Game Development Reference
The small boy wanted the cookies. But they were always on the kitchen
counter, just out of reach.
He tried everything to get them. He crawled up the stool, but it fell
over. He attached string to toys and threw them. He faked illness, hoping
to get one by pity. He tried to make a deal with his big brother. He even
tried to train the dog to bring him a cookie. Nothing worked.
After each failure, his mind worked harder on new solutions. The
quest for the cookies became his focus in life. Every failure became a
fascinating new problem. Failure made him stronger, smarter, cleverer.
One day, someone knocked over the jar and a cookie fell to the floor.
The boy ate it, went to his room, and did nothing. The cookie hadn't filled
him up. It had emptied him out.
BALANCING means adjusting game mechanics to change the relative
power of different tools, units, strategies, teams, or characters.
SOMETIMES BALANCING JUST MEANS changing numbers. A designer might
decrease the tire traction of a car to make it worse at cornering, or increase
the speed of an arrow to make it more effective. Games have thousands of
numbers that can be tuned like this—speed, price, mass, health, damage,
energy, and so on.
But balancing can also require more fundamental changes than knob
twisting. A designer might remove the sorcerer's shield ability to make
him easier to attack with archers, or take the nitrous oxide boosters off a
certain vehicle to compensate for its high engine power.
This chapter covers balancing—why we do it, why it's hard, and ways
to do it well.
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