Depends on what do you want for your game. Is the combat a core element or is it not?
If the combat is not a core element - just leave the fixed amount of damage, the player should already have enough optimizations/problems/goals in the game to concentrate on.
On the other hand if the combat is a core element, go with the varying damage. Some explanation is following.
First of all - Random usually means a line. Aka - the chances you will get 40% of the damage are the same as the chances to get 60% of the damage. This sucks.
*Curves* - Use curves - they give random a whole new aspect, take per say normal distribution ( http://www.gmlscripts.com/script/gauss ) - it implies that most of the attacks would do moderate damage, but in the minority of cases they will do very little or a lot of damage respectively.
You can use all kinds of curves to do your goal - want a lighting spell to have insanely high damage, but most of the time just throws some sparks at the enemy - create a curve for it ( exponent per se ).
You can go even step further and add armor curves. That adds another layer - your spell might have a cool normal distribution for its damage, but if the enemy has the same one - you won't do much. On the other hand the exponent spell will deal hefty of damage on the normally distributed armor curve ( 0.9-1 for the exponent are very high, but 0.9-1 for a normal distribution are below average - apply that on an archer vs pikeman scenario ).
In summary - it all depends on the goal of your game.
If you want the player to carefully pick combat units that will overpower the enemy because of the way they attack and to work on the finding the most optimal unit configuration to get the most optimal damage and survivability against and depending on the opponent - curves are the way to go.
If you want the player to carefully optimize the process of his expansion, economics and technological advancement - pick the fixed damage, he already has his hands full with that.
JedyMember Since 28 Sep 2011
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I do a variety of things from Game Programming to Game Design to Playing Games. I must be the most diverse person ever!
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