Session Start: Thu Jul 30 18:23:08 2009
Session Ident: #rmn_roundtable
02[18:23] * Logging for #rmn_roundtable started
[18:23]  Hrm.
[18:23]  I'll have to read the article form for the whole thing.
[18:23]  I'll only be here about an hour or so.
01[18:26] <@Brickroad> Is cool. Did you have stuff you wanted to throw into the discussion?
[18:27]  I figured I'd talk about monster group etc.
01[18:28] <@Brickroad> Is cool.
01[18:30] <@Brickroad> I feel like we need a trumpeter or something. Or maybe I should bang a gavel.
01[18:31] <@Brickroad> GENTLEMEN. We are here today to discuss the issue of game balance.
01[18:31] <@Brickroad> Specifically in the realm of RPGs. (For obvious reasons.)
01[18:32] <@Brickroad> Game balance is by far the most requested article topic people have asked of me, and it's one that comes up quite frequently on IRC and on gaming message boards. It can get pretty hotly debated at times.
01[18:33] <@Brickroad> I sat down to write an article on the subject, but the topic is so broad and so subjective that I kept losing my focus. So I decided to hold this discussion instead, to get some outside input on it.
[18:33]  Where to begin?
01[18:33] <@Brickroad> I figure the best place to start would be to try to define what we mean by game balance.
03[18:33] * Blitzen ( has joined #rmn_roundtable
[18:34]  LATE
[18:34]  sorry
[18:34]  i was working out
[18:34]  The difficulty, or lack thereof, of the battles, and striking the perfect medium level?
[18:34]  Not just battles.
[18:35]  Item prices, experience curves, and skill learning rates.
01[18:35] <@Brickroad> I've always felt that the RPG genre never really gets "difficult", in the same sense as, say, an FPS or a platformer can get difficult.
01[18:35] <@Brickroad> In most RPGs you can overcome any challenge by investing time in it (leveling up, grinding money, etc.)
[18:35]  Is that an issue?
[18:35]  that's because the problem solving takes a different approach
[18:35]  I see it as one.
01[18:35] <@Brickroad> I think we can all agree that grinding XP/AP/Gold is tedious, yes? =)
[18:36]  they are not so much logic puzzles as they challenge different strategies in different ways
[18:36]  yes.
[18:36]  Of course, an increasing number of RPGs have more of a reflex/rhythm/precision aspect. Like Tales, TWEWY, and Shadow Hearts.
[18:36]  Well
[18:36] <@DFalcon> I've always thought that's potentially one of the neat features of RPGs in that it allows some self-selection of difficulty, but one that causes more problems than it's worth
[18:36] <@DFalcon> *.
[18:36]  you can always limit battles
[18:36] <@DFalcon> Grinding is tedious.  Amen.
[18:36]  Level-modded experience is a good solution imo.
[18:36]  that can add to the challenge, and force less grinding.
03[18:36] * Ankylo ( has joined #rmn_roundtable
[18:37]  chaos: Ah yes, DQ9 does something like that. More experience points are awarded to characters at higher levels.
[18:37]  The inverse was what I was thinking of.
[18:37]  You mean like FF Tactics?
[18:37]  The idea is to award the player for taking a bigger challenge
[18:37]  Being higher level than your prey should yield less EXP.
[18:37]  Among others.
[18:38]  *reward
01[18:38] <@Brickroad> Here's my proposed definition of a perfectly balanced RPG: the perfectly balanced RPG is one that provides a decent challenge without requiring the player to ever, ever grind.
[18:38] <@DFalcon> Granted.
[18:38]  Thats pretty reasonable
[18:38]  Which means piling on the dungeon mind-puzzles, right?
[18:38]  That should work as a definition.
01[18:39] <@Brickroad> So to start off with tonight let's talk about some ways we as designers might attain that goal.
[18:39]  eliminate the leveling system
[18:39]  Okay, how is the player rewarded for battles?
[18:39]  Money? Items?
[18:39]  and focus on creating more novel ways of overcoming adversaries
[18:39]  Those become her new "Levels".
[18:40]  In Bahamut Lagoon, you get different rewards based on how the enemies are defeated.
[18:40]  reward is not important
[18:40]  progression is important
[18:40]  ...
01[18:40] <@Brickroad> What's the difference between reward and progression in an RPG, Blitzen?
[18:40]  Let's call it "player incentive", then.
[18:40]  One is advancement of player status, while the other is advancement of the story?
[18:40]  Progression is inherently reward, being that the intent of the player is to beat the game, or at least, play the game.
[18:41]  Anything that makes the player wish to continue playing.
[18:41]  To progress to the end of the planned ludology.
01[18:41] <@Brickroad> So by "eliminate leveling" do you mean eliminating progression altogether? The player's power level at the end of the game is the same as at the beginning?
[18:41]  Reward, however, are unnecessary but possibly helpful incidents which could enhance or make easier this progression through the game design.
[18:42]  don't eliminate progress, the player has to go through the game
[18:42]  but what you do is you minimalize the ludology
[18:42]  you don't NEED a level system
[18:42]  because it gives the player a reason to grind
[18:42]  to exploit it
[18:42]  if you want to avoid that
[18:42]  Most players enjoy watching their avatar grow in power, though.
[18:43]  true, but think about it as a game mechanic
[18:43]  then how do you propose setting a new challenge and the means to keep up with it?
[18:43] <@Darken> RPG is really all about watching numbers go up.
[18:43]  Leveling enemies.
[18:43]  you have to present the player with other problem-solving alternatives
[18:43] <@DFalcon> There are games that do this, of course, just mostly not RPGs.  Lots of arcade games set a more difficult challenge as you continue.
[18:43] <@DFalcon> The problem with the arcade-game model is that the game designer often expects you to fail to complete the game, of course.
[18:44]  ie in FPSs, there are parts where you have to know to do things in a certain order
[18:44]  and avoiding failure while you navigate that puzzle is the challenge
03[18:44] * Dolph ( has joined #rmn_roundtable
[18:44]  but itsnt that just another form of repitition?
01[18:45] <@Brickroad> So you're suggesting shifting the challenge of the game from battles (where the player can grind to succeed) and putting it into other areas of the game where grinding is not an option.
[18:45]  Is it then an RPG?
[18:45]  well, in my opinion the battles and teh game are not separate in the view of the ludology
[18:45]  its not like "well here are the battles and here is the rest"
01[18:45] <@Brickroad> What do you mean by ludology?
[18:45]  because its all one game
[18:45]  ludology = game design and rules
[18:45]  the definition of an rpg is not fighting and random battles
[18:46]  character development.
[18:46]  In the genre sense, not the literal sense.
[18:46]  role playing game, you take on a role and you play it to it's fullest extent
[18:46]  yeah
[18:46]  I kinda guessed that ;)
[18:46]  brb
[18:46]  That makes halo an RPG, which it is clearly not.
03[18:47] * DragonShadow ( has joined #rmn_roundtable
[18:47]  Well
[18:47]  It shares elements, such as variables for damage output and health,
01[18:47] <@Brickroad> Well Blitzen, you're then just shifting the problem of game balance from one aspect of gameplay to another. If you decide the challenge of your game is going to be in its puzzles/exploration/social interactions/whatever, you're then just faced with the problem of balancing those things.
[18:47]  it would also depends on the mechanics of said game.
[18:47] <@DFalcon> I tend to think the attitude of "set more difficult challenges versus the same set of stats" works better when there's some twitch involved, where you're likely to get a little bit more skilled just by practice.
[18:48]  The progession could be entirely moveset-based.
01[18:48] <@Brickroad> Let's focus specifically on the combat aspect of RPG balance for this discussion, otherwise we'll run ourselves in circles all night. =)
[18:48]  agreed.
[18:48] <@DFalcon> When you set up an abstract system like most RPG battles you can reach a point where you're just bashing your head in without a clue what to do.
[18:48] <@Darken> Has anyoing considered making
[18:48] <@Darken> instead of trying to remove it?
01[18:48] <@Brickroad> I think it takes a certain kind of mindset to enjoy grinding.
[18:49] <@Darken> Well yeah, its a hardcore thing to do
[18:49]  well, I enjoyed grinding to some extent in, say, ABL
01[18:49] <@Brickroad> I've played games where I've enjoyed it, and games where I haven't. I'm not sure I could quantify the difference between the two.
[18:49]  Hrm. Maybe enforce that mindset?
[18:49]  Its a bit out there, but i am curious if it is possible to make grinding more fun.
[18:49] <@DFalcon> Some people have considered it seriously, measuring the frequency of rewards and stuff like that.
[18:50]  This seriously reminds me of those kiddie commercials that try to make toothpaste "fun
[18:50]  "*
[18:50] <@Darken> toothpaste is fun
01[18:50] <@Brickroad> I find grinding is most fun if I'm doing it for the sheer pleasure of it. For example, maxing out all the classes in FF5 or leveling someone to L99 just because I can.
01[18:50] <@Brickroad> It's much less fun when grinding is a required aspect of the game. (Ex: you can't beat this boss until you learn Heal 3, and you don't learn Heal 3 until L40.)
[18:50]  You're not grinding to grind there, you're grinding for an end.
[18:51] <@Darken> It's interesting to see people do speed runs of RPGs
[18:51] <@Darken> like that FF marathon
01[18:51] <@Brickroad> In the first case, like chaos says, I'm grinding to grind because I find the grind pleasurable. In the second case I want to kill a boss, and grinding is essentially a separate action from killing the boss.
[18:51]  perhaps less battles with more strategy involed?
[18:51]  -with
[18:52]  *but
[18:52]  perhaps grinding with a focus on more than just kill - level up - get skill
01[18:52] <@Brickroad> "More strategy" is easier said than done.
[18:52] <@DFalcon> Well, I think this one we can run in circles on too.  If the game has managed to get your battles fun enough that you want to fight more, the game designer has succeeded - but that's not exactly a how-to.
[18:52]  That's another can of worms altogether.
[18:53]  So, how?
01[18:53] <@Brickroad> I've always felt RPGs were most fun when the hid the grind from me.
[18:53]  How about a game in which every battle is as challenging as possible, and the player must use every strategy at his/her disposal, but the party's HP/MP is completely refilled after each battle? (Examples: Live A Live, SaGa Frontier 1, Romancing SaGa 3)
[18:53]  *they hid
01[18:53] <@Brickroad> The game knows I have to be, say, L20 to kill a boss. So the game is balanced in a way that the EXP I get from random encounters will put me at or near L20 by that point in the game.
[18:54]  I think FFX follows that model.
01[18:54] <@Brickroad> Chroma: Such games still require balancing.
01[18:54] <@Brickroad> chaos: Pretty much every FF game follows that model.
03[18:54] * kentona ( has joined #rmn_roundtable
03[18:54] * Brickroad sets mode: +o kentona
[18:54] <@kentona> so, i'm here to let you know that I can't be here
01[18:55] <@Brickroad> A paradox!
[18:55] <@kentona> my wife dropped the "I'm not going to aquacize and instead we are going to my friend's birthday supper and you have to pick up a gift card now"-bomb at 4:20pm
01[18:55] <@Brickroad> =(
[18:56] <@DFalcon> Chroma, are those all going to be boss battles?
[18:56] <@kentona> :<
[18:56] <@Darken> damn
[18:56]  How would bosses differ from normal encounters?
01[18:56] <@Brickroad> In Chroma's example, SaGa Frontier has some pretty deep balancing issues while also heavily rewarding mindless grinding.
[18:56]  I think that the real gain, or boon from a battle should be more than just, leveling up and get a skill. By that I mean, instead of just watching your characters get some extra hp and +2 strenth (w/e), you use an interactive element from the player; I thought grinding in Diablo II was awesome, not only because of the cool items you would find, but more specifically, it allowed me to customize
01[18:56] <@Brickroad> So clearly simply changing the style of battle doesn't address the problem of balance.
[18:57]  is this is a roundtable, shouldn't we have a moderator say whose turn it is to speak
[18:57]  and go one at a time
[18:57]  and no one else talk
[18:57]  while that person is talking
01[18:57] <@Brickroad> I was just going to leave it go freeform unless it got out of hand.
[18:57] <@DFalcon> As a practical matter, games I've played where the party heals fully after each battle tend to make dungeons and less-than-boss encounters pretty pointless.
[18:57] <@kentona> so this is what I have to add:
[18:57] <@kentona> :<
[18:57] <@Darken> well we need a direction
01[18:58] <@Brickroad> Okay. Chaos had some stuff he wanted to say before he left, so I'll open the floor to him to start.
[18:58]  How about character balancing?
[18:58]  Er, my thing was with Monster Groups.
[18:58]  So I'll get that out of the way.
01[18:58] <@Brickroad> Lay it on us, sunshine.
[18:59]  Basically, how I make my games interesting in battle is by forcing the player to recognize the largest threat one the battlefield.
[18:59]  This isn't always clear.
[18:59]  Who's the larger threat:
[19:00]  The monster that berserks PCs or the one that's immune to physical attacks?
[19:00] <@kentona> what do past encounters teach the player?
[19:00]  The base movesets of monstertypes.
[19:00] <@kentona> also, the one that is doing the most DPS
[19:00]  Which evolve as the player progresses.
[19:00]  the answer to all riddles ;)
03[19:00] * SFLaValle ( has joined #rmn_roundtable
[19:01]  Not so, Kent.
[19:01] <@kentona> that's going to be your player's first instinct
[19:02]  The berserker is more threating in that example, since it makes you auto-attack the immune creature. Sure, that kills the berserker, but leaves the immune one free to pummel without a care.
[19:03]  Another thing with monster groups is the need for variety.
01[19:03] <@Brickroad> Okay, but how is the fight balanced? 
[19:03]  I'm here, we can start now.
[19:03]  Within the same encounter. Preferably with varying elemental resistances.
01[19:03] <@Brickroad> Ex: if the immune monster doesn't deal enough damage per attack, he's not a threat even if your party is berserked.
01[19:04] <@Brickroad> Or, if it deals too much, the party is going to be overwhelmed whether or not they are berserked.
[19:04]  Well, depends on how much is "threating" in a given game.
[19:04] <@DFalcon> Just as a point, it's clearly the combination that's threatening in that example more than either individual monster.
[19:04]  Let's assume, maybe 1/3 of PC's HP.
[19:04]  Per hit.
01[19:05] <@Brickroad> Is this a battle you've actually built, tested and played?
[19:05]  Yes.
[19:06]  But there were two berserkers, four immunes.
01[19:06] <@Brickroad> What were some techniques you used to make sure the battle worked properly?
[19:06]  Lemme open it as reference.
[19:06]  ...stalling...
[19:07]  Okay, here's the layout.
[19:07]  Four immunes, who buff all allies' Attack as their opening action.
[19:08]  Two status-casters, who attempt to berserk the party (~50% chance per PC.)
[19:08]  This is very late-game, so mass status cures are cheap.
01[19:09] <@Brickroad> Define "berserk" for us.
[19:09]  Character loses control and can only physically attack random enemy targets?
[19:09]  Automatically attacks foes, x2 Attack, 1/2 Defense and accuracy.
01[19:09] <@Brickroad> Does it ever wear off?
[19:10]  Yes, given about 10 2k3 turns and a 75% thereafter.
[19:10]  Also 100% from physical damage.
01[19:10] <@Brickroad> Okay. I was going to say, without a built-in wear-off chance this battle sounds more based on luck than anything.
[19:11]  However, the halfed defense, along with the enemie's attack buffs, result in about 1/2 Max HP per enemy attack.
01[19:11] <@Brickroad> I'm assuming all those numbers needed quite a bit of tweaking during design.
[19:11]  Attack debuffs, Wind mass-attacks, and mass-status cures make the fight trivial.
[19:12]  All sorts of tweaking.
01[19:12] <@Brickroad> So, to keep it on the subject of balance, the question is not "how does the fight work" but "how did you know the fight would have to work that way"?
03[19:12] * Karsuman ( has joined #rmn_roundtable
01[19:12] <@Brickroad> What problems did you see come up in earlier versions of the fight, before you tweaked it?
[19:12]  This still going on? =)
[19:12]  yes
01[19:12] <@Brickroad> Oh, we're having a grand old time!
[19:12]  Heheh.
[19:13]  I had work, so...
[19:13]  Enemies hit too fast, resulting in instant-game, along with tweaking Berserk's duration.
[19:13] <@DFalcon> So you balanced this against some particular-level party?
[19:14]  Yes, using the enemies' average level as the party's.
[19:14]  So what is being discussed? 
[19:14] <@kentona> so, in past battles, what did players learn to avoid being berserked?  Was there an item or spell that could protect them?
01[19:14] <@Brickroad> Which means you had to have known the player would be Level X by the time they encountered Monster Party Y, right?
[19:14]  Monster Group balance.
03[19:14] * WIP ( has joined #rmn_roundtable
03[19:14] * ChanServ sets mode: +oq WIP WIP
[19:14] <@kentona> @kars: Berserk allies and phys. immune emeines
[19:14]  And what game?
03[19:14] * Brickroad sets mode: +oo Karsuman SFLaValle
[19:14] <@Karsuman> =)
[19:14] <@kentona> chaos's rm2k3
[19:15]  Kent: Both single and multi-target.
[19:15]  Of course.
01[19:15] <@Brickroad> chaos has the flor right now, Karsu. He's talking about a battle he designed for his game.
[19:15]  I needed an example and picked one from a "random" game.
[19:15] <@Karsuman> Ah, I see. I think I know what he's talking about.
[19:15]  Brick: I achieve that through LM-Experience.
01[19:15] <@Brickroad> What's LM-Ex?
[19:16]  Level-modded, as earlier.
[19:16]  The curve is really sharp.
[19:16] <@Karsuman> If you are weaker than the enemy, you get more EXP.
[19:16] <@Karsuman> (Suikoden)
01[19:16] <@Brickroad> So you, as the designer, control how much Exp the player gets.
[19:16]  Yes.
01[19:17] <@Brickroad> That's a good segue into one of the main points I have here. Anything else you want to add?
[19:17] <@DFalcon> By "the curve is really sharp" you mean that you can expect any player at that point to be very close to your test party.
[19:17]  Yes, within 2 levels of it generally. If they aren't, they will be very shortly.
[19:17] <@Karsuman> Having played chaos's game, I can attest to what he is talking about.
[19:17]  Usually with a battle or two.
[19:18] <@Karsuman> Battles are very easy to get into, as well. =)
[19:18]  Of course, lower-level foes yield pitiful experience.
01[19:18] <@Brickroad> Any more questions for chaos or comments on what he said?
[19:19] <@kentona> the strategies that I see the player using for these monsters would be to somehow prepare themselves from being berserk
[19:19]  Okay.
[19:19] <@Karsuman> Berserk-immune accessory thinger.
[19:19]  Aptly named Anger -.
[19:19] <@kentona> or an item that heals it
[19:19] <@Karsuman> Or status cures. 
[19:19]  Which the berserk-caster drops.
[19:20] <@Karsuman> Heheh.
[19:20] <@kentona> or...making sure that they have enough HP to survive the berserk ailment until it wears off
[19:20]  And to be able to prepare for it, he has to know what he's up against. Do these foes come separately at first so the player gets to see their tactic and then combines the two?
[19:20] <@kentona> I was thinking the same thing
03[19:20] * Dyn_User7824874 ( has joined #rmn_roundtable
[19:20]  Dolph: Yes. The player also gets treated to lesser versions.
[19:21] <@Karsuman> It's also worth noting that frequent deaths are not uncommon in chaos's game.
01[19:21] <@Brickroad> Now let me ask you this, Karsu.
[19:21]  Single target berserks against high-def foes, berserk + blind, berserk + healing.
[19:21] <@Karsuman> (There are also a lot of save points)
01[19:21] <@Brickroad> Having played chaos's game, is all this information clued well enough? Do you, as the player, REALLY know what the correct way to handle a given battle is, by the time you reach it?
[19:21] <@Karsuman> Well
[19:21]  Uh-uh.
[19:22] <@kentona> ...or given a reasonable opportunity to figure it out in-battle?
[19:22]  That I do.
03[19:22] * Jude ( has joined #rmn_roundtable
[19:22] <@Karsuman> There is some assumption on chaos's part.
[19:22] <@Karsuman> However
[19:22] <@Karsuman> it is worth noting that enemies come in multiple tiers and versions and evolve throughout the game.
[19:22]  Whatever.  Everybody knows the neutral affinity always has the most potential.
[19:23] <@DFalcon> A reasonable opportunity to figure it out in-battle still means the first time will be harder.
[19:23]  Error in my game usually results in either Game Over or Run Like Hell.
[19:23] <@Karsuman> So while you might not get it the first time
[19:23] <@Karsuman> When you see later versions of the enemy, there's a good chance you'll know.
01[19:23] <@Brickroad> Some would say that means its improperly balanced, chaos. =)
[19:23]  Are we discussing appropriate drawbacks for bad play/mistakes?
[19:23]  Brick: My game is basically SMT balanced.
[19:24] <@Karsuman> SMT is do or die usually.
01[19:24] <@Brickroad> Jude: chaos is telling us about how he balanced some battles in his game.
[19:24]  So those same people would claim SMT unfair.
[19:24]  I don't even know what SMT is.
[19:24]  Shin Megami Tensei.
[19:24] <@kentona> me neither
01[19:24] <@Brickroad> Persona series.
[19:24]  I've only played the original Persona.
[19:24] <@kentona> I don't even know what Shin Megami Tensei is
[19:24] <@kentona> or persona
01[19:24] <@Brickroad> chaos, I'm going to hand the floor over to kentona for a bit since he's apparently still here.
[19:25]  Okay.
[19:25] <@kentona> yeah, for 3 mions
[19:25] <@kentona> mins
01[19:25] <@Brickroad> Because I have a few questions I'm dying to ask him.
[19:25] <@kentona> ask away
[19:25]  I'm done anyway.
[19:25] <@Karsuman> It's older than Final Fantasy, so. =)
[19:25] <@kentona> you got 3 mins
[19:25]  GO.
01[19:25] <@Brickroad> How the heck did you balance all 670 of the classes in Hero's Realm? Or are they, like, not balanced?
[19:25] <@Karsuman> Haha. Balanced. =)
[19:25] <@kentona> ever seen one of my excel spreadsheets?
[19:25]  Daredevil is NOT balanced.
[19:25]  670?  Holy crap.
03[19:25] * Dyn_User7824874 is now known as Kaiterra
[19:25]  There's maybe 15.
[19:25] <@kentona> 22
[19:26]  Oh, disappointing.
[19:26]  Oh yeah, hidden ones, etc.
01[19:26] <@Brickroad> There's so much information involved you had to use a spreadsheet? =)
[19:26]  A spreadsheet doesn't make for balance.  Stats are not created equal.
[19:26]  Some scale differently at high levels.
[19:26] <@kentona> what I do is map out classes that I want
[19:26] <@kentona> then I decide, per stat, which one would have the lowest, and which the highest
[19:27] <@kentona> then, I map out the rest of the classes on a scale between those numbers
[19:27] <@kentona> I usually start with a 1 to 7 scale, 7 being awesome
[19:27] <@Karsuman> How do you deal the power of the stats?
[19:27] <@kentona> then transform it to whatever engine numbers I want to use
[19:27]  That can create varience in stat totals.
[19:27] <@Karsuman> General order of effectivenss for the stats are: Agility, Attack, Magic, Defense.
[19:28] <@Karsuman> You can buff magic.
[19:28] <@Karsuman> (And attack, too)
[19:28]  i wonder; do you take out classes before you consider them too much alike or is this done when distributing stats/balance/etc? (or merge classes)
[19:28] <@Karsuman> But defense is a spectacularly terrible stat.
[19:28]  Defense gets help from the element tab.
[19:28] <@SFLaValle> How do you differentiate classes that favor the same stats? Is it all in the skills?
[19:28] <@kentona> I usually put little thought into DEF
[19:29] <@kentona> I draft a list of classes right away, and start weeding them out by abilities almost immediately
[19:29] <@kentona> anywho, I have to run - fuck
[19:29]  :(
[19:29]  Aw.
[19:29] <@kentona> I'll leave this open - if you have a Q
[19:29] <@Karsuman> Bye. :<
[19:29] <@Karsuman> The way I think of classes is in terms of combat roles.
[19:29] <@kentona> write" @kentona: blahblah blah" and I'll answer them tomorrow
01[19:29] <@Brickroad> Thanks kentona. =)
[19:29] <@kentona> sorry guys
[19:29] <@Karsuman> Such and such specializes in attacks/support/debuffing etc.
[19:29]  See ya.
03[19:29] * kentona is now known as kent|bday
[19:30]  I'd disagree about agility/defense.  It depends on the nature of the game.
[19:30] <@Karsuman> Can't base it all on stats.
[19:30] <@kent|bday> nope
[19:30] <@Karsuman> Rm2k3, Jude.
[19:30] <@Karsuman> Agility wins.
[19:30]  That's exactly how I balance characters.
01[19:30] <@Brickroad> DF, you must've had some unique experience with balancing stats and characters while working on Aurora Wing.
[19:30]  Kars: You can deal with that by modifying the range of the stat.
[19:31] <@DFalcon> Aurora Wing is kind of funny in that certain characters are unapologetically better than others.
[19:31]  AGI: 90-110, DEF: 50-200
[19:31] <@Karsuman> There are two possibilities chaos
[19:31] <@Karsuman> 5 defense and 500 defense
[19:31] <@Karsuman> Yeah.
[19:31] <@Karsuman> Aurora Wing - certain characters are just superior.
[19:31]  Hrm, if you say so.
[19:31] <@DFalcon> My first focus when creating a character was to get some variety in combat roles.
[19:32] <@Karsuman> That's not uncommon in a lot of tactics games, as a side note.
[19:32] <@Karsuman> (see: FFT =P)
[19:32]  FFT is a terrible example of a well-balanced game.
[19:32] <@Karsuman> I know.
[19:32] <@Karsuman> I wasn't saying it was well-balanced. =)
[19:32] <@DFalcon> That usually entailed something like "high-defense low-evade" plus maybe a combat skill.
[19:33]  brb.
[19:33] <@DFalcon> Getting the numbers right at the beginning involved a lot of trial and error.  Later characters and enemies I could start off by comparing to earlier ones and tweaking.
[19:33] <@Karsuman> Even games like Tactics Ogre have serious balance issues. Well-balanced tactics games are rare. Usually they start hard and get easy.
[19:34] <@Karsuman> Though that's one thing I liked about DF's game.
[19:34] <@Karsuman> It just keeps getting harder. =P
[19:34]  screw them, man.
[19:34] <@Karsuman> Also, can't forget the untimely death of a tier one character. XD
[19:35] <@DFalcon> So granted that I accepted some variation in character power, I wasn't too concerned about a character only being somewhat useful if I could get the team through.
01[19:36] <@Brickroad> So it was more about balancing the team as a whole, rather than individual members of the team.
[19:36] <@DFalcon> Right.
01[19:36] <@Brickroad> Were there any characters that just flat out sucked? =)
[19:36] <@Karsuman> You always had to use the lightweights somewhere anyway.
[19:36]  Making Healers the best and worst units on any given team.
[19:37] <@Karsuman> That one guy that joins you early on is pretty awful.
[19:37] <@Karsuman> Black-haired pretty boy.
[19:37]  Sounds like Fire Emblem... wait a second. :)
[19:38]  Isn't Aurora Wing basically a Fire Emblem clone?
[19:38] <@Karsuman> Generally the people that rock are the ones you expect to rock.
[19:38] <@DFalcon> There are characters who are flat-out awesome.  The bottom tier is more gradual.
[19:38] <@Karsuman> The protag, his girlfriend, his best buddy, the cute little girl that DIES are all awesome.
[19:39] <@DFalcon> I should say that because of the way experience is granted, some characters can really be in trouble by midgame.
[19:39] <@DFalcon> It's based on damage with a bonus for making a kill or going up against a higher level.
[19:40]  Healers?
[19:40] <@Karsuman> I found healers pretty easy to keep alive.
[19:40]  I've always believed in XP distribution for tactics games.  It averts the power-levelling syndrome poeple fall into where they just let one guy get all the kills.
[19:40] <@DFalcon> So if a low-tier melee character like Martin or Rupp falls behind (particularly if he dies in a battle and misses out on experience there) he may not be useful for much.
[19:40]  But leveling them, I mean.
[19:40]  Or more importantly, diffuses the "winner keeps winning" problem, where the strong get stronger while the weak fall into disuse.
[19:41] <@Karsuman> I don't recall Martin or Rupp being particularly bad.
[19:41] <@DFalcon> Guess I did one thing okay, then!
01[19:41] <@Brickroad> In AW, was it ever possible for the player to get himself into a truly hopeless state?
[19:41]  You end up putting less focus on how to appropriately use your units rather than keeping them on the same plane of power.
[19:41]  Less?
[19:41] <@Karsuman> There's two games I've played recently that have that.
[19:42] <@Karsuman> Fire Emblem (to a degree), Knights in the Nightmare (where it's necessary)
[19:42] <@DFalcon> Well, yes and no.
[19:42]  If you participated, you get an equal share.
[19:42] <@DFalcon> FFTA2 gives exp to everyone in a battle evenly, that's nice.
[19:43]  Should dead characters get EXP?
[19:43] <@DFalcon> AW gives the player a certain limited number of "revives".  Once you run out of those dead characters are permanently dead.
[19:43] <@DFalcon> You get more at a few points during the game.
[19:44] <@Karsuman> I never used any of those ever.
[19:44]  I meant in general.
[19:44]  If they get XP while dead, there should be a different reward for taking fewer losses.
[19:44]  DF: And any character in AW with excessive stamina was OP.
[19:44]  Better loot, better something.
[19:44] <@Karsuman> In tactics games I like it when they make 'challenge victories'
[19:45] <@DFalcon> It's certainly possible to use up your revives and start to get in trouble.  But this is probably only going to occur on a higher difficulty level, and you can drop (though not go up) in difficulty.
[19:45] <@Karsuman> Some special condition that if you achieve, you get a bonus.
[19:45] <@DFalcon> chaos: Yeah.
[19:45]  You need to encourage a strong victory, to foster better critical thinking from the player.
[19:45]  How about not spending precious resources on healing after battle? That's a nice reward.
[19:46]  That's not a reward, that's a non-punishment.
[19:46] <@DFalcon> On a shorter timescale, often not a lot of information is given to the player before a battle about what would be a good team for that battle.
[19:46] <@Karsuman> Well in DF's game resources are so tight.
[19:46] <@Karsuman> So it might just be.
01[19:46] <@Brickroad> Also in AW, it's not possible to grind. The game flow goes forward, but you can't stall it and it doesn't go backward.
03[19:46] * ChromaTrigger ( has left #rmn_roundtable
[19:46] <@Karsuman> I remember buying like ten things over the course of the entire game.
[19:47]  :P
[19:47] <@Karsuman> And no one ever had the best weapons
[19:47] <@Karsuman> Only a special few.
01[19:47] <@Brickroad> Does that about wrap it up for DF? 
[19:47] <@Karsuman> (Typically your best weapon)
[19:47]  Probably.
[19:47] <@Karsuman> ...
[19:47] <@Karsuman> best character
[19:47] <@Karsuman> anyway yeah
06[19:47] * @Karsuman stops rambling
[19:47] <@DFalcon> Think I'm done unless there are questions, yeah.
[19:47]  I haven't even been talking about DF since I didn't play Aurora Wing.
01[19:48] <@Brickroad> Cool. Thanks, DF.
[19:48]  I'd like to hear your point, Brick.
[19:48]  Just general issues.
[19:48]  I think Brick is just being moderator or something.
01[19:48] <@Brickroad> Karsu, what can you tell us about the balance in Visions & Voices?
[19:48] <@Karsuman> Haha
01[19:48] <@Brickroad> Specifically, how there wasn't any (ZOMG BURNSAUCE)
06[19:48] * @Karsuman snorts
[19:48]  OH GOD
[19:48] <@Karsuman> 'balance'
01[19:48] <@Brickroad> chaos: I'll take a turn, don't worry.
[19:48]  Tell him about the shuriken, kars.
[19:49] <@Karsuman> You can tell him about the shuriken
[19:49] <@Karsuman> I didn't witness it.
01[19:49] <@Brickroad> The shuriken was not only mad overpowered, it was the only thing that kept me sane while playing.
[19:49] <@Karsuman> Hahaha.
03[19:49] * Otterpops (Khuyen_Lam@7B802CB1.3BD7D908.E8570AB1.IP) has joined #rmn_roundtable
[19:49] <@Karsuman> The shuriken is pretty much the best weapon.
[19:49] <@Karsuman> Or it's stronger variant.
[19:49]  Regularly putting out 30 damage three times is OP.
[19:49] <@Karsuman> (Yes, there is a BETTER one)
01[19:49] <@Brickroad> Well let me ask you this, Kars.
[19:49] <@Karsuman> its*
[19:49]  I have it, Kars.
[19:49] <@DFalcon> 30 damage three times?  Man, I never got that high.
[19:50] <@Karsuman> Need the stats.
[19:50]  I dumped in one stat.
01[19:50] <@Brickroad> V&V is very literally a game where combat gives no rewards whatsoever, and where grinding is VERY counterproductive.
[19:50]  Um... lemme look.
[19:50] <@Karsuman> High perception/logic will benefit the Shuriken the most.
01[19:50] <@Brickroad> Did you balance the game so the player would be at a certain power level on certain days in the story?
[19:50]  Perception is around 320.
[19:50]  Everything else is about 90.
06[19:50] * @DFalcon wants badly to be around for V&V, but has to beg off for dinner for a bit.
[19:50] <@Karsuman> How did you get 320 perception?
01[19:51] <@Brickroad> I'm logging it all, DF, so you can catch up tomorry.
[19:51]  I... don't remember.
[19:51] <@Karsuman> Brick: I am pretty sure it is impossible.
[19:51] <@Karsuman> ...
[19:51] <@Karsuman> chaos:
[19:51] <@Karsuman> Sorry
[19:51]  I think I got it after the Ox event.
[19:51] <@Karsuman> Weird.
[19:51]  With Lyla in the mirror.
[19:51] <@Karsuman> Well, whatever, I'll answer brick's question.
01[19:52] <@Brickroad> Yes, enough about how chaos is a filthy cheater. =P
[19:52]  :P
[19:52]  To be fair, I started with 160 Percep.
[19:53]  ...
[19:53] <@Karsuman> The major problem with balancing V&V is the emphasis on optional content, combined with a) our lack of time and b) actually assuming the player will do things that are productive for killing enemies.
06[19:53] * Dolph slaps Dolph around a bit with a large trout
[19:53] <@Karsuman> Like, getting characters.
[19:53] <@Karsuman> Or finding the uber weapons.
[19:53] <@Karsuman> Or picking stats that somehow magically don't suck for the protag.
01[19:53] <@Brickroad> So it's fair to say you would have done things different if you had had more time.
[19:54] <@Karsuman> God yes. =)
01[19:54] <@Brickroad> Care to elaborate on that a bit?
[19:54]  Making enemies that don't have 150 HP?
[19:54] <@Karsuman> Hey, that shuriken kills enemies with 150 HP in one attack well there is a more serious problem at work. =)
[19:54]  Sounds like a case of "I know how to play it and I balanced it based on that."
[19:55] <@Karsuman> if*
[19:55] <@Karsuman> Probably Kait but even we couldn't predict some of the balance problems.
[19:55]  No that is what I was saying.
[19:55]  That's exactly what he's saying.
[19:55]  It's very difficult to understand the balance of your own game because you know it intimately.
[19:56] <@Karsuman> Yeah, and with V&V knowledge of the mechanics is pretty much everything.
[19:56]  The player will be flailing around instead though.
01[19:56] <@Brickroad> That's a pretty hefty sack o' truth you're luggin' around there Kait.
[19:56]  It's a good idea to watch how somebody else play it.  Maybe there's your time issue.
[19:56] <@Karsuman> The stats are really important, but no one knows what they do besides the vaguest of things.
[19:57] <@Karsuman> (Like, 'perception makes shurikens awesome'.
[19:57] <@Karsuman> )
01[19:57] <@Brickroad> Which is chaos's problem from earlier: "The player has to do X, but he doesn't know to do X."
[19:57]  More of
[19:57] <@Karsuman> Well
[19:57] <@Karsuman> I'd say it's worse than chaos's
[19:57]  "He doesn't know that X needs to be done."
[19:57] <@Karsuman> At least with chaos's we can make basic assumptions.
[19:58] <@Karsuman> "I'm not doing any damage. I must be doing something wrong."
01[19:58] <@Brickroad> So okay, let's say you're going to put together V&V: Platinum Edition. What's the first thing you do to address some of these balance issues?
[19:58]  Include a 300 page strategy guide
[19:58]  also, to learn how to do x, he must do y (battle) but since y is, "counter-productive" the learning will be slow, if it even takes place at all
[19:59] <@Karsuman> Dolph's point is also correct.
[19:59] <@Karsuman> Fighting is usually counter-productive, so no one really learns the combat anyway!
[19:59]  As opposed to making combat the one and only focuse.
[19:59] <@Karsuman> As for brick's question...
01[19:59] <@Brickroad> That's a problem I ran into, yeah.
[20:00] <@Karsuman> I'd make stats transparent. You'd know exactly what they do and how they link to the various attacks and special abilities.
[20:01] <@Karsuman> I'd probably fix the various 'multi-attack' abilities.
[20:01] <@Karsuman> Which are ridiculously powerful.
[20:01] <@Karsuman> (If anyone found Shooting Stars they know what I mean.)
[20:01]  :)
[20:02]  Maybe targeting for items?
[20:02] <@Karsuman> And if we were talking about retooling the basic functions of the game...
[20:02] <@Karsuman> I'd have made it 7-10 days instead of 14.
01[20:03] <@Brickroad> Would you have been transparent about that as well?
[20:03] <@Karsuman> And probably played up the 'puzzle' content of it all more, while giving an actual incentive for fighting monsters (though I do not know a solution to this)
[20:03] <@Karsuman> Probably, Brick.
[20:03]  I'm thinking; what's the point of balancing and fighting if there's nothing to be gained or motivationg th player to do so? I mean sure, fighiting for the heck of it might seem appealing to some, but most of us want to get on with the major part of the game, which in my opinion was the atmosphere/myster/character thingy going on
[20:04]  heh
[20:04] <@Karsuman> I know Dolph.
01[20:04] <@Brickroad> Is that about it for V&V Kars?
[20:04] <@Karsuman> It's not that we didn't try to make incentives. It's just they weren't worth it.
[20:04] <@Karsuman> Unless anybody has any questions, sure.
06[20:04] * Dolph slaps Dolph around a bit with a large trout
01[20:04] <@Brickroad> Thanks, Kars.
[20:04]  I don't know the game mechanics of V&V, but you could do something like battles increase the number or retries you get on a puzzle or increase your overall time allowed to accomplish the game.
01[20:05] <@Brickroad> Does anyone else have some hands-on experience with balancing their game, that they'd like to share?
01[20:05] <@Brickroad> How about you Jude? Tough balancing Vampyres Kiss? =P
[20:05] <@Karsuman> XD
[20:05] <@WIP> ZING
[20:05]  Ha.  You really want to know what I ran into early on?
[20:05]  I didn't learn from FF8's mistakes.
01[20:05] <@Brickroad> Oh?
[20:06]  The primary skill-up system in the game was based on draining "blood points" from your enemies.
[20:06] <@Karsuman> Was that one of those CBS games?
[20:06]  By taking turns to bite, you're sacrificing opportunities to actually whoop ass and use a spell.
[20:07] <@Karsuman> So it was an issue of tedium?
[20:07]  were those "blood points" useful for anything
[20:07]  Probably skills.
[20:07]  They were distributed for stat/skill upgrades.
[20:07] <@Karsuman> Use 'x' over and over again to get 'y', rinse/repeat?
[20:07]  or just a necessity to survive or what? because if it amounted to something and was failproof
[20:07]  The tedium wasn't the problem.  You were reducing your performance in combat in order to gain strength.
[20:08]  If you want to powerlevel then it's tedious, but spending a battle biting is no different than running in circles killing monsters for four hours.
01[20:09] <@Brickroad> So you're comparing it to FF8's Draw system, then.
[20:09]  In a way.  There's not a parallel but a similarity.
[20:09]  Draw system was even worse, in that casting the spells after you've drawn them further weakens you.
[20:09] <@Karsuman> Basically, 'observe' skills are boring.
[20:09]  So not only were you drawing and not killing, but killing sets you back on drawing even.
[20:09]  well, if I recall correctly, in ff8, you would store and actually achieve something for another, more difficult battle, without the need to actually kill everything and levelup?
01[20:10] <@Brickroad> Looking back on it now Jude, how do you think you could have fixed the system to work better?
[20:10] <@Karsuman> You could level up to 99 in the first dungeon.
[20:11]  The system is inherently flawed and can not be fixed.
01[20:11] <@Brickroad> Haha, okay.
[20:11] <@Karsuman> Couldn't you have made the basic attack do it?
[20:11]  To give it a boost I made all abilities draw a certain amount of blood points and also award blood points just for winning.
[20:12]  But instead that just encourages you to maximize skills that provide the greatest blood points gain, rather than on what is most effective.  I don't think you should ever be punished, or not rewarded as well, for using the most effective strategy.
[20:12]  I suppose I could somehow attach the blood points reward on how well you use skills.
[20:12]  But that would be pretty complex.
[20:13]  Enemies have only so much BP they can yield.
[20:13]  But, obviously there's nothing tangible at this point for anybody to have perspective on this other than my own, like, decade old memories.
[20:13]  And killing them wastes the BP.
[20:13] <@Karsuman> How about if you badly use skills you lose blood points?
[20:13]  I don't like punishment, Karsuman.
[20:14]  Define "bad".
[20:14]  I prefer to design around reward.
[20:14] <@Karsuman> Okay, just don't receive any.
[20:14]  Maybe hitting weakness grants bonus BP, hitting resistances loses it.
[20:14] <@Karsuman> Like hitting an enemy with an attack he is immune to.
01[20:14] <@Brickroad> ((I'll brb in a couple minutes, gots to get dinner started.))
[20:14]  Having more BP increases damage output.
[20:15]  I had a weapon that did that.  Like the Atma Weapon.
[20:15]  No, I mean in general.
[20:15]  The problem with that idea is you expend BP to skill up, so now your damage is nerfed because you decided to train Meteor of Awesome.
[20:15]  Make AP or something for stats and skills.
[20:15]  BP is purely in-battle.
[20:16]  We're getting into the realm of it being a different system at this point, though.
01[20:16] <@Brickroad> Back.
[20:16]  I was just spouting ideas.
01[20:16] <@Brickroad> Thanks for sharing some VK with us Jude, that shit be oooooldschool.
[20:17]  You would be amused with what VK eventually became before I realized I don't have the patience to actually make real progress on anything.
01[20:17] <@Brickroad> Shifting gears a little bit, I want to talk about something that came up during the V&V discussion.
[20:17]  Let's.
01[20:17] <@Brickroad> That is: the designer's bias. Your game is always going to seem easier to you than to anyone else. In many cases way, way easier.
01[20:18] <@Brickroad> And I'll be a buffalo nickel this is one of the biggest problems RM* peeps face when making games.
[20:18]  I'll probably ditch in about fifteen minutes here.
01[20:18] <@Brickroad> So let's talk about some ways to get around this hiccup. Playtesting being the obvious first choice.
[20:18] <@Karsuman> I am back too.
[20:18]  I have this done a LOT.
[20:18]  I ran into designer bias in a community game I made with Kaiterra once.  Granted, nobody played my chapter for whatever reason (*cough* Shadowtext).
[20:18] <@Darken> I have one example of bad game testing
[20:18]  Usually during the school year.
01[20:19] <@Brickroad> I remember that game Jude.
01[20:19] <@Brickroad> Like, I don't remember playing it, but I remember you talking about it a lot.
[20:19]  Since friends + computers = playtesting.
[20:19]  Sei has it somewhere.  I asked him for it but he forgot to upload it or something.
[20:19] <@Karsuman> FD might have it.
[20:19]  There was a month to make your section, and Sei was supposed to be my playtester before it went on to the next person.
[20:20]  So there wasn't a lot of testing that could be done, really.
[20:20] <@SFLaValle> Having people test the game for you seems obvious
[20:20]  if we're to talk bad examples of game testing, solar tear might be one of the worst offenders ever.
[20:20]  But I did a terrible job of illustrating the necessity of a clutch item for my big dungeon.
01[20:20] <@Brickroad> Are there other methods though, SFL?
[20:20]  The dungeon was defeatable without it, but it was designed with it in mind.
[20:20]  If you have to coach the playtester you have a problem.
[20:20] <@Darken> watching someone test the game without telling them anything is the best testing
01[20:21] <@Brickroad> Not many RM* guys are in a position to be in constant contact with their playtesters. That is, their testers might be spread out all over the country or the world.
01[20:21] <@Brickroad> Ex: Darken's method wouldn't work for me, because I don't know anyone IRL who would play an RPGMaker game.
[20:21]  I know 1 person that I've met who's really into gamemaking besides myself
[20:21]  I had somebody play stuff I would work on.  My fuckslut at the time.
[20:21]  The best playtesters are the ones down the street.
[20:21] <@Darken> well it's ideal anyway
[20:21]  That's so sweet
[20:22]  I found it really interesting to watch a non-gamer play games.
[20:22]  Because you really have to try harder to coax critical thinking out of them.
[20:23] <@Darken> Yeah theres a lot of built in traditions in games
01[20:23] <@Brickroad> My method while working on KC was to give myself a handicap while playing. Like, I would purposely skip battles, use sub-optimal equipment, or not use shops.
[20:23] <@Karsuman> I could only imagine how many RM* games would completely fail at that.
[20:23] <@Darken> that casual people arent aware of
[20:23] <@Darken> I remember showing RPGmaker to my friend
[20:24] <@SFLaValle> Brickroad: In my opinion, having a clear definition of what constitutes as challenging in one's own game is a start
[20:24]  A funny problem I ran into was her not knowing who to talk to in town.  RPG players just talk to everybody, but she found it overwhelming and confusing.
[20:24] <@Darken> and made a world map with RTP
[20:24] <@Darken> and he was like "THE CHARACTER'S TOO BIG"
[20:24] <@Karsuman> Haha.
[20:24]  I made all important interactive NPCs have a red color scheme and she caught on pretty quickly.
[20:24] <@SFLaValle> For example, is challenge created by enemies that hit really hard and have high HP? Or is there s certain strategy required to kill the monsters you design?
[20:24]  Simple exclamation points in, like, Diablo or WoW do the trick too.
01[20:24] <@Brickroad> SFL: I usually had a pretty nebulous definition of "challenge".
[20:25] <@SFLaValle> It doesn't have to pertain to the whole game
[20:25] <@SFLaValle> Even one single enemy can have its own definition of challenge
[20:26]  I've always felt the best challenge is the kind that rewards critical thinking.  I use "critical thinking" a lot when I talk games.
01[20:26] <@Brickroad> I figured if I could easily get through a battle or an area with a large handicap, a reasonable player without my bias could do it too.
[20:26]  I have a fondness for oldschool gaming where challenge is just "hits hard" or "shoots lots of bullets to dodge," so I'm attracted to them for nostalgia's sake.
[20:26]  But it's bad design.
01[20:27] <@Brickroad> I think we're going to want to wrap this up soon, or the log will be too unweildly for anyone else to read.
[20:27]  :'(
[20:27]  Plus, you need to accept my PS3 friend invite.
[20:28]  a last topic or so?
[20:28]  And help me test my headset to make sure it actually transmits at a reasonable volume.
01[20:28] <@Brickroad> One last topic I wanted to discuss was the concept of "fake challenge". Things that exist in the game that don't ADD anythign to the game, and only exist to make life harder for the player.
[20:28]  anyone?
01[20:28] <@Brickroad> Specifically, in RPGs, I think the biggest example is withholding save points.
[20:28] <@Karsuman> Oh god.
06[20:28] * Dolph slaps Dolph around a bit with a large trout
[20:28]  Well, obviously they're bad as you've all ready implied.
[20:28] <@Karsuman> Brick: As I have learned from V&V, lack of information. =)
[20:28]  I was guilty of this in 1873.
[20:28]  In fact, I'm not even a fan of savepoints except that they're good indicators of "Be Prepared!"
[20:29]  In spite of my love for the game, save tokens in Dragon Quarter were stupid.
[20:29]  Jude: you don't like saving your progress?
[20:29]  I like my progress to be automatically saved, preferably.
[20:29]  well. as jude said, or actually a precaution to avoid situations like where the player is completely stuck because of some small design miss
01[20:29] <@Brickroad> See, Jude, save points with their big "Be Prepared!" signs have me so well trained that if I play a game without them (even if it's a "save anywhere") system I usually get caught off guard and lose progress unfairly.
[20:30] <@Karsuman> Well that means they would need to untrain you.
01[20:30] <@Brickroad> And of course the "fake challenge" of having to watch a long cutscene again because you died on the boss fight is pretty much universally revile.
[20:30]  this happens to me aswell
[20:30]  I've gotten to the point where if a game is bad about autosaving, I will lose three hours of my time when I die.
[20:30]  cutscene -> save -> boss fight.
[20:30]  Looking at you Mass Effect, with your inconsistent saving.
[20:31] <@Karsuman> Long cutscenes before a boss are their own form of fake challenge.
01[20:31] <@Brickroad> Yeah, I had problems in Mass Effect too.
[20:31]  oh god the last boss of golden sun
[20:31] <@Darken> Cyber Factor has BE PREPARED points
[20:31] <@Darken> and you could save anywhere
[20:31]  I hated that cutscene SO MUCH
[20:31]  I don't think "be prepared" points are even necessary with auto-save.
[20:31] <@SFLaValle> Sucks this had to be on raid night
[20:31]  Because if you weren't prepared, you're back where you were.
[20:31] <@SFLaValle> Else I could pay more attention
[20:31] <@WIP> Save anywhere is the best feature around.
01[20:31] <@Brickroad> The obvious drawback to "save anywhere" is the player might be able to save themselves in an unwinnable state.
[20:31] <@Darken> auto save isn't so built in rpgmaker
[20:32]  Problem with save anywhere is you end up saving before every dialogue tree or closed door.
[20:32]  Every second you spend saving is a second you're not immersed.
[20:32]  <@Brickroad> The obvious drawback to "save anywhere" is the player might be able to save themselves in an unwinnable state. <- I did that in SaGa Frontier 2.
[20:32] <@WIP> That's why you make save anywhere fast and seamless, Jude.
01[20:32] <@Brickroad> And yes, Jude's thing too. Why yes, I lockpicked every door and pickpocketed every NPC in Oblivion without ever getting caught!
[20:32] <@Karsuman> Kait.
[20:32]  I slipped through the game just weak enough to where in this one cave I couldn't win any of the battles.
[20:32] <@Karsuman> You are not the only one.
[20:32]  Then I saved in that cave and could not leave.
[20:32] <@DFalcon> Yeah, I did that in Oblivion too.
[20:32] <@Karsuman> I did that in the LAST DUNGEON
[20:32] <@SFLaValle> How do you feel about a "Would you like to re-try the dungeon?" option after a game-over?
01[20:32] <@Brickroad> I love that option, SFL.
[20:33]  I deliberately played Metal Gear Solid 4 without saving.
[20:33] <@SFLaValle> Which takes you to the entrance, but resets the puzzles
01[20:33] <@Brickroad> But that's a form of autosave.
[20:33]  Heh, I got stuck in the last dungeon of Final Fantasy Adventure because it has so many locked doors and I saved without enough keys to go forward or back.
[20:33]  Autosave/checkpoints... similar idea in execution.
[20:33] <@SFLaValle> I think it's an option that people won't actually abuse
[20:33] <@SFLaValle> Because I can see it taken only if a person truly feels they are out-classed
01[20:33] <@Brickroad> I really liked how FF12 warned me when I should save in a new slot.
[20:34] <@SFLaValle> That's good, too
[20:34]  That was awesome.
[20:34]  Actually, I usually keep two-three slots going
[20:34]  at least
[20:34]  <@SFLaValle> How do you feel about a "Would you like to re-try the dungeon?" option after a game-over? <- You should definitely have the option to continue without losing experience.
[20:34]  Something that isn't done a lot is boss scaling.
01[20:34] <@Brickroad> Tying this all into the issue of game balance: are there any examples of RPGs which were made better through unforgiving save systems? 
[20:34] <@SFLaValle> I wish SO4 told me that
[20:34]  if Im able to save wherever I want
[20:34] <@Karsuman> I multi-slot all the time, if I can.
[20:34]  From your last save or wherever.
[20:34]  They do it with puzzle games, where if you fail a lot you get hints.
[20:34]  You spent the time to earn the levels, so.
[20:34]  Diablo II?
[20:34]  If you die a lot, why not make the boss weaker?
[20:35]  I see no real advantage to making a game undefeatable.  It only rewards the hardcore and gives them bragging rights.
01[20:35] <@Brickroad> Do any RPGs actually do that, Jude?
[20:35] <@SFLaValle> I hate that system
[20:35]  Some do it in a way.
[20:35]  Think of Mega Man when they actually restored your weapon meters when you died.
[20:35]  Not all of them did.
[20:35]  It's not directly making hte boss weaker, but similar idea.
[20:36] <@Karsuman> I have played a few games where if you lose you get a retry option and you a) keep your experience b) make the enemies weaker.
01[20:36] <@Brickroad> FF6 lets you keep your experience when you die.
[20:36]  I've died on purpose in some 2D shooters to refill my bombs. :P
[20:36] <@Karsuman> Specifically, Sting's tactics games. (Which are tough as nails in some instances. =P)
01[20:36] <@Brickroad> (Psst, if there are any RMVX/RMXP scripts that let you add that feature to the game, now would be a great time to link them!)
[20:36]  That's just way of saying you suck.
[20:37] <@SFLaValle> Hmm
[20:37]  I know there are some that at least expand the Game Over menu to let you build it in.
[20:37] <@WIP> It would be trivial to write one, Brick.
[20:37] <@Karsuman> Yeah, it's probably simple enough.
[20:37] <@WIP> Anyway, continue roundtable.
[20:37]  I don't like it at all when a game asks if I want to drop the difficulty.
[20:37]  But something very common in games are difficulty spikes, which are pretty tough to avoid as a designer.
[20:38]  So a built-in balancing system alleviates that a bit.
[20:38] <@Karsuman> I agree with chaos. I never choose those options. but making the game impossible for some players is no fun either.
[20:38] <@SFLaValle> Well
[20:38]  Just think about a few games you've played where you died a dozen times just to get past one spot, when everything up until that was easy or just right.
[20:38] <@Karsuman> To quote tvtropes: "That one boss."
[20:38]  It's not uncommon for me to get aggravated enough that I just put it down and try again tomorrow.
01[20:39] <@Brickroad> Usually when I hit difficulty spikes like that, that's the end of the game for me.
01[20:39] <@Brickroad> I'm not patient enough to brute force my way through games anymore. =)
[20:39]  I think it is for a lot of people.
[20:39] <@SFLaValle> Where would you draw the line between trying to smooth out difficulty levels as players advance and inspiring people to come up with a better strategy?
[20:39]  Nintendo is trying something new that might prove interesting.
[20:39] <@Karsuman>
[20:39] <@DFalcon> Ideally in a situation like that I'd like to give the player a range of options from the start, where the easier ones are lower-reward (probably in some non-game-affecting way like "points").
[20:39]  It was only hinted at by Shiggy.
[20:39]  Alright, I'm out.
[20:39]  See ya.
[20:40]  The next Mario game will pretty much show you how to pass parts of the game if you suck.
02[20:40] * chaos ( Quit (Quit:  HydraIRC -> <- Go on, try it!)
[20:40]  To get more people to actually finish their games.  More casual players.
[20:40] <@SFLaValle> That's kind of a shame
01[20:40] <@Brickroad> Well we've been at this about two hours now. Any other topics we need to cover on the subject of game balance?
[20:40]  If you show them how to solve a problem once, they're going to figure out a similar problem the next time on their own.
[20:40] <@SFLaValle> Probably lots more, Brick =)
[20:41] <@SFLaValle> Did you get what you need you think?
[20:41] <@DFalcon> As long as we're linking TVTropes, also was the result of a lot of argument on the "fake difficulty" problem.  =)
01[20:41] <@Brickroad> Oh, I'm sure I could go all night on this subject. I didn't even get through half my notes on the topic. =D
[20:41]  Which itself can be brought out of a player through good design, but another check doesn't hurt.
[20:41] <@Karsuman> Haha.
[20:41] <@DFalcon> Yeah.  Game balance is almost a million different things you have to avoid rather than one thing you can accomplish.
01[20:41] <@Brickroad> I liked that we got a few guys to give specific examples of balance issues they faced when working on their games.
[20:41] <@Karsuman> I like how Atlus has its OWN SECTION for 'That One Boss'.
[20:41]  welp
[20:42]  Really, really stupid is what I read about DQ9.
[20:42]  The designers deliberately made the game more difficult because GameFAQs exists.
[20:42]  They're basically telling you that the game is meant to be played with a strategy guide.
01[20:42] <@Brickroad> DF, that's probably the best summary of game balance ever.
01[20:42] <@Brickroad> Alright, I'm bangin' mah gavel then, guys. Thanks everyone for participating.
[20:43]  Peace out, Brick.
Session Close: Thu Jul 30 20:43:09 2009