Canini

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I am working on a action rpg with a really slimmed down item-inventory (it only really has two items; resurection from death and HP/MP restoration). Weapons do not really give stats increases but rather different techniques for use in battles and for solving puzzles. In order to make the stores less barren and add some immersion to the towns I want to add clothes/armor to the things being sold, but I do not want to use them for stats since my game relies very little on levels and stats but rather using the right weapon and approach for the job at hand. The question is, what can the armor category be used for instead?

The most obvious ideas that all clothes are actual costumes that changes the appearence of the character. This will however lead to a lot of extra work and probably break immersion a bit if all shops sell the same ten or so pieces of clothing. Another idea I toyed with is that clothes can be used as an alternative to convey lore. My game is based on icelandic sagas where items sometimes come with an elaborate backstory of its own. Buying clothes in the game could be a way to get more backstory for those interested. A final idea I toyed around with a bit is that clothes are simple collectibles that are part of a sidequest and exchanged for rewards and new places to explore.

When giving suggestions, feel free to come up with ideas that normally lies outside of the scope of the engine. Within reason I should be able to custom script the new functions needed.
 

TheoAllen

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You can categorize armor by.... category. Not an exact number, but category. For example, you can categorize the armor simply by classifying it whether if it's light / medium / heavy armor. The heavy armor doesn't necessary a better protection, but it just tank better the other damage type.

Another classification type could be something like, chain mail armor, plate mail armor, or scale mail armor. Leather armor could work too. Chain mail armor could be better to tank sword damage, but not piercing damage. Scale armor could be better to tank pierce damage, but not sword damage. Plate armor could be better to tank both type damage, but it might slow you down, and weak against impact damage, or something like that.
 

kairi_key

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Well....

Why not also make armors the same as weapon as in not really giving stats but more on skills to solve problem?

I don't know, but I get a feeling that you'll need to elaborate more on your battle system and what you want to do with it since I don't see any reason to not just use common categorization of armors like what @TheoAllen just said.
 

Countyoungblood

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Well, 2d action rpg brings zelda to mind for me and armor/equipment there was pretty much about situational benefits.

But if it were me i wouldnt invest time into making items just to fill the stores id look to making the system seem natural without excessive armor items.
 

lianderson

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You could make a certain dress that works against a certain boss. (the boss will sometimes refuse to act sometimes because it reminds him of his lost love or something)

Same concept can be applied to scaring certain bosses or enemies. Like wearing the fur of a wolf boss causes enemies to retreat, or wearing the skin of a holy boss will initially cause certain enemies to spend their time praying or casting heal/buffs on you.

Just throwing out some random ideas. Hope they help ya.
 

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First of all let me compliment you on your very wise use of restraint in your design with items, weapons, and stats. It can be tempting as a designer to throw as many of these in there as possible (especially with items), but most of the time what that ends up doing is cluttering up the gameplay with unengaging bits, and (at best) distracting or (at worst) confusing the player. Keeping these to a minimum in an Action RPG allow the player to focus on Combat, Narrative, and Exploration, which are probably the most engaging dynamics of your game in the first place. So really nice job on that.

Having said that, I think the ideas you have in mind for your Armors right now are going to feel flat, and won't encourage most people to spend their time (or in-game currency) checking out the shops in town or thinking through what they want their characters to wear:
  • "As Clothing" - changing visual appearances is nice, and aesthetic "Outfits" could be one class of thing to buy in shops (alongside actual armor), but by itself I don't think it will be quite enough to compel most players to shop around and buy a lot of them. Plus, as you mentioned, it could make for a lot of work if your game is sprite-based.
  • "As Lore" - design-wise, forcing players to pay in-game currency in exchange for lore (when it could be used on, for example, more resurrection items) means that most players will choose not to buy it, and therefore will miss out on your rich lore. I don't feel this is a good idea.
  • "As Collectibles" - it will feel very shallow if nearly everything you buy is just an abstract mission requirement to "buy this and go here". Ironically, even though in reality it's a slight add to depth, your game will feel more shallow for having included this.
So, what to do about Armors, then? One option is to simply leave them out entirely - only ask the player to buy weapons and items, and have the rest of the town be interesting people to talk to (and maybe a few hidden bonuses) for players who want a break from the combat and puzzles. Alternatively, you could make Armors into compelling ways to customize and enhance the character without touching stats nor overpowering the player. Here are a few ideas that come to mind; I would recommend using one (but not all) of these:
  • Skill Learning - if the player learns new skills when they level up (or earn a certain number of points, or defeat enough enemies, etc.), then the skill they learn could be based on the Armor they are wearing.
  • Passive Abilities - straightforward passives that affect the way you play; for example, one Armor could increase the rate at which your weapons fire, one could increase your movement speed, one could increase how far you can jump, one could negate the first hit you take in combat (refreshing after landing X hits on enemies), one would double the damage you do when hitting enemies from behind, and so on.
  • Like Weapons - whatever you are specifically doing for Weapons in your game, you could do something almost identical for Armors - having them change your attack patterns and encouraging them to select the right one for the job at hand. Or, you could even have the character's attack pattern be based on the specific combination of weapon and armor. This could be a lot of work, though.
 
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Passive Abilities - straightforward passives that affect the way you play
I'd definitely agree with passives as a way to add diversity without adding raw stats, they could even be a bit wacky at times, some more examples:
Attacks have a 0% crit-rate but every 10th hit (even across multiple battles) is a an automatic crit.
Increases aggro, but after being hit instead reduces aggro for 1 turn then returns to boosting aggro again.
Upon 'death' become undying for 2 turns but afterwards will then 'die' and cannot be revived until the battle ends.
Every 2 turns mana and health percentages are swapped.

A less intrusive/constant alternative is replacing the Defend command:
Grit - Takes double damage this turn but next attack is guaranteed to crit
Counter - Negates and counters the first attack received this turn but only the first.
Undo - Reverts your health and mana to the values they had 2 turns ago, then can't be used for 2 turns
Cowards Taunt - Greatly increases aggro this turn, then after being hit reduces aggro for the rest of the turn
Death's Guard - Becomes undying and draws all attacks this turn, but 'dies' at the end of the turn.

The idea is to keep the decision 'meaningful' without adding raw power. These choices would alter the feel of battle without taking from the impact of weapon choice.
 

LaFlibuste

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Another idea would be that weapons give offensive skills and armor give defensive skills? Ideas of defensive skills:
- Create an aura around the player that damages ennemies over time;
- Knocksback everything in a certain radius around the player;
- Create a kind of perimeter of vine or wall or whatever that blocks ennemies for a while or prevents them from moving. Wall could be static or follow the player around...
- A sort of dash ability that allos you to evade attack or even dash through ennemies to get you out of dangerous spots
- Increased resistance for a while;
- A sort of counter-attack thing? (okay this one is maybe more a passive)

I played Wizard of Legend recently and it has a very wide selection of skills with varying effects and patterns, it could certainly be a source of inspiration if you don't know it.
 

atoms

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I was going to say similar to Skill Learning and Passive Abilities you could also perhaps choose to gain a skill when a certain armour is equip and see how that goes. @LaFlibuste was able to say it first but in my mind I don't think they have to be limited to defensive skills, although those count as skills and can also work.
 

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Clothing for Social Stats, a bit like Fable.

For example, you have to go into a bar to get information. Going in as a hero would look like a normal bar. However, take the time to dress up as a thug, and the real clientele will be there, including your informant.
 

Canini

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Thanks everybody for your suggestions and sorry for not giving any response for a while. While I really like all of the opinions presented here, I want to use clothes for something completely unrelated to abilities/battles. My game is also not big enough in scope to support a a lot of weapons that do more or less the same things but with different stats. Weapons will work more like items in a Zelda game, each with a very distinct use in puzzles in game and combat. There won´t be several items that do the same thing, nor will there be any item upgrades. Some have mentioned using clothes to give defence or offence capabilities, but all such stat changes will be given by using spell scrolls that will be sorted under the weapon category.

As for having clothes as expensive sources of lore I think it could work like in the second Paper Mario game where you can buy the Super Luigi books. At first you use money strictly for items but as the game progresses you kind of need a money sink of some sort and if the player is invested enough in the world they will not have any problem paying for some extra lore.
 

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As for having clothes as expensive sources of lore I think it could work like in the second Paper Mario game where you can buy the Super Luigi books. At first you use money strictly for items but as the game progresses you kind of need a money sink of some sort and if the player is invested enough in the world they will not have any problem paying for some extra lore.

I respectfully disagree. I haven't had a ton of experience simply watching other people play single-player RPGs, but if online games are any indication, players won't go out of their way to seek out lore or to obtain items that they can't easily show off to other players. And I know from my own experience in games that even when lore is free, I tend not to seek it out because I get a lot more enjoyment out of things that are directly relevant to my characters.

When a bit of extra lore can be told through things that are useful anyway (like a cool description of usable items or weapons), that's great, and I enjoy it a lot. But if an item was there for no other reason than to provide lore, or if it were "interchangeable" with other items except for its lore, I don't think that would feel special at all.

While I really like all of the opinions presented here, I want to use clothes for something completely unrelated to abilities/battles.

That's fair, so let's try to figure out places in such a game that your Clothes items might be able to fit. I think I can infer that your game includes combat and puzzles as two core activities. What else does your game offer as an engaging core activity? What else can the player do in your game that is there more than "for the sake of being there"? When the player isn't actively engaged in combat or a specific puzzle, what do you want them to be feeling and thinking about?

With those questions answered, it will be easier to find a place where we could slot in the Clothes in an intuitive and fulfilling way.
 
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I will agree with @Wavelength about not wanting to buy lore. If I'm going to spend precious gold its going to be on something to aid with gameplay. If you really wanted to sell lore you'd be best doing it as books which also provide hints to solving some of the harder puzzles. Such as a book about the ancient ruins you're about to enter, not just would it explain the history of these ruins but also give the answer to the riddle that blocks the treasure chamber for easier puzzle solving.

I want to use clothes for something completely unrelated to abilities/battles.
But If you want clothes and don't want them to affect battles, then tying them to exploration could be another alternative. Do you solve the puzzle to cross the river like normal or save up for that expensive Wetsuit and swim across? It gives people who prefer combat over puzzles a lifeline to bypass certain tricky puzzles (which puzzles and by how much is down to your level design).

Some further examples~
Invisibility Cloak: slows you down but makes you undetectable (prevents battles if using random encounters).
Tracksuit: allows you to sprint but is hard to change directions.
Rain Coat: allows you to pass through heavy weather (wind/rain) at normal pace (not slowed down or blown around).
Explorers Gear: allows the climbing of certain surfaces (vines/rocky walls), used to reach new/alternative paths.
Wetsuit: allows swimming in clean water. Like climbing, could be used to reach new paths or bypass certain puzzles.
 
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Canini

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Once again, sorry for taking so long to reply. I am very happy for any and all suggestions regarding this topic.

That's fair, so let's try to figure out places in such a game that your Clothes items might be able to fit. I think I can infer that your game includes combat and puzzles as two core activities. What else does your game offer as an engaging core activity? What else can the player do in your game that is there more than "for the sake of being there"? When the player isn't actively engaged in combat or a specific puzzle, what do you want them to be feeling and thinking about?

With those questions answered, it will be easier to find a place where we could slot in the Clothes in an intuitive and fulfilling way.

The game is pretty zelda-like, so I'd say the three main components are combat, puzzles and exploration.

I will agree with @Wavelength


But If you want clothes and don't want them to affect battles, then tying them to exploration could be another alternative. Do you solve the puzzle to cross the river like normal or save up for that expensive Wetsuit and swim across? It gives people who prefer combat over puzzles a lifeline to bypass certain tricky puzzles (which puzzles and by how much is down to your level design).

Some further examples~
Invisibility Cloak: slows you down but makes you undetectable (prevents battles if using random encounters).
Tracksuit: allows you to sprint but is hard to change directions.
Rain Coat: allows you to pass through heavy weather (wind/rain) at normal pace (not slowed down or blown around).
Explorers Gear: allows the climbing of certain surfaces (vines/rocky walls), used to reach new/alternative paths.
Wetsuit: allows swimming in clean water. Like climbing, could be used to reach new paths or bypass certain puzzles.

These are all pretty good ideas. I will think about if I can implement any of these into the game.
 

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The game is pretty zelda-like, so I'd say the three main components are combat, puzzles and exploration.

If exploration is a big part of your game, then Access could be a good way to encourage players to buy Clothes. To scale a high, cold mountain, you'd need ice cleats and some type of warm coat. To be allowed onto the grounds of a palace, you'd need some kind of formal suit/dress. I'm not suggesting using Clothes as an alternative to puzzles like @ShadowHawkDragon suggested (although that's also a nifty idea), but rather using Clothes as a way to gain access to areas (mostly areas not outright required by the plot) that are otherwise inaccessible.
 

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You could always take the FFT approach and have armor give HP and MP boosts. Things like heavy/plate would give higher HP boosts, but no MP, while robes would give less HP, but good chunks of MP. Passives were mentioned, and that's another good way, especially for the more endgame-oriented gear, as is granting an extra skill or technique similar to how you seem to want weapons to work.
 

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