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Zalausai

Weapon/Ammo/Health vs Monster Ratios

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I was think of making a level, but I am concerned about the balance ratios. (It must challenge its creator on difficulty 3). I was think or a ratio as follows.

The following is for difficulty 3.

Total monster's health in a level (Double for Pain elemental, triple for archvile) as a number.

Divide by 10


Place enough provisions as follows

Enough ammunition equal to health in damage +20% (For player inaccuracy)
Ex: 7 Shotguys = 36 Bullets or Pack of 4 Shotgun shells

Enough health egual to heal an amount of points enough to heal the player as if each monster in the level hurt them once.
Ex: 7 Shotguys = 7 Stimpacks

I know most levels will have many more monsters than this, but it is only an example.
I would like input on this ratio system.

Sincere Regards from a Newbie,
Zalausai

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Personally, I find it's better to rely on intuition than formula when it comes to map balance.

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Marcaek said:

Personally, I find it's better to rely on intuition than formula when it comes to map balance.

I'm the same as well. But the usual consensus is more health if damage is unavoidable as is with hitscanners and boss monsters. More armour for these kind is useful, but depends on how difficult you'd like it to be.

I find frequent trial and error to be useful. Try testing separate times, such as god-mode to ensure ammo is balanced first (and imagine if it would be enough if you didn't use god-mode, then add/remove ammo you deem fitting) and then try it without god-mode to see if your projection is right. Same with health/armour.

Also, you cannot have too many playtesters, ask for different skilled playtesters to cover the different range of skills.

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i've considered trying a similar system before. but i think as Marcaek said, intuition is probably safer. the supposed threat level of an enemy or group of enemies really depends not on what enemy it is, but on the surrounding environment. if you've blasting through monsters with a super shotty and come to a group of 8 shotgun guys, having 80% health laying around near by is unnecessary.

imo a better approach for it is to lay out all the battles you want, then go back and evaluate each one and envision yourself playing it. usually i put some monsters down and ask myself, "how likely is it that i'll actually get hit by these?" and place health and ammo based on my response. playtesting also works. it's all kind of trial and error.

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If you're into balancing your maps mathmatically, and want to save yourself a bunch of calculations, you might want to search for a program called WadWhat.

There are some levels on /idgames that come with wadwhat output text files. All it does is count all the monsters, types, weapons, health items, armor, ammo, secret areas, etc. and generates a text file with that information. In addition to that, it counts the minimum damage all the ammo in the map can do, and makes a ratio based on how much total hit points all the monsters have, and creates a difficulty ratio.

It also counts the number of damaging nukage sectors and average brightness of the entire map.

As others have said, I wouldn't use it to substitute playtesters. There are many ways to make WadWhat tell you a map is easy when it's evidently not. Also there are a bunch of situational things that can interfere with your formulas. A single sniping chaingunner can do a whole lot more damage to the player than a whole army of them in a big arena (since they'd probably all kill each other.) Also Slaughterfest mappers have told me that it's amazing how much ammo players will use up when staged against huge numbers of monsters. I found that wadwhat is a pretty good way to see how differently your skill levels contrast with each other, but I'd still use feedback from real players before trusting everything a formula will tell you.

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I would say a formulaic approach to ammo placement can be surprisingly accurate when it comes down to bullets, shells, and the plasma gun. The BFG9000 and Rocket launcher are a lot trickier to balance in with a formula because of splash damage and the BFG's largely random damage output. As 40oz said, health/armor is usually dependent on monster placement and play-testing.

Powerups are also somewhat tricky to use in a map without making it to easy. Berserk packs are usually a good choice when ammo might be tight, especially since it basically makes demons/spectres into free kills.

Perhaps the formula is a good place to start and then play-testing can help to bring it into a good solid balance?

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40oz said:

...you might want to search for a program called WadWhat.

...Or, you can get it here. (Heh, what a great idea!)

It's a bit outdated, and it only runs in DOS (a big problem if you're running Windows Vista/7; that is, unless you know how to use DOSBox) and doesn't handle very large maps.) Luckily, the source code is included so someone can FINALLY update it to include a GUI and possibly [G]ZDoom/Skulltag support.

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