Of Battle and Balance

So my fellow game devs (and anyone else who’s reading), have you ever tried to balance a strategy game with multiple equips?

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Aye. I knew it was going to be something, and that’s why I was fighting with myself in a way to keep the system simple. But I suppose even still I wasn’t expecting it to be THAT painfully hard. Live and learn. So, over the last 3-5 days (they kind of have been blurring together… :P) I have been trying to hammer out the specifics of the combat equips and system.

I suppose it bears a bit more explanation then, so let me explain the “2” part of the “2 + 1” I keep talking about. Before battles, you get to equip two things: a primary weapon and a utility. The primary weapon is your main attack while the utility may have one of many different functionalities (secondary attack, heal HP, defend, etc.). Each weapon and utility belongs to a particular “item type”; there are currently six weapon types and four utility types. Weapon types share the same effects among their type (for instance, “light melee” has a critical hit bonus), while utility types are a bit looser and refer more so to a set of related actions (“shield” utilities typically grant defensive moves/bonuses).

In short, I’ve been fussing mostly with my primary weapons to make sure they balance well while still maintaining some form of distinction relating to their type. Since I’m trying to keep things simple, that proved to be a bit tougher than I had anticipated. I don’t want the customization process to become a convoluted screen of infinite details; right now, I’m trying to take the “less is more” approach, which means spreading the wealth has proven to be a bit more taxing than I had thought. Of course, just adding more mechanics and details doesn’t necessarily make for an instant solution either; if anything, it just gives you a different problem. Heh. But again, this work-in-progress has a focus on simplicity in its set-up and play style.

I think I’ve just about got the core laid out. Weapons will each have their own power rating, and the ability to affect one stat beneficially and one stat negatively. Alongside being the primary attack, weapons each possess an effect unique to their type. Utilities give you a secondary move, while also potentially boosting two stats beneficially and one stat negatively.

Maybe at this point, you are thinking, “Why are these weapon/utility types so important? Why not just put everything in one broad category and just distinguish weapons to the extent possible without worrying about type?” Good question. But then I wouldn’t necessarily have the “1” in the “2 + 1″… 🙂

At the end of the day, there may be some firing from the hip too. I’m trying to tackle the “one game a month” for November, and ultimately I shouldn’t be too afraid to experiment and try stuff too. At some point, make the decision! But I think I’m getting there.

So keep watching for more details.

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