I'm having a tough time coming up with good weights for my weapons to allow me to calculate what swords would take longer to swing, for example.

Here is what I have come up with so far:

Dagger: 430g - quick attack speed but not as much damage.

Sword: 800g - standard attack speed standard damage.

Longsword: 1500g - slow attack speed but high damage.

*Bow: ?? - standard draw speed?, standard damage?*

*Longbow?: ?? - slow draw speed?, high damage?*

I can't think of any other weapons which offer a different fighting style, but don't step away from the classic fighting experience. My game is an Fantasy MMORPG, but a very small portion is PVP. It kinda follows Sword Art Online (the anime), with it's atmosphere, architecture and weapons, but the gameplay itself is nothing like it. I don't want too many weapons as there will be many materials used to craft these weapons which would affect the weight and benefits, but if there is a clear option which you think I should add, please do let me know of course.

I just need these weights as a base starting point, and then I can adjust the weight/speed and damage depending on the fictional material used to make the weapon.

I had absolutely no idea what to do with the bow(s), ideally I want 2 different types of bows to allow for a more ranged gameplay (pun unintended( but I don't think they are that different irl, so I might just stick with the normal bow.

Thanks for your input!

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    $\begingroup$ There are these obscure weapons called "spears" that were used by the majority of infantry until modern times, far outnumbering the number of sword wielders. As for bows - the decisive quality is draw weight. Lighter draw weights will allow faster shooting by weaker archers, "warbows" with heavier draw weights will be slightly slower to shoot and can only be fired by stronger archers but will have greater range, penetration and damage potential. Whether the bow is long or short is relatively unimportant. $\endgroup$ – KerrAvon2055 Dec 20 '20 at 7:41
  • $\begingroup$ Oh thanks for the insight! Warbows sounds exactly like what I need, thanks very much. I was thinking of maybe including something like a Rapier to allow for easy dodging and maneuverability too. Maybe have the heavier weapons decrease movement speed. $\endgroup$ – Nitrolysis Dec 20 '20 at 7:47
  • $\begingroup$ WOrking weapon speeds from first principle is a HUGEMONGOUS task. You would need to consider attack modes, swing distances, inertial moment of wielder+weapon, degrees of flexibility, etc,etc,etc. Rather: just make a list of your weapons, and look up historical data about their achieved swing speed, firing rate, etc. $\endgroup$ – PcMan Dec 20 '20 at 8:11
  • $\begingroup$ You didn't say how much realism versus arbitrary but plausible balance do you want? Because in reality, you will see more variance in range and armour-defeating properties than speed. Even very heaviest of combat swords (as opposed to ceremonial ones) are fast. Meanwhile, longsword isn't much use when you are grappled, you want a misericorde, stiletto or indeed a dagger instead. At the same time you won't have much use for those at longsword range. Similarly, you both don't need and can't have as much reach if you have shield. And of course there's a matter of fighting in formation... $\endgroup$ – M i ech Dec 20 '20 at 12:47
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    $\begingroup$ @PcMan that's more science than a game demands. In a sense, Nitrolysis is asking for more than is needed. Depending on where he/she wants to focus their efforts, this could be nothing more than a table lookup: weight vs. strength = speed. And it's irrelevant to reflect actual physics (in fact, that might be a lot LESS fun since the average soldier used spears and short swords, not long swords which are typical to fantasy). You go, Nitro! This is a good worldbuilding question. $\endgroup$ – JBH Dec 20 '20 at 18:27

I will speak in broader terms, including carrying capacity into the question. Indeed, the two are closely related, and in the end, it's more about the number of items one can hold than the exact weight one item is. But I will getty to that point later.

Adjust the weight according to the fight intentions your team wants to give

What I fear is that you're reversing priorities between core gameplay features and feelings vs flavor. You should focus first on strengths and weaknesses of your weapons, speaking in terms of number of hits to kill, range, speed, special abilities, and feeling they should provide, then to the weapon's weight. Since people cannot carry the sword themselves, weight cannot be felt, and therefore it should be laid out on the background after what they can see, hear or sense (with the controller's vibration). Feeling is more important than a number on the item's description.

It goes into the overall look and feel of your game and the intentions you want to give. If this is a heroic fantasy game, boost up weapons's size and weight as your characters are strong, sweaty heroes, not your average farming Joe. If your avatar is living in a dark, realistic world or are weak compared to monsters, decrease them instead to make them look more frail and inefficient against what's to come. It all goes down to the intention of your game.

Recall that the intentions should be thought on the whole team level, especially the artists since they will draw how characters and weapons will look like. Marking all your weapons as light and then noticing all artists drew bulky heroes wielding 5 meter swords will make you feel you lost time :). That's the game designer's job to ensure everyone is on the same page.

Balance the weight according to the drop quantities and character type average carrying capacity

The idea is to not focus on the sole weight, but think it as a whole. For instance, how scarce or plentiful the drops are? Do players can acquire equipment only through crafting (gaining materials from dungeons/jobs). Do you want your players make constant conscious choices over what to keep (Very important if you have lots of single use items or a durability system), or do you want them to be more carefree and grab everything they can find, hack-and-slash style? This, in overall, will determine how much items one should be expected to hold.

Often times, you will notice that melee warrior characters will have more carrying capacity than mages or rangers, yet they can carry about the same amount of their class's items because their equipments weigh more. It's partially because if they can carry more, they may become some drop mules which is rarely wanted. However you still want some difference in feelings (as per the first section). Hence, adapt weights to how many items should one be able to carry!

Follow the marketing strategy

If your game is following a free-to-play model, you'll probably be influenced by the editor/producer, asking you to restrict how many one can carry items, in order to sell interesting bonus inventory packs.

This can be annoying as it brings down your creativity, but sadly, a person can't eat their own bytes of virtual bread from their games. You should take it into consideration and reduce voluntarily the carrying capacity or increase your item's weight in order to incite the buying of such packs. Still, as you are responsible of the quality of the player's feelings, don't overdo it and don't hesitate to tell that it isn't possible without hurting too much the player retention on the long term. Then, in order to not reach a dead end, try to offer an alternative you can more easily negotiate on.


This is a kinda all around solution to all game designers issues, but it works, and really well actually. If your game is not yet in a playable stage, you can make a paper version of your game focusing on drops and weights. For instance, make a fake run through dungeons, and ask which item your testers want to keep, following your set weight rules. Then take their feedbacks and feelings about what you have made.

If you don't have anybody available, prepare some tables and play with values around for an estimated game run, and get others' quick feedback (it's always important). It's not as valuable as playtesting, but it formalize things and can give others a rough idea of what to expect, improving their own image of what the game would be.

But most of all, keep things simple and focus on gameplay

Unless your game has one of its pillar be inventory and drop management A.K.A. survival games or simulation games (which, given your description doesn't seem to be the case), you shouldn't spend too much time estimating exact weight/and or size of real world counterpart.

Players tend to overestimate the weight of items and even more one's real carrying capacity. Peck, have you seen someone wearing 4 plate armors, 3 bows, 6 (unbroken) potions, 6 swords, spears and shields, a quiver containing 150 arrows and a pouch holding 20 000 gold coins? And yet in games, unless you put visual indicators like in Death Stranding, almost nobody will think about it. At worst they will give a smile thinking about their character carrying this much, which isn't even a bad thing! What I mean is that it goes all into the suspension of disbelief. And you can safely retreat behind it, especially since you won't have a lot of time designing your MMO.

Yes, you probably won't have a lot of time. Remember, MMOs are one of the most expensive type of game projects in the industry (networking alone multiplies at least by 2 the cost), so you will have a lot of matters to attend to. And since your game involves even a little bit of PvP, you will need some time as a game designer to balance character archetypes and powers. Time that doesn't involve weight calculation unless it impacts the battle gameplay, in which case simulation may not be better than pure-gameplay values. After all, players are more concerned about a balanced experience than that a real viking sword weighs less than 1 kg and in your game it's 5 kg.

  • $\begingroup$ I very much appreciate this insight which you have provided, I will definitely keep referencing to this. I'm trying to explore as much as I can to find out the best way to make the gameplay very unique to what currently exists, but is also engaging. Your point about general weight instead of individual weight is very interesting and I'll definitely think about that. $\endgroup$ – Nitrolysis Dec 23 '20 at 1:14
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    $\begingroup$ As for my initial comment, just to reiterate, no one would know the weight of a weapon; it wouldn't exist in the game. It was purely for me to calculate the balancing of the weapons to know how much more damage should a weapon do if it's 10% 'heavier' than another sword. Ironically, I felt like it would be the best and the fastest way to balance the weapons without as much trial and error. $\endgroup$ – Nitrolysis Dec 23 '20 at 1:14
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    $\begingroup$ @Nitrolysis I think I missed part of your interrogation then ^^. It may not work because real-world martial arts are quite different from what people picture in movies, but if you want to start from a realistic spot, you could look at effective weapon ranges and speeds, horizontally and "thrustly". This can lock up one of the values you need to set for your weaponry, making the others easier to find. $\endgroup$ – Tortliena Dec 23 '20 at 13:00

0.9 - 2.3kg for standard bow. 0.9 - 1.8kg for long bow:

The physical weight of a traditional longbow is somewhere in the two to the four-pound range while a traditional recurve bow is between two and five pounds.

enter image description here

Source: https://bosstargets.com/how-heavy-is-a-traditional-bow/

That link goes into all sorts of discussions on bow weight, eg attachments and such - I didn't know that heavier bows prevent fatigue from the vibration, for example.

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    $\begingroup$ +1 for pointing out the draw force, even though it was an unintentional attribute of the image, because it's much more relevant to weapon speed (speed of use) for a bow than its rest weight. I remember as a child playing with my father's hunting recurve bow. I could easily lift it, but I couldn't draw it if I stood on it and used both hands. $\endgroup$ – JBH Dec 20 '20 at 18:30
  • $\begingroup$ This is really useful information and, for some reason, very hard for me to find myself - so I am very grateful lol. $\endgroup$ – Nitrolysis Dec 23 '20 at 1:17

For a game, keep it simple.

Especially if PVP is not a big part of your game. You can have attack speed and damage, and ranged or no. Simple variables.

If you want more variety in weapon types (to excite your players!) go ahead and have it, but ultimately it will be the same variables to consider when you have a fight. For example a war hammer might be even slower than a longsword and do even more damage. A dagger faster than a sword and less damage.

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    $\begingroup$ Entirely true, excepted on a minor point : Don't go designing all sorts of weapons if you or other people haven't got that much time ^^. Making a new weapon category takes time for the whole dev team, and needs to be appropriately balanced with other weapons. $\endgroup$ – Tortliena Dec 21 '20 at 0:39
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    $\begingroup$ I have been thinking around this idea myself for a long time. I decided probably the best idea is to have different materials which the weapons can be made out of instead of just having more weapon types. This would introduce customisation which I believe to be very exciting for the players as everyone likes to feel unique with their character, and also introduces more to work towards within the game. $\endgroup$ – Nitrolysis Dec 23 '20 at 1:04

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