Sign in to follow this  
Klyxmaster

Magic vs Melee Mayhem

Recommended Posts

The following referes to SOLO game play designs

 

I hope I have this in the correct thread, could be any I guess.

I was working on a board/digital game, and hammering out the details, and came across a stumper. The more I thought about it, the more of an enigma it became with ALL game (fantasy )

 

Magic Vs Melee

 

If I create a caster that base spell is a fireball and it does say 20pts of damage

and a warrior that with basic weapon that does 20pts of damage, what is the point of the 2 classes (this applies to all other classes as well that do damage - rogue back stab 20pts of damage etc..)?

 

Then I thought, OK, balance it out - maybe some mobs are not as suseptable to magic (or melee). But then that makes the game unbalanced.

 

One solution is to make a hybrid class that can do both. but the answer still remains about each class

 

So question remains,

 

Why would a player make a caster vs melee, if they are both doing the same damage?

 

thanks for any feedback

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Is range a factor inside this game? If so you need to might want to nerf the damage of the caster to maybe 15 to balance out things. If not then you might want to give each class different bonuses or effects to differentiate them. An example being the caster having 25% to do 5 points of fire damage or the melee being able to attack twice every third turn because higher rate of attack or something along those lines.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The answer for a given game will likely depend on the specifics of that game--what works in a fast-paced first-person shooter might not apply to a turn-based, tile-based game with no concept of ranged attacks.

 

Speaking in general, however, I see three potential answers, some combination of which might be present in a given game, I believe:

 

First, it's not uncommon for casters to do less damage than melee characters, balancing their ability to attack at range.

 

Second, casters and melee classes might be differentiated by health, with the casters having less health than melee classes; as with the above point, this balances their ability to attack at range: see the classic [url=http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/SquishyWizard]"squishy wizard"[/url] trope.

 

Finally, casters and melee classes may be differentiated by utility:

- Casters might be limited in the number of spells that they can cast, whether per unit time/turn (the melee class might attack more quickly, for example) or per "day", dungeon or whatever (as in [url=http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/VancianMagic]"Vancian" systems[/url], such as D&D).

 - Casters might have fewer offensive abilities and more defensive or utility abilities.

 

The general result is that casters and melee classes end up playing differently.

Edited by Thaumaturge

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
It is difficult to answer this without game specific information. For example, take a simple text based game. In this game, a player chooses a class and fights a series of random monsters. Each class has a single attack and the name of the attack is different by class, but they all do equal damage. The random enemies only contain hp a name and an attack. In this case, there is no difference and the only reason to choose one over the other is for flavor. Now assume we have a very complex fantasy/simulation presented as a top down tilemap view. They choose a class which is provided a set of skills/abilities/equipment. The player is able to choose between the mage(can cast fireball for 20dmg, has 10hp). The warrior (can hit things with axes for 20dmg, has 50hp) and the theif (can backstab things for 20dmg, has 20hp). Using the warrior you would find a choke point and fight enemies in a single file line as they pass through the choke point. The mage however would easily be killed standing toe-to-toe, so instead they would look for wide open areas where they could shoot the fireball, retreat, repeat. The thief would try to lure individual opponets into places where they can be isolated and back stabbed... all three classes deal the same amount of damage, but other factors aggregate to form a different approach to fighting. If you have three classes, each of which have the same statistics then you don't really have three classes... you have one name for three different classes and players choose because they like the way one sounds/looks better than the others. Differentiating classes during combat: Ranged Vs. Melee: Does the game allow for Ranged units to position themselfs such that they can attack melee units while mitigating retaliation? If not, then the choice between ranged/Melee is pointless. Aoe Vs. Single Target: Does the game allow for some classes to handle packs of smaller enemies more easily than the classes that can deal with a single target? I.E, if the wizard fireball did 20Dmg by dealing 5 dmg to 4 targets in a radius, and the warrior did 20 dmg be dealing 20dmg to a single target then the wizard would destroy a pack of 10 5hp creatures in 3 attacks, while the warrior would have to make 10 attacks, but when fighting a creature with 50hp the warrior would make 3 attacks while the wizard required 10. Armor/Resistence: A knight in full armor would feel the effect of being hit with a club less than a footman wearing farming cloths... but a fireball might heat the armor causing more damage to the knight then the footman. If the game mechanics don't support a difference in play style between two classes than they are essentially the same class with different names.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You've only covered offensive abilities so far.  In order for there to be a balance, defense needs to be factored in as well.

 

Wizards are generally thought of as glass cannons, able to dish out serious damage at range, but you don't need much more than a stiff breeze to take him out (bit of an exaggeration there).

 

Fighter types are generally much tougher.  More health, better armor.  They don't do as much damage, and are generally melee focused, but they can take a lot more damage.

 

Then you should consider various status effects outside just causing damage.  Stuns, knockdowns, roots, fears, charms, etc.  This will obviously significantly increase the complexity of the combat system, but it is has the potential of significantly increasing the fun factor.

 

Have you played any tabletop RPGs like D&D?  These can be a good source of understanding how combat systems work, more so than playing CRPGs that hide most of the combat mechanics from the player.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Long description aside, I think Authentic Owl hit it on the head. "FLAVOR"

As I am referring to a simple melee, magic scenario, range would not make much difference (I could have said why would one chose a "ranger" vs a "mage" for ranged damage if the arrow,bolt etc.. does the same damage as the spell in quesiton (fireball)

 

Again, this may be in the wrong thread, but I am trying to understand the game designe concept when it comes to fantasy games. Why make a game with a multitude of "classes" if the varied damage is negligable. If they all do - lets say 1d6 damage at level 1 spell, dagger or (bad)sword, what is the point of making multiple classes.

 

Your comment about the complexity of the game is intersting as well. and unarmed man vs a competant swordsman, could - skll providing - over take the swordsman. Even though they both do essentially the same amount of damage (monk? martial artist?).

 

So I wonder, what do you guys think about deviating away from the age-old "experience" method for the more attribute leveling (much like skyrim, or Final Fantasy II). Where you are only as good as what you work with? What to be able to take more damage - get hit more, cast bettter spells, work on your casting etc..

 

how does these stats sound for a "raw" character - no class selection:

constitution : higher = more hp (this in effect IS the hp)

cast skill

melee skill

ranged skill

etc...

 

I think this negates the need for "flavor" of choosing a class, since most classes will DPS about equal (at max level).

anyone see anything wrong with this - mind you, I am tinkering with the idea of a simple VERY SIMPLE board game combat mechanics, not a full fledge RPG.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You've only covered offensive abilities so far.  In order for there to be a balance, defense needs to be factored in as well.

 

Wizards are generally thought of as glass cannons, able to dish out serious damage at range, but you don't need much more than a stiff breeze to take him out (bit of an exaggeration there).

 

Fighter types are generally much tougher.  More health, better armor.  They don't do as much damage, and are generally melee focused, but they can take a lot more damage.

 

Then you should consider various status effects outside just causing damage.  Stuns, knockdowns, roots, fears, charms, etc.  This will obviously significantly increase the complexity of the combat system, but it is has the potential of significantly increasing the fun factor.

 

Have you played any tabletop RPGs like D&D?  These can be a good source of understanding how combat systems work, more so than playing CRPGs that hide most of the combat mechanics from the player.

OOOOOO, very good points. I did forget about that

Yes D&D was my first game (the red paper back -not the AD&D, didnt care for those - I like the simple fantasy, not the complex IRL stuff). However, it is game design that changes the caster vs melee fighter. squishy yes, but lack of power - not likely, I think both the caster and warrior can dish out similar damage depending on game design, however, you are right, I think to balance the game out, you would have to do the old fashion "lots-of-damage-squishy, vs little-damage-not-so-squishy"

But even in fantasy, it is a given that warriors are flat out damage dealers (conan?), they could in theory, loin cloth only, and maybe a buff, avoid some of the serious damage of a caster - but now I'm splitting hairs.

lol

 

Good catch on the AC aspect.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


Why make a game with a multitude of "classes" if the varied damage is negligable. If they all do - lets say 1d6 damage at level 1 spell, dagger or (bad)sword, what is the point of making multiple classes.

The short answer is, don't do that.  Most games don't do that.  Designers usually vary things.  Fighter does straight up physical damage at close range, Archer does great physical damage at range, Thief has to maneuver to backstab, or uses poison for DoT, Wizard does AoE damage, but has to worry about hitting friendlies/himself.  Etc, it doesn't take much imagination to give them all different properties that have them play differently.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yo Klyxmaster,

 

Look at ALL kinds of games—especially all kinds of board games, gambling, and so on—to understand the underlying systems and principles of styles (or “classes”). In Backgammon, there are 5+ standard playing strategies: blocking game, back game, hitting game, running game, and so on. The difference between these styles is similar to the difference between martial arts in Fighting games, weapons in Hack 'n Slash, classes in RPGs, etc. etc. That's what I learned from Tomonobu Itagaki, anyway. cool.png

 

I hope that helps clear things up. I gotta go on a super secrete Ninja mission now. See ya! ph34r.png

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's pretty much covered here, but side-effects and additional requirements are what make it more than a simple numbers game. There are some good suggestions above, here are a few more for wizards:

  • Environmental factors, e.g. fire spells stronger near fire, electricity spells spreading further in water.
  • Recharge type, e.g. power regenerates with time, proximity to artefacts, rest, etc.
  • Geometry aspects, e.g. AOE, chain lightning, homing, etc.
  • Spell success, e.g. failure/side-effects/extra strength based upon performance factors.
  • Preparation requirements, e.g. making scrolls, potions, etc.
  • Limitations, e.g. some classes may only be able to kill (or have weakness against) good/evil opponents.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The difference between a wizard and a warrior is that if you want to throw fireballs you need to keep enemies at a distance, while if you want to hack people with an axe you need to close in for melee combat. This simple divergence of tactics is more than enough to introduce gameplay variety; note that in some cases the wizard will need melee combat and the warrior will need range.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

While giving any kind of suggestion with your quite vague description is difficult, there are clear cut differences in how Magic (or more or less the vanilla concept of it) and cloce combat works.

 

Magic: Distance Attack, Range doesn't really matter. Effectivity mostly up to "Magic abilities" of the magician, little to no REAL skill involved (using magic might take practice, but in most vanilla themed fantasy universes, the only reallife skill involved really is the ability to concentrate the mind on using magic).

 

Thus stats that should affect magic is the "magic ability" of the magician (whatever you call it in YOUR universe) and his mental abilities (whatever mental techniques are used to focus magic)... if you leave the vanilla path, you could also have using magic involve a physical component (some kind of magic wand or whatever), reciting  magical scrolls or whatever. To me, all this comes back to helping the magician concentrate on using his magic, so you could still collapse that all into 2 (or maybe only 1) stat.

 

Then there is the question of magical defense... what is the nature of magic in your universe, and what makes people resistant to it? Does it matter if they believe in magic? Do they need strong magical abilities themselves? Are there nullifier objects non-magicians can use to defend against magic?

 

Close Combat:

Close Combat, if we are talking about real world masters, is a very complex way of fighting involving many skills and physical abilities. Strength, Speed and stamina play a big role... but so does coordination or "fighting skill", expierience / tactical thinking, and last bu not least the equipment and fighting style.

 

While there are not really better or weaker styles, some styles and weapons struggle or overpower others. Which is why true masters often mastered more than one style, and good weapons often can be used in many different ways (most european two handed swords can be used with a spear like grip (for harnisch fechten for example, fighting against armoured opponents), a halberd is combining 3 weapons in one, and so on).

 

Of course, close combat is just that... while swords and axes can be thrown, that leaves the combatant without a weapon until he retrieves it, making it a last ditch choice... not to mention how inaccurate and short ranged such an action is.

 

 

Now, the balance between magician and meele fighters is up to you, but the way I see it is:

A Magicians power is mostly up to his magical skill. This ability can only be trained over long years of study, and that means he will be completly untrained in other ways of fighting. Equipment can help him augment his natural and trained abilites, but only to a certain degree.

A meele fighter has to rely on equipment and skill to similar degrees. While the "quality" of weapons, before we get into weird magical gear, is mostly on par (different steel might make a difference when sword clashes (and one of the blades break), but in all other cases, an inferior blade will cut through flesh just as well), the different weapon types will not only decide how the combantant has to fight, it will also take some skill and training to use a weapon type to full extent. Instead of just augmenting natural abilities, the equipment will make the difference here, then followed by the the amount of training and expierience the user has with that weapon type. Physical abilities will in the end tip the balance, but a weaker opponent can overcome a stronger one trhough skill and tactical thinking, thats why I rate that higher.

 

In the end, magiacian fighting a meele fighter will have the upper hand until the meele fighter can close the distance. Depending on his type of magic, and how strong you make your magic, he will be able to defend itself to varying degrees in close combat, but I personally wouldn't give the magician much chance in close combat.

Meele is a very quick and intense affair. The only reason why meele fighters can make the right decisions in spilt seconds is muscle memory and expierience. They not longer think how to parry and attack, they just do it... letting their mind be occupied with other things like higher tactical decisions, or keeping track of their surroundings while their arms move "on their own".

Now, a magician most probably has to "think" to use his magical abilities. Some of it might also be subconcious reactions, but in the end it is mostly the mind who is occupied. That means while using magic, they will loose track of their surrounding, they might not be able to make sound tactical judgements, and also, if they can use magic in the quick rythms of sword or axe blows, might be questionable.

 

Even if a magician can hold his own against a meele fighter in close combat, he will most probably be completly occupied with his defense, might be tricked by the meele fighter that can make more decisions while fighting as his mind is less occupied with offense and defense, and in the end the meele fighter is using more of his body while fighting, thus exhausting his body at a more distributed rate, while the magician will singularly use mental concetration and quickly grow tired.

 

TL;DR: If the meele fighter cannot get into meele range quickly, he will certainly loose. If he does, the magician might be able to use some magic tricks to defend the first few blows, but he will get killed quickly.

The only way for the magician to survive is to keep his distances and kill the meele fighter before he exhausts his mental abilities. The only way for the meele fighter to survive is to quickly close the distance and occupy the magician with his own attacks, before he can pull any magic that either is damaging enough to finish off the meele fighter, or harms his abilities to close the distance (stun or freeze magic, attacking the meele fighters legs).

 

If we want to transfer that to a simple system, give magic spells a minimal distance. Give the meele figther the ability to evade magic to some extent to prevent lame magical camping or tricks. Or some objects that nullify the magic. Give the magician abilities to defend himself in close combat, but only for a very short while or with the probability to fail... and with no option on offense. Give him ways to get away from the melee fighter.

Edited by Gian-Reto

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The difference between a wizard and a warrior is that if you want to throw fireballs you need to keep enemies at a distance, while if you want to hack people with an axe you need to close in for melee combat.

 

No no no. See, this is what I was talking about. Wizard, warrior, fireballs etc. are just flavor to dress the system with. The difference between the classes has nothing to do with “warriors are like this, and wizards are like that.”

 

The very simple playing styles you've just presented are these:

(1) fights enemies from a distance,

(2) fights enemies from close-up.

 

You can now dress these styles in any way you like. So for (1) you can have:

(a) a Warrior throwing throwing axes,

(b) an Amazon throwing javelins,

( c) a Corsair shooting a pistol,

(d) a Ranger shooting a bow,

(e) a Marksman shooting a crossbow,

(f) a Thief throwing daggers,

(g) a Geomancer commanding the elements,

(h) a Wizard throwing fireballs,

 and so on.

 

As you can see, you can dress your styles in any way you want. Want a cat shooting lasers from her eyes? Sure, go ahead.

 

The parameter that you mentioned, attack range, is just one out of many to differentiate styles. So let's make a quick list of simple parameters we could use.

 

1. Attack range:

(a) short,

(b) far,

( c) hybrid,

and anything inbetween.

 

2. Attack strength:

(a) high,

(b) mid,

( c) low,

(d) no attack.

 

3. Attack speed:

(a) slow,

(b) mid,

( c) fast.

 

4. Attack type:

(a) Type 1,

(b) Type 2,

( c) Type 3,

(d) Type 4,

...... (dress the styles later with names like physical, piercing, or whatever seems fitting).

 

5. Lifepoints:

(a) high,

(b) mid,

( c) low.

 

6. Attack resource:

(a) requires no resource to attack,

(b) requires a resource to attack.

 

7. Attack resource type:

(a) no resource,

(b) resource refills at events (e.g., rest),

( c) resource refills when using an item (e.g., a mana potion),

(d) resource must be found/bought/crafted (e.g., arrows).

 

So now from these we can create a huge variety of different styles. The more parameters we add, the more complex our styles become. Once we start giving a style different parameters depending on technique, it becomes even more complex (e.g., different spells having different attack speed and type).

 

Now let's create a random class from this for presentation purposes. Let's go with acacabc, that seems random enough. So we get:

 

Random Class

Attack range: short

Attack strength: low

Attack speed: slow

Attack type: Type 3

Lifepoints: high

Attack resource: requires a resource to attack

Attack resource type: resource refills when using an item

 

Alright, so short attack range and high lifepoints. Being a MMORPG veteran, this instantly reminds me of Tank classes, so it'll be a defender. Our class requires a resource to attack that refills when using an item, so we could make this resource Mana and the item Mana Potions, but that seems a little boring to me, so we'll spice it up. The resource is blood, and blood potions must be acquired from dead enemies. Attacking drains our heroic defender of his life energy, and he must refill it with blood drained from enemies. Sounds nice enough. His attack speed is slow, surely he must be using a heavy hammer. A hammer is blunt, so our Type 3 shall become blunt. His attack strength isn't high, but that's alright because his job is surely to defend his allies while he leaves the killing to them. Now to finish up, we just need a name and we have a class.

 

Vampire Knight/Blood Knight

Attack range: short

Attack strength: low

Attack speed: slow

Attack type: blunt

Lifepoints: high

Attack resource: blood

Attack resource type: use blood potions to refill blood (acquired from dead enemies)

 

 

You can surely go about it the other way, and start with a class name and go from there in any way that seems cool, but the playability ultimately lies in the system you create, not in what you name the classes or techniques. A warrior that throws fireballs? Sure, why not. cool.png

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


Is range a factor inside this game?

 

I like this question, because it underlines how vague the OP truly.

Many games get away with the range dimension to differentiate attacks, but they end up with a different problem (how is a bow any different from a magic missile) and must deal with this.

Rather, here, I would allow for range not to play an active part in game design and question how magic should differ from physical damage.

Since I generally consider magic to play a support role in most games (this may be highly inaccurate, so disregard as you please) I would diminish the sheer amount of damage but graft a special ability such as slowing down the enemy's attack, etc.

Therefore, the end-result is that a mage swarm vs a knight swarm would end in victory for the knights, but a mage behind a few knights could really start to give them the upper hand.

 

Without no additional knowledge on your game specifics that is all the advice I can provide.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 


Is range a factor inside this game?

 

I like this question, because it underlines how vague the OP truly.

Many games get away with the range dimension to differentiate attacks, but they end up with a different problem (how is a bow any different from a magic missile) and must deal with this.

 

It may be a different problem, but it's a solved problem - but to see the solution requires viewing attacks as more than just blobs of damage. Specifically, the different types of attack use different mechanics.

 

Just look at D&D, where the term "magic missile" comes from in the first place:

 

Magic missile automatically hits. Bows require a successful hit roll.

Magic missile can only be used a small, fixed number of times per game day. Bow use is limited only by the character's ammunition.

Magic missile requires the character be able to move and speak. Using a bow only requires them to be able to move.

Bow attacks can critically hit, magic missiles cannot.

 

So magic missiles have less variability (i.e. are more consistent), but also lower availability (i.e. there are more situations in which they are not usable) compared to bows. Both attacks have reasons why you would use it over the alternative - reasons that are missed when one just sees "oh, both attacks do an average of 3.5 damage per projectile", reasons that wouldn't exist if that 3.5 damage was all the designers thought about.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I'd take a step back and ask "why do I want different classes?" In a super simple rpg, flavor (or just having one class) might be enough, but there's all sorts of reasons classes can be good design. Complexity - Warrior=simple, Wizard=complex lets different styles of players enjoy what they enjoy most. A common design is to give the wizard low hp but many spells to choose from. The warrior will only have a couple choices at any given time (hit? health potion? flee?) but enough hp to survive mistakes. The wizard almost always has the right tool available, but if they reach for the wrong spell they don't have the hp to survive. The well played wizard > the warrior > the poorly played wizard. Gameplay - Sometimes each class just plays fundamentally different, where the warrior requires pressing the right button at the right time and the wizard requires strategic allocation of resources. It gives players a reason to replay, or have multiple classes in a party, or to choose the subgame they like better. Parties - With parties, choosing the right mix of classes can be a big part of the game. The classes don't need to be balanced against each other, they can each serve a different niche. If the niches overlap, you have interesting tradeoffs to make (two paladins, or a cleric and a knight?) Variety - If each class has a different distribution of skills, the optimal tactics by and against each class will vary. This is especially valuable in PVP, because each opponent requires you to shift your approach. A class who can occasionally use a high power attack might require constant maintenance of hp, while a more grinding class you can switch between extended attacks and extended or powerful healing. If classes can be developed in different ways, the battle also becomes one of information gathering. Chance - Some players are gamblers, some want to win every time. A common tradeoff is to give one way of playing that's more risky (usually the warrior) and another way (say, a rogue carefully drawing off individual enemies and killing them) that's much more certain to succeed but takes longer. Narrative - Sitting in a library carefully picking your spells from a weighty tome and wandering the armory choosing the perfect enchanted sword could have identical in game effects, but they feel different. Yeah, if it's "you shoot magic for 20 damage" or "you swing your axe for 20 damage" that's bad design, but if you play up the unique flavor of each class wherever you can, purely cosmetic differences can go a long way. How do you gain skills? Improve them? Can each class have its own special quests? It varies by every game. If yours has interesting choices and flavor, you should be able to find some way of varying the choices and flavor between classes.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You should make different classes play differently. How they're different is up to you as the game designer, and to me is one of the funnest parts of game design. I've seen a lot of posts about convention with warriors and mages, like warriors using simple attacks, and mages using more complex ones.

 

For inspiration, Diablo 3 makes sure to give every class a variety of abilities, but still makes them feel different from eachother. Also, each class resource works in a different way. Not always big differences, but different resource types does a ton to make classes feel different from eachother. You can also look to other types of games, like Magic the Gathering or real time strategy games, where different groups emphasize different strategic options.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

Sign in to follow this