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maffyew in z2kdev

The Stat Nobody Loved

I'm toying around with some of the base game mechanics for Z2K at the moment, specifically those regarding human players and non-player characters.

It's not easy to balance stats at this early a stage, but I'm trying to make sure each base stat is at least close to being as attractive a choice as the next. Currently, I've got six base stats split into two categories, and it looks a little like this:
Physical Traits
Strength
- Carrying Capacity
- Melee Damage Modifiers
- Base Brawling Skill
- Base Axes Skill
- Base Throwing Skill

Dexterity
- Base Pistol Skill
- Base Shotguns Skill
- Base SMG Skill
- Base Explosives Skill
- Base Lockpicking Skill

Fitness
- Health Points
- Stamina Points
- Damage Resistances
- Disease / Sickness / Poision Resistances
Mental Traits
Perception
- Base Rifles Skill
- Base Looting Skill
- Base Awareness Skill
- Ranged Damage Modifiers

Charisma
- Base Leadership Skill
- Base Psychology Skill
- Initial Reaction Modifiers (// edit)

Intelligence
- Base Repair Skill
- Base Area Knowledge Skill
- Base Survival Skill
- Base Medical Skill
- Base Physiology Skill

Notice the odd one out? Charisma. The stat that no one ever focuses on outside of the Fallout games. Even in those games, an astute player will tell you that having a high intelligence and then just buffing the fuck out of your Speech skill has more benefits.

I just thought of a third thing that Charisma can modify, based on remebering the GURPS initial reaction tables. It's not looking quite so retarded now - it's still a little "take it or leave it" depending on your gameplay style though. I guess it's just going to be a matter of ensuring that the penalties for low charisma are as substantial as penalties for low strength. (No one ever takes low strength in these games. You've got to carry your loot around somehow, and more weight capacity generally means you can wear better armour.)

There's still more skills that need to be factored in, but I honestly can't see them fitting under the "charisma" banner - they're far more likely to go under the other headings. There's some potential solutions to this problem:

1. Replace Charisma with another stat that has a wider application. (I'm drawing a blank here, though.)
2. Make the few charisma based skills comparitively more important than the other ones. (this is tricky to balance)
3. Just ditch it altogether in favour of having the skills currently affected by it changed so they're not affected by any base stat.

Not sure what I'm going to do yet. Thoughts? (I can appreciate that without knowing what I have planned for how the rest of the game mechanics fit into this, it's difficult to offer an opinion)

---

GameMaker is pretty fricking awesome. I've recreated just about everything I did in Torque in a fraction of the time. The community for it is larger, there's a ton of extensions and extra DLL's out already that provide code examples of a number of the functions I want to put in.

It's made me look at broadening the scope of the game's combat mechanics a little. Destructible terrain, ala XCom, anyone?

Comments

The Thing is one of the games that inspired the initial design for Z2K. The elements were there, they were just implemented poorly, and it's a real shame that no other game since has tried to work with what they started.

You've also broken down what the two charisma skills are planned to have an effect on, which is great because it means the skill names I've picked are reasonably intuitive.

Fear and Trust are the cornerstone interpersonal stat ratings for the current design. Someone who trusts you will obey orders more often than someone who does not - for example, you might have a broader combat strategy in mind that requires a non player character to move to another location. Someone who doesn't trust your judgement might just open fire and stay put, thinking that they know better.

I cannot wait to get this to an effective prototype stage where I can start playing around with these mechanics and get a real feel for how they work in practice.
er .. which means that the two charisma skills are um... kind of vital to gameplay, really. the penalties are somewhat subtler than those for low strength, but when one of your party members blows their head off because you couldn't chill them out, you're really going to kick yourself for not putting those extra couple of points into charisma.
z2k

March 2007

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