Ability Classifications and Normalization Equation!

Read this blog enough and you’ll quickly realize I like to compartmentalize systems to make them manageable in hopes gaining some kind of understanding. I’d like to think breaking down abstract concepts into sub concepts, then applying them is a strength of mine – so please excuse me if certain posts seem trivial; they will all come together soon in one fashion or another I can promise.

So what do I mean by Ability Classifications? In short they are categories that abilities generally fall under in MMORPGs. I don’t mean classifications like dps abilities, healing abilities and buff abilities ect… I mean in general across all classes and archetypes. The three classifications of abilities are as follow…

  1. Competitive Abilities – These are abilities vital to the class’/archetype’s game balance. They are ones that generally need the most tuning to make the class as a whole on par with it’s peers. You will see many discussions, changes and additions to this class of abilities over a games lifetime. (Examples would be Cure Wounds, Flash Heal, Curaga… etc)
  2. Quality of Life Abilities – These are abilities which would never be used competitively but add a perk or small benefit to the day to day lives of the gamer. These are generally added to the game and serve such a small role, that they are quickly forgotten or taken for granted. Quality of Life Abilities are very few in numbers in any MMORPG. (Examples would be Teleport, Warp, Conjure Food/Water, Summon, Run Speed enchants ect…)
  3. Lore Abilities – I like these abilities as their own section away from Quality of Life Abilities because most of the time they begin as Lore Abilities and quickly morph into Competitive Abilities once exploited. Buffs often fall under this category (Priests associated with increasing health, Mages with mana pools, Warriors with strength ect..) but are not exclusive to as you’ll see racial abilities fall under this umbrella to (Examples would be Gnomes having increased intellect or agility while dwarfs have increased stamina and strength).

A couple of points to note from this short list. First all three categories, while not equal in weight, are important. Classes lose their identity or individuality when one or more of the categories are left out. It would be incredibly easy to make three classes which all cast some kind of “fill-in-the-name” bolt spell (this has been done before), but where would be the fun or uniqueness for the gamer? Lore and Quality of Life Abilities make class what it is, and that shouldn’t be soon forgotten.

With those laid out I present to you my ability normalization equation.

ClassTotal = Sum(AbilityTotals)

– AbilityTotal = (OutputValue / InputValue) * (ClassificationModifier)

— OutputValue = (OutputRaw) * (1+isBuffStatModifier) * (1+isDamageModifier) * (1+isHealingModifier) * (1+isDebuffModifier)

— InputValue = (((0.75 + PhysicalInputCost) / InCombatRegen) ((0.25 + PhysicalInputCost) / OutOfCombatRegen) || RecastTimer) + CastTime

Basically what I am attempting here is a normalization of abilities to be able to compare effectively classes. Time IS the most important resource to a gamer, which is why I normalized everything down to Output / Seconds. 

 InputValue can be explained as the needed time for the character’s resources to recover to full after initiation of an ability. It starts when the character begins casting a spell and ends when the character has regenerated the needed physical resource it expended by using the ability. This can either be measured in the average amount of time it takes to get gather X resources (like mana, rage, energy) OR the time it takes to cast the ability again, which ever is longer.

The outputValue is the raw numerical output (200 damage would just be 200) multiplied by some associated modifier depending on what kind of ability it is (healing, damage, buff, debuff). Note this can actually occupy multiple modifiers which increases the abilities normalized value.

Finally bringing it all back around the total is multiplied by a final modifier, the Abilities Classification. This is important when comparing classes as it allows for non-essential abilities which are more cosmetic not to penalize where they otherwise would.

While I don’t yet have any modifier values to make calculations, the basic layout is there to test for at least a basic level of balance. Certain things this method won’t be able to account for such as when abilities work in combination or if they supply a game mechanic that does not fit neatly into one of the above output modifiers. A mage’s polymorph would be a good example,though I can imagine even then there would be someway of modeling it as a debuffModifier. Either way, more to come!



4 Responses to “Ability Classifications and Normalization Equation!”

  1. Spriggan Says:

    Your equation assumes in comabt 75% of the time and out of combat 25%? Also it seems like Lore and Quality of Life should be in the same group, are you keeping them seperate because they have different values or because they make thoretical sense apart?

  2. Yes, that is my assumption.

    And well… both really, that and I have a couple ideas for what I want to do later on with the different definitions.


  3. Your normalization equations look ok (though you should use symbols instead of words for brevety. They look like lines of code). I have one question though; how do you handle rock/paper/scissors scenarios?

  4. I’m more of a programmer than a mathematician. =P

    R/P/S is an entirely different mechanic that requires it’s own mention. I’ll add a note for it.

    No this simple equation is mainly used for balancing resource allocation across many different mediums. Making sure both casters and melee alike have proper throughput per resource spent is, in some ways, harder to balance since R/P/S is built so inherently into archetypes.

    This is far from perfect but I hope you get the idea. ^^


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