Skills and Stats: Some Assembly Required (Part 3)   Leave a comment

Welcome back to another post of Gratuitous JRPG.  Last post, we covered stats, growths, and the agonizing process of placing numbers for PCs in a JRPG, including performing the process for the current game in production.  This post, we’re going to cover the other half of raw stats, those derived from equipment.

Before we go ahead and start throwing numbers out for equipment in this game, the matter of equipment stats will be discussed.  As stated before multiple times, equipment exists for numerical advancement and customization.  Regardless of the purpose, one thing that must be kept in line is the magnitude of the equipment numbers.  Equipment stats can be guessed around, but they cannot be decided before the character stats can.  Exceptions exist to this, of course, but the truth of the matter is that exact numbers on equipment must wait until the baseline equations and numbers for a game have been determined in order to ensure that equipment will neither dominate nor be meaningless in the context of everything else in the game.

One has likely already seen a game where equipment completely outstrips a character in terms of statistical significance.  The character’s own innate attributes pale before that of their weapon, armor, and accessories of choice, and will be dependent on those to the point of being a JRPG Iron Man.  A few examples include the Disgaea series of games, many Tri-Ace games, and the Blizzard MMO, World of Warcraft.  The lattermost is more notable than the former two since this comes into effect well around the 2/3 point in the game, as opposed to the postgame–and in fact shows an exponential growth in the values in every expansion, to the point that the optimal equipment (and thus the effort to get it) in the previous expansion gets obsoleted so early as the beginning of the new expansion.

This is not to say that the benefits from equipment should be negligible in relation to innate statistics.  That would simply result in the opposite problem–pointless equipment, or at least nearly-so.  This is not as common as the other extreme, but it does occur.  Take, for example, an anecdote from D&D–fourth edition to be precise.  A case of a character who, for levels seven through seventeen, did not need an upgrade in body armor at all.  He did perfectly fine, and I in fact question how useful the armor would have been in light of his performance.  And this is indeed more of a specific incidence, but some upgrades are in fact that negligible–other examples include some low- and mid-grade armor during Dragon Quest 1 where the cost is not worth the change in statistics.  (Apologies in order once more: NES game images do not seem to get along well with WordPress.  If this is a problem then click to get the full picture.)

Dq1image2

Our intrepid hero, along his way to Brecconary, decides he will skip buying the bamboo stick, instead purchasing a club and saving his money for better armor down the road.

As the last segment indicated, the efficacy in equipment doesn’t only matter in its bases, but in how the equipment scales.  Oftentimes the cause of an equipment imbalance is not how the equipment starts out, but how it scales up.  This is frequently out of a desire for flashiness; the creator thinks it would be awesome to have a certain item in there and drastically raises its power to show off how great it is, the developers have an expansion that they wish to sell to players and use the power creep in an attempt to do so, the developer wants quick lategame statistical escalation and decides to use equipment modifiers as opposed to , or there’s an optional superboss that the developer wants a more usable bragging right reward for.  All of these are possible causes of lategame equipment scaling going well out of control and dominating the character stats in turn.

This is simply assuming upgrades, of course.  Equally important to upgrade scaling for equipment is sidescaling–that is, providing one or more alternate choices in equipment for a given point in time.  While having access to multiple viable classes of armor or choices in accessories at one time is an example of this, the most frequently-assumed case of sidegrading comes in weapons.  To be precise, while mainline upgrade weapons tend to increase in statistical magnitude, sidegrade weapons sacrifice some of this in favor of adding a nonstandard property for its type–this is the typical pattern of sidegrade equipment.  It goes without saying that the magnitude of a drop in effectiveness must be weighed against the efficacy of the nonstandard benefit.

The matter of full equipment design in a game cannot be completely managed until the game’s course has been fully pathed, a general level scale has been placed, and every status implemented.  This is necessary to ensure a proper rate of upgrade acquisition, the placement of this acquisition, the needed variety, and the desired level of utility.  Ultimately, it is impossible to manage a full coverage of the variety of equipment available in this post, at this point in the development of the game.  However, it is more than sufficient at this point to cover theoretical baseline forms of equipment.  Given the current setup for this game in particular, one does not have access to all forms of equipment at every point of the game, thus making actual baselines of every form of equipment pointless.  However, the existence of a theoretical baseline does allow equipment to be kept roughly in line throughout the game, scaling up even when not every store or chest gives every variety of weapon and armor possible.  Therefore, actual availability will remain pointless for the purposes of baseline equipment development.

The most distinctive point to start on equipment is going to undoubtedly be weapons.  Weapons are the means through which PCs have a form of offense, thus allowing the player to kill enemies and win fights.  It is notable that not all games start with the PCs having weapons.  Final Fantasy 1 and Dragon Quest both start with equipment-less PCs, as does the first Baldur’s Gate.  The Etrian Odyssey games also work this way, though that is excused by the characters being created on the spot, to prevent an infinite money oversight.  For this game, however, it will be assumed that characters will start with their own weapons.

Dq1image2

The laws in Alefgaard were a lot less strict–our intrepid hero left Tantegel Castle with nothing more than some money.  Not even clothes–you have to buy those in the shops at the nearby town.

For equipment that provides different levels of a given statistic within subtypes of its type, it is a viable option to rank them along the statistics where they match.  For this game, this includes Power bonuses, Penetration bonuses, and Swing count.  These are not the only benefits of any given weapon, but they are the universal benefits. Power and Penetration have been previously explained in this game’s design, but swing count is new.  Taking an element from the Lunar games, swing count only applies to basic attacks–each swing in a basic attack only has roughly a third of the power stated in the original physical formula, which makes them practical against evasive opponents to a degree, but particularly unreliable for damage.  They aren’t designed for that purpose anyway, however–they exist primarily as a way to quickly build EX while conserving resources.  This can be explained later, but the general point is that the higher the swing count, the more EX is generated on average per basic attack.

  • Listing of weapons: Knives, Light Swords, Heavy Swords, Spears, Axes, Staves, Bows
  • Ranking by Power: Knives < Staves <= Light Swords < Bows < Spears <= Heavy Swords < Axes
  • Ranking by Penetration: Knives < Staves < Heavy Swords <= Bows < Axes <= Light Swords < Spears
  • Ranking by Swing Count: Spears = Axes < Light Swords = Heavy Swords = Staves = Bows < Knives

With that rough approximation in mind, the matter of keeping statistical boosts relevant, and the average ranges of relevant stats (23.5 and 27.5 for power and penetration respectively), this is an easy starting point.  Following this for each, I decide a maximum bonus of 5 and 6 for baseline power and penetration are viable respectively, and 4 for swing count.  Working down from there, I decide a minimum of 1 for power and 2 for penetration are viable.  Keeping the orders in mind and adding in their relevant bonuses, we get the resultant values:

  • Knives: Power 1, Penetration 2, Swing Count 4, Critical Rate +5%.  Knives are first and foremost best for Exceed-building, though sufficient physical optimization on them may result in them being particularly effective.  Crits are never a nice thing either.
  • Light Swords: Power 2, Penetration 5, Swing Count 3, Enables use of Off-Hand Daggers.  Light swords are notably good at penetrating enemy armor, and enable the use of off-hand knives, which have their own boosting properties.  As can be seen, though, their availability is anything but early, and it is questionable how common they’ll be in general.
  • Heavy Swords: Power 4, Penetration 4, Swing Count 3.  Above-average in power but only average in penetration, Heavy Swords earn the distinction of being the strongest weapon that allows the use of a shield.
  • Spears: Power 4, Penetration 6, Swing Count 2.  Spears are in the category of the weapons that “really, really hurt.”  The lowered swing count does hurt resourceless EX building, however, and they’re two-handed.
  • Axes/Hammers: Power 5, Penetration 5, Swing Count 2, Critical +5%.  Axes are the other weapon that hurts badly, more notably for the less-armored enemies.  They suffer from similar issues to spears, but can be particularly effective when they land a critical.
  • Staves: Power 2, Penetration 3, Swing Count 3, Evasion Rate +10%.  Staves are a defensive weapon first and foremost, and it shows.  Many of them allow for evasion, though a scant few might also boost magical ability.  The majority of those boosts go to foci, however–which can’t be used with staves because staves are two-handed.
  • Bows: Power 3, Penetration 4, Swing Count 3, Enables use of Arrows.  Bows are dead average compared to the other weapons, but don’t focus on direct offense so much as indirect via status-inflicting arrows.

Armor, for both body and head armor, is a different matter altogether.  Each form of armor offers a different benefit, which will have to be balanced against one another for effectiveness.  The general rule for body armor is that heavy armor blocks light hits, medium armor tends to absorb heavier hits, and light armor is focused more on dodging hits, with the occasional magic defense option.  For headgear, helmets(heavy) still increases ARM, hats(medium) are more focused on protecting against status, and circlets(light) focus more on boosting WIL and FOC, or applying elemental properties.  For baseline properties, however, I feel the following values are acceptables:

  • Heavy Armor: Armor 4.  Armor is all about taking hits, and against low-penetration or properly inhibited opponents this can get particularly effective.
  • Medium Armor: Armor 1, AFR 90.  Medium armor is less about absorbing hits and more about mitigating them.  In essence, medium armor serves better against single large hits than heavy armor does, but heavy armor can null smaller hits much more effectively. (Edit: For clarification, AFR, or Armor Factor, is directly multiplied to the damage for every source of it as a percentage modifier.  There is a magical equivalent of this known as MFR, or Magic Factor.  These too are based on innate functions of RPG Maker VX Ace)
  • Light Armor: Evasion +10%.  Light armor, coincidentally, is much more effective for the purposes of just not getting hit.  It’ll definitely hurt more when you do, but hopefully you won’t get hit at all.
  • Helmets: Armor 2.  Helmets are basically Armor: The Sequel.  Not much new to write home about.
  • Hats: AFR 97.  Hats…don’t exist for much in the way of damage mitigation.  The big thing is that a majority of them will offer protection against status effects in one way or another.  Don’t expect a Vigil Hat anywhere, though.
  • Circlets: WIL 2, FOC 2.  While initially seeming like a magic-user specific option, don’t forget that both of these are useful for physical combatants as well.  Some circlets also apply elemental properties, giving a tradeoff of one resistance for one weakness.

02879188-photo-resonance-of-fate

Alright, guessing period is over.  The significance of this picture is that I ended up making a setup not unlike RoF’s target hardness with the differing armor types and defensive setup.  You’re welcome.

Off-hand equipment is closer to accessories in one respect: it’s a grab-bag.  However, some of them do have baseline properties, as can be seen here:

  • Shields: Armor 1, Evasion +5%.  As you can tell, shields are a defensive option, offering more evasion and a slight bit more armor for the man who wants to take damage from nothing.  Some of these provide extra defensive benefits on the side, such as having resistances to elements.
  • Gauntlets: Armor 1, other effects vary.  Gauntlets are where effects start to matter more than baseline stats.  While they provide a small bonus to ARM, you are usually going to want one less for that and more for the other benefits.
  • Foci: Mental 1, other effects vary.  The mage’s equivalent of Gauntlets, though a bit more desirable on the basis that MNT is not a common stat to find boosts for.
  • Off-Hand Daggers, Arrows: Effects vary.  Both of these are purely for effect choice, where you will frequently get effects well outside most mainline accessories.

Other than that, Sigil Crests were already detailed and Accessories are a grab-bag like the daggers and arrows.  As noted, I have not detailed how upgrades and sidegrades will matter with these items, but needless to say I’m not ready to detail them just yet.  And with that, I’m ready to cover the last part of things that have to be implemented before my game has all of its characters implemented: non-template skills.  This is Epic Alphonse, signing out until next post.

Advertisements

Posted July 17, 2013 by EpicAlphonse in Uncategorized

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: