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Opinions on stat growths in another game?

Started by Biospark74, May 05, 2020, 09:02:28 pm

Biospark74

  Hello and welcome, i'm looking to create a new game really similar to FFT (so not a mod, feel free to remove or warn, i'm not sure if it's
  alright)
  I'm currently in advanced brainstorming with some mechanics and idea, but one thing bothers me, the stats growth system... I don't plan to make
  the speed stat affected by level up, since I plan to use a CT system as well.

  I found some ideas, some good and bad, and i can't decide how I should approach the mater balancing randomness and player input.

  1: "complete random growth" Basically how fire emblem handle it's level up system, with each stats having a random chance to go up, personally,
  not a great fans of it.

  2: "Semi random growth" Similar to how the random systems works, it would instead check the job you currently have assigned (ex knight) and would
  guarantee a stat growth in some stats, in that case, attack and hp or defense, the rest random chance to raise. It would give more power and
  control to the player and would allow them to better plan their characters.

  3: "Fixed stats growth" which means that, when a characters level up, based on the hero (if I use a hero based game, like ramza, gafgarion and
  orlando) and the stats are affected by the job itself, for example, knight would have 120% hp 120% defense 100% attack etc, but white mage would
  be at 80% hp 50% attack and 100% defense (stats are not definitive), the base stats of the characters would scale with the jobs themselves. Kinda
  like this one, but removes players freedom and make them chose which characters they prefer using.

  4: "Job based growth" Like it works in FFT, the stats growth is affected by the job you are using, efficient and proved to works, but can be
  broken and push players away from certain jobs because of it, but at the same time, make every characters feel unique. Sadly, this one can be
  broken, especially if there is a way to lower your levels. It's a good system in my opinion.

  5: "Player input" Each levels you gain X stats and invest them in the stats you prefer, similar to secret/trials of mana, I feel this one can be
  broken and make the player confuse on which path to take, so I probably wont go with this one.

  6: "No stat growth" Self explanatory, same amount on point in each stats for each level up to each characters. Stats would be used with the same
  system as in the "fixed stats growth" scaling. I don't like this one for obvious reason, even if i'm a little scared that players break the game,
  it's inevitable. This one remove this factor entirely, but remove totally player freedom. Some ways to patch this one would be to do something
  like in war of the visions, were you can purchase stats point in a grid for each jobs, so each characters would still feel different in that case,
  which can make this idea more appealing and interesting to completionist.

  If you have any ideas on recommendation where I should be heading, it would be appreciated. If possible explains the pros and cons in your idea,
  veteran and beginners opinion would greatly help! Feel free to ask for more clarifications.

  • Modding version: Other/Unknown

Nyzer

Renamed the topic for clarity and moved it to the Lounge subforum as it seemed to be a better fit.

I actually strongly dislike the Fire Emblem randomness when it comes to leveling up units. Some RNG can make sense, but it's all too easy to end up with a useless level up.

Character based level ups lock the character into a specific kind of path.

Job based level ups can kind of do the same, only at least the player gets to choose the path.

Player input for all stats can be a bit of a paralyzing choice at times - especially when it isn't quite clear just how useful each stat is. And even if you know "okay I want this character to have max Strength", the question then becomes, what is max Strength? Most systems have diminishing returns on this kind of thing. And what if you need to keep it balanced with Dexterity or something along the way?

---

You know the leveling system I've liked the most out of any RPG I've played? The one in the Mario and Luigi series, in which Mario and Luigi's stats automatically raise in certain ways, and then the player gets to choose one of their stats to add a little bonus to, with a roulette wheel determining just how big that boost is. Pumping a single stat too high lowers the range of the bonus on that stat going forward, but you can still keep boosting it.

Ultimately, I'd go with something like that, mixing RNG, character stats, job stats, and player choice. The character innately starts with a specific kind of stat loadout. Stat boosts from leveling are then based on the character's current job. And finally, the player gets to choose a small, randomly determined bonus to any stat after the level up.
  • Modding version: PSX & WotL
  • Discord username: Nyzer

nitwit

If you think about it, FFT uses what's basically experience and levels for HP, MP, SP, PA, and MA. On gaining a Character Level, each job grants a certain amount of "experience" in each stat, and this is divided by a certain number to determine the "level" of a stat. It's further multiplied by an integer and divided by 100 for each job to reflect that jobs strengths and weaknesses.

The best way to improve on the stat system of FFT is to make this relationship explicit. From there you can add a certain amount of other things.  Here's what I would do.

  • A small amount of fixed stat growth in terms of stat experience to all stats on character level up. You could make this player input if you like, but I would go with a small flat amount of stat experience per each character level up.
  • A small amount of stat experience per every skill learned, either based on the job or based on the skill.
  • A certain amount of stat experience gained per each character level up while a member of a class, where the gains are based on the class itself.

Technically, choosing what jobs to gain levels in is player input, if you design the jobs the right way.

Along with that I would have multiple levels of stat multipliers; one for each character that starts out at a baseline, and one for each job. From there you can improve the multipliers by mastering jobs, learning skills, and changing your job class as in FFT. It wouldn't be a lot - an extra +1 to your PA multiplier percentage for mastering Knight, for instance - but it would alter stats for the character permanently, regardless of the job they are currently select.

You could use one or the other, or both. Additive stat multipliers and explicit stat level/experience both end up in the same place. They reward the player in the same way by doing different things: gaining levels, or learning skills and mastering jobs.

This system is superior to the FFTA system because the numbers don't quadruple or quintuple over the course of a playthrough. You could design it around base stats of 3 to 6, and max stats of 12, without much fuss.

I'm not a fan of random gains unless the total amount is always equal and it's the distribution which is somewhat randomized. Feeling like I need to save-scum to powergame makes me want to put the game down. Powergaming is not a compulsion I can ignore, and I prefer to structure games so I can't do it.
  • Modding version: PSX

Biospark74

Thanks Nyzer!
Even if the idea is interesting, im not so sure about going in the path of mario and luigi,
It works well, but I think choosing stats in the middle of a fight would break the flow of the game and lock the player is a singular path for the character... :/

Nitwit
Im not totally sure what you mean, the only confusing aspect of it is the stats exp and how to implement it.
Depending on the player action, certain stats gain exp, like learning equip shield would raise defense exp and other similar action, if this is what you mean.
Stats multiplier will obviously be in the game, since it's job based and a healer dealing dps damage without modifiers would be a bit broken.
It could be interesting if, in the case of your mechanics you explained, would mean that a stats point would be a big deal, but would stall the game near the end? Like, everyone would eventually be close to each others in each stats, dont you think?
  • Modding version: Other/Unknown

nitwit

May 07, 2020, 02:44:42 am #4 Last Edit: May 07, 2020, 06:16:44 pm by nitwit
Let's look at a simplified version of FFT.

Every character has a character level, and character experience. For simplicity we'll just call them level and experience. As you gain experience, you gain a level. Nothing new so far.

Every character also has stats: HP, MP, SP, PA, and MA. Each stat has a tier, which is the visible number besides each pair of letters (HP, MP, SP, PA, MA). Each stat also has a pool (which in actual FFT is invisible and far more complicated than this, but in my idea is visible). As the pool fills up from 0 to 100, that stat gains a tier.

Character Level increases as Character Experience overflows 100.

Stat Tier increases as Stat Pool overflows 100.

Okay then, how do I increase the pools for each stat?

As you gain a character level in a job, each stat pool is increased by a certain number.

Let's say we have two classes: Warrior and Mage.

On gaining a character level, a Warrior increases his stat pools as such:
+ 1000 HP Pool AKA 10 HP Tiers a level
+  300 MP Pool AKA  3 MP Tiers a level
+    5 SP Pool AKA  1 SP Tier every 20 levels
+  10 PA Pool AKA  1 PA Tier every 10 levels
+    3 MA Pool AKA  1 MA Tier every 33 levels

A stat gains a new tier once every pool reaches 100, so a Warrior gains 10 HP and 3 MP a level. SP, PA, and MA increase more slowly, with tier increasing only after multiple levels are gained; the exact amounts vary. Now, onto the mage.

On gaining a character level, a Mage increases his stat pools as such:
+  600 HP Pool AKA  6 HP Tiers a level
+  700 MP Pool AKA  7 MP Tiers a level
+    5 SP Pool AKA  1 SP Tier every 20 levels
+    3 PA Pool AKA  1 PA Tier every 33 levels
+  10 MA Pool AKA  1 MA Tier every 10 levels

This is a much simpler and clearer version of the FFT stat system. Now let's expand it.

Let us say that each skill has a bit toggle (HP, MP, SP, PA, or MA) and a single byte (0 to 255) attached to it. This is used to determine how much that skill increases a certain stat pool upon being learned.

The mage has a skill called "Magic Missile". This skill has an associated stat pool bonus of:
+  20 MA Pool
Learning Magic Missile increases your MA pool by 20, bringing you 1/5 of the way towards a higher MA tier.

You could also have 5 variables for each job, which are used to determine how much that job increases your stat pools upon gaining a job level, and also on mastering that job. Warrior could have a stat pool bonus of this:
+  500 HP Pool AKA  5 HP Tiers
+    0 MP Pool
+    0 SP Pool
+    5 PA Pool AKA  1/20 of a PA Tier
+    0 MA Pool

I like this system better than FFT for these reasons.
  • Everything is visible, much simpler, and more straight-forward than vanilla FFT.
  • You have multiple ways to gain power, which reward multiple styles of play. A low-level gamer can gain some power by learning skills and mastering jobs, while someone that just wants to murder everything as fast as possible can do so without caring too much about managing character level gains for optimal stat tier gains.
  • Just as in vanilla FFT, your previous history stays with you. Gain 20 character levels as a Mage and master a bunch of caster levels, and you will always be a good caster. This will help and hurt you, but it lets you optimize characters for specific roles. Whether or not it is possible to paint yourself into a corner is up to whoever designs the Stat Tier gains for each job relative to one another. If they're all mostly equal, but emphasize different stats then it should be impossible to completely ruin a character.
  • Because there are no stat tier multipliers as in vanilla FFT, you aren't anything special just because you changed jobs. You must actually spend some time as a job to accrue its benefits.
  • You aren't completely screwed if you spend too long in a job which emphasizes one set of stats (unless that job has lower overall stat tier growths than others). You can always go master a few other jobs to gain some stat tiers to even you out.
  • You can grant enemies higher stat tiers by selecting their JP levels. An knight with level 8 Samurai unlocked will have higher stat tiers than a Knight of a similar character level but with only level 1 knight unlocked, because it's spent more JP learning skills and mastering jobs (and increasing its stat tiers and pools).
  • You can graint enemies more nuanced stat tiers. A PA/MA balanced job (like a geomancer) with a level 8 in an MA-emphasized job (summoner, maybe) would have higher MA and MP Tiers than one with level 8 in a PA-emphasized job. Thus you can customize both the stat tiers and the probable skill loadout (probable because it's partially random) of enemies.



I decided to do away with my earlier discussion of stat tier multipliers for each character that stack with job class multipliers because I can sort of replicate the mechanic with the system I outlined above, it's already very complex, and I don't like the idea that putting on a wizard hat suddenly makes you smarter or taking off your shirt allows you to punch someone to death (see attached image where Randy changes job classes to a Monk).

While it wouldn't be too difficult conceptually to add 5 bytes to a character which increase the effective stat tier by n%, and have various ways similar to those listed above of increasing those multipliers, why bother with another thing to balance when the system above is good enough and it gets the job done?
  • Modding version: PSX

Biospark74

Thanks for the indepth explaination. I can understand it and work with this better. It's pretty much what I was going for when I think about it.

it's possible to rebalance it to my need or balance if the need ever rise in that case ^^

I will probably still do class scaling to a degree similar to disgaea, yes, the warrior going mage will still be weaker than pure mage, but he will scale a bit so he will have a better fighting chance.
  • Modding version: Other/Unknown

XZero

May 07, 2020, 05:25:58 pm #6 Last Edit: May 07, 2020, 05:45:57 pm by X-Zero
My personal opinion is that character levels suck. I've left several games unfinished, like Jeanne Darc and Fell Seal, because of boring grinding to get levels to the same level of enemies, or trying to keep the whole party in the same levels so I can use them all.

The best way to deal with this to me is removing character leveling from the game altogether, balancing around it, and leaving customization to class, abilities and equipment. If a character is your party, he is ready to use. You don't have to give up characters because they got underleveled, and you dont have keep characters level alligned to be able to assess who is better at what.

My patch for example will have all with 255 stat growth modifiers in all stats(the minimum) and level 99 (so they cant gain levels).

If I new how to stop characters from leveling, I could set characters to a level in a permanent manner (like Orlandu Lv50, Agrias Lvl 34 etc... )

Storywise only Ramza and Delita will gain minimal stat increases every time they change sprites, they being game protagonists, and we watching their growth in game from squires to major players.

I think a stablished character like Orlandu, that is considered a Knight with 50 year experince, doesnt make sense he gaining levels in game, which takes place in a period of 1-2 years.
  • Modding version: PSX
  • Discord username: ZeroX

nitwit

Quote from: Biospark74 on May 07, 2020, 08:40:02 amThanks for the indepth explaination. I can understand it and work with this better. It's pretty much what I was going for when I think about it.

it's possible to rebalance it to my need or balance if the need ever rise in that case ^^

I will probably still do class scaling to a degree similar to disgaea, yes, the warrior going mage will still be weaker than pure mage, but he will scale a bit so he will have a better fighting chance.
The range of values for stat pool gains from various sources vary enough to allow you any sort of stat progression, from nothing to multiple stat tier gains per character level up. It's up to you, the game designer, to balance it with some vision in mind.

You could do X-Zero's method by zeroing out stat pool gains on character level up, which leaves only gains from learning skills, gaining Job Levels, mastering jobs, and equipment modifications to stats. That would make for a simpler and faster game, with less grinding.

If you can think of any significant limitation to my idea, please post it so I can improve it. And thanks for making this thread.
  • Modding version: PSX

Nyzer

Quote from: Biospark74 on May 06, 2020, 05:17:08 pmIt works well, but I think choosing stats in the middle of a fight would break the flow of the game and lock the player is a singular path for the character... :/

You could always just give them points they could spend after the battle's over. Or they could just stockpile them for some time if they so chose.

I'm not sure how this would lock the player in a singular path any more than many of the other options discussed. It actually seems to be more forgiving than basically anything dependent on just character/job progression, as at least the player would get some choice on point distribution.

If you really want to avoid feeling like a character is locked to a certain path at all costs, then there are a couple ways to go about this.

One is to allow players to refund their growth in some way. You could simply keep a total number for the character's bonus stat points, to allow them minor tweaking while still retaining the base stat increases with each level, or you could reset/refund their levels entirely. Though I wouldn't recommend resetting levels if you have a high number of them and no quick way to regain them.

The other is to go with something like the system nitwit suggests, which sets you up so that a lot of your stat gains come from job mastery, and simply have it set so that you don't cap your stats at a character level, but at the mastery of all jobs. Kind of like how FFV would just keep making the Freelancer job more powerful the more jobs you mastered. You can mix this with character levels if you so choose, just keep the base character level stat ups more neutral. It does sort of send characters down a path, but that's only if you add all the bonuses together - instead, you can simply do something along the lines of adding the job stats from both the current job and the secondary skillset to the base character stats.
  • Modding version: PSX & WotL
  • Discord username: Nyzer

Biospark74

May 07, 2020, 07:49:29 pm #9 Last Edit: May 07, 2020, 08:08:57 pm by Biospark74
Quote from: X-Zero on May 07, 2020, 05:25:58 pmI've left several games unfinished, like Jeanne Darc and Fell Seal, because of boring grinding to get levels to the same level of enemies, or trying to keep the whole party in the same levels so I can use them all.

In that case, it would be possible to make a stats/level up at the end of the fight, gainning a fixed amount of jp and giving a similar process to the new pokemon game, which could be a roaster exp share, so you can create backup strategy on the side line or raise weaker characters that way. There is always the solution of every fight scale base on your team level with a level difference in mind (one level 99 and the rest 10 will make a fight with a team of 90, but a team of 30~ will result in a team with 29-31~)

Quote from: nitwit on May 07, 2020, 06:22:27 pmAnd thanks for making this thread.

Not problem, it was something that was intimidating to me, even paralyzing, since I wasent sure how to tackle the problem, or how people prefer to play this type of game... I love the feeling of progressing in a tactical rpg, but I have to admit that grinding removes a part of the team building or strategy aspect of the game, where every non story mission is more of a chore than anything sadly... So the best way to deal with this was ask expert of this type of game!

Quote from: Nyzer on May 07, 2020, 06:48:52 pmYou could always just give them points they could spend after the battle's over

This is honestly a good idea, it would prevent players to just waste their turn shooting rocks at each others for stats growth xD (im guilty of that)
Optimally I would reduce RNG to a minimum if possible. It's more fun to be able to prepare what you want to do and not be fucked by RNG, in battle is another story, it's risk vs reward.

Quote from: Nyzer on May 07, 2020, 06:48:52 pmIf you really want to avoid feeling like a character is locked to a certain path at all costs, then there are a couple ways to go about this

I think the problem is that I enjoy the feeling of each characters being unique, nobody dealing the same fixed damage, having different abilities, different strength and weaknesses while still being able to go a different job without being crippled like he never fought.

I will probably go the path of nitwit, I love his take on the job system, it's just the leveling... Im kinda attached to that, it's an rpg dammit xD
but seriously, I know there is work around the leveling system and honestly, removing it could fix a lot of problem with this type of game.
I'll probably test some stuff with that in the future when I get a prototype ready.
  • Modding version: Other/Unknown

nitwit

Quote from: Biospark74 on May 07, 2020, 07:49:29 pmI will probably go the path of nitwit, I love his take on the job system, it's just the leveling... Im kinda attached to that, it's an rpg dammit xD
but seriously, I know there is work around the leveling system and honestly, removing it could fix a lot of problem with this type of game.
I don't understand, the system I described has multiple different types of leveling. You will get stronger as you gain character levels, but the degree to which you get stronger is up to whoever designs the game. You could have no strength gains from character leveling or massive gains, it's up to you. The system I outlined allows both.

Preventing grinding and power-gaming is easy; make fights dangerous. If there's significant risk to trying it, players will stop doing it.

To grind you need to totally incapacitate an enemy, and kill all the rest. This is usually harder than just killing them all. Look at vanilla FFT, where in order to grind you need to weaken an enemy with equipment breaks, stat breaks, brave or faith reduction, and debuffs. This is a lot more work than just killing everyone, and your characters must be significantly stronger to do it when you compare it to the power needed to be a murder-hobo.

I spent many hours chasing a chocobo around a map and trying 20 times to break it's PA and SP down to 1. In that amount of time I could have fought five battles where I just killed everything. With that in mind, maybe you could have a system where JP gains are determined by the battle itself, rather than what you do in it? The Final Fantasy Tactics Advance method, in other words. It's still grinding, but it's grinding to murder more efficiently, not to toy with your enemies before you kill them.

Removing the need for grinding is a different goal than preventing grinding and power-gaming, but you accomplish it in the same way - by making battles harder.

Within the confines of FFT, that means these things.
  • Make all reaction, support, and movement abilities useful in some way. A movement ability could be something as simple but game-changing as making it cost 2 move to leave any square adjacent to you.
  • Make all equipment useful in some way and of the same general power level, or make the enemy AI equip them intelligently. When trying to avoid stupid AI decisions, removing bad options is as important as adding good ones. If you have an accessory that improves MA and you can't prevent an AI controlled melee character from using it, then you should make it usable only by mages.
  • Don't let any class exactly duplicate the skill sets of any other class. If you have 6 different classes that can heal, revive, and remove debuffs, then each of these classes should do these things in different ways and their means of doing so should have different properties (range and vertical range, area of effect and vertical tolerance, power, base stat, formula, elements, degree of randomness, charge time, ...).
  • Don't let anything offer total protection, or if it does give it considerable drawbacks. Something like a Ribbon could make you immune to buffs as well as debuffs, and give you elemental weaknesses.
  • While it's fine to have some classes focus almost exclusively on one thing or another, try to ensure that each class has something to do at every stage of the battle. If there's always something you can do, then you're always earning experience and JP. For most melee classes this means ranged options, minor short-range single-target buffs, and minor short range single-target healing and debuff removal. Mages need something to do when they're low on MP, which means medium to long range utility weapons. Classes like vanilla Archer need charge skills which add debuffs. You can abstract this for easier planning by giving each class a major and minor role, or three minor roles; where the role is something they do and the major/minor modifier is how well they do it. Even something as simple as a medium range 100% knockback skill which deals no damage in itself is very useful in many situations.
  • Put limits on abilities which are used to grind. An MP cost and charge time could be enough, as are checks built into the ability itself which limit you to a certain range of improvement and then always fail or always give zero experience and JP.
  • Think of ways to make humans, monsters, and humanoids work in tandem. A monster like a Dragon should be equivalent to a multi-stage hunt in Final Fantasy XII; first you debuff it, then you whittle down it's HP, and you try not to die as it throws various things at you. If you go into a battle without the full range of options you might need then you will be in for a long fight, or it could be impossible to win. Imagine trying to kill something with 1000s of HP when the absolute strongest single attack you can use at the end of the game deals 400 damage, the enemy can heal, and you forgot to bring poison and any way to weaken it's attacks. I hope you can heal for the 10 minute it will take to kill that thing.
  • Modding version: PSX

Biospark74

Well, in what you explained, there was a way to simply remove the character level and simply use actions to give stats exp, maybe I misunderstood somewhere...

I may remove the movement ability in my game and change it for another utility instead, movement abilities are a tad bit broken, a big map feel small with just a +2... That is without counting equipment in the equation. I may keep it, but rebalance the modifiers or give different buff, like the snare ability you described. I could give something like spear +1 jump, Daggers +1 speed and other modifier to encourage players to play around with different gears.
  • Modding version: Other/Unknown