Balancing Skill Cost Items

Kupotepo

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I wanted to see what people think of the idea of having the alchemy class uses items to execute the skills. For example, a venom dust skill, you need one poison spore. The effect is 2 random enemies get a poison state for four turns. This class will require items to execute the skills. It is true depending on how to overpower the skills are. I have adjusted accordingly on how difficult the item can be find and dropping.

The topic that I would like to discuss:
Should the item cost skill be getting a 100% success rate or you think otherwise?
Should the requirement items be easy to find?
How many items generally you think would be not too enough requirements to cast one skill?
[For example, Fire Breath which causes little damage and inflicts a burning state to an enemy. Expulsion which costs 1 firestone and 1 gunpowder bag]

How do you designed those skills in your game or what you see in other games that you are interested in? Any thought of this? Maybe I can think of cool ideas and I did not see people talk about yet.:LZSooo: Thank you.
 
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I made a game where the thief steals generic items from the enemies and then is able to use those to deal damage in the same turn (similar to rikku ffx). For what you are doing I think you have to balance risk vs reward, as in is it worth it to possibly waste items and a turn for a high damage attack that may not hit. I also think most (not all) items should be simple to get because otherwise you will frustrate people. I can't speak for others but I hate wasting time/repeating things in video games. As for an amount per attack that seems like something that requires balancing on a case by case basis.
 

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So far the only skill(s) that require items in my game are skills that use a Bow. They would consume an arrow per attack. You also get the choice of which arrow to use, each adding different effects. I wanted to use SRD's Skill Extender plugin so that when you select an Archery skill, it would bring up a menu with all the various arrows in your inventory. Unfortunately, it's not playing nice w/ LTBS so I had to put this entire mechanic on the backburner for now...

To answer your question, I think the success rate should be 100%. It would feel pretty crappy if an item was consumed and the skill didn't take effect. The items should be common enough, or if it isn't, should at least be purchasable or craftable. I would try to avoid a skill requiring more than 1 item to cast.
 

Kupotepo

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@michaelmartin341, thank you for your input. Wow, you are thinking two ahead of many other people. Many thieves in many games are hoarders. I know right they only steal and store in the inventory. Your thief in your game is like "I am stealing and I am using it." I like your idea. :LZSevil:

@Frostorm, thank you for your input.
Unfortunately, it's not playing nice w/ LTBS so I had to put this entire mechanic on the backburner for now...
Do you post that in @Lecode forum? Maybe people there can fix it?

They would consume an arrow per attack. You also get the choice of which arrow to use, each adding different effects.
I would like to know more. Thank you. Do you replace a normal attack? [You can just wandering.] Great idea, the green Robin Hood's Archer idea.

How do you plan for buying or dropping arrows? And Thank you for reminding me of SumRndmDde's great plugins.
 
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Wavelength

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I almost never create stuff like this, because it just feels bad to have to spend items in order to use skills. Even if that bad feeling isn't strictly logical, players always seem to think they're better off saving the consumable item and using one of the many other tools at their disposal to dispatch the enemies.

(And usually, they're right, unless the enemy can threaten hurting you in a way that's even more expensive to recover from and the consumable-using skill is useful enough to stop them from hurting you while other skills aren't.)

You often see this with alchemist-type characters, or with archers or shooters that have to consume arrows/ammunition items. None of them ever feel good.

By the time these skills are so powerful they do feel good to use, they tend to be so powerful that they have completely broken the balance of your battle system.

The one time I did something similar, the items you consumed to use powerful skills were also items that could be created in battle, with only MP or TP as a cost. Those items would also disappear at the end of battle, so the player had no incentive to sit in a decided battle forever and spam-create items.

In summary, I think the only way to balance such item-consuming skills and make them feel good to use, is to make the items free to come by and give them a "use it or lose it" dynamic. Maybe the items can be created within battle, but disappear at the end of combat. Maybe the alchemist gathers fruits or other perishable items from all of your world, and they disappear if they're not used within several minutes of game time. Maybe the item can be freely refilled at any save point, but you can only hold a maximum of 10 at a time. All that matters is that the item doesn't cost Gold, is renewable, and can't be accumulated in your inventory forever.
 
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players always seem to think they're better off saving the consumable item
this, so much this. I'm so bad i'll finish games never using megaelixers/phoenixs, rather just wipe and try again than use them up. It's not really rational but I just feel like I have to save them
 

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Do you post that in @Lecode forum? Maybe people there can fix it?
I did, and we found out the root of the incompatibility. Too bad there's no way to fix it w/o a compatibility patch of some sort.
I would like to know more. Thank you. Do you replace normal attack? [You can just wandering.] Great idea, the green Robin Hood's Archer idea.

How to do you plan for buying or dropping of arrows? And Thank for reminding of SumRndmDde's great plugins.
Equipping any Bow will swap your normal attack with "Shoot", which is just a normal attack but with longer range. Arrows can be crafted as well as purchased. They can also be found here and there in chests/loot/etc, though they will usually come with additional items. Like a chest might contain a bit of gold, a few (crappy) arrows, maybe a potion, and other misc. items.

The only reason I want to use this mechanic is due to the variety of arrows. Besides classic elemental arrows, which are self-explanatory, there would also be arrows made from different materials. This can be different woods for the shaft or different metals for the head. Perhaps an arrow with an Adamantite arrowhead would have extra Armor Penetration properties, for example. This mechanic would be pointless if the arrows simply did increased damage with higher tiers. I would rather have them do different/unique effects.

The arrows would also be plentiful. Crafting them would yield batches/bundles of them instead of a single arrow. Likewise, buying them from the shop would give you 10 or 20 at a time.

Also, regarding what @Wavelength said, I think if the bonus effects the arrows provide are interesting and attractive enough, that would outweigh any potential negative feelings from having items being consumed. *crosses fingers*

Edit: Just wanted to mention this mechanic is not implemented atm, due to the plugin incompatibilities. While it's something I have planned, it's not a "must-have" mechanic. I could live without it if I can't find a fix for SRD's Skill Extender.
 
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Kupotepo

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@Wavelength, Thank you for those great ideas.

I understand that some people like collecting and cautious. Yeah, the rare item system of the past is encouraging players to save items.
I think it depends like @michaelmartin341 said the consumable items the players see as vulnerable items. That's why I plan to use non-consumable items for the skill cost like a stone or a dye.

You often see this with alchemist-type characters, or with archers or shooters that have to consume arrows/ammunition items. None of them ever feel good.
I agree with you. It is depending on how much the cost of skills and how easy to find those resources.

By the time these skills are so powerful they do feel good to use, they tend to be so powerful that they have completely broken the balance of your battle system.
Are you a wizard? That is what I worried about.
Do you suggest in battle item creation?

All that matters is that the item doesn't cost Gold, is renewable, and can't be accumulated in your inventory forever.
Hahaha, the alchemist inside joke. Do not turn lead into gold!

@Frostorm, Thank you for your response.
The only reason I want to use this mechanic is due to the variety of arrows. Besides classic elemental arrows, which are self-explanatory, there would also be arrows made from different materials.
I understand now. Don't forget the frosted arrow and poison arrow.
 
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Wavelength

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The only reason I want to use this mechanic is due to the variety of arrows. Besides classic elemental arrows, which are self-explanatory, there would also be arrows made from different materials.
...
Also, regarding what @Wavelength said, I think if the bonus effects the arrows provide are interesting and attractive enough, that would outweigh any potential negative feelings from having items being consumed. *crosses fingers*
Nope! My own experience playing games, as well as my experiences watching LP'ers play stuff, makes me feel pretty confident that even an excellently-implemented version of a system would still have to either feel awful when consuming arrows or be badly imbalanced. (The Sword Art Online games tend to do this, at least the one I've played. I still use the infinite "regular arrows" 99.9% of the time.)

In fact, in some ways, it's even more painful when different types of (non-unlimited) ammo have cool special effects, because the player is constantly recognizing "damn, this is so fun and cool to use - but I can't justify using it right now because I can win the battle without it". Because why would you ever spend something and always have less of it from now on (either less arrows in your inventory, or less Gold once you buy it back), when in most cases you could get the same job done with any number of free tools? A majority of players will spend an arrow of a new type once to see the effect, and then never again unless its particular effect is needed in what feels like a life-or-death battle (and even then some players will hold back!).

Meanwhile, if the effect is powerful enough to ever justify using it over a "free" skill, and Arrows are also being given out like candy (and I don't mean Rare Candy!) such that player literally has thousands of them by midgame even if they're not buying a whole lot, then you've created a serious balance issue. While it still may "feel" costly to spend consumables, for the purposes of game balance the cost is nil (when the player has thousands of arrows they can't even get through), but the character using those archery skills is now considerably more powerful or useful than other damage-dealers are. The cost doesn't justify the benefit, from a balance perspective.

This isn't for the sake of a theoretical argument, but what I truly believe happens when players actually play games. They don't act like "Economic Man", but instead player psychology dictates almost all of their behavior and the trick is to line up what feels right psychologically with what actually makes for a good, fun play experience.

Here are a few different ways I might consider going about this kind of ammunition system instead, if I felt strongly about including one at all:
  • Arrows (that serve as costs for skills) are instanced items and each have their own "cooldown" of, say, 4 battles. Instead of losing the arrow from your inventory when you use it for a skill (such as Flame Barrage that requires two Flame Arrows), the arrow goes on cooldown and you can't use those two particular Flame Arrows until you've fought through 4 battles. Obviously, in such a system the arrows would be fairly rare and/or expensive, so the player might have one or two dozen in their inventory rather than one or two thousand.
  • Arrows are not consumable, but rather are sort of "key items" that enable the Archer to use Preparation-type skills in battle. For example, Flame Arrow would enable a Preparation called "Arrows Aflame" which cancels all other preparations and causes her arrows to deal extra damage and set targets on fire with all of her basic attacks and archery-based attack skills. Here, the player is spending a turn (rather than a consumable) to set up the bigger, cooler effects, which is a temporary rather than a permanent cost - making it more feasible to justify in the player's mind.
  • All skills (maybe even including basic attacks and guards!) require consumable items to utilize, in a game that is tightly and intentionally designed around the mechanic. Therefore, the player doesn't even have a choice - they are going to have to burn some consumables, but consumables can pretty much be found everywhere (respawning in dungeons, as loot from combat, in great amounts as quest rewards, through minigames, etc.). The player should never ever ever run out of consumable items entirely, but might run out of a certain type of consumable if they're not careful with mixing up their skill selection, which means that you're encouraging them to use a diversity of different tactics and skills throughout the game.
 

Frostorm

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@Wavelength Hmm, very good points indeed. My Archery tree has a skill similar to the "Arrows Aflame" you mentioned called "Dip Arrows". It basically uses the terrain the archer is standing on or adjacent to (they can select a tile from within a 1-tile radius of their location) add an element or effect to the archer's attacks/skills w/ a bow. For example, let's say an enemy spellcaster hurls a Fireball at our archer and as a result, the ground is now on fire. Our archer can use "Dip Arrows" on the burning tile to gain additional Fire damage for 4 turns. We basically just took advantage and benefited from an unfavorable situation!

I basically came up with this skill in lieu of an ammo mechanic, since I wasn't able to implement that atm. They aren't mutually exclusive though, since "Dip Arrows" would basically be limited to elemental modifiers depending on the terrain. The original ammo idea could probably provide a greater variety of effects since it depends on the arrow itself.

Alternatively, I was also contemplating using arrows as augments instead. This way there would be no item cost for using attacks/skills w/ a bow. It wouldn't be as immersive though since it might be hard to explain why there's a seemingly infinite number of arrows lol. An extension of this idea could use state counters as well to avoid the whole "infinite arrows" thing. I haven't gotten it to work yet (though I haven't really put much effort into it thus far), but basically, once you put an arrow into the bow's augment slot, the archer will gain a state that has a counter at the start of a battle. The counter would represent the number of arrows left with each attack/skill using the bow reducing the counter by 1 (or more for skills like Volley). Now there are 2 ways we can go from here:
  • Have the counter reset at the start of each battle. This partially defeats the purpose of the counter in the 1st place though...might as well not have a counter in the 1st place.
  • Remove and destroy the arrow from the augment slot when the counter hits 0. This is the method I'd like to employ, but I haven't figured out how to fully implement this mechanic. I was able to detach the arrow when the counter reached 0, but couldn't figure out how to destroy it.
Also, in your last bullet point, what did you mean by "ALL skills"? Does that mean all of the archer's skills or all skills including non-archery skills as well? If it's the former, then that was basically my intention from the beginning. All attacks and skills that use a bow would consume an arrow, including normal attack.
 
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Wavelength

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@Frostorm That "Dip Arrows" idea sounds superb!! While I'm not crazy about its name (lol), the mechanic itself will make every battle feel considerably different for the Archer, while also creating some cool synergies with teammates (and counters to enemies) and offering a lot of tactical ways for the player to interact with the environment. I love it!

  • Remove and destroy the arrow from the augment slot when the counter hits 0. This is the method I'd like to employ, but I haven't figured out how to fully implement this mechanic. I was able to detach the arrow when the counter reached 0, but couldn't figure out how to destroy it.
Wouldn't this effectively be the same thing as having consumable items as ammunition (except it's taking up an augment slot)? Like, if it's destroyed once the counter reaches zero and there's no way to reset the counter, then isn't buying/finding an "arrows" augment identical in practice to buying/finding a set of 10 (or however many) arrows?
 

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Wouldn't this effectively be the same thing as having consumable items as ammunition (except it's taking up an augment slot)? Like, if it's destroyed once the counter reaches zero and there's no way to reset the counter, then isn't buying/finding an "arrows" augment identical in practice to buying/finding a set of 10 (or however many) arrows?
Almost, the only difference would be that you can't swap augments mid-battle. Whereas the item skill cost method would allow you to have a setup that looks like this: (highly simplified example)
  • Steady Shot - modest dmg / modest TP cost / no CD
    • Flame Arrow - adds Fire dmg
    • Frost Arrow - adds Frost dmg
    • Razor Arrow - adds Armor Penetration
  • Aimed Shot - high dmg / high TP cost / has CD
    • Flame Arrow - adds Fire dmg
    • Frost Arrow - adds Frost dmg
    • Razor Arrow - adds Armor Penetration
So basically all of the archer's skills/attacks would have various sub-choices that represent the various types of arrows in his/her inventory. This is why I wanted to use SRD's Skill Extender plugin. Anyways, the whole augment/state counter idea was really just a makeshift substitute for not being able to implement a skill item cost mechanic in conjunction with SRD Skill Extender.

Btw, if you have a better name for "Dip Arrows", I'm open to suggestions lol.
 
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Kupotepo

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@Frostorm, do you contemplate doing the item cost skill for 1 arrow and you create a stacking state for the rest of the battle? And you can use the arrow for the rest of the battle without losing arrows.
 

Wavelength

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Almost, the only difference would be that you can't swap augments mid-battle. Whereas the item skill cost method would allow you to have a setup that looks like this: (highly simplified example)
  • Steady Shot - modest dmg / modest TP cost / no CD
    • Flame Arrow - adds Fire dmg
    • Frost Arrow - adds Frost dmg
    • Razor Arrow - adds Armor Penetration
  • Aimed Shot - high dmg / high TP cost / has CD
    • Flame Arrow - adds Fire dmg
    • Frost Arrow - adds Frost dmg
    • Razor Arrow - adds Armor Penetration
So basically all of the archer's skills/attacks would have various sub-choices that represent the various types of arrows in his/her inventory. This is why I wanted to use SRD's Skill Extender plugin. Anyways, the whole augment/state counter idea was really just a makeshift substitute for not being able to implement a skill item cost mechanic in conjunction with SRD Skill Extender.
I see. I guess I had it in mind that you would still be able to change arrow selection mid-battle using a skill cost setup, because the player would still need some way to determine which consumable arrow they want to expend.

Btw, if you have a better name for "Dip Arrows", I'm open to suggestions lol.
Do you like any of these?: Channeling, Channel Elements, Infusion, Infuse Arrows, Empower, (deity name)'s Gift, (deity name)'s Kiss, Gift of the Wild, Kiss of the Wild, Breath of the Wild (yes, I know), Absorb Elements, Communing, Commune with Nature, Force of Nature, Power from Without, Inspired Arrows
 

Frostorm

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Do you like any of these?: Channeling, Channel Elements, Infusion, Infuse Arrows, Empower, (deity name)'s Gift, (deity name)'s Kiss, Gift of the Wild, Kiss of the Wild, Breath of the Wild (yes, I know), Absorb Elements, Communing, Commune with Nature, Force of Nature, Power from Without, Inspired Arrows
Thank you, I think I'll go with Infuse Arrows. It's very clear and hard to mistake for anything else.:kaojoy:

@Frostorm, do you contemplate doing the item cost skill for 1 arrow and you create a stacking state for the rest of the battle? And you can use the arrow for the rest of the battle without losing arrows.
My state counter idea for arrows does that. Making arrows last infinitely is easy, it's making it a limited quantity that's difficult.
 

HumanNinjaToo

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To kind of build on something that @Wavelength mentioned about alchemist item skills only being good for that battle: Having a skill for the alchemist to create a skill effect based on the type of enemy it's used against would be a neat idea I think. Something simple, but a skill that would perhaps do ice damage against a fire elemental enemy, something that would basically exploit the weakness of the enemy. This way there would be no complicated recipe or strict item usage invovled.

I think the idea of alchemists in battle sounds a lot more fun than what it often translates to in terms of functionality. I'm not a huge fan of crafting systems, so adding that crafting element to the battle system would not overly excite me. However, there are a lot of people that really love that stuff, hence the popular atelier series of games that are so crafting/alchemy heavy.
 

Kupotepo

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alchemist item skills only being good for that battle: Having a skill for the alchemist to create a skill effect based on the type of enemy it's used against would be a neat idea I think.
Remember, I talk about two days ago in RPG Maker MV section. Thank you for your input.

I think the idea of alchemists in battle sounds a lot more fun
Fullmetal Alchemist, right. XD

I'm not a huge fan of crafting systems, so adding that crafting element to the battle system would not overly excite me.
I agree with you that the crafting of the item in the battle can be a time-consuming process for players.

However, there are a lot of people that really love that stuff, hence the popular atelier series of games that are so crafting/alchemy heavy.
Thank you for being fair and considerate.
 
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Kupotepo

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@HumanNinjaToo, I have Olivia plugin. Is that what you like to see? However, I have to check for the incomparability like @Frostorm problem. :kaoswt:
 

HumanNinjaToo

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Not that I necessarily like that plugin, I mean, I have it because it came with octo pack that I bought. I was just offering a suggestion on how you could implement the type of alchemy system you want.
 

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