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Stone Story RPG - Explanation of Balance and Nerfs (Update 2.0)

Written by Martian Rex   /   Dec 13, 2019    


In 2.0 most items have received balance changes, which means some are nerfed. Here's why.

Introduction





My philosophy towards balance is to make every item relevant in some situation. This does not mean all items should be equally relevant (that's impossible) just that each item should have at least some situation where it's relevant.

As you can imagine this balance goal is hard to design for, but the first step is to make sure no single item solves all situations (or too many situations). That's not to say versatility is bad, but rather that versatility should come at the cost of power. In Stone Story, item properties and abilities can be thought of as either offense or defense. An item is versatile when it combines an effective set of defensive and offensive properties.

There are many ways to achieve this balance goal, but the easier one, especially as a solo-dev, is to nerf an item or ability when it's clearly too powerful or versatile. This was the case for: The Chill debuff, the Stone Staff and the Stone Sword.

Chill





  • Chill debuff attack speed penalty: 30 -> 20.
  • Chill Debuff stack limit: 10 -> 6.

Each Chill debuff added a 1 second penalty to attacks, so stacking 10 resulted in 10 seconds extra per attack, which effectively paralyzed most bosses. The debuff can also be put on high DPS weapons, so the defensive nature of the ability did not come at the cost of too much attack.

By decreasing both the power of each Chill debuff as well as their maximum stack, the ability is no longer a free way to win a fight. This is a 60% reduction to the effectiveness of Chill, although I believe it is still powerful in the new form.

Staffs





  • Staff attack speed: 0.5 + 1.5/Lv -> 0.5 + 1.3/Lv.
  • Removed Pushback from Ice Staffs and Wands.
  • Added Pushback to Stone and elemental Crossbows.

Staffs are intended to be the most versatile item. Their range, armor, high attack speed and the possibility to add a Runestone result in a well-rounded weapon that works in almost every situation. In their previous form they were dealing too much DPS and were especially problematic when combined with the Ice Rune, due to how quickly all Ice debuffs were stacked. In addition, Ice Staffs carried a bonus 'push' ability that was an amazing defense against some foes.

By reducing their attack speed from +1.5 to +1.3 per level, I believe they are much closer to their correct role in the game. The 'push' ability is also moved from Ice projectiles onto Stone Crossbows (of all element types). If you need a reliable push for some situation it's still there, and freed from the Ice restriction.

Stone Swords





  • Stone Sword crit multiplier: 2.7 + 0.3/Lv -> 1.8 + 0.2/Lv.

Most players will know that the Stone Sword is the highest DPS weapon in the game. This is still true. The problem with the Stone Sword was the high critical multiplier, which lead to high-variance outcomes in boss fights. The RNG aspect can be interesting and is still present, but is reduced by about 33% which I feel is more reasonable.

Shields





  • Small Armor per foe (a): 0.16 + 0.08/Lv -> 0.2 + 0.05/Lv.
  • Large Armor per foe (A): 0.7 + 0.3/Lv -> 0.8 + 0.2/Lv.
  • Stone Shield Evasion chance: 6 + 1/Lv -> 7 + 0.74/Lv.

Turns out "armor per foe" is incredibly powerful. So much so that maxing out your armor was effortless. This change sees both (a) and (A) abilities reduced by about 33%, and believe me, they are still great. Evasion was another issue for shields. When they were initially created I didn't consider the implications of a shield enchanted with +21 on the Evasion stat. It's particularly strong because it synergizes with 'on attacked' abilities, where you evade the damage but the ability still triggers. This change only brings down the maximum power of Evasion by about 24%, with only a small affect to synergies and lower (un-enchanted) Evasion on Shields.

Conclusion



With each balance pass the game moves closer to its balance goals. I've talked about unique items before, as well as Wand super-abilities. I'm eager to add those, but they can only exist if there are no 'solve everything' basic items, as well as sufficiently difficult scenarios that create space for new items to shine.

This 2.0 balance pass adjusts some weapons, smooths out Cyan and introduces the difficult Yellow locations. These changes add interesting new challenges and allow the addition of the Bardiche as the first new weapon!



Written by Martian Rex.