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Needs Help: Competitive Balance get usage counts

 1 Waxing Name, Sat, 15th Sep '12 5:49:08 PM from The floor of the 54 Relationship Status: Armed with the Power of Love
Don't let it die
This thread was created as per this repair thread on the trope Lightning Bruiser.

On that thread, we came to the agreement that the current setup of Competitive Balance is rather confusing. In particular, Fragile Speedster is said to be the opposite of Mighty Glacier, except that Mighty Glacier is clearly defined as Attack+/Defense+/Speed- and Fragile Speedster is clearly defined as Defense-/Speed+ with no mention of Attack, ignoring the page image. Also, it has been pointed out on the Lightning Bruiser thread above that we lack a trope for Attack+/Defense-/Speed+, but we don't know if that should be a separate trope or leave it be as the combination of Glass Cannon and Fragile Speedster. The only clear trope so far is Stone Wall.

So, what are we to do with these tropes?

edited 30th Sep '12 7:02:55 PM by WaxingName

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 2 Tyoria, Sat, 15th Sep '12 8:33:51 PM from Portland, Oregon
rationally insane
Last time around I came down on the side of this not really being a problem. Grounds were that our Competitive Balance tropes were all about trade-offs either in power for speed, or offense for defense. So we only had four: +Power/-Speed (Mighty Glacier), -Power/+Speed (Fragile Speedster), +Offense/-Defense (Glass Cannon), and -Offense/+Defense (Stone Wall). That was perfectly fine and there was no problem.

Seeing another Lightning Bruiser thread get immediately derailed back into the same old discussion, combined with the confusing and contradictory page images that have been added since last time, has made me change my mind. It shouldn't be confusing, but evidently it is.

Our issue is that all the Competitive Balance tropes that deal with trade offs are focusing on one of three major relevant stats: Speed, Offense, or Defense. Using that system, Fragile Speedster fits with a pattern carried on by Stone Wall and Glass Cannon — one high stat for one low stat. Mighty Glacier refers to three stats for a high/high/low build, and this throws the system off. People often assume that all the trade-off balance tropes deal with three stats when only one does (the page images reinforce this assumption), or complain that not all builds are represented, or get otherwise confused.

The general proposed solution to this has been to rework all the trade-off balance tropes to deal with three stats, creating new tropes to fill the gaps. Here's what that would look like:

  • +Offense/+Defense/-Speed - Mighty Glacier, unchanged
  • +Offense/-Defense/+Speed - [missing trope]
  • +Offense/-Defense/-Speed - Glass Cannon, repurposed to be specifically slow
  • -Offense/+Defense/+Speed - [missing trope]
  • -Offense/+Defense/-Speed - Stone Wall, repurposed to be specifically slow
  • -Offense/-Defense/+Speed - Fragile Speedster, repurposed to be specifically low-offense

Two new tropes must be created, but you lose the confusion over a third stat. The loss of ambiguity is a bit of a double-edged sword in that you can't really refer to builds of a combination low/high/average or low/high/irrelevant-to-this-game. Six tropes is reasonable in size, but trying to incorporate any "average" stat, or a fourth relevant stat, would spawn an unworkably huge number of additional permutations.

On the other hand, we could rework the tropes to fit around two stats, so long as we have one for all combinations of the three majors: Speed, Offense, and Defense. It would look like this:

You can't refer to three-stat (high/high/low or low/low/high) builds directly, but you can through combination. This also preserves the existence of low/high/average or irrelevant builds, and is also more compatible with the Fragile Speedster, Glass Cannon, and Stone Wall tropes as they are.

But Mighty Glacier is still problematic. It might not be possible to rework it as only relevant to two stats. In which case, we would need three new tropes and Mighty Glacier would have to become a subtype to the new +Attack/-Speed and +Defense/-Speed tropes.

I myself prefer the second solution to the first, it just seems more intuitively obvious to only deal with two stats and the tropes would have an easier time collecting examples. But any other ideas would be really cool too.

edited 15th Sep '12 8:34:56 PM by Tyoria

 3 Waxing Name, Sun, 16th Sep '12 7:39:18 AM from The floor of the 54 Relationship Status: Armed with the Power of Love
Don't let it die
Should we remove the images until further notice, then?
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Dragon Writer
-Offense/+Defense/+Speed - [missing trope]
This one showed up in YKTTW awhile back....
 5 Tyoria, Sun, 16th Sep '12 9:19:36 AM from Portland, Oregon
rationally insane
Yes, the proponents of the three-stat setup have been trying to get those two missing combos up for a while, modifying versions of Stone Wall and Glass Cannon to include a speed factor.

Here's my thing: as far as I can tell it's Mighty Glacier that breaks a pattern set by Fragile Speedster, Glass Cannon and Stone Wall. Mighty Glacier is the problem trope. Yet the three-stat solution aims to "fix" the three other tropes to work around the one problem trope rather than do it the other way around.

Speed is scarcely relevant to Glass Cannon and Stone Wall tropes. In the case of the Glass Cannon more speed means it attacks more means its offense is higher, making speed merely a subset of offense. Ultimately then the main difference between a "fast Glass Cannon" and a slow one are that one is even heavier on the cannon side. It hardly requires two archetypes to describe. Stone Wall is the same. The Stone Wall's function is usually as a meat shield of some sort. Being quicker may increase its evasion and thus its defense, so once again speed becomes merely a subset of the stats already covered. Notice how it hasn't collected many examples? It's not an obvious archetype.

I think we'd be better off trying to break down Mighty Glacier's setup into a +Offense/-Speed and +Defense/-Speed archetype. The remaining "missing" trope is -Attack/+Speed, which would be the other half of the "fast Stone Wall" that YKTTW is trying to construct. (I'm kind of surprised we don't have -Attack/+Speed. I bet Weak, but Skilled has picked up a lot of examples, they both sound like typical rogue-like builds — not necessarily squishy, but lacking the damage output of pure fighters and blaster mages.)

...can still bite
[up] But if you consider that Mighty Glacier is the problem trope, then Lightning Bruiser would also be the problem because it also refers to three stats. I prefer going with the three-stat solution, because it needs fewer tropes to be created, would likely be the easier fix, and the trope names and page images are already set up for it (walls and cannons are either immovable or slow-moving).

On the other hand, we could do a combo and have two-stat tropes with Lightning Bruiser, Mighty Glacier, and a new +speed/+attack/-defense trope. It's just that the trope distinctions won't be as clear-cut as the solely three-stat system, but it will at least allow for more wiggle room with average stats rather than everything being high or low.

In the case of the Glass Cannon more speed means it attacks more means its offense is higher, making speed merely a subset of offense.

Not really, Glass Cannon's attack stat is more about how much damage each attack does, not the rate of attacks. The attack stat and speed stat are distinct. A machine-gun fires at the same rate and does the same amount of damage whether it is stationary or fixed to a fighter jet.

The Stone Wall's function is usually as a meat shield of some sort. Being quicker may increase its evasion and thus its defense, so once again speed becomes merely a subset of the stats already covered. Notice how it hasn't collected many examples? It's not an obvious archetype.

If you're talking about Stone Wall, it has plenty of examples. If you're talking about the YKKTW +speed/+defense/-attack trope, I agree with you. I don't think it has enough examples to be a trope.

edited 16th Sep '12 2:53:40 PM by shiro_okami

 7 Tyoria, Sun, 16th Sep '12 4:58:26 PM from Portland, Oregon
rationally insane
I don't think Lightning Bruiser is actually relevant to this conversation which is about the tropes that trade off a high stat in one category for a low stat in another category. Mighty Glacier, Fragile Speedster, Stone Wall, and Glass Cannon are all similar in that regard. Lightning Bruiser is the subversion of that entire notion, because it has all the strengths of the "trade-off" tropes and none of the weaknesses. Otherwise, it has more in common with the Jack of All Stats and the Master of None, which relate to stats across the board rather than specific highs and lows.

What I'm saying about speed is that in the case of a Glass Cannon, the value of a high speed stat is primarily manifested in terms of attack power: a Glass Cannon that is fast can attack more often, so it kills things deader. If you get to choose between a high-speed Glass Cannon or a slow one, you'd obviously pick the faster one, unless the slower one had even greater attack power in which case it might be more of a draw.

The three-stat solution creates fewer tropes than the two-stat solution only if Mighty Glacier cannot be converted to a two-stat setup... in which case it creates one fewer. It also does require more tropes to be repurposed — Glass Cannon, Fragile Speedster, and Stone Wall would all have to be purged of all examples that were high-speed, high-offense, and high-speed respectively. Also, the trope archetypes it must create are more obscure and difficult to find examples of. Wait, how can you prefer the three-stat setup but agree +Defense/+Speed/-Offense is too niche to build examples off of?

If by "combo" you mean we create the two-stat setups, while leaving the door open for three-stat setups of particularly common varieties of high/high/low and low/low/high, I'm game for it. I'd actually like to get to work on YKTTWing the two-stat gaps ASAP if TRS approves, because it seems like they should be easier to work out than the three-stats we've tried before. (Though I may be Tempting Fate by saying so.... ) +Offense/-Speed and +Defense/-Speed are by definition missing supertropes to Mighty Glacier, and -Attack/+Speed is an immediately recognizable support class.

edited 16th Sep '12 5:02:03 PM by Tyoria

I think the issue with a lot of those tropes is mostly along the lines of trying to carefully define a thousand different fighting styles with exactly three areas of criteria (offense-defense-speed) and only having six tropes, which even going with a plus/neutral/minus rating on each develops 27 tropes. Thus people are trying to find a role for a character who really doesn't fit the tropes we have available. And there are subdivisions of those three criteria we should consider. Does Attack mean striking damage or combo potential? Does Defense mean damage taken or recovery? Does Speed mean agility (can they do combat rolls or climb hills), flexibility (fighting in a phonebox) or pure land speed? It's these questions that are necessary to address, because that is why there is such a wide variety of characters within a single trope.

For example the idea of a bruiser brings to mind someone big, tough and hits hard, thus a Lightning Bruiser is someone who is surprisingly fast (key word on surprisingly, a counterpoint to the slow brutes who can't hit anything). Most examples are based on strength alone and not necessarily durability or speed. I see a lot of Pint-Sized Powerhouse characters as well as big characters who just know how to fight in close-quarters (as opposed to actual land speed or agility).

Maybe there needs to be at least a few more tropes to split off, trying to cover some areas that are missing. It's about making proper definitions and sticking with them, not allowing people to expand ideas to where it doesn't fit anymore. We don't have to cover all 27 possibilities but I can see The Bruiser (average speed with high attack and defense, which would fit a good portion of the current Lightning Bruiser examples) and The Striker (average defense with high attack and speed).

Currently the trope page is trying to list those initial six as being the cornerstones of the concept, I think it might help to subdivide according to what they specialize in (balance, speed, defense, attack) as well as the more open-ended tropes like Joke Character.

I think the issue with a lot of those tropes is mostly along the lines of trying to carefully define a thousand different fighting styles with exactly three areas of criteria (offense-defense-speed) and only having six tropes, which even going with a plus/neutral/minus rating on each develops 27 tropes. Thus people are trying to find a role for a character who really doesn't fit the tropes we have available. And there are subdivisions of those three criteria we should consider. Does Attack mean striking damage or combo potential? Does Defense mean damage taken or recovery? Does Speed mean agility (can they do combat rolls or climb hills), flexibility (fighting in a phonebox) or pure land speed? It's these questions that are necessary to address, because that is why there is such a wide variety of characters within a single trope.

Combo damage can't be what we consider to be "offense", otherwise every speedster potentially qualifies. Using Marvel vs. Capcom 3 as an example, we have Strider Hiryu and Zero. Both of them have some of the lowest defense in the game, some of the fastest speed, but can do the most damage thanks to ridiculously high combo potential. However, it takes a dozens upon dozens of hits to do the same amount of damage that, say, The Hulk can do with twenty hits at most. So, even though I agree that it can be confusing, there has to be a distinction between the two. Maybe a subtrope?

And speed simply means the ability to cover distance quickly. Period. Whether it's velocity, mobility, or versatility. Again, we can go the subtrope route if we need to, but I can't think of a good reason to split that hair.

edited 17th Sep '12 7:01:19 AM by KingZeal

 10 Waxing Name, Mon, 17th Sep '12 6:22:41 AM from The floor of the 54 Relationship Status: Armed with the Power of Love
Don't let it die
I don't think we even need a "neutral" rating on stats. The only one where neutral can really apply is Jack of All Stats for obvious reasons. Otherwise, we can mention, for example, that a certain character has high defense for a Fragile Speedster to cover that angle.

edited 17th Sep '12 6:22:48 AM by WaxingName

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But you see that's the point of my comment, there are different ways of interpreting those stats and thus we are getting examples of someone who is really fast and average defense and still being labeled a Fragile Speedster, or a resilient guy with some powerful combos but still slow foot speed being a Lightning Bruiser.

 12 Waxing Name, Mon, 17th Sep '12 11:28:57 AM from The floor of the 54 Relationship Status: Armed with the Power of Love
Don't let it die
The problem with "speed" is that there are two ways of interpreting that word. There's attack speed, which translates to combo potential, then there's movement speed, which is the ability to cover distance quickly. Both interpretations may or may not be mutually exclusive to one character. No matter what someone personally thinks, there will always be conflicting opinions on how interpret the word "speed".

edited 17th Sep '12 11:30:20 AM by WaxingName

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We're talking about movement speed and reflexes. Period.

Here's an example of why attack speed doesn't count: Zangief has one of the fastest special attacks in Street Fighter (his Spinning Piledriver), which has a 2-frame startup. However, he is not the most agile character nor does he move fairly quickly.

In short, it doesn't matter if the Mighty Glacier has a 0-frame, instant-half-damage attack. Unless he can cover distance quickly and/or do a large number of attacks/moves faster than the average, he isn't a speedster.

Then there is the issue of relativity. You have a resilient guy with a strong attack but he moves at the same pace as the Jack of All Stats, so does that somehow make him "Lightning" fast? He is faster than normal, but certainly not as fast as a dedicated speedster. You can say "It is THIS, end of story" all you want but this is how people ARE using the trope.

edited 17th Sep '12 1:32:45 PM by KJMackley

 15 Waxing Name, Mon, 17th Sep '12 2:22:47 PM from The floor of the 54 Relationship Status: Armed with the Power of Love
Don't let it die
[up][up]Sorry; I think what I meant by "attack speed" is probably better phrased as "attack rate", as in the amount of attacks that can be dealt in a certain amount of time. However, people still think of that as "attack speed".
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Teddy points you listen
I think it is a mistake to try to fit all of the different styles of characters into some kind of quantifiable grid. The idea's for these different archetypes span a huge number of genres since most anything with combat can apply. I like the picture, but I think it is causing people to think about it too literaly. The different types (Mighty Glacier and what not) only need general descriptions since the attributes will apply differently depending on the game and genre. I also don't think we need to worry about filling in gaps. A high defense and high speed character (and speed can mean many different things depending on the genre) is very rare and doesn't necessarily need a nick name for it.

 17 Tyoria, Mon, 17th Sep '12 3:26:01 PM from Portland, Oregon
rationally insane
I think we should start with the six high/low combos finished (we do not currently have them).

If we need additional more specific archetypes after that we can build them up from there. Most archetypes would be referrable to either because the unreferred-to stat in a two-stat build (e.g. "defense" in a +offense/-speed type) could be a stand in for an "average" score, or tropes could be combined to form a high/low/high or low/high/low combination.

I don't exactly know what we should do about those specifically average combos, as in high/average or low/average. Because all scores are relative to each other, if the character has a notably lower defense score than offense score it's going to make them seem relatively Glass Cannon-y even if the defense score is more average than low when compared to defense scores on the whole. Is this something that needs to be addressed and dealt with before we can do anything else? Because that would increase the immediate workload exponentially, and I'm not sure why it's desirable to do that.

Competitive Balance is basically an index with a bunch of subtropes, any attempt to fix it is likely going to send shockwaves to the other tropes regardless.

The reality is that the very idea of Competitive Balance is far, FAR bigger than what the page is trying to trope. There are so many different ways to keep competitive balance regardless of video games or action movie/show that there is no way we can actually trope each possibility. People are trying to maintain the Attack/Defense/Speed triangle but the Jack of All Stats image proves how much things can be tweaked.

...can still bite
We're talking about movement speed and reflexes. Period.

I concur.

What I'm saying about speed is that in the case of a Glass Cannon, the value of a high speed stat is primarily manifested in terms of attack power: a Glass Cannon that is fast can attack more often, so it kills things deader.

Can you provide an example? I really don't see how that could actually work except in a video game with rules specifically set up for that situation to occur. And besides, we're not talking attack rate anyway, we're talking about movement and reflexes.

I don't think Lightning Bruiser is actually relevant to this conversation which is about the tropes that trade off a high stat in one category for a low stat in another category. Mighty Glacier, Fragile Speedster, Stone Wall, and Glass Cannon are all similar in that regard. Lightning Bruiser is the subversion of that entire notion, because it has all the strengths of the "trade-off" tropes and none of the weaknesses. Otherwise, it has more in common with the Jack-of-All-Stats and the Master of None, which relate to stats across the board rather than specific highs and lows.

Lightning Bruiser, Jack of All Stats, and Master of None are all Competitive Balance tropes, so they are all related to this discussion at least tangentially. Whether they are directly related or not depends on how the tropes are changed. It wouldn't make much sense to have just tropes with three equal stats or two hi-lo stats. There should be a middle ground with two high stats vs. one low one, such as Mighty Glacier.

I think the key as to whether we go with a purely three-stat or a combo system is whether we decide to include neutral stats. If we do, a combo system would likely work better. If not, the three-stat system would work fine.

Here's the layout for the combo system.

edited 17th Sep '12 5:51:13 PM by shiro_okami

[up][up]Not really. Most of that is just fluff.

At its core, it's a rock-paper-scissors between speed, power and defense. Most other stats are engine-specific limitations on the three. Acceleration, for example, is just a different word for "speed".

edited 17th Sep '12 4:40:57 PM by KingZeal

 21 Tyoria, Mon, 17th Sep '12 5:11:36 PM from Portland, Oregon
rationally insane
KJ Mackley, What's your proposal?

[up][up] Example of a Glass Cannon having more attack because it's faster? I'm thinking of RPGs where higher speed means the battle gauge fills faster. High speed will reflect itself in either increased evasion (thus translating to higher defense) and/or an ability to attack quicker and more often than slow characters.

If everyone attacks in a single round, high speed will have no effect on attack, but it will still often impact defense.

If "speed" is irrelevant to "how often a character gets to attack, " then that only makes me more convinced we shouldn't be using a mandatory three-stat setup instead of keeping two stats at minimum. No doubt you play your fast Glass Cannon differently from a slow one in fighting games where you need to manually duck and weave around your opponent to avoid getting hit, but you don't do that in many RPGs. Speed is largely only relevant to the degree it effects how soon and how often you get to attack, or how it helps your evasion (read: defense). So why the heck mandate a third stat for all versions of the archetype, even in versions that don't use it? The very term "Glass Cannon" comes from a parody of Final Fantasy.

I was thinking of something along the lines of "Forceless Speedster" for the -Attack/+Speed guy. It's hard to come up with synonyms for "does not hit hard" that do not carry with them an implication of fragility as well.

edited 17th Sep '12 5:22:10 PM by Tyoria

...can still bite
[up] Your scenarios only work for video games. While the Competitive Balance tropes were originally inspired by video games, they contain examples from all media and even real life. I don't think anything you said actually applies outside of video games. Just because the trope might be irrelevant to a specific type of RPG doesn't meant it isn't relevant to anything else.

edited 17th Sep '12 5:21:05 PM by shiro_okami

 23 Tyoria, Mon, 17th Sep '12 5:22:48 PM from Portland, Oregon
rationally insane
Which is a good argument for mandating archetypes that exclude certain kinds of video games?

...can still bite
Which is a good argument for mandating archetypes that exclude everything but certain kinds of video games? If anything were to be excluded, I think it would be the niche media. Not a big deal if it works for everything else.

On another note, Forceless Speedster actually sounds good.

edited 17th Sep '12 5:48:18 PM by shiro_okami

If everyone attacks in a single round, high speed will have no effect on attack, but it will still often impact defense.

I can think of a perfect example of an RPG where that doesn't apply: Tidus in Final Fantasy X. Speed only somewhat helps Tidus's defense (his Infinity+1 Sword gives him the Evade & Counter ability, which dodges most attacks and immediately counter-attacks), but being a combination of Time Mage and Fighter, with substantial increases to speed means that most battles have a turn order like Tidus, Tidus, Tidus, Rikku, Tidus, Enemy, Tidus, Auron, Tidus, Tidus, Enemy. That generally means that Tidus will get to attack seven more times than anyone else, which equals high DPS.

edited 17th Sep '12 6:09:41 PM by KingZeal

Single Proposition: Competitive Balance
9th Dec '12 8:36:50 PM
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