Balancing

Many times in games, developers put out patches to alter the stats on certain items, characters or even loot chances, but what process determined the decision behind these choices?

I recently started putting statistics on our characters and weapons for A.W.I.T.T and I had a glimpse of what process is taken into account for these kinds of massive games. Just to give some insight on what it is I did, I have 5 stat categories for each of my weapons as seen below.

  1. Durability
  2. Damage
  3. Speed
  4. Target (Not on graph)
  5. Rarity

Each of these attributes apply to a weapon and my job was to judge the first pass of stats for them. For example, a Baseball Bat does considerable damage when you’re hit by it, so I gave it a damage rating of 3, where as a sledgehammer, would do considerably more damage and therefore I assigned it a rating of 5.

Pretty simple right?

No…. I then had to determine Speed, Durability and Rarity, compare the 2 weapons against each other to see if it made sense. When it’s 2 items this process is pretty easy but for 30+ weapons with categories it became a grueling task of trying to put them against each other to make sure one weapon didn’t have a significant unbalance against the other.

When you’re looking at a massive table of values, its easy to overlook a very obvious flaw – and that’s where graphing it out gives us a better perspective. I remember when I was creating the “Bladed Weapons” graph above, I noticed a lot of the “Damage” values for multiple weapons was 3 and it instantly stuck out like a sore thumb. If you have any sort of balancing in your game, I suggest taking the extra time to graph it out – it works wonders and you can do it in word without much know-how.

Even when all the checking in the world can be performed some items still slip through the cracks, small scale games can’t predict an item being used with another and all of a sudden that item becomes the most powerful because of something, someone or the system of checking didn’t come across that specific combination.

So how do we stop, how do we stop our items in our game from becoming “Godlike” and overpowered?
TESTING!
Lots and lots of testing!
You test till your eyes are sore and your hands are bloody.
(Don’t let your hands or eyes hurt when testing… take breaks) but you get the idea.

It’s the only sure fire way of seeing what’s working and what might need a nerf.
If you’re short on testers and need some quick man power, showcase a build of your game at gaming community events and get the audience involved, observe their actions without interacting with them too much and see how they react firsthand to mechanics. For indies who are short on cash and still very much involved in their gaming school, you can hire some part time student testers and pay them in pizza!

Good luck testing everyone!

CircleProfileBrad . Bradley Widner | Game Designer .

 

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