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Balancing & Scaling heals in an RPG

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Hello,

I wrote a long post eaten by my Internet browser so let’s try again :) I’m designing a stat-based RPG and I need your input on something. In my game, most stats are designed to be heavily scalable: life, damage, damage-mitigation and so on.

Scaling damage is not an issue since whether the enemy, for its survival, has opted for a bonus of HP or a bonus in the form of extra damage mitigation or even a mix of both, the damage will remove the same percentage of its EHP (effective Health points). Damage are dealt in fixed values, not percentage.

Example: 10 HP units, 1 damage per hit.

Unit A: 20 HP, 1 hit removes 5% of its HP

Unit B: 10 HP and 50% damage mitigation, 1 hit removes also 5% of its HP

 

So far so good! The issue is with healings values. For now, I’m using fixed values for healing and I can’t find how to balance them and scale them properly to avoid them becoming either OP for damage-mitigation builds or useless for pure HP ones. If they scale the same way as damage (roughly), they will only be balanced in a world without any mitigation. The more mitigation a unit has, the better healing will be (scaled or not). I also cannot balance it versus an average case since unit’s EHP’s composition may vary a lot and I’ll end-up with unbalanced situations anyway. There will be units with 90% damage reduction and some with 0 for example… both could have the same EHP in the end.

 

I thought about using percentage values for healing but this creates new problems. It means that, even unscaled, healing skills will always have the same efficiency regardless of the unit’s EHP or EHP composition. Therefore, units can scale their EHP w/o losing in healings efficiency. That feels weird when compared to how damage works.

I’d like healing to work similarly to damage, where if you invest stats to double your damage output, you feel like twice stronger. But if the opponent doubles its EHP, you feel like twice weaker. Percentage heals fails both points. Fixed value ones fail both when there is damage mitigation involved.

 

One thing I’m sure of is that I want units to be able to scale up their healing output and find a way to make it work in regards to damage mitigation. If you have any ideas or comments about it, I’ll be glad to hear it! What is your opinion on healing balance and scaling patterns in RPGs?

 

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The way WoW handles it (or, at least, used to), was that you could get to a certain point of mitigation through armor, but the only other way you could modify damage was to avoid it (dodge). Because of this, having too low of HP meant that raid bosses would just kill you if you got an unlucky string of non-dodges, but your healers would run OOM if you had high HP and no dodge.

 

If your system is damage mitigation vs hp, it seems like your main method for balancing heals would be to tweak the effectiveness of the mitigation until heals make sense, not tweak the heal itself.

Edited by Archduke

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The way WoW handles it (or, at least, used to), was that you could get to a certain point of mitigation through armor, but the only other way you could modify damage was to avoid it (dodge). Because of this, having too low of HP meant that raid bosses would just kill you if you got an unlucky string of non-dodges, but your healers would run OOM if you had high HP and no dodge.

 

If your system is damage mitigation vs hp, it seems like your main method for balancing heals would be to tweak the effectiveness of the mitigation until heals make sense, not tweak the heal itself.

 

Damage avoidance always carry the risk of being more prone to One-Shot compared to pure HP or pure damage-reduction builds. If you consider a mechanism such as armor for example that reduces all incoming damage by a percentage, you can remove that "OS" issue from our problem :)

 

The Mana question is also not really an issue here since we are already talking about healing skills efficiency. I was talking about Hp output efficiency but MP efficiency is exactly the same thing.

 

So, considering all that, in your example you rise the same isse I did: heals are less efficient on pure HP builds. Tweaking the effect of mitigations mechanisms, or more simply making Hp stats a bit more efficienct in raw EHP than mitigation can be a way to band-aid fix our problem a bit. But it does not solve it :)

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That's what I'm saying in referencing one-shotability. Health and avoidance have natural checks and balances -- if you get too much of one, you hit issues. With health vs mitigation, there's rarely any reason to not just maximize mitigation, except for in action games where the trade-off is maneuverability.

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That's what I'm saying in referencing one-shotability. Health and avoidance have natural checks and balances -- if you get too much of one, you hit issues. With health vs mitigation, there's rarely any reason to not just maximize mitigation, except for in action games where the trade-off is maneuverability.

 

that's what I'm trying to change ^^ I've got a few options there:

- a better budgetization for HP compared to mitigation

- Add a small non-scalable percentage heal value to all fixed-heal skills. It would lessen the impact of mitigation but also lessen the impact of scaling - this is a tradeoff. Maybe it could be better if nont forced into every skills but added as an optional talent or something.

- Find a way to make low-hp builds more risky, like with stats that bypass some mitigation forms (magic damage vs armor ; DoT versus block). The more diverse damage types there will be, the more chance there will be for some to at least partially bypass unit's mitigation mechanisms. But this is risky since it may (rightfully so) push players to invest equally in all damage mitigation forms, making the choice of gear/talents less interesting in the end and giving again an edge to mitigation ;o)

For now, I'm leaning toward healing in fixed values and finding new concepts (like above) to make it less appealing to mitigation-build. In my mind, a full HP build should be more synergetic to heal than a mitigation one, but maybe this is only a bias that I got, after all, having them equal in that regard is not something that would make me raise an eyebrow for too long. What do you think ?

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I feel like once you reach a certain stat, an achievement you can get will be to have 1/4 aka 25/100% hits have resistance aka .5 damage instead of 1. I feel like this would be a great feature to add more variety.

Hope this helped!

Have a great day

~Cobra

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I feel like once you reach a certain stat, an achievement you can get will be to have 1/4 aka 25/100% hits have resistance aka .5 damage instead of 1. I feel like this would be a great feature to add more variety.

Hope this helped!

Have a great day

~Cobra

 

I read your sentence at least five times but I'm still not sure what you meant ^^

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Why not simply have heal mitigation ? If you want it to mirror your damage system, it's by far the easiest solution.

You set the heal mitigation equal to the damage mitigation and it works perfectly. No matter the scaling of the heal or the type of build, it always heals for the same EHP and it respects your wish. It's perfectly balanced and extremely easy to implement as it's just a copy of your damage system with negative damage values.

Then the problem shift from a design one to a creative one : you have to make it work with your lore. Fortunately you can pretty much do whatever you want there, so it's an easy one to solve. For example, an armor that blocks magic would mitigate magic heals just as much as magic damages, it's quite logical. In fact it's more logical than most games, more realistic and immersive.

 

Now, I just want to ask you something : is it best to have perfectly balanced builds ? If there is no practical difference whatsoever between the two options you are offering, what is the point of even offering those options ? Unless you want those options to be balanced regarding heals and damages and instead offer trade-offs in other areas.

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that's what I'm trying to change ^^ I've got a few options there:

- a better budgetization for HP compared to mitigation

- Add a small non-scalable percentage heal value to all fixed-heal skills. It would lessen the impact of mitigation but also lessen the impact of scaling - this is a tradeoff. Maybe it could be better if nont forced into every skills but added as an optional talent or something.

- Find a way to make low-hp builds more risky, like with stats that bypass some mitigation forms (magic damage vs armor ; DoT versus block). The more diverse damage types there will be, the more chance there will be for some to at least partially bypass unit's mitigation mechanisms. But this is risky since it may (rightfully so) push players to invest equally in all damage mitigation forms, making the choice of gear/talents less interesting in the end and giving again an edge to mitigation ;o)

For now, I'm leaning toward healing in fixed values and finding new concepts (like above) to make it less appealing to mitigation-build. In my mind, a full HP build should be more synergetic to heal than a mitigation one, but maybe this is only a bias that I got, after all, having them equal in that regard is not something that would make me raise an eyebrow for too long. What do you think ?

 

It's late so this post is a little ramble-y, hopefully it helps.

 

What pillars are you aiming for with this effort? It sounds like you're trying to make a combat system with some non-standard elements, but are you doing it because it's fun to design, or because it will be a better user experience? Either answer is fine, it's just good to be clear about it.

 

When the user is looking at 3 pieces of gear and comparing stats, what are the tradeoffs that you want them to be considering? Are those tradeoffs meaningful? (If all of the options let me have the same playstyle and survivability, then they don't matter.) Do you want them to carry multiple sets of gear? I would consider these, then look at what choices you can make in your design to get you there.

 

Keep in mind that health, mitigation, and avoidance all boil down to "time till death". They only lead to different playstyles if they interact with the environment in meaningfully different ways.

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Why not simply have heal mitigation ? If you want it to mirror your damage system, it's by far the easiest solution.

You set the heal mitigation equal to the damage mitigation and it works perfectly. No matter the scaling of the heal or the type of build, it always heals for the same EHP and it respects your wish. It's perfectly balanced and extremely easy to implement as it's just a copy of your damage system with negative damage values.

Then the problem shift from a design one to a creative one : you have to make it work with your lore. Fortunately you can pretty much do whatever you want there, so it's an easy one to solve. For example, an armor that blocks magic would mitigate magic heals just as much as magic damages, it's quite logical. In fact it's more logical than most games, more realistic and immersive.

 

Now, I just want to ask you something : is it best to have perfectly balanced builds ? If there is no practical difference whatsoever between the two options you are offering, what is the point of even offering those options ? Unless you want those options to be balanced regarding heals and damages and instead offer trade-offs in other areas.

 

Hello :) I cannot easily translates mitigation into a healing mitigation stats since damage mitigation comes in many different forms, all affecting different types of incoming damage, some RNG-based, some passive, some actives. it would really be a mess to approximate all this. But if I wanted to equalize heal for all units I could just use percentage-based heals, it would be simpler. The issue with %heal is that they never loose strength in the game, they can only gain some (if we allow healing output scaling, which I want). Contrary to damage, they will either be OP right from the start or have to be weak at start to be "ok" when scaled. This is not a design I like.

 

Regarding my lore, this is not an issue. I can go with whatever I want here :)

 

Finally, I agree with your last statement, I want Heal in general to have perks / drawback on each end of the spectrum, that what I'm working for and why i created this topic ^^ For now, it has too much benefit for mitigation units and I'd like the balance to shift a bit and instead of beeing 90/10 in favor of mitigation I'd like for heal to be like 65-35 in favor of mitigation.

 

 

@Archduke

 

I'm trying to balance this not for the fun of it but because I think it will create a more interesting battle system and give more viable strategies for players and monsters.

 

Imagine that every unit has a stat pool of like 1500 points. They have like 30 stats (random number) and can put their point into any stat. They can put 1500 point in hp. Or 50 in each stat. or 500 in "damage" and 500 in armor and 500 in HP or anything inbetween. Basically, if they choose more mitigation, they lose another stat they could have had instead (either offensive or defensive). SO yes, the tradeoff is meaningfull and yes it defines what playstyles you are going to have.

 

But even more tha  playstyles, for two units that have a healer at their disposal, if one can be healed 10 times more efficienclty, this become an issue. If the disparity is around a factor 2 or less, then I'm fine with it as it means that stats have different kind of interection with each other and naturally compliment some better than other, which is fine and good design to enable more complex strategies emerges.

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