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Default Rampant Games - Balance is Overrated

May 7th, 2011, 23:34
Jay Barnson writes a design piece titled Game Balance is Overrated:
Now, balance is a good thing in general. Itís important to make sure a gamesí challenge doesnít become so easy it becomes boring, or so difficult it becomes frustrating. It comes in many forms.Youíve got level-scaling, made notorious by The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion. You have item restrictions that prevent you from obtaining too-powerful items early in the game which would make combat boringly unchallenging for your current level. Youíve got class balancing to make sure the game isnít too easy or difficult for a particular class (in single player) and that all classes can compete on reasonably equal footing for slots in groups and raids in multiplayer games. And then thereís the effort that gets put into making sure that the various abilities and powers donít interact in such a way that they create a serious loophole or exploit that nullifies the gameís challenge.
But taken too far, it makes the game too even, too balanced, and boring. I want a game to have spiky, imbalanced edges. Not something that wrecks the game, obviously, but Iím a believer that not every power should scale equally, and not every encounter should be defeatable at your current level. And finding magic items should be Ė well, magical. Nothing helps that sense of discovery and anticipation more than knowing that maybe Ė just maybe Ė you will find an item thatís truly a game-changer Ė at least for a while.
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May 7th, 2011, 23:34
I agree with what he is saying (well, writing). Balance somehow seems to have become the goal to aim for, instead of the RPG being fun. A recent example is D&D 4th edition. It is extremely balanced, while every class is limited and too similar. Too much focus on balance leaves too little room for freedom for both the game designer and the player.

I remember a long running Rolemaster campaign where I was GM: The players had an absolute blast (as had I) possibly because I went crazy with inventive rewards, which eventually made the party extremely powerful. Powerful artefacts, funny magical items, self-inflicted mutations, weird, but powerful allies, and a never-ending possibility to shape the character into the role each player actually wanted.

My experience has always been that players remember most fondly the crazy parts and the parts where they beat something which should have been impossible. Unfortunately balance and going crazy seems to be incompatible, and a story with too little freedom never allows the player the experience of beating something "impossible". The first time I beat a Lich in BG2 is a good example: almost impossible fight the first couple of times, then after finally beating it there were some really great items to loot, leaving me as a player with a better understanding of how to play better, and my characters with really powerful loot and a lot of experience. It really felt like an accomplishment.
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May 8th, 2011, 09:29
Non linearity is a funny thing as it is advertised for.

Many games advertise non linearity when they have simply pushed linearity elsewhere.

Linearity was perceived mostly in the story telling, you start from A to G and have to go through B, C, D, E, F in this order. Now, in current games, you might be able to process from A to G in every order you want. Thus non linearity.

But the resolution of B, C, D, E and F. You enter the B level, clean it and move to another as you can take one everything you wish taking on. It is all about extracting as much as possible from the level. It is linear in the doing.

While, for other games, the linear ones, the resolution of each was not linear, you might encounter a monster way too powerful for you, a much better item that expect and so on.

The game balance issue the author sees comes from that call for non linear stories, pushing the linear features elsewhere, mostly in the resolution of local events.
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May 8th, 2011, 09:59
Can someone explain me CA post and its link with the topic?

And now it come back, CA I pinpoint it now, you was in Majesty 2 official forum isn't it?

CA you comment games you don't play and now you comment article you don't read. That's a divination training or what?
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May 8th, 2011, 10:22
I can tell that you did not read my post with better ground that you can tell I did not read the OP.

In case you missed it, the OP wished for non linearity in the developpment of the game difficulty. He wants to meet monsters too hard to kill at a certain level, he wants to get too powerful items compared to the current level etc…

Something you'd have noticed if you had read my post as I stated the connection.
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May 8th, 2011, 10:25
Lol, here your link, OMG, that's so ridiculous.
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May 8th, 2011, 10:50
The OP mentions in no way linearity, that's your ridiculous interpretation to make this link and you didn't explained it in your first post and start philosophize about linearity during multiple sentences, so yeah I stop read before the end.
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May 8th, 2011, 11:15
You should have done so as my post contained the link, whether or not you deem it to be ridiculous, which shows that you did not read the post.
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May 8th, 2011, 11:43
Originally Posted by ChienAboyeur View Post
You should have done so as my post contained the link, whether or not you deem it to be ridiculous, which shows that you did not read the post.
Lol next time try setup the link at beginning of your post, not at end to sacrifice clarity for some doubtful style effects.

And I still think the link is crazy.
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May 8th, 2011, 11:56
Put at the beginning or the end does not change the deal when a comment is read.

The OP depicts non linearity in the game difficult progression. Crazy or not, the link exists.
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