Psychochild's Blog

A developer's musings on game development and writing.

14 June, 2017

Overflow stats, or what to do about Accuracy
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 10:52 AM

The big Stormblood expansion for FFXIV is almost upon us. Lots of changes in store, which is interesting and scary both as a developer and a player. Will my favorite class still be my favorite class afterward? Will everyone just be playing the new classes? Will this be a turning point, where the game gets streamlined and the game no longer appeals to me like WoW did?

One mechanic that is going away is Accuracy. This was a secondary stat that increased your chance to hit monsters, particularly important for raid bosses. In fact, it was vitally important to be “accuracy capped” if you wanted to do the hardest raids in FFXIV.

But, the stat had some problems. Let’s take a look at those problems and the problems with other stats like it, as well as some solutions.

The problem with Accuracy

The problem with Accuracy is that there’s a very specific amount you want; no less, for sure, but also no more. Any amount below the cap means you have a chance to miss and therefore are missing out on your DPS or landing abilities; if you miss 5% of the time, you’re looking at an average 5% decrease in damage. Any points over the cap have absolutely no effect; once you can hit 100% of the time, there’s no need for more Accuracy.

We have to look at how modern MMO gear is designed to understand why too much Accuracy is a problem. Each piece of gear has a “budget” for total stats. This is represented by the item level (or ilvl), which is explicit in a lot of modern MMOs. FFXIV even measures your character by item level, showing the average item level as part of your character profile. Item level ensures that higher item level equipment is better than lower item level stuff. And each stat has a certain weight when added to a piece of gear to make sure it’s balanced with other gear.

What this all means is that the extra Accuracy over your cap counts against an item’s budget, but it doesn’t give you any actual gameplay advantage! Those wasted points of Accuracy could have been more critical rating, more strength, or whatever other desirable stat you might want. And, since there’s limited options in gear, you may not hit your cap precisely; you have to figure out if a loss of DPS from too much accuracy is going to make up for the DPS gain from having another stat.

WoW had the same problem back in prior expansions, where you needed precisely the right amount of “Hit” to hit targets otherwise you were sub-optimal. Like FFXIV, WoW eventually removed this stat.

Other capped stats

The same thing can happen with any other stat, particularly stats that cap out at 100% of something. Another example from FFXIV is gathering, where your Gathering stat translates to a chance to gather items based on the target item’s level. You need increasing amounts of the Gathering stat on your gathering gear in order to gather higher level items. But, too much gathering is pointless, as you can’t get over 100% chance to gather items.

This is exacerbated by some gathering nodes where you can get a bonus to gathering. If you’re already at 100% chance to gather, this bonus is pointless to you. But other bonuses on nodes, such as the chance to get a high quality (HQ) result, still apply; even if your stats only increase the HQ chance to a max of 15%, node bonuses go over that.

This is less of an issue for gathering in FFXIV, because you have less stats to worry about. “Too much” gathering is harder to accomplish since there is only one upgrade path for gathering gear. Combat gear, however, has different options, so you have to choose more carefully.

The concept of overflow

So, how could we fix this stat? We want some way for “too much” accuracy to be valuable and not wasted. Ideally we would want to do this without a massive redesign of how MMOs create gear stats or to the fundamentals of the game. The trials and tribulations of the live team!

My solution is to take that excess accuracy and apply it to another effect. For example, additional accuracy could increase your chance to score a critical hit. This makes a sort of sense, as someone who is very, very precise would be able to score hits against critical areas easier.

This would be particularly appropriate for FFXIV. One of the problems with the pre-Stormblood stats on gear is that the “Critical” secondary stat does double-duty: it influences not only your chance to score a critical hit, but also the magnitude of the critical effect. This makes the stat much more desirable than other stats because it helps in two dimensions: you will crit more often and the crit damage will be higher.

So, offloading the chance to score a critical hit to Accuracy makes sense, while keeping Critical to determine the magnitude.

How I would have designed it

A rough design proposal, using FFXIV as an example.

Every player has a base chance to score a critical hit, regardless of accuracy or other stats. Let’s say this is 5%, but penalized if the character’s level is lower than the target’s level.

Every player has a base chance to hit a target. Let’s say this is 90%, and is adjusted up or down based on the difference between the character’s levels and the target’s levels; as the target’s levels are higher than the character the character takes a penalty, but if the character’s levels are higher, then they get a bonus to hit.

Accuracy gives a bonus to hit based on a calculation. Let’s say at level X that each point of Accuracy is 0.1% chance to hit, so it takes 100 Accuracy to hit 100% of the time against monsters at your level.

As the player has more accuracy than required to hit the monster, the additional points are translated to increased chance to score a critical hit. A formula translates this to a percent based on level. At level X, we’ll say that each additional point of Accuracy over 100 translates to 0.05% chance to crit. Item budgets will make sure this stays within reasonable levels.

And, now we have an Accuracy stat that is desirable and has meaning over cap.

So, what do you think? Have you been annoyed by Accuracy type stats before in other games? Do you like the idea of the stat having a purpose over the cap that gives you 100%?

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  1. Reminds me of the 700 point budget in Ultima Online. Though most skills simply had to be 100 (the max) or more, but some had breakpoints at 1, and… actually I am not sure where anymore.
    WoW now has a similar thing with artifact power for the artifact weapons, but no negative effects for having too much: Pouring in more points gives +300 int, with each progressive upgrade costing drastically more to the point of “let’s rather level out the secondary spec weapons”. TLDR: An overflow mechanic with dramatically diminishing returns would work out nicely. The current FFXIV system doesn’t seem to have the point balancing of UO, so it’s a punishing mechanic for no good reason. Really could use a rework. The point is, even if it is near useless, there is a benefit, even if only a small one, for going beyond the max.

    Comment by Michael Birke — 14 June, 2017 @ 12:10 PM

  2. Instead of crit, i’d suggest a chance at an additional attack. ie. 101% acc gives 100% chance to hit and 1% chance to get a second hit. and say 250% accuracy would hit twice with a 50% chance for third hit. I think additional attack is most representing of the gains that would occur below 100%.

    Comment by Crash — 14 June, 2017 @ 12:50 PM

  3. Crash wrote:
    Instead of crit, i’d suggest a chance at an additional attack.

    The problem is that there may not be systems in place to handle this gracefully in FFXIV. Crit is already in place, so it would be less difficult to change how that chance to crit is calculated than introducing a multi-attack system.

    Although, this would be true to early FF games where fighter types got more attacks per round.

    Comment by Psychochild — 15 June, 2017 @ 12:18 AM

  4. There’s nothing wrong with what you propose, certainly, though I do wonder why you wouldn’t use an asymptotic scheme (“diminishing returns” it’s often called), where the more points of accuracy you accumulate, the less good it does you. Maybe something based on an inverse tangent?

    Comment by Toldain — 15 June, 2017 @ 6:58 AM

  5. Imho it’s non-sense.

    All this “too much accuracy makes me less efficient” is just whining of the casual people, who do not want to do the math to find out the sweet spot for an optimal build. “Too much work”.

    Well, these people should stop playing then if they are not willing to do a little bit of planing to optimize their build. And if they still continue, they should stop complaining about a % or two too much.

    Comment by Someone — 15 June, 2017 @ 11:58 AM

  6. The solution the Square Enix devs came up with is to replace “Accuracy” with “Direct Hit Rate”. Direct hits do slightly increased damage compared to normal hits. So, kinda works like another crit system. I don’t think the theorycrafters have figured out how good the stat is yet.

    Toldain wrote:
    …I do wonder why you wouldn’t use an asymptotic scheme (“diminishing returns” it’s often called), where the more points of accuracy you accumulate, the less good it does you.

    The problem is that this becomes more difficult to judge gear. Is +5 strength or +5 critical hit better for you? Well, it depends, so go to this website and let it figure out which is better for you…

    Not exactly user-friendly.

    Someone wrote:
    All this “too much accuracy makes me less efficient” is just whining of the casual people, who do not want to do the math to find out the sweet spot for an optimal build. “Too much work”.

    It’s more the midcore who are dismayed by this. The hard-core will just farm what’s needed and the casuals won’t care about accuracy requirements for content they won’t do.

    The midcore, who very much outnumber the hardcore, who aren’t overly fond of this system. So your accusations of “casual whiners” is misplaced, I think.

    Comment by Psychochild — 17 June, 2017 @ 2:37 AM

  7. What did you think of Blizzard’s ‘reforging’ solution, during WoD? I liked it.

    Comment by Dacheng — 23 June, 2017 @ 6:27 AM

  8. Dacheng wrote:
    What did you think of Blizzard’s ‘reforging’ solution, during WoD? I liked it.

    FFXIV has something a bit like this with the Relic/Anima weapons. You can forge your weapon to have the secondary stats you prefer, although there are generally some preferred configuration.

    I think it makes some sense. Give gear out that has crafted stats, but then there’s extra gameplay for people who want to optimize to the excessive degree. As a player, I think I’d find it more annoying that I had to get the right drop then do extra to make it actually good.

    Comment by Psychochild — 3 July, 2017 @ 2:03 PM

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