Following Split Milk’s Post-Mortem II – Balancing
The second part of the Spilt Milk post-mortem is now out, and its an interesting read. One of the good bits of advice it gives is on game balancing – this is the design process where by you play and replay levels altering the stats to as to refine them from thier inital state into a playable game. Its a hard process to do and suffers from the inbuilt problem that the more you play the game, the easier it gets for you – hence your view on how easy/hard it is also gets skewed. Anyhow, here is some other advice:
Don’t tinker; be radical
There is a serious piece of advice in there though – I’ve long felt it is easier and more productive to either double up or double down when tweaking and designing. If you want an enemy to be weaker, halve his health to get a proper view on what this would mean. If you want the player to feel more rewarded by an action, double the points they receive and see what effect this has on the experience. Obviously you’ll have to tweak the numbers in smaller increments at some point, but early on this kind of ‘doubling up’ really helps figure out the key areas that need attention, in which direction you should move, and does so quicker than endless smaller tweaks would do.
Which I’d agree with. I’d also add – only alter one stat (or set) at a time, else balancing becomes trying to hit a moving target.