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Lets discuss Game Balance in RPG design and how it affects PoE


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This topic is based on this article by this man.  I recommend you check out both links before thinking to comment on content. Quotes below are just so you know what is the general topic.

 

More specifically this:

 

To me, absolute mechanical balance is a great ideal to strive for, but is ultimately less important than the game’s “fun factor.” I will absolutely sacrifice mathematical balance if that sacrifice makes the game more fun.   

and this:

There’s a concept in video gaming called “Perfect Imbalance.” It is best described by this Extra Credits clip. The short version is that there is a game design approach where one archetype option (in RPG’s, this would be a player character archetype) is slightly more attractive on a mechanical level. This an intentional choice, because the design approach builds in later improvements to other archetype options that, in turn, make them more attractive mechanically in a cycle. Similar to a “rock-paper-scissors” approach, perfect imbalance means that players stay invested and engaged with the game by always having something fresh to look forward to, even though it may appear on the outside that the players are dissatisfied with the perceived imbalance.
 
 
Perfect Imbalance is a design approach that fits very well into the life cycle of an RPG line, where supplements and sourcebooks introduce new options and features that temporarily make certain character types more attractive until the next book in the cycle is produced. When the “fighter book” is released, fighters look mechanically more attractive; when the “cleric book” comes out, the same can be said for clerics. The key is to make sure that the options remain viable and – most especially—relevant throughout the cycle.

 

Note: link in quote does not work on the site, but I put a correct link into this quote. 

 

Now, I must say I agree with this guy and all the great games I played were not balanced. As he says, balance is OK but at what point do you lose FUN over trying to BALANCE the game? At what point does time spent balancing the game is worth more over making it fun first?

 

I am afraid PoE is going through this Balance>Fun design and will not achieve greatness as a result. Especially for a single player game even with no cooperative MP. 

 

When I do second (or third or whatever) playthrough I want to have a different experience, and that is mostly achieved by imbalance, not balance. If my Wizard/Sorcerer was of same power as my barbarian in BG2 I would have same experience not different. If my Rogue could fight in melee as well as my Fighter I would have same experience and not trying to find alternative solutions to problems which in turn give me a different play experience. 

 

Discuss.

 

P.S. I want to thank RPGwatch for helping me run into this article. 

Edited by archangel979
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Fun and balance are not mutually exclusive, just as fun and imbalance are not inherently inclusive. Terms such as "balance" and "viable" have been warped so much by the doomsayers on this forum that it is essentially impossible to have a reasonable discussion on this subject. You engage in it yourself here; im/balance has nothing to do with different play experiences. It is simply a conflation you make so that those who argue the opposite will seem to argue against varied play experiences.

 

No, instead of setting up this "Fun or Balance" strawman, how about you show that they are even related at all?

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"You're a fool if you believe I would trust your benevolence. Step aside and you and your lackeys will be unhurt."


 


 


Baldur's Gate portraits for Pillars of Eternity   IXI   Icewind Dale portraits for Pillars of Eternity   IXI   Icewind Dale 2 portraits for Pillars of Eternity


 


[slap Aloth]

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strange that whenever I start a topic on something, a day later the same topic comes up in another thread...

 

I'm with you on this topic. Less balance more fun. A balanced enviroment only makes sense for competitive multiplayer where the fun is created through the challange with other peoples skills and you need balanced tools and battle fields for this. In a single player non competitve game the challagnes come from the game enviroment and the players self inflicted challanges. Do I want to cheese here, steamroll there or do I want it extra hard and dont spend any skill points on chracter creation etc...

 

also if your interested, here is the link to the topic I made on this issue: http://forums.obsidian.net/topic/68430-on-balance-in-a-single-player-game/

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And that's why all the best games are also the most imbalanced ones. Right, derriesen?

"You're a fool if you believe I would trust your benevolence. Step aside and you and your lackeys will be unhurt."


 


 


Baldur's Gate portraits for Pillars of Eternity   IXI   Icewind Dale portraits for Pillars of Eternity   IXI   Icewind Dale 2 portraits for Pillars of Eternity


 


[slap Aloth]

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strange that whenever I start a topic on something, a day later the same topic comes up in another thread...

 

I'm with you on this topic. Less balance more fun. A balanced enviroment only makes sense for competitive multiplayer where the fun is created through the challange with other peoples skills and you need balanced tools and battle fields for this. In a single player non competitve game the challagnes come from the game enviroment and the players self inflicted challanges. Do I want to cheese here, steamroll there or do I want it extra hard and dont spend any skill points on chracter creation etc...

 

also if your interested, here is the link to the topic I made on this issue: http://forums.obsidian.net/topic/68430-on-balance-in-a-single-player-game/

Yes, but that is your opinion based on how much experience in RPG game design? And that is OK for that topic. This topic is based on a opinion of a guy that has more experience that 99% of people and more than Obsidian devs. They could learn something from this guy.

Edited by archangel979
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I'm inclined to agree with Tartantyco - fun and balance aren't directly connected (I. E. neither mutually exclusive nor linearly dependent).

 

Both groups have good points though. My own personal preferences are for games that are as fun and as balanced as possible. I do certainly think there is something to be said for balancing away the fun, but I don't think that that necessarily has to happen when trying to build a balanced game. It is true that balance is only really critically important for multiplayer games, but it is my personal preference for my single player games to be balanced as well. An elegantly designed game is beautiful because it is elegantly designed, which adds to the enjoyment IMO.

 

Granted, unbalanced tactics CAN be fun in single player games, but that's more the exception rather than the rule. I like a good challenge, so generally when I find an easily exploitable mechanic in a single player game it tends to suck the fun out of it for me because I then have the choice between deliberately not trying my best to overcome the challenges and winning without any sort of challenge at all.

Edited by Matt516
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Critically unbalanced systems are prone to be fun for the first few playthrough, and then become overly boring right after. The exploits and combos are better when "hard" to find, not when borderline buggy. There isn't anything between balance and fun, they can coexist peacefully.

1669_planescape_torment-prev.png


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I don't see PoE BETA as unfun because of Sawyer's desire for balance, I see it being unfun because it is currenly buggy as hell and unbalanced.

Edited by KaineParker
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The point is not to make unbalanced games, but to put fun in front of balance. And if time comes where you cannot cannot fit both, balance is what needs to suffer. 

The article writer says that in his experience many people put balance as ultimate goal and lose godly amount of time on that while that should not be the main focus.

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In my eyes, perhaps the most disappointing result of this approach is a game where all the characters end up doing almost the exact same thing during the game, and I can think of no better example of this than 4th edition Dungeons & Dragons. 

 

And that is the reason most people do not like 4D. Unfortunately PoE design goals are balance, then balance and finally balance. 

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My experience as a staff member on RPG Codex tells me that:

 

1) Hardcore RPG players hate when game designers talk about balance, and speak effusively about how imbalance makes a game fun.

 

2) When hardcore RPG players actually play RPGs and write reviews of them, they always complain about the lack of balance.

 

Draw your own conclusions.

Edited by Infinitron
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The point is not to make unbalanced games, but to put fun in front of balance. And if time comes where you cannot cannot fit both, balance is what needs to suffer. 

The article writer says that in his experience many people put balance as ultimate goal and lose godly amount of time on that while that should not be the main focus.

 

What is that fun that balance in system destroys? Players ability get through challenges in game without getting challenged? Removing players ability to choose class that is better than other classes?  Removing players ability to find which ability is better than other abilities in same level? Removing players ability to do perfect build that is better than any other build that they could do?

 

In my eyes, perhaps the most disappointing result of this approach is a game where all the characters end up doing almost the exact same thing during the game, and I can think of no better example of this than 4th edition Dungeons & Dragons. 

 

And that is the reason most people do not like 4D. Unfortunately PoE design goals are balance, then balance and finally balance. 

 

Do you feel that classes in PoE play same regardless of which you choose?

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In my eyes, perhaps the most disappointing result of this approach is a game where all the characters end up doing almost the exact same thing during the game, and I can think of no better example of this than 4th edition Dungeons & Dragons. 

 

And that is the reason most people do not like 4D. Unfortunately PoE design goals are balance, then balance and finally balance.

 

You can't actually have ever played 4e if you believe this is the case.

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I've played and DM'd 4E and I find the homogeneous class and ability design pretty banal.

So have I, and I agree, to an extent. However, I must add, that all the books and scenarios and everything that's been released, I have plenty of them, once you get used to the cataclysm, a few dead gods, and all the time that passed, it's a treasure trove of fantastic stuff. It's just that the mechanics tend to lead to banality and locked approaches to things.

 

EDIT: I ended up inserting 3.5 instead, and translating everything back to it as I went along. :)

Edited by IndiraLightfoot

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

 

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Mmmmm i dont believe balance and fun are always connected but i will say i have in the past had imbalance ruin my fun.

in video games i would say the most recent one was Skyrim. At the beginning u are on par of not a step above moat things u face and then by lvl 12 or so, it becomes a cakewalk because ur character becomes unbalanced with the content to where u overpower most things and it becomes a cakewalk. Oblivion did it in the wrong direction because they tried to make everything balanced with each other by having everything leveled with you and it became immersion breaking seeing bandits wearing high end gear and such.

in pnp for the players and for the GM, balance does come into play. Players balanced with each other so that people arent hogging the spotlight and taking away from others enjoyment. Players being balanced around the campaign or settings instead of steamrolling through it and invalidating everything. Or the GM/DM balancing encounters that can be overcame instead of just trying to tpk the group.

now the things ive listed are subjective because some or alot of people enjoy and i find unbalancing. Maybe its perspective i dunno

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Let's discuss this...outside the Backer Beta discussion forum. :deadhorse.jpg:

Indeed ;)

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What is a class?

Definition:
A set or category of things having some property or attribute in common and differentiated from others by kind, type, or quality.

=> Different classes are distinguishable by their attributes.

By creating a system of classes where every attribute is equally important for all classes you create in fact a classless system and reduce the idea of different classes to absurdity.

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