Battle Design Topics II

A discussion area for general design issues that staff would like detailed feedback on.

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Postby Roots » Wed Feb 07, 2007 9:26 am

Linds wrote: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?


I'm not sure what you mean. Can you clarify one point only attacks and hamstring skill? Each battle action has one and only one of three target types:

1. Target all characters or all enemies
2. Target a single character or enemy
3. Target a single attack point on a character or enemy
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Postby Jetryl » Wed Feb 07, 2007 11:47 am

Roots wrote:
Linds wrote: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?


I'm not sure what you mean. Can you clarify one point only attacks and hamstring skill? Each battle action has one and only one of three target types:

1. Target all characters or all enemies
2. Target a single character or enemy
3. Target a single attack point on a character or enemy



Answer for Linds: (the current plan, as far as I'm aware)

All attacks can be made towards any attack point. There are no "techniques" which are only allowed to target a certain kind of attack point.

However, different attacks have different effects at different attack points. A slash to the leg attack point would be allacrost's equivalent of a "hamstring" technique.
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Postby Linds » Wed Feb 07, 2007 12:10 pm

Jetryl wrote:Answer for Linds: (the current plan, as far as I'm aware)

All attacks can be made towards any attack point. There are no "techniques" which are only allowed to target a certain kind of attack point.

However, different attacks have different effects at different attack points. A slash to the leg attack point would be allacrost's equivalent of a "hamstring" technique.
Ahh gotcha, ok.

Roots yeah I was enquiring about techniques usable on only one point.
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Postby Roots » Wed Feb 14, 2007 2:36 am

Not necessarily a battle topic but the idea popped up when I was working today.


- Potions that alter elemental defense/attack

There are healing potions, and status potions, so why not have potions that can temporarily alter the elemental strength or defense of an ally or opponent?
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Postby Roots » Mon Apr 23, 2007 11:40 pm

I think that we should set the default battle system to wait mode instead of active. What this means is that when the player is selecting an action in the menu, all battle actors are "paused" until the player exits the menu. Of course we can provide an active option as well to allow people to choose fast paced play.


The reason why I think wait should be the default (I'm usually an active person myself) is that we require a couple extra steps from the player to execute an action. Most RPGs you can select fight, select the target, and be done (2 keys). We require the player to select the action type, selection the action, select the target, and (sometimes) select the attack point (4 keys). I've noticed when fighting battles recently, I just hit the keys as fast as possible to attack, which shouldn't be the case with what we are trying to design here.


Thoughts?
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Postby gorzuate » Tue Apr 24, 2007 12:16 am

Roots wrote:I've noticed when fighting battles recently, I just hit the keys as fast as possible to attack, which shouldn't be the case with what we are trying to design here.


I do that too, so yes, I think this is a good idea :approve:
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Postby Roots » Tue Jun 19, 2007 3:09 pm

Question: when selecting a target for an action, what should the arrow keys do? Should it be:

Up/Down: toggle between various actors/attack points in the same party
Left/Right: switch between targeting a member of the character party versus enemy party

Or should we even allow skills and items which aren't meant for use on more than one party to be able to use between parties anyway? :shrug: Right now looking at the code, it seems like down/left and up/right perform the same thing, and you can't switch between parties.


Another possible scheme:

Up/Down: toggle between various actors in the same party
Left/Right: toggle between various attack points on the same actor (if the skill selected is indeed attack point specific)
Left/Right select: toggle between character and enemy party targets

:huh:
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Postby ChopperDave » Tue Jun 19, 2007 3:39 pm

All of that should be already happening in the battle code. If it's not, then we have a bug, cuz I put in all the code for that. If it's a party item/skill, left/right changes parties. If it's an actor or point item/skill, then left/right changes parties assuming the item is neutral and you're at the actor level of choosing. If you're choosing an attack point, then all four keys simply change the attack point you target.
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Postby Roots » Tue Jun 19, 2007 5:52 pm

ChopperDave wrote:All of that should be already happening in the battle code. If it's not, then we have a bug, cuz I put in all the code for that. If it's a party item/skill, left/right changes parties. If it's an actor or point item/skill, then left/right changes parties assuming the item is neutral and you're at the actor level of choosing. If you're choosing an attack point, then all four keys simply change the attack point you target.


Ahh, I see it now. The UpdateTargetSelection() and UpdateAttackPointSelection() functions are just a little umm, messy, so its hard to see whats going on. :angel:


Actually, I really like this control scheme I proposed:

Up/Down: toggle between various actors in the same party
Left/Right: toggle between various attack points on the same actor (if the skill selected is indeed attack point specific)
Left/Right select: toggle between character and enemy party targets


My reasons for preferring this scheme are both for design -and- for code reasons:

1) Toggle between parties is something that the player is not likely to do very often. Thus, it makes sense to bind it to keys which are out of the way and also not used often

2) The arrow keys perform the same function regardless of the target type for the skill/item. Consistency is a good thing

3) It reduces the amount of key pressing from the user to browse and select targets. Currently you have to select an actor, confirm, select an attack point, confirm to execute an action. With this scheme you only need to select an actor, select an attack point, and confirm. This is a good thing, because one of the weaknesses in our battle system is that it takes longer than is typical to select a target and execute an action.

4) In the code, I think implementing this scheme would greatly reduce the complexity (and hence, size) of the selection code. It would reduce BattleMode::_UpdateTargetSelection() and BattleMode::_UpdateAttackPointSelection() to a single function, and we wouldn't have to do as much fiddling with cursor states and examining context when we process key presses from the player.


What do you think? I'm actually just about to work on these two functions to make them compatible with my changes, so I'm kind of anxious to go ahead and implement this scheme if I unanimous approval for it. :angel: :hack:
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Postby Roots » Tue Jun 19, 2007 5:56 pm

BTW, along the lines of that topic here are the current controls for battle mode as they are implemented right now (in my modified code):

- Up/Down/Left/Right: Target selection, attack point selection, and menu cursor movement
- Confirm: confirm selection/action
- Cancel: cancel selection/action
- Menu: when a skill or item in the list is highlighted, brings up detailed information about the skill/action
- Swap: when not pressed, character HP and SP bars are displayed; when pressed, character status icons are displayed
- Left/Right Select: unused
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Postby MindFlayer » Tue Jun 19, 2007 7:12 pm

Roots wrote:What do you think? I'm actually just about to work on these two functions to make them compatible with my changes, so I'm kind of anxious to go ahead and implement this scheme if I unanimous approval for it. :angel: :hack:


I say go for it. :approve: Battle mode is in a way too hacked state right now that anything that cleans the code is a major plus. Besides, I too have found the current key-scheme a bit cumbersome; One has to press confirm way too many times until anything actually happens.
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Postby ChopperDave » Tue Jun 19, 2007 7:23 pm

Ahh, I see it now. The UpdateTargetSelection() and UpdateAttackPointSelection() functions are just a little umm, messy, so its hard to see whats going on.


Not really messy, just massive.

1) Toggle between parties is something that the player is not likely to do very often. Thus, it makes sense to bind it to keys which are out of the way and also not used often


Well, think about it this way. If it's a party level item/skill, then toggling between them is all they'll do. Even then, most items and skills aren't neutral, so party toggling won't even be enabled. We don't have to worry about those controls interfering.

3) It reduces the amount of key pressing from the user to browse and select targets.


True, but many of us gamers have butter fingers, and I'm kinda eh on possibly confusing players with this control scheme. Can we get more votes on this? Roots, maybe start a poll so people can vote to keep controls the way they are or head down your road?
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Postby Roots » Tue Jun 19, 2007 7:33 pm

ChopperDave wrote:Not really messy, just massive.


Its both. Lucky for us though, I just finished my work in this code and I cut the size of the UpdateTargetSelection() function by half. :cool:

ChopperDave wrote:Well, think about it this way. If it's a party level item/skill, then toggling between them is all they'll do. Even then, most items and skills aren't neutral, so party toggling won't even be enabled. We don't have to worry about those controls interfering.


If its an actor or attack level item/skill though, toggling between problems is too easy to do. Also I was under the impression that the alignment of items/skills simply meant the suggested target; i didn't presume for it to imply that you can ONLY use it against foes or on friends. :| If we do indeed set it so that you can only toggle parties when the alignment is neutral then yes, my argument is weakened.

3) It reduces the amount of key pressing from the user to browse and select targets.


ChopperDave wrote:True, but many of us gamers have butter fingers, and I'm kinda eh on possibly confusing players with this control scheme. Can we get more votes on this? Roots, maybe start a poll so people can vote to keep controls the way they are or head down your road?


Confusing? I find the current control scheme to be more confusing than this. In the demo sometimes I'd accidentally select a character when I meant to select an enemy (as did others), and I never knew which direction arrow allowed me to properly scroll through the enemies. I think the "butter fingers" argument applies more against our existing scheme than the one I'm proposing...


We can have a poll if it becomes necessary to have one, but for now I'd rather just informally collect people's opinions. I don't feel like making a new thread for this right now.
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Postby gorzuate » Tue Jun 19, 2007 9:01 pm

I like the new proposed scheme :)
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Postby Jetryl » Tue Jun 19, 2007 11:43 pm

Roots wrote:If its an actor or attack level item/skill though, toggling between problems is too easy to do. Also I was under the impression that the alignment of items/skills simply meant the suggested target; i didn't presume for it to imply that you can ONLY use it against foes or on friends. :| If we do indeed set it so that you can only toggle parties when the alignment is neutral then yes, my argument is weakened.


You should only be able to toggle parties when the alignment is neutral. The alignment will rarely be neutral.

Examples:
- You would (almost) never want to give a healing potion to a monster, nor could you reasonably be expected to force-feed it to the thing during combat. It simply shouldn't be allowed for you to do that.

- You would also (almost) never want to cast offensive spells on your own party, and because doing so could be a game-ruiner if done by accident, we probably want to intentionally disable it. It's worth sacrificing "the benefit of those bizarro-world cases where you'd want to cast offensive spells on your own party" in order to protect the player from accidental friendly fire, because the latter would happen much more often.

By extension, the current ability to execute sword attacks from claudius, onto claudius, is a little crazy. Is that harakiri or something? :hehe:


- There are some, semi-rare and interesting abilities that we would want to target both sides; this is why we have the neutral category. These abilities would usually confer both a positive and negative effect - consider a berzerk effect that made the user's stamina bar recover much faster, but make them much easier to hit - you might cast this on an enemy which had a very weak attack, but was difficult to hit.

So, we don't want to allow the player to execute most actions against the wrong party. It follows from this that we probably want to disallow changing the party if a whole party is an invalid target. It saves button presses, and saves confusion as to why they can't execute the attack against the target they have selected, if we just prevent them from selecting the wrong targets altogether.
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Postby Roots » Wed Jun 20, 2007 12:55 am

I can think of circumstances where both of your examples fail in other RPGs

Jetryl wrote:- You would (almost) never want to give a healing potion to a monster, nor could you reasonably be expected to force-feed it to the thing during combat. It simply shouldn't be allowed for you to do that.


Healing items and spells inflict damage upon undead foes.

Jetryl wrote:- You would also (almost) never want to cast offensive spells on your own party, and because doing so could be a game-ruiner if done by accident, we probably want to intentionally disable it. It's worth sacrificing "the benefit of those bizarro-world cases where you'd want to cast offensive spells on your own party" in order to protect the player from accidental friendly fire, because the latter would happen much more often.


A member of the party may have a "reflect" status active, which would cause any offensive spells casted upon them to reflect to the enemy.


All that I am saying is that there's not much harm to be done by allowing both friend and foe targets to be active for all skills and items. You never know what we may end up producing content wise for the game down the road. Because the scheme I'm proposing keeps the party toggle keys largely out of the way, there's not much harm to be done here. And besides if the player keeps accidentally targeting the wrong party, that's there own damn fault, not ours. :) In any case, I'm siding with the "actions can select any target" camp, but I'm not totally against the other argument either. I just prefer flexibility over..... not flexibility :heh:


BTW Jetryl, you didn't state which battle control scheme you think is better. :angel:
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Postby Jetryl » Wed Jun 20, 2007 1:59 am

Roots wrote:I can think of circumstances where both of your examples fail in other RPGs


No you can't, those are all accounted for by the "neutral" alignment.

Roots wrote:A member of the party may have a "reflect" status active, which would cause any offensive spells casted upon them to reflect to the enemy.


That's what the neutral alignment is for!

Roots wrote:In any case, I'm siding with the "actions can select any target" camp, but I'm not totally against the other argument either. I just prefer flexibility over..... not flexibility :heh:


That's what the neutral alignment is for!


The only thing that we do, in the player's interface, not in the internal game model, (<-- this is a major point) is disallow the player setting certain abilities to certain targets. This doesn't restrict us in any way, because we can activate the target-anything functionality by giving the item a neutral alignment. And because internal game effects (like effects redirected by that reflect spell) can target whatever the hell they want. I don't understand what is so hard to understand about this, but you're really scaring me, here. :(


Some spells could be cast only on foes, some only on allies, and some on both. Draw a venn diagram - you'll see that "all possible targeting methods" are a subset of "some on both".



BTW Jetryl, you didn't state which battle control scheme you think is better. :angel:


I think I prefer yours.
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Postby rujasu » Wed Jun 20, 2007 3:59 am

Jetryl wrote:
Roots wrote:A member of the party may have a "reflect" status active, which would cause any offensive spells casted upon them to reflect to the enemy.


That's what the neutral alignment is for!


In Final Fantasy IV, there are boss battles where the most reasonable strategy is to cast "Wall" on a member of the party, then cast an offensive spell on that character and bounce it back to the enemies. The only way this particular idea can work is if every offensive spell is "neutral."

Healing spells would have to be neutral as well, if we're going to go with the "healing spells hurt undead" convention. This means pretty much everything in the game would have to be neutral.
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Postby Roots » Wed Jun 20, 2007 4:09 am

rujasu understand the point that I was trying to make :)


Besides, right now a neutral alignment doesn't tell you if it should target enemies or allies by default; the battle code just arbitrarily picks a side as the default target. So we could have either GOOD and BAD and allow them to be used on the party they aren't usually meant to be used for, or we'd have to have a GOOD, BAD, GOOD_NEUTRAL, and BAD_NEUTRAL just to say "these neutral skills are special and can be used on anyone, whereas their counterparts can not". Just seems kind useless to me.

Again, there's nothing wrong with allowing a skill/item to be used against any target -- none whatsoever. And what if we have a special enemy or something that is difficult to kill, but will self-destruct after x number of turns? It would make sense to cast a haste spell on him so it removes itself from the battle earlier. I could come up with dozens and dozens of examples like these "but what if we want..." that would make the neutral alignment less and less attractive.
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Postby rujasu » Wed Jun 20, 2007 4:11 am

Roots wrote:Another possible scheme:

Up/Down: toggle between various actors in the same party
Left/Right: toggle between various attack points on the same actor (if the skill selected is indeed attack point specific)
Left/Right select: toggle between character and enemy party targets

:huh:


I think I prefer this one.

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