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

Brian Hook bwh at wksoftware.com
Wed Apr 4 23:11:43 New Zealand Standard Time 2001


At 12:48 PM 4/4/01 -0400, Jerrith wrote:

> To use more EQ terms, nobody gets SoW, snare, or root type spells
> until they reach a point where all their enemies would have ranged
> attacks (be it breath weapon / spell type attacks, or bow & arrow /
> throwing boulder type attacks.

That makes a lot of sense from a balance perspective, but isn't quite
as strong from a "sensibility" point of view.

Maybe a better solution is that a running/charging enemy has a pretty
strong defense bonus when someone is attacking it with a missile
weapon.  This way you at least have a chance to close with your
attacker instead of being nicked to death from far away.  On top of
that, presumably if you have reasonable restrictions on missile weapon
usage (e.g. running and firing; can't wear heavy armor when firing a
bow, etc.) then battle _should_ break down to:

  - archer gets one or two free shots

  - archer is now at a disadvantage because they are in melee range of
  enemy

  - archer's disadvantage should (ideally) be offset by wounds
  inflicted on enemy

But one thing I'm trying to be clear about is that I have two "goal
axes".  The first is attempting to keep things reasonable/"realistic";
the other is keep things balanced.  Sometimes the two are mutually
exclusive.

> This one can work for awhile, but at higher levels of power, it
> stops working (unless you consider uninterruptable gate type spells,
> which tend to just be frustrating in nature).  I prefer this at
> lower levels.

That's a second, but related, discussion.  Should a monster be allowed
to hit the escape key when it's obviously outmatched by superior
numbers?  On the one hand it balances out "unchallenging" encounters
(i.e. the tendency in EQ to beat encounters through overwhelming
numbers), on the other it really annoys players that have taken the
time to pull together some of their friends for a raid/attack.  It
effectively punishes players for organizing themselves in a manner to
minimize risk.  There are both good and bad points to this.

> Doesn't help in most cases, I think...  Just makes the kiting kill
> take longer, even if you have to stand still while reloading.

Assuming the creatures move fast enough, longer reload times should be
a significant factor.

> Same as the previous one...  If you're kiting, you just have to run
> out further, and then stand still to take care of your aiming
> period...

Once again, if you're not moving significantly faster than the
creature, and the creature is N "aiming seconds" far away from you
when you initiate the encounter, you have N/aiming_seconds number of
shots before you're engaged.  Make N sufficiently small (by reducing
the range on weapons) or aiming_seconds sufficiently large and you
won't get that many shots.  If you can increase or maintain N after
combat has been initiated (JBoots, SoW, snare, etc.) then you're going
to win, period.  So that problem has to be fixed first.

> By the time you've lowered it to the point where kiting is no longer
> practical, you've also made it nearly useless in other cases as
> well.

That's a significant problem with balance in so many areas -- reducing
the power of something in a specific case without ruining it in the
general case.  EQ's designers were plagued by this in many areas --
how do you make SoW powerful for travel but not for combat?

One idea I had was to have the first shot have a much greater chance
of a crtical strike/amplified damage, i.e. if the mob was in an
"unalert" state (like wandering guards in Metal Gear Solid or Thief)
do extra damage.  This makes the first "pull" shot do a lot of damage,
and follow up shots are dampened to reflect the target's awareness of
danger.  A hack, but possibly workable.

>>    - limited ammunition

> Hard to accomplish, in games where you frequently have to carry a
> large number of items...

But not impossible.  There is, once again, a balancing act here: the
need to foster a player's urge to collect stuff, and the need to
balance this against the ability for a player to basically carry their
complete equipment ensemble at all times.

Inventory management is rarely fun, but I think it can add to the
flavor of the game if done properly.

>>    - limited choice of armor

> Perhaps...  However, if you can change armor quickly, it's hard to
> keep this limitation.  Might help with the next one.

Personally I see this is as a big deal (and, on a related note, I
would make changing armor take a significant amount of time...those
that played Baldur's Gate are probably familiar with the
fighter/magic-user trick of "fireball, put on plate mail, enter melee"
because inventory management was instantaneous.

Brian Hook

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