Big numbers in games

Do you guys also feel like in games where you can increase your HP\ammo\whatever at some point numbers kind of lose that exciting feeling? Like if you have 2 hearts at the start and you discover an extra heart it's such a big deal, but when you have around 30 you don't quite "sense" the magnitude of your vitality anymore. Or it can be neat to power up your weapon from doing 16 damage to doing 27 damage, but once you hit the 100 or maybe 150 mark you don't care that much anymore. It's just some big number that doesn't feel any different from other big numbers, and so the feeling of progress is kind of lost. This might be why the beginning stages of many games tend to be my favorite.

 

Is this a known problem or am I just a number nerd? Have there been any interesting attempts to solve it?

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I completely agree with this actually, as superficial as it sounds. For some reason it seems much more elegant to do 4 dmg when you enemy has 10hp, as opposed to chunking 400 out of 1000. When playing through the FF series, the transition from 3-digit to 4-digit hp was the first time I noticed this (and have internally whined about ever since :p)

 

also this:

 

 

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56 minutes ago, Memfis said:

Have there been any interesting attempts to solve it?

I don't think this counts as interesting, it's more like the standard solution by avoiding high numbers in the first place: The maximum attainable value could be capped at a number that's not too excessively higher than the minimum/starting value, and if there's a problem that the maximum value can be attained too soon/easily, the game could invent multiple/many variations of the quantity that the scale was supposed to measure, turning the single scale into multiple/many independent scales, each one growing upon doing something a bit different in the game.

Edited by scifista42

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I find them stupid. But then there are games (clicker games of all things) where the numbers become extremely stupid and impossible to read yet people still play them, Some people really LOVE huge numbers.

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World of Warcraft sort of went through this over its many expansions, with the power of players with top-level gear outpacing their character level.  This made sense at first, because in Vanilla WoW, if you went from the armor you got in the Molten Core raid up to the armor you got once Blackwing Lair opened, it felt like a nice jump in power that went along with the things you just conquered.  But after a while, it got absurd.  For example, the stuff you got by the end of Mists of Panderia could give you something like 600,000 HP and damage dealers could do 240,000 DPS.  That's as much as an entire raid group would do at the end of the previous expansion.

 

It was akin to fighting the Cyberdemon in episode 2 and having it be a tough battle, then beating episode 3, thereby receiving some new armor and weaponry.  Then you can go back and one-hitting the Cyberdemon with your fists, even though that's just one episode previous.  The power level jump was absurd and was getting out of hand as new expansions came out.

 

Their solution was to squish the stats of pretty much everything, making levels 1-90 linear in progression (60 and up used to be exponential).  Going between expansions/armor tiers still feels like progress, but it's no longer the absurd jumps that it used to be.  It wasn't really a nerf, but an adjustment - if some monster had 200,000 health previously and your arcane spell did 10,000 damage per hit (20% damage), it would now have 4000 HP and your spell would do 200 damage (still 20%).

 

They also placed an emphasis on faster leveling through old content, for example with things called heirlooms (special armor that gives you bonus XP up to a certain level).  So in Warlords of Draenor, the previous expansion, levels 1-90 feel linear, pretty quick, and you still feel a power increase between levels.  Essentially you could get to the latest content faster.  Levels 90-100 then felt like you were slowly becoming god incarnate each level you moved up or each time you found a really nice bit of gear.

 

My guess is that as the game ages, there'll eventually be another, more minor, stat squish.  Mind you, some of the numbers are still stupidly huge, but they're also abbreviated (e.g., having 380,000 HP shows up as 380k), so it's at least still pretty comprehensible, and nowhere near as absurd as it used to be.

 

http://wow.gamepedia.com/Stat_squish

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I like Dragon Quest. 100 feels like a huge number in that game and even sequels. Balancing the small numbers shows the effort compared to games with higher stats and higher numbers. A game with higher numbers has more wiggle room where 400 - 500 won't kill ya while in Dragon Warrior a 10 - 15 difference might kill you.

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53 minutes ago, Pegg said:

I find them stupid. But then there are games (clicker games of all things) where the numbers become extremely stupid and impossible to read yet people still play them, Some people really LOVE huge numbers.

Well I mean, the literal point of the game is to be something you can have on in the background to switch to on occasion with no other goal but to see how far you can get. It would be pretty baffling if the numbers didn't get completely ridiculous.

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In my opinion, big numbers only belong in one place, and that's the score a player managed to accomplish. More often than not, these bigger numbers are just there for the sake of looking big, when actually they don't necessarily mean a lot.

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I always liked the system in Fallout, where your attributes fall on a scale from 1 to 10. Rather than stacking huge numbers into your attributes at each level, you choose one of many skills to increase slightly. One point into an attribute made a significant difference in your character.

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Elite Dangerous has been interesting to play since the in-game progression is on an exponential scale (in terms of credits / in-game currency). You start with something like 100 or 1,000 credits. I'm currently at something like 100 million credits, though I still remember it being exciting when I reached ~300,000 credits and could afford my first good ship. Buying a larger ship allows you to transport more cargo, which allows you to earn money more quickly and afford even larger ships, etc.

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I wonder if "big numbers" sometimes come into play because it makes certain internal calculations easier. If your base damage is 10, and you get a 10% bonus from a perk, and you get a 3% bonus on top of that for being a <whatever> class, and you also have +15% damage against enemies with red eyes (but that only applies to base damage, not bonuses), and a 42% bonus because you have 42% health (but that only applies to your bonuses, not your base damage).... the math becomes rather "chunky." It is a bit more elegant in such a case to make the base damage 1000 and multiply everybody's HP by 100.

 

... And then hide all the numbers and just give everyone a health bar.

 

... And then I wouldn't play the game 'cuz I can't see any numbers. :-P

Edited by 42PercentHealth
Added the important word, "sometimes"
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50 minutes ago, 42PercentHealth said:

I wonder if "big numbers" sometimes come into play because it makes certain internal calculations easier.

They don't. You could easily run with 100.000HP in the background, while only displaying 100 to make the math work properly. Some games actually do something like this partially to reduce the impact of rounding errors.

 

Big numbers aren't actually there to serve a specific purpose in RPGs for example, they're a means of visual feedback that makes many a player say "Oh, I just got better, the numbers say I did."

Big numbers in shmups are there to serve a purpose, though some shmups take it a bit too far in terms of digits used, they say something about how well the run went.

 

It's all down to the genre in question followed by specific situations within that genre. The example memfis used is a pretty good one, however, having 17 hearts instead of 16 is quite a difference when you get hit by stuff that deals 4 hearts worth of damage.

Edited by Nine Inch Heels
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Not Really, High Stats make my characters feel OP.

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Not really. For Doom in particular, whenever I get 100 health and armor I try as hard as possible to keep it that way. For ammo I really don't pay attention.

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1 hour ago, 42PercentHealth said:

I wonder if "big numbers" sometimes come into play because it makes certain internal calculations easier.

Eh.... not necessarily "big numbers", but using integers can definitely make the math execute faster.  Thus, in a round about way, I could see where having larger numbers would give you more fine-grained control akin to using floating point numbers in such a case, and avoid some of the precision errors that can come with floats.  But how necessary it is to use an integer compared to a floating point number really depends on the engine, the platform, and what you're trying to achieve.  On a modern system, it probably isn't much of an issue.

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I love big numbers in games. It's one of the reasons Diablo 3 entertains me so much. In fact it's one of the reasons I enjoy the RPG genre as a whole.

 

EDIT - Just had a look at the top difficulty on Diablo 3. Boss monsters frequently have over 500 trillion HP. That's 500,000,000,000 points of "fuck yeah let's kill it!"

Edited by Dragonfly
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5 hours ago, Memfis said:

Is this a known problem or am I just a number nerd? Have there been any interesting attempts to solve it?

The problem you refer to is very likely to occur in the RPG genre, especially when games are being played for several years. More often than not, these seemingly out of control numbers simply indicate that a phenomenon called "powercreep" had its ways, which happens in particular when games become bloated over time.

 

Games like "WoW" or "Path of Exile" suffer from this, because MMORPGs are being designed by landfill, which means that instead of working with what's there, as in expanding the game without "raising the bar", stuff keeps getting added on top of existing stuff time after time.

 

Since developers want for players to spend more time on their games, new content needs to be more "difficult" than the previous, so that players spend time on getting the equipment they need to beat certain bosses etc, because quite often in RPGs a characters gear = the player's "skill".

 

In case of Path of exile, which I played rather extensively on a competitive basis some time ago, you could end up with characters that had like 5.000-13.000 "hitpoints" and dealt +3.5million damage per second. Fun Fact: Once the powercreep in POE went too far, some people could create characters which dealt so much damage that the game engine was unable to process it properly.

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Funnily enough I only feel this way sometimes when I get the backpack in Doom, I actually really like the default ammo values and feel if the author keeps you restricted to the default you can manage your resources more wisely. When backpacks come early and there's already a lot of ammo pickups scattered around or secrets are easy to find and packed full of ammo I can just lazily rocket or BFG even small groups of enemies because I know I have excess cells and don't have to use shells or bullets as often for these cases, de-valuing those weapons.

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3 hours ago, cyan0s1s said:

backpack in Doom

Throws ammo balance out the window for those who know how to maximise ammo's potential (minus slaughter maps).

 

8 hours ago, Pavera said:

I always liked the system in Fallout,

I as well. DnD did great groundwork for all rpgs, I say this because how reminiscent Fallouts system is of DnD's.

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In Path of Exile and Diablo 3 I felt like this right from the start actually. Like in a few hours you can get hundreds of HP (not to mention that crazy kill bonuses and regeneration mean that your health barely ever drops below 100% anyway, so you don't have to worry about anything at all most of the time), from the very beginning you have fancy attacks that do high damage to numerous enemies, even early spells are all flashy like the final weapons in Hexen, etc. I just couldn't get excited about that. When I have a new character I want to be a wimp that struggles with basic monsters, is happy to find anything, and has a magic attack that's as cool as a water pistol. That makes obtaining new things actually feel valuable to me. But instead you're like a god on the first day of playing. So I didn't get very far in these games.

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20 minutes ago, Memfis said:

In Path of Exile and Diablo 3 I felt like this right from the start actually.

I don't know when you started playing POE, or tried it for that matter, but back when the game came fresh out of open beta, normal monsters actually had the balls to kill you, champion mobs or rares could mean serious trouble if you didn't play carefully, but since then the game's been going down the road of powercreep to a point where it is pretty easy to kill formerly challenging bosses like Atziri about 2-3 days into a new league, even with niche character builds. Which means you started from nothing and could kill what was once supposed to be a big deal.

 

I used to race to level 100 back when I actively played it, and eventhough the devs did whatever they could to reduce experience gain when they gave players a power-bump, everthing was still faster than before. Now it's more like Path of faceroll, which is unfortunate, because it used to be quite a lovely game.

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Isn't a lot of power creep in path of exile caused by ascendancy classes giving a metric ton of damage combined with horribly designed unique items letting players double dip their damage to the sky? Something they are trying to reduce in next version.

 

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5 hours ago, MrGlide said:

I as well. DnD did great groundwork for all rpgs, I say this because how reminiscent Fallouts system is of DnD's.

Fallout was actually planned for another established tabletop RPG system called GURPS, even being advertised as "A GURPS Post-Nuclear Adventure". Then the devs had a falling out with the creator of the system, supposedly over the violent content of the game, and made their own knockoff that's almost the same as GURPS.

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46 minutes ago, Pegg said:

Isn't a lot of power creep in path of exile caused by ascendancy classes giving a metric ton of damage combined with horribly designed unique items letting players double dip their damage to the sky? Something they are trying to reduce in next version.

Problems in POE these days are all over the place.

 

The powercreep started when they introduced "forsaken masters", which allowed for bench crafting items to your needs. That raised the baseline for characters more than most people are aware of, actually. What it basically did was it allowed players to have max resists and relevant stat rolls with next to no effort on all their gear, more often than not even before they started running maps, which basically is the entry to late-game content in POE.

 

Ascendencies added even more on top of that, by being multiplicative with the "new" higher baseline that came with forsaken masters. And don't get me started on how broken and stupid OP some ascendancy classes are, makes me wonder how people could learn how to code while they fail at basic math so hard.

 

To that you can also add skill/support gems that have been released over the last 1 1/2 years or so (not a coincidence since the developers secretly planned to release POE on consoles about 2 years ago and then went public like less than half a year ago, so they needed skills that would work well with a controlpad, which dumbed gameplay down), which were kind of superior versions of already existing skills, meaning a large portion of the older skills was outclassed, which further raised the baseline for character power.

 

Double-dipping is a different beast entirely, and it has always been a problem. But over time more and more people learned about this, and so the abuse went out of control to the point where people could oneshot endgame bosses with no effort at all. If they will handle double dipping properly or not remains to be seen, but even if they nerf it into the ground, there's still the stupidly powerful crit based way of steamrolling the game, which up to this point has been left untouched for the most part, meaning it's going to stay insanely powerful.

 

Another bit of powercreep came with the introduction of "essences" and essence crafting, and to that you can also add the increase in item drop rates that has taken place over the years.

Edited by Nine Inch Heels

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3 hours ago, Nine Inch Heels said:

I don't know when you started playing POE, or tried it for that matter

Tried a few weeks ago. Yeah, I've been told that it used to be quite different. Unfortunately, with games like this I guess you can't play older versions.

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Depends on the game. I know a lot of games the fans have taken the time to create custom servers which act like and use the resources from old versions. Be wary though, it's common practice on these servers to be non-vanilla - Some examples of this: modified exp rates, new enemy placement, custom quests, class re-balancing. 

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I was late to the scene for playing Diablo II (2011) but I've read there was a lot of changes made over the course of the game's version history, though I can't recall major specifics. Other than Duriel used to be really unfair.

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Nothing unfair about dying in the loading screen :p. 

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The game is a good 17 years old, so I won't hold it against the computers of the time for lagging so bad at that part. But Duriel can still eat shit for choosing a tiny tomb to cater to his fast melee, stunlock charge and unblockable slowdown aura.

 

The major change was the 1.10 patch, which included skill Synergies, 1.10+ Runewords, and Hell difficulty living up to its name. The former tried to get people to spread out their points in other skills instead of just dumping their points in the primary skills for their cookie-cutter builds. Instead it just forced people to make new cookie-cutter builds that incorporated the Synergies. Min-maxers gonna min-max, I guess.

 

1.10+ Runewords were straight-up OP, giving characters skills from other characters on top of crazy-high stat boosts. The extremely rare Runes needed to make the Runewords were also heavily duped.

 

Prior to 1.10, Hell difficulty was not much more difficult than Nightmare. Post-1.10, Hell difficulty was initially ball-breaking to characters who were specialized to 1.09 (before Synergies). People using the expansion pack were able to adjust to the new difficulty fairly quickly, but classic (non-expansion) players were left in the dust since they lacked the upgraded equipment, permanent mercenaries and Runewords that the expansion provided.

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