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Sunday, November 20, 2011

Character Stats

So we've been talking about this for quite a while, and we've had many people emailing us asking questions on how it's going to work, and so we're finally ready to show it off!

As you probably know by now, Malevolence is infinite, and since the game is infinite, it needs a pretty unique stat system. Normally in RPGs, stats are based on numbers, but in an infinite game, you could theoretically get to level one million and have 500,000 skill points to use. That isn't good for a game as it just gets ridiculous.

What we have in Malevolence is a simplified front-end to a very complex back-end. On the front end, the player has six core stats. Everything in the game, every ability or skill, makes use of one or more of those stats. If you're swinging a sword at an ork, you're using Strength and Dexterity. If you're casting a spell, you're using Wisdom. If you're disarming a trap, you're using Intellect and Dexterity. If you're haggling with a merchant you're using Charisma and Intellect. The list goes on, but you get the idea. Some skills use one stat, others use 2, 3 or even 4.

Here's where Malevolence differs. These six core stats are represented as percentages, rather than numbers. Instead of having a strength of 50, you'll have a strength of, say, 30%. As you keep performing feats of strength, that percentage will (very) slowly rise up and up. But the higher your Strength rises, the more other skills will fall. First things like Wisdom and Intelligence will start to suffer, then Dexterity and Charisma and so on. The reason that this happens is that all six stats, when added together, must always equal 100%.

Instead of individual statistic numbers, what the player has is what is called a 'stat pool'. This number is based on what level you are. When you first start a new game, each of your stats is sitting at 16.67% (adding up to a total of 100%) and your stat pool is 100. That means, rounding up, that each statistic is worth 17. However, if you buff your strength up to 30% by using your muscles a lot in the game, your Strength value will be closer to 30, but your Wisdom and Intelligence will now be sitting at 10 each. You spent too much time practicing with a sword and your magic studies suffered for it.

When you go up a level, your stat pool number increases, but your individual stat percentages stay exactly the same. This way, your stats DO go up, but the actual balance across them all stays put.

So what does this mean for you as a player? Well, it means that everything you do in the game has consequences, however, the game is actually monitoring everything you do, and letting you be better at the things you do most, while atrophying the areas that you use least. For a player who wants to be a straight fighter, or a straight mage, this is no problem, as they just have to play the way they play and things will just work out. But for someone who wants to multi-class, then they will have to actually train - just as in real life - to maintain the balance of their statistics.

To speed up the process, however, or to correct deviations, you will be able to pay money at various guilds to train certain statistics up and get the most out of your character.

An example is the Fighter's Guild. A warrior can pay to train his Strength and Constitution, or a ranger can pay to train their Dexterity, but other stats will suffer from it. It'll just mean you don't have to grind it out to get your stats where you want them ;-)

But now you know! That's how the game works! You'll never see your stats' exact numbers, just their effect on the game itself!

I hope this confirms a few things!

15 comments:

  1. This is interesting, but how quickly can you shift the balance? Say I want to play as a mage do I need to grind casting spells for a long time before I become effective?

    Other than that, pretty unique, and I can't wait to see it in practice.

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  2. When working on your own, you'll have to grind for a fairly long while to REALLY affect the balance, but almost everything you do affects your stats, so it's constantly churning over in the background. If you want it to happen faster, you can pay for training at guilds :) the latest alpha build actually has this system implemented, too!

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  3. While the concept seems interesting, there's a bit of a psychology fail in the interface design. Specifically, a player will spend the entire game looking at bars that are impossible to fill.
    Worse, they will be mostly empty, all the time.

    People reeeeeally like filling bars.

    Maybe a log scale representation would minimize the negative impact?

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    Replies
    1. Quite valid... The UI is still very much in alpha, but it's something we'll look into! The log scale seems like an interesting approach...

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    2. I would highly recommend a pie chart. It would be more aseticly pleasing and would even out the idea that you need to fill something

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  4. Hey there, I came from the kickstarter, and in terms of psychology, that really is very true. However, I think you don't just have to minimize impact. I think you can make this 'feel' as interesting as you want it to be. A chart such as this:
    http://images.wikia.com/narutooriginals/images/a/af/Stat.png

    Could represent it fully. An even character would have a generally rounded chart, whereas specialists would be spiking out in one direction, and in another they would be diminished.

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    Replies
    1. Indeed... Or even a pie chart of sorts?

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  5. This is basically Ultima Online's system but less complex since it doesn't have a skill pool as well. In UO, the stats are just an integer between 0 and 100 which solves the so-called psychology problem.

    The same should be true here rather than labeling them as percentages.

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  6. But then can't you get to level one million and get a ridiculously huge stat pool all the same?
    How does it solve the infinite-leveling problem?

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    Replies
    1. You never actually see the numbers ;)

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  7. Interesting system, however I'm a little concerned about how this affect hybrids. I don't get the impression that you are trying to discourage hybrids, but they are forced to either grind their skills or pay for training to keep themselves at peak efficiency. Meanwhile, pure builds don't get hit by this, they are automatically optimized.

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    Replies
    1. But at the same time, pure builds are penalised in other areas. It works just like real life. If you spend all your time playing football and not playing cricket, you'll never get better at cricket. But if you're a person who plays football AND cricket, you'll never get as good as someone who only plays football.

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  8. I for one love seeing lots of numbers getting higher, it's one of those things that makes me want to play CRPGS.

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  9. This seems like a pretty well thought out mechanism. It calls out a few questions however.

    I understand that the stat pool will go up while leveling up (whitout showing any numbers though), meaning that your character will be able to be, for example, stronger and smarter at the same time to a degree it wasn't possible before. Making the character better overall, thus giving a feeling of progress for the player.

    However, if the player doesn't see actual numbers going up and/or new skills acquired, this progress might not be felt at all, which would be at the same time a waste, and a motivation problem. Isn't there a way to directly show the player how much he improved while leveling up? For example, saying something like "stat pool is now 110% of the level 1 capacity", so that he KNOWS his character will be like 10% stronger?

    Of course, the best way to give a feeling of progress is to experience it first hand by, say, slaying monsters impossible to kill before or mastering new spells. Still, it's an old school style RPG, and I remember that seeing the stats in the old M&M going from 15 to 150 made me feel soooooo bad ass!

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