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Reader Comments (21)

Posted: Mar 15th 2010 8:38AM (Unverified) said

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Defintely would rather have the numbers. Regardless of whether or not the developer gives you the formulas for how damage is worked out or how perks affect base stats, those formulas still apply. I would much rather have access to the data and thus make better choices with my character as I progress than mistakenly invest points, IP, experience, etc. into a stat, perk, ability that isn't as effective as I thought.

Posted: Mar 15th 2010 9:03AM Itanius said

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The more information available, the better. There's nothing worse than leaving players to speculate and make incorrect decisions about their career path, only to realize later on that they've made a huge mistake and end up quitting the game because the developers weren't keen enough to include some type of respecialization mechanism.

There's really no sense in hiding the details; there will always be some players that will figure out the calculations in time anyways.

Posted: Mar 15th 2010 9:35AM wjowski said

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It's better to give the numbers. Keeps a developer honest (I'm looking at you Verant).

Posted: Mar 15th 2010 9:37AM archipelagos said

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Always clarity, always. The arguments against this usually stem from trying to control the hardcore min/max crowd but you cannot stop them from finding out what is the most efficient route (unless you were to implement some kind of statistical randomiser but really, that would be insane) and that information will always flood the community after a time.

The real challenge in designing a game comes in allowing people to choose not to go the popular route and still be able to customise a genuinely valuable character.

Posted: Mar 15th 2010 9:42AM Scotland Tom said

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I appreciate what the numbers do for other players, but personally I find them to be a nuisance. My goal when I sit down to play the game is to enjoy myself and a sure-fire way to suck the fun out of anything for me is to add numbers. There is a reason I didn't choose to go out for a degree in mathematics.

Recently I decided to pick up City of Heroes again. Boy, there are more numbers than ever attached to that game. Now, instead of feeling free to have fun and experiment with different powersets and enhancements I feel like I have to research my builds and mess with third party hero-building software so as not to screw anything up.

Posted: Mar 15th 2010 10:44AM Dumac said

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I remember powers in CoH having no damage numbers but things like minor, medium, high damage, etc, same for recharge time, and while this left a lot of room for confusion, like two medium powers not having exactly the same strength, it also let you gauge the powers for yourself, develop a feeling, and through experience find the best way of using powers without the need to look at formulas and spreadsheets. It was brilliant. Is it still like that?

Numbers are kinda like health bars, they are not really needed but people have an attachment to them, and now that some games are getting rid of health bars people complain, even if the game has alternative (and in my opinion better) ways of letting you know your health status. We have just come to feel we need them, and habits tend to die hard. I say, lets experiment. I'm tired of numbers and formulas.
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Posted: Mar 15th 2010 11:06AM bjooks said

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I never knew how much I enjoyed real numbers until City of Heroes added them. I went from (say) having three powers which all said they did moderate damage, to finding out they each behaved quite differently, with wildly different amounts of damage all being called "moderate." So there I find it greatly useful, not to mention knowing better how much each enhancement adds to your powers -- I use up many fewer respecs now that I have real numbers available, instead of the old rubric -- "how does it play? It just feels wrong."

Plus, the way CoH handled it, if you really don't want to look at the real numbers, you won't see them. You don't have to click open that panel where they're located. The old-style "minor/moderate/high/extreme damage" labels are still there front and center.
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Posted: Mar 15th 2010 11:47AM Valdamar said

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Generally I want the numbers - I just don't want to be buried in an avalanche of numbers when I start a new game unless I go looking for them. So yeah I like CoH's solution when they added "real numbers" - numbers are there if you want them, but they're not shoved in your face (you have to press a button, hover-over for a tooltip or go into another screen to get the numbers) which really is the best of both worlds - newbies and casuals aren't scared off by being drowned in data, but everyone else can make informed decisions on which powers to take and how to enhance them.

I just can't play games like Champions Online was at launch (and like CoH was at launch, for that matter), where you're offered so much choice on how to progress your character, but given so little information on what the powers actually do - no way to easily respec just compounds the problem - it's just a recipe for making people quit if they've played a character for weeks/months only to find out at higher levels that they gimped their character through uninformed ignorance.

I love to min-max, but I'm actually averse to MMOs that make character creation/progression too number-heavy or with too many decisions and overly complex options - it's stopped me even trying EVE, and planning a build in D&D Online seems so arcane and confusing (I never played AD&D) that I just can't be bothered with it - so I can understand why Devs must struggle over how to present data/info in a clear and palatable way for players with different preferences.
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Posted: Mar 15th 2010 1:56PM Ninevah said

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And regarding CoH: I _STILL_ find powers that are described as having "HIGH" damage doing less damage than one described as "MODERATE" once I look at the real numbers. So, even descriptions leave me suspicious of the developers. I'd rather have ALL the numbers available so I can make INFORMED decisions. I sometimes still choose other powers/classes/archetypes based simply upon the graphics or the special effects, but then I'm at least making that decision instead of guessing.
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Posted: Mar 15th 2010 9:43AM (Unverified) said

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Not making the formulas available shows ignorance of MMO gameplay.

That's one big difference between console RPGs and MMOs - since they're tested by millions of players each day, MMOs are naturally held to a higher balancing standard, so players taking deep interest in stat optimization is the rule, not the exception. And in order to have any success optimizing your character, you need concrete figures, simple as that.

Posted: Mar 15th 2010 10:55AM (Unverified) said

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I think that statistics are quite important, as the 'This spell heals light wounds. Slightly better than Rank I'-descriptor is almost useless to me. But whole numbers please.

But what irks me is when options are hidden when certain requirements aren't met. I'm looking at you, DDO. *cough* feats *cough*

Posted: Mar 15th 2010 11:23AM Dranaerys said

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Clarity and transparency is vital, I definitely want the numbers there to make accurate assesments on what choices to make in regards to my toon. There is however, such a thing as too many numbers. If a game tracks across all classes and specs 15 stat types, make it so each player has to worry about only 3-5 of them.

Enough to make your chocies interesting, not too many that you will require a spreadsheet to calculate statistically what combination of 8 differnt stats you will need to perform your best. Balance is the key word here.

Posted: Mar 15th 2010 11:37AM (Unverified) said

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While I really dislike the number-crunching metagame that so many people seem to obsess over, hiding the game's mechanics still seems like a silly idea. It doesn't seem to me that hiding RPG mechanics is any easier than letting it all hang out so to speak. Hell, I wouldn't be surprised that it takes more work to hide the game's mechanics while still leaving a little something for the players to work with. Fully exposed and understandable mechanics are more player-friendly, and I bet that it makes development and post-development tweaking easier on the testers and devs.

I'd love to play an MMO where players just played instead of relying on metagaming like number-crunching and cookie-cutter character builds, but that's just never going to happen. That kind of behavior happens, justifiably, in real life. The way athletes crunch numbers to get the best workouts and most efficient training and the way politicians carefully plan every job and ever decision they will ever make in order to achieve a certain political office are just two examples.

Why hide the numbers? The people who don't want to use them won't either way. The people who do want them will either figure them out or, worst case, quit playing your game if you hide them. I just can't think of a decent enough reason to justify cryptic (not to be confused with Cryptic; however, I do have a hard time justifying what they do as well) RPG mechanics.

Posted: Mar 15th 2010 11:50AM (Unverified) said

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All the number crunching and meta-gaming kills the spirit of the game. All the numbers do is turn your character into a spreadsheet, nothing more. It would be nice if they could encrypt the game files. Imagine how much more civil the game would be if people were having fun, and not concerned with screwing other players over for that 1 item that gives 2 dps, so they can justify themselves in the game.

Posted: Mar 15th 2010 11:53AM UndeadAreGo said

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Because the number are there does not mean that you have to use the spreadsheets. I like my numbers, but I also like looking good, and have been known to carry "inferior" equipment for the sake of individuality.

I have always been an excellent healer (warriors and rogues, not so much). Someone else might know the numbers behind the perfect spell combos, but I know how to use my character under pressure and improvise. If someone bothers deciphering a perfect combo, it's a sure bet that someone else found the perfect defense.

Posted: Mar 15th 2010 12:30PM Jhaer said

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Personally, I prefer there to not be numbers, however, your system still needs to be representative of numbers. City of Heroes is the best example of that failure. If you list damage as just "low", "moderate" and "high", each needs to represent a range and be consistent. One power doing moderate damage needs to be the same as another power doing moderate damage, an absolute scale not a relative one.

Also, your system needs to be "noticeable" and by that I mean if you equip the Gauntlets of Speedy Awesomeness, it needs to be apparent to the player that "Speedy Awesomeness" leads to a visible increase in attack speed. And that the Gloves of Speedy Mediocreness is a smaller increase in attack speed, noticeably. If your players can't tell the difference between the Gloves and the Gauntlets, then your system sucks.

Posted: Mar 15th 2010 1:34PM Minofan said

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I didn't use to care, but now I do prefer concrete numbers - I'm just tired of being disappointed by....

* Games that reveal nothing and turn out - on wiki investigation or experience - to be dealing with variables so miniscule that character progression is essentially meaningless e.g. Dragon Age, Final Fantasy XIII.

* Games that hype abilities up with text & visuals, but let you peek beneath the hood to see that many are gimped or plain useless e.g. Champions Online, Age Of Conan.

I want MMO (and none MMO) RPGs to just be up front, eliminate all the 0.1-1% trash that substitutes for advancement and basically give me a feeling of progression to get me through the dull stretches.

Posted: Mar 15th 2010 2:03PM Carbon204 said

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Honestly, Champions Online, DnD, and Final Fantasy XI (the last time I played them, that is) seemed to go out of the way to be as obtuse as possible. EVE Online presented information in such a way that it was mind-crushing. Age of Conan had a stat system that didn't even work! Warcraft presents its information very clearly, but its really hard to actually figure out if a given item is an upgrade or not with their rating-caped limiting stat system. (Well, those gloves are really good, but only if you have 500 haste. Wait what?)

In FFXI what does 1 more INT do? Really? What does it do?!

I like my stats to be pretty easy to understand, but I don't want my hand held and told by the game whether I should equip Armor A or Armor B. I want to look at an item that dropped, and be able to look at what I have and be able to decide in ~10 seconds myself if Its and upgrade or not. No silly things like spread sheets, side grades, soft caps, hard caps, and web based programs.

I think the worst system is when you have stats that are converted into other stats, like what is currently happening in WoW. If Spirit and Critical Rating are found as core stats on gear, there shouldn't be a talent that converts X spirit to Y critical! Its equivalent to the theory of retrograde motion. You're adding layers of complexity onto a system that at best is a differential equation.

Posted: Mar 15th 2010 1:45PM cray said

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I prefer things to be very basic with the numbers. I think it's better for the players to do their own experiment to figure out the numbers. This is part of exploring a game.

In life you don't know the precise defense and attack value of the next person who might hurt you. You learn from experience. Which ironically what MMO XP leveling was supposed to represent.

Posted: Mar 15th 2010 7:03PM Matix said

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I prefer numbers, as OPTIONS = GOOD.

If you don't like knowing the numbers, ignore them. Taking that tool, that FUN away from other players due to a personal hangup is wrong-headed as well as just plain wrong.

Having said that, "consider" (CON) systems, or "low/medium/high" adjectives ALONG WITH numbers, I have no problem with. I love numbers, but when I see that bloody skull next to that NPC's name, it's a short-hand way to know I shouldn't waste my time crunching numbers and should just stay out of that monster's aggro range.
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