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In Action-RPG games, I was wondering how weapon damage numbers and attack speeds are decided on. Do most games come up with their own or do they "steal" numbers from other games? How would I go about coming up with my own numbers?

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In any sort of design related field, its not 'stealing' unless it is a blatantly obvious copy. Rather more, its typically 'inspired by'.

As for coming up with your own numbers for weapon damage and attack speed, its not that hard. You don't even need to 'steal', or be 'inspired by' the numbers, although you can be 'inspired by' the range of valid values.

To come up with your own numbers, envision the type and typical use of the weapon, and assign stats accordingly. I'm going to give a few examples using various weapons.

  • Good old dagger/shortsword. Short range, good for stabbing anything that gets to close, but short blade means little penetration, and therefore low damage. Lightweight and short range means short, fast attacks, suited for early game and/or horde type enemies.
    Damage: Very Low/Low, Speed: Very High, Range: Short

  • Hand Axe/Longsword. Bit more reach, good for hitting stuff a bit further away, more weight, larger blade/hit area and the larger swing means more impact, therefore more damage per hit, but takes longer to attack. Good for mid-late game and regular enemies.
    Damage: Moderate, Speed: Moderate, Range: Short

  • 2 Handed Axe/Sword/Maul: Bit more reach that the previous category, but a lot heavier with a much larger swing. Better hit area and impact, but slower as it takes even longer to wind up, swing and recover. Good for mid-late game and single, tanky enemies. May also have a small stun or AoE.
    Damage: High, Speed: Low, Range: Short

  • Bows/Cross bows: Ranged weapon with fast moving projectiles, but a very small impact area. You're relying on the impact speed to do most of the damage. Takes a bit of time to load, but has an advantage over melee weapons on allowing you to do damage from a safe distance, so lets drop its damage a bit.
    Damage: Low, Speed: Moderate, Range: Long

  • Firearms: Another ranged weapon with fast moving projectiles, but depending on the type of weapon, it may have high damage with slow attack speeds (muskets, sniper rifles) or low damage with higher attack speeds (ARs, SMGs, Handguns, etc). You could probably expand this out into multiple categories like the melee weapons above.

As for assigning some numbers, lets assume weapon speed is between 1 (snails pace) and 10 (roadrunner) where 5=1 attack per second and 10=2. Damage ranges from 1 to 200 (because we have 'drop large rocks on head' traps), and range is between 0 and 100 (cause our maps aren't that big). Now, lets make up some numbers.

  • Daggers/Shortswords: Damage 5-20, Speed 8-10, Range 1
  • Hand Axes/Longswords: Damage 50-80, Speed 5-6, Range 2
  • 2 Handed Axe/Sword/Maul: Damage 100-140, Speed 2-4, Range 3
  • Bows/Cross bows: Damage 20-40, Speed 4-5, Range 1-50
  • Firearms (I'm going to go with a musket type weapon here): Damage 35-60, Speed 1-3, Range 2-80

However, play testing and other feedback reveals some problems (looking at the numbers it should be rather obvious).
Daggers/swordshorts are too weak to be used effectively, and your average medium melee weapon actually out damages your average heavy weapon, and muskets aren't being used because they don't kill stuff fast enough compared to bows.

Next challenge is how to solve this. Maybe increase/decrease some weapon stats, or introduce greater variance in the damage range for the weapon so that some attacks graze or deal large amounts of damage. Maybe increase the critical chance for some weapons to improve its average dps.

After a a random amount of rebalancing iterations the numbers may be declared final and that's that.

Until someone decides there aren't enough weapons and we need flails and maces.

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