Complexity Rating for Moves

LightBorneX

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So I was trying to make it so my six stats each had offensive and defensive bonuses they gave to balance them out, but then I hit a bump. I came up with adding the idea of "Complexity" to moves and having Intelligence determine how complex of a move you could perform without it failing or blowing up in your face. My problem is, I don't know how to implement the idea of complexity well, without it being seen as a waste of time for people. Let me explain:

Moves already require damage to be worth having, accuracy to hit in the first place, speed to be attacking quickly, and sp to be cast at all. I know I can balance the moves so that the above might be tolerable, but I'm concerned that adding a fifth element for moves to be successful might be too much. If the "middle of the road" moves (medium power) fail some of the time, I think some people might see this as a drag. I could make it so that only nukes require complexity, but then that severely limits using the idea of complexity in the game.

Do you guys have ideas on how I could implement this?

Here are some possible ideas I've been juggling in my head so far:

1. Use complexity for the showy moves: Combo success for melee classes. Complex bombs for trap users. Spells that either hit hard or have special effects (maybe a gas that gains consciousness and can chase enemies). As the moves get more showy, they require more skill in complexity.

2. In order to balance out complexity's self-harm issue, I could make it so that if you have more complexity points than a move requires, your complexity points gives you a bonus either to how fast the skill is cast or perhaps a reduction to the skill's sp cost.

3. I could make it so that players have enough moves with no complexity that they could function throughout the game, but then make enough moves with complexity (and its increase in power) that players could follow whatever playstyle they wanted.

I think the biggest concern I have is that my current map for moves include basic moves with no complexity, but then everything after that has at least a small chance of failure, and I think this mechanic would be disliked, as accuracy can cause a move to miss also. Add in self-damage for some moves if they fail, and I think people will like it even less, even though some moves power would justify the self-damage chance.
 

TheTitan99

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Every game mechanic should have a clear reason why it exists. So, when designing a new mechanic, always ask yourself "why does this improve the game?" If the answer to that is hard to think of, the mechanic may not be a good idea. And, if you answer that question with a good response, you follow it up with "Can I achieve that in a better way?"

So, what are you hoping to gain from this system? What is the core idea that you want with this complexity stat? You're mentioning some vague ideas, like that you're worried on moves blowing up in the player's face, that I'm confused what the core idea you want is.

Are you looking for a stat system that encourages players to not have only the strongest skills? Are you looking for a system that encourages variety of moves being used? Ignore specific gameplay mechanics for now, what is the heart and core of what you want?

As an example, RPGs where you always use the strongest attack every turn can be kind of boring. There's little tactics if every turn you do max damage. Octopath Traveler solves this by making your main offense stat deplete after strong moves, and slowly recover, to force you to not use the strongest move every turn. And, Golden Sun solved this by making the strongest moves be gated behind weaker moves, so you had to use weaker moves to unlock stronger moves. Both of these gameplay mechanics are radically different than each other, but they both solve the same core: Preventing ultimate attack spam.

So, forget about stats and gameplay for a second. What do you want to achieve, in the most basic of terms?

(Also, I am awae that Golden Sun's system is very abusable, I'm using the intent here, not the end result, haha.)
 

kairi_key

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Not sure I understand the purpose of including this "Complexity" mechanic, and what kind of gameplay experience you're aiming for with this but I'll humor you with my thought.

I don't think you have to make it just success or fail type of thing if you're afraid of it being nuisance. You can just have it that if the character with low Intelligence use fail to pass the Complexity check of such skill, it will still connect as a normal skill would, but if the character pass the Complexity stat check for the skill, there'll be bonus effect; more hit counts, bonus damage, added effect, or chained skill.

I think a better way to include that might be adding dice or button challenge or whatever along the line. The higher the Intelligence, the easier it is to get the success. Like, if it's a dice, maybe instead of 1-6 it'll be just Hit and Miss, and if you have high Intelligence, you'll have more Hit on the dice face than Miss. It factors in some player's skill in the time-button and thus some player's agency. And you can have things like, higher Complexity means that you'll need more Intelligence to have more Hit than Miss face, or something, to raise the chance of success.
 
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LightBorneX

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I think if implemented well, the idea of complexity being tied to an intelligence stat could add a lot to a game. For moves or the chance of a player solving a puzzle, it adds a sense of realism. It could also add a lot of variety to gameplay (using hard hitting easy moves vs throwing the enemy off-guard with complex moves). This wasn't my original goal, though. My original goal was to have each stat balanced in what it offers, 50% offense boost / 50% defense boost (for the most part). My stats offer:

Strength- Damage / Damage Resistance Boosts

Agility- Attack Speed / Dodge Boosts

Vitality- Stamina (SP) / Health Boosts

Intelligence- Accuracy / ??? (Maybe Complexity)

Charisma- Pet Obedience Chance / Control and Control Resistance Boosts

Luck- Chance of Crit (Can Boost Defensive Moves Too) / Adds Success Chance to Every Roll

The main idea I started with for Complexity is that more powerful moves would have a chance to self-harm, which in the real world makes sense- if someone doesn't know how to handle an explosive, it could blow up in their face. Intelligence would then provide people with a defense boost- they could use the explosive without hurting themselves. My problem is that I haven't thought of a way to balance the self-harm mechanic into the game, and I'm not sure players would like it. I think I have two things working against me- players need so much to have moves work at their full potential already that people might not like another mechanic added onto that, and I would have to play with HP numbers and boost them to provide enough safety space to make room for self-harm in the game.

This is why I asked for input on implement Complexity as an idea as a whole. Perhaps someone else would come up with a better angle.

Though now that I think about it- it might be funny to have the self-harm in the game, because I can imagine some people increasing their Vitality and Strength stat really high so they can hit hard with complex moves even though they still blow up in their face. Like an orc blowing itself up trying to harm enemies with a bomb.
 

AfroKat

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If complexity makes skills and magic have bonus effects, then you run into the issue where EVERYONE wants complexity, and whoever has the lowest just gets screwed for no reason.
 

LightBorneX

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Not if those bonus effects come at the cost of damage or cast time. If handled well, it would be a buffet, where people could choose the playstyle that they wanted.
 

Wavelength

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There's a certain, very enjoyable, irony to the idea of introducing an additional mechanic called Complexity into a larger design that is already suffering from being far too complex.
 

Wavelength

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There's a certain, very enjoyable, irony to the idea of introducing an additional mechanic called Complexity into a larger design that is already suffering from being far too complex.

Before I go about pointing out what's wrong, I want to say I do really like a few things about your thought process - you're thinking through how it will work in practice for the player, you want to offer a "buffet" of strategic playstyles, and you have correctly identified that balance is not always equal to satisfaction. All good things.
  • Also, some of my criticism won't apply if you're intending to make a WRPG-style game that is literally all about its mechanics - almost exclusively focused on its combat, rather than any kind of narrative or quest design. If all the player is ever thinking about is using the mechanics efficiently, extra complexity for its own sake isn't so bad.
I have found that the best systems in games are the ones that allow the player to reliably do the things he wants to do (rather than "fight against" the player's wishes), do so in an elegant way (offering tons of depth without too many moving parts), minimize downtime (where actions are being taken but nothing interesting happens and no forward progress is made), and combine so well with the game's other systems that they turn it into something greater than the sum of its parts. (One aspect that is not required in a good system is realism - it only needs to be intuitive, not realistic!)

In the system you're describing (even before the Complexity mechanic), the player already has to fight against an RNG roll that is out of their hands to have an attack hit in the first place, a speed system that might make a chosen action irrelevant by the time it can be used, and an "SP" pool that may restrict using a lot of cool skills long-term - and adding this Complexity mechanic throws another pitfall on top of that where another RNG roll will determine whether the attack succeeds at all or even backfires. There are far too many ways that a chosen action will not do what the player intends to do, and half of them are obscured behind RNG rolls. Think quickly about some of your favorite video games or board games, and about how frustrating they would be if every action the player wants to take could randomly fail entirely based on a dice roll.

A second issue is that, while it's noble that you want to make all stats seem useful (and offer a choice of multiple ways to play), your design is sort of working against you here. There's no reason I can see that a player who wants to sling a lot of skills (SP) would also necessarily want to invest in tankiness (Max HP). There's no reason that Attack Speed and Dodge Boost line up at all, in a menu-based combat system at least. And the dual offensive/defensive nature also causes the buffet to feel a bit bland - Vitality and Strength, for example, kind of crowd each other out because they both mean you deal more damage (through bigger skills or just higher damage boosts) and take less damage (through higher Max HP or damage resistance).

If I were to implement a mechanic like Complexity, I would try to do it in a way that acts as the backbone of your system, holistically covering most of the other stats, choices, and checks that your other mechanics were covering (so that you can pare down on those other mechanics without sacrificing depth). Roll all of the Success checks into a single Complexity roll (or some other calculation that's dynamic without requiring RNG rolls if you're really creative).

Imagine rolling a 20-sided die, with some kind of bonus to the roll total based on your Intelligence stat and a required total based on the "Complexity" (difficulty) of the spell. So maybe a simple bolt of frost damage has a target of 10 (if your Intelligence gives you a 4 point bonus, you only need to roll a 6 to succeed), whereas creating a huge web of ice to trap all enemies in place has a target of 18 (meaning you'd need to roll a 14 or higher with a 4 point bonus from INT). Simple actions have a very high chance to succeed as planned, whereas the biggest, boldest spells may require some setup first or a high Intelligence stat. Rolling below the success level doesn't necessarily mean the action fails entirely. Perhaps on the Web of Ice:
  • Total of 8 or less: Fails entirely and drains some of your SP, actually backfiring (with damage or negative statuses) if you don't have enough SP
  • Total of 9-13: Works, but drains some of your SP; if you don't have enough SP, fails instead
  • Total of 14-20: Works exactly as intended (perhaps the higher the roll, the quicker the action casts)
  • Total of 21+: Not only works, but also offers a random bonus effect, such as lasting longer or making physical attacks deal additional damage to trapped foes
From there, what can we streamline out of the original system? We could get rid of SP costs, because the SP pool essentially acts as a buffer against bad rolls and a resource you can choose to risk by going for big spells more often (however, even as your SP depletes, you can still go for these big, fun spells - it just presents much higher risk). We could get rid of Accuracy and Agility entirely - action speed can be based on the roll total if you want, and hit and dodge chances are no longer necessary once we have chance of action success handled by this Complexity roll. Similarly, Charisma and Luck's effects can be rolled into the chance of negative side effects or bonus benefits when the spell works. The player no longer needs to worry about five or six different checks - he only needs to focus on a single check and its result, and make all kinds of strategic decisions around how to handle how that roll might result.

Perhaps the target roll could get harder each time you use the spell within a few turns (simulating "strain" on a certain part of your body/spirit, but more importantly preventing the player from spamming the same skill over and over), or perhaps the target roll could get easier each time you fail a roll (to prevent bad RNG rolls from screwing the player over so bad that he loses a combat even when using great tactics).

You'd still have several useful stats, except they could probably be reduced into a single benefit for each stat in order to have a clear "invest in this stat to choose this playstyle" decision in your buffet. STR increases damage dealt by skills, VIT increases your Max HP pool, INT gives you a bonus to Complexity rolls, SPIrit increases your Max SP pool or the speed at which it regenerates, and LUK changes what kinds of bonus benefits or negative side effects that come with particularly good/bad rolls.

Even cooler yet, buffs/debuffs cast in battle would change parts of this roll in very clear ways (e.g. an INT buff would temporarily make it easier to successfully cast those all-star spells, while a LUK debuff would add a lot of risk to failing), and special skills could interact with this mechanic to create a fun and interesting wrinkle in battle (for example a status where low rolls are treated as high ones and vice-versa).

None of this is meant to say that this is the way you have to implement Complexity in order to create a good battle system, but it's meant as food for thought on how you might create a system that's elegant and coherent rather than forcing the player to worry about a ton of different checks that are all working against each other. I hope it helps you get those creative juices flowing!
 

LightBorneX

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Perhaps on the Web of Ice:
Total of 8 or less: Fails entirely and drains some of your SP, actually backfiring (with damage or negative statuses) if you don't have enough SP
Total of 9-13: Works, but drains some of your SP; if you don't have enough SP, fails instead
Total of 14-20: Works exactly as intended (perhaps the higher the roll, the quicker the action casts)
Total of 21+: Not only works, but also offers a random bonus effect, such as lasting longer or making physical attacks deal additional damage to trapped foes...

Thank you for your constructive feedback. I enjoyed it. They're definitely is an amount of irony in trying to add a Complexity feature to a game that's already complex. Since I already have intelligence taking care of accuracy, working toward a single stat roll would be easier, and I like the idea of tiered effects- as someone who forgot to put a single screw in a machine would likely suffer less negative effects than someone totally made a mess of it. Also, it gave me the idea that the move itself could be tiered in a positive way for failure- a mage tries to summon three fireballs to attack opponents, but only one comes out. Or the damage of the skill could be reduced, or etc. Though since that is what strength is for in some ways, I'll keep tinkering around to see what works and what seems fun. I could also have moves buff opponents. If an attack was meant to do damage and apply a curse, the mage could mess up the spell and cast a blessing instead with the damage.
 

Wavelength

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Thank you for your constructive feedback. I enjoyed it. They're definitely is an amount of irony in trying to add a Complexity feature to a game that's already complex. Since I already have intelligence taking care of accuracy, working toward a single stat roll would be easier, and I like the idea of tiered effects- as someone who forgot to put a single screw in a machine would likely suffer less negative effects than someone totally made a mess of it. Also, it gave me the idea that the move itself could be tiered in a positive way for failure- a mage tries to summon three fireballs to attack opponents, but only one comes out. Or the damage of the skill could be reduced, or etc. Though since that is what strength is for in some ways, I'll keep tinkering around to see what works and what seems fun. I could also have moves buff opponents. If an attack was meant to do damage and apply a curse, the mage could mess up the spell and cast a blessing instead with the damage.
Sounds great - you are definitely thinking this through the right way!

Tiered effects sound pretty good - you are correct in thinking that one fireball vs three fireballs would step on the toes of STRength a little bit, but it's not a total gamebreaker (and there might be consistent idiosyncracies in the damage formula that allow the effects to be incomparable; for example, one fireball or one hit with any attack using high Strength will still do some damage to highly-armored foes, whereas three fireballs or three hits with any attack using very low Strength will simply be deflected by their armor).

I like your idea of accidentally giving enemies positive effects in addition to the main (damaging/disabling) effects of a spell, if the INT check comes back a little low, rather than the more frustrating effects of backfire (damage/disable to user/allies). Stuff like an Earth spell immobilizing a foe... but also giving them very high armor for a while (whereas a great INT total wouldn't buff the foe at all, simply immobilize them). That's pretty cool, and is certainly worth mixing in among your other possible results.

Keep thinking through the stats and how you might achieve everything you want to with a minimum of mechanical complexity - you seem to have a decent grasp on this already so I'm sure with a lot of deep thought you'll come up with something really cool.
 

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