Obsidian Entertainment - J.E. Sawyer Blog
I can't remember the last time Josh Sawyer updated his Obsidian blog - but there's a new post, now. As someone who enjoys system design, Josh jots down some "basic rules" on tuning:
Avoid allowing a base value to be modified by more than three inputs. That is, if you have a base damage value for something, you should ideally allow it to be affected by no more than three things. The fewer inputs you allow to modify a value, the more significant the effects of those inputs are. Additionally, the range is generally more constrained and predictable for a player. In turn, this makes tuning content easier. E.g. how long you can hold your breath underwater. It's affected by your Constitution score, your Swim skill, and your Breathing Bonuses (a catch-all of non-stacking bonuses specifically for holding breath). As long as you know the max Constitution score, max Swim skill, and the highest Breathing Bonus, you know exactly how long a character can hold his or her breath underwater at any given point in the game. Because you only have three inputs to worry about, it's easy to track everything that goes into this system. Player attempts to min-max the system are limited to those three categories, which means that non-min-maxers can still be "competitive".