.e., early-game enemies were still pitiful to late-game characters.

I think that's a good way to go about it, though. Otherwise, just keeping pace with the enemies throughout the game will never give the player a sense of growing power. Sure, all the numbers go up and up and up, but their relative meaning wouldn't change.

Having a system like Corf suggested would make encounters interesting for longer periods of time, as long as enemies have a reasonable cap on their power level, such that players can eventually surpass it.

And I say interesting instead of challenging because the latter is really a subjective term, which I suppose is the meat of this topic.

If your game is played by people who play RPGs all the time, then of course it's going to come easily to them. Your battle system might be unique and fantastic, but it operates on principles that define the genre, that veterans understand very well.

Take Dark Souls, for instance: a series that is objectively very challenging and hated and lauded alike for its brutal punishment of players. Veterans of the series can make it through any of its games in a few hours without more than a handful of deaths, though. People get better at things they do a lot, so, unfortunately, I don't think you can expect to deliver a major challenge to RPG veterans without at the same time presenting insurmountable obstacles for novices.

On a more specific level, I would say that having a mix of "trash" and "elite" enemies populate your areas is the right way to go. Not every battle should take huge amounts of time and resources to overcome. A few definitely should. Running around an area killing a bunch of weak enemies, with an occasional encounter with a very strong one that might require unique strategies to defeat, is good pacing to my mind.

If every battle is too easy, it gets boring. If every battle requires significant thought, it gets tedious. A balance of the two leaves a satisfying feeling after conquering an area.

Legal question - popular songs in noncommercial games?

Er, this might be off-topic, but what about making sound-alikes? Can you be held for that?

When it comes to music, copyright holders have ownership over all parts of the track, which includes its lyrics and its melody. So, if by sound-alike you mean the same melody using different instruments and/or different timing, then that would still fall under copyright infringement. If you mean a different but somewhat similar melody, then it's probably fine.

I say probably, because there was a case some years ago where the band Coldplay was sued by another recording artist for including a melody in their song Viva la Vida that, the artist claimed, was ripped from the other artist's property. Listening to it yourself, you could only conclude that the other artist was a petty fool who was looking for any excuse to sue someone, but the precedent is there.

From Archades to Crescent ~ Town Design for the Solo Dev

Condense but allow people to run around and explore and poke their noses into nooks and crannies if they want.

Indeed, but I think the point Locke was trying to make is that, while these things may add to your game's atmosphere, its aesthetic, its story, they don't add to the player's experience of playing the game in the sense of working towards achieving the game's goals.

And that's not a bad thing, and for some players, the aspects of atmosphere and aesthetic and story are everything. Those players will get a lot of value out of towns like that. But other players just want to focus on completing the game's goals, and those towns are a hindrance to them, and mean you put in a lot of work for nothing.

If you make a few select towns that way and also incorporate the completion of goals, it is a worthwhile experience for every player, which allows you to just include the bare necessities for other, less important towns. I think that is the maximization of efficiency in development.