i have an idea

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i have an idea

Postby Roots » Tue May 03, 2005 10:33 pm

I suddenly had an interesting idea when I was taking the bus home a couple days ago. Now personally, I think battles in typical (note I said typical, not all) RPG games are pretty boring compared to battles in other genres (like RTS games). In an RTS you can attack whenever you want, with whatever force you want, so things are very tactical and (IMO) more fun. So why are RPG battles boring? Well a few reasons:

1) Both characters and enemies have a limited number of actions they can take
2) There is a "down-time" while the player waits for the character's action bar to fill before they can issue commands
3) The player encounter the same group of enemies often, and in most games those enemies are exactly the same (they have the same stats, actions they can do, etc.)
4) It's annoying having to re-issue commands over and over as wait time expires

Now with the current ideas we have planned for the battle system, #3 should be mitigated somewhat. But #1 and #2 still hit us. So how can we ameliorate these two drawbacks of RPG battles? Just increasing the number of actions a character can take won't do much to help #1. So here's the concept I thought of:


Do away with "wait time" altogether. Both players and enemies can take actions whenever they want. Now you may be saying "Ok, now Roots has officially lost it. :eyebrow: " But just entertain the notion for a second. :) We would still have an action/wait bar, but the player doesn't have to wait for it to fill completely to act. However, acting without having a full bar would reduce the effectiveness of the action (because the character has less time to recover between actions). So this introduces a new strategy into the game, forcing the player to ask themselves "Do I want to use frequent, but less effective attacks or less frequent, but more effective attacks?" We can also apply this reasoning to the enemy AI. And we could go so far as to let the player queue up multiple commands for characters to execute, like: {1) Attack enemy X and attack point 2 when 75% wait time expired; 2) Protect character B for 30 seconds, 3) Cast heal on self when 50% wait time expires;}. We'd also have to take care of some 'special' commands like defend, so that the game isn't unfairly balanced.

So the 'no wait time' concept solves #2, allowing actions to be taken at a given strength level solves problem #1, and the command queue solves #4.


I don't want to type up a huge block of text analyzing this so I'll make a pro's and con's list instead.


PROS
+ Player now has an infinite amount of actions they can take
+ There is no more down-time for the player, they can constantly be issuing commands and feel more engaged in the battle
+ Allowing a command queue enables the player to set characters to repeatedly heal, attack, defend, etc. without bothering the player to issue every individual command
+ Strategic element in battles is increased with the whole "act soon but loose efficiency" concept
+ It's innovative and (as far as I know) never been done before

CONS
- This system will require a lot more balancing effort on our part
- The player may have a lot more "button pushing" required if system is not designed carefully
- We already have MAPS, could we be overloading the number of features in this game? (I've worried about this in the past)
- Enemy AI programming will be more complex


So that's it. Now keep in mind this is only an idea. I just thought that I might be on to something good with this and wanted to see what others think. So everyone (staff + others), please provide your opinions on this idea. Maybe we can implement it partially, or maybe we'll collectively think of a more mature and effective solution.
Last edited by Roots on Wed May 04, 2005 9:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby gorzuate » Wed May 04, 2005 8:10 pm

you did post this to the forums 2 days ago, it's right here
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Postby Roots » Wed May 04, 2005 8:57 pm

gorzuate wrote:you did post this to the forums 2 days ago, it's right here


wtf I was looking at the wrong forum. Well I'll delete the other topic I guess (seeing as I posted it in the wrong forum). But why hasn't anyone posted a follow-up about it yet. :angry: I also changed the text of the top post to be my 2nd thread, because I thought the 2nd thread was more well-written. :)
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Postby gorzuate » Wed May 04, 2005 9:19 pm

Well the only downside I see to this is the con of "Enemy AI programming will be more complex" which I think goes hand in hand with "This system will require a lot more balancing effort on our part". Aren't those one and the same?

But other than that I really like this idea :approve: It's just more work for the battle programmer, and since we don't have one to voice his/her opinion, let's just make him/her do it whenever we do get one :devil:
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Postby Roots » Wed May 04, 2005 11:10 pm

gorzuate wrote:Well the only downside I see to this is the con of "Enemy AI programming will be more complex" which I think goes hand in hand with "This system will require a lot more balancing effort on our part". Aren't those one and the same?

But other than that I really like this idea :approve: It's just more work for the battle programmer, and since we don't have one to voice his/her opinion, let's just make him/her do it whenever we do get one :devil:



No. When I think AI will be more complex I mean how will the enemy decide when to strike? When I say balancing I mean, how will we make it so that the game is not too hard or too easy for the player? One idea for the AI algorithm might just be to have enemies almost always attack the weakest character (or the character with the least HP). I don't know how you guys fight your RPG battles, but I always seek to take out the enemy one at a time. I typically factor in a combination of survival probability and total HP lost as my strategies, and I think it would be fairly easy for the AI to adopt this tactic (although it might also be fairly annoying for the player. :)).


Balancing, IMO, is going to be the hardest aspect of this game, because of our modular release system. Sure, we can have things reasonably balanced with the first module release, but as we continually release modules it will become harder and harder to balance the game overall. :cool:
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Postby Balthazar » Sat May 07, 2005 7:19 pm

Ok, I did think you were crazy until the point where you brought up reduced effictiveness.  I think that it is a great idea, except the queue.  This is why.

In WoW (no no, stop groaning and keep reading, their devs are very smart people), the macro system only allows you to cast one thing in a macro, and you can't call one macro from another.  This is done by giving everything a 1 sec global cooldown (not pertinent to us, but just fyi).

Now, the reasoning behind it (which is pertinent to us) is partially to pretty much remove botting, and the other is to keep the player an active particpant in the game.  You have to constantly monitor the battle and know when to attack and such.  With a queue system, I can sit down at teh start of a fight, queue up a bunch of attacks for a min or two, and then walk away and grab a Pepsi.  It greatly reduces the interactivity of the game.  

So I would say :approve: to parital wait time attacks with reduced effectiveness, and :disapprove: to any kind of queue.
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Postby Roots » Sat May 07, 2005 7:38 pm

I acknowledge your point about the queing model and I think you are right. We're trying to design this system to make RPG battles more fun, interactive, and tactical and less tedious/boring. The queing model in a "typical" RPG battle would reduce the tediousness for sure (one of the Breath of Fire games had an auto attack feature), but like you said the queue model makes the game less-requiring of the player's attention. (Plus the queuing model would be somewhat complex to implement in the battle code).


In short, I agree completely with everything Balthazar said. :approve: I'm glad so far everyone seems to like my "no wait time" proposal for the battle system. :D
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Postby Balthazar » Sat May 07, 2005 10:11 pm

Well just to flesh it out a bit further, I think you should get more reward for waiting to be 100% full.  This is what I'm thinking:

Have your dmg (or curing, or whatever) be the percentage of your wait time.  ie an attack at 33% does 33% dmg.  However, this is basically exactly like giving the player a shorter wait time, and basically accomplishes nothing, and probably leads to more button smashing.  So, I think if this is used than one of two things have to happen:

implement a penalty to lower than 100% bars.  so a 33% bar gives you a 20% attack.  This is difficult to balance, and not very player intuitive.

Give a bonus for 100% wait bars.  Basically, it would be like a critical (maybe a smaller dmg bonus) for having a full bar.  This is obvious to the player, and easy to code and to balance.
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Postby Roots » Sat May 07, 2005 10:15 pm

I see. I didn't think of that. Yeah, I think that's definitely a good idea. We can have a short exponential curve instead of a linear distribution for wait time versus effectiveness. :approve: The 100% bonus, if any, should probably be very small though. If it's immediately noticeable to the player, then they'll just wait 100% everytime to get the bonus, so we'd be adding all this functionality for nothing. Or better yet, maybe we say at 100% there's a slight probability that there will be a noticeable (but not huge) bonus? That would work better I think....
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Postby Balthazar » Sat May 07, 2005 10:17 pm

How bout waiting until 100% improves your critical chance?  That way there's still some random involved, but it's still worth it in a pinch.
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Postby Roots » Sat May 07, 2005 10:20 pm

Balthazar wrote:How bout waiting until 100% improves your critical chance?  That way there's still some random involved, but it's still worth it in a pinch.


Yeah that sounds good. But would the critical chance be an expoential distribution like the wait time / effectiveness ratio? If so, then there's really no "bonus for 100%", it's just a higher probability of dealing a critical blow. But this is all in the details of the actual battle system so we'll see how things work out when we implement it. :approve:
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Postby Balthazar » Sat May 07, 2005 10:29 pm

For sure, and I'm sure it will be tweaked for balancing purposes as well.  To me, the basic idea should be that waiting until you are at 100% should actually end the battle faster than attacking twice as much at 50% wait times (for example).  However, I do like having the ability to attack with a lower wait bar because sometimes you're almost dead, and know that the enemy is almost also dead, so you can pummel them with 20% attacks and just scrape out, instead of wiping because the enemy's wait timer finished half a second before yours.
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Postby Loodwig » Sat May 07, 2005 10:52 pm

So we're talking about the usual "line them up and attack" combat situation, and doing away with ATB waiting, by allowing a cue-d system.

Cool!

My one concern is that it puts a gameplay focus on reaction time and less on strategy, but that may make the game more exciting and interesting (ok timmy, what spell are you going to use, and be quick... you're being hit with a broadsword).

+ Allowing a command queue enables the player to set characters to repeatedly heal, attack, defend, etc. without bothering the player to issue every individual command

I really like this.  I get irritated when I have to go "attack... attack... attack... attack... ok, they're dead... loot."

+ It's innovative and (as far as I know) never been done before
I'm thinking similar to vagrant story, but not quite.  But VS had a super innovative combat system, which I'd love to see duplicated.


- The player may have a lot more "button pushing" required if system is not designed carefully

If you staggered it out into chunks of time, like "1/4 charge, 1/2 charge" etc, you could easily set up a command system to do something like a jab, strong, fierce combo... and even allow a more gradual within those bounds.
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Postby Roots » Sun May 08, 2005 11:15 pm

Loodwig wrote:My one concern is that it puts a gameplay focus on reaction time and less on strategy, but that may make the game more exciting and interesting (ok timmy, what spell are you going to use, and be quick... you're being hit with a broadsword).


I have the same concern. I definitely want Allacrost battles to require more strategy and not so much on quick reflexes, but I don't want to keep the player bored during battle either. We'll just have to test things with the code and tweak it until we get it right. :)


Loodwig wrote:+ Allowing a command queue enables the player to set characters to repeatedly heal, attack, defend, etc. without bothering the player to issue every individual command

I really like this.  I get irritated when I have to go "attack... attack... attack... attack... ok, they're dead... loot."


Did you read what Bal had to say about this? He clearly pointed out that it would reduce the active participation of the player in the battle (ie, they could setup a queue and then go watch TV or something until the battle is over). I agreed so I'm not so sure about this feature making the cut. :| However, due to the skill system and MAPS the player shouldn't be continually hitting "attack attack attack" anyway. At least hopefully that won't be the case. :!:


Loodwig wrote:+ It's innovative and (as far as I know) never been done before
I'm thinking similar to vagrant story, but not quite.  But VS had a super innovative combat system, which I'd love to see duplicated.


I've never played VS, I probably should. I haven't sat down and seriously played an RPG in I don't know how long now. :(




Anyway, aside from the action queue which is still in question, do I take it that we are all in agreement that this would be a really nice feature to add to the battle system? I'm kind of excited about this feature because I think it will work really well if it's implemented correctly. If anyone sees some major flaws/issues with it please, please speak up about it. :approve:
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Postby snipe714 » Mon May 09, 2005 12:36 am

:disapprove:  for the queues,
:approve: for everything else.
All the good ones are taken.
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Postby Loodwig » Mon May 09, 2005 3:24 am

I like the queues, because it would allow you to focus on developing a macro style of combat.  I mean, if I could queue up a series of commands, change them in real time if they're not working well, and observe how it works out... I have the advantage of the AI on my side, being that the computer will know how to cordinate attacks, and not just focus on one person for a quick time.

Where I think of this being advantageous especially... is in Real Time Strategy, when you want to plan a tactical attack, but not have to worry about how quickly you can scroll the mouse, yet still encouraging the tension of real time combat (be on your toes, but don't button mash).  I see that Blizzard, and others following suit, has begun to implement this as early as Star Craft at least for unit production.  The same concept could be applied on a more general scale, without removing the interaction all together.

My thought is that I just recall playing ff5 and equiping the BERSERK ring only because all I ever did was attack (and heal and cast black magic when appropriate).  But if this is aleviated by allowing a more complicated battle strategy that isn't just "line up and beat each other with your fists and clubs," (like you must use a combination of skills, basic attacks of multiple types, magic, etc.) then the concept becomes somewhat obsolete (why queue if your'e gonig to be doing something else all the time).

And on that final note, I say leave it in (the queue), if it is a feature that aleviates tedium without creating further boredom.  But I feel it should be no substitute for strategy :)  It's probably should be a minor feature either way.
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Postby Khrinn » Tue May 10, 2005 6:57 am

Hey all, Just a wandering visitor, gaining ideas for game development hehe. Just wanted to mention something about combat queue's. I don't know if any of you have played Star Wars Galaxies, but, before the Combat Upgrade (or is it Downgrade? I'm still not entirely sure :p), there was an implementation of a combat queue and macro system.

Now, the downfall of this system, of course, is the ability for people to "bot" kill, loot, harvest, rinse, repeat.

With the CU, they took out the combat queue, and put it all on the quick bar, so you could set up your next action one ahead (use action number one, and while it is running it's cooldown timer, action number 2 activates as soon as global cooldown is met).

A LOT of people were upset by this (naturally) and it was suggested, by a few players in the SWG forums, those whose posts weren't deleted for speaking badly about the CU anyway, to put the queue back in, but set it up to allow a maximum of only 5 queued actions.

My personal take on that particular setting is that it would help to remove "botting" and make it so people can watch what is going on around them at the same time.

The only thing that would also need to be implemented, is to make it so the Macro system couldn't be linked to the battle system.

If that could be done, then there really could be no way to "battle bot" at least, not as far as I can see.
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Postby Roots » Tue May 10, 2005 7:28 am

Interesting. No I haven't played StarWars Galaxies. (Actually I haven't played any game in a long time now :( I need to change that). But it's nice to know that it's been done before and that it didn't work particularly well.



My main issue with the queue system we're debating right now is that it's almost like we're letting the user program what his characters do (although on a very, very, very high level). I think the goal of a fun game should be not that the user plays the game, not programs/scripts it. I hope that with MAPS and our dynamic action time (does that sound like a good name for it?) that the player will be needing to change their strategies/issues on the fly constantly and don't just keep hitting "attack, attack, attack". It's going to be a real big challenge for us to get the game this way, but I think it will definitely be worth the effort. :D
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Postby Guest » Tue May 10, 2005 10:40 pm

It sounds to me like a combination of Knights of the Old Republic (queue) and Secret of Mana or Secret of Evermore (real-time with a recharge bar for weapons, but can still attack at reduced strength).

Actually, binding the spells to the timer bar can be a good thing.  In SoM, weapon attacking is permitted before the bar is refilled, but at a reduced efficiency.  Spells can be cast nearly back-to-back at full efficiency despite the bar's percentage, creating an easily exploitable system (especially when controls can be used while casting a spell, and the next spell is cast while the first's effects are occuring.  On the plus side, though, it makes leveling the sprite's magic easier, due to his mana drain spell.
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Postby Roots » Wed May 11, 2005 2:20 am

Anonymous wrote:It sounds to me like a combination of Knights of the Old Republic (queue) and Secret of Mana or Secret of Evermore (real-time with a recharge bar for weapons, but can still attack at reduced strength).

Actually, binding the spells to the timer bar can be a good thing.  In SoM, weapon attacking is permitted before the bar is refilled, but at a reduced efficiency.  Spells can be cast nearly back-to-back at full efficiency despite the bar's percentage, creating an easily exploitable system (especially when controls can be used while casting a spell, and the next spell is cast while the first's effects are occuring.  On the plus side, though, it makes leveling the sprite's magic easier, due to his mana drain spell.


Oh yeah. It never occured to me that SoM was very similar to this. Damn, and I thought I had a novel idea. :heh: But we're applying this system to a FF-style battle, so the player won't be running circles around the enemy. Also this is turn-based battle, so the player won't be able to continually attack the enemy with their sword or anything. I think once an action is entered, that character's (or enemey's) action is restricted until they execute and finish their action. I still think this will make battles more excited though because there is less time where the player is just waiting for action bars to fill and no one is doing anything.
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