[MUD-Dev] Balancing Melee vs Ranged Combat in Games Which Model Space

Daniel.Harman at barclayscapital.com Daniel.Harman at barclayscapital.com
Tue Apr 3 16:02:26 New Zealand Standard Time 2001


Its a simple question really. Does anyone think it is possible to
balance melee range combat with ranged combat/magic in games where
spacial issues have impact?

All the games keep trying to do it, but I'm beginning to wonder if its
even possible. What it seems to boil down to is :

	How do you balance characters being able to cause damage to a
	monster/player when it isn't able to retaliate.
	
The traditional approach seems to be to make ranged/magic combat more
effective than melee, but to balance it by making the users frail and
constrained by ammo/mana/etc. I'm not sure this is a good approach as
the outcome tends to be too deterministic. Either the battle is too
easy for the ranged/magic combatant, or its too hard (mobs designed to
challenge melee range classes tend to tear through ranged combatants).

The issues that seem to need balance are :

  - Solo/Group ability.
  - PvP/PvE.

Possible balancing tools (that have occured to me <G>):

  - Make ranged combat do the same dmg as melee combat. Make ranged
  combateers sufficiently robust to take some hits and try to make is
  so that ranged combat involves taking some dmg (how?).

  - Balance the penalty of failure (perm/non-perm death) with the
  likelihood of the combat type resulting in it. If ranged users are
  more fragile, they may die more, do you penalise them less. They
  tried this in EQ with melees having to run back, but resurrection
  undermines this mechanic and it penalised the casters too waiting
  for their tanks to come back.

  - Mobs that summon players or warp to melee range. This is pretty
  hideous in my opinion and overly emphasises the frailty of a ranged
  combatant. It also doesn't sit well if one wants a generally
  consistent set of game dynamics - well unless you give players the
  ability too.

  - Allow combat to be easy at range, but throttle with mana or other
  similar chokes. The problem then is how to balance it so that they
  scale as well as melee combatants. If a melee group is fighting a
  monster, in all likelihood, only one character is taking damage from
  the monster, whilst the rest can hack away merrily. This places the
  melee throttle of being damaged on only one character, whilst the
  caster mana throttle remains in place. Obviously this doesn't scale
  too well... Maybe group casting would address this (i.e.  spells
  requiring multiple participants).

Anyone have any takes on this issue or some tools that haven't occured
to me yet? I don't think there is any simple solution, although the
group casting thing seems more essential the more and more I think
about it. Or at least some way of ensuring that the throttles you
place in the game balance equally well in groups/solo.

N.B. I may have interchanged caster/ranged combatant a few times in
this post, but essentially I think one needs to be able to balance
both in a similar way.

Regards,

Dan


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