Saturday, March 13, 2010

Itemization woes

In previous releases of Dweller there has been little reason to pick up and use a lot of the items available in the game. A lot of items were not balanced and almost no situation in the game justified use of them. I am trying to rectify this problem in the upcoming release, but even with such a simple game as Dweller it makes for a hell of a challenge. I can really picture the nightmarish endeavour of balancing a game such as World of Warcraft with thousands upon thousands of items, loads of stats, ten different player classes, a multitude of talents and spells. No wonder Blizzard has decided to simplify item stats in their upcoming major content release Cataclysm, due sometime late this year.

In previous releases when I have added weapons and other items it has been done without much thought. I've simply tried to assign stats that I thought might be representative of the item in question. A lot of times this has gone wrong and the item was rendered mostly useless. This time around I'm taking a much more pragmatic approach, using spreadsheets and graphs to try and balance an item in a way that doesn't make it the best item in the game, and everything else becomes useless. It's challenging and fun, and already after only a few hours of tweaking I think I have something much more balanced.

The whole process has had a side effect as well. The game has become slightly more complex. Dweller is meant to be a simple game without too many paramteres to care about, but when it came to balancing out items and allowing for different play styles it was too simple. The Broadaxe was the weapon of choice if you were a warrior. Nothing else could beat it. Now I've introduced an attack speed as well, and by doing so I have opened up for more variation. Now you can either go for big, heavy, slow weapons that deal massive damage, but at the same time gives your opponent more shots at hitting you, or you can go for light and fast weapons that deal less damage, but allows you to hit more often.

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