[MUD-Dev] DGN: Absolutes, percentages and ranges

cruise cruise at casual-tempest.net
Sat May 14 03:05:21 New Zealand Standard Time 2005

In the original Rock/Paper/Scissors, win or loss is an
absolute. Rock /always/ beats scissors, and /always/ loses to paper.

What happens if instead, there is a percentage chance of
winning/losing, instead of the absolute? Obviously once this chance
becomes 50%, then there becomes absolutely no point in picking
anything, but at say 90%, how much does that occasional rare
surprise win add, if anything?

In D&D, a +1 sword is basically a 5% bonus, but no one would pass
one up. Does a 5% resistance to fire really affect gameplay in any
significant fashion, or is it too small to really matter?

While the answers admittedly depend a lot on your game mechanics,
the underlying decision between large, important and potentially
unbalancing effects versus subtle, minor but arguably insignificant
buffs applies to anything.

Do you let your players have up to 10,000 health, or 10? What
happens if they start at 10 and end at 10,000? In WoW I've seen
pretty much every character guide say that starting race doesn't
matter, as the difference in initial stats makes absolutely no
difference by the high levels.

Personally I favour bigger effects, for the simple expedient of
making player choices matter. If have to pick between an elf with a
+5% to hit, and an orc with +5% to health, am I really going to
notice the difference? But if the differences are 40%, then the
choice becomes much harder, and therefore more meaningful. This also
means that ranges should be smaller. I tend to work on a scale of
1-10 in prototyping. While a range of 100 seems to offer better
granuality, how much difference is there really between 63/100 and

The counter argument is if someone boosts their strength by one,
that's a noticable and sudden increase in power, which can feel
"unfair". If 5xp gains you that next level at which a new power is
gained, it creates a sharp jump in the ability scale. Having a wider
range, that slowly but continuously increases, can soften this
change; in turn this helps balancing as the differences between
players are minor at any point of the "power-scale."

I've also noticed there is a lack of "absolutes" - 100% resists to
cold damge, for example, or immunity to sleep effects. Here that 1%
between highly resistant and immune makes a big difference. Anything
that is less effective can still win, if you throw enough of them at
the target. And while it's nice to always feel you have a chance,
it's arguable having that chance weakens the importance of your
choice. If you can still win, whatever sword you pick, then why
pick? Equally, however, if you can only beat mob A, but mob B is
immune, then you are restricted too. Where do you want the choice to
be? What the challenge is, or how you overcome the challenge?

I know I'm probably coming across as amazingly wishy-washy again,
but if I had a glib answer to this, I wouldn't need to post this in
the first place, right? :P

[ cruise / casual-tempest.net / transference.org ]
   "quantam sufficit"
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