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Author Topic: Damage calculation - complexity vs ease of understanding  (Read 512 times)

Kornel Kisielewicz

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I'm posting this design discussion in General, as I need as much feedback on this as possible. As you may now, we're trying to make Jupiter Hell as accessible as possible, but at the same time we're trying not to lose tactical depth and the choices involved. Usually I manage to find a reasonable compromise for that with the mechanics, but now I hit a problem.

I have a plan for a fairly complex damage calculation system, but I'm afraid it will not be very easily understandable to the casual players. We already decided that weapons in JH will have constant damage (for simplicity and tactics vs randomness sake), however we also want different weapons to interact differently with different enemies (resistances/armor). Apart from different weapons there will be also different ammo (think armor-piercing or hollow point) usable with the same weapon type that will have different characteristics.

The current (Alpha 0.0.3) system works as follows:

We have damage types (impact, slash, piercing - more to come like plasma, fire etc), beings have health and armor. Armor is a single number with a set of resistances. In general, impact is default (no modifiers) so just take the damage, substract the armor, and that is the amount of HP damage. Slash damage (used by shotguns, maybe we'll change it to shred instead) and piercing works the same, but doubles or halves the armor value respectively, so a 9 damage slash shot against a armor 2 enemy deals 9-2*2 = 5 damage. This is simple, although more complex than say XCOM, but it works.

However, this does not give me the design space I'd like, so I wanted to go forward with the "Damage 2.0" system:

  • both armor and health has resistances
  • by default, armor is *2 against slash, * 0.5 against piercing
  • by default, hp for humans is *2 damage from slash, * 0.5 from piercing
  • in contrast, hp for mechanical enemies is *0.5 damage from slash, *1 from piercing/impact
  • a skeletal enemy could have hp at 0.25 from piercing/slash and *2 from impact

However, I have problems with - is it easily understandable? Is there a way to easily communicate the system to the player? This is not something that could land in a tutorial (it's too deep mechanics) and without tooltips it would be hard to convey this to the player - any idea how to list that information on the player screens? Finally, it might be confusing for casual RPG players, that by default from the get go you have different resistances for piercing/slash as the player.

I know that this system is pretty simple as far as deeper RPG's go, but I do see major benefits from having clear-cut mechanics like XCOM does...

Your feedback is needed!
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Kornel Kisielewicz

PyroL

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Re: Damage calculation - complexity vs ease of understanding
« Reply #1 on: June 06, 2018, 08:51 »

That seems relatively straightforward. If you are concerned about overwhelming casual players with information, take a look at how Cogmind does their "Advanced UI" which 100% of serious players use, but is turned off by default so as to be more welcoming to newbs...

Finally, as I've said before, make sure all these stats are readily available. The worst thing you can do to roguelike players (who are no strangers to crunching damage numbers), is hide information for them. Some kind of Jupiter Log where as you've kill monsters it fills out the info for those mobs? On the other hand, you can avoid "metaprogression" entirely and just give the log entries to all players, so that if they wanted to look up exactly how much armor a Baron Demon has or exactly how their piercing/flaming/etc rounds work, they can get that info.
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ParaSait

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Re: Damage calculation - complexity vs ease of understanding
« Reply #2 on: June 06, 2018, 12:21 »

I think in a game like this, complexity is probably not a big problem as long as it feels intuitive. The most important thing for a fast-paced game is that the player can rely on his common sense rather than his cognition.

If it's not 100% straightforward to grasp intuitively, it's important to simply give a clear sense of how much damage he's doing or is about to do. That will help develop and strengthen intuition through pattern recognition.

If the brainy player wants to do the arithmetic, let him be able to examine weapons and enemies to learn their particulars.
Or maybe you could even integrate that into the game in a fun and immersive way. I'm thinking something like the research system System Shock 2 (although less elaborate). That mechanic was basically a way to make players interested in learning the rules of the damage system under the hood ("Good job, you researched this organ, your findings are that this enemy gets double damage from AP ammo! Also, here's a damage boost for you!").
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Re: Damage calculation - complexity vs ease of understanding
« Reply #3 on: June 06, 2018, 14:58 »

I just want to point out that Pokémon had a system of "armour" vs "weapon" set up with their 14+ types and people seemed to be okay about it, even though all that was ever mentioned in-game was if an attack was "Super effective!" or "Not very effective.".

As what ParaSait mentioned, as long as it is relatively intuitive, it shouldn't be too big a problem.  But the information should always be shown at an appropriate place, especially if you're going to use some "exotic" stuff that doesn't conform to the intuition, e.g. weapon is demonic and otherworldly and thus does not work the way we might understand it.
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Sereg

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Re: Damage calculation - complexity vs ease of understanding
« Reply #4 on: June 06, 2018, 19:07 »

If you want that information to be available to players, display it with the target's examine info... or if you want, require players to "learn" it after observing more and more combat interactions like many angband variants do.

As long as you keep it intuitive,  like your skeletons being more resistant to cutting type attacks, I don't anticipate any major problems with a slightly more complex system than DRL.

Edit: FWIW, I like the idea of multiple internal as well as external resistance parameters.
« Last Edit: June 06, 2018, 19:14 by Sereg »
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Kornel Kisielewicz

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Re: Damage calculation - complexity vs ease of understanding
« Reply #5 on: June 07, 2018, 13:43 »

I almost just went for it, but then I realized that a beginner player faced with a shotgun that does 6 slash damage vs a pistol with 10 pierce damage will always assume that the pistol is a better weapon. However a solution is to have "flesh" as a baseline - most of the enemies that the player will meet in the beginning are flesh based, so if we balance the numbers around 1.0 for flesh, we still can have HP with modifiers but the numbers will stay comparable for damage against most early game enemies.
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gvekony

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Re: Damage calculation - complexity vs ease of understanding
« Reply #6 on: June 12, 2018, 13:44 »

I have a plan for a fairly complex damage calculation system, but I'm afraid it will not be very easily understandable to the casual players. We already decided that weapons in JH will have constant damage (for simplicity and tactics vs randomness sake), however we also want different weapons to interact differently with different enemies (resistances/armor).

Maybe there should be a mode, with some randomness involved. Just for the rougelike feeling. ;)

However, I have problems with - is it easily understandable? Is there a way to easily communicate the system to the player?

Actually Diablo I. comes to my mind. Remember the famous "Cut the flesh and crush the bone" quote? It summarizes it quite elegantly.
And yes, I agree on renaming the slash to shred.

This is not something that could land in a tutorial (it's too deep mechanics) and without tooltips it would be hard to convey this to the player - any idea how to list that information on the player screens?

You could implement it to a page @ F1. Similarly to the character screen there could be a left-right switch. Or even if you'd like to have more immersion, create an infoterminal with fix spawn at level 1.
I think a simple table like this sums up the relations:

Damage resistances
SlashPierceFirePlasma-Chaos
Ballistic Armor 200%50%50%25%
Human Body50%200%50%50%
Mecha Body200%100%100%50%
Undead400%400%25%25%

Apply the reciprocal to the damage value and you are done. Maybe with an example calculation included.
Or it might be a better idea to create a table with the reciprocal values named Damage modifiers vs. [...] I think most ppl will get the idea.

Damage modifiers vs.
SlashPierceFirePlasma-Chaos
Ballistic Armor 1/2224
Human Body21/222
Mecha Body1/21/212
Undead1/41/444


Finally, it might be confusing for casual RPG players, that by default from the get go you have different resistances for piercing/slash as the player.

We are talking about some level of powerplay here. I'd expect the player to invest about 10 minutes to read up or check the damage - armor relations... it is not WoW or anything serious theorycrafting, but a simple spreadsheet calculation.
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gvekony

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Re: Damage calculation - complexity vs ease of understanding
« Reply #7 on: June 12, 2018, 13:56 »

As an example:

From Warcraft III. Easy to understand, tested by time.
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