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On balance in a single player game


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Hi forums,


just wanted to share some thoughts on balance and why I think it shoul dbe less of a focus in single player games in general and in PoE especially.


As far as I am concerned there are two basic balancing levels:

1. Player versus World - Balance

2. Intra-Party-Balance


Regarding 1:

Player vs. worlds balance descibes how well a character or in a group RPG the group copes with the challanges a world  throws at him/them during the adventure. Namely: combat, dialogue, exploration and puzzles.

There might be different focusses in which a player or a party excels which creates different dificulty levels for different characters, party compositions etc. which makes a game super replayable if there is enough variety.


A prime example for a game that creates replayability by being NOT balanced is ADOM (AncientDomainsOfMistery) which is a rrougelike game and offers many different Race/Class combinations. You can have a very hard game by picking frail and nimble R/C combos or have a pretty easy game with other R/C combos (If you know what youre doing). The point is: Challange can be varied by the players decision on character creation, which also totaly changes the aproaches you take to the game. Experienced players try to win with every R/C combo and do other challanges to increase difficulty and have a real sense of achievement.

In a game that doesnt allow "bad builds" and makes every combination of attributes/abilites/gear choices etc and also all party compositions viable, all this fun created by "imbalance" is prevented.

I have the slight fear that PoE might be too balanced regarding "player-vs-world-Balance" and only scales by the difficulty slider which is a blant way of doing things.


Regarding 2:

"Intra-Party-Balance" means the balance of power levels inbetween different chars in the players group.

In most role playing games there are archetypes of characters that make differnt chars good at different things so every party member can contribute in a variaty of scenarios. If youre playing PnP RPG most of the time you are pretty much free to do what oyu want and can define the role you are playing within the systems bounds and what the GM allows you to do. The balance of actions and power also does come from the behaviour of your playing partners etc. and lesser from the system itself.

In a computer game the roles are super defined by the system because you cannot (at least not within this KS project ;)) programme a fully functional artificial AI GM...

So what happend in the past was that for example BG2 took pretty much the D&Ds ruleset and ported into a system. The consequence was that for example Thiefs lacked power compared to lets say Wizards because the focus of the game was combat and all the stuff a thief could do in PnP was not well supported by the system. This is pretty much what OE are trying to get rid of and make every character equally viable in combat situations as they see that to be a major feature of their game.

I find this to be very frustrating becuase it led to:

1. All chars can lockpick now

2. All chars can sneak now

3. No stealing

4. Rogue is just another Fighter Archetype.

MAybe the rogues power level has been put more in line with other char types now but it also totally lost its uniqueness. And thats only one class. In BG2 I knew that Jan Jansen was a lower power combattant compared to other companions but I took him wiht me because I liked the roleplaing aspects of him. Also There where those moments when you needed a Thief! Picking lock, clearing traps and avoiding battle by stealing a hidden key etc... These moments have been devaluated by the current system and the balancing efforts which in addition makes characters feel less distinct and more ore less a random pile of attributes and abilites.


The basline of my comment is: Balance should not be something to absolutely crave for in single player RPGs.

It might kill diversity, role playing, uniqueness, replayability and challange.

For example Dragon Age was one of those games that was dumbed down to make everything equally viable and led at least for me to beeing majorly disappointed.


Give players the optios to be super OP, to be super Under Powered or to just play as they like, please dont make everything equal, because thats just boring.



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Having read your post, I agree with your wider sentiment, if not the specific examples you cite.


For me, in a single player game, there is nothing wrong with having class+race A be more capable on a general level than class+race B. We're not alone in this school of thought.


...but this ship has sailed. Obsidian are creating a game according to their philosophy, and one of the philosophies of the game is that all classes should be reasonably well-balanced. Even if the forums were unanimous on the issue (and let's be clear, they certainly aren't) it is highly unlikely to change the design philosophy of the game in this respect in any meaningful way.

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Kjaamor and derriesen: A small comfort, perhaps, but I can just about promise you both that this will still be the case. The class+race balance won't be achieved, at least not at launch. No need to thank me. ;)

*** "The words of someone who feels ever more the ent among saplings when playing CRPGs" ***


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...and now we go our seperate ways with opinions, because for me, my cat feels more like an IE game than D:OS.


And I don't even have a cat.

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