Rampant Games - Balance is Overrated
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May 8th, 2011, 00:34
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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