Battle Design Topics II

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Battle Design Topics II

Postby Roots » Wed Jan 17, 2007 11:57 am

I noticed that many of the newer people on our team are confused about exactly what the full feature list of our battle list is. Therefore, I worked hard on the battle system wiki page tonight to put together a lot of our decisions in a design document: http://allacrost.sourceforge.net/wiki/i ... tle_System

This wiki page is still incomplete, so be aware of that (feel free to modify or add to it as needed).


The previous version of this thread and its discussions may be found here: http://www.allacrost.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=739


Here are a couple of topics to get the discussion fired up once again

Skill Target Types
The only thing I added to the wiki page that was not previously discussed was a concept I thought up of "target types" for skills. We had some debate about whether you can have a skill select a single target, multiple targets, etc. I think that when it comes to decisions like these, simple is good. Thus, I went with something simple.

Each skill has one and only one target type:

- Skill affects a single attack point
- Skill affects the entire actor
- Skill affects either all allies or all enemies

Nice and simple :)


Status Effect Healing
Another topic that I don't think we ever reached a conclusion on was "how do we heal status effects?". I am a strong proponent of having a general purpose "remedy" that can heal any type of effect, because I find having a unique item/spell to heal each and every status effect to be very tedious and micromanaging. So if a given spell/item can heal any status effect, how do we use it to indicate which current status afflictions we want to heal?

Again, simple is good. So I say that when a status healing item/spell is used, it will affect *every* status element that afflicts the character. This means that we then have a few different items/spells:

- Those that decrease status intensity by one level
- Those that decrease intensity by two levels
- Decrease by three levels
- Completely heal all status afflictions


This is just a proposal and I haven't thought it through fully yet, but I think I like this idea. Besides, status effects are presumably going to play a more active role in Allacrost battles than those of other RPGs, so we don't want to make healing them to be a royal PITA for the player. :angel:
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Postby eleazar » Wed Jan 17, 2007 5:07 pm

This all sounds good and sensible.
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Postby Roots » Sat Jan 20, 2007 7:27 am

I have a brand new idea that I personally think is absolutely excellent. :) First allow me to set the context so I can properly explain *why* it is excellent.


MOTIVATION
There's a lot of information going on in battles. Enemies can have the following properties:

- Multiple attack points
- Multiple elemental weaknesses (4 physical and 4 metaphysical)
- Multiple elemental resistances
- Multiple status effect weaknesses (on an attack-point basis)

Now this is a lot of information, but many RPGs have nearly the same info (except for the multiple attack points). However, what these RPGs usually do NOT do is convey this information to the player, unless the player bothers to cast a "Scan" spell or something similar that temporarily reveals an enemy's weaknesses. Its equally annoying when you try to cast "Sleep" or "Stone" or some similar status spell on an enemy, only to find out that ~90% of the time you use these spells, they are ineffective on the target chosen.


What we want is a compact, easy way to indicate all of this information to the player for all enemies and all attack points.


SOLUTION: Weakness/Strength Discovery

My proposed solution is this: when a character attacks an enemy and it turns out that enemy is strong or weak against the properties of the attack, that information is recorded and the player is alerted that a new weakness/strength has been discovered. For example, if a character casts an ice spell and the enemy is weak against ice, some kind of chime tone will sound alerting the player that the enemy is weak against that attack. The next time the player selects the enemy to attack, in the enemy's "info box", an ice element icon will be displayed that indicates that the enemy has been discovered to be weak against this type of attack. As another example, trying to poison an enemy that is resistant (or immune) to poison will sound another chime, and display that information in the enemy info box.


Also, I think that whenever an enemy casts "haste" on itself or whatever, that information should be recorded in that box as well. So the player can always view the current status effects of the enemy, as well as any weaknesses or resistances that have been discovered.



Just to re-iterate, I LOVE this idea, and I think that we will have more than enough space in the bottom right corner of the screen to feed this information to the player in an effective manner. How do you guys feel about this proposal?
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Postby byaku » Sat Jan 20, 2007 6:24 pm

I like the idea. However, don't make it so much user also for the user. I mean, if you make some ice element attack, and the enemy is just slightly affected (because the enemy is strongh against that element's attack), don't show yet to the user. Better have some semi-random system where the user can get that information. For instance, after doing 3-5 attacks. Also it is possible that some characters when attacking can discover more easily weekness/strengthness (a warrior might see more easily week/strength physical points than elementals ones, while for a wizard can be the opposite).
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Postby eleazar » Sat Jan 20, 2007 11:01 pm

Roots wrote:What we want is a compact, easy way to indicate all of this information to the player for all enemies and all attack points.


SOLUTION: Weakness/Strength Discovery

My proposed solution is this: when a character attacks an enemy and it turns out that enemy is strong or weak against the properties of the attack, that information is recorded and the player is alerted that a new weakness/strength has been discovered. For example, if a character casts an ice spell and the enemy is weak against ice, some kind of chime tone will sound alerting the player that the enemy is weak against that attack. The next time the player selects the enemy to attack, in the enemy's "info box", an ice element icon will be displayed that indicates that the enemy has been discovered to be weak against this type of attack. As another example, trying to poison an enemy that is resistant (or immune) to poison will sound another chime, and display that information in the enemy info box.


Also, I think that whenever an enemy casts "haste" on itself or whatever, that information should be recorded in that box as well. So the player can always view the current status effects of the enemy, as well as any weaknesses or resistances that have been discovered.

I rather like that. I too have been annoyed when a game expects me to remember the vulnerabilities and resistances of dozens of creatures, which i can only learn while carefully watching the stats.

This "Bestiary" would start out more or less empty, but as Claudius travels the world new creatures and data would be added. Perhaps it would even include the number of each creature killed. The Bestiary should also be viewable outside of combat, so the player can (for instance) make more informed weapon choices. It would be cool if info could also be added outside of combat, via the friendly advice of strangers, or the reading of dusty old books.

I'd also like to see the statuses on enemies. But perhaps that should only be visible if you have a magic user in the party.
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Postby ChopperDave » Sat Jan 20, 2007 11:25 pm

This "Bestiary" would start out more or less empty, but as Claudius travels the world new creatures and data would be added. Perhaps it would even include the number of each creature killed. The Bestiary should also be viewable outside of combat, so the player can (for instance) make more informed weapon choices. It would be cool if info could also be added outside of combat, via the friendly advice of strangers, or the reading of dusty old books.


I like bestiaries, always have. We can put in a whole wealth of knowledge, including XP value, money dropped, items dropped, stats, skills, and most importantly, where they can be found.

This sounds like good stuff.
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Postby Roots » Sun Jan 21, 2007 5:36 am

- I think that weaknesses/resistances should be revealed immediately upon discovery, not taking 3-5 attempts with the same attack to reveal the vulnerability.


- I'm unsure if we want the information to be retained permanently between battles. I feel this way mostly because I'm not sure that we -always- want to have the same vulnerabilities for every type of enemy. Enemies in Allacrost are intended to be dynamic: that is every instance of a "slime" created is just a little bit different. Makes the game much more interesting than always knowing that "spiders have exactly 65 HP". :rolleyes:


- A bestiary would be fine I suppose, but as that is not a battle design topic we should discuss it in a different thread if need be. :) I personally don't particularly like bestiaries, because I hardly ever refer to them. (There is a bestiary in FFXII that I think I opened a total of 3 times in 45 hours of gameplay). IMO, if the player needs a bestiary in order to figure out which equipment to put on his/her characters to make it through the next dungeon, that means that the game is far too micromanaging. Games are supposed to be fun, not tedious. ;)


Anyway, I'm happy that you all like the idea. :approve:
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Postby eleazar » Sun Jan 21, 2007 6:47 am

Roots wrote:- I'm unsure if we want the information to be retained permanently between battles. I feel this way mostly because I'm not sure that we -always- want to have the same vulnerabilities for every type of enemy. Enemies in Allacrost are intended to be dynamic: that is every instance of a "slime" created is just a little bit different. Makes the game much more interesting than always knowing that "spiders have exactly 65 HP". :rolleyes:

I even if no 2 slimes are exactly alike, i think there would be common features, i.e. only certain aspects would change, and then perhaps only to a certain degree.

In many cases it would be counter-intutive to give randomized vulnerabilities to enemies. Fire-spirits would always be vulnerable to cold/water attacks. Skeletons would always be resistant to poison. Or however you set it up. But the players would usually expect those things to stay the same. Otherwise your going to have to use your whole arsenal of weapons each time you meet a creature to see if it's still vulnerable to X.

However it's much more plausible that various enemies of the same type will have somewhat different values for HP, SP, ST, speed etc.

The bestiary would either not list the variable information, or show it as a range. Ordinary spiders might have an HP between 55—75.
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Postby Ranger M » Mon Jan 29, 2007 2:15 pm

I would suggest that unless the player has been specifically told by wisened old master warrior x that certain enemies are resistant to things like sleep (etc) the percentage of the amount of times that it has worked before against this type of enemy should be recorded for you see, because "weak to" or "resistant to" isn't very descriptive, but it worked 80% of the time is better.
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Postby Jetryl » Tue Jan 30, 2007 6:35 am

eleazar wrote:I even if no 2 slimes are exactly alike, i think there would be common features, i.e. only certain aspects would change, and then perhaps only to a certain degree.

In many cases it would be counter-intutive to give randomized vulnerabilities to enemies. Fire-spirits would always be vulnerable to cold/water attacks. Skeletons would always be resistant to poison. Or however you set it up. But the players would usually expect those things to stay the same. Otherwise your going to have to use your whole arsenal of weapons each time you meet a creature to see if it's still vulnerable to X.

However it's much more plausible that various enemies of the same type will have somewhat different values for HP, SP, ST, speed etc.

The bestiary would either not list the variable information, or show it as a range. Ordinary spiders might have an HP between 55—75.


Yeah - I agree with Eleazar completely.

There should be some variance, some significant variance in basic stats; enough to make some variants really easy, and some really tough. But it shouldn't change the essential nature of the creature.

A class of creature that is vulnerable to fire shouldn't suddenly become resistant - that should be ... a different creature altogether.
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Postby Roots » Thu Feb 01, 2007 2:01 pm

Okay, I certainly agree with your opinions and hence concede defeat. :) Elemental and status weaknesses and strengths will remain the same for all enemies of the same type. However, I reserve the right to say that stronger/more intelligent enemies may have additional skills in battle that allow them to compensate for their weaknesses. So if the player knows that armored soldiers have a spot weak to piercing in their armor and seek to exploit that, a higher level version of that enemy will use a skill to (for instance) increase the evade rating for that attack point once they discover that the player is actively exploiting it.

I think that's what I really wanted to mean by saying "enemies can have different weaknesses" :cool:
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Postby Jetryl » Fri Feb 02, 2007 6:17 am

Roots wrote:Okay, I certainly agree with your opinions and hence concede defeat. :) Elemental and status weaknesses and strengths will remain the same for all enemies of the same type. However, I reserve the right to say that stronger/more intelligent enemies may have additional skills in battle that allow them to compensate for their weaknesses. So if the player knows that armored soldiers have a spot weak to piercing in their armor and seek to exploit that, a higher level version of that enemy will use a skill to (for instance) increase the evade rating for that attack point once they discover that the player is actively exploiting it.

I think that's what I really wanted to mean by saying "enemies can have different weaknesses" :cool:


Yeah; that's totally cool. We were saying - It's quite reasonable for their weaknesses to decrease and even nullify at higher levels, it's just bizarre if they reverse completely.
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Postby Roots » Tue Feb 06, 2007 2:00 am

Now I'd like to discuss elemental and status effects.

Elementals refresher

- There are 8 types of elementals, four physical and four metaphysical
- Physical elementals have mutual attraction (ie smashing only interacts with smashing)
- Metaphysical elementals have a cyclic nature (ie fire is weak against water but strong against earth)


Status effects refresher

- We have not determined the total number + type of status effects yet, but will likely include poison, etc.
- Status effects can be either beneficial or hampering to the affected
- Status effects have four levels of "intensity" that determine how much they impair or assist the affected
- There is no item or skill that cures a single type of status effect; cures affect all negative effects, and "nullifys" affect all positive effects
- Multiple intensity levels may be cured/nulled with a single item/skill



Give this context, I'd like to propose the following:

1. Elemental effects also have four levels of intensity
It just seems better to be able to have enemies that are slightly vulnerable to fire to severely vulnerable to fire. :) I'd like to recommend the following intensity scheme:

- Weaker: elemental damage increased by 1.5x
- Moderate: elemental damage increased by 2x
- Stronger: elemental damage increased by 4x
- Extreme: elemental damage increased by 8x

So if I attack an enemy that has moderate fire vulnerability (i.e. an earthen type) with an attack that deals 120 normal physical damage + 15 fire damage, the total damage dealt would be 120 + (2 * 15) = 150.


2. Elemental + Status effects determined on an actor basis or an attack point basis?

In other words, does each attack point have its own elemental and status effect properties, or are those properties only defined on the actor as a whole? I'm not too sure about this proposal, which is why I left it as a question. I'm now going to play Roots vs Roots and debate myself on the issue.


Elemental and status effects should be on an attack point basis

If the MAP system doesn't define these properties on an attack point basis, what's the point of having multiple attack points at all!? This implementation would create more strategic battles, as the enemy has a far greater number of weaknesses and continually adapts to strengthen them, requiring the player to form new strategies on the fly.

Its more intuitive that a soldier has a weak spot sensitive to "piercing" attacks right at the joint of their armpit, rather than being weak to piercing all over. And fire-type enemies may be weaker to water elemental attacks at one attack point than they are others. It makes more sense that an attack at an enemy's legs may reduce their speed, or a damaging blow to their arms can temporarily lower their strength.

My other self may argue that this is too much information for the player to take in, but that's what the bottom right hand of the battle screen is for! It can list the weaknesses and resistances of each attack point with ample space.


Elemental and status effects should be on an actor basis

Defining elemental and status effect weaknesses on every attack point of an actor is excessive and unnecessary. Having multiple defense and evade ratings for each attack point is sufficient enough. Adding status and elemental information on top of that overwhelms the player with too much information. It also makes creating enemies for the game designer that much harder, since they need to define so much more information for each foe.

If I am fighting a water monster, you'd expect them to be weak to volt all over, right? How is the player supposed to remember that there's a small chance that they may blind an enemy soldier if they attack them in the head? My other self may have said that this allows a more "tactical" approach to the design of battles, but honestly how many players are going to take full advantage of such a complex strategic system?



I await your responses. :angel: :devil:
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Postby Jetryl » Tue Feb 06, 2007 9:43 am

Roots wrote:Give this context, I'd like to propose the following:

1. Elemental effects also have four levels of intensity
It just seems better to be able to have enemies that are slightly vulnerable to fire to severely vulnerable to fire. :) I'd like to recommend the following intensity scheme:

- Weaker: elemental damage increased by 1.5x
- Moderate: elemental damage increased by 2x
- Stronger: elemental damage increased by 4x
- Extreme: elemental damage increased by 8x


Sounds great. :approve:
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Postby Jetryl » Tue Feb 06, 2007 9:44 am

Roots wrote:If the MAP system doesn't define these properties on an attack point basis, what's the point of having multiple attack points at all!? This implementation would create more strategic battles, as the enemy has a far greater number of weaknesses and continually adapts to strengthen them, requiring the player to form new strategies on the fly.


There are only two uses for MAPS:
• Elemental effects.
• Status effects (slow on legs, blinding on head).

By itself, the "status effects" would be pretty straight-forward/obvious, and would get boring really fast. So, yes, if you don't define these things, you have no reason for MAPS. And MAPS is kinda fundamental to Allacrost; it's one of the only things that makes the gameplay unique.

Roots wrote:Its more intuitive that a soldier has a weak spot sensitive to "piercing" attacks right at the joint of their armpit, rather than being weak to piercing all over. And fire-type enemies may be weaker to water elemental attacks at one attack point than they are others. It makes more sense that an attack at an enemy's legs may reduce their speed, or a damaging blow to their arms can temporarily lower their strength.

If I am fighting a water monster, you'd expect them to be weak to volt all over, right? How is the player supposed to remember that there's a small chance that they may blind an enemy soldier if they attack them in the head?


If I am fighting a man, you'd expect him to be weak to sword strikes all over, but to gain certain additional debilitations from certain injuries. Headshots are intuitively seen to be weaker points by all players of most videogames. So, your water monster might have a "weaker" vulnerability all over, and a "stronger" or "moderate" vulnerability on the head.

CIP: This is intuitive, this hypothetical problem isn't real.

Roots wrote:My other self may have said that this allows a more "tactical" approach to the design of battles, but honestly how many players are going to take full advantage of such a complex strategic system?


Most of them - e.g. every good player. Players are smart enough to do some mind-bendingly amazing things, within the comfortable confines of the game. Some people will explore its every secret. Anything that can garner a significant tactical benefit, will be exploited by a competent player, to say nothing of an elite player. The biggest thing you have to remember is that you are targeting a mature genre; practically all of your players are going to be experienced RPG players, who already know everything about your game, with the exception of the stuff that makes your game unique. You need that "unique" stuff, or your game is going to boring to them, because they've (effectively) already played it.

Personally, I think that "Elemental + Status effects determined on an attack point basis" is an absolute necessity to make your battles remotely interesting. It takes NO art resources to make, and is relatively simple to code (just some branching/multipliers). It's also not that difficult to write up a "monsterDefinition" file for; the average script kiddie could do that in about 15minutes, and would be willing to do so to get new art in the game. The argument that it would take a long time to write up the definitions for when creating a new monster is a straw-man argument; it's not a real issue.


So, I give massive :approve: to "Elemental + Status effects determined on an attack point basis". And I give a major :disapprove: to "on an actor basis".
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Postby Burnsaber » Tue Feb 06, 2007 6:26 pm

I second Jetryl.
I'm the 50th person who joined on these forums! I'm special!
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Postby Roots » Wed Feb 07, 2007 1:19 am

Okay good. I place a third vote for attack point basis. :)
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Postby gorzuate » Wed Feb 07, 2007 2:41 am

4th! :D
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Postby Roots » Wed Feb 07, 2007 3:10 am

Also just FYI (to Jetryl et. al. who didn't know this), each attack point additionally has the following properties:

- physical defense bonus
- metaphysical defense bonus
- evade bonus

These numbers are "bonuses" because the actors have a physical defense, metaphysical, and evade rating already. The numbers from the attack point are added onto those numbers. I'll probably put this stuff up into the wiki sometime soon that explains the basics of battle calculations.
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Postby Linds » Wed Feb 07, 2007 9:02 am

Can I just ask one question, apologies if I missed the answer somewhere, but does the 3 tiered target system allow for one point only attacks, such as a hamstring skill or similar?

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