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Why codex dislikes balance

Discussion in 'General RPG Discussion' started by eli, Nov 9, 2020.

  1. eli Educated

    eli
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    Title
     
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  2. darkpatriot Arcane

    darkpatriot
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    Because there are two basic competing design goals when it comes to balance.

    Various interesting and unique options (call it variety) and balance, or basic viability for the different options and trying to prevent a few options from being over-powered.

    If you go in super hard hard on trying to add tons interesting and unique options, you will find it will be much much harder to balance, and it is very likely it will be very exploitable or you will wind up with a few options that are clearly superior to the rest. Alternatively you can make things very easy to balance by having a lot fewer options that are much more similar to each other.

    Many people feel that too often too much variety is sacrificed for the sake of balance and overemphasizing balance creates bland and boring games.

    Really, you need to have a balance between variety and balance, but what the optimal balance is can be hard to find. Especially as it depends greatly on the development resources you have available.
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2020
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  3. TheDeveloperDude Novice

    TheDeveloperDude
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    For this the monster level scaling is a good example.
    At level 1 you can do 1 damage. Monster has 2 hp. So by 2 hit you can kill the monster.
    At level 2 you can do 2 damage. Monster has 4 hp. So by 2 hit you can kill the monster.
    etc. etc.
    At level 100 you can do 100 damage. Monster has 200 hp. So by 2 hit you can kill the monster.

    You are playing the exact same game over and over.
     
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  4. laclongquan Arcane

    laclongquan
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    By nature Codex like flawed gems. So of course any balanced games are bad in our books.

    Can you name any balanced games that we would like?
     
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  5. Taka-Haradin puolipeikko Prestigious Gentleman Filthy Kalinite Patron

    Taka-Haradin puolipeikko
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    Codex 2016 - The Age of Grimoire Make the Codex Great Again! Grab the Codex by the pussy Bubbles In Memoria
    Attempt to build "balanced" game has tendency to turn everything into same-y forgettable mush.
    In other words, its boring.
     
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  6. Yosharian Magister

    Yosharian
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    Codex (mostly) doesn't ACTUALLY hate balance, the point is that the process of balancing a game often has negative consequences that are undesirable

    There's also the issue of developers often not knowing what balance really is
     
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  7. MpuMngwana Learned

    MpuMngwana
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    Because lack of balance makes them feel smart.

    "Oh, you specced in axes? Lol you're such a scrub, should've picked swords, there are some real good magical ones but no magical axes except for basic +1 crap. This isn't one of your fancy balanced games, here your build choice matters! ...what? No, nowhere in the manual or in the game is mentioned that swords are stronger. You should've read gamefaqs divined it through your innate prestigiousness like I did."
     
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  8. Absinthe Arcane

    Absinthe
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    There is good balance and bad balance. Most people who try to make balanced games do the latter. Good balance is when you have a large variety of interesting options and playstyles where the game remains challenging and fun to play. Bad balance is when you destroy build variation in the interests of keeping it difficult to beat monsters and try to make sure everything boils down to the same shit and that everything is equally shit. Bad balance is also frequently easy enough to break because the people who do that have a poor grasp of gameplay design. They are frequently also the same idiots who think harder difficulties are when you just give monsters bigger health and damage numbers.

    I like good balance. It isn't fun if I can break your game in half and run roughshod over everything just by getting a bit clever. I want to do clever things, and I want to do it without turning the game into a bore because it got too easy.
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2020
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  9. Harthwain Liturgist

    Harthwain
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    Asymmetrical balance is a thing. Compare Warcraft II to Starcraft 1.
     
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  10. purupuru Learned

    purupuru
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    Because identifying and exploiting OPness is one of the fastest ways to feel greatly rewarded in a RPG, it just feels godlike to boost your int to 4-digit figures in Morrowind and go crazy, at least for a while. Eventually, if one is a decent human being and not a min-maxer, you would realize how you can have more fun avoiding some of the OPness and even limit yourself further with houserules, but by that point you are already hooked by the game, which would probably not happen in the first place if you had to do sawyerish spreadsheeting for negligible increase in build effectiveness.
    And there is the issue with post-release balance patch, it just feels awful to have builds ruined mid-playthrough, if the developer feels meticulous balancing is such an integral part in their game, maybe they should actually try to release the game in a polished, balanced state.
     
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  11. Generic-Giant-Spider Arcane

    Generic-Giant-Spider
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    Having the best balanced game does not mean it is a good or fun game.

    Most of the time in an RPG the idea of balance is often paired with homogenization which is the murderer of replayability.
     
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  12. Butter Arcane

    Butter
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    The best balanced game is Rock Paper Scissors.
     
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  13. Fedora Master Arcane Patron

    Fedora Master
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    Obsession with balance creates boring worthless systems like the one in PoE
     
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  14. Parabalus Arcane

    Parabalus
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    PoE wasn't even well balanced.
     
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  15. Zboj Lamignat Arcane

    Zboj Lamignat
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    The modern idea of balance pretty much stands in direct opposition to the way I like my crpgs and also the way they were largely made historically.
     
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  16. fantadomat Dumbfuck! Dumbfuck Edgy

    fantadomat
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    Because it kills the feel of progression and doesn't reward good play,it makes the games more mediocre.
     
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  17. Trashos Arcane

    Trashos
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    Some balance is great on its own, but it depends on what you sacrifice to get there.

    Here is what certain developers do: All classes/builds/whatever get standard bonuses on every level up. These bonuses dwarf anything you might get from the feats. Thus, they can easily achieve balance, because the only things that matter are the hard-coded bonuses on level-up.

    Needless to say, the above script leads to hollow options and eventually samey and boring gameplay.

    Anyway, afaic the most important thing is challenge, not balance. If there is no challenge, all options are empty.
     
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  18. mondblut Arcane

    mondblut
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    Because taking advantages of holes in the system is the closest thing to "getting gud" at CRPGs.
     
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  19. AMG Arbiter

    AMG
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    It's just a meme about Sawyer's shitty attribute design for Pillows.
    All explanations are just post-rationalizations of the fact that around here the word 'balance' is now automatically associated with that game and developer.
     
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  20. user Learned

    user
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    Balance is great to keep choices relevant, as long as you don't homogenize them or sacrifice interesting features.
     
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  21. Turbo normie Educated

    Turbo normie
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    I played Elex in max difficulty because of the codex.
    Cheesing 15 minutes a fucking mob by knocking it back was the best experience of my life.
    Fuck balancing, it's all about autism, min maxing and glitching.
     
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  22. Bohrain Savant Patron

    Bohrain
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    When it comes to balance I like to think that there are two general schools of thought about how to approach it. For distinction's sake I'm going to call them the Sawyer and Icefrog schools.
    The Sawyer school of thought thinks that everything ought to be equally viable. Just about any party composition should work and all options should be about as equally strong in every stage of the game. Now those principles don't really sound that bad, but you have to think what it means in practice. Since every combination ought to work and character progression ought to be linear, you end up in a situation where every option ends up accomplishing the same things mechanically. So permanent or far stretching player build choices can't bring in any unique utility to the table and instead you have a bunch of classes/archetypes that can crowd control and deal damage and the differences between them are pretty superficial. If there are things like damage immunities, affliction or damage type weaknesses those can be covered with choices made on the fly, like with equipment or consumables. Your build choices can't really lose you the game, unless you literally misunderstood what each stat does or something similar. Games that align to this school of thought are balanced in a sense that each option is viable, but they don't really make you want to replay and explore other options because they basically do the same thing with different visuals.
    Then you have the Icefrog school. It also strives to make everything viable. But the difference is that not everything is meant to be equally viable, some classes or builds are only meant to work given a very specific setup and you might have trudge through a rough early game before you experience a significant power spike. And the different options bring in genuinely unique utility that can be completely useless or mandatory in different situations. You might have to avoid some content because your character or party compositions simple can't deal with it and you can't fix it with itemization or some other short term solution. And some classes/builds/archetypes can be simply unplayable because they game can't bend enough to cater the playstyle variety of all options. But games like these tend to be at least cult classics and have high replay value if more than one build works out.
    edit:fixed spelling
     
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2020
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  23. Fedora Master Arcane Patron

    Fedora Master
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    PoE is just the most obvious example. Darkest Dungeon had this obsession with muh balance as well.
     
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  24. JarlFrank I like Thief THIS much Patron

    JarlFrank
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    RPGs as a genre are inherently imbalanced and trying to change that is just going to make it lame and sap its spirit.

    In original D&D, were the classes really balanced? LOL no. Fighters are the supermen at low levels, while wizards are weaklings who die to one unlucky crit and their spell selection is laughably small. But once you reach mid and high levels, the fortunes reverse and wizards are OP while fighters are reduced to mere meatshields. And rogues? LOL. You gotta take one along to pick locks and disarm traps, but in combat they were total shit. But it's still nice to have a player in the group who goes for that class due to the non-combat stuff.

    It wasn't balanced at all. Yet every class is fun to play. Why? Because every class is useful in its own way and has a specific role to play. Therefore it's called a role playing game.

    Good CRPGs are similar. There are different classes who are good at different things. They're not supposed to be equally good at the same thing. You can be good at fighting or at sneaking or at spellcasting or at diplomacy. In class-based systems your character's specialties are determined by class, in classless systems you're more flexible and can make jack of all trades who are masters of none. Different characters gain different benefits from different skills. It makes sense that a wizard should have high INT and WIS and a fighter high STR and CON. You can also play deliberately gimped characters like a low INT wizard who can barely cast any spells and is a bumbling fool - bad for dungeon crawl campaigns, but fun to play in a more lighthearted campaign.

    Overbalancing leads to everything feeling samey, and yes most of the Codex thinks of PoE as the prime example, where for some reason wizards need big muscles to give power to their spells (??). But it's not just PoE, there's a general "overbalancing" mindset among some designers that leads to samey, uncreative and boring characters. Usually, such design aims at making all the classes equally good at all the tasks. Encountered a lock? Wizard casts unlock spell, fighter uses bash, thief uses lockpicks. All these abilities are gained at the same level of the respective class: thieves learn how to lockpick at level 2, unlock spell is a level 2 spell, lock bashing is a level 2 warrior ability. All the same. No reason to pick one over the other. Really lame.

    You want different characters to play differently, you want different levels to play differently, and you want a large amount of options for the player.
    Arcanum is known to be a hideously imbalanced game yet I fucking love it and playing different characters is such a joy. It's not particularly difficult either so playing deliberately gimped characters is viable and fun, too. Dwarven wizard even tho dwarves have an inherent pro-tech anti-magic aptitude? Yep. Elven techie even though elves have a pro-magic anti-tech aptitute? Yeah. Going for all-powerful world-shattering wizard who abuses the overpowered level 1 harm spell to murderize everything? Fun. Playing a techie who has to scrounge for scrap in trash bins and is pretty underpowered until you finally get those OP crafting schematics at the end? Fun, too. Archer whose rate of firing arrows is so rapid, it feels like a machinegun bow? Hilarious. Trying to use a gun when you have a magical aptitude so every time you pull the trigger there's a chance it blows up in your face? LMAO. Diplomat who just skips the worst dungeon in the game by using in-depth dwarven philosophy? Cool.

    Arcanum is hilariously unbalanced, yet playing different types of characters is so fun because they play so differently. Some are inherently OP while others really struggle until the endgame, but that just contributes to the fun factor even further. It's cool when your choice of class can affect the difficulty, you can go for challenge runs where you attempt to win with the most gimped character possible.

    An overbalanced game offers little replay value because ultimately, all characters feel the same.

    Oh yeah, and nothing says that every character has to be able to see all the content. Arcanum has several dungeons you will only enter if you become a master in a certain skill, as they're connected to the skill master quest. Content exclusive to some classes or characters with certain abilities is always cool. Can't do the burglary quests unless you got thief skills? Yeah makes sense, and gives you an incentive to play as a rogue (who in most systems is a bit underpowered in combat compared to other classes). The "everything ends in peaceful negotiations" ending is only available to characters with a high speech skill, and other chars have to make do with one of the other endings? Totally makes sense.

    It's completely fine to have side quests or entire questlines that are locked for most characters, except those with the appropriate skills. Making sure every quest can be solved by every character is a form of overbalancing too, and makes you feel like your skill choices don't matter that much. We all know the examples. The enemy manor where you can either sneak inside, convince the guard to let you in, use a spell to get in, or fight your way in. It's cool when a quest gives you so many alternative options. But when EVERY quest gives a unique solution for EVERY character type, it starts feeling artificial. Like... why does EVERY single enemy base have a backdoor you can sneak into? To make sure players who play a rogue can finish that entire questline? But now it just feels lame and boring and formulaic rather than "hey look at the amount of choices I have", because every quest was designed with a checklist to make sure every class has a way of solving it. Lame.
     
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  25. Mastermind Cognito Elite Material Patron Bethestard

    Mastermind
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    party based games (IE: D&D ones) should not be compared with single character RPGs. A rogue might not be as good in combat as a fighter or mage but if they can get nice gear for the rest of your party they still contribute (indirectly) to your fighting ability, and backstabbing key enemies can be the difference between victory and defeat.

    In a diablo clone you absolutely do need some form of balance. Not every class has to be equally good but they should be in the same ballpark.

    And if balance makes every class play the same, the issue isn't balance, but lack of developer creativity. guild wars classes play very differently but they are all reasonably balanced. that's the ideal that should be strived for in any single character rpg.

    That said, nothing wrong with some races/classes being stronger than others in genres like roguelikes where having a wide variety of challenges is one of the intended features.
     
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