Dungeon Meta

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Dungeon Meta

Postby gorogorosama » Mon Aug 10, 2015 11:38 am

Here I hope to discuss what to do with SP between battles, and anything else related to the player thinking about the next battle while dealing with the current.

As Djinn_in_Tonic said, our approach should be derived from our Combat Fantasy and other high-level design ideals.

More from Roots:

- Dungeons should instill a sense of danger, not just be a grind fest with a somewhat challenging boss at the end. I want players to feel like "Oh shit, I hope I don't die in here". The early Dragon Warrior/Dragon Quest games did this really well I felt. Sometimes you felt a huge sense of relief after you managed to narrowly make it back to town alive.

- I don't want a player to feel like they are free to go all-out in every battle (ie, don't auto restore HP and SP to max after every fight). I feel like resource conservation should be part of the strategy the player needs to consider. In other words, they aren't just thinking about the current fight, but the next ones as well.

- I don't want to always have to go to the party menu and treat wounds and status afflictions after most battles. That's not really fun, it's just tedious. This is why we currently have status effects not persist once a battle is won. I'd also prefer that we create some way to see some sort of way to quickly and efficiently heal my characters and restore SP, if needed, once a battle is done.
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Re: Dungeon Meta

Postby gorogorosama » Mon Aug 10, 2015 11:48 am

Basically we want the wear and tear from each battle to influence the next.

But at the same time we don't want to push the player into un-fun strategies such as:
- saving all abilities until the boss
- leaving one enemy alive so he can heal in-battle.

Two ideas, at least to start some brainstorming:


Reduce Max HP/SP based on damage received

For example, if a character is dealt 100 damage, his Battle-Max-HP and Battle-Max-SP are reduced by 10%. At the start of each battle, HP and SP can be automatically restored to Battle-Max, but the Battle-Max is going to get lower and lower as the player takes damage through several battles, and would not restore to True-Max until the next save-point.


Shared Potion Pool

Get rid of all Potions as items. Instead, treat them like equipment.

For example, the party can carry a shared 500-HP pool. Between battles they can refill their health from this pool, but once the pool is empty, no more healing. The pool can only be refilled at save-points. Maybe during Battle the party can also refill health from the pool but less efficiently. (Path of Exile does this well, though it's certainly a different game)

If we went this route, you could fill each character's SP at the beginning of each battle. That would be like "free SP" just for the battle, but if they need to use more, it would come from the shared pool.
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Re: Dungeon Meta

Postby Djinn_in_Tonic » Mon Aug 10, 2015 5:16 pm

gorogorosama wrote:Reduce Max HP/SP based on damage received
For example, if a character is dealt 100 damage, his Battle-Max-HP and Battle-Max-SP are reduced by 10%. At the start of each battle, HP and SP can be automatically restored to Battle-Max, but the Battle-Max is going to get lower and lower as the player takes damage through several battles, and would not restore to True-Max until the next save-point.


This is a pretty elegant solution to the issue. My potential concern here is two-fold: making it apparent *when* a character's Battle-Max drops (and by how much), and pushing a player into a situation where a battle is effectively lost before it begins and they consider reloading the game before even entering the fight. Imagine facing an impending boss fight at Battle-Max 40%, for example: there's no real chance of victory. This threat (especially if it's linked to simply damage taken) has a high chance of causing players to seek to avoid fights. Having a hard minimum solves that, although that does put a cap on your death spiral that makes losing more a non-issue.

This line of thought raises another potential issue: We need to consider the balancing point between avoiding fights (which is something we want to encourage at least somewhat, or our entire system *allowing* you to run from fights is meaningless) and ending up under-leveled. Non-recoverable penalties for repeated fights make multiple XP-gaining fights more punishing and encourage fleeing...but perhaps they encourage fleeing too much? Worth thinking about.

Story-based XP awards that are tuned to keep you at a minimum level at all points in the game might resolve that issue as well, allowing players to choose a more or less combat-driven game at their leisure.


Shared Potion Pool

Get rid of all Potions as items. Instead, treat them like equipment.

Conceptually weird, but mechanically solid. Definitely something I'm interested in exploring more. There's a bit of menu use required (unless healing from this pool is automatic, and we don't have healing spells--since if we do, players will extend fights to heal up with spells to conserve their Potion Pool), but that's probably an acceptable sacrifice since we can solve Menu use with a single button press per character to be healed (or even a "press-and-hold while their health bar fills up, stop when you're happy" system).

***************************************************

A few other thoughts to throw up on our metaphorical whiteboard. There are some pretty strange ideas here.

Use of the "Multiple Attempt" Combat System
Create tactically and strategic combat encounters by really ramping up the combat difficulty. Heal players to full after every encounter, put a limiter of some sort on very powerful spells (a build-up of SP or Mana or something), and make the combat gritty by increasing the likelihood of needing multiple attempts. Change the rewards to give a bonus on the first attempt, standard on the second, and possibly rather than straight-up loss on the third apply a "strike" system of sorts, where accumulating 3 between save points sets you back to the last one. This could be frustrating or perceived as slowing down gameplay though.

Punishment/Strike System
Similar to the above, have individual characters retain "Punishment" or "Strike" values from battle to battle. They'll still enter a fight at full fighting capability, but accumulating sufficient "Punishment" will push them over the edge and you'll lose access to them until your next save point. This allows you to run pretty close to the line and lends some risk to encounters, but might be hard for the player to appreciate or understand (since the character enters with full health every time).

Mitigated Battle-Max System
Similar to the suggestion by gorogorosama, institute a stacking punishment for characters who take damage. However, tie it instead to dropping below a certain margin (or dropping completely out of a fight). Then put in blocking mechanics or evasion spells that can be strategically used to keep players above this margin. Instead of becoming a penalty for taking damage (which will always happen), it now becomes a penalty for fighting too aggressively and not defending your characters well enough. We'd need some system of target aggro and/or identifying where powerful spells might land to make this work though.
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Re: Dungeon Meta

Postby gorogorosama » Mon Aug 10, 2015 6:32 pm

Reduce Max HP/SP


Djinn_in_Tonic wrote:However, tie it instead to dropping below a certain margin (or dropping completely out of a fight).

Yes, great idea.

Punishment/Strike System
Could also work well, so long as it's clear to player the punishments he's receiving and why.

Shared Potion Pool
I guess a less obscure reference would be the bottles in Link to the Past :P But yes, this would need to be implemented with a simple menu, and maybe auto-heal with any SP left over at the end of a battle?

Party Management
Another thing to consider for the full game would be how many characters the player is going to have, and how he might swap between them? We could take some influence from Darkest Dungeon or X-Com's attrition systems.

Djinn_in_Tonic wrote:...pushing a player into a situation where a battle is effectively lost before it begins...

I think this is a concern for any attrition system really. I remember getting to the last boss in the Banner Saga and realizing there was no hope. Since the game is about the inevitability of death I guess it's okay, but I digress.

Whether you reach the end boss with low Max-HP, with 2 punishments, or without any Phoenix Downs left, you could be potentially screwed. But hopefully this could be managed with proper save-point-placement? And generally forcing the player back to the last save-point is more pleasant than forcing him to go back to town and grind a few hours for gold.

Djinn_in_Tonic wrote:Story-based XP awards that are tuned to keep you at a minimum level

I'm all for giving XP mostly through completing quests rather than grinding. Unless each mob has the chance to drop a legendary.
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Re: Dungeon Meta

Postby Roots » Mon Aug 10, 2015 7:03 pm

Before I share my thoughts on these ideas, I have one "golden rule" that I follow regarding any design decision. I always ask myself "Will this change make the game more fun and more enjoyable for the typical player?". This is the most important problem that the design needs to address, in my opinion. And if I'm struggling to come up with a 'yes', I either modify the idea or discard it. Of course, this is all at a conceptual level and play testing is where ideas are truly tested and vetted.

gorogorosama wrote:Reduce Max HP/SP based on damage received
For example, if a character is dealt 100 damage, his Battle-Max-HP and Battle-Max-SP are reduced by 10%. At the start of each battle, HP and SP can be automatically restored to Battle-Max, but the Battle-Max is going to get lower and lower as the player takes damage through several battles, and would not restore to True-Max until the next save-point.


I think this is an interesting concept, but I have two concerns with it. First, conveying this information to the player so that they understand how much their max HP/SP has dropped to and what the "full max" value of these is so they can understand how weak their characters are. Second, save points could easily be abused. The player could sprint around and avoid battles until they find a save point in a dungeon, then fight battles once they know where they can return to the save point.

In general, I hate games that have save points as a "free healing station". It really eliminates the challenge of the game if you can find a free feeling station up to full in the middle of all the danger.

gorogorosama wrote:Shared Potion Pool

Get rid of all Potions as items. Instead, treat them like equipment.


This is an interesting concept. But I think it would be easier and more familiar if we just work on restricting the amount of items a player can carry. RPGs these days seem find with letting a player carry around up to 99 of any item. What if reduced this limit to 20? Or 10? The player would really have to make sure they are well stocked on potions before venturing into the unknown. And having healing items is much more familiar to RPG players.



Djinn_in_Tonic wrote:Use of the "Multiple Attempt" Combat System


I've had thoughts along this line in the past. I think I prefer a system that isn't so gritty though. Having a player frequently have to fight a battle multiple times to win doesn't feel like it would be very fun (however, I'm okay with boss battles taking multiple attempts). And as you said, it can be frustrating and slowing down the pace of the game.

Djinn_in_Tonic wrote:Punishment/Strike System
Similar to the above, have individual characters retain "Punishment" or "Strike" values from battle to battle. They'll still enter a fight at full fighting capability, but accumulating sufficient "Punishment" will push them over the edge and you'll lose access to them until your next save point. This allows you to run pretty close to the line and lends some risk to encounters, but might be hard for the player to appreciate or understand (since the character enters with full health every time).


Don't like this one TBH. If there's only a single character in the party (and there will be occasions where this is the case), then it's game over if they accumulate too many strikes?

Djinn_in_Tonic wrote:Mitigated Battle-Max System


It sounds like we'd need a third resource counter (like HP/SP) to track this. A bit too complicated for my tastes. :shrug:
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Re: Dungeon Meta

Postby Djinn_in_Tonic » Mon Aug 10, 2015 7:46 pm

Roots wrote:Before I share my thoughts on these ideas, I have one "golden rule" that I follow regarding any design decision. I always ask myself "Will this change make the game more fun and more enjoyable for the typical player?". This is the most important problem that the design needs to address, in my opinion. And if I'm struggling to come up with a 'yes', I either modify the idea or discard it. Of course, this is all at a conceptual level and play testing is where ideas are truly tested and vetted.


Oh, agreed.

The struggle I'm having is a system of lasting damage that is A: fun, B: doesn't create too much of a death spiral, and C: doesn't turn the game into a game of potion/menu management between fights, which you mentioned you'd prefer to avoid.

At the same time, I'm looking at systems that will also create an interesting battle flow, rather than just "nuke everything with your biggest spells right away" or the equally bad "save everything important until the boss fight."

********************

What if we implemented a system of "temporary Hit Point damage" or Fatigue that persisted across multiple fights, but could be healed either by save points, items, or some other event? To demonstrate:

Hit Point Damage converts to Fatigue at a 1/20 ratio (ratio subject to change). Every 20 damage you take (whether or not it's healed during combat) gives you a point of Fatigue, and your Maximum Health is reduced by 1 for every point of Fatigue you have. Fatigue persists through to the next combat unless healed through another source, although your hit points are set to their current Maximum Value at the start of every fight.

This makes grueling fights really punishing, and encourages slightly defensive and cautious play, but isn't overly punishing unless you're really really struggling. It gives us two different things we can have items heal (raw hit points, or Fatigue damage), but doesn't add THAT much complexity. It also gives us a new damage type that we can apply: Fatigue damage might be useful for dealing with enemies that heal themselves naturally.

I'd further suggest that Fatigue can't drop a character below 1 hit point: You can win a really grueling fight where you've had to heal and heal and heal so much that your characters would normally drop, but unless they drop from actual hit point damage they'll still survive, allowing you to continue playing (although you'd have to be lucky to not get into another battle).

We could then apply an SP system that builds up faster and faster as the fight progresses (or have abilities that unlock once certain criteria have been reached -- enemy health drops below 50%, X character turns have passed, etc), which will back-end our powerful abilities and give players incentive (and in fact REQUIRE them) to use a few weaker abilities. These weaker abilities could do things like set up the more powerful moves that will unlock as the fight progresses.

Thoughts? I think that might give players something to look forward to in combat (3 more turns until I can drop a meteor on ALL of them! Better find a way to stall safely until then...or lower the health of all the enemies so I destroy all of them on that one turn), which providing a not-overly-punishing incentive to avoid damage whenever possible.
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Re: Dungeon Meta

Postby gorogorosama » Tue Aug 11, 2015 1:07 pm

Roots wrote:"Will this change make the game more fun and more enjoyable for the typical player?". This is the most important problem that the design needs to address
Indeed.

Djinn_in_Tonic wrote:We could then apply an SP system that builds up faster and faster as the fight progresses

This works very well in Magic the Gathering and Dragon Ball Z, and a battle gets more intense as it progresses. It is rather counter-intuitive for non-mages, but maybe that's not an issue? In Street Fighter you build up your Super Ultra Combo Gauge over time and no one complains.

Roots wrote: just work on restricting the amount of items a player can carry.
Could be a very simple solution.

I again want to stress than any of these systems have the potential for un-fun dominant strategies, when combined with poor balancing and level-design. So let's assume our balance and level-design will compliment whatever attrition system we use.
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Re: Dungeon Meta

Postby Roots » Tue Aug 11, 2015 4:52 pm

Djinn_in_Tonic wrote:The struggle I'm having is a system of lasting damage that is A: fun, B: doesn't create too much of a death spiral, and C: doesn't turn the game into a game of potion/menu management between fights, which you mentioned you'd prefer to avoid.


Just to clarify on point C: I'm not terribly concerned about this one. Even if we need healing after most fights, I think we could do this by having an optional "heal party" menu that the player could do on the battle screen, and grant them quick and easy access to all available healing items and abilities. This is more what I had in mind than trying to avoid out-of-battle healing entirely. It's a convenience for the player and eliminates the annoying thing you typically have to do in a JRPG to heal after a battle (Battle ends -> Return to map view -> Open party menu view -> Navigate to items or skills to use -> Navigate to character if using skill -> Select target to heal). I don't want us to worry too much about this. The idea is to reduce the amount of time a player spends in menus (which I don't consider a very "fun" part of the game), not to eliminate the need to visit menus altogether.

Djinn_in_Tonic wrote:Hit Point Damage converts to Fatigue at a 1/20 ratio (ratio subject to change). Every 20 damage you take (whether or not it's healed during combat) gives you a point of Fatigue, and your Maximum Health is reduced by 1 for every point of Fatigue you have. Fatigue persists through to the next combat unless healed through another source, although your hit points are set to their current Maximum Value at the start of every fight.


Wow, I really like this idea. It's pretty easy for the player to grasp and seems like it gives us just the right mix of what we're looking for. As long as we do this right, I feel this could really make the game interesting and would encourage the player to use defensive abilities more regularly. We'd need to do a lot of testing to get the numbers right though. I'd also like to throw out the idea that maybe fatigue has a lower limit, such as a player can't drop below 10% of their non-fatigue max HP. Another bonus of this system is that it should be pretty easy to implement.

Djinn_in_Tonic wrote:We could then apply an SP system that builds up faster and faster as the fight progresses (or have abilities that unlock once certain criteria have been reached -- enemy health drops below 50%, X character turns have passed, etc), which will back-end our powerful abilities and give players incentive (and in fact REQUIRE them) to use a few weaker abilities. These weaker abilities could do things like set up the more powerful moves that will unlock as the fight progresses.


This I'm a little :| about. I certainly see the purpose here, and I kind of like the fact that a player can't open up every battle with their most powerful attacks. My main concern here is conveying this information to the player. How would they know when an ability becomes unlocked? Maybe what we could do here is have each character start a battle with only a portion of their SP (say, 20% of max). Each turn their SP would increase by another 10% or so, so the player could choose to either use weaker abilities to let their SP charge up so they could use a big attack, or use slightly more demanding abilities and consume their SP. It would also be really easy for the player to know what abilities they are able to use and what they can't, since SP requirements of abilities are already there.

The major problem with this though is then what about using healing abilities (which consume SP) outside of battle? Does SP automatically get set back to 20% outside of battle? Or does it remain at the level it was when the last battle ended (and if so, where does the extra SP go if the next battle starts and we set them back to 20SP)? We'd need to figure something out here. I'd really prefer not to have healing items be the only way to restore health outside of a battle.

-----

I definitely think this is a great path to continue pursuing and I'm excited about the concept. :think: I'm not sure if putting in such a system is do-able by next month's release though (not so much from getting the feature in the game, but from making it work well). But let's keep working these two ideas (battle fatigue reducing HP and SP limiting).
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Re: Dungeon Meta

Postby gorogorosama » Wed Aug 12, 2015 2:21 pm

Djinn_in_Tonic wrote:Hit Point Damage converts to Fatigue at a 1/20 ratio (ratio subject to change). Every 20 damage you take (whether or not it's healed during combat) gives you a point of Fatigue, and your Maximum Health is reduced by 1 for every point of Fatigue you have. Fatigue persists through to the next combat unless healed through another source, although your hit points are set to their current Maximum Value at the start of every fight.


All on board for this :) But yes, set a maximum.


Djinn_in_Tonic wrote:We could then apply an SP system that builds up faster and faster as the fight progresses

Roots wrote:The major problem with this though is then what about using healing abilities

This is exactly where the illogic of this system causes a problem... You could automatically cast all healing spells the player can afford at the end of the battle, but then of course they will play "leave the weak enemy alive until we have enough SP to heal".

BUT, if we are refilling all HP at the beginning of each battle (except that consumed by fatigue), and if there are NO skills to recover fatigue (only items), maybe it will work?
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Re: Dungeon Meta

Postby Djinn_in_Tonic » Wed Aug 12, 2015 4:17 pm

gorogorosama wrote:BUT, if we are refilling all HP at the beginning of each battle (except that consumed by fatigue), and if there are NO skills to recover fatigue (only items), maybe it will work?


That was largely my thought, yes. There's no REASON to extend fights past the point where you can end them with powerful abilities, since you only risk accumulating additional Fatigue.
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Re: Dungeon Meta

Postby Roots » Wed Aug 12, 2015 5:19 pm

Ah, I missed that HP was set to max (factoring in fatigue) at the start of each battle. That indeed solves the problem. The idea of being able to start each battle with full HP without needing to heal from the last battle feels "weird" to me, but I'm sure that I'll get used to it. I think I'll go ahead and implement code for fatigue this weekend so we can move from concept to testing and balancing. All three of us seem to be in agreement that this system is the way to go and no one else has raised any protest. We can work out the details over time once this feature is available.

A few thoughts:
1) Restoring fatigue should be uncommon and/or costly. I don't want users to have easy access to items or skills that restore fatigue, because that pretty much defeats the purpose of having this type of system in the first place. I don't think the player should have any ability to restore fatigue in the current portion of the game that we're working on, except for resting at the inn or having it restored by an event (ie, right before the final enemy gauntlet in the cave).

2) While doing the backend work to support fatigue is straight forward, we need to figure out how to convey this information to the player in the party menu and battle UI interfaces. Particularly:
  • In the party menu, what do we show for fatigue and max HP? Do we show the amount of fatigue and current max HP? Or do we show the maximum possible HP (when fatigue is zero), and what the current maximum is due to fatigue? Or do we show all of these: current max HP, max possible HP, and amount of fatigue?
  • In the party menu should fatigue stats only be visible when viewing the status window for a character, or is this important enough that it needs to be shown on the "home menu" for this interface? (I'm leaning toward needing to show it on the home menu)
  • In the battle UI when a character takes damage, we pop up a number to show the amount of HP lost. Should we also do this for showing fatigue gained/max HP lost? (I think this would be confusing to have multiple numbers). Or do we just subtract off maximum HP from the character stats in the bottom menu and don't bring any attention to it?
  • Presumably, we'll apply the fatigue systems to enemies as well, although it will be less useful there since enemies don't always have the ability to restore their health. Do we show fatigue accumulated in enemies as well? (My gut feeling is no)

3) It might be interesting to have defensive skills that eliminate accumulating fatigue from incoming damage for a short period. So if you're expecting a large attack to come from an enemy for example, you could activate this skill to eliminate any fatigue caused by incoming damage for a short period of time.

4) Pretty much the only thing about restoring HP to full after fights that I don't like is for scenes with consecutive battles. For example, the fight at the end of the cave just before the scorpion boss has three standard fights you have to do back-to-back. The idea I had behind this engagement originally is the fact that the player can not return to the party menu to heal characters between battles, creating somewhat of a sense of dread, and making sure that the player understands they need to spend actions to keep their characters healed in battle.

The fatigue will accumulate between these four battles of course, but will it be enough to really create the change in strategy on behalf of the player, and fill them with a sense of dread and wondering "when is this going to end, and am I going to survive that long?". This chain of battles was inspired by the Fabul castle attack scene in FFIV (link below), where the player has to face one battle after another without a chance to catch their breath and heal up. I really liked that event sequence in that game, and I was hoping to use something like this more than once in Allacrost.

https://youtu.be/JoTO2oz6Jhs?t=1m15s

It's not a huge deal. Just a though. Maybe for some battles that are made like this, we can in this case not replenish each character to max HP before every battle? Just wondering out loud.
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Re: Dungeon Meta

Postby Djinn_in_Tonic » Wed Aug 12, 2015 6:02 pm

In the party menu should fatigue stats only be visible when viewing the status window for a character, or is this important enough that it needs to be shown on the "home menu" for this interface? (I'm leaning toward needing to show it on the home menu)

In the battle UI when a character takes damage, we pop up a number to show the amount of HP lost. Should we also do this for showing fatigue gained/max HP lost? (I think this would be confusing to have multiple numbers). Or do we just subtract off maximum HP from the character stats in the bottom menu and don't bring any attention to it?


I'd probably represent Fatigue with a colored bar (or a black bar on a non-black background) that occupies a portion of the HP bar and visually shows you the maximum it will fill compared to the normal maximum. Something like this:

Image

Presumably, we'll apply the fatigue systems to enemies as well, although it will be less useful there since enemies don't always have the ability to restore their health. Do we show fatigue accumulated in enemies as well? (My gut feeling is no)


I don't know if we have to, but that's an interesting thought. I'm not sure if Fatigue should accumulate in real-time, or only at the battle's end. Thoughts?

3) It might be interesting to have defensive skills that eliminate accumulating fatigue from incoming damage for a short period. So if you're expecting a large attack to come from an enemy for example, you could activate this skill to eliminate any fatigue caused by incoming damage for a short period of time.


If enemies have some way of showing their hand on big attacks than this is a great idea. :)

It's not a huge deal. Just a though. Maybe for some battles that are made like this, we can in this case not replenish each character to max HP before every battle? Just wondering out loud.


Is there a way to add animation into the battle screen itself? Displaying the "Victory" XP screen, then not cutting out of the battle, adding a text panel, and moving in new enemies from the right would likely get the same effect while negating the "heal to current max" issue.

Basically, tack a bit of code onto the battles that lets us have an "Extended Battle Sequence" with some room for transitional animations and/or in-battle lore/dialogue. Might be useful technology to build, especially since it might work really well for multi-stage bosses or world events: we could even put in tech to change out backgrounds and music between stages.
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Re: Dungeon Meta

Postby Djinn_in_Tonic » Wed Aug 12, 2015 7:49 pm

Posting again, because an interesting thought occurred to me while mowing the yard (of all things):

What would thoughts be towards a slight restructuring of the combat system to the following:

SUGGESTED OVERHAUL

Combat Timer replaced by "Tick System"
Our current combat timer doesn't really give you a good idea of how soon someone's turn will be. A suggested overhaul replaces this with a segmented bar that shows how many "ticks" it will be until a certain actor can take an action. On a given "tick" all actors act in order of Agility, and then it moves on to the next tick.

Benefits: This allows players to see exactly how long it will be before characters and enemies can act. It lets moves push people backwards or forwards in the "tick" order. It lets us create set durations for effects (block 50% of damage for X ticks, for example), or charge effects (activate ability on target: ability is placed on the tick bar, and goes off in X ticks). This can allow us to set up combination abilities and/or periods of vulnerability while making their duration and effect on the game state immediately apparent to enemies. It also makes it easier to suggest when abilities come off cooldown: major spells could have a value next to them showing the ticks before they become available.

Stamina now changes Fatigue
The Fatigue amount you gain is now a variable, based on your Stamina value. Higher Stamina values result in less Fatigue. This lets us create a game where beefier, durable "tanks" might take defensive actions not to protect THEMSELVES (which is a boring action unless something big is about to hit), but to put themselves in the line of fire in place of their squishier allies. The "Defend" option might now have two base abilities: Block, and Shield Ally, allowing durable characters to, at the expense of taking some or all of a hit themselves, prevent some or all of the damage their allies might take.

Thoughts? I think there's some real potential here for having more apparent moving parts for players to figure out, and for abilities to bite into.
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Re: Dungeon Meta

Postby Roots » Wed Aug 12, 2015 8:03 pm

Djinn_in_Tonic wrote:That looks great, and easy to implement too. I might go with the use a dark green instead of a lighter grey though, and maybe add a notch indicator to make it clear where current max HP ends and fatigue begins.

Djinn_in_Tonic wrote:I don't know if we have to, but that's an interesting thought. I'm not sure if Fatigue should accumulate in real-time, or only at the battle's end. Thoughts?


It's easier to treat both enemies and characters the same way with regard to receiving damage (they currently share this kind of code). Even if it's not detectable/noticeable, I don't think there's any harm in having enemies accumulate fatigue.

I'd prefer to see fatigue accumulate in real-time. I think that makes the player realize the urgency in dealing with fatigue, and for epic long boss battles fatigue becomes a concern. Not sure if we should allow the recovery of fatigue in battle, or if that can only be done on a map.

Djinn_in_Tonic wrote:If enemies have some way of showing their hand on big attacks than this is a great idea. :)


Currently the only way to show this is if the player notices that the enemy is taking a long time on the warm-up portion of the action bar (indicating a large incoming attack is very likely). For the future, I think we can show visual effects like "accumulating power" or something. We can't do anything on the enemy sprites themselves (due not to technical limitations, but practical limitations on artwork requirement). But procedure graphics and effects done in OpenGL can be used and re-used for all sorts of things like this.


Is there a way to add animation into the battle screen itself? Displaying the "Victory" XP screen, then not cutting out of the battle, adding a text panel, and moving in new enemies from the right would likely get the same effect while negating the "heal to current max" issue.

Basically, tack a bit of code onto the battles that lets us have an "Extended Battle Sequence" with some room for transitional animations and/or in-battle lore/dialogue. Might be useful technology to build, especially since it might work really well for multi-stage bosses or world events: we could even put in tech to change out backgrounds and music between stages.[/quote]

We don't have anything like that right now, but adding something to that effect is not terribly difficult to do. I still want to be able to do battle -> map -> battle -> etc so we can have storied sequences along with the battle (like in that FFIV video I shared). I don't think adding this sort of thing right now is high priority though.


-----------


So now that we have more or less decided on going with this HP/fatigue system, let's decide how SP and actions roll in with this. We've thrown around a few ideas so far: setting SP to max for each battle, setting SP to zero or some low percentage of max each battle, having cool-down on skills be not a wait timer but a "you must wait this many turns to use this skill" counter, etc. What best fits with a system with fatigue and auto-restoration of HP that meets our design goals (strategic, not tedious, and fun)? Some more specific questions:

  • When a battle begins, is SP set to a specific value for each character, or does SP stay the same amount it was at the end of the last battle?
  • Can you restore SP with items? How about with skills (that may or may not consume SP themselves)? How difficult is it to restore SP?
  • Does SP restore naturally during battle (say, +5% every character turn)?
  • After a battle is won, does the player receive a bonus amount of SP?
  • Does max SP ever grow or change in any way during battle?
  • Do skills always require the same amount of SP, or do we want the amount to possibly vary over time (in a battle)?
  • Are there any other conditions that need to be met to use skills other than having enough SP?

One more thing: I'm 100% okay with discarding the current cool-down property on skills (it's too redundant with the warmup time). In fact, I feel like we should trash it, because it really doesn't add anything to the strategy/balancing that the skill warm-up time doesn't add already.
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Re: Dungeon Meta

Postby Roots » Wed Aug 12, 2015 8:15 pm

You wrote this post while I was writing my last one. :angel:

Djinn_in_Tonic wrote:Combat Timer replaced by "Tick System"

I don't dislike the concept, especially the use of the ticks to figure out when an action will take effect or when an enemy will act. (It sounds very similar to the combat system of FFX, which was essentially a turn-based battle system instead of a real-time one like we have). The problem is this would take a serious amount of work to implement and would require a lot of changes in the battle system. If we didn't already have a working battle system with some fairly mature code, I would be more inclined to give this a shot. But the amount of time it will take to toss what we have and rebuild a battle system based on these mechanics would be too costly I'm afraid. :(

Djinn_in_Tonic wrote:Stamina now changes Fatigue

This idea is much more reasonable for us to implement and test. Stamina currently only affects the time in which a character or enemy has to wait inbetween actions though, and it seems weird to have stamina affect both this property as well as fatigue reduction. Maybe a new stat value can be added (endurance?) that is used to determine fatigue conversion. For example, if I have 10 endurance, every 10 points of damage = 1 fatigue = -1 max HP. If I have 20 endurance, 20 points of damage = 1 fatigue = -1 max HP (I also like this sort of numbering because it's really easy to figure out how much damage produces fatigue for each character).

Also I like the use of the defensive abilities (which I agree, are normally boring but I think we can make them interesting in this game). In general I :approve: of this idea. My major concern is making it more difficult for the player to remember who has the best endurance and is the best "tank" for damage, and also I'm not sure if this small increase in complexity will yield enough benefits to make it worthwhile (although right now my gut thought is "yes, it is worth it").
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Re: Dungeon Meta

Postby Roots » Thu Aug 13, 2015 4:29 am

So I was looking at the code tonight and realized we don't already have a stamina stat. :heh: (I got it confused with agility). Stamina is a better "stat word" than endurance, so let's go with that. I also think stamina can make armor more interesting. We can present the player with two pieces of armor: one with high defense, and one with lower defense but a respectable increase in stamina. One is good for minimizing damage while the other is good for minimizing fatigue. Both have scenarios where one is more useful than the other. :think:


I have begun work on the fatigue feature tonight, including the addition of the new stamina attribute. My goal is to get the backend work completed before the weekend, then make the appropriate changes to the battle code by the end of the weekend. The party menu will probably get a quick and dirty update to just show the fatigue and stamina numbers. For now, I'm imposing the following limits in the code (subject to change):

- Fatigue can never cause the max HP to fall lower than 10.
- Each of our three starting character will have a stamina rating of 10 to start the game (like other stats, this number can/will grow through leveling)
- Removing fatigue also increases HP by the amount of fatigue removed (this is so that we don't have to have the user remove fatigue with one item and then restore the health with a second item, which seems unnecessarily tedious)

EDIT: completed this work tonight. If you're interested, you can take a look at changes required to get this feature implemented.


Also a random idea that popped in my head while working on fatigue tonight. Maybe if a character gets KOed (HP reduced to zero), their fatigue increases considerably so even after they are revived, the player still receives a lasting "penalty" of sorts for letting a character lose all their HP. This would also encourage the player to factor in keeping their characters healthy in battles. Without this, a player may ignore a character with low HP because they would otherwise auto-revive and be sent back to full HP after the battle ends. Thoughts?
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Re: Dungeon Meta

Postby gorogorosama » Thu Aug 13, 2015 11:10 am

Djinn_in_Tonic wrote:Image

This is exactly what I had in mind.

About SP

I guess we're still undecided about the SP system? While I like the tactics involved in "building up from 0", I'm not sure it makes a lot of sense if we're starting each battle with Max HP (max HP but 0 SP?) Maybe start each battle with 50% SP? I also like the idea to grant some SP each turn. And then some basic ability to "rest" and recover additional SP as well...

It will be much easier to balance if we don't have items that restore SP, because you never know if the player will have these items or not. But, if we think items to restore SP are important I'm sure we can figure it out...

I would keep the Max SP stationary. I think whatever we want to accomplish we can manage with the amount of SP, and the player already has enough to worry about.

But, those are just my thoughts today :)
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Re: Dungeon Meta

Postby Roots » Thu Aug 13, 2015 3:31 pm

Your thoughts are pretty much what I had in mind as well. I'm not a huge fan of the 0SP at battle start proposal (even though it was my idea, IIRC). I would rather have SP a resource that you have to manage not only for your current battle, but for your next one as well. So if I burned all my SP using powerful attacks, the next battle I have much less SP to start with as a result. This encourages the player to have a sort of long-term strategy in mind, must like they need to do for mitigating battle fatigue.

I think I like that system the best now that I think about it. Here's a proposal:
  • Max SP stays constant (except for level growth of course)
  • SP regenerates a little bit naturally every turn. (let's say 5% of max)
  • After the battle is won, SP gets a modest bump (~15% of max)
  • Have skills that increase SP (only usable during battle)
  • Have (expensive/rare-ish) items that replenish SP (but these will not be in the current chapter we're working on; they'll be introduced later in the game)
  • The SP you had at the end of the last battle is the SP you have at the start of the next

Thoughts? I rather like the simplicity here (we have enough complicated things about the battle system already :eyespin: ). These changes are also very easy to make and I can have this system (or one similar to it) implemented this weekend.


EDIT: On another note, would anyone protest if I removed the cool-down time period from skills and from the battle command progression? As discussed previously, this is currently pretty redundant with the warm-up period time and doesn't make battles any more interesting or strategic. I'd like to be able to get rid of this feature this weekend while I'm doing all the other battle work I've got planned.
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Re: Dungeon Meta

Postby gorogorosama » Thu Aug 13, 2015 4:33 pm

I think it may be weird that you automatically get your health back, but not your SP?

Random ideas. Maybe you start each battle at 50% SP, regardless of the previous battle? Maybe fatigue should apply to your SP as well? Maybe instead of skills costing SP, they add fatigue? Maybe characters have a stat that determines how quickly they recover SP (not necessarily married to Max-SP)?

I don't think anyone will mind if you take out the Skill-recovery time.
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Re: Dungeon Meta

Postby Roots » Thu Aug 13, 2015 7:05 pm

Thought about what I proposed in my last post some more and I think there's a pretty significant flaw. Since SP regenerates automatically every turn and isn't set to any specific value when a new battle starts, the player could kill off every enemy but the weakest one, then just spend turns not attacking (using defense/SP recovery skills) until their SP is restored to near max. Fatigue was meant to discourage this behavior, but auto regenerating SP puts the problem back on the menu. I really don't want to encourage players to exploit the system this way. :disapprove:

So maybe setting the SP to a specific percent/value for every fight is indeed the way to go? :shrug: The question then becomes, what to set it to?

gorogorosama wrote:I think it may be weird that you automatically get your health back, but not your SP?


I'm not really concerned about "weirdness". Player might be confused for the first couple of battles they fight in the game, but I think it will quickly become apparent (plus this sort of information would go in the first battle tutorial). I want to focus on whether this make battles fun? Strategic? Non-tedious?

gorogorosama wrote:Maybe you start each battle at 50% SP, regardless of the previous battle?


I'm thinking maybe more like 10% SP, so the player cant open each battle with their "ultimate attack skill" every time.

gorogorosama wrote:Maybe fatigue should apply to your SP as well? Maybe instead of skills costing SP, they add fatigue?


Eh, I don't like either of these because it feels like we are punishing the player for using their abilities. Even though it makes sense in reality that you would get more fatigued from using powerful abilities frequently, making something realistic doesn't always make it fun.

gorogorosama wrote:Maybe characters have a stat that determines how quickly they recover SP (not necessarily married to Max-SP)?


I'm not particularly receptive to this idea either. It doesn't feel like adding this additional stat would be fun or interesting. Slightly different SP regen rates doesn't do much to increase strategy, and I don't like having an additional stat just for this either.


EDIT: BTW, I'm hoping we can decide on something by the end of tomorrow, even if we change our minds later. I want to get whatever we decide implemented this weekend so we can begin testing ideas instead of just talking about them. :D
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